On July 15, 2017 Madison Square Garden truly became a “Garden of Peace,” as Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon addressed an audience of over 15,000 people on the topic of “Peace Starts with Me.” She shared a message of hope, challenge, and peace, affirming the fact that humanity indeed is “One Family under God.” The pre-event Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP) held that same morning in the Crystal Ballroom of the New Yorker Hotel undoubtedly set the stage for this high spirited event at the Garden. With only two weeks notice, 120 women, and some men, of every background, culture, and religion gathered to hear a dynamic message from former Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Suzan Johnson Cook.
The spirit was high among the women leaders and friends pouring in even before Ambassador Johnson Cook arrived. WFWP USA President Angelika Selle welcomed the gathering and explained about the miracles surrounding the coming event at Madison Square Garden. She welcomed Ambassador Johnson Cook, who shared a message on “The Peace Within.”
WFWP USA Vice President Rev. Juanita Pierre-Louis, who was instrumental in inspiring the Ambassador to come speak on short notice, introduced Ambassador Johnson Cook with all her credentials and accomplishments as the first African American and woman to hold her position in the United States. As part of her work in this position, she represented 199 countries and all the world religions to integrate religious freedom into foreign policy and national security discussions in the U.S.
Ambassador Johnson Cook was honored to empower the women in attendance and share a message of peace based on her rich life experiences. In her own powerful and spirit-filled way, she then shared many practical pointers of how women can accomplish peace within.
In particular, she spoke on the Biblical word of “Selah” which means pause in the context of singing or playing music. Women most of all need to take time for a Selah, a pause in their lives to regroup and reenergize, to connect with God, and to honor their own space. Through insights, personal stories, and nuggets of wisdom, Ambassador Johnson Cook highlighted four major points in taking a Selah: know your purpose, invite good partnerships, pick your battles, and pray. She said, “We’re so used to the busyness and the noise that we get uncomfortable with the silence. But in the silence, God speaks.” She encouraged everyone in the audience who do so much for others to also take time to replenish themselves, so “that which you have poured out, has to be poured back and deposited back into you. That’s what silence does.”
Ambassador Johnson Cook involved the participation of the audience every step of the way, pouring out many anecdotes and insights which also uplifted the men in the room. One gentleman said afterwards: “This was not only for you women, but also a message for me personally.” Ambassador Johnson Cook “outdid” herself according to Rev. Juanita, who had heard her speak on many occasions. Some of her books speak directly to the heart and soul of women: “Too Blessed to be Stressed”, “Soul Sisters”, and “Becoming A Woman of Destiny.” Certainly, all who came left feeling encouraged and renewed, and ready to receive Dr. Moon’s message at Madison Square Garden in which she urged everyone to “become the sparks that light up this dark world.”