“Forgiving Myself” by Joshua

TearsOfChristJoshua’s recent comment moved me to tears. His words, phrases, comments and articulation strike at the core and at the root of the matter regarding “shepherding” that needs to be seriously and intentionally addressed and drastically re-thought. This is what Joshua wrote that touched my heart (The bullet points are my insertion):

The hardest part about leaving spiritual abuse is forgiving myself for letting (spiritual abuse to) happen.

  • Forgiving myself for letting my wife to be trampled on and treated little more than just a “sheep’s wife.”
  • Forgiving myself for allowing leaders to attack her and malign her while I said nothing.
  • Forgiving myself for allowing my children to be cast aside with babysitters even 6x per week, even before my newborn was even weaned.
  • Forgiving myself that I allowed my identity, thoughts, and conscience to be systematically rewired through thought-readjustment strategies (“testimony writing”).
  • Forgiving myself that I treated my parents and sisters like dirt when their desires weren’t compatible with the activities of the ministry.
  • And most of all, forgiving myself that I allowed my personal relationship with Jesus Christ to be dominated by and completely defined by a group of people and a bunch of activities.

I am not saying that such shepherding happens in all UBF chapters. But it did happen in a UBF chapter, for which all UBF leaders should be responsible for, shouldn’t we? May God have mercy on all of us in UBF, for we were a part of such “shepherding” that happened under our very noses. Should we remain silent and just “keep going fishing and feed new sheep”?


  1. A reflection which perhaps Joshua and his wife surely already knows is that God (whose wisdom, sovereignty and providence is marvelous, mysterious and magnificent) “allowed” such abuses to happen for our own ultimate good. This, of course, does not in any way justify what was done.

    Though such painful, angst-filled experiences, are hard to figure out, yet God uses all the circumstances of life, even horrific ones, to draw us closer to Himself.

    Perhaps, because of such bad abusive events, our lives could in some mysterious way be richer, not in spite of it, but because of it.

    I think I can say this about myself in that my “worst” sin, my “worst” humiliation and even my “worst” infuriation, has in some strange way drawn me closer to my Savior in a way that I might have never known otherwise.

    God bless you, Joshua.

  2. formershep

    Thank you, Ben for your understanding.
    One blessing I can say is that after leaving ubf, I have begun to feel God’s grace to me personally. In ubf, i was loved/accepted/approved according to behavior and conformity. Nowadays, I’m not really “doing” anything, but I feel God’s grace in a very new way. This is honestly how I feel: I am the young adult who has gone off to college and my Daddy (God) is back home. I know where he is and he knows where I am. I know where he is when I need to talk with him. Now I’m out in the world exploring the world and myself. I’m secure in knowing that my daddy is there for me when I need him.
    Does this make any sense? Anyways, it’s a work of God that I can be thankful for.
    Also I am very thankful that I still have my personal faith. I know that there are many people who leave cults or such groups/churches and actually lose their faith in God. This is also by God’s grace.

  3. Thanks for your heart, Ben. I want to say one more thing: despite the difficult and painful things that occurred, there is one thing that I cannot ever forget: It is how deeply and sincerely my shepherd prayed for me. In my “worst sin” he earnestly prayed for me to be healed. In the most difficult time of my life, when I was truly at risk of hurting myself, he even opened his home to me and let me find comfort and friendship. I am free of bitterness because I knew how sincerely my shepherd prayed for me and my family. It’s likely that he won’t read this here, but I thank him and thank God for using him for good in my life.

  4. Thanks, Joshua, for sharing this. Your gratitude is genuine and palpable. That is surely why whenever you share some painful truths, your love is still perceived (Eph 4:15).

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this painful yet hopeful story. I hope there are many listening.