Mother Moon celebrated her 80th birthday on 27th January, which is the sixth day of the first month by the Oriental lunar calendar, the calendar used for commemorating birthdays in Korea. Incredibly, according to that calendar, she was born on the same day as Father Moon!
This is one of the Holy Days of the Family Federation, celebrated by members all over the world. At the celebrations in South London on Sunday 29th January, Dr. Michael Balcomb, the President of the Europe and Middle East Region of the Unification Movement, commented on the many leaps of faith that both Mother and Father Moon had made throughout their lives,
“For those of you who are joining us, perhaps for the first time, today, we are celebrating the birth of both our founders, whom we call Father and Mother Moon. They were born on the same lunar day, the sixth day of the first month, in different years – Father Moon in 1920, so he would have been 103, but he passed away 10 years ago – and Mother Moon in 1943. It is her 80th birthday today, her so-called ‘palsun’ in Korean.
Both in her birthday message (27th Jan.) and in her Lunar New Year message, which was a few days ago (22nd Jan.), Mother Moon mentioned that we are entering the Year of the Rabbit, the black rabbit.
And she told us, therefore you should leap forward and move fast. But we’re not in the Orient here, and so you might think, ‘Well, is this just some sort of cute oriental tradition, this kind of idea of leaping and running like a rabbit?’
I think there’s more to it than that. Throughout his life, Father Moon was very inspired by the stories of people who took action in an extraordinary way on behalf of God.
As a young man, his family converted to the Christian faith when he was about nine, and immediately, he was entranced by the stories of people like Noah, who built an ark, apparently not by the ocean, but on top of a mountain, or Abraham, who, following with his father, left their comfortable homeland in the civilized world and travelled hundreds of miles into an unknown land. After Abraham came Moses, who took his people out of Egypt and through the desert.
And it wasn’t just the figures of ancient history, or even of Christian history, that inspired Father Moon. He was moved by the story of Buddha, who left the comforts of his palace, and even his family, to pursue enlightenment. He read about the founding of the Sikh faith and he was deeply moved by stories of the Prophet Muhammad, who, answering the call of God, started a new faith dedicated to the worship of God, left his homeland and eventually unified the whole of Arabia.
Later on, Sun Myung Moon was deeply moved by the story of the Pilgrim Fathers who left Europe to go to America just over 400 years ago, with the conviction that they could build a world where people could worship God in peace and in unity.
In the last century, Father Moon was moved by the story of Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., who left what could have been a very comfortable life preaching in a rich church in Atlanta, and gave himself, and ultimately his life, to the cause of civil rights and unity.
In short, Father Moon admired people who not only had great faith in God, but took action on that faith, leaving behind what was comfortable, and doing something that was uncomfortable, challenging – even risky.
And he himself followed that pattern throughout his life. When he was about 13 years old, he had a moving experience with a great-uncle of his, who was a freedom fighter in occupied Korea. He and a band of about a dozen people came one night to the family home.
And although Father Moon was young then, he understood how his country was suffering, and he determined on that day, ‘I’m going to do something about it!’ But he didn’t really know what that would be.
Three years later, on Easter Sunday, he had a powerful experience with Jesus Christ. Jesus revealed to him that not only was the world suffering, but also that God was suffering. And incredibly, Jesus asked this young boy, ‘God is looking for the person who can make a difference. Will you be that one?’ And Sun Myung Moon answered, ‘Yes, yes I will.’
That wasn’t the only time he took a leap of faith. Soon he found himself in Japan as a student. The Japanese felt that this would be a great honour for every Korean, but instead of focusing on his studies, he determined to join the underground resistance and work for the liberation of his country. That led him to numerous arrests, beatings, torture.
Ten years later, back in Korea, now married, one day he had the heart-rending call from God, ‘Go now into North Korea, the communist land, and preach my word!’
To do so, meant almost certain death but he took that leap of faith. And indeed, it took him into a Communist prison camp, to the very verge of death. He was liberated, as many of you know, just the day before he was scheduled to be executed.
And so he continued in this great life of adventure. Now, what about Mother Moon? It’s her birthday today as well. She says, ‘One of my greatest leaps of faith was the day I married Father Moon because I was just 17, and he was 40. In fact, he reminded me of my grandfather. […] But I felt the pressure of God’s concern, ‘I want you to become True Parents. I want you to be the couple who can do what Adam and Eve did not.’ Will you be that woman who answers this call?’ And she said, ‘Yes, I will.’
Now, life in Korea in the 1960s was not easy. The country was recovering from the Korean War. It was a poor country. Nobody respected it.
And in 1970, the Moons took their whole family to the United States. But as new immigrants, they didn’t come quietly, even though they spoke almost no English. They said, “We have come to America as a firefighter, as a doctor to put out the flames of immorality and to heal this nation.”
Fighting words for new arrivals! And in fact many resisted, saying, ‘Who are you to tell us that our country is sick or on fire?’ And powerful enemies arose, and Father Moon ended up again going into prison.
Mother Moon was trying to raise a family of 13 children, but still she visited every other day – the maximum allowed – for one year, until he was released.
After that, they felt, ‘Maybe we should keep quiet for a while.’ But not a word of it. No, instead they decided to tackle head on the threat of materialism, of communism.
And in 1990, they went to the Kremlin, to Moscow to meet with President Mikhail Gorbachev and Raisa Gorbacheva, the land of the KGB. And the following year to visit with Kim Il-sung, the president of North Korea, a man who’d actually tried to kill them on several occasions.
That was another great leap of faith. And a commitment that no matter what it takes, we will not stay back in our comfort zone.
When I think of our founders and their lives, that we celebrate today, this is my abiding memory: that man and woman of great courage and commitment.
How can we best celebrate their birthday then? I think the answer is clear. We have to be like them. We have to have that same courage, that same desire, that willingness to take a leap of faith.”
– Slightly edited extract from a speech Dr. Michael Balcomb gave at the London River South community of the Family Federation on 29th January 2023.
Featured image above: Mother Moon and the cake at the the celebrations of her 80th birthday in Gapyeong, South Korea on 27th Jan. 2023. Photo: FFWPU.