Rev. Linda Howell
Assistant Pastor
Unification Church Washington DC
March 7, 1999

God always has incredible things in mind for us, if we allow Him to enter into us. That's one thing I'm learning this morning. God is always showing me that. In 12 days our Mother will be coming here and my heart has really been yearning to do as much as I can to make this a great victory for our True Mother. I'm sure that you are longing to do that, too.

So this morning we're gathered here in the spirit of brothers and sisters, to find the spirit of God, to find God's love in us, so that we can be empowered to do the great -- not the impossible -- for our Mother and our Father. This year our Father celebrated his 79th birthday. Many people from around the world gave greetings to our True Parents for all the things they have done. In this final year of 1999, before our Father reaches the age of 80, we are given the incredible task to allow our True Parents to be recognized in this incredible nation of America.

In dwelling upon what I would speak about this morning, I wanted to share with you some words that Father shared with our brothers and sisters before he entered Danbury prison, the kind of spirit that Father has. I feel it's the kind of spirit that we always have to maintain. In times of difficulty, in times of trouble, in times of lack of faith, we can look at Father's words and life, at how he could overcome, how he challenged himself to meet God, to live with God, so God could help him to fulfill his mission that he was given at the young age of 16. He was a young boy when he was given his mission at 16.

I wanted to read from "God's Warning to the World." Father's words here are so moving. The title of this speech is "The Path I am Walking." Father in the last several years has been educating us about having absolute faith, absolute love, and absolute obedience. I firmly believe he has been training us, trying to guide us in the past years for the final age before the year 2000. How we can accomplish what Father wants us to do, what God needs to have done is only by having absolute faith. We can't doubt. We have to have absolute love. We can't hate. We have to have absolute obedience, absolute attendance. We can't desert. We can't be traitors. This is how I feel our Father has been educating us, and giving us his incredible love in the last several years by giving us that motto of absolute love, faith and obedience.

Father's words from "The Path I am Walking," which was given on July 20, 1984, on the occasion of departing for Danbury. "My faith will not change, wherever I go. To say that your faith will not change means that your mind will never change. By the same token, the world that I am pursuing will not change. Wherever I go, whether it is a high place or a low one, my life will be the same."

I had the great blessing to go to Uruguay to celebrate God's Day and in the morning we did hoon dok hae with True Parents. It was all on Father's life. Please get that off the Internet or from someone. Those readings were so moving, including things we never heard before about Father's life.

Father could sleep by the toilet in Hungnam prison and have the mind that he was grateful that he could sleep by the toilet because even Adam and Eve only had a hole in the ground, but Father had a toilet. Father is able to project his mind beyond the hell that he is in. We have to learn that by reading about Father's life. We can do it if we really follow Father's words, his life, how he accomplished it.

"The work of God is to make unity. If there had been no fall, each man and woman would have experienced the unity of mind and body. Then with the unity of man and woman in marriage, the ideal world would have been achieved. However, the world in which we live has not yet become one. The huge world is nothing more than the extension of the individual man and woman. Almost no one can claim that their mind and body are always united. Thus, the world in which we are living is not the world which God wanted. This is the fallen world instead."

Is there anyone here who has their mind and body united? I struggle with it every day.

"Since there are no individual men and women united perfectly in mind and body, there are no families which are perfect. There are no societies, there are no nations. The world is not perfect. Whenever a person becomes perfectly united in mind and body, God relates with that person as one completed individual. When such men and women are united then God becomes the subject or the center of that couple. If a certain tribe becomes totally united then God becomes the center or the subject of that tribe. Therefore, it makes no difference how large the population becomes because God wants to be the center and the subject to everybody.

"What is the path that I am walking? My ultimate mission as a son of God is to bring about the unity of the entire world. If there had been no fall, God would never have had any problem in visiting this world. All people would have become perfected and would have automatically welcomed God into the world. It would not have mattered how many billions of people were born. It all would have been incorporated into the unified world.

"God has worked so hard to bring unity on the levels of the family, tribe, nation and world. If Adam and Eve had not fallen, they would have automatically created the unified family, tribe, nation and the world. If that was the reality then God would be free to travel everywhere, joyfully experiencing unity. Wherever He would go, He would be with His people.

"Because of the fall, barriers and divisions came into the world on every level. Now God has to deal with this divided world. That is the tragedy of God and humanity. God is not at the center of this divided world. Satan is at the center and he is running it. Incredible conflict pervades every relationship, first of all between the individual mind and body. Throughout history no one has been able to pull out and eliminate the root of the conflict of this world."

The motto of this year is The Cosmic Expansion of the True Blessing and the Rooting out of Satan's Blood Lineage. That is what Father's mission is, to root out Satan's lineage. Father is mentioning this in his speech back in 1984.

"There have been many saints throughout history and they were always unifiers. In the face of adversity they never allowed themselves to become divided. Among such people, the greatest is Jesus Christ, the son of God. He came to unite the world, with the greatest power of unity that anyone had ever seen. He brought unity among all different races and cultures. Even his enemies, the forces of Satan who tried to destroy him, could be brought into unity by him. I want you to understand that Jesus prayed on the cross for his enemies because his deepest purpose and mission was to bring unity to everyone.

"However, when Jesus was bearing the cross, he was a single, solitary person. His disciples were not supporting him. The chosen nation was not supporting him. And the Roman Empire was not supporting him. He was absolutely alone. But today what is Rev. Moon doing? Rev. Moon came to this modern age to bring unity. He is a unifier. He is casting fire to bring about unity.

"If I shed tears, they are not the tears of tragedy or defeat. They are the tears of unity, tears of bringing hope to the future. God's method has always been that of being hit and then restoring it, over and over again throughout history. Thus, we can sometimes weep, knowing that our tears will bring us greater determination and hope, to allow us to march forward to the greatest victory.

"But if we become defeated, we will never become the people who can receive the ultimate blessing of God. Those ultimate blessings came only to those who endured, being hit and never faltering, those who continued to move forward.

"Today I am going the road of incarceration and I am asking God, What is your next chapter for me? Let your will be done, and bring the unity of all humankind centering upon the True Parents.' I know that no matter where I go, I will find people who will follow. Strangers will follow me. When I walk over the hill, the unified world will be waiting there to welcome me, but billions of people will become united into one.

"There is a way for God to come and dwell with humankind. For the first time the unity between God and ourselves will be achieved. Therefore, I walk the road of the cross with hope and a total victorious mind. We are here together, people from all different cultures, and the five different colors of skin. You must be united with me. You parents with children, you must follow me with your entire family united. All the members throughout the world must be united. This is the only way that you an follow.

"Because of this momentous day, there is hope for unity, starting from the membership of the Unification movement and spreading out to the rest of humanity. Because of this day, unity shall become a reality. This is a glorious and victorious and historical day. For that reason I don't want you to send me off in tears. If you have in tears automatically streaming down your face, they must not be tears of tragedy. They must be tears of determination, telling me, 'Trust us. We are going to bring 100 times greater victory in the days to come.'

"I want you to understand that if you have sadness in your heart today, there is only one way to alleviate it. On the day that I return from prison, you must be able to share with me about all the thousands of people who became united while I was gone. That is the only way you can be worthy of your tears. I am going the road of confinement for the purpose of unity. Inside the prison I will work even harder to bring about greater unity among the Unification movement and the Christian community.

"Also I am working to bring unity between the Unification movement, the Christian community, and other religions. That is my purpose for my going to prison. When Jesus was crucified, he went into hell first and he opened the doors there. Today, I am bearing my cross but I will not die. I will open the doors of hell as a living person. From that point on, resurrection and Pentecost will come. This is the way I understand the meaning of the day.

"The living God never dies. You must inherit my spirit and tradition. That means you must become unifiers, become united among yourselves and helping others to unite. Our goal is to fulfill the will of God, and the will of God is to bring unity of all people. We are marching forward to that goal. Even if the time comes to give up my life, it will be given up for the unity of humankind.

"I want you to understand that even though there are only a few people here today, there are great numbers around the world who are shedding their tears in prayer, pouring out their hearts for the sake of God's will.

"Have I been waging a futile battle? No. As I struggle toward this seemingly impossible dream, I knew that the entire world will eventually understand. From now on you can go out and shout to the world and everyone's heart shall be melted. Their consciousness will be awakened and you will be able to unite them with your heart.

"At this time I am going away and you must stay, but this is your moment of commitment, to become the catalyst for the unity of the world. We must stand up now and move forward to achieve our goal. There is no time to rest, and certainly no time to weep and be discouraged. We have only one road to go. The road of determination and going forward. It is because we are champions who must liberate God through unity.

"From that point of liberation we will be able to take true dominion over the creation. From that point forward the kingdom of God on earth will become a reality. I know that to my bones. That is the goal that I am always marching toward. I am at the forefront of the marching line, carrying that container. I am merely marching in the front of that line, but everyone behind me is going in the same direction, with the same purpose.

"You and I have the same mission of world unity. That's the job we must do. I am going to open the doors of hell, but while I am doing that you must take care of the world. I want you to understand that I am going to prison on the worldwide level at this time. I have already gone to prison on the individual level, the family level, and the national level. This is my destiny. Jesus told his disciples, 'If you want to follow me, follow me with your cross.' Therefore, if you want to follow Rev. Moon, you must bear the worldwide cross. Once you are victorious with the worldwide cross, you can come to visit me. After you've been victorious in carrying your own cross, then I will be able to come out of prison.

"When I was in North Korean prison, my mother would come visit me. She had walked hundreds of miles all the way across the peninsula, and the moment she saw me she began to cry very strongly. At that point I shouted out to my mother, calling her by her given name, not addressing her as mother. 'I am not just your son. I have only come to this world through you. I am the son of God. You gave birth to me, so you should be as great as your son. You cannot be cowardly or weak. You must walk forward courageously and encourage me.'

"Today I am saying the same thing to you. Do not ever behave in a weak or cowardly fashion. You must be proud and courageous. Even without your encouragement I will follow the highest possible road of the son of God. Go out and bring unity to the world. We are bearing our cross as living beings. In our situation, complaining could be possible but we must go beyond that. We must expect a miracle, such that without dying we could accomplish the goal. This is a miracle.

"If you have this faith, commitment, then when you go, God is with you. His power is yours. God has been with me when I have this intent and this faith and this love. God is with me each step of my way. The same God shall be with you. This is the time for spiritual awakening. Even though God may have to lose the whole world, the whole nation, the whole tribe, the whole clan and the whole family, if He has one person left with that kind of attitude, that devotion to the love of God and the oneness with God, forming the foundation in God's love, God will be pleased with that person. Starting right from that person He can broaden the scope of His love and loving sphere, reaching out to the whole world again.

"Let us resemble God to the fullest extent. If we analyze God or dissolve God, there will be one thing left, and that is God's love. We must be ready to sacrifice ourselves for this great love. Even if we may have to die on the sea, die on the mountainside, die in the deep valleys of darkness, wherever we may have to go, or if we are killed by other persons for this great cause, we must be ready to do that. This is going to be our determination. This is why in the Bible Jesus said, 'Whoever wants to gain his life will lose it, and whoever is ready to lose his life for my sake will gain it.'"

Early this morning as I was driving from my home to the church, I was listening to a preacher on the radio. He was saying, "How many of you believe that you have sinned, and because of your sin you believe you cannot be forgiven?" Now I was raised as a Catholic, and when I went to church and to communion -- I went to church six days a week -- there was this feeling that if I sinned, the wrath of God would come down and I would go to hell. As a Catholic I lived with that hanging over my head my whole life until I heard Divine Principle.

As we have studied Divine Principle, our consciences have been awakened, our original mind has been reborn. Then when we sin, it is very hard to believe that we can be forgiven. Do you agree with that? How many of us believe that we can be forgiven for the sins that we have done? How many believe that? All of you should raise your hand.

Our True Parents have liberated even the worst sinners, the worst of all killers from the bottom of hell. At the blessing at Madison Square Garden last year in New York City, Father gave blessing to even the worst sinners of this world. How much more precious we are, how more precious we are as blessed families. But because our original minds are so strong, because our conscience is so strong, we feel we cannot be forgiven. But as I was driving this morning I was listening to this preacher and I realized that is so true.

My experience with True Parents two years ago in Alaska was exactly that. Until 1996 I could not believe that God could forgive me for what I had done. To stand before God proud, to stand before God pure, that God could use me. I could get by in life in the church. I could do things, I could have a family, I could do the things that looked good. But inside of me, I did not believe that my God could forgive me for the things that I did and the things I did not do.

Also there was an incredible feeling of great unfulfillment of what expectations Father had for me as a seminarian. I could never stand and be proud in front of True Parents. But when Father called the seminarians back in 1996, I bowed down to God and said, "Either I will change today and recognize my sin and repent about it, or I will have to do it in my eternal life in the spirit world." That day I began to repent. I took it so seriously, like life and death.

I felt "I don't want to live any more on this earth as what I am, what I am doing. I must change if I understand who True Parents are. If I understand Divine Principle, I cannot go on the way I am living." I remember telling my husband, "I feel like I am dying." My husband is a wonderful man. He has a great sense of humor. He turned to me and he said, "Well, just go and die and I'll collect the life insurance." I love my husband but I don't like his sense of humor sometimes.

That was the beginning point for me, back in 1996. I cried out to God, "I want to change. I don't want to be the same person I have been. I want to be the person you want me to be." All of you, deep inside of you have that same yearning. All of you are here because you have heard Divine Principle many years ago. You were awakened, you were alive. We had a dream, we were going to build the kingdom. But we all have fallen short of what Father has asked us, whether we did things that we should not have done, or we didn't do the things that Father asked us to do. We never accomplished the 1-1-1 goal, one spiritual child each month. There were so many things throughout my life of faith that I didn't do. I just felt so ashamed in front of God.

Father called all the UTS graduates to come to Alaska to go fishing and attend a workshop. But that calling from True Parents was my saving point. It was the hook, and I was determined, only I can do it. I can choose not to go. I can choose to stay home and take care of my kids. My youngest daughter, my baby was going to be in kindergarten. She was going to be on the bus for her first day of school. I'm not going to be there to put her on the bus. But I had to make a choice. What do I want to do, to focus on my own family or to focus on changing myself to do something great for God?

I chose to go to Alaska and sit in front of Father. I knew he could see who I was. I knew he could see the shame that I felt, but I was determined. I believe that all of us, every single person in this room, every person in the world, they know that they have not done things that they should have done. Being a good mother, being a good father, being a good employer, in whatever capacity, we know when we don't do what is right because we all are born with an original mind. The beginning point was realizing that I have to change. This is my chance. This is my opportunity, and through repentance I can do it.

I remember in Alaska our wonderful elder brother Rev. Sudo was giving lectures. Rev. Sudo taught my first three-day workshop and I really love him. Through his lectures I heard Divine Principle in a way I had never heard before. Whenever we had a break, I would go out into the woods and cry out to God to hear my prayer, to help me change because I want to be different. I want to cleanse myself, I want to wash myself, to begin again. I want Him to work through me. I don't want to be the person that I have become.

I never believed that God could forgive me for the sins that I did and the things that I did not accomplish in front of our True Parents, and the gap became bigger and bigger. But through repentance for seven days and truly a pure heart to want to change, I was reborn. I had a deep conversion experience with our True Parents. To me it was a miracle, and I believe the miracle can happen to everyone. We all need the miracle of life. We all need a new beginning. We all need to feel love, we all need to feel God, we all need to feel united as one, united as husband and wife, united in mind and body.

But it all comes down to me, my relationship to God. It all starts with my determination to change, and that's the beginning point, to humble ourselves before God. God is there. He is waiting. We have to make ourselves ready. I know that all of you here are so precious. You've been walking the path of faith for so many years. The trials and tribulations have been great, but I know in the final year the victory is to come. The key is our own unity with God, with True Parents, with our spouse, with our children, with one another.

In 12 days our Mother is coming. My heart is really longing to bring the greatest offering to her, longing to bring incredible joy to True Mother by bringing great people. The whole metropolitan area should now be coming to hear Mother.

In the period of Lent, the 40 days before Easter, Catholics always offer up something to God. As a child it's something very simple, like not eating candy, but as you get older you abstain from certain things. This is the period in my tradition of making some offering.

We have found out another great blessing is coming to our area. Daemonim is coming to our region on April 23rd. This is your chance, your incredible blessing not only for you but for all the people from your lineage who walked in front of you, your ancestors. But they can only get that blessing through you. I want to encourage you to prepare well beginning from today. Make a condition, an offering that God can accept. You alone will know that. No one else can tell you what the offering has to be. Let us prepare well for Daemonim's visit on the 23rd.

I really pray that we can walk together this great and victorious path in this next 12 days for True Mother, then three days later in Norfolk, and then April 8th in Baltimore. Brothers and sisters, God is really waiting for us. He's waiting for our humility, for us to allow Him to come into our lives and work through us. Each one of you is so precious in front of God. Without you God is not going to be happy. Without you, our True Parents will not be happy.

I want to end with the Scripture read this morning from Father's words. "No knowledge, no position, no wealth, no anything, nothing can please God except for your heart of love for God alone, which will make Him cry. That alone can touch His heart. If you are ready to do anything at all for Him in order to ease His heart, if you can deny yourself, sacrifice yourself, and be ready to comfort His grieving heart, then only with tearful eyes will God trust you and love you. If you are ready to die, if you cry out to God, 'Whatever place you have for us to die, I will go to that place and I am ready to deny myself. I am ready to die in the place of other people for the sake of your cause,' and if you really dash to that point, ready to sacrifice yourself then God may be able to trust you.

"In that case you are in a position similar to that of Jesus, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, My father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou will.' But if you are utterly going to do those things for the sake of God's will then alone will He believe in you. Even though He has been betrayed by so many people, when Jesus prayed before God, saying, you may do anything you please and I will follow you, then God could cry out to Jesus, You resemble me. You restored yourself in the image and likeness of myself.' In that case alone God can trust that person."

Please join me in prayer.