The massive rally for the peaceful reunification of Korea, held in November 2017 in the Seoul World Cup Stadium, was intended to stand in the gap at a time when harsh rhetoric — and dangerous missiles — flew.
Remarkably, two months later, on Jan. 9, 2018, North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un made an unexpected offer for his country to attend the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang County, South Korea. As the world watched on Feb. 9, athletes representing North and South Korea marched in the Opening Ceremony under the Korean Unification Flag. Moreover, in the women’s ice-hockey competition, North and South Koreans skated as a single, united Korean team.
Such cooperation seemed hopeless only seven months earlier.
On America’s Independence Day, July 4, 2017, Kim Jong-un confirmed many people’s worst fears: He launched an ICBM missile that appeared capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. On July 28, he did it again with a second successful ICBM launch.
On Aug. 8, 2017, President Donald Trump responded, saying, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” That same day came news of a U.S. intelligence assessment that suggested North Korea had produced a nuclear warhead small enough to be placed on a missile.
The prospect of open war between the United States and North Korea was now very real.
In the face of this tension, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, wife of the late Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, called to Archbishop G. Augustus Stallings Jr., the co-chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), which she and Rev. Moon founded in 2000.
She asked Archbishop Stallings to bring 200 clergy from the United States to Korea to pray for the peaceful resolution of this conflict and to bring encouragement and strength to the South Korean people and, in particular, religious leaders.
The highlight of this quickly arranged trip was a special march and prayer at Im-jin-gak at the Demilitarized Zone on the border of North and South Korea and the location of the “Freedom Bridge.” Bishop Dr. Cecil G. Riley of Freedom Hall Church of God in Brooklyn, New York, led the clergy in interfaith prayers. “We come here to pray that the divide between North and South Korea will come down. We pray this in faith, for the Lord says in II Chronicles 7:14 ‘If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land,’ ” he said.
When these pastors decided to go to Korea, some of them were asked not to go by their church members. But as they prayed at the DMZ, something deep in their hearts stirred for peace. They said they could feel God’s presence upon them and knew that a peaceful solution will prevail.
During this trip, Mrs. Moon, who is affectionately called “Mother Moon,” asked the clergy to return to Korea in November, and this time bring 200 clergy from North America and 200 more clergy from around the world.
On Nov. 11, 2017, these clergy — plus elected officials, members of parliament from over 80 countries, intelligence experts, scholars and thousands more — came together for the Global Rally for the Reunification of Korea.
The rally, which included a historic conference, was co-sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation, led by Dr. Thomas Walsh, and the American Clergy Leadership Conference, led by Archbishop G. Augustus Stallings, Jr. The primary focus was to bring peace between North and South Korea, and during the conference, the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development was created. Bishop Noel Jones, renowned throughout America and the world of the City of Refuge megachurch in Los Angeles, addressed clergy before the rally, saying that a new era of peace has dawned with Mrs. Moon’s efforts.
The rally, held at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, included entertainment, such as the large choir led by Minister A. Curtis Farrow and American gospel singer Bishop Hezekiah Walker.
But Prayers for peace filled the stadium likes waves pounding on a beach. Ten prominent leaders from major religions offered their unique expressions of devotion, while Bishop Ki Hoon Kim offered the Family Church prayer, representing the unity of all religions.
Bishop Don Meares of Evangel Cathedral, a megachurch in suburban Maryland, prayed: “Our motive today is peace for Korea and the world We ask for peace and not the ravages of war between North and South Korea. Those of us gathered here today are being called by God to finish the work of building peace and freedom that was begun by Reverend Dr. Moon.”
“It is altogether right and fitting that we undertake this task,” said Bishop Meares. “Our two countries have a bond of heart that was forged in the fires of the Korean War. The shared blood of Korea, the United States and the 15 other nations that was spilled into the soil of Korea in the fight against tyranny makes us brothers and sisters forever. The world came to Korea at one time to protect this country, and the world has once again gathered together on this sacred ground.”
Archbishop Dr. Johannes Ndanga, the Presiding Bishop of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe, thanked Mrs. Moon for her leadership in gathering world religious leaders to call for God’s intervention in the North Korean situation.
Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke, President of the World Congress of Faiths, United Kingdom, who has been called the dean of interfaith historians, also commended the organizers and Mrs. Moon for all the efforts to encourage interfaith leadership for peace.
Pastor T.L. Barrett Jr., of Life Center Church of God in Christ in Chicago and one of the founders of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, offered these words: “Dear God, our Heavenly Father, we have so much to thank you for, not the least of which is True Mother, the Only Begotten Daughter, who has taken on the whole world as her congregation and as her children. We ask that you continue to bless her and her effort to bring the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. We pray for peace particularly in Korea, but also throughout the whole world.”
Amb. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA from 1993-1995, spoke of the historical tensions in Korea. He noted the recent increase of hostile dialogue back and forth between the parties involved in Korea, particularly between North Korea and the U.S., and “the danger of harsh talk slipping suddenly into all-out war is much greater today than it has ever been.”
He also talked about the work of Rev. and Mrs. Moon, recalling how Rev. Moon was such a famous, relentless and successful critic of communism in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, that Kim Il-sung once sent a squad of his elite forces into South Korea with instructions to assassinate Rev. Moon.
But despite knowing about that kind of treachery, Rev. and Mrs. Moon still went to North Korea in 1991 on a mission for peace — and Rev. Moon and Kim Il-sung literally embraced. This pivotal meeting — recounted in detail in Rev. Moon’s 2009 autobiography, “As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen” — underscored Rev. Moon’s remarks about how he was able to understand and embrace even someone who would seek to kill him.
During that dramatic event, Rev. Moon stood strong before high ranking North Korean leaders, saying that Korea must be united not by war but by peace. He also told them that God exists and is the author of peace, that if Kim Il-sung would allow freedom of religion and other human rights in his country, and would seek a more open and good-faith relationship with the South, that his efforts would be met with peace and generosity from the international community. Rev. and Mrs. Moon told Kim Il-sung that God would then bless North Korea.
As a result of this extraordinary visit, something touched Kim Il-sung’s heart, and from that time on, there was an increase in direct communication, to the degree that Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un have both shown open-heartedness to Rev. and Mrs. Moon.
The Nov. 11 rally concluded with a heartfelt message from Mrs. Moon that again called for the intervention of God in Korea and reconciliation and peace among its people.
Excerpts from Mrs. Moon’s remarks:
“Today we have provided this event, which can deeply move Heaven at a time when this nation’s fate is at stake. Many religious leaders and members of the clergy — around 400 — have come here from all continents and a 100 people came from America for the ACLC choir. I am truly very thankful for that.
“When we look at the world today, we see many problems. Though we try to overcome these problems, we cannot find answers through human efforts and strength alone. The future is bleak. Through the First World War and the Second World War, we saw cruel and horrible realities. That was why the U.N. was founded, with the determination that all nations must unite.
Seventy-two years have passed since the U.N.’s establishment. However, many difficult problems still need solving throughout the world. We stand in a maze, unable to unite. For the religions that lead the world today, it is the same. Especially in the Christian Civilization sphere, people say that if you believe in God and believe in Jesus you will go to a good place. But we must not stop with faith alone. We must think of how we can attend God, our Creator, in our families, societies, nations and the world.
“According to the Principle of Creation, Heaven had to protect the only daughter of God during her growth period. I was born in 1943 and Korea was liberated in 1945. Near the place I was born, centered on Pyeongyang, there were many spiritual groups that believed the Lord would return in Pyongyang. However, with Korea’s liberation, the nation divided into north and south, based on the confrontation between democratic and communist thought. The North, under a united regime, was planning to invade the South. God would not have been able to fulfill his will if I stayed in that place, so Heaven had me go south. In 1950, the Korean War broke out. South Korea was not prepared to confront North Korea. Then like a miracle, Heaven mobilized the U.N. and laid the framework on this land for the True Parents to manifest.
“I wish to say this to all of you today: The figures or nations Heaven blesses must fulfill their responsibilities. Happiness grows the more we share it. You need to take responsibility for the blessings, which are not yours only, but which you can share with your neighbors, other people, and the world. Fallen humankind cannot directly go into God’s presence. The state in which we can receive the blessing through True Parents is that of being resurrected and reborn. That is why righteous leaders and members of the clergy have accepted the order and are putting into practice the true family movement in their churches around the world. This people’s wish for peaceful unification [of Korea], humankind’s wish for a united world, cannot go on eternally with human effort and thinking alone. Only when God’s providence unfolds centered on True Parents and under the circumstances of one attending God in one’s family and nation can Heaven’s blessing be eternal.”
This article is drawn from materials at the Universal Peace Federation and the American Clergy Leadership Conference. For more information, please visit upf.org and aclcnational.org.
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