On Sun, May 6, Dr. John Armstrong gave a sermon on friendship at West Loop; here’s the video link: Learning to be Friends with Jesus (Jn 15:9-17). His personal story about a close, intimate friendship that he has had for the last 4 decades of his life brought me to tears. It is at the 12:50 time marker.

His friend was ruthlessly brutal with him, yet tenderly vulnerable toward him. We human beings need such a friend. The richness and quality of our lives (and church community) is dependent on and proportional to the richness and quality of the friendships that we have, or fail to have. I am such a happy man simply because I know that Jesus loves me and that my wife loves me. Nothing else in all creation can add or subtract from this. Yet, I still do need friendships, like the one Armstrong describes. It is akin to the friendship of Jonathan and David (2 Sam 1:26). We need a friend who can speak the truth to us in love (Eph 4:15), whose conversations are full of grace and yet seasoned with salt (Col 4:6).

I need to listen to those who will speak the truth to me. Samuel Lee was such a friend and mentor to me for 2 decades of my Christian life. I also need to learn how to be a seemingly ruthless yet vulnerable friend to others. It is easy for me to practice the former, but not the latter, which will happen only when Jesus’ friendship with me breaks my own heart (Jn 15:15).

How is your friendship with Jesus? How is your friendship with others? How have others been friends to you?

Some time markers:

  • 04:50 Reading of Jn 15:9-17
  • 09:25 The word “friend” jumps out in our text. Levels of friendship.
  • 10:40 Mentoring by friendship, mutuality, not authority.
  • 12:50 Armstrong’s story of an intimate, deep, close life long friendship.
  • 26:00 Love is all inclusive: family, neighbor, enemy.
  • 29:50 Love always includes others; it is never private. Unity and diversity.
  • 35:00 Friendship allows one into the heart of the one who is planning.
  • 36:40 Ask yourself: Am I a friend of Jesus?
  • 37:00 A friend of Jesus does what he commands because of love.
  • 37:15 A friend understands that Jesus is the revelation and plan of God’s heart.
  • 37:45 A friend of Jesus is grounded in his choice of us (Jn 15:16).
  • 38:50 We are chosen to bear fruit.
  • 42:10 Live out God’s love. Muslim converted when he saw how Christians lived.
  • 44:10 Do you experience the life of intimacy of friendship with God?


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Ben. I was extremely edified hearing this in person and worshiping our Lord together with you and Westloop!  You ought to be held up within UBF as an example of what UBF could be. Your submission to Jesus as Lord, passion for the gospel of grace and desire for learning from 2,000 years of Christian history is encouraging to me. Such things go beyond mere change or reform or improvement of UBF ideas. Such things are examples of redemption. 

    And you asked: “How is your friendship with Jesus? How is your friendship with others? How have others been friends to you?”

    My friendship with Jesus is more intimate, vibrant and wonderful than at any time in my life! I’ve become friends with my wife these days. I’m finding more and more friends. And my friendship with some current UBF members is what drives my blogging and my continual in-person visits.

    I was so thankful to visit Loopers, my dear friends! And to drive with two very close friends whom I couldn’t bear losing.

    John’s examples were indeed tear-jerking, but heartfelt and honest also. Jesus is truly the friend of sinners. Perhaps the best way to frame His mission for us is to “go and be friends with sinners, introducing them to Jesus their Friend”. 

    I am finding that when I understand these things, I can be friends with all kinds of people, believers and unbelievers alike.  

    • Thanks Brian for being a friend. Your kind words are surely nothing but the grace of Jesus that covers all my hideousness.

  2. And I don’t know what to think about “Samuel Lee was such a friend and mentor to me for 2 decades of my Christian life”. I wanted to ask, “Were you able to be a ruthless friend for Lee in return?”. And another question, “Was he a vulnerable friend of yours?”. Can this be called “friendship”? When I read Lee’s rare testimony about himself, something like “I was demon-possessed so I didn’t know what I was doing while ordering abortion”, I can’t believe he was a christian.
    But may be I can understand you in some way. I knew Dr. Mark Yoon from Chicago and respected him very much, and I still respect him very much. I saw such qualities in him that characterised him as a very mature christian. I don’t know where he is now and I read some bad things about him, but I believe he was humble enough to repent. Still I can’t imagine Lee repented if he threw a chair upon his “ruthless and vulnerable” friend. He was no better than Saul throwing spears and I know that God rejected Saul.

    • Hi Vitaly, I knew Samuel Lee from 1982 to 2001 also for almost 20 years. I loved the man. In fact John and I couldn’t bear to leave Chicago UBF while he was still alive. We prayed to go out as a missionary to CIS and it took us 15 years. This was God’s timing. But after his funeral we decided it was time to leave. He was not perfect. He was a sinner. But I could talk with him and everytime I came to his office he would pray with me. One time I asked him what I should do as the conference treasurer and he told me, “Maria, whatever you decide I trust you.” I was in my 20’s and he let me make the decision. What I finally decided lost money for the church. I was ashamed and felt guilty but he said it was okay and sent a missionary man with me to try to recover the money we lost in buying two used copier machine that broke down during conference preparation. Also when he was misinformed about something concerning conference finances he called me and asked me about it. He thought the church could had made more money if we did something esle. I told him that he was misinformed and I gave him the stats and he accepted my answer. Also when he wanted me to do something that I thought was not right two times, I told him why it was not right and he agreed with me, he didn’t do it. I could talk with him. I was not Korean. I was not even his peer. He trusted me. I felt like we were coworking for the betterment of God’s work. When I first met him. I was 17 years old. I had very low self esteem. He shook my hand and said, “Here is leadership material.” I had to look back to see if he meant someone else. Even my mother told me I was no good and who would ever want to marry me. Samuel Lee came to my college graduation, conducted over our wedding. Each time I gave birth to 4 babies, Samuel Lee visited me in the hospital and prayed with John and I. He even came to the first year birthday party of our daughter. Yes I loved the man. He was a father, a real pastor to my family and a friend. Perhaps he was demon possessed when he ordered an abortion and didn’t know what he was doing. But didn’t Jesus pray on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” We are all guilty of sins. I am and so was Samuel Lee. That’s why I thank God for sending Jesus to pay for all my sins on the cross.

  3. Thanks Vitaly, I have personally tasted the goodness of God through Lee in countless ways. As I shared before (, he is a benevolent autocrat/dictator. He is a sinner too. (This is hard for some UBF people to say, because many think it is rude and disrespectful to him. I used to think this way too.) Lee’s love was captivating. His authoritarianism was scary. Such authoritarianism has continued and caused much problems in many UBF chapters as you yourself well know. Lee did much good for many. He also hurt many people. What sinner has not done this? I am not excusing him, but just explaining him.

    As I read more about our Bible’s heros–Moses, Elijah, David–they did not end their life of faith very well. Yet God loved them. This is grace. If Lee is saved, which I believe he is, it is only because of the grace of Jesus; it is not by his works.

  4. Thanks, Dr.Ben. I agree with you that even admitting that Lee was a sinner is a revolutionary thing for UBF. I’d like to add a little bit to this part of discussion. After his death a UBF world mission journal was published, a very thick one. It was devoted to Lee’s life. What was the main point in the journal? It is not difficult to discern. The main point was Lee’s marriages arrangements. It is told that it is very good to have that in the church and that UBF is proud of that. But is it really so good and normal to have that in a church? You also write that you have a blessed family. Thank God that in spite of really bad UBF practice you have a good family! As far as I can understand there were so many bad cases in UBF, many lives ruined because of the arrangements and Lee’s orders. Your words sound like an advertisement that Lee and UBF were very good in marriages arrangements. For me it sounds like if Joseph advertised selling brothers for he could become a second to pharaoh because his brothers sold him.

  5. Thanks, Maria! As I just see your name I smile because you are always so joyful! I agree that Lee could be good in something. But is it important at all? I mean does it make any difference whether he was good or bad? Who was he? He was just a man. And the bad thing in my opinion is that he raised himself so high, made many people dependant on him, created a very hierarchical organization, left a sick legacy. And a bad thing is that though he couldn’t actually be a friend in Christ, a brother, you and many others still praise him and try to remember something good. Dr. Ben recommended a book by Frank Viola. I read the book and two more. Wasn’t Lee too far from the truth of Trinity, from equality and brotherhood in the church? Lee himself wrote that he felt bad when a sister called him “brother Lee”. So Lee prayed and decided that he was not a brother, but a father. I think at the moment UBF became cult like and turned from the Bible. All those director-missionary-shepherd-sheep sick relations made their start. Dr. Ben writes about David and Jonathan in the Bible and true friendship in Christ, but Lee made such friendship impossible in UBF. The only kind of friendship possible in UBF is a hierarchical friendship and you and Dr. Ben testify exactly about that kind of friendship.

  6. Lee created so many Lees in many UBF chapters. You write that you knew Lee for many years. I didn’t know him, just a little bit. (But I knew another Lee, an exact copy, an ideal UBF-sick chapter director). Once I heard him speaking to Russian delegation about Stalin. Oh, he praised Stalin and told us that Russian people died for the name of Stalin in Stalingrad because they loved him as their dear shepherd! I mean that he couldn’t understand Russian people and Russian history and Russian soul at all, still he was the UBF general director! (BTW you can read a new Minsk visiting report by Mark Vucekovich on UBF site. It is so funny and stupid for any Russian and Belorussian and Ukranian! Especially the part about Soviet Union invasion to Belorussia. I can inform UBF that Nazi invaded Belorussia not in 1939, but in 1941, and Belorussia had always been a part of Russia and then of the Soviet Union. And there has never been any Soviet invasion to Belorussia. BTW in 1939 Nazi invaded Poland and later there was the Soviet Union invasion to Poland, but Poland and Belorussia are not the same))). And you know Lee became exactly a shepherd like Stalin was. Stalin was very good in many things and he raised the “nation” industrially, and even now many people in Russia respect and love him. At the same time he killed millions of people and created a very hierarchical and fear-based political system. And so many people hate him and curse him. I think that Lee was not just a man, he was a political man. They love him who were well-treated by him; and the rest hate him and the UBF political system. I don’t think that I could be a friend to Stalin or to a Lee.

    • You know Vitaly speaking of Stalin last Wednesday on May 9th I went to a victory parade in central park of Kyiv where we had the memorial of “golodomor” which is the forced famine that Stalin manufactured that killed millions of Ukrainians. In this parade they had a large picture of Stalin, honoring him right next to the memorial of millions of people he killed through “golodomor.” I was shocked. Maybe Americans don’t understand the history of the Soviet people but what about Ukrainians understanding their own history. Vitaly like you said you don’t know Samuel Lee like others did. Each person is good and bad. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I will not defend Samuel Lee as an angel but I love him because I knew him and I had a relationship with him. You never met my father Mr. Quilaton. He was not a perfect man either but I love my father. There’s many things that he did that were not right. But he was my father and I knew him and I love him. Isn’t it better to forgive and love than to be bitter and hate?  That’s what God did for us. I am sorry about what you experienced in your chapter. Probably I don’t understand what you went through. I know it was painful and unjustified. Only Jesus knows the best because he went through it himself.

    • Maria, you’re right that all people are sinners and in God there is forgiveness.
      But I have the impression that you totally gloss over one very important Biblical teaching about forgiveness (1 John 1): “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
      Do you think confession is necessary? How do you think confession should happen? Maybe, for private sins of private people it’s ok if sins are confessed privately to God, and if somebody was hurt, that person is asked for forgiveness.
      But what about public sins that affected many people? Sins committed in the name of God and speaking with the authority of a “servant of God”? I don’t want to list all these bad things again, some were just horrible. He caused confusion, division and hatred in the church. Don’t you think such things need to be confessed and apologized for in front of the church? How can you be so sure his sins were forgiven if he did not repent? I have listened to so many sogams of ordinary UBF members repenting for even little things that were not even sinful, but where is the sogam of Samuel Lee about real sins, who is claimed to have invented sogam writing? We may want to believe that God forgave him in the end, but the Bible gives us no reason to believe such a thing. Particularly those who know the Bible should be able and willing to repent, shouldn’t they?
      We really have a huge problem with the double standard that is applied in UBF. A general director can commit the worst sins but is excused without need of his repentance and apology, because he was nice to some members like you who he considered leadership “material”, and he even gets a commemoration day and praise every year, while serious and God-fearing people who voted for reform were expelled and called rebels until today, and ordinary “sheep” get “training” for even little things. Don’t you think that something is wrong here?
      I’d like to know your view about the necessity of confession in the church.
      I’d also like to know: Do you agree with many of us here that authoritarianism is a bad thing and does not comply with Jesus’ teachings? Do you think authoritarian systems foster healthy relationships and real friendship? Who do you think brought these teachings and practices of authoritarianism into the UBF? What should be done about that?

    • Maria, you write that you were shocked to find people praising Stalin right next to the memorial of the Holodomor. I’m pretty sure these were people who deeply believe in the idea of Soviet Communism, and who just deny the Holodomor happened (please google for “Denial of the Holodomor” or “Заперечення Голодомору”). Similarly, there are even people who deny the Holocaust happened. The Soviets systematically rewrote their own history, forged books and photos, destroyed evidence etc. If you really are deeply rooted in that ideology, and are only together with other Communists, and only listen to their propaganda, you will be very willing to believe that the Holomor never happened, because it does not fit into your worldview. Luckily, it’s only a minority who is still so indoctrinated and silly.
      But this is exactly what happens in systems that do not deal with their own history properly. Even the Soviets started to criticize Stalin under Khrushchev and talked about the worst sins in their history. This still hasn’t happened in UBF. I don’t think we can count discussions in unofficial forums like this one. I want to see UBF officially coming to terms with their past, apologizing, rehabilitating reformers, clearly naming the bad deeds, teachings and practices of their founder so that they may not be repeated and glorified etc.

    • Sorry, since I actually didn’t want to write here so much. But this is just bothering me so deeply and I want to read your answer.
      I asked about authoritarianism and interfering into the private lives of people in your church and who brought these teachings. Vitaly already pointed out that UBF is full of people who behave in the same way as Samuel Lee since he was their role model and “commander” (that’s how he called himself in one message – I can give you a copy if you want). I want to give very concrete examples for that.
      Maria, your chapter leader in Kiev told my wife that she should always obey the chapter leader more than me. Do you think such a teaching is correct? Actually I don’t demand obedience from my wife, but I just ask is such teaching correct? Who do you think brought such teaching into UBF? Your chapter leader also behaved very rudely and autocratic and people literally feared him. I don’t know if he changed, but he did so in the past and many fine people left Kiev UBF because of that, you know that. Who do you think taught him such leadership style? My own chapter leader, who was a devoted follower and defender of Samuel Lee, tried to cancel our marriage a few weeks before the wedding and after we had been engaged for a year, without reason. He also interfered into the marriage and marriage process of other people. There were two divorces and remarriages in my chapter. Again, who do you think taught my chapter leader such things? From where did Vitaliy’s chapter leader get these ideas? We see the same problems all around the world, all stemming from these ideas, even today.
      Vitaly and I and many others believe that Samuel Lee was the one who brought theses teachings into the church, and that this spoiled the whole community of UBF. If you say Samuel Lee was nice to you or some others then how does this change anything about that problem? I really want an honest answer from a committed UBF member, from where do you think the bad parts of UBF originated? Why do we see the same patterns all around the world? If Samuel Lee was innocent, who or what then molded UBF in such a way? What do you want to do against that? I just see so much denial in UBF. And if you agree Samuel Lee has caused that trouble, then why isn’t it officially admitted so that people can stop following his example, and why is he still praised as an example on “founder’s day”?
      I hear UBF wants to change. But isn’t it important to understand the history and the causes of the misery properly and get to the root of the problems, before starting to change anything? What do you think was/is at the root of the problems? Or do you just deny that there is a pattern of typical problems in UBF revolving around authority abuse, absolute obedience, marriage etc.?

    • Dear Chris, you gave me so many questions that it will be hard for me to answer them all. Can you give me some time to put my thoughts together? Also today my daugther from America is coming home to Kyiv and John and I invited more than 20 people over for dinner. I just finished cooking the borsch but have many more other dishes to prepare. Please don’t think I am ignoring all your questions. I will answer them all in the best of my ability. Maybe tomorrow. Ok?

    • Thanks for being willing to discuss, Maria. That’s already much more than we experienced from top UBF leaders who never take part in important discussions such as this one. I also invite other UBF members to answer my questions.
      Have a good time with your daughter. I guess it’s nice now in Kiev when the chestnuts bloom. Maybe we’ll visit the city in summer when our son has school vacation.

    • You’re right, if you count the question marks, I really have asked a lot of questions. But in fact, there are only a few crucial issues and questions, I just tried to formulate and phrase them in different ways to get my points better across. Seems I wasn’t able to do that. Thanks for trying to answer anyway. I appretiate that, honestly.

    • You’re welcome:)

  7. Thanks, Vitaly for sharing. I will state again that I am not excusing Lee for his authoritarian leadership which has hurt and wounded people, and also influenced the often unhealthy and unbiblical leadership practices of other UBF leaders, including myself. When I wanted to indict spiritual abuses in UBF, I found myself the chief culprit, as I had blogged previously. I have to leave for my daughter’s graduation. But I will write more later.

  8. John Peace

    I just wanted to add to wife’s comments and secondly say why I had deep respect for Dr. Lee.  I can’t say “I loved him” as my wife apparently did.  But before we came to UBF, at least from my personal perspective, I never had deep Bible study or even heard Bible-based messages.  It was all rituals and ceremonies.  So when I came to Bible study and heard messages about Jesus I was dumbfounded and began to devour the word of God.  I even received my first personal Bible.  (This was in the early 80’s) So when I heard Dr. Samuel Lee’s messages and got a copy I did my best to learn something about Jesus and the Bible.  Again this is not a letter to defend Dr. Samuel Lee’s actions but I just wanted to let you see him from our perspective.  And since this is supposed to be a UBF friendly site I thought I just might say something.  But I could be wrong and if this is not a UBF friendly site than this won’t be published on anyway.  I think if I was invited by any other Bible based organization my attitude to my Bible teacher or Bible based preacher would be the same.  Now I constantly listen to messages by other pastors like Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, John Piper, etc. to learn from them more about Jesus and the Bible.  Again I didn’t write this to argue with anyone but to just share how I was introduced to the Bible and met Jesus through one messenger.

    • John, I’m sorry that you feel like this site might be not considered as UBF friendly site, and you feel like it is difficult to post here UBF friendly comment. I think that’s not good. I think we still could be HOT and remain friendly. Otherwise this website has no much meaning.

  9. Thanks, Chris, Vitaly, John, Maria. There are so many things to say about Lee, both very very good and very very bad. Like John and Maria and many others in UBF, we experienced many good and matchless things in Lee, which was the fantastic, majestic, marvelous and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, many others, like Chris, Vitaly, UBF reform movements, and many others who were hurt by UBF, read and/or personally experienced many horrible things and are convinced that Lee was really really inexcusably terribly terribly horribly bad, which I realize is also true. Longstanding UBF members “refuse” to publicly acknowledge this, which I think will change some day. Sorry that I don’t think that it will be very soon. But I hope that I am wrong.
    For myself, I realize that those who were hurt by UBF’s “bad” practices, I feel some degree of disappointment that I do not speak up strongly enough, or that I do not leave this bad church or ministry. On the other hand, perhaps to a far greater degree, I have been spoken negatively of and marginalized by loyal long-standing UBF members, who are not at all happy that I write and blog and about the bad leadership and authoritarian practices that are ongoing. It is somewhat tough for me to straddle this very subjective “line.”
    I am open to comments, suggestions, advice, recommendations, council. Be a little gentle with me. But then maybe, hopefully, I am tough enough to take your strong comments.

  10. Hi Chris, I’m back. I throughly enjoyed my daughter and now she is with friends and I have some free time to reply to your 28 questions that you posted to me and to all other UBF people who wish to response. For one thing I am glad that we have a forum where we can ask each other questions about what we think and believe. I am not an official UBF administrator but a follower of Christ, who is a member of UBF. I follow Christ and the leading of the Holy Spirit. In fact I was born a Catholic became a Charismatic in my early teenage years and then came to UBF at 17 where I met Jesus who I now follow and worship. I will not defend Samuel Lee because I think Jesus did that already on the cross. Whether he is saved or not, whether he repented or not that is between God and him. But while I was in Chicago I heard him say publicly in Sunday Worship Service that he is a sinner and only by the grace of God he is forgiven by Jesus. We can not get a confession from him now because he is dead.

    I agree with all, that authoritarianism is a bad thing. Who can agree that it is a good thing? Samuel Lee became the leader of UBF right after the Korean war. This was a time of chaos and young college students were in a desparate situation. He gave the people a strong leadership at a time when it was needed. If you watch the movie, “Lean on me.” with Morgan Freeman. He was an authoritative principal in a school that needed order and leadership. God began a great spiritual movement in South Korea at that time. Also from the many articles that we read in this website we know about the heirchary culture of Korea which is authoriative in style that has infiltrated UBF. We need to take the human culture out of our ministry and have only pure gospel. But that’s easier said than done. Those chapter directors who were authoritative in nature were all Korean or trained by Koreans. They were influenced by Samuel Lee and the Korean culture. Our two daughters, John and I were subjected to such authoritative, oppressive leadership to the point of tears. We cried alot except for John who said enough is enough and we started our own chapter with the blessing of top UBF leaders. Our daughters told us after going through this type of church leadership they now know what not to do in a ministry. We took our daughters out of the abusive chapter and brought them to our chapter. We informed the leaders of what we went through and what our daughters went through. They are well aware of the situation. They are also well aware of the situations that is going on around the world in other UBF chapters. If they refuse to act on it then it will be God who will act on it. I believe in God who have ears and eyes and hands to act. He hears our prayers and sees what people are doing and he will act. We forgave our former chapter leaders and we open our hearts and friendship to them. God took away our bitterness and we have no hard feelings against them. They have changed also from what we heard from members who are still in their chapters. Praise God.

    Now about marriage by faith. Chris, we all marry by faith. Whether we believe the person we are marrying is a good person or not. I was introduced to someone who I could not marry. I told Samuel Lee I can not. I know many others who said no to him. We were not force to agree. Later I was introduced to John and I said yes with my heart pumping 100 beats a minute. Then one missionary woman adviced me before our engagement. She is not in UBF anymore and she is a wonderful Christian. She said to me, “Maria pray that if it is God’s will that he many give you the strength to say yes. But if it is not God’s will then ask God to give you the strength to say no.” When I married by faith I gave my marriage to God not to UBF or Samuel Lee. No one forced me to marry. Also Chris, I think a wife should listen to Jesus first and foremost and then to her husband:) Every morning John and I talk and pray together with a cup of coffee. 

    We both met Christ in this ministry. Our children also met Christ in this ministry. There are many problems in this ministry like any others. Only if we act together as a church can we resolve them. John and I will do our best to proclaim Christ and talk with other UBF leaders. You also ask, “What do you think is the root of the problems? I think the root of problem is that we are all sinners and sometimes we forget that this is God’s church. I hope I answered some of your questions. I’m not a theologian. But I believe we have one Lord and that is Jesus Christ. Chris like I said before, if you come to Kyiv please stop by our home. Yes, the Chestnut trees are in bloom now and the smell is out of this world. But Kyiv is hosting the Euro cup so come after July.:)

    • Thanks for your answer, Maria. I know you mean it sincere and you and John seem to be nice people. You also speak honestly about some bad experiences instead of just denying them or seeing things through rose-colored glasses only.
      To be honest, your answer doesn’t really satisfy me though. I feel like you’re evading my real questions. First, I see a typical pattern of response in the way how you try to ridicule my asking of too many questions. Some UBFers made similar excuses when we sent a catalog with questions to Sarah Barry which she never answered, claiming we asked too many questions. A typical UBF member writes hundreds of pages of sogams per year and answers dozens of questions on questionnaires every week. But when we ask a couple of really crucial questions, then answering them is suddenly too much. To me this gives the impression that UBF members believe the whole issue is not serious enough to waste much time thinking or writing about it.
      I said I’m not satisfied by your answer because you’re evading my questions. When I ask “has Samuel Lee ever confessed his sins” you answer “I heared him saying he is a sinner”. I’m very sure he did that. It’s very easy to admit you’re a sinner in such an abstract way, and it makes you look like you’re a Christian. But you know I had in mind confessing concrete sins, particularly those he had to the detriment of the UBF minstry and individual members. Did he ever confess he did anything wrong regarding the concrete accusations of the 1976, 1994 and 2001? His last answer to the reformers was “God will punish me if I did anything wrong”. That does not look like a confession to me. To me, Samuel Lee was as unrepentent and unregenerate as a man can be.
      Second, regarding marriage by faith. You know what my real question is, namely: What would have happened if you and John felt attracted to each other, or felt like it’s God’s will for you to marry, without an UBF leader suggesting the marriage? Or if one of you had not been in UBF? You say “we all marry by faith.” That’s true. But why then has UBF a special teaching about “marriage by faith” claiming that the way how other peoply marry is *not* marriage by faith? Who brought these teachings into UBF?
      You said you also experienced suppressive leadership in UBF. So you’re confirming that this suppresive leadership style is something inherent in UBF. My question was: Who do you think brought this style into UBF? What is the root cause why we see such repeating patterns of abuse in UBF? Your answer is ” the root of problem is that we are all sinners” and I hope you understand that I cannot be satisfied with such an evasive answer. I did not ask “what is the root cause that there are problems in the church” in a general sense, like in every church, I asked what is the root cause for these very typical problems of UBF? “We all are sinners” is not a good answer, because most other churches and minstries do not have these problems in such an extend and of such a specificity.
      To be fair, somwhere before you also said the root cause was Korean culture. Yes, the problems have to do with Korean culture. But I don’t think it’s the root cause. Remember that the reform movements of 1976, 1994 and 2001 were driven by Korean members. They were clearly able to see and name the problems. Also, I don’t think that all Korean churches have these specific problems of UBF. So this isn’t a satisfying answer for me either.
      I believe we see these same pattern of problems in UBF, because all the leaders were trained directly or indirectly by Samuel Lee. And I believe that many of his teachings and practices were evil, unhealthy and unchristian. Because of the hierarchical system of teaching and training, these bad things have spread to down to the whole UBF, with many leaders behaving in the same way as Samuel Lee and causing the same hurt to people everywhere in the world.
      Another thing that I do not find satisfying is your saying “we forgave our former chapter leaders”. But you did not say whether they had confessed and repented of their suppressive leadership style or not. You just believe (or want to believe) saying that they have changed. What if not? If there are serious sins by church leaders, should we just move away and forgive? I don’t think so. Mt 18:15ff says something different. I’m not saying that it’s bad that you forgave. But because many people just forgave what Samuel Lee did, without challenging him about these issues, he was encouraged to continue. You basically say that God deals with the problems of leaders, we should just trust that he fixes the problems himself. I think this is just wrong. God rebuked his people and kings through prophets. In the church He also needs people who stand up for the truth and rebuke leaders. It is also a very inconsistent belief. When it is about sheep, UBF believes you must do everything to help them repent, train them, rebuke them, admonish them, interfere into their lives, let them write sogams and be accountable, but when it is about leaders, you may not interfere, you may not hold them accountable, just forgive them and trust God to rebuke them directly. This is a very bad idea, and this double standard caused so much trouble.

    • Chris for one thing I’m not trying to ridicule you with the amount of questions that you asked. I’m sorry that you might have felt that. I tried to answer your questions. I even wrote them down so that’s why I knew how many they were. I tried to group them so that I can answer them the best way I can. I sincerely hope you can find the answer that you are looking for.

    • You’re right, if you count the question marks, I really have asked a lot of questions. But in fact, there are only a few crucial issues and questions, I just tried to formulate and phrase them in different ways to get my points better across. Seems I wasn’t able to do that. Thanks for trying to answer anyway. I appretiate that, honestly.

  11. Correction, “I thoroughly enjoyed our daughter.”

  12. Hi Chris,
    I think that all of your questions are valid and reasonable. Why? Because I have asked them myself. And when I asked them some years ago, some people were quite upset for me asking them. The answers to your questions are also obvious. But authoritarian UBF leaders, which as you say are many and all over UBF, are sinners, whose besetting sin is authoritarianism. So we might have some spiritual blindness here. I know this quite well because I was blind to it for 25 years until a few years ago. But I have no doubt that during those 25 years of authoritarian shepherding, I was a Christian.
    Do they repent of their sin? I personally think that they do, but very likely not to the degree and satisfaction of those who were wounded by their authoritarianism, such as perhaps yourself, Vitaly and others. I love you guys, especially your honesty to speak up, and to not do so vitriolically. I commend you for this, for some have written quite vindictively, angrily and with a spirit of vengeance and revenge.
    However, this does not make authoritarianism right. But God’s grace is greater than all our sins, including the sin of authoritarianism. Please do not view my response as a justification or excuse for such behavior. Authoritarianism is wrong. It is unbiblical. Jesus speaks out against it and warned his disciples about it (Mk 10:42-44). And you and I should do likewise, with the spirit of Christ.
    Like yourself, I am furious with anyone who uses marriage as a carrot stick to train their members and marriage candidates. So I am not happy at all to hear that your wife and yourself were both threatened to have your marriage cancelled by your respective leaders or shepherds. Honestly, I will categorically say that such practices MUST STOP. When the opportunity arises, I will speak up and speak out against it. At my stage of life I have nothing to fear and nothing to loose. I only need to guard against the deadly self-righteousness within myself, which is a worse sin than any sin that I will ever address in or out of UBF.
    Chris, if I may ask you a few questions. How long were you in the Heidelberg UBF chapter? Were you hurt in any particular or specific way by someone there? What was the main and primary reason why you left UBF? I heard about your website that was taken down. I was surprised that this could happen in a day when free speech is championed. What are your thoughts about this? Would you be willing to meet and talk freely with someone in UBF to attempt some sort of reconciliation?

    • Ben, thanks for your understanding and talking clearly about the problem of authoritarianism. I know and understand that you’re reluctant to connect this directly to Samuel Lee and name him as a primary cause, first because you have been close to him, like a friend, so you cannot be unbiased, and second because after confessing your own sin so bravely, many people would not understand if you now speak about the sins of others. You think that “they” repent of their sin, but my question was did he confess his sin? Just because I think that confession is needed for forgiveness and for solving the problems. Ok, now it’s too late already for Samuel Lee, and that is sad. That’s why I think people in UBF should challenge those who are still living and in responsible positions so that they have an opportunity to repent while they’re still in their positions. Concerning Samuel Lee, I still think it is important to name the bad things he has done just so that people understand how this all happened and stop glorifying their own history. It would also help rehabilitate all the people who tried to reform UBF in the past with good motivations, but were shunned and expelled as rebels.
      Concerning myself, I have been in UBF for about 10 years, and left about 10 years ago. I have experienced several cases of spiritual abuse on myself and my wife (I have written about some of these already and do not want to repeat myself), which also hurt us a lot, but this was not the primary reason why we left. We left during the 2001 reform movement when we saw that our experience was not singular, and that the same things happened in other chapters all around the world, and since decades already. But even then, we had still hope that leaders would repent and a reform would happen when all this came into the light. At that time also many problems of Bonn UBF became known to us, things that were even worse than in our own chapter. We were shocked to see that Samuel Lee supported that problematic chapter leader, and maligned the reformers around the world. He and our own chapter leaders totally refused any reform, denied the existence of any problems and called the reformers rebels. This was the point where we could not stay any longer. Our primary inner emotion was not that of being hurt, but disappointment about the stance of the church we belonged to and which we had believed was the work of God, and about how it dealt with so many good and sincere people who just tried to point out bad things happening in the church. You know that more than half of the German UBF chapters and missionaries were forced to leave at that time.
      Concerning reconciliation, that sounds too much like it’s all about my personal hurt only. I can assure you my feelings of hurt are gone after so much time and they have never been my main issue. UBF has hurt so many people that it does not matter if anybody apologizes to me personally. I’m not someone special. In my view, only a collective confession of guilt (like the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt) will solve the historical problem of UBF and help make a new start.
      Many personal apologies already happened. One missionary who had been in my chapter for 24 years personally apologized for one bad thing he had done to me, and repented of his authoritarian behavior. He also left UBF with his wife. I know his apology was serious and it was very easy for me to forgive him.
      Regarding the website, it contained testimonies of ex members about Bonn UBF. I didn’t have the time to maintain the website, so it became outdated. Other problems were that it contained too many private details that I should have anonymized and that it also claimed things that weren’t easy to prove, particularly after so much time. Peter Chang from Bonn let his lawyers find all juridical weaknesses including copyright issues and violation of his right to the name UBF, and let his lawyers file a cease and desist threatening me with a 100.000 Euros lawsuit if I don’t comply. Since I didn’t have enough time, money and nerves to risk such a lawsuit, and did not have dozens of followers and expensive layers who support me like Peter Chang, and did not have the time to completely rewrite the website, I had to close it. My thoughts about this? It resembles the way that Scientology and other cults deal with critical websites. But I don’t think such tactics will help UBF in the long run.

  13. Thank you Chris for sharing. Samuel Lee had only blessed me for the last 22 years of his life. He never treated me badly or inappropriately, except that his authoritarianism caused me to fear him. (Still I am responsible for that and cannot blame him for it.) I think he is the only man on earth I ever feared to this day, which at the time I regarded as good, because I connected it to the fear of God. Today I am convinced that fearing any man is an insult to Almighty God (Prov 29:25).
    Lee did not confess any specific sin publicly as far as I know. I do not know if he confessed privately to others. Yes, he should have confessed publicly. But I see that as a blind spot, which I believe is a forgivable sin. Of course a forgivable sin is still inexcusable, and that we are still responsible, and it will have repercussions. Thus, we each desperately need Jesus.
    Attributing UBF leaders authoritarianism to Lee would be reasonable. But any one who is badly influenced by another is still fully and personally responsible of his sin before God, and they cannot blame Lee or anyone else for their own sin. I believe you believe this.
    One of my favorite truths in the Bible (which also scares the heck out of me) is Gal 6:7 – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (My other scary verse is Exo 20:5 about punishing the children for the sin of the father. Yikes!) Every man, Christian or not, will receive what is due him (2 Cor 5:10). This cannot be used as an excuse for apathy or irresponsibility. But it is a universal truth that will apply to all men, including Lee, all UBF leaders and me. So if something does not change, I entrust the matter to God, not because I don’t want change, but because I cannot impose and infringe upon another person’s choice and decision, but trust God after I believe that I have done whatever I can.
    I am sorry about those who used legal means and expensive lawyers to shut down your website. This does not excuse those who did it, but I will regard it also as a forgivable sin. Again, a man will reap what he sows. I will say that they should not have done this. The ends cannot justify the means. Also, Christians should not threaten lawsuits or use gangster tactics.

    Regarding reconciliation, it is not because you are hurt, for you do not come across as one who is. I just thought that it is always a good Christian principle to pray about, since God does want his children to live in peace and unity with one another as much as possible (Ps 133:1; Jn 17:21-23; Eph 4:13; Heb 12:14). Also, Jesus is our Mediator and a Peacemaker (1 Ti 2:5; Mt 5:9; Isa 9:6). Also, I have been known as a trouble-maker most of my life, and I want to start to at least make feeble attempts at peace-making in the twilight of my life.
    Chris, I am enjoying interacting with you even though I have not met you, I don’t think. What church do you presently attend? God willing, I hope to meet you one day this side of the eschaton.

  14. I’ve no doubt Samuel Lee treated many people good. But I don’t think that’s something that distinguishes him from other authoritarian leaders. If you want to be an authoritarian dictator you can’t treat everybody badly. That just won’t work. You also need to have a charming and charismatic side and have some people around you who trust you and who would do everything for you. These people you will treat differently.
    I don’t think unwillingness to repent should be easily pardoned, at least not in the church. If you read Mt 18,15ff, it becomes clear that somebody who is unregenerate and unrepentant should not even be considered as a Christian anymore. That does not mean that there isn’t a chance that God will forgive him in the end because only He can look deeply into the heart of anybody. But still, the church should have a very clear stance towards such people. 1Cor 5:4-12 is another example from the Bible. I don’t understand how UBF members can read the Bible every week and not understand and apply such simple principles about church discipline from the Bible.
    You say anybody is fully responsible for his own sins and cannot excuse by referring to some bad influence. I agree in principle, but I’m not so sure about “fully”. Even earthly judges account for bad education and childhood etc. when judging about criminals. It does not excuse everything, but if even we take it into account I’m sure God will also take it into account in some way.
    Steve Martin’s article on “authoritarianism in the church” talks about “sins of the shepherds” and “sins of the sheep”. Both exist. In the same way as Samuel Lee had bad influence on those below him, these people inversely had bad influence back on Samuel Lee – they flattered him, puffed up his ego, made him believe his power had no limits and tempted him to check that out. That’s why I think authoritarian systems are so dangerous and harmful.
    I agree that we should try to live in peace and unity with one another as much as possible. I know very well how sad it is when peace and unity is destroyed, because I experienced how UBF was split in half in 2001. I hope you and this website can help bring back peace and unity. The only limit is that we can’t compromise with the truth. God is both love and truth. We should keep that in mind. When Christians start talking with each other honestly and frankly, there is a good chance reconciliation can be achieved.
    If you ever go to Germany, come and visit me. Same invitation holds for everyone who has an open mind and wants to speak personally to me. I’m currently attending an “ordinary” local Protestant church.

  15. Hi Chris, Honestly, I am also in a “very ordinary” local Protestant church (that happens to be a UBF local church). Thanks for Steve Martin’s article which I will read very carefully and possibly blog on one of these days, for it surely speaks to many sins of UBF, including myself, for which I wish to increasingly address.
    Yes, whoever causes even the littlest ones to sin should tie a millstone around their neck and toss it into the ocean next to the sunk Titanic. Yes, UBF leaders whose authoritarian spiritual abuses have hurt people should repent. Ultimately and ideally, repentance is before God and visible to the church and the world. But sinners, including leaders, are so flawed that their repentance might seem fake, insincere or even not evident at all. Ultimately, God will be their Judge. Just as we forgive our “sheep” for their sins, we likewise forgive our “shepherd” for their sins, regardless of whether they think they need to be forgiven or not.
    As hard as it may be to forgive Lee and others, it is for my own peace and joy that I do. When I forgive them in my own heart before God, I cannot demand that they accept my forgiveness if they can’t “see” that they have sinned against me. Nonetheless, as Christ forgave me, I should forgive them. Here’s a couple of quotes I found useful for myself:
    “There is no deeper pathos in the spiritual life of man than the cruelty of righteous people.” Reinhold Niebuhr, An Interpretation of Christian Ethics
    “Forgiving love is a possibility only for those who know that they are not good, who feel themselves in need of divine mercy…and know that the differences between the good man and the bad man are insignificant in (God’s) sight.” Niebuhr
    “Forgiveness places us on a boundary between enmity and friendship, between exclusion and embrace. It tears down the wall of hostility that wrongdoing erects, but it doesn’t take us into the territory of friendship. Often, that’s all we can muster the strength to do, and all that offenders will allow us.” Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace
    God willing, one day my wife and I may visit Germany and visit you.

  16. John Peace

    Yes, the communication between Chris and Ben is quite intriguing.  But I just wanted to answer David’s comment of why I felt that this site was not always UBF friendly.  Sorry David for making you wait so long.  Well, for one thing I heard that one person was either asked or no longer allowed to give his comments on this site because they were very negative and very anti-UBF.  That could be one reason that prompted me to say so.  I guess also when people write comments out of bitterness or anger about past unfortunate events it doesn’t come across so well with those who serve God in this ministry.  This is not to excuse them or try to pretend they did not exist.  Secondly, I thought that many who have written comments in the past have either left UBF or planning to leave UBF.  So it seems ironic to me that though they are sincere, I guess, in their desire to change some practices in UBF they are either no longer or in a very difficult position to create any kind of revolutionary changes in the ministry.  They are just throwing stones from a distance, so to speak.  I agree with Chris, Ben, and many others that changes must change with the members who are already in the ministry.  Otherwise, we have to do what Jesus did and scrap the old system and start over with twelve disciples.  Even though I don’t feel like a herald for this change I will say as my wife did that we learned a lot from the good and bad experiences we have had and are praying and doing our best to apply the good things we learned and be a Jesus-centered ministry. Only Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth.

    • Hi John, just a brief point: I and nearly all ex-UBF people left only after years of trying to bring about some kind of change.

      I felt as if I was fighting for reform the whole 24 years I was there (in a passive way mostly). Most of us simply got weary of appeasements or no acknowledgement of issues. The response was overwhelming from UBF leaders and UBF members: be quiet and mind your own business (or go away).

      But guess what? My extremely vocal leaving along with a large exodus of leaders and growing voices in UBF, all this together (and even this website) has finally caused senior UBF staff to say “we have problems”. And some of them have already begun putting measures in place to correct some of the problems. THAT has NEVER happened!

      And we’re not speaking “from a distance.” One rather shocking thing to me about leaving UBF is that I now know far more about what is going on compared to when I was a leader there who had to get bits and pieces of information from whatever my leader deemed valuable enough to tell me.

      So ex-UBF is actually very near UBF. Some ex-UBF members are rather well connected to UBF people. However, most are usually silent.

      Whether any of us like it or not, UBF and ex-UBF: together we go! We should realize that we will see each other in Heaven one day…

  17. John Peace

    Hi Brian, thanks for clarifying some points for me.  More power to you guys.  Hopefully, through praying and coworking among God’s people, regardless of what church we are in, there will be radical changes in all churches where God’s spirit is working.  My wife just came from a meeting where people of different churches came together to serve suffering people of Ukraine.  They are a group of Christian nurses and doctors, from various denominations, who are pooling their professional resources together to help those who cannot afford health care and who need ministry and the gospel in their last moments of life.  If Christians of different churches can work like this there is no limit of what God can do through them.  Yes, even though we only communicate now through cyber-space we will see each other face to face along with Jesus and all of God’s people in the Kingdom of God.

    • What John is talking about is Parish Nursing. I just attended a seminar Saturday June 19th. There were Orthodox, Catholics, Baptists, Evangelist, and UBF christians  represented. The main leader is Father Nicolay. He is an Orthodox priest. Because Ukraine is mainly orthodox in faith he became the leader of this association. As Christians we believe that helping the sick is God’s heart desire. In fact our God associates himself with the poor, needy and sick. But to be a Parish nurse one has to be a registered nurse. My nursing license expired when I became a missionary to Ukraine 9 years ago. John and I and the rest of our church members want to be part of helping our community. We want our young people to put to practice what Jesus did while he was on earth. When I talked about it after our Sunday Worship Service yesterday our young people were very excited. There is a great need here in Ukraine economically, socially, medically and spiritually. Sometime in the future I may write an article on Parish Nurshing in UBFriends.

    • anonymous

      This sounds like missional-ecumenicism at its best!

  18. hey Brian can you delete the copy of my reply. I think I double submitted it. Sorry:)

    • No problem! And I’d really like to hear more about Parish Nursing! I am simply amazed at how consistent Scripture is about caring for the poor and needy. Not doing that seems to really get God riled up.

    • John and Maria, I thank God for what you’re doing over there in Ukraine. God’s name be glorified and God’s kingdom come in Ukraine. I always enjoy reading your sincere and warm comments although I don’t disagree on all points :) I would be interested in knowing more about your work (and God’s work) with Parish Nurshing (serving the community), and how you came to get involved. That would be interesting because that is what I want to do more in addition to our campus mission. Please write an article and spread the good news.

  19. Hi Lee, John and I are International teachers in Kyiv. We came to Ukraine in 2003 and we planted a new UBF chapter in 2010. It was difficult in the beginning of our church plant but now we see that it was God’s will. We have been a church for only a year and a half and already we have a growing group of young people. Yesterday we had our maximum Sunday Worship Service attendants of 18. I’m afraid we will soon out grow our rented hall. We call our ministry BEST@Podil. B stands for Bible, E for English, S for sports and T for travel. Podil is the center part of the city of Kyiv. There we are helping students of  the top University of Ukraine called, “Kyiv Mohyla Academy.” We have English Clubs, one to one Bible studies, Movie and game nights, prayer meetings, Basketballs and we attend Bible conferences abroad.  We also visit other chapters in Ukraine like in Odessa, Harkiv and Lviv.  We have a sisters common life(living together in an apartment) and brothers common life(in our home) and in these common life we do daily bread in the morning. Last year in our SWS we finished the book of Mark and now we are studying the book of Luke. We are learning how much Jesus took care of the poor, sick and needy. Now we want to put it into practice. Ukraine is a poor country and there are so many needs. In the missionary school that our children went to one nurse invited me to a seminar of Parish nursing. It has been a passion for our chapter to help the poor. I believe it is God’s leading and answer to our prayers. I’ll talk more about Parish nursing in a article I will soon submit.  

    • Maria, are you separate from Peter Kim’s chapter? Why did you plant a new church when a UBF church in Kiev already existed?

  20. John Peace

    Hi Chris, I’m a little busy now because I have to start work soon.  But to make a long story short there are 5 million people around the Kyiv area.  We have to spread out to reach out to as many people as possible.  Being in one central location and being far away from the students we minister to is not possible.  The church in Kyiv is located in an area where students do not have easy access.  We began a ministry where our Bible house is 5 minutes walk away from the university and where we have our English Club is right across.  My point is we need to reach out to the students and make it accessible for them to come to Jesus.  Why not have a second or third or fourth church plant closer to the campuses?  Bringing the gospel to the people is the whole point isn’t it?  I have to get started here at work so I’ll let my wife make her comments.  I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.  God bless.

  21. Hi Chris, like John said its good to spread out. We believe its God’s plan. Also I hope you got John’s last sentence. He is singing the song of Snow White and 7 drawfs. I didn’t get it at first. His humor is interesting:)

  22. Hi Maria, I was just about to make a quip about “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go,” but you beat me to it! I had no idea it’s from the 7 dwarfs. I was just going to say that John should write more like that. This doesn’t apply to John at all, but I remember the Joker’s words to Batman: “Why so serious!”
    My version might be, “My wife, my wife, so work has to be my life!” It makes her happy. When she’s happy, I’m happy too. Thank God.

  23. John & Maria, I agree with anonymous that this is an example of missional-ecumenicism. I really am encouraged by your “best” acronym! 

    I wonder if you would share your thoughts publicly on how you have been able to resolve any tension between your ministry efforts and the UBF leadership mandates? If this is too sensitive to share publicly, I understand, and I won’t pursue it.  I think that your sharing could, perhaps, encourage many UBF chapters who struggle with this tension.

    Here is an example of what I’m talking about. Both versions of the key lecture at the 50th Anniversary celebrations mention a severe rebuke for what your ministry appears to be attempting:

    “Some chapters tried to implement the spiritual movement giving up raising disciples through one-to-one bible study because it was so difficult. Other chapters tried to live a religious life without the burdens of sharing daily bread and writing a testimony. There were also some chapters that tried to attract attention of the young through singspiration rather than to focus on profound bible studying or testimony training. However, they failed without bearing good fruits. We have not found other ways or alternatives better than one-to-one bible study, daily bread, writing testimony, a life giving spirit with five loaves and two fishes, pioneering spirit, community spirit, self-supporting spirit that we have had from the beginning of UBF history.”

    Do you feel that your ministry is outside of this rebuke? How have you resolved tensions that have mounted, if any, from the pressure to maintain the UBF Spiritual Heritage? Have people thought of your ministry activities as a distraction to the heritage goals?

  24. John Peace

    Hi Brian, I’ll take the initiative to give some answers.  My wife is at home and I’m at work (it’s still early so I can write now) so I’m sure she’ll have something to add later.  First of all, we can’t take credit for the acronym “best” because it was actually started by another American missionary family from another denomination who was serving God in Kyiv.  But they were also a Christian student organization.  However, they had to go back to the states and we prayed with them before they left and asked if could use this acronym and they agreed happily.  (another example of missional-ecumenicism)  We can’t even take credit for coming up with English club because we were actually inspired by M. Sarah Barry who started English Bible studies in S. Korea in the 60’s.  So all glory and honor belongs to God who helps us.  We are weak but God is strong. 
    Since my wife and I were in Chicago UBF for more than 20 years, surrounded by loving friends and coworkers in Christ, before going out as missionaries we had a certain level of Christian maturity.  Without going into any details, I also saw tensions among coworkers and even with other Christian student organizations.  So you can say that my wife and I already had “battle experience” before going out.  It’s hard for us to be in a young Christian couple’s shoes who have to go through these tensions, growing pains perhaps, and say “You can do it.”  It takes a certain level of maturity.  I can only quote what Jesus said in Luke 6:22-23, “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.  For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”
    We pray to be a wineskin ministry.  So we have done our best to uphold the spiritual heritage of UBF–with Bible study at the center of our ministry.  At the same time, we have many activities in order to attract young people and have fellowship with them.  As Jesus said, “You can tell a tree by its fruit,” and so far in a little more than a year and a half church plant God has been raising wonderful fruit in and through us.  Praise God.  Oh, oh, I have to start work.  Bye.

    • “so far in a little more than a year and a half church plant God has been raising wonderful fruit in and through us.”

      Amen, John! 

  25. Hi Brian, I just got home. Actually we do follow the UBF heritage. We have one to one Bible study with all our growing students. We also have testimony sharing and writing and we do have daily bread sharing in a group from Monday to Friday and everyone is on their own on the weekends. But the difference is that its not mandatory. We have one person share their testimony on Sunday after the message. At one conference we had three students who prepared their life testimonies. Two shared it publicly and the third one back out and it was okay. Our two daughters also write testimonies. If no one want to share their testimony then I share mine. Last Sunday after one of our sister shared her testimony one brother who rarely shares asked if he could share his the next week. He was moved by the sister’s testimony. God is the God of choice. It is interesting how the disciples came up to Jesus and asked him to teach them how to pray. They saw Jesus again and again going to a solitary place to pray and enjoying it. The disciples were very curious. John and I live by example. When our students and children see how we live and enjoying it, they want to follow.  Also the leading of the Holy Spirit is different with each person. We realize this with our four children. We treat each of them differently because they have different love languages. Same with our Bible students.

    I met God through one to one Bible study. I went to other churches before but it did not effect me as much as one to one Bible study. So really we are a UBF ministry. But we have evolved to do other activities because we should be new wineskins. Other activities are extras. One to one BS, testimony writing and sharing, daily bread, Sunday Worship Service, Self support are the meat of our ministry. Its what I love about UBF.

    Tension with other coworkers comes because of having expectation from them. Jesus said treat others as you would want to be treated. But it doesn’t happen the other way around. You can’t expect others to treat you as you want to be treated. This expectation to be treated as you want to be treated causes tension. I can’t make people do what I want. The only person I can push is myself. The rest is between God and that coworker. I know I am a sinner. I judged so many people. But through Jesus’ blood he is giving me a new heart and with the help and leading of the Holy Spirit I can be transform in the likeness of His Son. My goal and heart desire is to be like Jesus nothing else. Life is just too short to want anything more.

    • You make a good piont Maria: “This expectation to be treated as you want to be treated causes tension.” That is indeed one reason for tension. I have struggled to root out such a bitter root that is poison to my soul.

      There are, however, many more reasons for the tension. If your UBF shepherd is dead (i.e. Samuel Lee) or in another continent, the tension is lessened a hundred-fold. I suspect you might claim the freedom you have even if Lee were still alive. And knowing your character, you probably would enjoy that freedom :)

      The issue at the heart of my protest against UBF is conscience. Christ does direct us to crucify our old self, but such crucifixion does not include our conscience. Almost no one has your character! Not everyone has such a strong conscience. One of my key points is that we who are strong ought to protect the weak. If someone’s conscience is weaker than mine (even if it is only a perceived weakness), I am directed by Scripture to help that person. However, I sat by idly as I watched young person after young person be shredded by directors with an overabundance of ambition and callousness.

      We are to have a clear conscience (1 Timothy 3:9) and also guard against wounding other people’s consciences (1 Corinthians 8:12).  My conscience would not allow me to remain as a UBF director, given my situation and the illegal activities I had partaken in as if they were “by faith”.

      Apostle Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees, yet not even his righteousness could impress Jesus. Not until he found the grace of God did he realize the power in weakness, so that Christ’s power would shine forth through him.

      Like Apostle Paul and Jesus, Spurgeon and Bonhoeffer, and all the great men and women of God, I think we are to be “lamb hearted lions”…

  26. Thank you John and Maria. I see you are one in heart! Thank you for bearing with Chris and I, and for taking time to answer. I see evidence that your lives are indeed preaching the gospel. I am glad to hear about your friendship activities (I prefer the term “friendship” because I usually don’t pronounce nor spell “missional-ecumenicalism” properly :) I think the word “friendship” is really one of the best words to describe the mission of Jesus. Are we not called to divine friendship?

    When you speak of UBF heritage, you mention only part of it, and nearly the same parts I would list. And you leave out the normal “do this or die” attitude while giving entirely different expressions to the application of the heritage than what I have seen traditionally. If more UBF directors learned from you, UBF would be a far better place. I view this as something similar to what Jesus meant when he fulfilled the Law and the Prophets without destroying them.

    The future direction set in stone for UBF at the 50th Anniversary meetings tells a vastly different story than yours however. The “blue book” presents two paths for UBF to potentially follow (well it does so in a way that overwhelmingly supports one of the two paths).

    “BEST” seems to have taken the path Sarah Barry suggests, and the one with which I would agree the most. This is the outward-facing path of preaching the gospel of Jesus in the context of UBF heritage. The other, more often mentioned path in the Anniversary material, is an inward-facing path of upholding the UBF heritage at all costs and at the expense of preaching the gospel. My concern is that very few directors agree with the “Barry” path, and Korean UBF has rejected the path almost wholesale, not even mentioning Sarah as a founder any longer.

    All this speaks to what I’ve been saying this past year: I contend that UBF people can indeed change and submit to the Holy Spirit, and rededicate their lives to preaching the gospel. But UBF ideology can only be redeemed. I think you are an example of what I called “redeemed UBF”, not unlike your “sister” chapter at Westloop.

  27. Maria’s expression of UBF’s “core values” are lovely, appealing, loving, respectful, and moving: “…we are a UBF ministry. But we have evolved to do other activities because we should be new wineskins. Other activities are extras. One to one BS, testimony writing and sharing, daily bread, Sunday Worship Service, Self support are the meat of our ministry. Its what I love about UBF.”
    The contrast comes across as elitist, offensive, arrogant, rigid, inflexible, supremacist, and quite condescending toward other Christians and ministry methodologies: “Some chapters tried to implement the spiritual movement giving up raising disciples through one-to-one bible study because it was so difficult. Other chapters tried to live a religious life without the burdens of sharing daily bread and writing a testimony. There were also some chapters that tried to attract attention of the young through singspiration rather than to focus on profound bible studying or testimony training. However, they failed without bearing good fruits. We have not found other ways or alternatives better than one-to-one bible study, daily bread, writing testimony, a life giving spirit with five loaves and two fishes, pioneering spirit, community spirit, self-supporting spirit that we have had from the beginning of UBF history.”