June 22-23, Monday, Tuesday
The 32nd World Convention of the World Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was held on the 24 June 1992 in Gothenburg Sweden. For this convention, I was accompanied by my sister, Sung-joo Kim, who is the director of Sungjoo International Ltd and an avid sponsor of the youth temperance council, and her two-and-a-half-year old daughter, Jihye. I arrived in Gothenburg one day early as I am serving as superintendent of the social service department. My first impression of Sweden was that it has the most luscious trees and is a beautiful country. Across from the Sera Hotel where we were staying was the Liesberg Amusement Park, which is the most beautiful park in northern Europe.
Amusement rides were placed harmoniously around beautiful flower arrangements and fountains. Everywhere, the North’s deep appreciation for children was evident. At the park, not only children but also people with many different disabilities like cerebral palsy were enjoying themselves. I felt with all my heart that the characteristic of a welfare state is that it looks after its weak. At the superintendents’ meeting that was held from 6.30 p.m., some key agendas were discussed at length by board members who had met for the first time in three years. Eligibility criteria for admission to the WWCTU were modified and a number of important issues – dues, convention dates, reshuffling of the UN representative, were discussed.
June 24, Wednesday
For the revival of the Chinese temperance union, the KWCTU invited my Beijing friend, Lida, who is currently completing her PhD in comparative history at Harvard, to this convention as an observer. During my three years at Harvard, Lida did not once blink an eye when I tried to share the gospel with her. However, on my last night on the Harvard campus, Lida welcomed Jesus into her life after hearing my mother, who had come for my graduation, sing hymn. Lida came to see me upon her arrival so I helped her register and introduced her to the representatives of each country. The opening ceremony of the world convention was held in a beautiful historic church in Gothenburg. Princess Désirée came from the Swedish palace to join us for the opening ceremony and sat right in front of us for worship. In the north, the temperance movement has been blessed with active support from the Swedish royal family and government. The pastor who led the service said the temperance movement is crucial in obeying Jesus’ last command and advised that we continue to advance forward quickly with our work. After the service, delegates from around the world swarmed around the Korean party to take photos of us. Jihye was wearing her ‘hanbok’ (Korean traditional dress) and ‘jokduri’ (Korean traditional coronet), Sung-joo, a hanbok with pink embroidery, and I, a hanbok decorated with white peonies. It must have looked very interesting and beautiful to the other delegates. Next, the Gothenburg tram, which was decorated with a white ribbon to symbolize the WWCTU, took us to our next location: the City Music Hall. After welcoming remarks by Swedish government personnel and the WWCTU president’s reply, we listened to a beautiful youth choir. Because there were a number of female parliamentarians, we discussed with them the importance of the temperance movement as a woman’s activist group.
June 25, Thursday
In the morning, I led the prayer for the memorial service that was held for members who had passed away. I thanked God for the dedication and efforts of those who departed and asked the Holy Spirit to give us guidance for all future tasks that remained ahead of us. The World Convention starts and ends every morning, afternoon, and evening activity with worship and prayer. In the afternoon, I attended a small group meeting regarding the content of the resolution. The previous Norway president, Australian union secretary Ms. Martin, South Africa president Ms. Kay Lawton, U.S. member Whanita Whistler, and I attended the meeting. We gathered the suggestions for resolutions sent in to us from each delegation and analyzed what the world convention could adopt as future actions. In the evening, there was a presentation by Alberta Christ, editor of the WCTU newspaper. Then, as superintendent of the social services department, I gave a presentation summarizing the activities of each country’s social services department. I praised each member state for their accomplishments and suggested that we work more closely to solve the human trafficking, prostitution, and refugee issues around the world. In the evening, Swedish doctor Woola Therander gave a presentation titled ‘Women and Alcohol.’ She pointed out that women and men differ when it comes to alcohol problems and emphasized that for female alcoholics, treatment must be provided not only for the victim, but also for her family. After the presentation, we enjoyed learning some Swedish folk songs and Norwegian folk dances. It was clear that people from the north love and always attempt to develop their music, art, and inherent culture.
June 26, Friday
After the morning service, there was a sermon by Pastor Kun Berenson titled “Alcohol, family, and the church.” He declared that alcohol destroys the brain and all parts of the body, and that fetal alcohol syndrome can also be caused from alcohol consumption by the father. He pointed out that church’s today are too generous about alcohol and declared that churches should actively recommend and teach alcohol abstinence. He reminded us of the WCTU motto, ‘For God and Home and Every Land,” and said that we must use love as a weapon in the good fight of the faith. In the afternoon, during the Korean team’s presentation, I outlined the activities of the KWCTU for the last three years. Next, Sung-joo Kim gave a testimony about her life as an international CEO, and how she succeeded in her business by leading her global business partners to the church rather than bars and pubs. A young Swedish member who had been simultaneously interpreting for the northern representatives, and Ms. Sutton, the previous president for the UK came to Sung-joo with her two granddaughters following the testimony. They said that they had been moved to tears by Sung-joo Kim’s powerful testimony. Hallelujah!
Jihye continuously received the love and attention of all union members. Unlike her practices, Jihye did not sing along to “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever” during the Korean presentation. When asked why, she said it was because there was no piano accompaniment. Everyone broke out in laughter. After the Korean team’s presentation, Lida Luo gave a presentation about the history of the Chinese temperance union and plans to resurrect the movement in her country. I pray that the Chinese temperance union will be resurrected once again. I believe God will allow it to happen. Other countries including Japan, Finland, and Norway also gave interesting musical and theatrical performances.
June 26, Saturday
In the morning, director Sung-joo Kim attended a meeting to judge the winner of the poster competition with the Japanese and American delegates. There was also a presentation on the “Negative impacts of Alcoholism on Children.” Subsequently, there were expositions by Germany and Switzerland. They developed and distributed a cookbook full of recipes for non-alcoholic cuisines. The Switzerland delegates even served each representative some non-alcoholic punch. The puppet show prepared by the English loyal temperance legion director, Naomi Castle, and her fellow UK delegates was outstanding. Continuingly, there was a Seniors Speech Contest which I participated in as a judge. It was difficult to select a winner as everyone was exceptional, but the first-place prize was presented to Canadian delegate, Pastor Myno (despite being male) for excellent delivery.
June 21, Sunday
On Sunday, we had an outdoor service at the outdoor theatre inside the Liesberg Amusement Park. We were given the entire playground to use for the evangelization contest. Pastor Branny Coster preached a sermon about Zacchaeus’s transformation after he met Jesus. He told us that we must ask Jesus to transform us too. Afterwards, there was an outstanding joint performance by a Soprano soloist and a children’s choir.
In the afternoon, I served as a judge for the bible verses recitation contest. The Japanese representative who recited with me kept stuttering, but she was courageous for participating and I found her sincerity precious. During the contest, Sung-joo and Ji-hye were introduced to the Canadian Youth temperance director Denice Mountaineer and her son, Sean. They became good friends and Denice happily shared her powerful testimony with us.
Denice had her first abortion when she was 15 years old and had a total of three abortions before turning 30. From a young age, she started abusing alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. When she was 30, she fell into a deep depression and contemplated committing suicide after feeling morally inadequate and inferior to those around her. Right around then, the Christian technician who came to her apartment to fix her phone evangelized to her and told her to believe in Jesus Christ. Denice decided to go to church instead of taking her own life. She went to the ‘People’s Church’ in Toronto where she met Jesus and was re-born through the Holy Spirit. She was loved and cared for by members of her church and even met her husband there. She now has a son and is living every day, preaching to youth about the grace she received. Throughout the entire convention, she was evangelizing and testifying so passionately that she shined bright with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!
June 29, Monday
In the morning, there was a tour course for all participants. We sailed the Gothenburg coast on a cruise ship. It was impressive to see the small city hosting a myriad of world conventions including the World Football Tournament. At night, everywhere around the city was as bright as the day due to the Midnight Sun phenomenon. The city was just as safe to travel through in the night as during the day.
In the evening, there was a reception by the city hall. The deputy mayor was a tall young woman around the same age as Sung-joo. The two seemed to get along well. The City Hall was supposedly Gothenburg’s most symbolic building with its elegant Italian-style marble sculpturing and elaborate wooden carvings.
June 30, Tuesday
In the morning, Missionary Anya Alto of the Eastern region testified about how the Estonian temperance union was restarted. It was glorious to see the power of Jesus and his ability to resurrect the dead. Anya Alto is a Lutheran and is a precious member of the union who loves my mother, sister and me very much.
Soon after, there was a presidential election and I was nominated to run for vice-presidency by the American and Japanese delegation. Because only four members were to be selected from eight outstanding candidates including the Canada and Australian presidents, I participated calmly. The results showed that I had been elected as the first vice-president and the New Zealand, Japanese, and Bermuda presidents were each elected as the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th vice presidents. I realized that God wanted me to serve the world temperance union with more zeal and thanked him for the position. Missionary Anya Alto was very joyful and asked me to select Finland as a location for a future convention when I become president.
In the evening, there was a magnificent dinner banquet. The Sweden delegation prepared every event with great sincerity and effort but were incredibly modest. For example, for the week-long convention, there was only one meal consisting of beef or chicken, and always a buffet with Swedish fish or salads. Also, at the start of the banquet, each person was gifted with a small glass flower vase and matches that had been decorated with hand-drawn stickers. The gifts were simple but preciously sincere.
July 1, Wednesday
A dedication service was held for the newly elected presidents and then Ms. Gwen Stretton gave a lecture. Finally, I concluded the service by leading an afternoon prayer session. I asked that the Holy Spirit keep rejuvenating and growing the temperance movement and that each member could stay upright and rooted in their belief in Jesus Christ. The 32nd World Convention came to a close with the announcement of the final six resolutions to be adopted by each member state.
1. Propose legislation banning medical practitioners from consuming alcohol during working hours, eight hours prior to conducting surgery, and the day before conducting surgery.
2. Proposing legislation of enabling “Alcohol harms your fetus” sticker to be stuck on all liquor bottles.
3. Regarding exploitation of women and children: as rape results in high criminal rates (4 times normal crimes), must provide strong response so women and children are not sexually abused.
4. Child abuse: Every year, millions of children are sexually and physically abused, and become the targets of murder. The WWCTU must attempt to introduce stricter government legislations to enable children to lead lives feeling God’s love and being treated humanely. Children’s humanitarian rights to live must be protected.
5. Recently, it was proven that smoking harms the fetus. “Danger, smoking harms the fetus” must be adhered to all tobacco products through legislation.
6. Tobacco and all addictive substances have a large negative impact on the body so the WWCTU must encourage all women’s organizations to become involved in the abstinence-from-tobacco movement.
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