I reemerged into the world after three months, having been found not guilty. I realized more than ever that I owed a tremendous debt Id God. To repay this debt, I searched for a place where our church could begin again from the beginning. I did not, however, pray by saying, "God, build us a church/' I never complained about, or felt ashamed of, the small and humble church building we were using up until that time. I was grateful to have a place to pray. I never wished for a large or comfortable space.
Of course, we needed a place where our members could gather and offer services, so we took out a loan of 2 million won and purchased a house in poor repair that was on a slope in Cheongpa Dong. It was one of many houses categorized then as "enemy property," meaning that it had been vacant since being abandoned by Japanese who left Korea at the time of our liberation. It was a small house with only about 20 pyoung (66 square meters, 710 square feet) of floor space. It was at the end of a long and narrow alleyway. Approaching the house was like going through a long, dark tunnel. All the pillars and walls were covered with dirt, so much so that it made us wonder what had been going on there before we arrived. I and the young people of our church worked for four days with a sodium hydroxide solution to wash off all the dirt.
After our move to the Cheongpa Dong church, I could hardly get any sleep. I would sit on the floor of the main bedroom until three, four o'clock in the morning, crouched over in prayer. I might take a nap until five, but then I would get up and start the day's activities. I continued this lifestyle for seven years. Even though I was only getting one or two hours of sleep a day, I never felt sleepy during the day. My eyes shined brightly like the morning star, and I never felt tired.
My mind was so full of things to do that I did not even want to waste time eating, Instead of having people take time to set a table for my meals, I ate on the floor and crouched over my food in order to eat it. "Pour out your dedication! Pour it out, even if you are sleepy! Pour it out until you are exhausted!" I kept repeating these phrases to myself. I prayed in the midst of continued opposition and false accusations with the thought that I was planting seeds that would some day reap a bountiful harvest. If the harvest could not be reaped in Korea, then I was confident that it would be reaped in the world.
A year after my release from prison, our church had 400 members. As I prayed, I would call out their names one by one. Their faces would pass through my mind even before I called their names. Some would be crying, some laughing. In my prayers, I could tell how each person was doing, including whether they were suffering from illness.
Sometimes, as I called out their names in prayer, I would get an inspiration that a particular person would come to the church that day. The person would come, without fail. When I would go to someone who had appeared sick to me in my prayer, and ask: "Are you sick?" the person would confirm it. Members were amazed that I would know that they were sick, without being told. Each time they asked, "How do you do that?" I would simply smile.
This is something that happened as we were preparing for a Holy Blessing Ceremony. Before the ceremony, I asked each bride and groom candidate whether they had maintained their chastity. When I asked one particular groom candidate, he answered in a loud voice that he had been pure. I asked him a second time, and he again assured me that he had. I asked him a third time, and again he gave the same answer. I looked at him straight in the eye and said, "You served your military service in Hwacheon, Kangwon Province, didn't you?"
This time he answered "Yes," in a voice filled with fear. "You received some time off, and as you were coming to Seoul you stopped at an inn, didn't you? And that night you had illicit sex with a woman wearing a red skirt. I know exactly what you did. Why do you lie?"
I became angry at the man, and chased him out of the Blessing ceremony venue. If a person keeps his heart's eyes open, he can see even what is hidden.
Some were attracted to our church more because of such paranormal phenomena than because of the teachings. Many people think that spiritual powers are most important. The phenomena often called miracles, however, tend to confuse people in the society at large. A faith that relies on unexplained or miraculous occurrences is not a healthy faith. All sin must be restored through redemption. It cannot be done by relying on spiritual powers. As our church began to mature, I stopped talking to members about the things that I was seeing with my heart's eyes.
Membership continued to grow. Whether I faced tens of people or hundreds, I acted the same way as if it were just one person. Whether it was an old woman or a young man, I related to them the same way I would if it were just one person. I would listen whenever a person wanted to tell me about their personal situation. Whether it was an old woman or a young man, I would listen with dedication, as if this were the only person I had to deal with. Each member would say, "No one in Korea listens to what I have to say as well as Rev. Moon." A grandmother might start by telling me how she got married and eventually tell me about her husband's illnesses.
I enjoy listening to other people talk about themselves. When people open up to me and talk about themselves, I don't even realize the passing of time. I listen to them for ten, even twenty hours.'-The person who wants to talk has a sense of urgency. They are looking for solutions to their problems. So I feel that I need to listen to them with my full dedication. That is the way to love their life and repay the debt that I owe for my life. The most important thing is to think of life as precious. In the same way that I listened with sincerity to what others had to say, I also shared with them my sincere heart with fervor, and I would pray for them in tears, I prayed with tears through the night, every night, and the floor of the room never had a chance to dry. My blood and sweat saturated the floor boards. Later, while I was in the United States, I received word that church members were planning to refurbish the Cheongpa Dong Church and make it a respectable building. I immediately sent a telegram telling them to stop the work on the church building immediately. It is true that this church embodies an important period in my own personal history, but even more than that, it testifies directly to the history of our church. No matter how wonderfully it might be refurbished, what good could come of it if our history is destroyed? What is important is not some beautiful exterior, but the will that dwells within the building. It may not be up to a certain standard, but it embodies a tradition, and therein lies its value. A people that does not respect its own tradition is destined to fail.
There is history carved into the pillars of the Cheongpa Dong Church. I look at a particular pillar and I am reminded of a time when I clung to that pillar and wept over a particular matter. To see that pillar where I wept, it makes me weep again. To see a door frame that is a little crooked, it reminds me of the past. Now, though, the old floor boards are all gone. The floor boards where I bent over in prayer and shed so many tears are gone, and the traces of those tears are also gone. What I need are the memories of that pain. It doesn't matter if the external style or appearance is old. Much time has past, and we now have many churches that are well built. But, for me, I would rather go to the small house on the hill in Cheongpa Dong and pray. I feel more comfortable there.
I have lived my entire life praying and preaching, but even now I feel afraid when I stand before a group of people. This is because to stand in such a position and speak about public matters can mean that many lives will be saved, or that many will be killed. It is truly a matter of utmost importance to me that I lead the people who hear my words on the path of life. It is a moment when I draw a definite line on the crossroads between life and death.
Even now, I do not prepare my sermons in advance. I am concerned that doing so might allow my own private objectives to enter into the content. Such preparation may allow me to show off how much knowledge I have stored in my head, but it will not allow me to pour out my earnest and fervid heart. Before I appear in public, I always offer my dedication by spending at least ten hours in prayer. I do this to set my roots down deep. Even if the leaves are a little bug eaten, the tree will be healthy if it has deep roots. Though my words may be a little awkward at times, everything will be alright as long as there is a sincere heart.
Around the time the church first began in South Korea, I would put on a used US. military jacket and fatigues dyed black, and preach with such fervor that I was dripping with sweat and tears. Not a single day went by without my weeping out loud. My heart would fill with tears, overflow through my eyes and roll down my face. Those were times when my spirit seemed on the verge of leaving my body, as if I were on the verge of death. My clothes were soaked with sweat and beads of sweat rolled down from my head.
In the days of the Cheongpa Dong Church, everyone went through difficult times, but Hyo Won Eu endured particular difficulty. He suffered an illness in his lungs and it was difficult for him, but he lectured our church's teachings 18 hours a day for 3 years and 8 months. We couldn't afford to eat well. We ate barley instead of rice, and sustained ourselves with two meals a day. For our only side dish, we would prepare raw kimchi and let it ferment for only one night. Hyo Won Eu liked to eat small salted shrimp. He placed a container of these small shrimp in one corner of the room, and once in a while would go over with a pair of chopsticks and eat a few. That was how he endured through those difficult days. It pained my hear to see Hyo Won Eu, lying exhausted on the floor, hungry and tired. I would have liked to have given him salted conch, but this was much too expensive for us to afford. It still pains me to think of how hard he worked, even as he was ill, to record my words that flowed like a waterfall.
Aided by the hard work and sacrifice of many members, the church grew steadily. The Sunghwa Students Association was formed for middle and high school students. They would take the lunches that their mothers prepared for them and give them to the church evangelists to eat. On their own initiative, they created a list to take turns providing their lunches in this way. The evangelists who had to eat the lunch of the student knew that the student would be missing lunch that day and going hungry, and so would eat the lunch in tears. The students' expression of dedication was even more impressive than the lunch itself, and we redoubled our determination that we would accomplish the will of God, even if we had to sacrifice our lives. Though times were difficult, the church sent out missionaries to many parts of the country. There were so many vile rumors that it was difficult for our members to tell people that they were with the Unification Church. They would go into neighborhoods and clean streets and help out in homes that needed it. In the evenings, our missionaries would hold literacy classes and tell people about the word of God. They would serve people in this way for several months and build up trust. As a result, our church continued to grow. I have not forgotten the members who, though they wanted very much to go to college, chose instead to remain with me and dedicate themselves to the work of the church.