The Biblical View of God’s Servants, Ministry and Family
Analysis by Andreas P. as of June 2001
After writing his testimony in April 2001, listing some of the grievous things he experienced in Bonn UBF, Andreas P. wrote another article, trying to analyze in which way the practices of Bonn UBF contradict the biblical teaching, especially challenging the concept of “the Servant of God” and how in Bonn UBF relationships in the ministry and the families should look like.
The cause for writing the following testimony were my questions: To what extent is the ministry of a “Servant of God” as it is practiced in Bonn UBF justified in light of New Testament teachings, and to what extent do the members of the ministry owe absolute obedience to the “Servant of God,” and what are the limits for church leadership? Absolute obedience [to the Bonn UBF director calling himself “the Servant of God”] among other practices is justified by citing the position of Moses in the Old Testament, whom God made a God for the Pharaoh (Ex 7:1), whom the people believed (Ex 19:9) and who was defended by God with clear signs when the people grumbled against him (e.g. Korah, Dathan, Abiram in Num 16, Miriam’s leprosy in Num 12). They also refer to the positions of Joshua and Samuel through whom God gave clear instructions to his people and even the king, with disobedience resulting in death and rejection. From the New Testament Paul, who described himself as a servant of Christ, is used as an example to justify the position of the “Servant of God” in the ministry. I now want to study in the light of the Bible to what extent the office of a servant of God as described in the Old Testament is still valid after the coming of Jesus, and how Paul himself regarded his position as a servant of God and practiced it.
Moses was the man through whom God spoke to the people. After Moses, God appointed Aaron, the first high priest, as a mediator for the people, and, in addition, he appointed more priests. The priests served God in the temple. They were priests of the Old Covenant. One of the last priests of the old covenant was Zechariah. When he saw the newly born John the Baptist, he sang a song of praise. Luke 1:68,74,75 says: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people … to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” In these verses the priest Zechariah proclaims a fundamental change in priesthood:
1. We serve God without fear: The priests of the Old Covenant could not simply enter the Most Holy Place to come before God, but only the high priest once a year and even this not without blood (Heb 9:7). But at the death of Jesus the curtain of the temple was torn in two, and we are allowed to come to God as we are. Our relationship with God was changed completely. Paul writes about the new relationship with God: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom 8:15). Because we are already justified by the blood of Jesus and have become the children of God we need not be afraid of being condemned eternally. The reason for our service [to God] is not the fear of eternal condemnation but the gratitude for having received the eternal life already.
Therefore, it is fundamentally wrong if a church leader threatens church members with eternal condemnation in cases where a certain goal is not reached or even in cases where a church member does not obey his church leader. If a church leader depicts the church members according to how they have “struggled” (number of Bible studies or worship service attendants, obedience to the leader, etc.) as “children of the devil,” this contradicts in every regard the teachings of Jesus.
2. All Christians have a calling as servants of God: In Bonn UBF the church leader is given the title “ the Servant of God.” Although sometimes other members who are delivering a sermon are called “servants of God” also, this is done with a completely different connotation. If, for example, Bonn UBF members speak about “the Servant of God,” they are referring only to M. Dr. Peter Chang. In his position as “Servant of God” he demands absolute obedience and claims infallibility for his decisions, even in cases where his decisions are wrong, on the grounds that God works through his servants and that God bears the mistakes of his servants.
There needs to be order in a church. There are also different offices. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, …” But there is no distinction any more between the “servants of God” as mediators and the “ordinary people” who do not know God, as was the case in the Old Covenant. Jesus himself says in Mt 23:8-10: “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.”
3. The position of a servant of God: From what has been written above it follows that the position of a servant of God does not consist in ruling over others. Of course, nobody in Bonn UBF would claim that M. Peter is ruling over them. Instead of “ruling,” they use the words “give direction,” which is, however, the same in effect. When we say, “I have received direction” or “God has given me the direction” then everybody knows that this means nothing else but “M. Peter has said.” When we say, “I have received a new direction,” then this means “M. Peter has changed his opinion.” If somebody, however, does something without “direction” or the consent of M. Peter he is said to be “high-handed.” When some German UBF shepherds once prayed together without being instructed to by M. Peter, we had to “repent” for our “high-handedness” by running up to the “cross mountain” repeatedly as directed by M. Peter. In Bonn there is practically no other “direction” than the one decided by the “Servant of God.” The possibility that somebody could find a direction on his own, guided only by the Holy Spirit, which does not agree with the direction of M. Peter is completely out of the question. Thus, M. Peter stands on the level of a mediator between man and God. But after the death and resurrection of Jesus there is nothing left any more which separates us from God. Jesus is the mediator. If M. Peter places himself in the position of a mediator, then he places himself in the same position as Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and all who obey him are idol worshippers.
It is interesting to look at the positions of Paul and Peter, who are always referred to as examples of the position of the “Servant of God” in the Bible. In none of his letters does Paul demand obedience to himself under the threat of punishments. The places where he threatens to use his authority and to come with a stick refers to his intention to deal with those who have sinned in a special way (2 Cor 13:2). They do not refer to those who did not write testimonies or write them on time, to those who are tired or to those who do not share his [Paul’s] opinion.
Apostle Peter introduces himself in 1 Peter 5:1 as a fellow elder. Nobody would deny that Peter held a very special position, yet he considered his own position as only a fellow elder.
4. The attitude of a servant: What attitude did Paul have based on his identity as a servant of God? Paul writes in 2 Cor 4:5: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Paul preached that Jesus Christ is the Lord. Jesus must be the Lord over the individual person and over the family and over the church by guiding us through the Holy Spirit. Paul’s attitude as a servant is far from demanding obedience to him or material forms of “gratitude” toward him. Quite to the contrary, Paul regards himself as a servant of the people for Jesus’ sake. In 1 Thessalonians 2:6,7 he writes: “We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.” Paul never thought that he had to receive special respect or gratitude because of his devotion. Paul never served himself and did not look out for himself, but he was a servant of Jesus Christ, a servant of the people.
When Paul together with Barnabas cured a paralyzed man in Lystra, the people wanted to sacrifice to them. Paul and Barnabas were horrified about that and could hardly get the people to stop sacrificing to them (Acts 14:8-18). The “Servant of God” in Bonn, however, enjoys being honored by the people by letting them constantly thank him and also give him large sacrificial offerings such as cars out of gratitude for his “dedication” and “bearing pain like a mother giving birth,” and he has never made an attempt to stop this. [Peter Chang likes to compare his “training” of the members with a mother giving birth in allusion to Gal 4:19.] He even directs the coworkers to do all this. This shows that he has a desire for honor and recognition which is only due to God and Jesus Christ, and he has an attitude toward honor and recognition which is not compatible with the examples of the servants of God in the Bible.
Peter writes about the attitude of the servants of God in 1 Peter 5:2,3: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” Peter’s spiritual authority did not come from his position but from his practical example.
5. Conclusion: The office of the “Servant of God” as it is practiced in Bonn UBF has no biblical foundation at all. It simply applies concepts from the Old Testament, especially the position of the servant of God Moses, to people living today, in this case to M. Dr. Peter Chang. This is suppressing the truth of the priesthood of all believers and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this way, the position of M. Peter has become higher and higher until he has become for the Bonn coworkers even the mediator between God and the people, claiming to be the only one who is able to give proper direction. By having supported this practice to this day, I have actually become an idol worshipper, and by my example I have also encouraged others to see M. Peter as a particularly authorized servant of God. I confess this guilt in front of God. May God help all coworkers in Bonn to recognize the truth and no longer live under the power of M. Peter so that Jesus alone can become Lord over our ministry and so that each of us is able to serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Amen.
There are many aspects of freedom in the Bible. God gave Adam the freedom of choice (Gen 2:16,17) because only in personal freedom is a real relationship with God possible. Furthermore, we find freedom from the sin (John 8:31,32) and also freedom from the law (Rom 7). The Gospel frees us to praise God. It frees us from the pressure to do well by giving us certainty of salvation. The Gospel allows us to have a fellowship of love and it makes us the light and salt of the earth.
In this freedom all of us together form a body whose head is Jesus (1 Cor 12). Every part of the body receives instruction from the head and not from the hand or the eye. The fellowship of Christians is a fellowship of love. Many brothers and sisters in Bonn fear that without the strong authoritarian leadership of the “Servant of God” the ministry would soon perish from lack of restraint and individualism. But this denies that every part of the body is in direct contact with Jesus. This connection comes from the Gospel.
How can we have this freedom now? Jesus says in John 8:31b,32: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” By “my teaching” Jesus did not mean the various teachings or key verses with which we have to “struggle” [in Bonn UBF], but the teaching which he gave to the Jews before (John 8:21-29). It means the Gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Gospel gives us true freedom (Rom 6:14). The Gospel puts us under grace and this grace gives us true freedom from sin. In what regard have we failed to attain this freedom arising from the Gospel in Bonn UBF?
1. The coworkers in Bonn are still living in the law: This statement can best be proven by the testimonies we are writing every week. As a rule, the testimony ends with the confession of various sins and, based on that, making a decision as to how we would like to struggle to do better next week. After one week we then notice that we have not been able to keep our decision. Therefore, we repent of this and thus we are in an endless circle, not being able to fulfill what we intended to do or what M. Peter told us to do, repenting again, deciding anew again and so forth.
Now somebody could argue that this is just the meaning of living by grace. On the one hand, he could say, I am living by grace because I always “come to God” with the same “sins” every week, and on the other hand, grace and apostleship belong together so that the many demands on us are coming out of the grace.
So how can I know whether I am doing things by grace or whether it is the law making me do it? If something is not a law, one should be allowed to not do it if one wants to please God more or honor the name of God more by not doing it. Because I believe, for example, that the name of God is honored more when I sleep sufficiently and am awake rather than walking around tired the whole day, nobody should have the right to accuse me if I sleep sufficiently. If something is not a law, then I should not have to be punished for non-compliance.
But how does this work in Bonn UBF? First, there is the “testimony.” If it was not a law, then I would be allowed to occasionally not write a testimony on Sunday evening. Likewise, if the testimony was not a law, then those who have not written a testimony or have not finished one on time should not need to stand in the back of the room with their hands in the air as punishment while others are sharing their testimonies, and they should not have to finish writing their testimonies or have to rewrite their testimony before they are allowed to go to work. If the writing of the “Daily Bread” [a morning ritual in UBF] was not a law, then why does so much quarreling exist in the families about the issue of getting up early and coming to the Daily Bread? The prayer topic of having twelve one-to-one Bible studies has become a law, too. How often do we repent for not having struggled enough to fulfill our prayer topic?
Paul said to such Christians in Galatians 3:1-3: “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”
2. The coworkers in Bonn do not have the freedom to decide: I know that this statement will immediately trigger opposition in many of them: “Of course I can freely make decisions!” But how large is the room in which you can move according to your own decisions? If the only possibility is to “decide” to follow the direction of M. Peter, or if M. Peter is allowed to cancel every decision of any coworker, then where do we have freedom to make our own decisions?
Hudson Taylor [the missionary to China] is respected very much in Bonn as a servant of God (this time in the real meaning of the word). In a book report about Hudson Taylor Samuel Ju said one day that Hudson Taylor always got up at four o’clock in the morning to meditate on the Word of God deeply and gain strength for the day. When he [Hudson], however, noticed that he was tired the whole day, he decided in prayer to go to bed early at nine o’clock every evening. He thought that he could serve God better that way and he was free to make that decision. All coworkers in Bonn were also “free” when they decided to get up at four o’clock in the morning. But except for M. Peter, nobody is free to decide to go to bed at, say, nine o’clock in the evening or perhaps to go to bed at eleven o’clock and get up at six o’clock instead. [The coworkers usually have to attend a very long program in the evening or write their “testimonies” during the night to have them ready for the testimony sharing session in the morning.] When the coworkers later noticed that they could not get up at four o’clock, M. Peter gave the direction that 4:59am can also be regarded as four o’clock.
This is only a small, even ridiculous example. How often I witnessed that M. Peter has canceled even important decisions made by others. The problem with this is not even whether my decision was right or wrong. Because God loves us, he gave us even the freedom to make wrong decisions. However, M. Peter is always interfering in our decisions, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly by the program [because the program leaves no time to do anything else but what Peter Chang has decided].
I would like to give an example here which many have experienced in a similar way. By the grace of God, at the end of my studies when I received my diploma, I decided not to pursue a doctorate and to quit my job at the Max-Planck institute [which would have allowed him to continue his scientific work]. At first, M. Peter supported this decision. But after I had quit my job, M. Peter changed his direction. According to his direction I decided to pursue a doctorate. Because I got a scholarship I also decided to do a proper doctorate and to study diligently for the glory of God. Part of the doctoral study involved attending a compulsory lecture which always took place at three o’clock. I decided to attend this lecture. After about three weeks I received the direction of M. Peter to pray together with S. Joachim for two and a half hours every afternoon at three o’clock. Although I told M. Peter that I had to attend that lecture and asked him to move the prayer hour to a different time he insisted on three o’clock. As a consequence I had to give up my doctoral study, saying it was my own decision, and finally even believing it was my own decision.
All of this is not the freedom that the Gospel brings. Paul writes in Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” He also writes in 2 Corinthians 11:20: “In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.” In the same way we in Bonn allow our lives to be completely determined by the “Servant of God,” being forced to keep various laws, being humiliated by being called “pigs” and “dogs,” “children of the devil,” “Gestapo candidates” or “candidates for the insane asylum,” never having the right to say “no” to anything he is saying.
Why are we doing such things? Why did the Christians in Corinth let this happen among themselves? Because it is easy and comfortable to push all decisions and, with it all responsibility, away from ourselves to the “Servant of God.” In this way, not only he, but all of us and I most of all have become guilty. In this way we have allowed M. Peter to adopt more and more the position of the “spiritual father,” and we have become more and more dependent on his decisions. Perhaps we can now justify various wrong deeds in front of people by saying “Well, M. Peter said…,” but in the end, every single one of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Therefore, we have to learn to make our own decisions again by independently asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and, thereby, receiving direction from God to live out our lives in freedom.
The second reason why we have forgotten how to make decisions on our own is that when facing an important decision we do not have the time for personal prayer by ourselves, nor do we have time to wait until we are sure that we have found the will of God. Again and again, M. Peter also presses us to make decisions “by faith,” even publicly (e.g. after the worship service), and we must make decisions immediately without thinking about it in prayer only because of M. Peter’s suggestion. Therefore, we often make rash decisions due to the suggestion of the “Servant of God” only in order not to be regarded as unbelieving. It is true that many men of God like Abraham, Isaiah or the disciples of Jesus made immediate decisions by faith. But the will of God was clear for them since God himself spoke to them. Just by itself, the frequent “change of direction” by the “Servant of God” shows that this his directions are not the directions from God because God does not constantly change his directions. But a person who has already promised publicly, for instance, to give a certain “sacrificial offering” or to not help his parents on the farm on Sundays any more will have a hard time taking back his promise when he later recognizes that it was wrong to make such a promise. In this way King Herod became the murderer of John the Baptist because he wanted to keep his rash oath out of pride (Mt 14:9). Jesus, however, warned us not to make rash decisions even if they are for the Kingdom of God. He said in Lk 14:28,29: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, …”
3. Freedom misunderstood: There is also a misunderstanding of freedom in Bonn UBF by which freedom from the law also means freedom from governmental [civil] aws. This is repeatedly justified with Peter’s statement in Acts 5:29: “We must obey God rather than men!” But Peter is referring to laws and governments which oppose the law of God, such as unjust governments in Communist countries where Christians are sometimes forced under torture to deny God or tell the names of fellow Christians. Peter is not, however, referring to all governments and laws. Unfortunately, many [member of Bonn UBF] have lost this distinction. I remember the crisis of conscience that S. Michael had when he had to feign an illness in order to come to a conference on time. His conscience told him what was right. But with a misconception of freedom and “by faith” he called in sick at that time. Today, it is no longer a problem for him and for many others to call in sick on every occasion. We go late to work and lie in order to get vacations or credit, all in the name of the freedom we received. This is not the freedom that Jesus paid for on the cross. [Some Bonn UBF members are said to have exploited their company and their good-natured bosses way too much, raking in all the benefits but doing nothing for the company. In a similar way the German social system is exploited as far as possible by many coworkers. They are living at the expense of hard-working people, but they are despising them because they do not work for the “Kingdom of God”.]
What should a community look like that has Jesus and his Gospel standing in the center? In the Bible the church is compared with a body whose head is Jesus and whose parts are all connected to each other, as Col 1:18 says: “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” We find the love that existed in the fellowship of the first Christians described in Acts 2:42-47. Because of this warm fellowship of love, the Christians enjoyed the favor of all the people and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47).
In John 13:34,35 Jesus says: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We are recognized as disciples of Jesus by loving one another. Our mission, i.e. bringing those who are lost to salvation, is first accomplished by learning among ourselves to love one another as Jesus has loved us. Then sheep will like coming into our community, then the outward growth of the ministry will be the fruit of our love for each other. Jesus loved his disciples not by giving them “training” but by serving them unconditionally and carrying all their faults. Before Jesus gave his disciples the command to love one another he himself washed their dirty feet, not only the feet of Peter but even the feet of Judas Iscariot who betrayed him afterwards. The love of Jesus was a love which is warm, always patient, always hoping (1 Cor 13), a love with which he even loved his enemies.
Jesus said in Mt 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Being Christians we have to exert a good influence on the world. 2 Peter 2:12,20 says: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. … But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”
As Christians we are persecuted because of our faith. [UBF members like to call legitimate criticism “persecution,” which every true Christian has to experience and thus is only proving the correctness of what they are doing.] But how is it to our credit if we are persecuted for doing evil deeds? How can we exert a good influence when we call ourselves Christians but do not even live our lives in the world properly? How is it to our credit if we are persecuted for not having cared enough for our children, if money which had been collected for a specific purpose is spent by the will of the chapter director for other purposes, if one cannot trust our word because we might have received “a different direction,” if families who are living in the same town suddenly have to live separately [by the chapter director’s order], if we are regarded as unreliable at work or fall asleep at work or suddenly have to appear at work with a bald head according to the direction of M. Peter as in the case of S. Xenofon? These are not “misunderstandings” that we should be proud of, but “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles” because of it (Rom 2:24)!
How then can we be the salt and light of the earth? The word of Jesus about the salt of the earth in Mt 5:13 follows immediately after the Beatitudes in Mt 5:1-12. In the Beatitudes those who are praised as blessed are those who recognize their spiritual poverty in front of God and cry because of their sins and accept the saving righteousness in the Gospel. The Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. They will experience forgiveness and comfort and moreover see God and have a close fellowship with him. Even if they are persecuted for the sake of the truth, they can be happy. The righteousness in the Gospel makes us blessed and the blessed salt of the earth. In Mt 5:16, Jesus says: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” If we compare this with the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Gal 5:22,23, we recognize that it is the Gospel and the Holy Spirit which change us in a way that we can be used as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Not by training, not by a wrong concept of “obedience by faith” to the “Servant of God” do we become the salt of the world, but by the Gospel and by the Spirit of God working in us. Therefore, we must study the Gospel first and take plenty of time in doing this. Then we will also bear the fruits of the Spirit and will be used as the salt and light of the world.
God created man, and he created them male and female. God created the woman to be a helper suitable for him. I would like to think about the Christian family in two points now.
Jesus said in Mathew 19:5,6: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” This verse indicates a very close relationship between man and woman which is so close that they are one flesh. This relationship is so close that nothing should stand between them – including the “Servant of God.” Unfortunately, M. Peter is standing between the spouses in almost all families in Bonn, and the spouses’ relationship to each other is defined only through him. There is an atmosphere of distrust in the families. What I am telling my wife is surely reaching the ears of M. Peter, too.
In Bonn, M. Peter is teaching that there may not be any emotional relationship between husband and wife and that the relationship of the spouses to him must be stronger than the relationship with each other. If M. Peter goes for a walk with a married (not to him) woman, takes a journey with her, lets himself be massaged by her, lets her cook meals for himself, lets himself be served in various ways by her, then this is considered quite normal in Bonn UBF. But if a husband in Bonn UBF would ask his own wife to do such things for him, then this is looked upon as a sin against God, as a “family centered life.” In this way M. Peter managed to destroy almost all spousal relationships among the married couples, or he did not even let them develop a relationship at all. M. Peter is able to control every family completely this way. He is Lord over the family, separating families at will and frequently even threatening that he could send the Korean wives of German UBF shepherds back to Korea at any time.
M. Peter justifies this by saying that marriage was founded exclusively for the mission of God or for the cooperation with the “Servant of God.” Having a joint mission is surely an essential factor which holds the marriage together. But first, mission is not everything in a family, and second, we must ask what the mission of the family is.
Genesis 2:18 says: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” The first reason for God’s creating the family was so that the man should not be alone. This shows that God created man and woman for each other. This also means that they must have fellowship with each other. It is informative to see the reasons that the Apostle Paul gave for marriage. He writes in 1 Cor 7:1-5: “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
In the eyes of Paul the first reason for marriage is to avoid sexual offense. A clearly regulated relationship between the husband and wife must exist. Separations should happen only for a while and also only if both want it. Paul does not approve of long separations, lest Satan tempt the married couple. But the opposite view is held in Bonn, that separating the spouses leads to repentance and to a deep relationship with God.
What now is the God-given mission of a family? In Bonn, the marriage is established only with the goal of “working together with the Servant of God” and to “lay down their own necks [lives] for him” (Rom 16:4). It is characteristic of Bonn UBF that nobody refers to one’s wife as one’s wife or of one’s husband as one’s husband, but they always refer to their spouses as “coworkers.” The word “marriage,” which is often used in the Bible, is replaced by the term “house church” which does not appear in the Bible even a single time. “House church” originates from a misinterpretation of Rom 16:3-5 [see also 1 Cor 16:19 and Col 4:15] where it is said: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, … Greet also the church that meets at their house.” Here it is said, “Greet also the church…”. Priscilla and Aquila were never a house church, but there was a church that met in their house, which means that Priscilla and Aquila lived together in their own house and invited “sheep” to their house.
What is the concrete mission that God has for the family now? Rom 8:29 says: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” It is our first mission to grow in the image of Jesus, so that people around us may be able to see Jesus Christ through our life and through our inward fruit. Gal 5:22,23 says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” It is our prime mission to bear this inner fruit by the work of the Holy Spirit. However, qualities like patience, kindness, goodness and gentleness are branded as “humanistic” in Bonn, and they are trying to eliminate such characteristics from the families and the coworkers and, instead, exert mutual pressure to lead “a mission-centered life,” where mission means the “cooperation with the Servant of God.”
Marriage is even much greater and much more precious than this. When Jesus spoke about the inseparability of the marriage, of the two “becoming one flesh,” he did not say a single word about mission. The mission is important, and God’s great blessing for us. However, the basis of the marriage is not the cooperation with “the Servant of God,” but the marriage is an absolute, independent of that. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:12,13: “If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.” The fact that married couples in Bonn are not allowed to live together if one of the spouses is not “spiritually in order,” by the opinion of the “Servant of God,” is due to an unbiblical view of marriage.
But what should a family look like according to Jesus? In Ephesians 5:21-33 Paul writes about wives and husbands. Verse 24 says: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” – and not to the “Servant of God!” Verses 25 and 28 say: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” The relationship between husband and wife should be a really deep love relationship. If the “Servant of God,” however, makes sure that husband and wife have no time for each other, then he is an obstacle to a marriage that pleases God and is not acting as a servant of God. Even if I or somebody else has no time because we have Bible study with twelve sheep, it is still my duty before God to make time for my family. However, what prevents married couples in Bonn from having time for each other is not even the mission, but it is the program which is set up by the “Servant of God,” which is laid out in a way that contact with one’s spouse is kept to a minimum in order to prevent the development of a personal relationship between the spouses in the name of a “mission-centered life”.
Ephesians 6:1,4 say: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. … Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” These verses clearly attest that the bringing up of children must be the responsibility of the parents, particularly the responsibility of the father. Children must be brought up by their parents even if others, such as “the Servant of God,” believe that they could do a better job. Children need the love of a father and a mother. Nobody can replace this love, including the “Servant of God.” However, this order is systematically undermined in Bonn UBF. Many churches offer programs for children, but these are neither mandatory nor happen against the will of their parents. I do not have any say as a father in Bonn UBF concerning the education of my children and their daily schedule. When I told my son that he must not beat his sister, even if “the Servant of God” had permitted him to do this, he simply declined this. Because of this I even had to endure being called “a murderer of my children, one who abused his children in a worse way than one who molests them” because I allegedly had planted disobedience (i.e. disobedience towards M. Peter!) into their hearts.
And independent of whether M. Dr. Peter Chang educates our children well or badly, he is not the father of our children, and he also treats his own children differently from the way he treats others’ [coworkers’] children. His sons Petrus and Johannes have taken part in the German musical contest “Jugend musiziert,” and Johannes even won a first prize in the nationwide contest. This is completely all right. When Samuel Ju, however, wanted to take part in it, he was forbidden to participate immediately before the event. The bringing up of the boy Samuel by the priest Eli is frequently used as an example from the Bible [to justify the Bonn UBF children’s not being brought up by their parents but by Peter Chang]. But when you look at the sons of Eli (1 Sam 2:12-17), the question arises whether Eli cared for the education of Samuel at all, and if it really was a general principle, Hanna should have brought her other children [1 Sam 2:21] to Eli as well.
The actual reason why M. Peter has to take care of our children is that we have no time to bring up our children or have fellowship with them because we are kept so busy by the “program.” Our little children and babies, for instance, have to stay at home all alone the whole morning because of the breakfast fellowship of the women with M. Peter, and they are again left alone in the evening during the testimony sharing and prayer meetings. However, the education of the children is also the task and mission of the parents. Now if a daily program leaves no time for the parents to bring up their children, then it is against the mission which we have received from God. As parents we not only have the right to bring up our children but even the duty to do so before God. However, we are deprived of both this right and duty by M. Peter who does not allow us the time to care for our children and bring them up in the Lord. Therefore, the bringing up of children must be put back into the hands of the parents again in Bonn UBF, and parents must be allowed to take care of their children without being hindered by the “program.”
In this analysis I have talked much about M. Peter. I do not have any aversion or enmity toward him. Without him I would not have been able to study and would not have been able to marry a woman as wonderful as S. Andrea either. [Again we see the exaggerated thanksgiving culture which benefits the leader in Bonn.] But this must not prevent me from speaking the truth any longer. I and many others bear the guilt and responsibility for allowing the situation in Bonn to develop to its current state, where, apart from God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, there is a fourth Person, the person of the “Servant of God.” M. Peter has many good qualities. For this reason and because of my thankfulness and because I accepted God’s calling to be a progenitor [“Abraham”] of faith in Bonn UBF, I simply cannot be silent as in the past and, by my silence, continue to sin against M. Peter, the missionaries and shepherds and our children. But I must now speak the truth. I have known the truth already for a long time but out of cowardice and a desire to obtain honor and recognition from people – particularly from M. Peter and of my wife – I have gone along with everything and encouraged many to do so as well. But I thank God that he has heard my prayer and that he has opened my eyes and has given me the courage to speak the truth. I pray from my heart that all coworkers in Bonn including M. Dr. Peter Chang will know the truth and build their lives of faith on the word of God again, and thus obtain the freedom which the Gospel gives us. I pray that we can build a ministry which pleases God, which can be the salt and light in our times, a ministry that we and our children can be proud of.