(left)Translating for Father Moon at UTS in 1977 (center and right) Fishing for carp in the UTS lagoon with students
In The Ideal Family to Be or Not to Be: Testimonies of a Life of Faith (International One World Crusade; 2010), psychologist Jennifer Tanabe reaches into the extensive archival vault of David Sang Chul Kim, 95, pulling together more than seventy years of historical documents and rare photos to give us a candid portrait of the Unification Church's first missionary to the United Kingdom and the United States. Tanabe's latest book follows last year's volume on this subject entitled The Words of David S. C. Kim: Let Us Learn from the Past (2009), which contains his speeches, interviews, and academic papers.
In this volume, Tanabe wants readers to understand that David Kim views his life as a testimony to the life and teachings of Reverend Sun Myung Moon -- not his own accomplishments and good deeds. As cited in a speech he gave at his 80th birthday celebration, "This old general never dies, never fades away, but always prays; but this old general is nothing without True Parents."
However, his accomplishments in America include several "firsts" worthy of mention, aside from his being one of the first missionaries to the United States. He served as the first president of the Unification Theological Seminary (1975-1995). He was also tapped by Father to serve as one of the first IOWC commanders (1972), and in preparation for Father's first series of Day of Hope talks in America, Elder Kim translated for Father during the first and only American television interview ever conducted with Father, on the Al Capp television show (1972).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNyCNSynrUs (Part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpBusg5ymuw&feature=related (Part 2)
The author certainly helps the reader understand how and why David Kim decided to devote his entire life (he turned 95 in mid-November, 2010) to help and support the ministry of Rev. Moon. Elder Kim tells us that it was in the latter part of January, 1954 when, after being encouraged by a close friend to travel from Seoul to Taegu to meet with the leader of a spiritual group "who could communicate directly with heaven," that he found himself standing in front of one of Father's early disciples, Mrs. Se Hyun Ok. He was upset that the leader of the group (Father) was not inside the house. Suddenly Mrs. Ok's body began to shake and jerk, and a man's voice started speaking: "Listen, dear Sang Chul! I have been training you for 30 years since around the age of 9, for your search of the truth through various religious experiences and groups. The time has now come and this is the place I wanted to lead you to. Unconditionally surrender. From now on your new name is David, after King David who destroyed Goliath in the Old Testament. You will be going oversees for pioneer missionary work for this group."
A most intimate and revealing account is provided by David Kim on just how the American movement was completely restructured and transformed after True Parents arrived in 1972 and took control over all activities:
"When True Parents came to America in 1972, the entire American membership (800 people) was asked to assemble in San Francisco. The four pioneer missionaries [David Kim being one of the four] were working very hard in their respective regions until True Parents' arrival in 1972. However, there was no unity or cooperation. They even competed against each other, trying to influence the others so that they could become the leader over the entire nation of America. These conditions came to the attention of our newly-arrived True Parents. Father announced plans to organize International One World Crusade teams and Day of Hope tours in America, and dissolve the four missionaries' territories."
(Side note: As a member who joined the church via the One World Crusade bus tour that I met during the summer of 1972 at Burlington, Vermont, I wonder how and when I might have encountered Father if not for his having come to America and reorganizing everything.)
Another candid and revealing account by Elder Kim describes how his relationship with his wife has been maturing and evolving. During a 1997 interview conducted by John and Sandra Lowen he says: "In the past, my nature was domineering, thinking only about the heavenly mission, and neglecting my wife's feelings, emotion, physical and spiritual needs. This has gradually changed and is still changing in our marriage. We are exercising more mutual respect and understanding of each other's original personalities. This mutual consideration can bring more harmony and unity and oneness between husband and wife. As we get older, we have more appreciation for each other. We are looking at each other and finding the beauty of elderly persons as they complete their spiritual maturity based on True Parent's ideal, drawing near their stage of perfection."
I highly recommend this book for anyone who would like to be taken on an intimate journey into the life of one of the very early disciples of Father, who has spent over fifty years of his life working in America. I especially enjoyed the rare black and white photographs depicting David Kim's early life; some going all the way back to pre-1920.
I'll close with the author's characterization of this "heavenly general":
"In this volume we have seen David S. C. Kim and his wife as champions in faith, valiant warriors for God, dedicated seekers of truth, passionate educators of young and old alike, and loving parents and grandparents not only in their own physical family but to the many people they have taken care of in their life of faith. Indeed, we grandchildren feel lucky to have had such grandparents … Finally, these grandparents have not sought glory and reward for themselves, but with true filial piety they have consistently honored True Parents in all that they have done and continue to do."
To order a copy of the book, mail a $40.00 donation to the IOWC office, P. O. Box 1755, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 12601.