I Dream of Absolute Honesty

Three Crosses and Silhoutted Person in Prayer at Sunrise[This is in part a response to “Walking in the Light of Absolute Honesty” by Joe Schafer.] We often dream things we never think of while we are awake. Joseph’s two dreams concerned a thing he would have never thought of or imagined. Dream has uncanny ability to make us forget humdrums of daily routine and bring to our consciousness something worthwhile to dream of. Absolute honesty is something I pray for me to be even in my dream. I will discuss later why absolute honesty may be only a dream. But is absolute honesty is something worthwhile to dream of? Absolutely! I would define absolute honesty as my true being. When I am honest, I am being who I am, not who I am not. And how liberating it is for me to be who I am, not who I am not!

Usually dreams are totally irrelevant of present realities. So we don’t put too much stock in them. But there are people who adhere to them. Joseph was one of them. His dreams were blessing and curse to him at the same time. They partly caused his brothers to hate him and sell him as a slave in Egypt. Trudging the desert road to Egypt in chain he might have blamed the dreams for his predicament. “Did my dreams lie to me and put me in this?” Months and years went by in Egypt and the role of his dreams changed. It was only his dreams that gave him strength and courage to go on with his life.

We sometimes find ourselves feel like giving up on everything being unable to cope with realities. But we force ourselves to move on often with the strength of dreams which look like nothing but lies. In that sense the value of dream can be very high. It can even move a nation to tears. I am thinking of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech. One of UBF’s Genesis 39 questions is “Why did his brothers not have dreams unlike Joseph?” I am not going to tell you what I wrote in my answer notes. But the fact is we don’t all have dreams like Joseph or MLK. Hollywood took advantage of this and made tons of money by means of manufacturing pseudo dreams, by which I mean movies. I could almost call movie the curse on mankind in the modern time. (I am not only talking about pornographic movies, and pornographic videos flooding in Internet. Much more harm has been done.)

But I should relax a little bit and admit there is some good in movies. And that’s what movies do—help me relax and forget what went on all day in my working place. I don’t think it is only coincidence that the film “Gone with wind,” one of the greatest films that have been made, was made in 1939, during the era of Great Depression. It was made in an unprecedented spectacular style against the common sense that they should spend less money on such a frivolous thing as movie in time of poor economy. But it was so successful that it garnered box office revenue ten times greater than the cost of making the movie. In general movie industry flourished during Great Depression. Beside US one of the countries that make great movies is India. By the way Indian movie industry is popularly called Bollywood. Droves of Indians are drawn to movie theatres for the benefit of being able to forget their hard lives even for a short time. For those two hours or so they live in a fantasy world.

Here I must confess that I have recently created a fantasy world where I am living with a 26 year-old-beautiful woman. I have that woman’s picture in every room of my house I spend most time– my bedroom, living room, and a room I may call drawing room. Because of these photos of the beautiful woman I am much less attracted to scantly clothed women on movies or magazines. Some may have already guessed that woman on the picture is my wife. It was taken soon after our marriage. I am being almost absolutely honest when I say that the woman on that picture is prettier than any woman in the whole world even Hollywood. (My son once said his wife is the bestest in the whole wide world. He is right. And his mom on that picture is the mostest beautiful woman in the whole wide world. Some may say like father like son. That’s okay. My father was just like me too.) There are several other reasons that sometimes I lie to myself that I am living with a 26-year-old beautiful woman than overcoming temptation for lust. I hope that readers will be a little easy on me and not accuse me of seeing my wife only physically. She has far more beauties than physical one which I am not going to list here. One of the reasons I sometimes pretend I am living with a 26-year-old woman is my thanksgiving that God entrusted me with such a beautiful woman and my promise to Him and myself that I will cherish her just as I did on the day the picture was taken. But here you see I am playing trick on me and not being absolutely honest with myself. She is older than twice the age of her marriage. She is almost twice bigger than she was then. (Not quite there yet!) Nonetheless I give myself a pat on the back for my ability not to see things exactly as they are.

Our Lord Jesus, while teaching his disciples about faith, told them to believe that they had already received whatever they asked in prayer. (Mark 11:24). Note the tense of the verb. Is it called past perfect? It has something to do with the past–already done. The truth is that it was not done yet. According to Paul, God calls things that are not as though they were. (Romans 4:17) I have noticed that some people get confused with realities and dream. They may do it on purpose sometimes and other times they may do it unwittingly. Those people must not become journalists. A demagogue misleads people by doing in on purpose. A person who has better qualities than a demagogue may do it on purpose to encourage himself and others.

While living on earth I can only dream of absolute honesty. But when time comes I will not only dream of it but possess it. My shameful past has been erased from everybody’s memory, including God’s and mine. I don’t have to struggle hours to muster courage to be truthful about my shameful past or wicked things that I am thinking because they just do not exist. Until then may God give me strength and courage and knowledge to be as close as possible to absolute honesty. I need good knowledge of myself to be absolutely honest. The fact that I don’t know some parts of myself deprives me of the ability to be absolutely honest. It is not good because I am lying albeit unwittingly. And what pity is it that I do not know who I am completely?  But this was revealed to Paul, which gives me hope of absolute honesty:

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

I dream of the day when absolute honesty is not a dream but a reality. On that day I will see others exactly as they are and myself exactly as I am. No less, no more, and no distortion. I will see Dr. Lee as he is. And I will find him being far more than what he was when he was telling us stories that some allege exaggerated and even distorted. I personally loved all his stories with some probable spins to them. Dr. Lee would not have made a great journalist. But I loved all his stories because he spoke like a dreamer. He spoke as if he had received what he prayed for and what he asked us to pray for. He spoke of things that were not as if they were.  I loved his stories because they pictured things to look sweeter than what I could see with my physical eyes. His stories gave me hope. They made me dream dreams. When he doctored a photo of a Bible conference to make the number of attendants look bigger, I would have tried to stop him if he was going to submit it to a newspaper editor.  But he was not. He was only dreaming and wanted us to dream with him.

While living on earth we need dreams. When time comes, our dreaming will not be necessary because what we see with our own eyes will be greater than anybody would have dreamed. If Dr. Lee’s stories had spins to them that I did not know about, on that day I will know the exact versions of the stories. Yet I will thank him for his stories with spins. I am sure many others will do too. His stories made us think that there was far more to our lives than met our eyes. He made us forget we did not have money to buy airplane tickets but believe that we could go to the ends of the earth with the gospel as if we were William Careys and Hudson Taylors of our time.

If I was trudging desert road in chains, I would love to have someone tell me dreams instead of my chains and the desert road. I think we need many dreamers in our time. Of course we need people who see things exactly as they are and speak of things exactly as they are. But we also need people who see things and speak of them as they should be and as they can be. I would call them dreamers. But there will be a time when we don’t need dreamers because what we see with our own eyes will be far greater than any dreamer’s wildest dreams. At that time I will see others and myself as face to face but will not be ashamed of what I see. It is the time God’s promise has been fulfilled that we will bear the image of our Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:49). There is nothing to hide but everything to be exposed. It will be such joy for me to be who I am. Until then may God help me to be as close to absolute honesty as humanly possible.


  1. Thanks so much, Wesley, for sharing your fresh dreams and stories. Whenever I read your account of your wife, I am still moved to tears, and yet roaring with laughter! Praise God for your happy marriage that is such a joy and encouragement to me.

    Your happy account of Dr. Lee’s “stories” also remind me of them, for I was likely with you in the same room in Chicago when he shared them with gusto, joy, and hope. Yes, Dr. Lee was a dreamer who also gave me a dream to live as a noble child of God, in spite of my own glaring deficiencies and ignobility. I know he truly did love me and you, and surely countless others. Somehow his dream for me is “working out,” obviously not because of him, but because of the marvelous, majestic and mysterious grace of Jesus that is greater than all my sins and the sum of my parts.

    That is perhaps why I am able to recount publicly some of his deficiencies (which bothers some UBF people until they regard me as a betrayer of his love for me), and yet–like you–have undying affection and longing to see him again on that day (which perhaps bothers some readers on this site after hearing about some of the “horrible” things that he did).

    • wesleyyjun

      Some are not happy when you say publicly about UBF negatively and some others are not happy when you say about it positively. That reminds me of what Rick Warren once said: Republicans will be surprised when they see Democrats in heaven and vice versa. But I think it’s healthy that we can voice different views without malice as long as we are on this imperfect planet.

  2. There is a book about “The Dream Giver” and the dream Giver is surely God himself. During our sogam sharing meetings if anyone expressed his dreams (which might actually come from God) and visions the ubf director always rebuked the person because he had his own “ubf dreams” on our lives. In this article I can see some personal need of the author to have a dreamer nearby. But there is no such need for those who live close to Jesus. I think that many ubf missionaries have to dream because their world mission is a failure. As many have shared already the world doesn’t need many foreign missionaries especially ubf missioanries who want to be life-long directors for natives and who don’t have any idea about doing mission according to the Bible and to the will of God. And God doesn’t need such missionaries who can’t come and share the pure gospel and delegate and leave. So Lee gave many wrong dreams to the missionaries and they are wrong because they are not from God but from Lee. They are wrong because they are not biblical, not Christ-like, not Paul-like, not Hudson-like. I hope ubf people can be honest (though not absolutely) with themselves and acknowledge that many of them are very busy doing what is wrong before God and what hurts so many people worldwide. Why so stubbornly follow someone’s dreams and suffer so much (though I don’t think that missionaries suffer much living in the US and Kanada and Europe)) and hurt others? Isn’t it better to accept God’s dream and follow it with joy and freedom and honesty?

  3. Brian expressed this not once that ubfers live in a fantasy world, not in reality. And I think this sentence “If I was trudging desert road in chains, I would love to have someone tell me dreams instead of my chains and the desert road.” shows ubf fantasy world and life in ubf very well.

  4. Thanks Wesley for your post. I liked it because it was genuine, personal, and heartfelt. I understand where Vitaly is coming from and I appreciate his point of view and share some of his feelings. I also appreciate Ben’s points and how he is able to see all the pluses and minuses at once and still be positive, optimistic, and generous towards all viewpoints.

    Inspiration is wonderful. I believe that God uses people sometimes to inspire His people. I was inspired when I read about Fanny Crosby and George Mueller and Spurgeon. Sometimes when I lack inspiration, I need a brother to inspire me and strengthen me. But I’m no longer inspired by some great works that God can use me to accomplish, or for Canada to be a “kingdom of priests, etc etc.” The only think that holds my attention and inspiration is to enter more fully into the love of the Father and fellowship with Holy Spirit. I believe that when we are individually inspired to know Christ and grow more in love and connectedness with Christ through the Holy Spirit, that is when our inspiration can really equip others and embrace their unique dream fully so that each one’s God-given dream is realized with liberty and fellowship in Christ. When one person’s dream trumps another’s, painful situations like Vitaly describes can occur; may God help us to be on guard against this.

    • wesleyyjun

      Joshua, thank you for your reply. Oh, how do I long for the intimate fellowship with the Lord everyday? That is the only thing that should motivate me or you to do any work whether “small” and “great.”

    • Excellent points, Joshua. I think this deserves some more attention: “When one person’s dream trumps another’s, painful situations like Vitaly describes can occur; may God help us to be on guard against this.”

      That is one good way to describe the ubf phenomena. And it is nearly identical to the way our pastor described it to my wife. In my observation and multi-decade experience, ubf is a cultic fantasy-world. But others say the opposite. Regardless, we all must agree on the fact you point out, Joshua, which is that no matter how good or bad the ubf lifestyle is, it is wrong to enforce one man’s dream onto another man (or woman :). ubf may indeed have an identity that comes from God, if so, then it is wrong to force that one identity or one dream onto everyone. Indeed, we must be on guard, as you say.

  5. I think it is possible to dream and give people vision without being dishonest, as Lee was. When he told his stories or fabricated photos, he did it with dishonesty, contrary to MLK who clearly said “I have a dream.” Also, in your memory you are romanticizing the past. Lee did not only tell cock-and-bull stories which were lucid, edifying and giving vision. He also told stories which made people anxious, superstitious and gave people a wrong image of God. Take for instance the story of the three people who suffered diseases or died because they did not obey him (the “commander”). Then he also told stories about his enemies or reformers which made people hate them and caused mischief and divisions. He also lied in order to justify or cover up his evil deeds like ordering abortions or divorces. And then he lied in order to glorify himself, like how he danced in front of the bullets in the Korean war. This was to show how he was a chosen leader whose life God spared so people need to obey him. Lee used his ability to lie without blushing in order to fool others and reach his goals, like every cult leader does. You try to give it a positive spin, but there is nothing positive about lying. It’s a sin and stays a sin. And it’s my biggest complaint about UBF that they relativize the matter of truth, truthfulness, integrity and honesty. Everything in UBF is absolute, you need to have absolute obedience, attend the Sunday service with absolute attitude etc. Except then it comes to honesty. I have never heard the “absolute” attribute in the context of honesty in UBF. As you say, we can only dream of it. But in my understanding it’s the only way to solve the problems and clean up the mess that SLee left behind with his stories, lies and false theology.

    There is this passage in James 3: “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” I think the same argument can be made with “preaching the truth and telling lies and fabricated stories.” Both should not come out of the same mouth.

    Calling clear lies and fabrications “dreams” or “misunderstandings” is not helpful and just another example of dishonesty. It’s also not helpful that you hold the UBF newsletter, the publication of a Christian community, to lower standards than a worldly newspaper. What an upside-down world is this where you can trust a worldly newspaper to report the truth more than a Christian publication?

    Also, everything would have been fine if SLee had clearly spoken of dreams and visions and not presented them as the truth and reality as he did. MLK and the prophets in the Bible were always clear when they spoke about vision and dream. The Bible makes clear distinctions. UBF members deserve to be able to make educated decisions based on both reality and visions, but they must be able to discern between both. It’s the hall mark of cult leaders that they blur this line and make people live in fantasy worlds.

    Let me give another example. Do you think the story of Jesus who raised from the dead is just a fabricated story or is the truth? Does it make a difference to you? Maybe the first disciples just shared vivid “dreams”? But the NT clearly says that it was reality and that this reality makes all the difference. “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” Or, as often quoted in UBF: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” If the disciples were story tellers like SLee, we could not trust them. But we trust them because we believe they were very different from SLee in that they valued the truth and were able to discern dreams from reality.

    You say, well, we also need people who have dreams and visions. Right. The Bible calls them “prophets”. But as I said, it was always clear when people spoke as prophets and when they spoke as teachers or witnesses. The hallmark of a real prophet is that he both preaches the same God that can be found in the OT and NT, and that his visions and dreams fulfill. Unfortunately, both cannot be said about SLee. He was preaching a different God, a God who does not care about truthfulness, a God who cares about human hierarchies and obedience and human efforts, and his dreams were either fabricated from the beginning or did not fulfill, like the vision how many members UBF should have by the year 2000. According to the OT, such prophets should be stoned to death. Luckily, we are living in the time of the NT now, so we can be more graceful with people like SLee. But we should not glorify or romanticize his clear sin of lying and not being truthful. These are not signs that make him a visionary or great leader, but proof that he was a typical cult leader. Please read the history of all the well-known cults: Their founder figures were all like that, they told stories and lied so much that in the end they even believed their own lies, as I think SLee was doing, too.

    I’m dreaming of absolute honesty too. And I hope this will not stay just a dream. I have seen some of it become true already on this website and the people sharing their thoughts and lives here.

    • wesleyyjun

      Chris, thank you for your reply. By the way would you mind telling your full name?

  6. Wesley, you say: “But I loved all his stories because he spoke like a dreamer.”

    There are other opinions about such dreamers. Bonhoeffer wrote: “Bonhoeffer: “God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own laws, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of the brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together.”

    I found this quote reading an article about the ICOC, a movement very similar to UBF, with a leader/founder figure Kip McKean very similar to Samuel Lee. A group that experienced quite similar divisions and spiritual abuse, as is predictable in such groups.

    The article is here, if you like to read it (and I really urge every UBF member to read articles about the ICOC in the hope that looking on a different group opens your eyes for the problems of your own group): http://becomeadiscipleofjesus.com/powertimes/September%208%2c%202005.htm

  7. Sorry: The last duplicated part of the link above, including the slash needs to be removed.

    • Admin note: Chris, I just fixed the link.

    • Thanks, admin. By the way, the abbreviation “H2G” stands for “Honest to God” – the title of the famous open letter by Henry Kriete, which you can find here: http://www.tolc.org/kriete.htm

      In this letter, he wrote about his ministry, the ICOC: “We need ruthless and courageous honesty, as well as brokenness before God and His Word if we are to regain what has been lost or surrendered or corrupted.” I think the same is true for the ministry of UBF.

  8. Joe Schafer

    Wesley, thank you for writing your honest response to my article. Thank you for coming to this website and submitting an article for publication. This is something that very few missionaries have done, and you have shown courage.

    Also, let me say that Sharon and I have been very impressed by the compassionate ministry that has been going on at Lehigh. The idea of combining campus evangelism with urban ministry and service to the poor is a groundbreaking idea. I shared your story last week with a non-ubf pastor who has written a book about missional campus ministry, and he was intrigued. If the story of what has been happening at Lehigh were told, I believe that all the readers of this website would be impressed.

    And I wish to thank you for your friendship, for standing by me and supporting me even when I became “difficult” and took positions that were controversial among ministry leaders. That means a lot to me.

    From your article, I see that you were (and still are) charmed and inspired by the vision of UBF’s founder. That is a huge part of your life story, and it was the vehicle by which God brought you to faith in Jesus and service in the church. I don’t want to minimize the importance of that. I believe that it did bear good fruit in your life.

    And it is totally understandable that your article has generated strong negative reactions from Chris and Vitaly. They, and many others, participated in SL’s vision for a while but were ultimately hurt by it and had to reject it. Their hurt is not a fantasy that they made up to justify themselves after they left ubf. The hurt that they experienced is real, and it is still raw because ministry leaders still have not publicly owned this dark side of ubf. Not suprisingly, they have perceived your article as being an apology and defense of SL, because to an extent you have defended him. But I believe that you also want to commit yourself to telling the truth, which is a good thing.

    I have many memories of SL as well. Some of these memories are good. But he also instilled fear. The fact that he doctored the conference photos is strange behavior. One could argue that it was a minor issue, but it demonstrates a lack of integrity. SL himself contantly challenged us to be faithful especially in small things. But he sometimes exempted himself.

    I also remember him hurting people in very deep and personal ways through storytelling. For example, at one of the international conferences at MSU, he told unflattering stories about someone very dear to me (my wife). Before a crowd of more than 2,000 people, he spoke of her by name said that after having four children she had become family centered and no longer worked hard for God’s mission. Looking back on this now, I should have been infuriated by this and defended her honor because, firstly, I am her husband, and secondly, it wasn’t true, and thirdly, I now realize that it is wholly inappropriate for a pastor to try to extract desired behaviors from people by publicly shaming them. That is hurtful and inconsistent with the gospel of grace. But I had been conditioned by the community to agree with everything that SL said and did, even when it was clearly wrong. I will leave it to God to judge SL’s inner motivations and character. I will acknowledge that some of his storytelling, which often stretched the boundaries of truth, did inspire people. But I cannot deny that he also used storytelling, both true and false, as a tool for managing people’s behavior by public shaming. He did this at practically every leader’s meeting and often at SWS. People laughed and smiled while he did this, but now I realize that those jovial reactions were also inappropriate. Even if the things SL said were true, they were used by him in hurtful ways. Sometimes he even revealed stories about a married couple’s sexual activity. Diehard ubf loyalists may still say that it was good, but my conscience and my understanding of Jesus Christ compels me now to say that it was wrong, and the time to cover up for such things has long past.

    Following SL’s example, I sometimes did those things as well. In my Sunday messages and announcements, I told stories about people that were somewhat true but were nevertheless inappropriate and hurtful. That was wrong.

    • Thanks for this clear comment, Joe. I also want to thank Wesley for writing here. Actually I should have expressed my thanks at the beginning, because it’s rare that UBF leaders write here and it’s actually what we want to see more of. And I’m confident that Weseley and his ministry is much better than my own experience in UBF. On the other hand, I thought it was not appropriate to answer an article about “absolute honesty” with nice and warm words which did not express what I really think about the article.

      Yes, the problem for me was that the article defended and sugarcoated the dishonest behavior of Samuel Lee, reframing such dishonesty and fabrications as “dreaming”. This by itself is an example of not being absolutely honest and in stark contrast to your expressed wish “may God help me to be as close to absolute honesty as humanly possible.” Why should God help you when you don’t even try to be honest yourself?

      My second problem with the article was that in the last paragraph it seemed to point to the future, when we are in heaven, as the starting point for being really honest. But as I said, we need to start being absolutely honest now to solve the problems, not wait until we are all buried. By the way, that’s literally what my Korean Bible study teacher in UBF told me: “You can wait for reform until we are all buried.” No, I really want to see reform happen in my lifetime. Maybe in that regard, I have become a visionary dreamer myself?

      By the way, I remember the articles and letters of the reformers around 2001; some of them were full of wonderful dreams and visions for the ministry of UBF. My question is, why weren’t their dreams accepted, appreciated and embraced like SLee’s dreams?

    • Joe Schafer

      Chris, thanks for these clarifications. I hope you had a happy and meaningful celebration of Easter.

      You asked about the reformers, “Why weren’t their dreams accepted, appreciated and embraced like SLee’s dreams?” I think you know the answer to that question. I was only vaguely aware of what the reformers were trying to do. Reform activity was high in Korea, but not so much in the United States. But what I do remember is that the reformers were always spoken of in negative terms. At best, people would say of them,”They make some valid points, but the way that they are saying it is wrong.” At worst, they were called enemies of God, tools of Satan, etc. Their concerns never got a fair hearing among Americans like myself.

    • wesleyyjun

      I can see how much you must have struggled over Dr. Lee’s remark about your wife in front of so many people. Most probably if he had read from a prepared script he would not have said it. I see that Pope hardly gives speech without a script. He cannot afford it. One time one person was furious over my comment about him in my announcement. Later he came up to me and I apologized. We reconciled. Words just slip out of our mouths if we are not careful. In part it was our fault that nobody went up to talk to Dr. Lee after his hurtful remark. It is true he would not take criticisms well either. But it was not like that from the beginning. I heard many Bible students made fun of him when he was a young leader of UBF. Overtime UBF members grew to love him too much and the number of criticisms grew less and less. Dr. Lee became less and less tolerable of criticism. I have my own stories of Dr. Lee’s hurtful and less than truthful comment about me. They are wrong. What is wrong is wrong. Period! I will have chance to talk about my stories too. But I forgave him. On the other hand I am not even sure if I can use the word “forgave” because his positive effects on my life far outweigh a couple of negative remarks about me. Probably I owe him too much to use the word “forgave.” I guess relationship is not about being black or white. Sometimes when I think about him tears well up. Other times I feel like throwing a book at him. One thing I cannot deny: I loved him and still do.

    • Joe Schafer

      Wesley, thanks for your honest reply.

      I’m quite ashamed to admit that, at the time, I didn’t struggle much with SL’s public criticism of my wife. I had been conditioned to just take whatever he said as coming from God’s servant and never allow myself to become angry. Those natural, appropriate emotions were suppressed. They still have not come out. This is what I have seen among so many longtime UBF members. Anger, disappointment, hurt, grief are kept hidden and not expressed because you are supposed to act like a soldier, and showing negative emotion is seen as weak and unspiritual. And, honestly, the emotions can be so raw and painful that I’m afraid to let them out and don’t even know how to let them out. That’s the essence of what went on at so many leaders’ meetings. When SL rebuked people in front of the group, they would smile and take it, even though their insides were churning. They were storing up the hurt, not expressing it. And everyone else would smile and laugh, not because it was intrinsically funny, but because laughing helped the group to relieve its tension and pretend that what was going on was not serious. But it was serious. People were being manipulated, shamed, pressured, to do things in ways that a pastor should never have done.

      I could say that I forgave SL because right now I don’t feel angry or bitter toward him. But that would be dishonest because I still have not allowed myself to feel a great deal of the pain that still lies buried. It has started to come out from time to time. But until I allow myself to feel the full weight of the hurts that he caused to me and my wife, I won’t pretend that I forgave him. I still need time to processed the events. Until then, forgiveness seems premature and superficial.

    • Wesley, I understand where you’re coming from. But when you talk about your feeling that you “owe him so much”, then I don’t see it as something positive about him. This feeling of thankfulness and indebtedness is exactly the kind of feeling that cult members deliberately instill and exploit in their followers, it’s the reason cult members never dare to criticize their leaders. They would feel like unthankful, illoyal or even like a betrayer. So nobody speaks up. This again is the reason why these leaders become worse and worse. It’s a vicious circle. A real missionary or mentor does not leave the sheep with a feelign that they owe the missionary so much. This is really what should not happen.

    • One other thing that is on my mind: We often talk about “hurt” here. And it’s true that this hurt is one of the biggest issues. But being dishonest or practicing a bad theology does not only produce hurt, it produces damage on so many levels. Fabricated photos do not really hurt people, they just bring shame on a Christian ministry, and they relay the message that truthfulness is unimportant, and success and image is everything. Shortly after me, a Korean missionary couple left my chapter, and they struggled very long with the fear that they now would not enter the Kingdom of heaven, because they somehow failed. Just this month another dropout of my former chapter called me in order to speak about the feeling of guilt that is lying on his soul and that he is unable to shake off. That UBF “hurt” these people does not even caputer what UBF did to them. For me it is more like UBF “damaged their souls”. In some cases, people even commited suicide. I’m aware of 4 or 5 cases in my chapter alone. I know there were several cases in Chicago as well. I would not give UBF theology or leaders responsibility for this, but it sure played a role and wasn’t helpful for them.

      And there is also another can of worms not even discussed here: Honesty and integrity concerning the handling of money. There were complaints about misappropriation of money and financial inaccountability from the beginnings of the ministry. We are talking about a ministry that handles millions of dollars. Only in recent time UBF joined the ECFA. But in the beginnings, there was no accountability at all. When the German reformers started to demand a financial account from the German national director he only told them “just trust me”. How can you trust people who are used to tell fabricated stories?

      It’s also not true that “if he had read from a prepared script he would not have said it”. Here is something that SLee had written down in one of his lectures or newsletters: “In the midst of selfish culture, many sacrificial people want to give their lives for the glory of God. As we know well, Dr. J. has a Ph.D. from Harvard. Now he is a Penn State professor. At the beginning of his ministry at Penn State, I gave him a sheep who had a weight of problem which made it impossible for her to marry. Dr. J. didn’t live in the professors’ compound. He rented a house in the ordinary community and invited her to lie with his family. The fat lady, who resembled a globe, or a polar bear, was pretty cooperative while she was living there because she had a clear purpose to lose weight. But as soon as she lost weight, she became proud and said to herself, “I lost all the weight by myself.” And she ran away with one of the promising shepherd candidates. It was a heart-breaking event. I cried and somehow wanted to make up the ministry of Penn State University. … When I prayed, Dr. X was the one who should be recruited to Penn State with his wife, Y. It was done by the grace of God. I pray that those who read this letter may send many missionaries to Penn State.”

      Here you see how it worked. Give people some love, affection or training in a life crisis, and if then tell them “now you owe me”. If they buy it, you have won a loyal follower who would do everything for you and glorify your name. If they don’t buy it, then shame them publicly. You see all the manipulation and politics going on here, all the shaming of defectors and this spiritual language to convince people that he was the one who cared for everybody and did everything. When he wrote “it was done by the grace of God” it really sent the message “it was done by the grace of SLee”.

    • Joe Schafer

      Chris, you brought up a painful story that still weighs on my soul because I treated that student (H.L.) with disrespect. Yes, she lived with my family. Yes, we took care of her and helped her in certain ways. But our love and care came with strings attached. I expected her to be obedient and to do ministry activities on my terms. I felt as though it was my right to criticize her and judge her, and after she left I spread bad reports about her. I refused to imagine that any of it could have been my fault. I feel very sorry about that.

      One of the interesting things that I learned from Lesslie Newbigin’s writings on mission is this. When a missionary understands the deeply relational nature of the gospel, he realizes that the whole point of evangelism is to bring the native disciple into the community of the church as an equal member, in a relationship of mutual love mediated by Christ. For that to happen, the missionary needs the disciple just as much as the disciple needs the missionary. The relationship is not dependence but interdependence. The missionary is just as much a debtor to the disciple as the disciple is to the missionary.

    • Joe, you mention in one of your comments, “And, honestly, the emotions can be so raw and painful that I’m afraid to let them out and don’t even know how to let them out.” That resonates with me. Most of the time, I seem okay and don’t feel any strong emotions. It seems like nothing happened and there is no wound. But then, mainly when I’m at church singing worship songs, seemingly from nowhere, I’m faced with this overwhelming flood of feelings. This emotion is buried somewhere and I can’t really tap into it, but it’s there, and it’s real. Sometimes I can hardly sing the worship songs because I’m just reduced to weeping.

    • Joe, I don’t know if you treated that woman with disrespect, but it’s obvious how SLee treated her with disrespect. SLee was seen as a role model, people tried to imitate him and his style. I have even seen his followers permanently clearing their throat in the same strange way as SLee did just because they wanted to be like him and do everything the way he did. The way you treated her was what you learned from SLee, what was expected of you, and what you had been trained to do. Yes, we should blame ourselves for following a bad role model. But we should also clearly point out that it was a bad role model to follow in the first place. That’s why I wanted to clarify how SLee’s story telling was much more and different from just dreaming or giving visions. Also, I’m not sure if the dream and vision UBF instilled in people is really so spiritual, or rather a projection of human aspirations.

    • Joe Schafer

      Joshua, you wrote:

      “But then, mainly when I’m at church singing worship songs, seemingly from nowhere, I’m faced with this overwhelming flood of feelings. This emotion is buried somewhere and I can’t really tap into it, but it’s there, and it’s real. Sometimes I can hardly sing the worship songs because I’m just reduced to weeping.”

      Yes, this is exactly what has been happening to me. Uncontrolled weeping, especially during worship services. I weep during hymns and especially whenever we share the Lord’s Supper.

      I’m not sure exactly what it means. Partly it comes from the personal hurts that I’ve experienced coming from the church. But I also think it’s a kind of spiritual gift, a gift of tears, coming from the Holy Spirit. As I weep, I’m not just thinking about myself, but about my wife, and about all the people who have entrusted themselves to UBF leaders over the years and have been hurt by them, as Chris has described so well. I’m also weeping for leaders who, for whatever reason, are unable to acknowledge the pain of the hurts that were inflicted on them and which they inflicted on others. And I’m weeping because the church, which is supposed to be the beautiful Bride of Christ, has become so blemished and bruised and divided by human foolishness and human pride and silly ideology. It’s difficult to explain. But it’s real.

    • Joe, you wrote, “I’m quite ashamed to admit that, at the time, I didn’t struggle much with SL’s public criticism of my wife”. I felt this shame so many times. I saw my wife crying so often. Sometimes she cried out of “grace” because she was told to write and share a detailed sogam to remember her past life. Sometimes she cried because the director or his wife called and rebuked her, “you said wrong” or “you did wrong”, “you are so unspiritual”, etc. Many times when my wife saw my anger she said, “It’s OK. It’s just me. Take it easy”. But now I see that the missionaries abused so many times so that the picture of my wife in my mind while in ubf was “crying and crying”. I had an authority given by God for my family. But even this kind of authority was supressed. It is a usual thing in ubf that a wife must obey and serve “God’s servant” first(maybe it is better to type “god’s servant” in this case because the ubf missionaries have nothing to do with serving the God). So even the husband’s and father’s authority belongs to the director in ubf. And everyone entering ubf really marries ubf: a wife and a husband – both have a “true husband” – ubf. The missionaries are not even close to being “guests”, they are exactly the directors or tsars or just cult-leaders.

  9. wesleyyjun

    To editor: ” Please correct “….relationship is about being black or white” to “….relationship is not about….”

  10. Actually in 2001 there was a whole lot of activities going on in the US, they even had their own website reformubf.org in English language, with several articles and discussion forum.

    This is what they wrote about the UBF newsletter: “The UBF newsletter should be published to give thanks to God and glorify him for what he has done for the ministry. But it is misused to praise or condemn certain people. Those who stand with Dr. Lee always receive favorable reports. Their ministry is groundlessly praised and exaggerated in the newsletter. Even when the report is greatly distorted, these people don’t care about what the true state of their ministry is but instead believe what Dr. Lee says about them to be truer than what the facts actually are. Their minds are totally controlled by him. Unfortunately, most ministries, especially those which are not favored by Dr. Lee or small in numbers, are hardly given any recognition. Sometimes the newsletter criticizes some leaders, although they are widely respected by others. We feel ashamed to show this kind of newsletter to American students. This kind of pseudo journalism causes and promotes a judgmental spirit among us, making some proud while driving others into self-doubt. Such unhealthy treatment will make us like the sect of Pharisees who were proud, self-righteous, and always critical of others. The newsletter should encourage hard-working co-workers with compassion and wisdom. It is better to stop publishing newsletters if they continue to be the way they are.”

    SLee used story-telling in his lectures, sermons and in the newsletter to manipulate people and make politics. It did not matter to him whether a story was true or not, but only which impact it had on his audience. One member in Germany once told me how he pointed out to his director that one of his stories was untrue and how the director responded by saying “it does not matter whether it is true or not, but only whether it is effective or not.” I guess that director learned directly from SLee, because it was exactly his mindset. The well-known “end justifies the means” theology of UBF.

    This is also from the declaration on the reformubf.org website: “We prayerfully ask Dr. Samuel Lee to make a personal decision. We ask him to seriously consider these problems and give honest answers. And we demand that he make earnest spiritual efforts to rectify these problems. Otherwise, Dr. Lee should hand over the leadership to a better-qualified person whom most UBF leaders approve. We pray for UBF to grow to be a ministry that all people respect as a God-loving and spiritual ministry. We want to feel confident and proud that we are part of this ministry. Thus, the long needed and awaited reform that is taking place in various places should also start in the U.S. right now. Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks to the clouds will not reap (Ecclesiastes 11:4). If we wait for perfect conditions we will never get anything done. The time is now. Thank God for his mercy on each of us.”

    SLee never gave an honest answer. He did not give any answer at all. He refused to talk with these people, called them “crazy dogs” and worse, and made others believe they were enemies of God. And people believed and trusted SLee so much that they didn’t even bother to read websites like reformubf.org for themselves, or talk with the reformers personally, who dedicated the best years of their lives for the ministry. That’s why I can’t have any respect for SLee at all and why I feel so offended by people trying to justify his leadership style coined by dishonesty and manipulation.

    A ministry that wants to proclaim Christ must live in the light (1John 1:5-10, 1Thes 5:4-5), they must be truthful and love the truth because Jesus ist the truth. You cannot base a Christian ministry on lies, as effective and inspiring they may be.

  11. Joe Schafer

    Chris, thank you for providing this information. I suspect that most North Americans now in UBF did not know these things.

    I personally remember several times when SL wrote things in the newsletter that weren’t true to punish people who he believed had complained about him or were conspiring against him. Perhaps he also did this to test people, to see if they would submit to mistreatment without complaining. In many cases it worked. People submitted. In other cases they refused and had no choice but to leave UBF, which again tended to consolidate the organization by getting rid of dissent.

    I also heard (assuming that the stories are true) that as a child he had a troubled home life and suffered abuse by a stepmother. People who were hurt in such ways tend to do similar things to others. That is not meant to be an excuse. It’s merely an observation.

    And it’s also likely that the leaders in UBF who have used excessive and harsh training practices had such things done to them. People who have been hurt in such ways, especially by someone whom they loved and idolized, will tend to do the same to others. Again, that’s not an excuse. Just another observation.

  12. We even had an American missionary in Russia, in Volgograd (Stalingrad). His name is Paul Laska. There were CIS ubf chapters in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Belarus; in Russia there were chapters in Volgograd, Novosibirsk, Vladivistok. All these chapters and so many brothers and sisters dissappeared in 2001. We were told that “You see how bad the missionaries are: they left their sheep alone and ran away because of disagreement and disobedience to SL”. Many people left ubf at that time. And those chapters that still exist in Russia became very small. Now ubf has chapters in Russia only in Moscow, St.Petersburg and Irkutsk. That’s all. Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod and Omsk chapters dissappeared later than 2001.

  13. Joe Schafer

    Vitaly, thanks for this information. I knew Paul Laska. His chapter (Madison Wisconsin) was one of the few in America that broke away from UBF at that time.

    When my family went to live in Melborne, Australia for one year (2003-2004) the UBF chapters there had just experienced a painful division. About half of the missionaries had come from chapters in Korea that sided with the R-group; the other half came from chapters that remained in UBF. They desperately tried to stay together because they were friends and loved one another. But in the end, pressures from Korea made it impossible for them to remain together, and they had to split. It was especially painful for the children, because half of their friends suddenly disappeared. To their credit, never once did I hear those who remained say anything negative about those who left. That was very admirable. I am proud of them. And I miss them too.

  14. Joe, the same happened not only in Australia, but also in Germany, Japan, and actually most countries where UBF had missionaries. Here in Germany more than half of the chapters sided with reformers and were finally expelled as a consequence. (Again: They did not leave, they were pushed out! Please everybody, please stop calling them “those who left”. This is like South Koreans calling all refugees from North Koreans “defectors”. Proper wording is important.) And yes, this also affected the children in Germany, the 2nd gens, who had become friends and now were alienated from each other. I believe worldwide about half of the members left UBF or joined CMI instead. Unfortunately, we do not even have exact numbers, because all this was covered up very well by the top leadership. Actually they should know the exact numbers, but of course they never publish it. This big division in 2001 and the one of 1976 was caused by the stubborn behavior of Samuel Lee, and by him alone. But he didn’t mind. For him it was obviously better to lose half of the membership than having to apologize or admit any of his wrongdoings. In the end, he considered UBF to be his ministry.

    Wesley: You can contact me at hdchris@ubf-info.de if you like to know more about me.

    • Joe Schafer

      Last year, I heard the General Director deliver an oral report about the number of members in UBF worldwide. He gave the statistics for the year 2000, just before the split. After that, the numbers dropped dramatically. It was not until 2012 that the numbers once again reached the levels seen in 2000. The point he was trying to make, indirectly, was that it is foolish to focus on bringing in new members while ignoring the quality of relationships among those who are present. Even if the only concern is to make the ministry as large as possible, it makes no sense to just bring in new disciples without addressing the conflicts that lead to departures and division.

  15. Wow, I think Wesley is outperforming Sharon in terms of most number of comments in the shortest time period! (not that I track performance number or anything….)

    @Wesley: I echo the “welcome” here. We should not overlook the courage it takes for a ubf director to comment or publish here. I echo all of Chris and Vitaly’s thoughts, so no need to repeat them. I would just point out that I believe in dreams, and that it is important to have vision for your life (Acts 2:17, Acts 9:10). God is in fact doing work in numerous Arab countries through visions of Jesus visiting people, who convert to Christianity afterward.

    But I think this is a different concept than the “dream of ubf”. In my experience ubf was not a “dream” or a “vision”. It was a fantasy, held up by my enablement and the ideology bound to Scripture. That is why ubf keeps falling apart every few years; reality hits and we only can say “oh there goes gravity” (Eminem).

    @Chris, I want to point out something you said: “Just this month another dropout of my former chapter called me in order to speak about the feeling of guilt that is lying on his soul and that he is unable to shake off.” You and I know this but I want to point it out publicly: That same German person contacted me. We spoke on the phone, and I referred him to you.

    So ubf people need to answer this question: Do you want Brian and Chris counseling your members? If not, then I suggest opening dialogues fast. Chris, Vitaly and I are not going away. And we’ve been doing this for quite some time now. People in ubf call me because no one in ubf will listen to them without giving them commands or shaming them. So it’s great we can have good discussions on this website, and reminisce about Slee, but it is far more important to open up channels of communication in your own ubf chapters. And it would be even more important to attempt some kind of dialogue with even one former member.

    • Joe Schafer

      Wise words, Brian. Thank you for your compassion for those who reach out to you.

    • Joe, congratulations on making our 6,000th comment! In just under 3 years this blog has invoked 6,000 comments from dozens of people from multiple countries. Since I was told “no one wants to hear what you have to say” as I was leaving ubf, I am excited and amazed to acknowledge the significant dialogue that has occurred here.

      In regard to the unexpected outpouring of emotion, this has happened to both me and my wife. Sometimes it is during worship. Sometimes it is during a movie. We can’t seem to know when it will happen or what will trigger it.

      We are discovering through our cohort group that we have built-in triggers. I can’t explain how they got there exactly. The triggers seem to have been the mechanism by which I kept my emotions in check. But these days, certain words or events or places hit the triggers and emotion gushes forth. Often for me, that emotion is anger. Many times it is pain and often it is empathy. I have found I suddenly have a rather annoying ability to feel other’s pain.

      One example is the movie “Paradise Recovered”. My wife still cannot get path the first 30 seconds of the movie. For me, I was overcome with emotion the other week when I read about the 4 pitfalls of mentoring, and realized that I had been taught to excel in all 4 pitfalls. We called it “shepherding”.

      Another example is the NIV translation of the bible. I can’t read it. The words in the NIV are all bound up with ubf slogans and it is nearly impossible to hear the voice of God when I read the NIV. The NIV is now a cheese-grater to my soul. So now I often read the ESV or NASB or my favorite paraphrase, the Message.

      All this is evidence of living in a fantasy world, a KOPHN fantasy world, that takes SO much effort to uphold and enable. Now that the pressure of maintaining that façade is gone, there is nothing stopping the emotion. I now can see so clearly that my dreams and visions were sacrificed in order to uphold the ubf fabrication.

      I find all this to a healthy part of my recovery, and I’m even discovering that I can express the most important emotion: happiness.

    • “Joe, congratulations on making our 6,000th comment! In just under 3 years this blog has invoked 6,000 comments…”

      Just pointing out that we just today hit 6,500 comments. That is 500 comments in 24 days. 20 comments per day. Our average for the first 3 years was about 5.5 comments per day.

    • Sometime around 5/9 we hit 7,000 comments. So that is a rate of 500 comments in 12 days, two times the rate of the prior commenting pace at about 41 comments per day.

      Thanks to all the people contributing here. Most of you are echoing thoughts in my head as I read the various articles and responses. So I say “ditto” to most of the reactions here.

      I am refraining from commenting on most threads because there are a few comments that infuriate and ensicken me so much that I just need to remain silent.

      All I can say in regard to the latest threads is that ubf cannot possibly ever be the same after what happened in 2010 to 2012. The Holy Spirit has been quenched, insulted and grieved long enough, and He/She is on the move.

      ubf as all of us old-timers knew it is certainly “dead”, even though some semblance of the ministry will no doubt continue. I love how Mark M. puts it “the gig is up!”. Indeed, and the “sheep are awake!”. There is no way to stop HOT conversations. The gospel fire has been lit and won’t be extinguished.

    • Mark Mederich

      Amen. Holy Spirit fire will clear fields of useless residue so new crop can grow.

    • Indeed, Mark. I like your short statements here and there, and appreciate your perceptiveness. Yes, new crop must grow and is growing around the world!

  16. Also, Joe mentioned the “R-group” above. Here is more info in case some of our readers are confused about the R-Group.

  17. Thanks so much Wesley for “coming down to our level” to engage us lowly sinners in conversation and dialogue. Because of your transparency and honesty, it resulted in this series of exchanges that is getting to the depth of our own vulnerable hearts, though it may be raw and messy.

    I hope that you can share with other “seniors” how much your humble, honest and frank comments has made us all feel like real human beings.

    Thank you for still being my friend even when you were disappointed that I would not attend UBF staff meetings over the last few years. Your simple gesture of warm friendship reaches farther and deeper than 1,000 Bible studies, 1,000 conferences and 1,000 prayer meetings.

    I know that some of the comments here are “tough” to hear, which sadly many leaders your age and older refuse to participate, perhaps thinking that they are above such things, or that they have far more important and “positive” things to do. If at all possible, I hope that they will learn from you how to be a humble man who is willing to engage other sinners like us.

    • I want to assent to Ben’s comment. Even though I think your assessment of Samuel Lee’s story-telling is not really honest regarding the facts, I am sure that you wanted to be honest and wanted to write honestly. But I feel we need to re-learn what honesty really means. It sometimes hurts and sounds offensive. But it’s necessary. To come out of a fantasy world, we need to come out of it by making reality checks, including our view of the past.

      North Korea is a good example for what happens if people live in a fantasy world. I just read that many North Koreans even wish Kim Jung Un would finally start the war instead of just talking and threatening, because they have been indoctrinated to believe that it will be an easy win for them, and then all of their problems and hunger will disappear when the big oppressor America is defeated. These people are unable to see how miserable their country and life really is, because they don’t have the look from outside. They could easily defend Kim Jung Un by claiming that he was just a dreamer and visionary, he gives people hope and vision like his grandfather.

    • wesleyyjun

      I always liked how you said things with sense of humor. I think I am freer to say what is in my mind than I would be if I were in Chicago UBF.

  18. My heart is touched, troubled, and saddened as many of you shared how you were shamed publicly. To state the obvious this MUST STOP! Will any older leader in UBF hear this and say something, anything?

    This shaming causes a very sick, unbiblical, and unChristian leadership culture, that includes creating false guilt before the leader rather than a real sin before God, a culture of control and manipulation by the leader, authoritarian spiritual abuse, and the leader acting and behaving as though they are God. Is this not just a terrible, horrible sin?

  19. So getting back to your article, Wesley, I want to share something that has been on my mind since Joe wrote his article that you referenced.

    Can we drop the word “absolute”? I too can only dream of “absolute” honesty. And it is true that our perfection will only occur in Heaven. So in the meantime, as someone mentioned already, can we just be honest?

  20. wesleyyjun

    Hello Brian,
    I will have a busy day today but feel compelled to reply you briefly. I hope I will continue later.
    Somehow I mistook you for someone else. But a couple of days ago I saw you in Facebook and thought you were a pretty good looking guy. If I had found you otherwise would you like me to honestly say what I really felt or keep quiet about it?
    I think I have a few things that I will go to the grave without telling anyone. But does it make me a dishonest guy? I am not sure myself.

    • Hi Wesley:

      “I hope I will continue later.”
      > I hope so too.

      “Somehow I mistook you for someone else”
      > That’s common. I discovered that I had many acquaintences in ubf, but almost no friends. Most poeple don’t know me.

      “But a couple of days ago I saw you in Facebook and thought you were a pretty good looking guy.”
      > The first thing a ubf director told me as an 18 year old freshman was: You’re handsome. So in the mind of ubf I am forever a shy, faithful, good-looking 18 year old. But that is not who I am. I am over 40 years old, with 4 children, one of whom is going to college next year. I’ve also been married for just under 19 years. And I’m balding now :)

      “If I had found you otherwise would you like me to honestly say what I really felt or keep quiet about it?”
      > I would prefer to know how you really feel. Of course about superficial things such as “looks”, we may be kind and generous. But on a more serious note, we simply must be free enough to speak with honesty about each other. For example, one person thougth I must look like a pirate, based on my blogging. I find great joy these days facing the facts of who I am, my ugly, crazy, wonderful self, and to realise God loves me. I am not the fabricated “shep. brian” that ubf made me out to be. As Christ-followers we are to face the facts, like Abraham did, and love/be-friend those who are different, instead of congregating around only those who are the same as me.

    • Joe Schafer

      Hi Wesley.

      If there are things weighing heavily upon your conscience, you don’t have to write about them in a public space like UBFriends unless you believe God wants you to do that. But I do think it is important to share them with close friends whom you trust, and with your family members. Talking through these things, and understanding how they make you feel, and how they have impacted your character and life, is important for emotional health and spiritual maturity. It also helps these close friends and family members to know you better.

      It’s also important for members of a community to talk openly among themselves about painful things. If a community has experienced tragedy, abuse, schism, serious conflict, etc., and if those things are never talked about or resolved, the individuals and the whole community tend to get frozen in time and cannot move forward or grow in their relationships with God or with one another. I didn’t make this up. This is something that social psychologists and cultural anthropologists have clearly observed and written about. It’s something that professional counselors know very well.

  21. wesleyyjun

    Hello Brian,
    As I read your quick reply, I thought to myself why this guy cannot stop talking ubf this ubf that… I don’t care if you were an ex-ubf member. I see you as just a human being I may be interested in knowing. I would be more interested in you writing more Biblical truths and other edifying things. I hate ubf as much as you do sometimes. But I love people I met there.

    • Hi Wesley, you raise a valid point: why can’t ex-ubfers stop talking about ubf?

      An equally valid point is this: why do ubfers keep insisting on ex-members to stop talking about ubf? Why do ubf directors keep telling me to “go get a life”? One ubf directro told me to just ignore ubf and be a rogue ubf chapter. I won’t do that because that is being dishonest in my mind.

      The main “advice” I have gotten the past 2 years from ubf people is this: shut up and go away; go get a seminary degree; or stop talking about ubf and go live your life.

      But if we are all honest with ourselves, we might see that neither approach is healthy or Christ-honoring. Should I be silent about my life in ubf? No, that would not facilitate healing but would again make me an enabler of cult behavoir. Should I keep criticizing ubf? Yes.. well wait, I mean no, that would not honor Christ either. So I’ve tried to tell my story. I’ve done so publicly because the Spirit has led me to do so. And trust me when I say that my online blogging has been restrained…

      So I will keep talking about ubf, as long as it takes to unbind my life from ubf. Based on the thoughts of many ex-ubf people, the ratio is “1 to 1” (pun intended). So for my 24 years in ubf, I likely will need 24 years to unbind, untwist and recover “biblical truth”. Perhaps if I had been taught “biblical truth” in ubf, I would not need 24 years to recover. 2 years have passed already since I resigned as director in protest. So expect 22 years of blogging :)

    • Just a quick note: I have several blogs expressing my thoughts on “biblical truth”:

      My love for grace
      My love for all people
      My love for the gospel
      My love for preaching

      However, almost no one wants to talk about such things… people generally only want to talk to me about ubf.

    • “why this guy cannot stop talking ubf this ubf that”

      Well, UBF has indoctrinated people like Brian and me and many others to believe that UBF is their fate and destinity, their calling. Without following that calling, they told us, our life has no meaning. People like Samuel Lee even instilled fears into us that if we ever leave, we will experience horrible accidents, become ill or die. And that falling away from UBF means falling away from God and be condemned for all eternity. With UBF, our lives had absolute meaning, without UBF we would fall into Nirvana and it would be better to not live at all? Isn’t this what UBF constantly pushed in our minds in every BS and conference?

      How can you – with all honesty – expect that people who have been indoctrinated to believe this for years (24 years in the case of Brian) and who has really lived for UBF, gave up their career, their worldly dreams, their youth, their individuality, their family life, their money, their own free will, that they suddenly from one day to the other forget about all that, like a bad flue that you had for 2 weeks but is over now?

      The same UBF leaders who told us how important UBF is for our life and how we should entrust our whole life and marriage to them, now tell us we shall forget UBF and stop talking about it because it is unimportant? How honest ist that?

      People like Brian and me feel a need to talk about these things for two reasons, first to process our own past. It’s part of the healign process. Healing from a hurt that was caused by UBF. Second, we also feel the need to talk about this in order to help those still in UBF (because, yes, we love them just as you do), and those who might fall into the same trap as we did. I wished somebody had warned me of the problems inherent in UBF practice and theology, so I did not waste so many years with that, only to bring damage to my soul and the soul of others. To follow the golden rule, I must write about it and tell others. Since nobody else is writing about these things, we feel obliged to take the responsibility and make the best of our experience by explaining what we learned to others and open their eyes for the issues, since these are real issues, not minor things we could simply forget and put to rest.

  22. Wesley,

    Could you say this if I was in ubf? “I don’t care if you were an ex-ubf member. I see you as just a human being I may be interested in knowing.”

    Would you have said that about me 10 years ago? Will you say that about your fellow human beings in your ubf chapter?

  23. Joe Schafer

    Brian, I think your responses above are gracious and wise.

    For 24 years, ubf was not merely your church. It was the dominant influence in your life. It affected all your relationships, how you ordered your time each day and each night, all your decisions large and small. It formed your self image, your identity. You literally gave more than half of your life to ubf.

    For all of your adult life, you were told by missionaries to give your whole heart and mind and soul and strength to serving God through ubf. And you obeyed them.

    Even if you ought to simply walk away and concern yourself with other things (not saying that you should; it’s only hypothetical), that would be impossible.

    To use a graphic analogy: Suppose I took a sword in my hand and removed half of your body. I cut off one of your arms, one of your legs, one of your ears, gouged out one of your eyes, took one of your kidneys and one of your lungs. And then I did the same to your wife. And then I took away two of your children. And then I say to you, “Brian, I would really be healthiest for you to just get over this as quickly as possible and move on to other things.”

  24. wesleyyjun

    Believe or not I am not really interested in making anybody in my chapter ubf member. Maybe I owe it to the efforts of people like you. I don’t want you to stop talking about ubf or at least talk less not because I want to protect it but because I am really tired of hearing it. I am interested in people not in an organization. On the other hand I got to know you even a little bit because we have common conversation topic like ubf, right? So that’s good thing. If anything, please pray for ubf to change to be a church like one in Acts 2:42-47. Do you think ubf has hope? What is impossible with men is possible with God, right?

    • “Do you think ubf has hope?”

      No. ubf has no hope. Can an organization have hope? No. Organizations cannot have hope, they cannot feel. Yes, there is a “public image” of an organization. And that is at the core of the ubf mindset. ubf people try to protect and clean up the public image at the expense of people. They try to promote, often unknowningly, the ubf fantasy life.

      I believe you Wesley, when you say you want to be different form this and don’t care about organizations. I believe you really want to love people. But the way you asked this question reveals to me that your mind is still in ubf-mode.

      Can people in ubf have hope? Yes. There is no hope in changing by people’s efforts though, only in Jesus’ redemption and God’s invetervention. Our hope is in grace-driven sanctification, in open dialogue and in embracing our humanity.

    • “I am interested in people not in an organization.”

      But don’t you understand that the organization and the system and ideology that this organization follows impact the people? We need to talk about that ideology, the practice and doctrines that are behind all of this, that make people do so bad things and hurt their own souls and the souls of others. This is exactly what we are trying to do here.

      I believe UBF has hope. But only if it starts to be honest about its past and starts talking about the failures in UBF doctrine and practice and shows a willingness to admit and correct failures and sins. I don’t see much of this yet. You are already tired of hearing it? If you and other leaders think like that, then UBF will have no hope, sorry!

      Wesley, I am a German. Nowadays there are many Germans who also say “we are tired of hearing it” when people talk about the time of the Nazi regime and their evil deeds. They think we should get over it. I don’t think so. I think about it very often, and I think it’s important that it is taught in school, shown in TV, remembered in memorials etc. And this even though the German state has officially recognized their guilt and changed completely. This step of official admission of guilt has not even happened in UBF yet. And you are already tired of hearing about the problems?

  25. wesleyyjun

    Ok Brian,
    my last reply was before reading Joe’s comment. He has good point there. It will take time for you to recover from what you learned wrong at ubf. Still strangely I find it hard for me to say to you I am sorry as a loyal ubf member. I think to myself, “Was it that bad? I was here much longer than he was?” Maybe I have to read carefully all you said about ubf.

    • Thanks for sharing this. I asked myself those questions many time, and so has my wife. It seems kind of like living in North Korea. You don’t realize how bad NK is until you leave and experience abundant life. Bascially ubf was not “so bad” for me, but rather “so shallow, so empty, so rigid”.

      Also I am speaking up for hundreds of people who experience real pain and suffering in ubf. Just because I didn’t experience physical or sexual abuse doesn’t mean I should ignore such things. Abuse of all kinds happened and we ex-members want to expose such things becuase hiding them has gone on too long. Covering up sin is very wrong. So I and a few others have become vocal critics, mostly because our in-private meetings ended up as shunning meetings.

      One more point, as a Korean missionary, you’ll never experience how bad ubf is for native people in America, Russia, China, etc. Perhaps this goes both ways and I’ll never know your pain. But we should try.

      Do you know what happened in Toledo, Russia, India, China and in numerous house churches around North America in the past 2 years? What can we do about such a mass exodus of leaders, all of whom are good, creative, faithful, loyal Christains? Over 21 years 103 good Christain people left Toledo. I speak up so that someone might begin to care.

  26. Joe Schafer

    Wesley, I’m thankful for your openmindedness. When I visit Lehigh, I do sense that Christ-centered gospel work is happening there. I heard that, in addition to caring for the poor and disadvantaged, you have also been working together with other Christian fellowships and inviting local pastors to speak at your worship service. You really have put Jesus, not ubf, at the forefront of your ministry.

    Often I too wish that I didn’t have to talk about my ubf experiences so much, because like you, I am interested in serving God in other ways. I do a great deal of reading and learning and writing and interacting with Christians outside of the ubf context. My conscious thinking and theology and activity are no longer predominantly influenced by ubf. My identity and self-image are no longer wrapped up in ubf.

    However, at the subconscious level of emotion and character and instinct, my ubf experience still affects me very deeply. I still need to process the feelings and come to terms with all the things that I have seen and done in regard to ubf. I have tried to just put those things aside and move ahead with my life, but I found that I kept getting stuck. I still have to deal with ubf-related fallout in my relationships with my wife, my children, my friends, my extended family. Without resolving (or at least better understanding) the effects that ubf had on me, I cannot be an effective parent, husband, preacher, or neighbor.

    My wife said to me, “We wasted so much time NOT talking about ubf.” She’s right.

    • My wife said to me, “We wasted so much time NOT talking about ubf.”

      That’s a great way to put it! Yes, while in UBF we took everything for granted; we blindly followed a system, some even for their whole lives, without every questioning and examining that very system and the way it operates.

      @Wesley, can I ask you some question? Do you believe the reformers of 1976 and 2001 were good-minded UBFers like all the other people you love in UBF? Do you think the grievances they brought up were real and their demands legitimate? Do you think it was right to ignore their requests, call them rebels and crazy dogs and then finally expel them from UBF? If you think it was wrong, do you think UBF should officially rehabilitate these people and apologize? Do you think UBF has hope when it does not start to deal with these questions? Some of the reformers already died over this. I have never got an answer to these questions from a Korean UBF leader, maybe you can be the first?

    • Your thoughts here, Joe, and Wesley’s article have inspired my new mantra for ubf: For 24 years I treated ubf missionairies with double honor; for the next 24 years I will treat them with double honesty.

  27. Random thought… I was supposed to be “you” in Lehigh, Wesley! Imagine that, if I had gone to Lehigh instead of Detroit :/ But suddenly, and for some unexplained reason, we were told not to join Lehigh. Anyway, I’m just so glad to be free of such authoritarian control of my life, and so glad I now realize that the only reason a shepherd could have such control is because I allowed it to happen.

  28. wesleyyjun

    Hey Brian,
    it is a thought. Can you come to join Lehigh as it was supposed to happen? We will talk night after night and gnash teeth at UBF together. It is supposed to be a busy day today. But I keep coming back to UBFriends.oprg and enjoy talking to you guys. It’s addictive.

    • Ha! Now you’re talking :)

      Seriously though it was really out of my league, just after the passing away of Dr. DH. I wish RM was still there; I enjoyed spending time with him when he travelled through Toledo. Please send my greetings to SH and Dr. BP and everyone else. And perhaps I should add one more chapter to my “redeemed ubf” list…

    • Joe Schafer

      Brian, I heard that RM lives in Michigan and is attending the ubf ministry in Lansing. I’d like to see him too.

    • Thanks Joe. That brings back the memories of the “12 Rockies” days! I do remember those days with fondness and thank God for them. We had such a camaraderie and also a beautiful relationship with the “12 Mary’s”.

      Ok there, you get one good memory of ubf because Wesley posted his article!

      So really why can’t I stop talking about ubf? Because I love the people there and I loved my time there during college! I am so harsh on ubf because I love ubf. I can’t bear to see so much potential lost primarily because of a simple lack of dialogue.

  29. wesleyyjun

    I have so much talk about with you, things like campus ministry combining urban ministry, a few things that I thought I would go to the grave without telling anyone. I think I chose you to spill my guts out if you don’t mind. I will visit you sometime or you can come over to Lehigh if you happen to be around. Or I will just write you email.
    I hope you won’t get upset sometimes I speak somewhat bluntly.

    • Joe Schafer

      I’s like to go to Lehigh. Email is ok. And you and your wife are always welcome to visit us too. If you come to State College, we can meet up with pastor Steve Lutz (you heard him speak at our church a few years back). He would certainly want to talk to you about what you are doing at Lehigh.

      Blunt is good. No more beating around the bush.

    • “Blunt is good.”
      > Yes indeed.

      “No more beating around the bush.”
      > Right, because Chris, Vitaly and I are bush-wackers who are tearing through bushes :)

    • Hey, I feel left out here. I’m a bush-wacker too, aren’t I?

    • Surely! That goes without saying. I think you are more like a high-powered lawn mower though…

  30. wesleyyjun

    Hi Chris,
    I hope that you won’t see me as a ubf man but as a man who happened to be in ubf. Why should I apologize for anything that happened in ubf in the past? UBF did not appoint me to any position of that sort.
    I don’t understand the extent of your pain that you experienced in ubf. But I hope I will get to know you as man and man, not as a ubfer and an ex-ubfer.

    • “Why should I apologize for anything that happened in ubf in the past?”

      Wesley, that was not my question. I did not ask you to apologize, but I asked whether you think that UBF should apologize as an organization. An organization in which you are a member and even a leader.

      As a German, I would not feel at home in my country if it had not apologized for what it did in the past. As a member of the German protestant church, I would not feel at home in my church if it had not apologized for how it behaved during that time (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuttgart_Declaration_of_Guilt).

      And even if I personally did not live in that time, and luckily my parents and grandparents weren’t involved with the Nazis, I still would never speak or think like “Why should I apologize for anything that happened in Germany in the past?” I’m a German, and this is also my history if I like it or not.

      “UBF did not appoint me to any position of that sort.”

      You are right, that apology should come from the top director. But it would have no meaning if that apology would not be backed up by the whole of UBF, particularly by people like you. If you and the other directors are indifferent about such an apology, then such an apology from the top director of UBF would really have little meaning. On the other hand, if you and other UBF directors and members have a clear opion, then you would all push for such a thing to happen.

      “I hope that you won’t see me as a ubf man but as a man who happened to be in ubf.”

      Wesley, you don’t “happen to be in UBF”. It is your choice whether you are in UBF or not. And a UBF chapter director, you are a representative of UBF whether you like it or not. And it is your choice how you act if you decide to be in UBF, whether you care for the issues we are talking about or whether you are indifferent. The top director cannot do anything without the lower ranking directors and members. You are one of them. If all of them are indifferent, I have no hope for UBF.

    • “I don’t understand the extent of your pain that you experienced in ubf.”

      Have you ever read the open letter of 1976? Have you heared abort the abortions forced by Samuel Lee? Have you read all the testimonies of dropouts who complained about the abuse they experienced? The largest part of my pain is not what I personally experienced, but the realization that I have been part of an organization that systematically performed and tolerated such abuse and did not want to apologize, but expelled those who talked about it. Even though I personally experienced heavy spiritual abuse as well, that is not was really bothered me. I would come easily over that if I knew I was the only person affected. Why do you think this is only a personal issue of mine? Don’t you feel the same pain and necessity to apologize as I do when I read about forced abortions? “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Shouldn’t it be so?

  31. Joe Schafer

    Chris, you’ve made some good points here. A lot of ministry problems would have been solved long ago if all the chapter directors and fellowship leaders who were bothered by things had spoken their minds honestly and directly and demanded answers from the elders and senior leaders in a timely fashion. As it happened, only a few spoke up, and because only a few did so, they could be easily isolated and marginalized.

    Because we were trained to just follow orders, we didn’t know how to form our own thoughts and words. Our consciences should have become sharper over time, but instead we became duller and duller. We passively allowed the seniors to direct without holding them accountable. They needed us to hold their feet to the fire and make them deal with the problems as they arose. But we thought it was more humble and spiritual to just keep quiet and follow their direction. We failed to take our leadership roles seriously.

  32. Thanks again, Wesley, for making this exhilarating HOT dialogue possible. I just love Honest, Open, and Transparent, probably because I made it up (I think) and because they are the letters of my name spelled backwards! Now just how much more self-centered can one possibly be!

  33. I have a dream too: I wish every UBF “leader” and “elder” would read these 70+ HOT comments for the sake of their own soul and to search their own hearts. For now, I am sorry that I think that it will just have to remain a dream.

  34. Last year I posed a question to some UBF leaders in a mass email and got only a few offended responses. The vast majority of responses was some UBF people’s favorite response: COMPLETE SILENCE. My question: Is UBF raising Christ-centered leaders or UBF-centered followers?

    Of course I understand why some leaders would be quite upset with this question, but don’t you think that it is a fair question that should be seriously answered?

  35. Did UBF do this in the past? Think they are doing it at present? Able to do this in the near future? http://vimeo.com/22751415

  36. Brian posted this on facebook, so I thought I’d share it here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nakedpastor/2013/04/the-perfect-christian-body-2/ UBF doesn’t teach this stuff do we?????

  37. wesleyyjun

    You have good points there. I apologize for saying, “Why should I apologize for anything that happened in ubf in the past?” It was not well thought out question. It’s a part of my responsibility to fight “evil” leaders and let them do right things and build Christ-centered church. If possible I would like to talk to every single one of those who were hurt by any ubf man and do anything within my power to help healing.
    Now question is what really hurt them and what is really abuse. Sometimes Dr. Lee made me and other fellowship leaders walk 2-5 miles when our fellowship Sunday worship attendants went down. Would you say it was abuse? Probably yes; that’s abuse of power. But I would say no because I shared his zeal to work hard to bring people to our Sunday worship service. This is of course only one example of how we view “hurt”and”abuse.”
    Chris, I am sure you and I have much to discuss. I am open to it. But I have to take it a little slowly. It happens to be a busy week with many other things, including Easter retreat. (Is being forced to prepare for Easter retreat abuse? No, right? Just joking. :> )For our discussions I propose to adopt A. Lincoln’s words as our mantra: “With malice toward none…” (I just picked up this word, mantra, from Brian’s comments. See I am a Korean missionary still learning the language. One American Bible student once got mad at my wife and said, “How dare you Koreans try to teach us instead of learning? I hope you as German don’t get in that kind of mentality.)

    • “But I have to take it a little slowly”

      > Sorry, but I won’t show any mercy in this area of “slowing down”. If you are a missionary to Americans, it is your responsibility to speed up. For a quarter of a century, I slowed down my thinking, my speech, and my life to meet the Korean missionaries and help them. In one sense Christian missionary work does depend on natives who can enable and connect with the missionary. But instead of that relationship maturing, I and other natives around the world, became slaves to the missionaries, adopting the missionary culture. Vitaly’s recent comments here show me the same thing happened in Russia.

      > I cried the first time I attended our current American church. Why? Because the pastor spoke SO fast! I could hardly understand and struggled to keep up. At that moment I realized I had become Koreanized. Did I receive the gospel of Jesus in ubf? Yes. But I also received the false gospel of Koreanization.

      > The job of a missionary is not to preach his/her culture, but to adapt and even adopt the culture in which they are sent into. There are many layers to the problems in ubf, and cultural dominance of Koreans is one of those layers. Joe reported recently on a survey of what word people used to describe ubf. The most used word was “Korean”. Correcting this is perhaps a good place to start correcting the problems in ubf.

    • Hi Brian,

      I understand your perspective and agree with you in many respects. I’ve also observed that English communication in general seems to becoming slower. Watch a movie from the 40s and you’ll see what I mean; the actors speak really fast, much faster than how we normally speak today. A few weeks ago I listened to archived radio broadcasts from 1947; the speakers then also spoke much faster than today. I’m not sure why this is, but it seems that our communication is slowing down. I’d be interested in learning why.

    • Interesting observation, Joshua. I wonder if it is because of the influx of many more cultures into North America compared to the 40s and 50s? Maybe blogging slows down our thought processes :)

  38. wesleyyjun

    I like this so much:

    “So really why can’t I stop talking about ubf? Because I love the people there and I loved my time there during college! I am so harsh on ubf because I love ubf. I can’t bear to see so much
    potential lost primarily because of a simple lack of dialogue.”

    I dream a day when all ubfhaters will become ex-ubf-haters.

    • I dream of a day when all ubf directors accept my challenge.

      It’s no secret I have a love/hate relationship with ubf people. All of us do, if we are honest. I hate the 50th Anniversary lectures, mission statement and the manner in which it was presented. And I hate most of the ways ubf people behave, especially the way I myself ignored, dismissed and marginalized people who left or didn’t fall in line.

      After more than half of the Toledo leaders left in 2011, one of my friends told me that leaving ubf felt like a messy divorce. She said she now realizes that she and her family had been married to ubf.

  39. wesleyyjun

    Hi Chris,
    By the way can I joke to a German?
    I have strange fear that I must not joke to a German. I hope this is not a racial slur.

  40. Hi Wesley,

    I don’t believe anyone on UBFriends is a UBF hater. This idea may have primarily come from UBF loyalists who are “absolute” in that UBF cannot and should never be critiqued. So if you critique any “senior” UBF leader you are labeled and caricatured as a “UBF hater.” Incidentally, a refusal to be critiqued will result in an unhealthy church, which sorry to say is what UBF is becoming, unless of course we change and repent.

    I feel very sorry, even angry, when I hear some UBF people becoming defensive of UBF leaders, and who speak very negatively, critically and judgmentally toward anyone who DARES to speak up about some of the bad stuff that some UBF leaders, past and present, have done.

    For instance, Vitaly recently shared this very disturbing account in a previous post: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/03/25/good-leaders-delegate-without-control/#comment-5978 How can UBF, as a “holy, godly, Christian church,” NOT respond to this???? How can any Christian in UBF ever defend UBF for this???? Not be just heart broken in reading such an appalling disgusting indefensible humiliation????

    • Excellent points, Ben. Ten years ago, I would have just dismissed Vitaly’s experience as “his fault” and “not my problem”. But God has put a deep love and concern for people who experience these things, which is correctly labeled as spiritual abuse.

      The Holy Spirit has taken me (a shy, arrogant wimp donkey of a man) and made my forehead like flint and opened my voice to rebuke all ubf directors openly, in-person and in public until the spiritual, mental, physical, sexual, financial and any other kind of abuse is exposed and held accountable.

    • Joe Schafer

      … like Flint, Michigan

    • Indeed, Joe. Yes the Detroit persona has played a role… as the ubf fantasy faded I picked up another fantasy, sort of an Eminem type imagination. I used to imagine myself like Eminem in the video for “Not Afraid”. I was punching through the walls of ubf like he does in the video. That seemed to help for a while, but I found that it became unhealthy.

      So now I focus on dialogues. I like what Ben often says: “ubf trained me too well.” Where did I get the idea that if you love someone you must rebuke them? Therefore, I rebuke ubf directors openly and directly. These things probably don’t make sense outside of the ubf context. But I know ubf people understand. I love my shepherd, so I rebuked him. I love SB, ATK, RW, MV, etc. so I rebuked them.

  41. wesleyyjun

    I agree with you. I did not mean to say ubfriends are ubf haters. Read what Brian said: it touches my heart. “So really why can’t I stop talking about ubf? Because I love the people there and I loved my time there during college! I am so harsh on ubf because I love ubf. I can’t bear to see so much potential lost primarily because of a simple lack of dialogue.” I am almost convinced that Brian is a deep ubf lover and probably everybody else too. I will read Vitaly’s posting. It is already 1:15 am now. It was a long exciting day.

    • Wesley, tanks for engaging in this dialogue. It is definitely helpful for us and for UBF as a whole. Here are my collected responses to your recent comments:

      > “I apologize for saying, “Why should I apologize for anything that happened in ubf in the past?” It was not well thought out question. It’s a part of my responsibility to fight “evil” leaders and let them do right things and build Christ-centered church. If possible I would like to talk to every single one of those who were hurt by any ubf man and do anything within my power to help healing.”

      Thanks for clarifying this, Wesley. It’s good that you understand how such a response is wrong, even if it sounds technically true. It’s good that you want to apologize to all these people.

      But still, this was not my question and request to you. My question was whether you think that UBF as an organization should apologize for all the documented abuse in the past, for how they treated those hundreds of missionaries who spoke up and wanted to change the ministry, and for ignoring these problems for so long time. Even lower ranking members must apologize, because as you say it would have been their responsibility to fight evil and injustice, no matter from which side it is coming. Even those in UBF who did not do much and were more like “sitting ducks” (as Samuel Lee called them) need to apologize, because being silent when speaking is necessary is also a sin. Some people believe “I can’t do anything wrong if I don’t interfere” or “I can’t say anything wrong if I do not answer at all”. But this is very wrong. Silence can speak volumes, as we already discussed here.

      This should actually not be only an apology, but more like an admission of guilt for having followed an authoritarian and intrinsically abusive system and a man who built that system with the help of all of us, rather than follow Christ. This is where all the problems came from.

      As I already explained, it’s not so much one person harming the other; it is much more a system (or a construct of ideas) harming all of us. Strictly speaking, we also did harm to the soul of Samuel Lee by not clearly helping him to repent and immediately point out when he did evil things like calling somebody “a fat lady who resembled a globe” and we were just sitting there laughing and smiling. Power corrupts, and we allowed him to become corrupted. Sure, in the end those who have authority and act up like leaders have more responsibility than those who were used and manipulated by such people. But everybody shares their small part as well. There were many situations where I should have talked but was silent.

      So, I would still be interested in your answer to the question, should UBF issue such a public and official apology and rehabilitate the reformers? You still haven’t answered this yet. What’s your opinion?

      > “Chris, I am sure you and I have much to discuss. I am open to it. But I have to take it a little slowly.”

      If you take time to read up what has been written on this website, to read books about these issues, or think deeply about these matters, that would be well invested time. Discussion alone does not help. We need educated and informed discussion.

      By the way, how long have you been in UBF? How long as a sheep, how long as a shepherd/missionary, how long as a director? How much do you know about the reform issues? Did you read the open letters and declarations of the reformers, for instance? Just to better understand where you’re coming from.

      > “How dare you Koreans try to teach us instead of learning? I hope you as German don’t get in that kind of mentality.”

      I have been very open for the teaching of Koreans as a young student. Too open, I would say nowadays. The problem was also that these Koreans understood “teaching” a bit differently than you would normally understand the word. This word “teaching” seemed to include “crushing my soul”, “breaking and remaking my personality”, “making me dependent”, “making me feel guilty all the time”, “being my real parents”, “parenting me like a little child” and demanding “absolute obedience” from me.

      Honestly, I rarely noticed the attitude “How dare you Koreans try to teach us instead of learning?” from Germans in my chapter. But I often experienced the attitude “How do you German students try to teach us Korean missionaries instead of learning?” from Koreans in my chapter.

      > “I dream a day when all ubfhaters will become ex-ubf-haters.”

      You and others have already clarified this. Just to make it fully clear once more, because this is a stereotype I hear much too often: The word “ubf hater” is ambiguous, because UBF can refer to “UBF, the system of beliefs and practices” or “UBF, the people”. In the first sense, you can wait until I’m buried, I will forever stay an UBF hater. In the latter sense, I never have been an UBF hater. For this reason, we should stop using such words and stereotypes.

      Actually you were the one who told us to differentiate between UBF-the-organization and UBF-the-people. But when you call UBF critics “UBF haters” you make the same mistake of confusing their hate of e.g. the authoritarianism in UBF with hate of the people in UBF. UBF critics are just as able as you are to differentiate between UBF-the-organization and UBF-the-people.
      To be more precise, I don’t even hate all of the practices and teachings in UBF. UBF gets many things right. But there are some elements in the doctrine and practice that are deeply wrong and dangerous, and some that are subtly twisted. These seemingly small wrongs are like the proverbial (actually Biblical) “little yeast that leavens the whole lump”. Unfortunately, these tainted parts that need to be thrown away for the dough to become healthy again have been in UBF nearly from the very beginnings, they are kind of ingrained in UBFers minds and UBF culture; and they have a big overlap with what UBF top leadership calls “UBF heritage,” which they consider indispensable and cling to so much. The leadership rather would cut away half of the membership in 1976 and 2001 than cut away their “UBF heritage”. (Which is, in my understanding, actually a “Samuel Lee heritage”. That’s why I’m still talking about Samuel Lee and what he said or did so much.)

      > “By the way can I joke to a German?”

      Maybe we have a different kind of humor, but we definitely have humor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_humour). And yes, we laughed and joked a lot in our German chapter, together with the Koreans.

      But still, I think many things that happened in UBF and still happen in some parts of UBF are not funny at all. They are deadly serious.

      I apologize for writing so much again. It’s not as if I did not have other things do to. But somehow I always feel compelled to write here. Even if I am away from the computer, I often think about these things. My wife then says to me “oh, you have that UBF look again.”

  42. David Bychkov

    Once I happened to listen the lecture about Martin Luther. And there was a thought like this – the reformation was born b/c of the hard struggle to follow the way the relegion of those days suggested. Luther did really want to obtein the righteousness before God and followed the way the church suggested to him wholeheartedly. But yet he could not. And he found another way – by faith.
    I think something like this is true for us. Sure some can leave and critisize ubf b/c they was not really commited to ubf, they didn’t like it. but some really loved it, trying their best to follow the way ubf suggested to them to please God and to be fruitful for God, trying their best to bring benefit to ubf and glory to God, and yet at the end they found they need to stop for those same reasons – to bring glory to God, be fruitful for him and bring benefit to ubf$ they need to change their mind and behavior etc, rethink their faith etc…

    • David, that’s true indeed. When I gave up my own ideas about my future and followed the UBF lifestyle instead, I did this because I thought it was right. Even our chapter director told us when making decisions we should do what is right. However, I was so disappointed to find in 2001 that his understanding of what is right was just “whatever Samuel Lee tells us to do”. He explicitly taught us that we should follow his orientation, no matter how right or wrong it looks to us, because he as the annointed servant of God knew better than we do. He gave us several “parabels” in which things which smelled like sh*t in the end turned out to be wonderful. We should just “trust” and obey “out of taith”. His teaching was clear: No matter how evil and bad and unethical and wrong and unbiblical the orientation of your shepherd is, you need to follow him anyway. This is also known as “covering doctrine”. I totally rejected that way of thinking and that’s why I left.

      My director also had a totally different understanding of what is “political”. He told us that was the reformers did was “political game playing”, while just following the party line “by faith” was the spiritual thing to do. For me it was exactly the opposite: Opportunistically and blindly following the party line is the political thing, and trying to do what is right based on the facts and on the Bible and our ethical understanding and conscience is the spiritual thing. But his argumentation was always that reform was a “political thing” only and we should be spiritual instead and totally ignore them.

      I found that many people in UBF thought like that, and this is really what divided us and alienated me from them. I still love them as persons, but I totally do not feel like we are “kindred spirits” any more in that regard. Before, I really thought like that, I thought we all were kind of soul mates. I really thought we were all like “let’s do what is right – no compromize”. To find that most of my fellow UBFers were either different or at least had a totally different understanding of what is right (based on the person who is giving the orientation, instead of on the orienatation itself) was a big shock for me. I just could not believe and understand how we could be so different.

    • I remember how our director once told a young missionary that he needed to go on a mission journey to Denmark for a week. But the young missionary felt he didn’t have time for this, because he needed to care for his family and solve many of his burning problems (getting a job, caring for his young child, getting a residence permit, learning the language, finding sheep etc.). In this situation the director told him: “You need to do what is right.” Sounds good. But the problem was, the director had already defined “what is right” to be what he told him to do. He deprived him of the ability to really make a decision based on his own conscience, to do what is right, and to mature that way. (The other problem here is that in such a situation, I don’t believe there is a single thing to do that is right. Whatever you decide, if this decision is based on your best assessment and your conscience, is right. God will bless it anyway. He is not a dictator who has everything laid out for us in advance and we need to follow his already-made-plan for our life. Just like I am happy with whatever decision my son makes concerning job, marriage etc. I am sure our heavenly father will also bless whatever decision we make to use our lives, just as long as we do not waste our life and our god-given talents and act according to our conscience.) But the constant message in UBF was: Do not care about your conscience, do not wait for inspiration of the Holy spirit, we already tell you what to do, just be obedient, just follow our orientation “by faith”. I know that this young missionary struggled for a long time with this issue, because however he decided, he was guilty. If he would stay with his family and care for his urgent problems, he would have the nagging feeling that he did not do waht was pleasent to God and disobeyed the servant of God, on the other hand, if he obeyed he would have went one step further into immaturity and his wife would rightly blame him for neglecting his family.

      Just a small example that came to my mind when I thought about the phrase “do what is right”. It is really problematic if leaders impose their own ideas, dreams, visions and plans onto others, subtly framing them as “God’s will”.

  43. wesleyyjun

    As you agreed with me I will take it a little slowly.
    But I want to clarify the phrase “ubf hater become ex-ubf hater.” I did not mean to say that I wanted to campaign to change ex ubf members their attitude toward ubf. Maybe that’s included. But basically I meant to say we will love one another in the Lord again. I am so glad to hear that there was time when you laughed together with other ubf members. As a ubf member I will work within my abilities to help change anything wrong with it. I am sure(and you are absolutely sure) we have many things to work on.
    But I still want your comment on my proposition of our common mantra: “With malice toward none…”

  44. “With malice toward none…”

    Great quote. As an American and a human being, I see zero malice on this blog. I do see harsh criticism, painful expressions, awkward quotations and severely convicting words. But malice? No.

    Perhaps we have a different definition of malice?

  45. wesleyyjun

    I apologize I haven’t read all your postings here. Help me out. What do you feel toward those who have hurt you?

    • Good question, Wesley and thanks for asking.

      Your question combines multiple questions together: Who has hurt me? What hurt was done? How do I feel toward the people who did the hurt?

      Here are my thoughts:

      I must first point out that for most of my 24 years in ubf (1987 to 2011) I was very glad to be there. I received much benefit and had many happy times. I loved doing ubf stuff because I came to believe I was doing God’s will. The biggest benefit to me was a knowledge of the bible text (even though the ubf doctrines are all messed up, I am glad to be able to say I spent over 16,000 hours in bible study. At least I know the text.)

      But there was always a nagging problem in my conscience. I was being trained to “be a blessing” to others and to “serve and help them”. While I myself was very blessed in ubf and I enjoyed eating at the shepherd’s table of fellowship, I began to notice the suffering of those around me. Like Mary in the bible, I kept all these things in my heart, treasuring them up and pondering all that was going on around me. I mostly remained silent and was one of the “quiet ones” in ubf, because I wanted to be the most blessed.

      My conscience started to be bothered right away. In 1990, me and some other ubf people broke into our director’s house and stole all his families belongings in order to “be a blessing” to them. I was unaware of the details of the godfather-like struggles going on with JK and SLee. A while back I shared my confession of what I and other leaders did to JK’s family. My leaving ubf was at least 50% because of what I did to JK’s family and about what I did to others (not about what was done to me in ubf). I sat by idly as I heard about the severe problems my friends had. Over 103 people (including children) ended up leaving my chapter over the course of 21 years. They have all had varying levels of reconciliation, but all left with trauma of some kind. I noticed that the more we ubf leaders “blessed” others, the more suffering they experienced. Something was not right.

      In 2011 I decided to bring the 1990 event to closure. I couldn’t go on living with such a burden on my heart and soul and mind. I began by sharing my honest thoughts from the last Easter ubf conference I attended. This was a test to see “how it would go” if I ever raised any matters of conscience with ubf leaders. I wanted to know if I was dealing with Christian pastors who would help me resolve my burden, or if I was dealing with cult leaders who only cared about maintaining the ubf heritage.

      I wanted to know if the friendships I thought I had built up would be sustainable through honest conversation. I wanted to know if my director cared about me and our 24 years relationship or if the ubf heritage and keeping face was more important. Surely no one would turn their back on me, right? I was “Mr. ubf”! I had defended ubf fully and “absolutely” on the internet! I was loyal, faithful, obedient and had treated ubf directors with double-honor for over 20 years! I had been a ubf missionary to Russia! Surely I could share a few honest words, right?

      You can read my blog to know how I feel about the directors in ubf, most of whom were SILENT during my problems that arose in 2011. So the “hurt” only happened to me the last 2 years AFTER and DURING my leaving. I did not really feel “hurt” during my time IN ubf, but only as I experienced the shunning process. I was hurt by the ubf idea of “unity“.

    • So how do I feel toward those who have hurt me in the last 2 years as I began to raise questions of conscience? I feel betrayed. I feel crucified. I feel silenced. I feel shunned. I feel furious. I feel angry. I feel disappointed. I feel disillusioned.

      Watch the Truman show if you want to understand more. I realized now that even the “blessings” I received in ubf were a facade mostly. Listen to these songs if you want to know more of my feelings: sometimes I feel like Jackson Missippi. Sometimes I feel like screaming out say something!. Sometimes I feel like shouting now your messin’….

      Often I just hear the sound of silence or feel depressed to see that I’m stuck in the hotel California.

      But I’m so thankful for the bonds of real friends like Ben and Joe and JohnY and JohnA, and M&M and others.

      In the end, I know I am born free. I rest in the amazing grace of God.

    • And speaking of friends, the friends I listed above came to mind first just because I’ve met them in person. I want to make it clear that I really have enjoyed making many, many new virtual friends whom I’ve never met! Chris from Germany especially has become my favorite virtual friend! I’m happy to know so many friends here on this blog–all those who comment like Vitaly and DavidB and Anonymous, as well as all the silent readers. I love all of you and thank you for being my friend even though you can clearly see my crazy, bitter, ugly, wonderful self!

    • Brian, I appretiate that very much, knowing how much I must have offended you when you were still Bagdad Brian. It was a time when I was even more dogmatic and obnoxious than I am today. I found we can only be real friends if we drop our masquerade and are who we are and speak what we really feel and believe.

  46. This is my attempt at an answer to a great question by Wesley. Brian surely has his own answer.

    The first feeling might be shock that a Christian leader in a church could say, do, decide or be influenced by others in a way that seems callous, calculative and retributive, rather than caring, loving and compassionate.

    Another feeling–which might be worse than the first–is when and if others in the church respond or gossip about you because you began to question or express some displeasure.

    The ad hominem arguments are death itself, because those who use it will absolutely refuse to hear anything you have to say, while continuing to insist that it is ALL YOUR PROBLEM.

    Finally, by God’s help and mercy alone, the feeling of truly amazing grace to know that no matter how disheartened, frustrated or angry I may have felt, Jesus felt it far far worse for having done absolutely nothing wrong. And Jesus did it all for me, so that I may still find joy and thanksgiving even in my worst moments, because truth be told I clearly deserve far worse than the worst thing that can ever happen to me.

    Perhaps others may share too how they felt.

    • Yes, Ben, I have many of the same feelings you express. I’ll share my own response to Wesley in a minute, but I think our readers should realize that you and Joe have been mistreated to a far greater degree than myself. We should all marvel at the fact that both of you are still willing to talk to ubf leaders.

  47. So there are multiple levels of hurt that I’m dealing with:

    1. The hurt of deception and disillusionment cause by the ubf doctrines over 20+ years.

    2. The hurt of shunning and silence caused by the ubf directors over the past 2 years during and after leaving ubf.

    3. The hurt of bearing the burden of what I did to cause other’s harm in the name of “being a blessing”.

    4. The hurt of ignoring my family as they endured my rash decisions to move our family so much and my ignoring family in the name of “serving God’s world campus mission”.

    5. The hurt of being misunderstood and condemned to hell by Evangelical people because God was sending me through a fundamorphosis as I left ubf.

    6. The hurt of being told I am demon possessed and hell-bound because I am a gay rights pacifist.

  48. wesleyyjun

    Ben and Brian,
    Thank your for your thoughtful answers to my question: “What do you feel toward those who have hurt you?”
    I’d like to answer my own question also. When I am hurt by others I at least try to follow what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus forgave those who hurt them before they showed any hint of repentance. He said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus forgave those who hurt him. But his forgiveness would do good to only those who accepted it. Those who did not accept it would continue to be in darkness. I must forgive one who hurt me before he says he is sorry. If he accepts my forgiveness, he is doing himself favor as well as myself. He is doing himself favor because he will come to light. He is doing me favor because his acceptance of my forgiveness means his admission of having done wrong to me. If he does not accept my forgiveness, he is doing harm to himself as much as he does to me. If this happens to Jesus, he feels his heart broken. That’s pain to him. But the one who suffers most is the one who is not repenting and not accepting his forgiveness. But in my case it is I who the suffers most because of my resentment and anger toward one who did harm to me but is not repenting. In Jesus’ case his pain is his holy sorrow. In my case my pain is my worldly sorrow, unholy sorrow. In my lifetime a good number of people have hurt me and more will hurt me in the future. It is for my own good that I grow to overcome worldly sorrow and tendency for resentment and learn holy sorrow. After I have learned it I will experience pain only because he who hurt me goes through pain, pain of remaining in darkness.

    • Wesley, could you please also answer my question whether UBF as an organization should apologize for how they dealt with the reformers of 1976 and 2001 and their grievances, ignoring and not responding to the issues, shunning and finally expelling the people who brought them up, and dividing the community?

      You answer to Ben and Brian about how to dealt with hurt sounds good, and it is applicable in certain situations. However, it does not apply to sin committed in the church. Otherwise, Mt 18,15ff would sound like this: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, just forgive them anyway and get over it.” Is this what is written in your Bible?

      Also, I’m not getting tired of repeating that this is not an issue of Ben or Brian or me being hurt only. Hundreds, if not thousands of people have been hurt. And it is not an issue of people hurting people but an issue of bad theology and cult-like practices hurting people, and this will continue until the bad theology and the bad practices are exposed and renounced. I want to say it again: This issue cannot be solved by an apology alone. Of course, an apology will be part of the solution, but this must be solved fundamentally or history will repeat itself.

      By the way, I’m convinced that those people who are speaking about their hurt on the Internet are not even those who have been hurt the most. I have talked with some people who would never write on the Internet, UBF leaders do not even know how much they have hurt them. They are forgotten and left behind. So again: It is not solution to focus on those people who are the loudest on the Internet, apologize to them in some half-hearted way, in the expectation that this will silence them and solve the problem. If you really cared who has been hurt and in which ways, you would read the many testimonies that have been written on the Internet, starting with the open letter of 1976.

  49. Thanks, Wesley. What you say about forgiveness is excellent, except that in practical reality it can get quite complicated.

    For sure the offended, if a Christian, forgives the offender, albeit imperfectly. A Christian woman who is raped forgives the one who raped her, but the sting of the rape remains with her all her days, especially if the rapist is her father. (Can you imagine anyone telling her, “Since you are a Christian forgiven by Christ, just forgive your rapist and move on with your life”? That is why it is quite odd and shallow if someone asks any wounded or traumatized person to just forgive and move on.)

    The problem with one Christian offending another may be that the offending Christian may think they did nothing wrong. Yet the one offended still needs to forgive the offender even if the offender doesn’t think he/she needs to be forgiven. Then there are sad accounts where an abusive Christian husband says to his battered Christian wife that she should forgive him for hitting her, because she is a Christian who is forgiven by Jesus. Herni Nouwen says that church members forgiving their pastor or priest may be the hardest, because the pastor often does not think he did anything wrong to his parishioner(s).

    These are some relevant quotes which could well pertain to Christians in church (The 3rd quote is most interesting):

    “History is full of disgraceful examples of self-righteous Christians who acted as though their own convictions about God’s call justified their ill treatment of others.” Anthony Gittins, Reading the Clouds.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely expressed for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” C.S. Lewis.

    “There is no deeper pathos in the spiritual life of man than the cruelty of righteous people.” Reinhold Niebuhr, An Interpretation of Christian Ethics. (I wrote this last year to explain how easy it is for ANY Christian leader to hurt and wound others, since they too are sinners: http://www.ubfriends.org/2012/05/30/wounded-by-the-righteous/#more-4658)

  50. Joe Schafer

    Hi Wesley.

    The Jesus who died on the cross for our sins is the same person who cleansed the temple when the religious leaders and their organization became so corrupt that they dishonored his Father’s house.

    And it is the same Jesus who called out the hypocrisy and sins of the religious leaders at many, many points in his public ministry.

    If we accept Jesus as Lord, we have to accept all of him.

    The issues of ethics and ministry practice that people have been raising on this website and elsewhere are not isolated cases of one person hurting another as sinners inevitably do. Sure, there are personal elements to every one of these situations. But when the problems have become systematic and deeply embedded in the culture of the community, don’t the community’s leaders have a duty to address the problems in a systematic fashion? Isn’t that their job?

    For thirty years I have trusted and supported UBF’s leaders, and for a long time Ben and Brian and I and so many others before us have been raising the alarm, privately pleading and begging them to do something real about these ethical issues. They have not. Again and again they have shown no desire to face these uncomfortable things or talk about them. They dodge, dither, deny and delay. They rebuke us for talking about them on a website, saying that these things should be handled in private. But when I bring the issues to them in private, they still do nothing. Then, when I ask them why no progress is being made, they keep silent and act as though I have been overstepping my bounds and treating them so disrespectfully.

    Wesley, what do you suggest we do?

  51. Hi Wesley, thanks for replying. However, you skipped your own question. Instead of answering “How do I feel?”, you answered “What do I do with my feelings?”

    Your comment above is eloquent and has Christian words, but completely misses the point. The way you answered the question is a snapshot of what I think is wrong with the ubf mindset.

    Feelings that are kept buried will one day explode. And as my wife often reminds me: Don’t jump into solving my problem until you know what the problem is, and even then it’s usually better to not solve the problem.

  52. wesleyyjun

    I agree with you that dialogue should begin between ubf leaders and those who may have been hurt by being in ubf. If ubf owes apology it should give it in meaningful ways. I believe there are people in ubf who will agree with me. Then again there is a practical problem of how to go about this. I can assure you that you at least got me into beginning dialogue. But I have limited resources in terms of time and influence in ubf. UBF leaders have numerous other responsibilities. I may be able to convince them dialogue should begin. But I may have problem in convincing them this is the top priority.(This may disturb you.) Yet this is a small beginning. I will begin to talk among ubf leaders. But I ask you to be patient with us.

    • “But I ask you to be patient with us”

      I think Chris is perhaps the most patient man in the world :) He’s been waiting for a couple decades now…

    • This reminds me of a funny/sad story that happened in 2011 as one of my friends left ubf. Before he left he wanted to resolve a matter relating to something he had given out to a Korean missionary. At the time, the Korean couldn’t pay for the object, so my friend just waited. In 2011, he asked the missionary to pay him for the object. The Korean replied: Please be patient. Why are you so much in a hurry? My friend replied, I’ve been waiting for 12 years. How much patience should I have?

  53. Chris, I agree. I can’t speak for others who were hurt by UBF, but as for me personally, my life has really been charmed and blessed by God and even by some/many UBF leaders. God surely used UBF people’s love, service, sacrifice, and prayers that have served me in my own spiritual journey. I know it. They know it. So they feel betrayed because I write things they do not like to hear, nor want to hear, and if they do it sometimes comes across as being polite.

    Christianity cares for “the least of these.” This surely includes those who are speaking up, and even those who are not speaking up but have been hurt. If UBF ignores the least of these, then will God not ignore UBF?

  54. wesleyyjun

    Did the Korean missionary finally pay your friend?

  55. wesleyyjun


    About “What should we do?,” if you talk to everybody, it is like talking to nobody because if they know you are talking to everybody, everybody will hope that the other person will do something about it. I heard that ubf has now ethics committee. I don’t know what they have done so far. But have you talked to them about the problems you mentioned?

    • Joe can speak for himself, but yes I have met with the ethics committee. As long as the ubf missionaries mistake “restoration” with “reconciliation”, and hold the Confucian values instead of surrendering to the Christian gospel, ubf will have to deal with the cult accusations. The next wave of leaders leaving ubf in mass exodus is predicted to be 2019 or so, if there are any leaders left by then.

    • Joe Schafer

      Wesley, I have been in close touch with the Ethics Committee ever since it was formed nearly a year ago. The Committee is well intentioned but has encountered great difficulty accomplishing what they set out to do.

      It saddens me to hear you say “I heard that ubf has now ethics committee” because even chapter directors like yourself have not been told what the committee is for and what it is now doing. The existence of the committee has been announced. But everything else about it has been kept secret for a whole year.

      Perhaps chapter directors think “this is none of my business,” or “the leaders are handling everything and it’s out of my hands,” or “I’m just a nobody and have no standing or privilege to even ask about this.” If so, that saddens me. Because the ethical problems and lack of accountability affect everyone. The public reputation of UBF has been sullied for years, for decades. and that has hindered everyone’s ability to do ministry. Just putting it in the hands of a few top leaders might seem like the humble thing to do, but in my opinion, it’s irresponsible. Chapter directors have a duty to hold the top leaders accountable.

    • Maybe it’s time to write another open letter. There had been open letters to Samuel Lee written by the reformers and later to Sarah Barry written by ex members. These letters had many questions and the explicit request to answer these. They have never been answered and were just ignored. A new open letter could be phrased in a better way than the past letters, and signed by current UBF members. One letter could be sent to the general director and one to the ethics committee.

    • Joe Schafer

      Hi Chris. An open letter might be the best (or only) option when communication totally breaks down, when leaders refuse to talk to you at all. In the past, that was the case. But now there is some back-and-forth communication in private. So for those of us who are still in ubf in one way or another, we don’t need to resort to that.

    • Joe Schafer

      Another thing to note… At present, the leaders have a fair amount of disagreement over how to proceed on ethics and many other issues. From my perspective, the GD and the ethics committee are quite openminded and willing to consider reasonable courses of action. Other leaders and longtime members who maintain a lot of influence are the hardliners right now.

  56. wesleyyjun

    About your question “How do I feel?” let me start with my experience when I first came to study the Bible, many years ago, in my college freshmen years, when tigers used to smoke along with humans. (Korean expression of “very long time ago.”)At that time there was a guy who had been in UBF before me, my one year senior in college. He was very smart and instructed me on all the “right” things and indirectly or directly pointed out all the “wrong” things about me. (By the way now he is a professor in a major US university.) Even though he was always right I could not handle it. I did not know how to handle anger rising in me. One time I wrote “I hate you. I hate you” more than a hundred times, filling a whole page of my notebook. Of course it did not help me. I struggled with him inwardly for many years. Then we parted our ways. Now I miss this guy, am hoping to meet him and joke about our past. Actually I am afraid that if I meet him again things may be similar to what it was at first. He may terrorize me with his super intelligence. But I think I can handle it a little better now than the first time by God’s grace. In a sense my fear makes our possible meeting more exciting. Maybe Jesus’ grace will shine in my heart and he will see a halo over my head.

    About my answer which you described as “eloquent and has Christian words” I must confess my sin that I actually felt it was kind of eloquent after writing it. I was committing sin Ravi Zechariah once mentioned. There were a number of preachers in a certain gathering, preaching one after another. Ravi described his own struggle that while he was delivering a “holy” message he was struggling most “unholy” thoughts inwardly: “Whose sermon is the best?”
    At the same time I must add that I did not write it only for the sake of eloquence. It actually helped me in dealing with people who hurt me more than once. For example, the smart guy in my college days, hurt me because I let him. I was hurt because I thought his opinion of me really mattered. If I had thought of him only as God’s sheep just like me, who needed God’s mercy like me, lost in his sin of being a righteous prick, then I would have not felt so much resentment toward him, but prayed for him with “godly sorrow.” For a long time I did not think this way. That’s why I suffered very long time with resentment. Only recently I have learned not to allow righteous pricks’ opinion of me to matter to me. I still struggle. But at least I know how to pray about the problem. “Lord, give me strength and help me understand that only what you think of me really matters. Ones who I respected–respected in wrong way, I should not put their opinions of me above yours. Help me not to deviate from this truth and hurt myself.”

    • wesleyyjun, what do you think God thinks about your life-long mission in the US? What do you think God thinks about ubf mission in the US? And in the light of Sharon’s new article, what do you think about “hosts” and “guests” in ubf USA? (btw, what are the propotions of Koreans/Americans in ubf USA?) For me it always looked so strange when at CIS ubf directors conferences gathered 100% Koreans. There was time when I dreamed about a conference where in CIS CIS people would gather. Now ubf tends to have only Korean (not just Korean directors) members in CIS.

    • Thank you for sharing this Wesley! I’m so glad you shared. That kind of expression is what I long for. And it is just this kind of dialogue that just might get me to push the “pause” button on my own blog :)

    • David Bychkov

      for the record, Vitaly, there were very few native people at the last cis directors conference i’ve attended (in 2011), but as far as i know most of leaders where invited and welcomed but almost no one came due to some reasons. and that fact made me sad b/c of the lack of initiative of the native leaders. i’ve just want to point that it seems to be fail for both sides.

  57. wesleyyjun

    Thank you for your kind remarks.
    After all we might be a kindred spirit using Ann of Green Gable’s expression. :)

  58. David, I could be wrong, but your questions and comments lately seem to reveal an assumption that a lack of zeal for certain religious events and activity is a moral and spiritual failure. This is an assumption I’m not willing to make. There are many reasons for disillusionment and lack of enthusiasm….and many possibilities as to what would actually bring about the kind of enthusiasm you may be looking for.

    • David Bychkov

      Sharon, I’ve just made a remark concerning Vitaly comment about lack of native leaders on the directors comments. I think it is not necesarily b/c native leaders were not welcomed.
      sure it is complex issue. we may assume that common group culture is killing desire of native people to take initiative and responsibility for the church. but on the other hand they may just be ok with it, and gladly give up of their responsibility. And that can still be a failure.
      Sure I believe that sometimes not taking part in group activities is also active and responsible position. And quite opposite – taking part is really spiritually passive and conforming… sorry for my english.
      I am thinking about that slave who received a talant from the master. he’d just hidden it, not doing anything b/c of the fear. I think frustration, disillusionment can lead a person to such atittude. I think the people in ubf are still to be responsible for the group in one or another way. I do respect people who still sincerely believe that their live for God is very connected to ubf church and they trying their best to serve ubf ministry. and i respect people who see the failures and they are also active about it in some way.
      but i think it is not right to just let it go. someone can confess the loyality to the church and it’s principles, believing it is God will for his life, but do not really trying to follow them, being very passive in serving the church and mission. other one can see things very clearly, and be very pessimistic about church and it’s principles. he can be very pessimistic about the chance that things can be changed. and therefor he will not participate in church mission wholeheartedly – just b/c he doesn’t believe in it, neither he will try to improve anything, b/c he doesn’t believe things can be improved. and those atittutedes I just don’t like.
      As a native, well as a former native, I believe i still need think more about myself and my place in chuch. what can i do (or not do :)) in order to please God in this place? sure i need undestand things, i need see the group problems etc., but at the end i will answer before God for my own life. so I need to be very serious about how to please God in the place i am. God will judge others, e.g. missionaries himself, and my role is limited to Mth. 18, no more.

    • Unfortunately, David, it isn’t as simple as choosing to keep fellowship for the sake of mission and common purpose or not. There is the dark cloud of spiritual abuse which confuses the matter beyond the categories you bring up. To stay or not to stay may actually become a matter of spiritual life or death, or at least spiritual health and spiritual sickness. I wish I didn’t have to say this, but how can I keep silent? What do I do about this responsibility? Am I overstating the problem?

    • David Bychkov

      Sure Sharon. To leave the community can be also the responsible action. Just to be clear my family has left ubf about a year or two ago (it is difficult to state definitely). Sorry if I confused you in someway. I feel I did…

    • Not at all. I’m just struggling to understand all of this along with you that’s all. Not claiming to have answers to my questions. :)

    • David Bychkov

      thanks for asking. it’s just bit difficult to express myself clearly in one brief comment. so it can easily be misleading. and for me it takes pretty long time to write in english.

    • Hi Sharon, just want to jump in here because two words you mention highlight the main struggle my wife and I had. Those two words are “health” and “responsibility”. Technically speaking our family left ubf in 2003, when we moved to Detroit in “disobedience”. We were allowed to be counted as a house church because we submitted to 6 months of training (driving to Toledo every weekend to worship). At that time I had decided to keep face and deny the brokenness and unhealthy nature of my ubf relationships.

      Over the next 9 years, my wife noticed that our spiritual health and the spiritual health of our children was not good. We had to “feed ourselves” spiritually. But I dismissed and denied such things, refusing to even talk about it out of my arrogance.

      What has hit me hard lately is how greatly I displeased God by ignoring my responsibility to my family and the health of all of us. My actions in Detroit received a ton of flattering praise in ubf, ubf but we were disintegrating as a family by ourself. We had to leave ubf and join a local church for the sake of our own health and to take responsibility for our own family. Each family’s situation is different, so I don’t think people should follow our example. In fact, I suspect if we had indeed gone to LeHigh, our reaction would have been much different.

  59. wesleyyjun

    I’d like answer your questions more. But for now as for the question, “What do you think God thinks about your life-long mission in the US?” I speculate he thinks, “This is the best I could arrange for Wesley. He might not be in the humanly best situation, like working in the greatest Christian organization which ever existed on earth. But Wesley will learn a few tricks to turn around things that do not seem so good for his good and for MY GOOD probably very slowly. But I can wait. I am in no rush.” I am confident that with Rick Warren’s expression I am still in God’s plan A, not B.

    • What would you answer my questions in the light of the Anon’s latest comment? I mean, for how long have you lived in the US? Have you met s.o. to trust leadership to him in your chapter yet? Are you going “to bury your bones” in the US or are you planning to follow “God’s plan” not a ubf tradition? And I suppose that Rick Warren is an American leader, not a missionary? Can a missionary apply the same expression to himself?

    • “I am confident that with Rick Warren’s expression I am still in God’s plan A, not B.”

      I am also confident that we both are part of plan A. There is no plan B, and there is no second Savior. If plan A seems to be failing, we can’t just create a new plan. We are stuck with figuring out how to love each other. Love is plan A.

    • “I am also confident that we both are part of plan A.”

      I personally think that the whole idea that God has a certain plan for my life is somewhat faulty anyway. At least in the way that God has a predetermined idea of how exactly I should live, e.g. in UBF or another church, or who I should marry. For me, the most helpful idea has become to see God as a heavenly father. As a father myself, do I have a plan for my son that he must exactly follow? No, I just have the wish that he should be happy, and I want him to make his own decisions. If he fails, I would still support him and help him. I think such an image of God is not unfounded (Lk 15:11-32).

    • Yes I would tend to agree with you Chris on the wording. I no longer believe God “has a plan” for me.

      “Plan A” is like Psalms 33:10-11. God has an overall design or purpose to give us hope, but not a day-by-day schedule to rule our lives. So to say “God doesn’t have a Plan B” is like saying “God won’t give up on you.” God created each of us and doesn’t have some master plan to destroy us the minute we mess up “the plan”.

      This is a topic to explore more deeply… I no longer see God executing a single plan for our life, micro-managing each minute of daily life. God does not provide us with a choice between God’s one, holy choice and a whole bunch of sinful choices. There is no single plan, but I do believe God has many plans or “designs” as in some translations. God has many plans and part of my growth is to learn how to listen to God’s voice and pay attention to what God may be up to in my life and other’s lives around me.

      Not sure if this makes sense… This is yet another untapped area that I need to explore further. I am still unbinding Jeremiah 29:11 for example, from ubf ideology.

  60. wesleyyjun

    It seems they have at least sense of problem about ethics. It is a good sign. Much work is yet to be done for the ethics committee to do the work it is supposed to do. One idea may be ethics committee include some chapter directors as members. There must be some ways to build it up. Rome was not built in one day is not just cliche. We should work hard on building the ethics committee. If the top leaders cause problems or do not do anything to those who cause problems, ethics committee should be able to give them real hard time.

    • Wesley, actually I think the idea of having an “ethics committee” is somehwat problematic.

      1) It’s unclear to me what the task area of the ethics committee is. Should it do more “fundamental research”, publish ethical norms for the members to read? Should it devise the statutes and by-laws of the organization? Should it supervise other parts of the church? Should it address concrete cases of unethical behavior in the church and make a judgement? What is the actual scope of duties and which authority does the committee have?

      2) It’s unclear to me who is part of that committe? What are the qualifications to be a member, how is it elected?

      3) Does the committee get involved in questions of church discipline? Mayb as a last instance? I’m really not sure if that would be right. After all, Mt 18:17 says if things escalate they should be brought in front of the whole church, not in front of some obscure committee. This would make it much too easy to cover up scandals. Just have the right people in the committee.

      4) Shouldn’t the ethics committee also be responsible for devising ways of teaching every member the basics of ethics, e.g. by a curriculum of lectures or books that should be read in the chapters. For instance, in Germany we have these books which explain ethics from an Evangelical point of view: http://www.genialebuecher.de/die-ethik.html Shouldn’t every member, at least everyone who acts as shepherd or teacher, be obliged to read such books and know about ethics instead of confining the knowledge of ethics to a small group as if unethical behavior was a minor issue that could only be judged by experts?

    • Joe Schafer

      Based on what I have seen, an Ethics Committee cannot drive the process of reform. If ethical behavior is imposed on people through rules, they can always find ways to skirt around those rules.

      UBF absolutely does need to set clear expectations about what kinds of behavior are unacceptable. There has to be a fair, transparent process for imposing discipline on those who flagrantly violate rules. But change will happen only when a critical mass of leaders and members become brokenhearted over what has happened, over what they (we) have done. At best, the Ethics Committee can focus and manage a process of cultural and spiritual reform if it is already happening in the community. But the committee cannot make reform happen.

    • One problem is that in the past, UBF always followed an “end justifies the means” philosophy according to which doing unethical things was allowed if it served the goals of UBF. The forced abortions come to mind. We also gave examples where stealing or lying or breaking into houses or violating human dignity was excused with this mindset. Many members considered ethical behavior to be unimportant. There was very little understanding for what ethical behavior and Christian ethics is and how important it is. Some members did not even seem to understand how unethical it is to force or councel another person to have an abortion. I remember how I talked about the forced abortion issue with one missionary. He didn’t even deny that it happen, instead he started to excuse it by saying that “abortions are not forbidden by the Bible”. Obviously, he had no understanding of fundamental Christian concepts such as the holyness of life. Nor was he able to see that this was not only a problem of the abortion itself, but of forced abortion, where a leader would tell a follower to have an abortion, which is yet another dimension of unethical behavior. By the way, we also have a report of another case in Korea where a leader forced an abortion because a missionary allegedly had already too many children and should concentrate on mission instead. We don’t know whether there have been maybe many more cases which were unreported, because of course, normally nobody would talk about this. It was very unusual that these few cases were revealed at all. But still, nobody cared. And that’s what was even more shocking to me. Maybe UBF does not need an ethics committee. But UBF needs to learn about ethics for sure.

    • Joe Schafer

      Chris, thank you for this. I respect what you are saying and I hope that people listen.

      Regarding the forced abortion… I hoped that by now UBF would have been willing to admit that abortions did happen. In one case I know of, it was done at the suggestion, encouragement, pressure or command of SL. When speaking of him, it’s very difficult to distinguish among those. Because he nearly always spoke to people with an air of authority. If he said that you ought to do something, the psychological pressure to obey (both from the community and from within the individual) was great. The word “force” can be misconstrued. I don’t think you are saying that SL used physical force or threat of violence to make a woman get an abortion even though she strongly didn’t want to at the time.

      The reason that I’m saying this is that I don’t want anyone to seize upon that one word, “force,” and then use it to say that you are lying.

    • Joe Schafer

      I suppose that some will now say it’s a terrible thing that I have done, to admit here on a public website that abortions happened. But the testimonies of people involved are freely available on other websites and have been for a very long time. Those testimonies are not going away. Leaders should have addressed this long ago. Perhaps they will finally do so now. The allegations are very public, and the only responsible thing to do, in my opinion, is to address them both privately and publicly.

    • Joe Schafer

      There is a catechism in the Book of Common Prayer with a section of the Ten Commandments.

      Commandment #9: “You shall not be a false witness.”

      Explanation of Commandment #9: We commit ourselves “to speak the truth, and not to mislead others by our silence.”

      So I don’t want to mislead people by remaining silent.

      I cannot find anything in the Ten Commandments or the catechism that says I am supposed to forever keep quiet about all the ethical and moral problems in my church and just trust a few top leaders to handle it all in secret and continue to wait for them even if nothing happens year after year. Does the Bible say I have to do that?

    • Joe, I fully agree and only used the word “forced” in lack of a better term. We all know what is meant by this. When SL said something, it was like God himself said it, since he was considered the servant of God. A very special, “annointed” servant of God. Plus he had this authority as general director. Plus you believed in the concept of “absolute obedience” and the covering doctrine according to which you just need to obey, even if you think it’s wrong. Plus you felt obliged to obey him out of that feeling of eternal thankfulness towards your leader that is instilled in every UBF member. Plus he was older than you and respected and admired by everyone, and had to Ph.D. titles, it was hard to disrepect him. Plus, he had indoctrinated people to believe that if they disobeyed him, bad things would happen – accidents, diseases or death. Remember the lecture where he preached “To obey God or not to obey God’s word determines our fate” and then gave this example where people did not obey him and experienced horrible things. In the same lecture, he compared him with “the commander”. UBF members were considered to be soldiers of Christ who needed to obey the commander. He have commands and orders, not just “advice”. And even then, the advice to have an abortion would be a horrible advice, particularly out of the mouth of a “servant of God”.

    • Sorry, I always make 2 or 3 silly or distorting spelling typos in every of my comments. Maybe because I’m too agitated when writing. I still cannot keep calm when writing about these things and forget to re-read everything before hitting “Submit”.

    • Yes, Chris, in the past ubfers viewed Slee as “God’s anointed”. But guess what? How does Korean UBF view Slee now? According to the 50th Anniversary blue book lectures, their attitude has changed. The clearly state that ubf did not come from Slee. They now claim that ubf came from God and is from the eternal truth of God’s word.

      This was shocking to read. I always heard in my time in ubf that ubf came from SL and SB (by the way, SB is no longer mentioned as a founder in some of the 50th Anniversary material). When did ubf become God?

      On the other hand, I was relieved to finally read concrete statements that document the teachings I always suspected but always had refused to believe. The blue book is truly classic and expressed the hidden agenda and real thoughts of what Korea UBF has in mind for ubf.

      btw, SB’s lecture in the blue book was actually quite Christian and quite good. I see ubf has two directions: follow the SB route (good) or hold onto restoration of the Slee legacy (not good).

  61. “I hoped that by now UBF would have been willing to admit that abortions did happen.”

    Yea Joe, these facts are hardly “breaking news”. Anyone can easily read the testimonies of multiple people’s accounts of such things via Google.

    Last year my family had dinner at a Korean missionaries house, whose family had left in 2001. She told us of another account where the abortion never took place but was explicitly stated as a requirement for a young couple to be sent out as missionaries. The Korean woman who told me this saw the actual letter in Korea in the late 70’s (but then she was rebuked by her shepherdess for seeing the letter).

    On a relate note, the topic of directing someone to have an abortion for the sake of campus mission was discussed in a meeting I had in 2013. I was rather stunned to hear a Korean missionary say that the ultimate value of loyalty cannot be overridden by the bible nor by ethics. Loyalty is supreme, he said, and for Koreans, they can never place anything higher than loyalty (in his words).

    So while ubers might point to the fact that no one is “commanding abortions” in 2013, the attitude is very strong and very much alive in the fabric of the ubf mindset and lifestyle: “sacrifice all for ubf mission because ubf mission is from God”.

    As I’ve said before, I am learning that such an attitude is not Christ-like, but a Christianized version of Confucianism. It is not a Scriptural idea to kill your conscience nor your dreams nor your emotions nor to sacrifice your children in any sense. God told Abraham to STOP, and not to sacrifice Isaac. The Christ-like attitude of self-denial and taking up one’s cross never includes cutting or gouging out your “self”. But is rather a journey of self-discovery in light of the sacrifice Jesus already made.

  62. Joe Schafer

    Hi Brian,

    I’ve heard from non-UBF sources that abortion is technically illegal in Korea but is fairly widespread, even among Christians. It’s not uncommon to find pastor’s wives having them. This is not an excuse, but an observation. Churches in Korea tend to be very conservative in their public stance against abortion, but what people do in private is another matter.

    As far as I know, there is no slam-dunk argument that you can make based on the Bible alone that abortion is wrong. But from the earliest days of the church, when abortion and infanticide were widespread in the Greek and Roman culture, Christians believed that they were wrong and took a stand against those practices to protect the lives of the innocent and helpless.

    • Yes good points. I am not so much against abortion for similar reasons. What I am strongly opposed to though is the “abortion for God’s glory” or the “sacrifice in order to be blessed by ubf” thinking. One Korean missionary told me in 2011 that he could not tell if my breaking into JK’s house was illegal or for God’s glory. I told him that according to the laws of Ohio it was illegal and could have had 6 to 9 months jail. And the fact that I was not acting in love toward that family means such action could not possibly glorify God.

    • Joe Schafer

      UBF leaders are taking strong public stances against abortion. For example, a message on the Ten Commandments was delivered in Chicago last year. The message manuscript states:

      “Abortion is murder. This convicts our nation, as more than 40 million babies have been aborted since 1972.” [emphasis mine]

      Many Christians would agree with that. But it’s problematic to state this in such stark black-and-white terms, when the person who says this knows full well that abortions have happened in UBF with the support of ministry leaders, yet doesn’t say a word about that. How much better it would have been, how much more honest and authentic and effective the message would have been, if the messenger admitted that this was the case and said that he now believes that it was wrong. Taken at face value, the messenger’s words indicate that he believes SL participated in murder. There’s a great deal of cognitive dissonance here.

      If it convicts our nation, does it convict UBF?

      This is one example of why many UBF leaders now appear to me to have so little spiritual authority. Spiritual authority comes from integrity.

    • Mark Mederich

      honesty is difficult but a good dream/goal; lying silence can be more deafening than vocal lies:)