Horrible Things Happen to Those Who Run Away

fearIn retrospect, one of the weirdest aspects of being in UBF during the 1980’s and 1990’s was listening to stories told by Samuel Lee. In his Sunday messages and extemporaneous announcements, he spun elaborate tales about people in the organization. Some of his stories contained elements of truth. In other cases, the facts were misunderstood, misrepresented or fabricated. He played the role of spiritual doctor, diagnosing people’s problems and attributing cause-and-effect relationships between their decisions and the happenings in their lives.

Some of Lee’s tales seemed relatively harmless, but many of them were not. He often spoke of horrible things that happened to members who became disobedient or disloyal. People who left the organization were characterized as proud, deceived and greedy. They abandoned God’s calling and God’s mission to enjoy an easygoing comfortable life, and the result was always tragic.

We all listened to these stories, and no one bothered to check their validity. The people were never explicitly named. After leaving UBF, their lives may have been happy and productive. But we had no way of knowing, because once they ran away we had no contact with them. And even if we suspected that the stories were exaggerated or invented, we could never openly say so, because Lee’s authority and truthfulness could never be questioned.

Many of Samuel Lee’s horror stories are recorded in UBF Sunday message archives. Here are five examples that Brian Karcher dug up. Many more are out there; they are not hard to find.

Example 1: from “God is Pleased to Give Us the Kingdom of God” (10/29/1995)

A young man studied architecture. He made some money. Then he became proud. He abandoned God’s mission and bought a good house in the suburbs. As soon as he moved into an overly luxurious house for him, he was attacked by liver cancer and died after six months. His wife is in huge debt. She suffers from deep despair and nihilism.

Example 2: from “The Triumphal Entry” (4/18/1999)

[In the following passage, Samuel Lee talks about three Chicago missionaries who allegedly ran away because they didn’t want to suffer. SL calls himself “commander,” “leader” and “the servant of God”. He equates obedience to God with obedience to him, and he claims to have some special authority to bless people.]

To obey God or not to obey God’s word determines our fate. There were three medical doctors. They came as UBF missionaries to Chicago. But when their commander arrived, they all ran away so as not to suffer in doing the work of God. The leader was unhappy about them and did not bless them. Then soon one of the doctors, who was an anaesthesiologist, overdosed a patient for an operation and the patient died. So he lost his medical doctor’s license. Now he is running a grocery store very poorly. Another one, influenced by American relativism, cursed the servant of God. Then he left UBF. After several years, he was in a severe car accident. His body was totally crushed and his hands and feet were paralyzed. The third one got a proper job. But he has rheumatism in his right leg and in his left hand. He suffers day and night. All these events happened when they took God’s word lightly. This is to say that when we obey God’s word, God blesses us; when we disobey, God does not bless us.

Example 3: from “A Fieldwork Training” (7/2/2000)

[In 1989, SL expelled thirty members because they had attended a non-UBF charismatic gathering. He called them “hallelujah Christians,” accusing them of obeying feelings and emotions rather than the word of God. Over time, the stories told about them became more and more fantastic and absurd. Here he claimed that they were seduced by a “witch woman” and called their prayer circle a “witches’ dance.”]

It is very dangerous to hear the word with one’s feelings. Once a servant of God visited a mission field. The church members were going to see a witch woman’s clever demonstration. The witch woman told them that Jesus was coming after three months. She put some water on each one’s forehead and predicted that all kinds of the best blessings would come upon them. Next, she demanded, ‘If you are going to receive all the blessings I spoke of, pledge an offering and bring it to me.’ People like flattery. Sometimes they know that it is wrong, but they like flattery and the promise of success. This is sinful human nature. About thirty of the church members went there and received water baptism on their foreheads and the prediction of blessing and success. They gave all their money to the woman. After one month the woman disappeared. The church that invited her also disappeared. It had been on Western Avenue. Those who were ordained by the witch woman suddenly became self righteous. They began to dance in the darkness on the stage of our church. They looked like witch doctors. They were speaking what they did not know; some were foaming at the mouth; some acted like mental patients. So the servant of God drove them out, all thirty of them. Later, three young men from among them suddenly died of unknown diseases. One woman, who was asked to remain in the church as a prayer servant, ran away. One day, on her way home from work, she had a big car accident. Only her head has been alive for the last ten years.

Example 4: from “The Parable of the Tenants” (5/16/1999)

[In this paragraph, SL describes seven people who ran away. The situation of the medical doctors mentioned in the sermon one month earlier has changed. The first doctor has sunk into poverty and must work 17 hours a day. The second has not only been totally crippled in a car accident but has two “retarded” sons and subsists on welfare. The third, who formerly had rheumatism, now suffers from insomnia and stomach ulcers and is locked in a constant battle with his wife. The tragic case of the architect is mentioned again, but instead of having died from liver cancer after six months, he has died from kidney cancer after two months. Another two disobedient missionaries (strangely, all of them being medical doctors) lost their jobs in the hospital and cannot find work. The story of the missionary who became a “hallelujah Christian” and suffered a car accident so that only her head is living is mentioned again, but ten years has now become seven.]

Many Korean missionaries came to America. They worked hard for God’s vineyard. Soon they were blessed. They became rich and honorable. Then several of them ran away from God’s vineyard to use their wealth all by themselves. When they ran away from God’s mission, God did not bless them. He loved them and wanted them to repent. One of the medical doctor missionaries was an anaesthesiologist. He gave too much anaesthesia to a patient. As a result, the patient died. So he lost his physician’s license. Now he is running a small grocery store. He has to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and gather merchandise to sell during the daytime. His work finishes at 10:00 p.m. Another was a very proud medical doctor. When he was blessed by God, he ran away. Then God gave him two retarded sons. Later he had a severe car accident and is now totally crippled. He lives on government aid. A third one was blessed by God while carrying out God’s mission. But he ran away. Now he has insomnia and a stomach ulcer. He is existing. But his daily work is not medical work but a boxing match with his wife. Another of them finished his architecture study with much subsidy from God’s institution. As soon as he graduated he ran away. Then he got kidney cancer and died after two months. Two medical missionaries are as proud as Herod the Great. They were dismissed from their hospitals and are intensively looking for jobs. But they have had no success. One lady was greatly blessed by God when she was doing God’s work. But when she ran away with hallelujah Christians she had a car accident, and only her head has been alive for the last seven years.

Example 5: from “Preach the Gospel in this World” (4/22/2001)

[SL begins this paragraph with one of his favorite sayings, “There are two kinds of people.” Again he denounces the witch doctors and hallelujah Christians. He repeats the story of the woman who had a car accident and whose head is still alive, but interestingly, the woman has now become a man.]

There are two kinds of people. One kind is the people whose hearts are like flintstone. The other kind is very gentle and weak-minded. Brutal and strong people mask themselves as witch doctors and deceive weak people to empty their pockets. In 1998, I came from Korea after the World Mission Report. In the Chicago UBF, thirty of the members had contacted witch doctors. Witch doctors sprinkled water on their foreheads and told their fortunes. Even though it was lying, they felt good. When they thought about the witch doctor’s lying again and again, they began to feel that the lies were true. Then the thirty of them became useless to God’s world mission ministry. Soon after, they formed their own group and went out to make a hallelujah fellowship. Among them, one man who finished his Pharm.D. died suddenly at his desk, sitting in the chair. Another one died of a heart attack. One was sincerely asked to remain as a prayer servant. But he ignored the request and ran away. On the way he had an accident. Only his head is alive. After that they became very quiet and didn’t bother campus evangelism and world mission work in UBF.

Reading these horror stories today raises so many thoughts and questions.

Did we really believe that these stories were true? Why did we swallow them and even repeat them?

Did we really think that telling stories like these was good pastoral practice?

Did SL actually think that these stories were true? If so, what kind of person believes that the tales he tells about people are true merely because he says that they are?

By any reasonable standard, spreading stories like these constitutes gossip, hearsay and slander. Why was SL granted complete immunity to say whatever he wanted from the pulpit? (Why and how did our theology allow this?)

The audience always enjoyed these stories because SL made them strangely humorous. It was a twisted kind of black humor, because he was talking about human suffering and misfortune without any semblance of empathy. But the audience always laughed at these lines. Why did we laugh?

I believe that, at some level, most UBF members were smart enough to know that God wasn’t going to strike them down if they disobeyed SL or left the ministry. But we were very much afraid of being denounced by SL, because he had the power to shame us, marginalize us, cut us off from what we valued most. When your whole life is wrapped up in the UBF group identity, to suddenly be rejected and cast out of the group is horrible. The social and psychological implications of being denounced by SL were far more palpable and real than the punishments that God might rain down on us.

When SL denounced someone from the pulpit, I believe he was signaling to everyone that the person was no longer in a state of grace vis-à-vis him and this person needed to be shamed, shunned, or whatever until he or she repented and returned to the fold. It was one of SL’s regular tools of social management.

Some members of UBF probably did take SL’s horror stories at face value. But deep down, many others (especially the fellowship leaders) knew that those stories were full of crap. Sarah Barry knew this. Mark Yoon knew this. Joshua Hong knew this. James H Kim knew this. Augustine Sohn knew this. John Bird knew this. Teddy knew this. Ben Toh knew this. Mark Vucekovich knew this. Jim Rabchuk knew this. I knew this.

Yet the social realities of being in a place where everyone’s relationships to everyone were being managed and mediated by SL meant that you were always walking on eggshells. You always had to be careful to remain on SL’s good side, or stay safely out of his way, because with a few words spoken from the pulpit, he could turn your relationships and your life upside down.

27 comments

  1. Joe Schafer

    Here is another passage I found.

    One young man received UBF training. Usually UBF trains a man to be a shepherd, Bible teacher, scholar and administrator, which are essential qualities in being a leader. But this young man only learned the principle of administration. Then he made $3,000,000 in New York and bought a big house in Manhattan. At the age of 37 he retired and began to enjoy his life with his money. He soon became idle and proud. Moreover, after 6 months he was no longer happy with what he had. So he began to fight with his wife. His happiness depended on the ebb and flow of his wife’s
    emotions. His wife soon died because of breast cancer. Then he married a woman who had a shamanistic Christian background. He said, “My wife uses two rolls of toilet paper to cry during the nighttime and sleeps during the daytime. I can hardly sleep. Nobody cooks for me.” In two years’ time, his hair turned white and he looked like a porcupine.

    http://chicagoubf.org/dsl/daniel/dan04.txt

    • I remember virtually all of these stories when they were preached on Sunday in Chicago UBF. I didn’t think much of them over the years when I heard them. Perhaps I didn’t think much, period (but “just obeyed”). Today, they sound bad, to put it mildly.

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, what would UBF leaders say about these messages today? Do they find them embarrassing? Or do they simply avoid the subject?

    • I have found that not a few missionaries act as though it is a great, terrible and horrible sin against God to say anything that is not glowing about not only SL but often also about their respective leader, senior or elder.

      This “teaching” has been so deeply ingrained and firmly embedded in UBF that often some leaders are virtually unaccountable and untouchable even to this very day.

    • Would would they say about these messages? Well some leaders are still regurgitating the stories! Because outsiders never know who the messenger is talking about, the stories create a fantasy world of horror and blessing. The solution is of course presented as UBFism:

      “One girl student had a hope of becoming a world famous pianist. So she invested her youth in piano practice. She married a medical doctor. She was happy for some time. But she got breast cancer and suffered from it for seven years. After getting breast cancer she realized her hope in the piano was useless. She began to put her hope in the resurrection of Jesus. In the hope of the resurrection of Jesus she overcame pain and death and gave a good influence to her children, as well as to her one-to-one Bible students.” source

    • Another “teaching” taught and adopted by some is that the ends justified the means. Since the ends was often “deny yourself for Christ and world campus mission through ubf,” the means (including the stories told/fudged/exaggerated for those ends) would be justified. It mattered little, if at all, how outlandish or fabricated the stories were.

  2. Joe Schafer

    And one more.

    There was a pretty young woman, a born-pianist. If she practiced piano hard, she might have been a contestant at the Tchaikovsky piano competition in Moscow. So in the hope of raising her as our Chicago pianist, we applied for her permanent residency. Soon she received permanent residency. Then we came to know that she was going to a young boy’s house, and had slept with the boy for almost one year. Not only so, she also cooked many other boys. We thought that we could help her. So many shepherds, especially Pastor Mark Vucekovich, worked hard. But she could not leave the boy alone. She stuck to him like a rat sticks to flypaper. After much pain, we sent her to her home country, where her father was. There was a UBF full-time staff shepherd. His ministry was prosperous. But he was seized by a foxy woman and only listened to the lady; he refused to listen to his senior shepherd. We could not believe how he could do that. Soon his ministry crumbled and disappeared. In 1982 a 19-year-old country boy came to Chicago UBF. He looked as if he had some problem. So a shepherd asked him, “What’s your problem?” He answered, “I have a great marriage problem.” Everybody was surprised that he had a great marriage problem and was so heavy when he was just 19 years old. His desire was too mean; he could not be a young man of vision and dream. It was not the 19-year-old boy who talked about his great marriage problem, but obviously the demon in him.

    http://chicagoubf.org/dsl/print_pdf.php?book=matthew&file=mt17b

    • I know these two people because I used to study the Bible one on one with both of them every week for several years.

  3. On why people refer to themselves in the third person:

    Response No. 1, by Elsa Ronningstam, associate clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality: Referring to yourself in the third person creates distance between “I” and “he.” So if you have an exaggerated view of how great you are, you could be using this distance to make yourself even bigger. Or, if you’ve achieved major success suddenly, using the third person could be a way to adjust to the bigger role that’s been assigned to you. It’s a way to enlarge yourself to fit that role.

    Response No. 2, by Mike Birbiglia, stand-up comedian who currently stars in the off-Broadway show Sleepwalk with Me: People love to rip those who refer to themselves in the third person, but they don’t understand the power that comes with it. The third person is how you indicate that the topic is not open for debate. You are speaking about facts that just so happen to include you. Like when Alonzo Mourning says, “Alonzo Mourning has to make the best business decisions for Alonzo Mourning,” everyone steps back a little, and somebody hands him $15 million a year for seven years. But that same sentence in the first person would have sounded like, “I just enjoy playing basketball with my friends and all the free Gatorade.” See the difference? Maybe this is a case of what the f%$# is right with these people….http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a5036/third-person-1108/

    • Joe Schafer

      David, here’s a good example of that. It’s not a horror story, but a grandiose tale that SL tells about himself, using third person language:

      “We have to think about how motive makes people different. Would you like to hear a story? Me, too. There were two students who got room and board at their uncle’s house in Korea. Their purpose was to finish high school. In order to do so, they had to study high school English. But their motive of studying English was to get good grades and pass the college entrance exam. They were not fully motivated to master English; their motive was only to pass a test. As a result, they studied every night for three or four hours. But they could not get even one A. If they had been motivated to master English, they could have gotten all A’s. On the other hand, a factory boy, who was the house owner’s son, was motivated to study in great hunger. So he overheard their English study and memorized everything. He mastered high school English in one semester. Next, he began to teach his cousins. When he understood high school English, he was greatly motivated and wanted to become an English Bible teacher for American students in the future. Then God gave him a photographic memory. After three months, he could memorize an English dictionary which contained 25,000 words, and review it two more times. In the course of studying English he was beaten by his step-mother, who said he was burning a kerosene lamp too much. She beat him until one of his eyes was bleeding, and later, legally blinded. Then he was even more motivated to study English. God had mercy on him and he is now an English Bible teacher to gorgeous American students.”

      http://www.washingtonubf.org/BibleMaterials/John/Jn12a_msg.txt

    • Interesting. You have to give it to Lee though, to some degree, because he was a masterful communicator. When you read that message, you realize that he’s not telling people how to think but rather what to think. He’s promoting a particular world view which would appear to center on nobility and true spirituality. A very impressionistic audience (like college-age people) would eat that up. And he knew how to employ rhetorical force and juxtaposition as seen by the examples he uses. Not gushing over his skills, just saying that it would be very hard for untrained thinkers to see the flaws in his worldview. No wonder why most UBF recruits enter at the college level and stay for so long. They’ve been successfully indoctrinated.

    • Joe Schafer

      “…he’s not telling people how to think but rather what to think – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/09/02/horrible-things-happen-to-those-who-run-away/#more-9491

      A very good way of decribing it.

      Yes, Lee told us (in a very authoritative voice) what each Bible passage meant. But the process by which one arrives at a proper understanding of Scripture was shrouded in mystery. We were discouraged from reading books or consulting commentaries. That would be cheating. No, we were told to go sit in a room by ourselves, to memorize the passage, to recite it over and over, to struggle and wrestle with it, until Bingo! that elusive “one word” suddenly popped into our hearts. It was all rather magical. Something like Buddhist-style enlightenment. The onus was on us to make it happen. If it didn’t happen, it was because we didn’t have faith, or because we didn’t try hard enough.

      This is why, after 25 years of supposedly studying the Bible, I understood very little about how to approach the Bible.

  4. Since leaving UBF I have been blessed tremendously with a great family, a re established relationship with many people I was convinced were no good because they weren’t helping me “grow” spiritually, children, a nice home and a stable job. During ubf I was very narrow minded and, as I began the process of leaving, often rebuked passive aggressively through Sunday messages and testimony sharing by my shepherd. My name was never used but specific examples of things I was or was not doing were used and it was blatantly obvious these things were directed at me. Luckily I was mentally strong enough to realize I did not need to succumb to this spiritually pressure and what can only be characterized as mental abuse. I feel no guilt anymore and live a good life. I’m sure there are still stories about me wrapped into messages and testimonies of how satan must have pulled me away. Or caused me to run away. If that is true, then satan has taken form of that organization that drove me away.

    • Joe Schafer

      “Passive aggressive” is an accurate description. When a leader tries to manage people’s behavior by talking about them in a message instead of talking to them directly, it’s a sign of cowardice. It’s hiding behind the pulpit.

  5. These are important lectures to examine. They reveal the nature of UBFism most clearly. As I finalize my book, I realize we need to write an entire encyclopedia about all these things.

    These stories by Lee show that he was not some innocent Christian preacher, and nor was he just someone who didn’t know what was going on. He knew exactly what he wanted – to create a worldwide network of people who obeyed and propagated his teachings.

    These stories also reveal that God is sovereign (or kharma is a bitch). Lee claimed we would die of some great tragedy if we left God’s mission, which was ubf. But he himself died of a tragedy (fire). If what he said is true, then he must have run away from UBF and God punished him with death by fire. Of course, all this is preposterous. And sadly, it is also very un-Christlike.

  6. The flip side to these horror stories for leaving is all the blessing stories for if you stay. In particular, there are so many stories about good weather. We would take credit for good weather, even if it was for one day, during our conferences.

    This too should be called into question. If we believe God gives good weather as a blessing to the UBF faithful, what do we say when it rained on Lee’s gravesite celebration a few years ago?

    Again, this is all hogwash and contradictory to what Jesus taught. God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. We cannot look to the weather as God’s direct blessing as a result of our faithful actions. That is magical thinking, not Christianity.

  7. “…go sit in a room by ourselves, memorize the passage, recite it over and over, struggle and wrestle with it, until Bingo! that elusive “one word” suddenly pops into my heart. It was all rather magical. Something like Buddhist-style enlightenment. The onus was on me to make it happen…” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/09/02/horrible-things-happen-to-those-who-run-away/#comment-19259

    This was so in-grained in me for over two decades that I was not able to prepare a sermon and or Bible study by not going through this procedure and by using the UBF manuscript as the “absolute non-negotiable and final authority” on the passage.

    Today I do the opposite. I read books, commentaries, blogs and (read or listen to) sermons by other pastors and scholars on the text of Scripture. Then after getting the perspective of many/several others, I look at the Bible with the understanding and learning of different scholars and pastors.

    But when I explained this to certain people, their reaction is to believe what has been circulated about Bento in that “Bento is no longer studying the Bible but only reading books!”

  8. Joe Schafer

    Some paragraphs in SL’s messages were devoted to Ben Toh, especially his visa problem. But those manuscripts are harder to locate, because they were pre-internet; you would have to dig up paper copies.

  9. I wonder how such a man slept at night?

    I often utilized Dr Lee’s messages in my own preparation of messages. I was impressed by his interpretation and division of the passages, but this kind of application shows him to be narcissistic and insecure. I pity him now.

    Whenever I used his manuscript for a message or study, reading these parts always made me feel I could never say such a thing, nor should any Christian, ever, without grave concern.

    BY THE WAY Dr Lee also had a famous car accident, supposedly upon hearing that Dr Jim R married (his first marriage). Most people believed the notion that it was SL and his broken shepherd heart. Now I’m convinced it was either a convenient way to shame Jim , or a sign that Lee found his meaning in controlling others, no matter the situation.

    Reminds me now of the Whitewashed Tombs Jesus mentioned, painted up well, but full of dead men’s bones. He murdered them in his heart, in order to make an idol of them to suit his religious need.

  10. Very interesting article. These kinds of stories are used in my chapter from time to time as well, but maybe not in such an extreme way.

    Actually, most often I hear ex-sheep stories not in a Sunday message but during Bible study. The central theme of these stories is not usually great worldly catastrophes. Instead, the common idea is that they “fell back into the world.” What exactly this means is not entirely clear, but rather is taken to be obvious.

    For example: “One of my sheep was touched greatly by God’s word and was very enthusiastic about making a decision to follow God. She seemed like she was on fire for God’s word. But then, she started attending another church… and she fell back into the world.”

    I hear this sort of tale most often. Anybody else experience these in one-to-ones?

    • Yes, Hertoa, I heard these stories all the time and I’m sorry to say I used them as a Bible teacher. When a good and faithful family left a chapter near mine, several people approached me to tell me this version of the story. Fortunately, I knew the real story. It was a big turning point for me.
      These stories and many of various themes have been a powerful vehicle of influence and control in the UBF community. A very interesting phenomenon.

  11. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    This imitation of Dr. Lee’s mentioning people in messages was prevalent at almost every UBF chapter I’ve visited. I remember only one thing from the Sunday message while visiting Kenya UBF in 2007. As Mark Yoon was bad talking some ‘brother’, the man next to me became upset and wrote on a piece of paper, “Don’t mention me or others in your sermons!” That man quickly left after the service.

    As a Sunday messenger, I often heard about Dr. Lee (Shepherd Samuel) being such a good spiritual doctor through his messages and how he struggled with the word of God to receive one word, and so how I needed to become a great shepherd and messenger like him. His messages were referred to the “model message.” Another time in Africa, IK and I visited Nigeria to support a Spring Conference. We were asked to look at the messages a week before the conference. They were all word for word Lee’s messages, with the Chicago people and American references still intact. I was horrified to find that this was how so-called “message training” and “conference preparation” was done. And the messengers were not “new” or “young.” These manuscripts were given to the fellowship leaders and long-standing members. I’m grateful that in my time as a messenger, Isaac Kim never forced Lee’s messages on to my own in preparations.

    Sadly, speaking bad about others has become so accepted and widespread in imitation of Lee that’s like second nature.

  12. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    After I left, someone told me I was mentioned in a message. So, I looked it up. Not a horror story about me. But I am referred to as someone who “ran away.”

    “She served another young man, who rose up to become a Bible teacher and shepherd, but eventually he ran away because of his disagreements with the direction of our ministry.” from “Hope When There Is No Hope (Luke 7:11-17)”

    I’m not mentioned by name, but the person who told me about it said that everyone knew I was being referenced. What I do find sad about the mention (besides not being named or that my relationship with the missionary is not accurately portrayed or that my fifteen years of service are reduced to this) is that it it supposed to be an encouragement to an older missionary to keep going despite someone leaving. The message tells people to just ignore any disagreements or concerns people have, including someone who has been through the system and was one of you as a shepherd, to ignore people who leave, and just keep doing the same old things you’ve been doing all along. Keep up the campus mission/shepherd business as usual.

  13. Joe Schafer

    Ben wrote:

    “I have found that not a few missionaries act as though it is a great, terrible and horrible sin against God to say anything that is not glowing about not only SL but often also about their respective leader – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/09/02/horrible-things-happen-to-those-who-run-away/#sthash.8NjZs0Xu.dpuf

    My motivation for posting this article is not to trash SL or to announce to the world how bad UBF is.

    I posted this because I wanted to publicly reflect on how this fanciful storytelling affected us. How it fostered a culture of dishonesty and untruth. How it distorted our relationships, making it hard to express what we really thought, until eventually we didn’t even know what we thought. (As Ben said, we didn’t think much about it.) When one man assumes the role of community historian and feels entitled to shape people’s life stories however he wants, and when everyone else allows him to do it, and when no alternative stories may be spoken, the damage to people’s relationships and lives is long lasting and profound.

    I wish that the people who lived through this would open up and talk about it. Perhaps it’s still too raw and scary. But unless they do, healing won’t come.

  14. Joe Schafer

    SL’s fanciful storytelling was not harmless. Real people were thrown under the bus. We allowed it to happen.

    This letter, written by a former UBF leader, gives you some idea of what it was like when SL started to spin tales about you and your coworkers went along with it and threw you under the bus.

    http://exubf.blogspot.com/2007/04/peter-c-former-columbus-ubf_26.html

  15. Joe Schafer

    One more thought this morning…

    UBF members love to study the book of Genesis. I studied Genesis so many times that I lost count.

    Where does Genesis reach its climax?

    In the story of Joseph and his brothers. The longest and most detailed part of the book.

    The sons of Jacob wanted to get rid of Joseph. He was one of their own. He was their own flesh and blood. When it became inconvenient to have Joseph around, they conspired to get rid of him. They threw him under the bus. They came up with a fanciful story to cover up their dirty deed.

    That betrayal, and that lie, literally tore the family apart.

    The brothers wanted to forget all about it. They wanted to bury the past. They told themselves that it wasn’t such a big deal. They thought they could go on as if it never happened.

    But it was a huge deal.

    If the sons of Jacob never reckoned with the dark secret and big lie of their past, what would have happened? They would have died in Canaan. Although they didn’t realize it at the time, the survival of their family — and the whole existence of the nation of Israel — hinged on their coming to grips with what they had done. Dire circumstances finally brought them to a moment of honesty. Together they acknowledged their sin, and their corporate repentance became their lifeline and opened a new chapter in history.

    If we don’t see the importance of reckoning with the past, telling the truth, corporate repentance, and reconciling with the people that we threw under the bus, haven’t we missed the main point of the book of Genesis?

    If you had to sum up the teaching of Genesis in one line, it would be something like this: “Reckoning with your past through truthtelling and corporate repentance is the bridge to your future.”

  16. bekamartin

    The first time I saw SL in person was in a Friday meeting (Sogam meeting) in Chicago. Someone was sharing a testimony and a small Korean man yelled out, interrupting the speaker, telling him something, which the speaker then repeated. I thought to myself, “Who is this crazy little man!?” Later I realized that he was “the great Samuel Lee” and I changed my view from “crazy” to “passionate” and “a great leader.” Wow! I hadn’t realized how deluded I was until now.