Funds accumulated through business operations are sacred. For business profits to be sacred, however, it is important not to lie or to take excessive profit. When conducting business, we must always be honest and we must never take a profit of more than 30 percent. Money earned in this honorable manner must, of course, be spent preciously. It must be spent where there is a clear purpose and intent. This is how I have managed business operations throughout my life. I believe the purpose of business is not simply to make money. It is also to support the missionary work that is the work of God.
One reason I worked to create funds for missionary work through business was that I did not want to take money from our members for this purpose. No matter how lofty the purpose might be, sending missionaries overseas could not be accomplished just by wishing it. It required funds. These funds needed to be money that had been earned in the name of the church. Funds for missionary work had to be funds that had been earned in an honorable way. Only then could we be proud of everything we did. As I looked at various options for making money, postage stamps caught my eye. In those days, I was suggesting to members that they write letters to each other at least three times a month. Mailing a letter cost 40 won, but I suggested that they not simply place one 40-won stamp on their letters. Instead, I suggested they use forty 1-won stamps. We took the canceled postage stamps from these letters, sold them, and managed to make 1 million won in the first year. Seeing that postage stamps, which seemed insignificant, could bring in big money, the members continued this work for seven years. We also sold black and white photographs of famous places or popular entertainment personalities that we had colored with paint. This business also contributed significantly to the operation of our church activities.
As the church grew, postage stamps and painted photographs were no longer enough to generate the funds we needed for our missionary work. We needed to take our business to a higher level if we were to send ; missionaries all over the world. In 1962, before the Korean government redenominated the currency, the church invested 720,000 won in a lathe that the Japanese had been using but then abandoned in 1945. Following redenomination, it was worth 72,000 won. Korean currency was pegged to the dollar then at 125 won per dollar, so the official value of the investment was $576. We placed this lathe in the coal briquette storage room of the "enemy property" house we were using as our church, and called it "Tongil Industries."
"To you, this lathe may seem insignificant," I told the members then. "You may wonder what kind of business we are going to do by installing one piece of old and used machinery. This machine that you see here, however, will be multiplied before long to become 7,000, and even 70,000 lathes, and the company will develop along with Koreas defense and automobile industries. This machine that we installed today will surely be a cornerstone for building our country's automobile industry. Have faith. Have the conviction that this will surely happen."
This was what I said to the members who gathered in front of the coal briquette storage room then. It was a humble beginning, but our purpose was lofty and great. The members responded to my call, and worked with dedication. As a result, in 1963, we were able to start another business on a somewhat larger scale. This involved having a fishing boat built. The boat was launched at a pier in the Manseok Dong section of Incheon and christened "Cheon Seung Ho," meaning Victory of Heaven.. Some 200 members attended the ceremony where this fishing boat was sent out into the ocean.
Water is the source of life. We were all born from our mothers' wombs. Inside those wombs is water, so we were born from water. I launched the boat with the belief that, in a similar way to how we receive life from water, we need to go out onto the ocean and pass through a series of trials there in order to become capable of surviving the trials we will face on land.
Cheon Seung Ho was an exceptional boat. It sailed throughout the Yellow Sea and caught many fish. The reaction of many members, though, was that our church had enough to do on land, and there was no need for us to be going out on to the ocean and catching fish. I sensed, however, that the world was about to enter an oceanic era. The launching of Cheon Seung Ho was a small, but precious, first step in opening that era. I was already picturing in my mind a larger ocean and boats that would be larger and faster than Cheon Seung Ho.