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In Zambia recently a Christian minister received the Pre-Blessing from a Family Federation bicycle team visiting his village. Shortly after the Pre-Blessing, he was given negative information about us, decided to become "unblessed," then went to the Family Federation headquarters in Lusaka. He was irate as he spoke to the members there. "Here is your holy handkerchief and Blessing certificate," he told. "Forget it! Consider me unblessed!" he shouted and stormed out of the building.
That night the minister had a dream. Jesus appeared to him and was upset, in turn, at him. "Don't you know without this Blessing you will go straight to hell?" Jesus asked him point blank. "You may think you are my child and that you are serving me as a Christian pastor, but actually you have nothing to do with me without the Blessing," Jesus told him. "So you had better get those things (the holy handkerchief and Blessing certificate) back from those people." The minister woke up badly shaken after this experience. He realized he should never have rejected the Blessing, but he was too ashamed to return to the center himself to ask forgiveness. So, he sent his wife instead.
At the center she begged the members to give back the couple's Blessing certificate and holy handkerchief. But the members told her, "Sorry, we can't give these back to you now. Because of your denial of the Blessing, you need to fast first. Then let's talk about whether we can return these to you or not." So, the couple fasted for three days; then the minister himself returned to the center. He explained the dream to the members and repented for what he had done. He said that he had not understood Jesus was supporting the Blessing providence. Seeing that the minister was sincerely remorseful for his mistake, the members returned his blessing articles to him, and he returned home relieved. His wife and he now live as a blessed couple and have encouraged their congregation to receive the Blessing.
Dear FFWPU member,
On a recent visit to the United States Kathy Rigney, the continental director of Africa, shared this inspiring story about the Blessing Providence in Africa as well as the stories that follow. They give us a glimpse of how the Blessing work is developing in Africa and of how actively the spiritual world -- Jesus in particular -- is supporting the Blessing there. They also provide food for thought and useful ideas about our own local Blessing efforts. We apologize that this e-mail is a bit long, but the stories here are wonderfully rich. We believe they are worth a few extra minutes of your time. You might consider them an epistle from Africa. You may even want to share some of them out loud as a family at meal time. Also, please DO share them with other members in your center, headquarters or community who do not have e-mail. They are only being sent out by e-mail.
Like the Zambian minister above, in East Africa a Christian pastor observed one of our bicycle teams perform a Pre-Blessing in a village. He saw their picture of True Parents and wondered, "Who is that? That is certainly not Jesus..." After some thought he decided, "I want nothing to do with this Blessing! Where is Jesus?" Even though he was a resident of the village where the Pre-Blessing was being held, he decided that he and his wife would not participate in the event.
That night, after the bicycle team had left the village, Jesus came to him in a dream and said, "I am Jesus. May I show you something?"
"Of course, Jesus," he said.
Then Jesus led him spiritually into the next room and showed him an oriental couple. "See this couple?" Jesus asked.
"Yes, Jesus." The pastor saw that they were the same couple he had seen in the photo at the Pre- Blessing that day.
"They are my representatives on earth today." Jesus told the pastor. "You serve me by serving them."
Then Jesus left him.
The pastor was shocked. In tears he realized that by rejecting the Blessing, he had actually rejected Jesus whom he had sought to serve all his life until then. Somehow he had missed this special opportunity to attend his Lord, but instead had turned away from him.
After this experience the pastor left his home and went to look for the bicycle team in order to be Blessed, but they had already left the village. For days he desperately searched from village to village to find the team. After some time he finally found them, arranged for his wife and himself to participate in a Pre-Blessing and led his congregation to do likewise.
This and numerous other such incidents all over the continent reveal that Jesus is working actively in Africa in support of the Blessing providence, seeking to offer his foundation to True Parents through these spiritual appearances. It is as if he doesn't want to miss this chance after 2,000 years of preparation and waiting. All over Africa he is sending people to participate in the Pre- Blessing.
In another story, one congressional leader from Zambia was visiting his parents in a village. He saw a bicycle team performing a Pre-Blessing and asked what was going on. Right from the start, he had a negative impression of the event, thinking that our team was doing this not from a genuine religious motivation but simply to gain power. He convinced himself that this phenomenon was not good for Zambia. On returning to Lusaka, he went on national radio to encourage the Zambian people not to receive the Pre-Blessing. In the broadcast he warned that if they participated in the ceremony and, particularly, drank the holy wine, they would become impotent!
Family Federation members were at first unaware of the broadcast. They noticed, however, that people became more hesitant to receive the Pre-Blessing and especially to drink the holy wine. After some investigation they heard about the negative radio emission and shared this information with two Christian ministers who were visiting our center. Moved by the Holy Spirit the ministers decided to pay a visit to the negative congressional leader directly. Taking two Family Federation members with them, the two ministers went to the leader's office and confronted him.
"What is going on? Why are you speaking out against the Blessing? Don't you realize this is from God?" they asked him. "Look at us, we have both received the Pre-Blessing, and we are not impotent," they told him. They then shared deeply with him about their experience of the Blessing and of the work of Family Federation. They and the two members testified how their own lives had been transformed by the Blessing. As he listened, the congressman's heart was melted. He expressed regret for the broadcast and agreed to apologize on national radio for his mistake.
Shortly afterwards he kept his word and went on national radio a second time. In the emission he told his listeners that he had been mistaken in his original broadcast and that the Blessing and holy wine did NOT cause impotence. He also related the testimonies he had heard from the ministers and members and encouraged people to participate in the Blessing. After his public confession on the radio, the congressman and his wife were themselves Blessed.
In a number of other African countries such high level people are also receiving the Pre-Blessing In one east African country, for example, the vice president and over a dozen members of parliament have already participated in a Pre-Blessing and others are about to be. So, in what some have called "the Dark Continent" a very special light is beginning to shine everywhere: the light of True Parents' Blessing.
In Ghana, one well-known Christian minister, Prophet David Nkantah, is a healer who travels from city to city holding revivals and drawing large crowds. He received the Blessing in 1995, and since then has been working powerfully with Family Federation to lead others to the Blessing. He has his own personal goal of 100,000 couples. To achieve this goal, he continues to travel from city to city throughout Ghana holding the same revival meetings as before. On the poster advertising these meetings he tells people to come as a family.
At the revival, before he does the healing, he tells participants that he cannot heal them unless they receive the Blessing because, "If I heal you but you do not follow the heavenly laws of loyalty of husband and wife to each other, of one man and one wife only (polygamy is rampant in Africa), and of dedicating your life to God as a family, then you will just get sick again. So, before I can heal you, you must understand the laws of heaven and receive the Blessing, which is a dedication of your family to God. After the Pre-Blessing ceremony, I will be able to do the healing." By the end of March Prophet Nkantah's inspired revivals had already brought the Pre- Blessing to 10,000 couples and families.
Religious leaders in other countries, led by the spirit, are also beginning to hold such revivals. Prophet Moise in the Ivory Coast, for example, is blessing about a thousand couples per week with similar revivals. He has given the Pre-Blessing to about 13,000 couples so far.
The providence of doing such large-scale Pre-Blessings was launched in Nigeria after a visit there by True Mother in 1993. During her visit, she related in tears how all his life True Father had driven himself ruthlessly and with precious little sleep to fulfill God's will and to ease His burden. As she spoke, she kindled in the members assembled there a burning resolve that God's heart would be comforted in that nation and continent and that True Father's unimaginable sacrifice would assuredly bear fruit in Africa. It was as if each of True Mother's tears was planted like a seed in African soil, and in four short years those seeds, cultivated by the tears, sweat and sometimes blood of African brothers and sisters, are already reaping a rich harvest. (Yes, blood. There have already been a number of martyrs in Africa. In fact, just recently one brother was shot dead by armed robbers at our headquarters in Kenya.) Or from another perspective, True Mother's words were like sparks which kindled a fire that is now spreading to all the corners of the continent. After her talk, the Nigerian family brought 33,000 couples to the 1995 Blessing and has set a goal of one million couples for the 1997 Blessing. The goal for all of Africa is 3.6 million couples.
Because most Nigerians are deeply religious, our members began working with church pastors shortly after True Mother's visit. Hundreds, now thousands, of churches have embraced the Blessing and held Pre-Blessing ceremonies for their congregations, usually in conjunction with the Sunday worship service or the Friday all-night prayer vigil (a common monthly practice among Nigerian churches). Typically, when we perform Pre-Blessings in Nigeria, we first present an introductory workshop about the Blessing and True Family Values, often right after Sunday service. Then we typically hold the pre-blessing ceremony the following Sunday. During the introduction or even during the Blessing itself spiritually open women, who often play the role of prophetess in their church and who do actually prophesy, start speaking in the spirit. Even though they only know about Chapter Two in a very indirect way and, because of their poor English, may not have understood the introductory lecture, they are often lifted up in the spirit during the ceremony to proclaim, "If you ever commit fornication or adultery again after this Blessing, you will go to hell! This Blessing is for families, and families must be dedicated to God," or other similar words. Congregants usually take these prophetesses quite seriously.
As a result of years of working with churches in Nigeria, we now have a number of Christian ministers who are working full time just giving Pre-Blessing ceremonies. Their Blessing work is quite effective not only because they have a congregation whom they bring to the Blessing but because they have a network of other ministers and community leaders who respect them and will often follow their initiatives because of that respect. Because they work full time, Family Federation needs to provide some minimal financial support for them and their families. Of course, a minister will only receive such support if he has a clear and unequivocal track record of dedicated work for the Blessing. As a result, those dollars - the dollars you are contributing or may contribute to the Nigerian Appeal - are used effectively in support of the Blessing Providence. For around $100 per month in support, those ministers may bring tens, hundreds, even thousands of couples to a Pre-Blessing ceremony each month. This is just one of the ways the Nigerian Family Federation is making sure your donated dollars are being used effectively for the African Blessing Providence.
While such work with churches is critically important, many churches, particularly in villages, tend to have relatively small congregations. To be able to offer the Pre-Blessing to one million couples, it became clear last year that we would need to find ways to bring larger numbers of couples to Pre-Blessing ceremonies. That meant we needed to find larger organizations than churches to work with and people with a larger sphere of influence who would cooperate with us in the Blessing Providence. So, the Family Federation is now also working with village chiefs, tribal leaders, city mayors and heads of large organizations as well as with those who are nationally known, such as the coach of the national soccer team. We'll share more with you about this aspect of the Nigerian providence in a future update.
As our Nigerian members found effective new ways of developing the Blessing providence, they began to share these with members of other African countries. At first, it was difficult for the members in other countries to believe these new approaches could work in their nations as well. "This can work in Nigeria, but our country is different," they would say. But eventually they, too, were successful in applying these same methods in their situations as well as others they developed on their own. Now the Blessing providence is beginning to take off in other parts of Africa as well -- most notably in war-torn Zaire.
The only serious impediment to bringing total success in Africa is NOT a lack of techniques and knowhow or even of active, dedicated members; nor is it a lack of spiritual support -- spiritual world is impressively active as the above stories testify. At every step of the way True Parents' foundation opens unexpected doors for us. The only impediment to success, rather, is a serious lack of funds. Because funds that were supposed to come from Japan are simply not available, your generosity is crucial in maintaining and developing the Blessing work in Nigeria. What you have given or give will make the difference between sending teams to all parts of Nigeria or NOT sending them, between funding active ministers or losing their full-time dedication because they have to feed their families. It will help in holding large public Pre-Blessings, in reaching the shakers and movers who will influence tens or hundreds of thousands of people and in putting on the Blessing itself in November.
It will also provide you the most profound connection possible with Africa: ties of kinship. Your new clan will give you roots in Africa which you will be able to nurture and grow deep through your ongoing care for your African spiritual children.
SPIRITUAL PARENTING IN NIGERIA: While being a spiritual parent is always challenging and usually personally enriching and growthful, long-distance spiritual parenting in Nigeria poses some special challenges and responsibilities that are important to be aware of. Newly blessed couples will probably have only a rudimentary understanding of True Family Values and of the identity of TP and little or no knowledge of the DP. They will not understand what it means to have a spiritual parent; you may be seen as a "pen-pal" or a contact abroad who might send money or arrange for them to come to America (Please don't try to do either. They should come to understand that what you have to offer is much more precious than either of these). The couple may or may not be illiterate. Family Federation will probably not be able to send much information on your couples, so it will be up to you to find out about each one through your correspondence. But your letters may not go through sometimes because mail in Nigeria is unreliable; you may need to send the same letter several times (Be sure to keep copies) before it gets through. The initial condition to take responsibility for each 50 couples is a contribution of at least $1,000 to the Nigerian Blessing providence, as you know. It is now possible to take responsibility for additional groups of 50 couples for additional contributions of $1,000 or more. You may also help others fulfill this initial condition to begin caring for their 50 couples. However, only the first 50 can count toward your tribal messiahship goal of 160; you will need to personally witness to at least 110 couples for registration.
Please don't feel, however, that these are insurmountable obstacles to your spiritual parenting. They are not. By far the most important quality of a spiritual parent, as you know well, is unconditional and persevering love and continual prayer for spiritual children. That is all that is needed for the already active spiritual world to help you overcome any challenge and develop a deep and nurturing relationship with your couples. This is a long-term relationship that may take months, even years to develop; that is understood and expected. But as we know, Father hopes that Americans will have the heart to work sends us all to Africa in the not-too-distant future, you know you will be warmly welcomed in your couples' village because of your deep love and care for them.
One last point: We'd like to give you a little more background on the Appeal for Nigeria. At Children's Day in Uruguay last year Rev. Kwak made a report to True Father about the situation in Africa. After hearing the report Father announced the specific condition on which this Appeal is based. There had been a similar condition for the 1995 Blessing, but the terms of this condition are considerably more generous than the 95 condition. Mrs. Rigney said last Sunday that Rev. Kwak is aware of the Appeal for Nigeria, is quite pleased with it and will be presenting it to True Father in the near future.
That's all the news for now. We'll keep you posted. May God bless you.
Mr. & Mrs. Pak Kyu Nam (Korea) Mr. & Mrs. Hiroshi Sakazume (Japan) Michael & Maria Kiely (U.S.A.)
<Michael-and-Maria@Kiely.com> (914) 352-2430 Giuseppe & Keiko Businaro (Italy)
P.S.: This update is only being sent out by e-mail, not by fax or snail mail. Please help to make sure all brothers and sisters have an opportunity to read it by copying it for your circle of contacts or for the members in your region, state or center. Thank you!
Also, before participating in the Nigerian Appeal, please be sure to contribute to the American Blessing Fund or, if you live outside the United States of Canada, to your nation's blessing fund.
HSA Headquarters (43rd Street, Manhattan) has been inundated in calls about this Appeal. If you have questions, please e-mail or call Michael Kiely at the e-mail address or phone number above..
In case you did not receive it before or have misplaced it, we are including a copy of the Contribution Form below:
CONTRIBUTION TO THE NIGERIA FUND AND CONTACT INFORMATION TO RECEIVE LIST OF 50 BLESSED COUPLES
We have contributed to the American or our national Blessing fund and have made a contribution of $1,000 or more to the Nigeria Fund. We understand that this contribution is a condition for us to receive 50 blessed couples as spiritual children from among couples blessed in Nigeria November 29, 1997. Following is our contact information and the details of our contribution. In "Remarks" we include any additional information, such as the address and phone number of a friend or relative, which may be helpful in contacting us after the November 29, 1997 Blessing, in case we will have moved by that time.
CONTACT INFORMATION (Please type or print neatly.)
Name(s): ____________________ Home Phone: ________________________
Address: ____________________ Daytime Phone (Husb): ______________
____________________________ Daytime Phone (Wife): ______________
City: _______________________ Fax Number: ________________________
State/Prov/Regn: ______________ E-mail Address:____________________
Zip/Postal Code: ______________ Remarks:___________________________
Country: ___________________ ____________________________________
CONTRIBUTION BY CHECK (U.S. dollars preferred. Outside U.S., money
order preferred.) (Mail form and check to: HSA World Mission Dept.,
c/o Mrs. Megumi Ueda, 4 West 43rd St., New York, NY 10036, U.S.A.)
___ $1,000, ___ $200 (monthly for 5 months),
___ Other: _________ (Please check/fill out one item only)
Date: ________________________ Check Number: ______
CONTRIBUTION BY CREDIT CARD (U.S. dollars preferred. Mail this form
to: HSA Financial Office, c/o Mr. Go Ezaki, 4 West 43rd St., New York,
NY 10036, U.S.A.)
Amount: ___ $1,000, __ $200 (monthly for 5 months),
___ Other: _________ (Please check one item only)
Date: ___________________ Account No: _______________________
Expiration Date: ________ Type of Card (VISA, etc.): ________
Name on the Card: _______________________