April 14, 2024

Sunday Service on April 14, 2024

Triangle Family Church Sunday Service on April 14, 2024

Musical Offering

Sermon - God Has Plans for Everyone 

The speaker shares his personal faith journey and encourages the second-generation to find God in their lives.

Key Insights

  • Cultural shifts, doubts, and a perception of lack of relevance are some of the main reasons why young people are not coming to church.
  • The poem "Footprints in the Sand" and biblical passages provide comfort and reassurance that God is with us, especially during challenging times.
  • The speaker shares his personal struggles and experiences of failing in his CARP, UTS, and missionary missions, losing his father, and having conflicts with his family.
  • Learning from the first generation's experiences can provide important lessons about encountering God through hardships and trials.
  • Raising children in the church comes with challenges to develop their own faith and relationship with God.
  • God has a plan for everyone, regardless of their circumstances or achievements. It is important to keep serving and unconditionally loving others.
  • Finding God in our lives leads to true happiness, and it is a personal journey that each individual must undertake.


Good morning Triangle families, I’m going to talk about “God Has Plans for Everyone”. Before that, let me ask you something: “why are young people leaving the church?” Church here means church in general. Not just our church. There are different reasons. Here are some of the main ones Google AI gave. Cultural Shift: Young people tend to value authenticity, inclusivity, and social justice more than previous generations. They may find some churches to be out of touch with these values, or even hypocritical. Deconstruction and Doubt: Young people are growing up in an information age with easy access to a variety of viewpoints. This can lead to questioning traditional beliefs. Relevance and Experience: Some young people feel that church services aren't relevant to their lives, or that the experience feels outdated. Is our church out of touch with inclusivity? We frequently highlight positive features of our church movements. For example, HJ Global news features loyal young second generations who pray with tears and testify True Parents with conviction. Is God exclusive? Does God only help those who share a specific religious belief in Him? Does God abandon us when we do not follow His guidance? Based on my more than 30 years of living by faith, I think God cares more for those who have a hard time and fall short of the church's expectations. I will present a well-known poem titled “Footprints in the Sand” and some biblical passages about dealing with failure. One night I dreamed a dream. As I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, One belonging to me and one to my Lord. After the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints. This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it. "Lord, you said once I decided to follow you, You'd walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints. I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me." God whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you Never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you." This is a beautiful poem telling how God cares us especially when we face challenges and difficulties. The righteous may fall seven times but still get up. Proverbs 24:16 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know Him in all your paths, and He will keep your ways straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 Men always ought to pray and not lose heart. Luke 18:1 Many First generation members devoted their energy and time to obey and carry out the duties that True Parents assigned to them. I think they faced many difficulties and feelings of disappointment or failure. Second generation may think; “I do not want to repeat the same path as the first generation” seeing the suffering first generation. The beliefs and stories of the First Generation may appear to be irrelevant for later generations. However, they can teach important lessons about encounters with God through hardships and trials. My faith journey was full of struggles, challenges, and feelings of failure. I want to tell you about what I went through and what I learned. Maybe this can somehow relate to the lives of the second generation. I became a CARP member in 1989 as a first-year student at Hokkaido University. CARP center had more members until 1990 spring. Then we faced hard times. We witnessed on campus all day and night and got no new members. When I graduated in 1993, half of the CARP center members also graduated. That means the CARP center lost half of its members. During my CARP time, I tried hard to help my parents accept my faith. My father and I had more conflicts around the time of graduation. I was forbidden from returning home after graduation. We often think that faith can achieve anything. We agree on that, right? If we work hard with faith, we should be able to grow the membership and witness family and relatives. We often work hard to prove our faith. Then we often feel that our faith is lacking and kind of failure if we do not see the outcome we hope for. I left the CARP center with feelings of failure. A new mission given after CARP made me move forward. CARP graduates were asked to go to UTS. When I was preparing to enter UTS, I had an opportunity to help the CARP center with fund raising in Dec. 1993. 9 months passed after my graduation. The center had become much smaller since I left. Just before going to the UTS, I had an opportunity to reconcile with my father. I was working near my hometown to make money for UTS. He allowed me to come home. He drove me to the train station near home on the day I left for UTC. I felt I made one step forward and hoped to witness my parents. However, the one step and hope turned to big disappointment and feeling of failure by my father’s sudden death. Soon after, Cheong Pyeong providence began. As you are aware, it enables us to free and bless our ancestors in the spiritual world. It did not fully heal my grief and disappointment from losing my father. But it helped me cope and move on. At UTS, we were often told that many UTC graduates failed their mission from True Parents because they had weak faith. We felt like we had to succeed in the mission to show our faith. When I finished my studies at UTS, I was assigned to be a missionary in Israel. Like many of the first generation members, our church did not have the resources to support the missionaries’ living expenses. We had to rely on ourselves to get to the mission country and make a living there. I hope the current young missionaries will have everything they need for their missionary works. My wife was expecting a baby when I was in Israel. She was at home with her mother, luckily. I had no income or visa in Israel. I overstayed my tourist visit by three months. I remembered the stories I heard at UTS about how many UTC graduates failed their mission from True Parents because they lacked faith. I searched for a job desperately while doing missionary work. I had no job experience or computer skills at that time. I finally received a reply from one company for my job application. I worked there for a few days. It made me hopeful to continue living in Israel. But their project with a Japanese company fell through. I had to return to America. I left Israel feeling defeated, like when I left the CARP center and lost my father. The birth of our first daughter made me move forward. I learned about computers and got a computer job in New York City. I hated being asked “what are you doing” because UTS graduates were expected to do something else. I often wondered if God approved of my choice. One thing made me feel that God was behind me even though I didn't follow the mission from UTS. I lost my job after 3 years in New York City. I was unemployed for a year in 2003 with two kids. Government extended unemployment benefits around that time due to the economy. An Israeli company gave me a part time translation job. We could survive with unemployment benefits and the income from the part time job from the Israeli company. Soon after I got a job here in North Carolina, the part time job from the Israeli company ended. It was like Manna and Quail from Heaven in Moses story. I wondered what I could do in North Caroline. I decided to focus bringing up and teaching children. We were somehow taught that if we work hard with faith, our children will also be faithful and stay in church. When we got this Durham church in 2008, the Sunday school room was full of young children in Sunday school. I asked the children what brought them to church. The children come to church because of parents or friends. I wondered how the children can develop their own faith and choose to come to church when they grow older. One day when we were talking about church service, one of my children said that he would go to church and return home right after the service ends when he grew up. It is better than not going to church at all. But my children are still far from the point of coming to church by their own choice. Most children in Sunday school grew up, went to college, and became adults. We only see a few children in our Sunday school. Some events, like workshops and Il Shim program, gave me hope and a sense of progress. We went through a lot of difficulties during the Covid pandemic. But I had moments giving me hope regarding to youth education. We had remote Sunday school sessions to learn Divine Principle and True Parents’ life course with youth. We had several participants at most. We had well organized nationwide Il Shim program and blessing preparation sessions. The hope and a sense of progress did not last long. I could not see the result I wanted. We stopped having Sunday school online because we had fewer people. I could not see the change on my children’s attitude toward the faith after they completed the national Il Shim program and blessing preparation sessions.

Now there is one more question that I struggle to answer in my mind. “Are your children going to receive Blessing?”. In secular world, “My child entered ivy league college.” “My child is a doctor.” These achievements make the parents be proud of themselves and receive a lot of praise from many people. In our church, “My child is in GPA.” “My child received Blessing.” “My child is a missionary.” These achievements make the parents be proud of themselves and receive a lot of praise from many people.

I asked myself; “Am I raising children for my pride and to receive praise from people?” Two memories came to my mind. One is when I visited my grandmother in Japan. She was at a nursing home. She suffered from dementia. She lied at a bed. I was not sure if she remembered me. When she saw me and children, she said to me, “You became a good father.” She gave me money as she used to do when I was young. I was touched that she was still giving in her such condition. The other is when I asked my mother what she wanted for her birthday. She answered me; I do not need anything. It is filial piety that you and your wife get along and live happily.”

We think that filial piety requires to do something like bringing witnessing result, fundraising result, fulfilling mission, receiving Blessing, etc.

God guided me and lifted me up despite I was not enough and could not accomplish many of what I was expected to do.

I asked God; “I know you helped and guided me. How about my loved ones? How can they find God?”

I am not spiritual and not sure that it comes from God or myself. But the answer is; God is everyone’s God. God has plans for everyone as he had for me. What I need to do is to keep loving and serving unconditionally with all my heart as my grandmother presented me.

I would like to remind second generation that someone in our community is praying for your happiness regardless you come to church or not, receive Blessing or not, make donation or not. I hope everyone find God in his or her life. It is the way to find true happiness.

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