Telling it to the Church

gavelOne of the most explicit New Testament passages on how to handle issues of sin within the church is Matthew 18:15-17:

“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, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

There are many, many things that have happened in my church — some long ago, some recent — that are weighing heavily upon my conscience. They weigh heavily upon me because, as a leader and pastor, I believe that I am supposed to hold my fellow leaders and pastors accountable for what they do and what they fail to do, just as they are supposed to hold me accountable.

In these matters,  I believe that I have followed the instructions of Jesus using the channels of communication available to me. On numerous occasions I have communicated my concerns privately to the General Director. I have brought many specific issues to the attention of the North American senior staff. I have been in close communication with the Ethics Commitee. I have exhausted every avenue of private communication that is available.

No, I have not done so perfectly. I have not always spoken to UBF leaders in their preferred style of communication. At times I have been very blunt. At times I have revealed anger and frustration. I have not said things exactly as Jesus would because I am not Jesus. But those of you who know me well can testify that I have made a good faith effort to express these concerns to leaders on numerous occasions. At times, I was led to believe that something meaningful would be done. I patiently waited for something to be done. I waited and waited and waited. But now all the signs that I can see are showing that leaders are not willing to address these concerns in any serious way. Their lack of response tells me that they are just not listening, and that from now on they intend to listen to me even less.

Jesus said, “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church.” So if you beling to UBF or are a concerned member of the wider church, I will now tell you what I am concerned about.

My concern is that UBF leaders are still unwilling to face the ministry’s history of abusive discipleship practices. These abuses did not just happen once in a while. They were a regular defining feature of UBF as far back as I can remember.

Here is a short list of some of the things I am talking about. I gave this list earlier today in a comment on this website. Comments tend to disappear from view after just a few hours. I don’t want this list to disappear from view. So I’m reposting it now as an article.

These are some of the things that I remember about being in Chicago UBF when SL was directing. These are the some practices that defined UBF style discipleship for me when I entered the ministry. The specific practices and bad theology that justified them were not limited to Chicago, nor have they disappeared. They still persist nearly everywhere that UBF operates in varying ways and degrees. Even if they didn’t persist, we still need to talk about them, because these things have a long lasting impact on individuals and the community as a whole. These experiences have shaped us in ways that we have never understood or admitted,

I will state these things as objectively as I can, without making any value judgments. Then you can judge for yourselves whether they are problematic.

* SL reserved the right to change the name of anyone at any time. He reserved the right to name your children.

* SL reserved the right to tell you to quit your job at a moment’s notice.

* He reserved the right to tell you at any time to change your clothing or hairstyle.

* No one could marry without his specific approval. He chose whom you could marry. The wedding would be at a time and place of his choosing.

* In many cases, the length of time between when he introduced people to each other and told them that they ought to marry and the actual wedding was less than one week.

* When he married couples, he made up the wedding vows and regularly inserted promises that had nothing to do with marriage (such as promising to go as missionaries to Russia etc.). These vows were not agreed upon by the couple ahead of time.

* If you turned down a marriage candidate that he chose for you, you could be severely rebuked and trained for it. One woman who didn’t want to marry a Korean missionary was told by him, “If you say no again, you will go to hell.”

* No one could miss a Monday night meeting or a Friday night meeting or SWS ever. If you missed a meeting without a good excuse (or even if you had an excuse) you would get rebuked and trained.

* SL would often impose quotas on fellowship leaders to bring a certain number of people to SWS and to conferences. Those who failed would be shamed or punished in various ways.

* If SL thought you did not offer enough money at Christmas worship service, he might rebuke you in front of everyone.

* Sometimes he told missionaries and sheperds whose parents were well off to ask their parents for large sums of money.

* When SL rebuked people, he often did so harshly. Many of his comments to people and about people were far more brazen and brutal than the comments that have appeared here on UBFriends. But no one objected to SL’s language because they got used to it. They believed he had a right to speak that way because he was “God’s servant.”

* No one could take a trip or travel outside the Chicago area for any reason without SL’s approval. And if you did travel, you had better be back in town for Sunday worship service, otherwise you would be severely rebuked and trained.

* If you were from another chapter (not Chicago) and you were selected to go on a “journey team” to Korea or elsewhere, you were told to buy an airline ticket to Chicago with an open return date (which was very expensive). The reason for the open return date is that once you were in Chicago, SL reserved the right to keep you there indefinitely for training. You were not allowed to leave Chicago until he told you that you could.

* SL would often prescribe unorthodox diets and medical treatments and in some cases surgical procedures and the doctors and nurses in Chicago UBF would carry them out.

* If you objected to any of these practices, all of the missionaries and shepherds would immediately counsel you to obey SL because he was God’s servant. Failure to obey even in a very small matter could result in Skokie training, monetary fines, public shaming, etc.

I could go on listing many more of these practices.

Perhaps some people will object that I have aired UBF’s dirty laundry on a public website. But this is not UBF’s dirty laundry. These were the standard operating procedures for the fellowship. They happened on a regular basis, and everyone knew about them. There are many, many more scandalous things that I could mention but won’t.

I stand as a witness to the church to tell you that these things actually happened. I am not saying that everything that UBF ever did was bad. I am not saying that all UBF ever did was to abuse people every day. UBF has done many things over the years. And the things I have listed above are a very real part of UBF’s history.

If you witnessed these things too, please say so.

If you think that I’m lying, that I’ve made these things up, please say so.

If you think that this article is just an immature rant and should not be taken seriously, please tell me why.

If you think that these practices are not a problem and that they are consistent with the gospel, please tell me why.

If you think that these practices have no adverse long-term impact on people, please tell me why.

If you think that UBF can just forget about this stuff and go on trying to preach the gospel and raise disciples without acknowledging its history, please tell me why.

If you think that it was wrong for me to write these things on UBFriends, please tell me when and where and how I could have handled these concerns.






  1. Is the anger expressed here righteous or unrighteous?
    What is righteous anger? What is unrighteous anger?

    What does righteous anger look like?

    “Righteous anger warns, invites, and wounds for the greater work of redemption. It is full of strength that is neither defensive nor vindictive, and it is permeated by a sadness that is rich in desire and hope. Most importantly, righteous anger allows the offense to be seen as an issue between the offender and God.” (The Cry of the Soul, Dan Allender)

    I think that the anger being expressed here is righteous and redemptive. I’m not claiming that is perfectly righteous and redemptive. I know that it isn’t. I understand that to some the fact that it is going on out in the open invalidates it entirely. They will see this and say that it is “Satan’s attack”. I disagree.

    • yellowblossom

      Wow. I just read this and I am shocked at some of the points Joe makes. Yet I believe every one of them. No, I have not experienced such abuses to this degree…but I did see milder versions of this. For instance, I never understood why ppl would go to train in Chicago and then come back with a new name. Some of the ppl that went away for training…I didn’t even know what they were trained for. Some of those individuals sent periodical reports or emails that were obviously dictated to them because they didn’t sound like anything that specific individual would write on his own. Other pts I witnessed myself were concerning obedience. Whenever someone doesn’t share testimony at Friday meeting, they are rebuked and called upon in front of everyone. If not enough ppl share, then the director would make everyone stay late hours even after 9 pm to write heir testimonies, regardless of whether they have children who need to be taken home to be put to bed.
      I was personally severely rebuked for not waking up daily for daily bread and that I would have to pay a fine for not doing so, since I’m living common life. All together, these are not Christian behaviors. And do not speak of Christ’ s love in my opinion. However , I feel the reason that ppl like myself and other members allowed these was because we did truly believe that the director speaks as God s servant. I kinda want to shout at everyone now, ” open your eyes people and fear God not man “

    • Mark Mederich

      “I was personally severely rebuked for not waking up daily for daily bread and that I would have to pay a fine” OOPS

    • yellowblossom, you seem to already know this obvious fact: Your descriptions reveal many red flags of cult manipulation.

  2. I don’t sense any anger in this article (but I can’t see Joe’s facial expression as he types this either!) What do I hear? I hear godly sorrow, as in 2 Corinthians 7:10-11. I see a growing earnestness, indignation, alarm, longing, concern and readiness to see justice done.

    THAT is what I’ve been wanting to hear! I don’t want a personal apology. I want an answer and response to my accusations. As you just mentioned Sharon, this is not “Satan’s attack”. The bible makes a clear distinction between Satan the accuser and a church member’s accusation regarding injustice.

    Yes, these are accusations, and yes I too have leveled accusations against ubf. I never wanted an apology, but have been seeking an answer to my accusations.

    So like Joe pointed out, when all internal, private communication breaks down, we must tell these things to the church, and “church” refers to the larger body of Christ if your own church context refuses to speak or address abuse and injustice. ubf directors could usually prevent “telling it to the church” in the past because there were very little means of communicating such things broadly. But now we live in the age of instant, world-wide communication and social media. Information cannot be controlled any longer.

    “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

  3. Joe, thank you!

    Some of the things did happened to me when I was in UBF. Some of them directly from SL, some — from other missionaries.

    Junior UBf members and outside people have the right to know what is going on inside the ubf walls — before they recognize it by themselves after years or decades spent there. I wish the list to be continued with recent and current issues — to describe the core of UBF past and current practices and beliefs. I think it would be absolutely honest (thanks for that post too) to everyone who can ever consider joining/staying in the organization.

    • Joe Schafer

      Thank you, Andrey. It’s wonderful to hear from you.

  4. I woke up from sleep with this quote: “Leadership loses her credibility when she operates not on the basis of justice and righteousness, but on the basis of expediency and favoritism.”

    It becomes harder and harder to trust some UBF leaders because they seemingly refuse to speak up when they should, and remain silent when they are told of things they do not like to hear or address because it might “offend certain people.”

    When they do speak up, their tone may be defensive. Or they say, “God blessed UBF anyway.” They point out your imperfections in the way you bring up objections, while excusing themselves saying, “There are 2 sides to every story.” Or “Are you not also a sinner that you want to accuse a senior UBF leader of sinning?”

    They expect–even demand–public confession, repentance and obedience from all their sheep and juniors. But when they are politely asked about certain issues, they excuse themselves from confession, repentance and obedience. They say, “It will take (a long, long) time.” Or as expressed ad nauseam already they remain DEAFENINGLY SILENT, as would be expected of your post.

  5. Hi Joe,

    This post appears to me to be a last-ditch “hail mary” that comes at the end of years of (failed) efforts to establish proper dialogue and action on these issues. It seems that your post is the culmination of everything that we have been discussing on UBFriends for the past three years. It makes me reflect on UBFriends and the vision of the website, and pose some questions:

    (1) About three years ago you started the UBFriends website to “foster open interpersonal communication on spiritual matters that leads to Christian community.” With this post, have you given up the possibility of such interpersonal communication that fosters Christian community within and without of UBF?

    (2) When you started UBFriends, did you think that the outcome would be as it is?

    (3) Are you happy with the way UBFriends has been used since it has been around?

    (4) Are there ways that UBFriends has been used that you wish it had not?

    (5) Are there ways that UBFriends has not been used that you wish it had?

    Despite the flack that you (and others) may have received because of this website, it has been an ENORMOUS blessing to me to be able to voice my thoughts here and interact with everyone. Thanks to you and everyone else!

    • Sorry, I should say “Despite the flack that you and others have received…”

    • For me personally ubfriends did not fail. Yes it is a virtual community and there are many people I’ve never met on this site and maybe I’ll never meet. But an idea is power. And this site propagates ideas. It facilitates constructive/critical thinking about topics that matter: our theology and practical application of it. Let me share a quote form Inception:

      “Cobb: What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. Which is why I have to steal it.”

      And from Lenin:
      “Why should freedom of speech and freedom of the press be allowed? Why should a government which is doing what it believes to be right allow itself to be criticized? It would not allow opposition by lethal weapons. Ideas are much more fatal things than guns. Why should any man be allowed to buy a printing press and disseminate pernicious opinions calculated to embarrass the government?”

      “An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.”
      “Ideas are much more fatal things than guns.”

      Keep the ideas coming and brain juices flowing. I like it. +1

  6. Joe Schafer

    Hi Joshua. You’ve posed some interesting questions. I will try to answer 1 and 2 now. The other questions I will think about more and answer later.

    (1) I’ve not given up hope that community can be fostered. But real community must be rooted in honesty. People must be willing to take off their masks and reveal who they are. Without the unmasking, the group is at best what anthropologists call pseudo-community. I believe that real community has been and is still being fostered here on this website. But now it’s becoming increasingly clear that an honest community isn’t what most ubf leaders seem to want. They’ve shown by their actions that they strongly prefer the pseudo version. The community that has been forming here is now largely outside the boundaries of the organization.

    (2) When UBFriends began, I had hoped that it would be a forum in which all kinds of things would be discussed. I hoped it would be a place of mutual learning. Some of that has happened. A lot, actually. But over the past year and a half, the growing turbulence and unresolved conflict in the ubf organization has overwhelmed this website.

    • Joe Schafer

      Joshua, about the remaining questions: I honestly didn’t know how the website would develop. I believed (and still do) that God was calling me and others to create this forum. No, I did not anticipate that it would become a place where people who have been hurt by ubf to gather and exchange notes. That was very, very preventable. If ubf leaders had taken concrete steps to address these issues over the last few years as they arose — for example, if they had actually done something to stop the bleeding in Toledo — and if they had opened up lines of communication within the organization, then UBFriends would look very different today. It would be a place where much more dialogue and healing is going on. Actually, dialogue and healing are going on here. But organization leaders are not benefitting from it because they are not participating in the process.

    • Good questions Joshua. And I appreciate your candor Joe. I love the 24×7 nature of our little community here, with all the time zones represented here, our dialogues are happening around the world, around the clock!

      For me, ubfriends has become my church. Yes I love the Baptist church my family is now attending, but no one there understands what it is like to be a ubf member. I’ve been especially thankful for the virtual fellowship that me, Chris, Joe and Ben have discovered, both online here and offline in email. Our synergy has developed in ways that none of us expected or controlled. We have found a certain unity based on the gospel of Jesus in spite of our vast differences.

      I accepted your invitation to join this effort 3 years ago, Joe, when I was still loyal to ubf. I never expected to become the main anti-ubf spokesperson, but I let my voice speak honestly and openly. Thanks again for your friendship! I am excited to see where this journey will take all of us!

  7. Thanks Joe,
    I experienced a few of the items you mentioned and they were wrong. I’ve heard about some of the other practices, and if they happened, they are wrong too. I myself also had some authoritarian approaches to ministry because that is what I thought shepherding was about. As a result, I hurt some people and I was wrong. For that I apologize to my Lord and to the people I hurt. My hope is that we can apologize for many things we did wrong so that the healing and forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ may prevail, and the gospel can be truly be proclaimed to the ends of the earth in this way too.

    • Welcome, aw. I appreciate your apology. I am waiting for the day when your hope will turn into eager action, along with many in ubf. Someone told me once that hope without a plan is a wish, and a plan without hope is slavery.

  8. As with aw, I am quite aware of virtually all of what Joe listed. I do not agree with nor condone what was done. For whatever reason, I am far more incensed and infuriated when it continues to this very day through other UBF leaders, almost unchecked, without in any way minimizing the gravity of what was previously done.

    The only caveat I might add is that SL was actually quite funny and hilarious on many occasions when he did some of the objectionable things listed. He knew how to make you/me laugh while he was training others/you. For sure, this does not make it right.

    Personally, I would have to say that I came to learn grace and forbearance and the depth of my own sin through SL, even though, or in spite of, or despite the objectionable things he said and did. Perhaps because I grew up in an Asian and Confucionistic culture myself in Malaysia, that I was not as offended by some of the things SL did and said.

    So yes, I learned much good from SL–his passion, zeal, enthusiasm for the Word, for discipleship and for evangelism, which I believe is still driving me to this day. But as already well documented since 1976, I and other current UBF leaders also learned much of what was not good. Sadly and perhaps expectedly, the things learned that were not good seem to prevail over what was good in today’s UBF worldwide.

    I would categorically say today that I DO NOT approve or condone of what was done. Yet it was done in the sovereignty and providence of God. By saying this, I am not in anyway saying it was/is OK that it was done, as some UBF leaders seem to be saying or insisting or justifying.

    By justifying and defending UBF’s past in the name of God’s sovereignty and providence is honestly poor Bible study that is not at all supported in all of Scripture. Evil is still evil, even if God accomplished good through such evil! I think that older UBF leaders do not (want to) acknowledge this by continually (over)emphasizing the good, which is triumphalism, which again is poor Bible study. This refusal, stubbornness and/or blindness is more frustrating to me than anything else. Yet, even this is happening in the sovereignty and providence of God.

  9. Mark Mederich

    yes, excessive attitudes/practices smatter religious legacy; perhaps it is helpful to dissect probable causes (ego/pride/power/benefits/etc) to expose failed practices & avoid future reenactments; to be blunt Jesus boiled everything down to God vs $;

    but thanks be to God, that he helps us survive trauma; & when we make it out of the mud, we are stronger to pursue the more excellent way of Spirit; we don’t wait for others to change or agree: we blaze ahead, knowing those wise will follow

  10. formershep

    Joe, Thank you for the post and the not-as-exhaustive-list as it definitely could be. I agree and validate what you are saying, feeling and have experienced. I was never trained or directly affected in any way by SL, but I was “raised” by very “old school” shepherds, who were I guess 2-generation UBF, if you can understand what I mean by that.
    I too experienced the public and private shaming, the fear mongering, strict legalism regarding dress, appearance, travel, personal family matters, where and when to move. Having to get permission for nearly everything while I was technically an adult. I realize now that I was not living as an adult because I was under my shepherd’s and the pastor’s authority even though I am married with my own family!!
    I was NOT living a full life in ubf the way that Jesus offers. There is no possibility for that in ubf. But now, I am seeking that full and whole life that God intended for me. I personally wish that everyone I know and care about would leave the ministry as soon as possible and begin living this life the way that God intends. But I think they too are afraid and their lives are SO MUCH entwined and deeply deeply involved that it’s so hard to leave.
    I never shared before but there were two realizations that were the nail in the coffin for me and my family to leave ubf. I want to share them here for those who are contemplating leaving. First, I didn’t want my children involved in ubf. I didn’t want them to live the way I was living. And second, when I thought about the possibility of leaving my thought immediately was “God will punish me and my children or husband somehow in some tragic way if we leave.” After ALLOWING myself to think this, I then stepped back and realized that my thinking was NOT NORMAL. I then looked up articles relating to spiritual abuse and how to know if you are being abused spiritually or if your church is spiritually abusive. I answered “yes” to most of the questions. By that point the decision was obvious, but we lacked the courage and conviction to leave. So I said one simple prayer to God, that if He wanted us out he would have to push us out and go before us. We were out in exactly one week.
    I’m sharing this personal account now with the hope that some of those people I care about–some who are either not allowed or discouraged from reading this blog–might read it, be honest with themselves, trust themselves and listen to their conscious.

    • Thanks formershep for sharing this. My experience was very similar.

      “When I thought about the possibility of leaving my thought immediately was ‘God will punish me and my children or husband somehow in some tragic way if we leave.'”

      I’m pretty sure such thoughts did not come from your own mind. Instead, they have been implanted directly or indirectly to you by Samuel Lee. We have several examples where Samuel Lee quite openly preached from the pulpit that people would experience horrible accidents or misfortune if they do not follow him. Even if people forgot about these passages, they certainly stuck in their minds. And that message was pushed to members in many informal ways, too. This is also a kind of authority abuse and it should be actually part of the above list, because it had a disastrous effect on members and the health of the ministry overall.

  11. Thanks, formershep, for sharing. I think it is a universal experience of anyone whose Christian life is being controlled and dictated by another, as you and your family were.

    UBF teaches one HORRIBLE thing (and possibly still does): Your blessing MUST come from your shepherd, Bible teacher, missionary, chapter director! So you immediately feel (falsely) guilty if you disagree or question or go against your leader. You practically and functionally believe that the only way you can possibly ever be blessed is by pleasing that leader (who becomes like God to you). Otherwise, God will deal with you and your family. This really must STOP. But can it ever stop after 50 years (and counting) of such teaching??

    • Mark Mederich

      control, that is the issue; it is a lie from the pit of hell that says we must be controlled by others; it is destroying the Christian church/the body of Christ; it can & must be repented of immediately/universally/there is no excuse; it is squeamish fear of letting go & letting God; sure we make mistakes but God guides us anew & strengthens our walk with him over time..

    • Thanks, Mark. When some people have been in control for 3-4 decades unchecked, can they just stop their control and manipulation over others?

    • Mark Mederich

      (oops, now i sound controlling, oh well:)

    • Mark Mederich

      i’m not being critical or ridiculous, but we all have to start somewhere & try, otherwise we all are excused of everything forever..

    • Your short comments here Mark are very much appreciated. It seems you’ve been going through a “fundamorphosis” as well, which is a transformation that happens when following Christ and far exceeds the context of ubf. I think we need to hear more about those kinds of journeys…such stories are vastly helpful for people who are just coming out of the ubf world.

  12. This is a rebuttal toward what James wrote in another comment:

    “Joe, you pointed out many facts of S Lee. You were there, I was there. Nobody will deny these facts. But I can assure you that people have different opinions and interpretations about them. Some people can say it was an abuse of authority and other people may not agree with that. We are all entitled to have our own different opinions.”

    In the final analysis each person’s opinion does not really matter. But what does Scripture say? Is what was done by SL and other UBF leaders reflective of the God of love who gave his SON to die for us? Or is it controlling? Manipulative? Abusive? Humiliating?

    “I am not defending anybody in this matter…. He is the only righteous Judge. As Swindoll said, God is more tolerant and full of grace and forgiveness than we are. (in spite of all our mountain like sins)”

    James, when you throw in “tolerant and full of grace and forgiveness” in this context, it is like saying to a wife who was beaten by her husband, who says to his battered wife, “God is tolerant and full of grace and forgiveness. So you must forgive me for beating you up, because God is so much more tolerant.”

    Honestly, James, it is very very painful and disturbing to hear such arguments that come across LOUD and CLEAR as defending and justifying the abuses of UBF past and present, even though you say, “I am not defending anybody.”

    Are you not defending UBF authoritarian abuses by saying that not everyone will agree that it is abusive?

  13. formershep

    Fear of man is very powerful.

  14. The things listed above are pretty accurate, as far as I am aware. You can say some folks have different opinions and interpretations about them. True but I repectfully disagree with those who take different opinions/interpretations on such issues. There are too many witnesses (or evidence) to those issues to run away from those issues. I don’t know who Mr. (or Dr.) Swindoll is (seem like a famous scholar) but I would put Apostile Matthew’s words (as Joe quoted above) way above Swindoll’s.

  15. “Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen again and again to the voice of love and to find wisdom and courage to address whatever issues present themselves.” Henri Nouwen

    Does UBF/UBF leadership want to listen to and address issues that have troubled thousands of people who have gone through UBF over 5 decades?

    • If they don’t, they will have to listen you and me Ben, and the rest of us here, for the next 5 decades! btw, here’s something that helps me release the tension…

  16. First of all, I want to say that as long as I am in UBF it will be a church of many flaws precisely because I am in it. I became a Christian through the ministry and am so thankful for this grace that I am grateful to be in any part of the body of Christ, even given my current shortcomings and sins.

    I can attest that James really does care about these issues deeply. In the last two years since I’ve been on the board, he has taken leadership in dealing with our ministry’s shortcomings and sins. Without going into much detail, we spend much time weekly discussing these issues and our discussions sometimes are even more colorful than what happens here on ubfriends. We have even actually been doing things about them. Some of the contributors on this site know that UBF has started apologizing for wrongdoings in the past to those who have been adversely affected. In addition, we are doing what we can going forward to improve the way people are helped through Bible study. Some of us including James spend many hours of our own time per week on these things. And we are sanctioned by the highest levels of the ministry. It is not just us either. Overall, we regard this as a ministry of reconciliation and an opportunity to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Are we doing enough and is it happening fast enough? No and no. Things probably cannot change overnight. In fact we cannot do anything but God himself is working through the prayers and repentance of his people. It may take months or years for our people to be as Christlike as we need to be. Maybe it will never happen- I don’t know. But I myself am determined to be more so in my own life in spite of my own sins and want to do my best to encourage my brothers and sisters in this manner as well.

    Please pray for us. It really does make a difference if you do. Thank you!

    • Joe Schafer

      aw, thanks for sharing this. If more leaders shared your conviction and were willing to take action then there would be tangible progress and I would certainly not have posted this article. But the windows of opportunity that God recently opened for ubf leaders have been shut by them. Perhaps God will open more windows in the future. But Sharon and I and many others have taken our best shot and it hasn’t worked. In this organization, people of conscience only get one shot. After that, you get labeled as “bad influence” and no one listens to you anymore. They blame you, saying that you stepped out of line and spoke disrespectfully and denied God’s grace upon your life and so on. And the community closes ranks as they dis-fellowship you and push you out.

    • Aw, that approach us valid and a much needed part of the healing process. It was good to meet you in person as well as James. I hope you can see that we ubfriends people have at least a few common goals with you. And I hope that you can realize some ubf people can not wait decades for your part of the process to work. The Catholic Church finally got it right in regard to Galileo but it took over 300 years. Many of us need action now. And such action is possible and does not take years to comprehend.

    • Mark Mederich

      Brian, I like your reference to Galileo; when faith was determined to keep the earth & man at the center of the universe, it took courage for Copernicus & then Galileo to think otherwise until the world caught up

    • Mark Mederich

      Joe, since God is the majority, people would do well to follow his right ways sooner or later; thank God for Christlike “bad influence” that can only make it sooner; the world has never been worthy of faith (in Christ alone we stand), but certainly God seekers will coalesce around sincere faith mentors

  17. Thanks, aw, for sharing this. I do know of your sincerest efforts which is greatly appreciated and encouraging to me personally. Perhaps, as much as possible, without violating confidentiality, some specific stories that can be told on a public forum would be beneficial I think, not just on ubfriends, but even on official ubf websites. This I believes promotes a sense of justice and righteousness, which might be sorely lacking because of decades of refusal to acknowledge abuses.

    Maria just shared a story, which perhaps can be looked into and reconciliation sought:

    I also shared a case that perhaps may be more problematic and dicey for various reasons which you already know about:

  18. I just thought of this, Joe. A very significant and practical problem with Mt 18:15 is our UBF context: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.”

    The very real problem is that when the fault or sin is with an older, senior leader, he or she will likely not welcome a younger person going to them and pointing out their fault, even if it is done privately “just between the two of you.”

    Sadly, the hierarchical culture of UBF is that many older senior leader has generally not welcomed anything coming from a younger person. Sometimes, even some missionaries will generally not welcome critique from a native indigenous person.

    I think that serious pointed education is this regard is mandatory, if we as a church will ever be able to resolve conflicts in a biblical manner. Otherwise, we will just keep having exoduses, or church splits which we have cutely labeled “going out to pioneer.”

  19. Joe Schafer

    Ben, this is why I wrote in my article:

    “In these matters, I believe that I have followed the instructions of Jesus using the channels of communication available to me.”

    I believe that did what I could do within the present ubf context.

    When personal disputes arose between me and a regional leader, I went to that person privately and repeatedly and voiced my concerns in an environment that was very safe for him. He led me to believe that he was listening. But things didn’t change; they only got worse. After a long time passed, I had to conclude that he was not taking me seriously.

    When my concerns were not personal — as I became more and more convinced that the organization was headed for crisis because systemic problems were being ignored — I raised those concerns with the GD and senior staff as carefully and respectfully and gently as I could. I did so in a very non-threatening way. I did so patiently and repeatedly. You are a witness to how I approached it. My concerns were ignored. I was rebuked for not being humble. Months and years passed and, despite repeated promises that we were going to start addressing these things, nothing of substance ever happened. My only choices were to (a) keep quiet and drop it, or (b) speak louder and more forcefully. My conscience did not allow me to do (a) so I did (b). I did what I could to within the available organizational channels. Again and again, those channels proved to be a dead end. Some people were telling me, “Just be patient, be patient, be patient.” I waited for as long as I believed it was reasonable and then waited some more and then some more. How long one must wait is of course a judgment call. I had to watch and pray and use my best judgment. Other people may say, “You didn’t wait long enough,” but if they do not actually know the details of my situation or the full scope of what has happened, they are in no position to judge. If Jesus intended for us to wait indefinitely then he would have said so.

    If others still have hope that positive change is coming, and if they have the strength and opportunity to work toward it, I would encourage them to keep at it. But from where I sit, this ubf experiment is failing fast. The opportunities for me to do something worthwhile to help the organization appear to have closed.

  20. Joe, Ben and Brian: you guys are definitely not “fire-breathing monsters”. I know that you really want to be true to the gospel, you care about the people who have been hurt and you care about the UBF ministry as well. I respect you as part of the diverse body of Christ, carrying out functions that other parts of the body cannot. We are not all the same and Christ is working out his purpose in amazing ways through this diversity. We need folks like you bringing up important issues even if they are not pleasant to deal with, just as we need zealous missionaries out there teaching students the Bible.

    I know that my nice words and pontifications are not what is really needed at this time, but I did want to let you guys know that I consider you my brothers no matter what.

    Yes, it is pretty cool that the Catholic Church apologized for Galileo as well as many other things. It certainly did not hurt them to do so. Of course they still have their own problems that they are trying to deal with, so it is a never ending ministry to strive to help God’s flocks in the best possible way.

    • Joe Schafer

      actually, your nice words are very helpful, thanks.

    • aw, I echo Brian and Joe: thanks for your contributions here, and your discussions with the UBF leaders and elders. I have received several apologies and letters addressing my family’s experiences, and these were encouraging to receive. I appreciate the attention that was given to us, the willingness to listen, and the open and generous invitation to continue the conversation in person. I hope that you can see through my sometimes overly-emotional comments; I react so strongly because I care so deeply. I’m convinced that Jesus cares more about purity and wholeness among those in the church than reaching out to those outside. As you are, let us work together on the former without neglecting the latter.

  21. Probably I’m biased, but this is part of the most refreshing HOT dialogue, conversations and exchanges that I’ve ever experienced in my 33 years in UBF. Thanks, guys! Only by the grace of God and the work of the Spirit, are we able to be who we truly are and be truly free in Christ. Praise the Lord.

    This would never have been possible if not for the groundbreaking effort of Joe over the last few years, which is why what he and Sharon have suffered as a result does frustrate and anger me.

    Older Christian leaders are supposed to be truly humble Christ-like men whose presence and influence inspire others to the greater glory of God. They are to be magnanimous and inclusive and embracing. Yet to this day UBFriends has been lambasted by some of them, and is categorically not regarded as a part of UBF.

    @ aw, Can I be so bold as to request that a link to UBFriends be placed in our official UBF websites and Chicagoubf? This is not the request of UBFriends admin, but my own personal request as a fully committed 33 year member of UBF. If I may I would like to request to make an official presentation to the elders. If they wish to deny my request that would be fine. I would love to hear the reasons why.

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, UBF ought to be asking us to provide a link to their website because theirs can use some help. Based on the statistics in this report, it appears that generates a lot more traffic than

    • Ben,

      Frankly, I am not in favor of making UBF chapters link their websites to ubfriends. This site explicitly says that it is “not an official activity of the UBF organization” and I think most would want to keep it that way in spirit and in appearance for a variety of good reasons.

      It is nice that UBF people and non-UBF people can choose to come here if they so desire.

    • Joe, Ben:

      We need to have an emergency prayer meeting to discuss the encroachment of that website that promotes such anti-ubfriends material! We must increase our click statistics for God’s glory. Double ministry!

      [I apologize in advance to any new commenters here…sometimes our humor is a bit lopperjawed.]

  22. Ben, Moscow ubf site has the link. And the link has helped many people.

    • Vitaly, that link has been taken down recently. Our friend Timothy can explain better than I, but basically there was a leaders meeting at a recent conference in Russia. Their decision was to demand the link be taken down.

    • If “certain people” find out, they might demand to have it removed! < ^_^>

    • Oops, Brian’s comment appeared before mine!

  23. This article is about “Telling to the Church”. My opinion is that it has been told to the church very many times. Are not you going to do the next step and obey Jesus’ words and “treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector” or in other words as cult leaders? Are you going to follow the Swindoll’s advice to “leave”? This is an outside ubf Christian advice. I read his article and found that ubf has all the abusive problems in the Swindoll’s list. I suppose even one would be enough to make the decision according to the Bible and conscience.

    When talking to my fellow brothers and sisters in the chapter I heard such words “there are some healthy ubf chapters: Joe’s and Peace’s for example. Maybe there is hope. Maybe we could stay and build a healthy chapter too, and maybe one day the chapters would influence the whole ubf!”. You are the only hope for ubf left. I think it is not fair before many brothers and sisters. I mean even if you haven’t experienced ubf abuse youself knowing that many others have experienced it in many ugly ways, doesn’t your conscience lead you to leave ubf for the sake of others (not only your own children but also “the little ones”?

    We have all said a lot about the ubf leaders what they should do. But what should “the little ones” do? Swindoll says “leave”. What do you say?

    And along with Mt.18:15-17 Titus 3:10,11 comes to mind.

    • Joe Schafer

      Vitaly, I don’t know what Sharon and I will do next. We have to wait a little and see what happens. I am not entirely sure what Jesus meant when he said, “treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” After all, Jesus treated pagans and tax collectors with dignity and respect. But Jesus said to treat them as *you* (his Jewish audience) would a pagan or a tax collector, not as *I* (Jesus) would a pagan or tax collector. I just don’t know what that means.

    • In regard to Matthew 18:15-17, I think the rest of that chapter gives some clues and insight into “what’s next”, Matthew 18:18-35. The artificial in/out wall only exists in our minds. It’s not real and the sooner more people realize that, the sooner the wall will just disappear and we can all escape the yin/yang gumption trap.

    • Vitaly

      Titus 3:10,11 in Russian sound better (than in NIV) in the KJV “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself”

  24. Brian, interesting point. I too feel strongly that the in/out wall is artificial. Especially since we don’t really know if we are a church or a parachurch.

  25. Joe Schafer

    Brian, thanks for pointing out these verses.

    For the last few weeks, I have been trying to understand the meaning of John 20:23 which I am going to preach on this coming Sunday. It closely parallels Matthew 18:18. This gives me some important clues.

    • I am not well read on these types of things, but John 20:23 has always been powerful and mysterious for me. Jesus’ death on the cross provides forgiveness to all who come to him. Yet one way people in the world can practically experience Christ’s forgiveness is through Christ’s people forgiving the sins of those around them. It is a powerful testimony to the world about Christ and to each other. Kind of like the priest in Les Miserables forgiving Jean Valjean and his life being changed as a result. That is one thing that helped me come to Christ too, and I experienced some of that from people in UBF, including Korean missionaries, SL and others. Thank God for using sinners by his grace in spite of ourselves.

  26. Indeed, the us/them wall is imaginary. ubf is merely one small context of the body of Christ, not THE body of Christ. But I want to point out that the divisions are real and the pain caused by such division is also real. There is real shunning and real “pushing out” as most of us here have experienced.

    I often feel like I’m looking at a “glass dome” of sorts, with ubf people inside it. People inside pretend no one can see them or no one “really knows what we are doing”. But we can all see you! It is kind of like the Get Smart “cone of silence”…

    Sharon, the church/para-church point requires much more discussion. Making things clear and decisive would be a huge help. The requirements for being a member of ubf ought to be explicit and documented, not vague and traditional.

  27. So for 50 years, we primarily do not have a situational crisis where “former members leave the church” and “sin floods into the church pews”. I think the reality is a body being pulled apart, sinew by sinew, like in the ending scene of Braveheart or as in Christ on the cross. As more and more of us are willing to be crucified, I have more and more hope and expectation to see the abundant joy and vibrant life and liberating relief we all seek. But the cross is the way on both sides.

  28. “What’s next?”

    I had to answer that too. In July 2011 I resigned from the leadership position I had, and I had already left most of the ideology behind. But I never left the people. We all need to follow the Spirit’s prompting for “what’s next”. And bold actions to send clear messages will often be required. But for me “what’s next” was the cross. And so began an amazing segment of my journey.

  29. I am a Korean 2nd gen, ex-ubf member.
    I just want to ask Joe if you have tried the second step enough.
    Have you confronted this issue with two or three more people? especially with witnesses?
    I know you have already brought this before the church.
    But if you haven’t done the second step, you may follow Jesus’ instruction, which is to go as a group rather than only you.

    I am really thankful for what you’re doing it.
    I can see that you are doing it for Jesus and his body.

    • Joe Schafer

      Hi vmi. Good question.

      The advice that Jesus gives appears to be designed for handling disputes between individual persons. When bringing up issues that pertain the whole community, it’s not entirely clear what step 2 ought to be. Here’s how I think of it.

      Step 1. Bring it up as privately and gently as possible with as few people as possible.

      Step 2. Involve some more people (witnesses) who can back up your claims and testify that what you are saying is credible.

      Step 3. Tell it to the church.

      If this is how you would apply Jesus’ teaching to this situation, then yes, I have done step 2. Without getting into the specifics, I have tried step 2 multiple times in various ways. You could say that I’ve done step 2a, step 2b, and step 2c. Others have been present, helping along the way. I have gathered the testimony of witnesses — not just 2 or 3, but dozens — and presented that testimony to ubf leaders repeatedly.

    • Joe Schafer

      vmi, may I ask you a question?

      As a second gen, were you aware of the things that I mentioned in my list? Does it surprise you that these things not only happened in ubf, but they were (and in some places still are) a regular feature of community life?

    • I am fully aware of those lists. I have personally experienced it. I personally know many others who had suffered from such spiritual abuse done by SL and other leaders. Justice and righteousness is the foundation of God’s kingdom (church). Ubf needs to rebuild the foundation. Otherwise, it will keep shaking and lose many people.

      I thought if more ubf staff shepherds bring this issue together to the surfice, it will be more effective by giving more serious voice.

    • “I thought if more ubf staff shepherds bring this issue together to the surfice, it will be more effective by giving more serious voice.”

      vmi, are you aware that this already happened several times in the history of UBF? The Korean senior shepherds in 1976, the US senior shepherds in 1989, half of the UBF missionaries in 2001, all these people confronted the top leadership with these essentially same issues. I remember how Samuel Lee did not want to speak to a group of senior reform leaders who came from Korea to Chicago, saying “only God can punish me when I’m wrong”. And Sarah Barry was not much different. People defend her as if she was a saint, but she was an enabler of abuse in my view. She told a friend of mine that when she saw that the sender of an email was in the “R-group” as she called it, she immediately deleted the mail. Nobody can tell people who want to reform UBF “you haven’t tried enough”.

    • Chris, I am aware of those event.
      One of the reason those attempts didn’t really work out well, I believe, the way they approach and express their concern was not mature. It became like power game and little bit political, which results lots of pains to both sides.
      Maybe that’s why it is more difficult to confront the same issue.
      I am glad that Joe is speaking the truth in the appropriate and biblical framework. I believe Joe brought this before the church with a goal to fully restore both godly behavior and inter-personal relationships, out of love and humility.
      I believe God will remember how we did it rather than the result.

    • vmi you say you “believe, the way they (reformers) approach and express their concern was not mature. It became like power game and little bit political, which results lots of pains to both sides.”

      This is what has been told to us. My chapter director always emphasized that the reformers were acting politically only and we should not become like them and act politically, which meant we should stop thinking on our own, believe everything the leadership told us, stop speaking about problem, and just obey. In my view it was he who behaved in a politically opportunistic way, always following the party line only, not the reformers.

      I think the reformers were as mature and honest as people could be who had been raised up and worked as leaders in such a culture for years. Honestly how much maturity do you expect from people in UBF who have been raised and treated like children all the time? People like Joe and Ben could only mature after they had quite a distance in terms of space and time from the influence of Samuel Lee, and somewhat broke out of the UBF hamster wheel.

      Ben also wrote the reformers were “slanderous”. Really? A slander is, according to the dictionary, a „malicious, false, and defamatory statement“. Please show me only one statement made by them that was malicious or defamatory (i.e. a false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of UBF or Samuel Lee). I never saw the reformers operating with such means.

      And as Joe already explained, the other thing you need to understand is that in the time of Samuel Lee, things were much different. It was virtually impossible to have a discussion like the one that we are having now. You forget the time in which the reform movement happened. They had been countered with a hominem attacks or by dismissing them entirely as an “R-group” led by Satan to destroy UBF.

      In some sense, the reformers of the past even spoke less clearly and more politely than what has been said these days, because after all they still were Koreans who followed the Korean etiquette of politeness. Every open letter to Samuel Lee began with a praise of how much they respected him.

      The belief that the reform movements failed because of the immaturity or rudeness of the reformers is a complete myth. It has been purported by UBF but is completely untrue. The movements failed solely and entirely because of the arrogant and unrepentant stance of Samuel Lee and those who supported him believing in his claim that he was a special servant of God who may never be criticized.

      In January 2001, when a delegation of reformers came from Korea to Chicago to talk with Samuel Lee, they were not even received by Lee. On that day, Samuel Lee preached about Psalm 2. “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.’” For all insiders in UBF listening to his sermons, it was clear who the “conspirators” and who “the Lord’s anointed” were according to the opinion of Samuel Lee. Things were much more spiritualized at that time, mostly from the side of the hardliners.

      As Joe already explained, the image you have of the reformers and their approach is coined primarily by what the mainstream UBF, the historical “winners,” told you about them. You should really revise your image of these people. All these people loved UBF just as much as you do, and how they talked was not less reasonable or polite than what I read in today’s comments. I appreciate a lot what Joe is doing, and he is doing it in a unique way, but it would be unfair to say that there had not been similar attempts of “telling it to the church” in the past.

      I have also my own personal experience with confronting leaders with these issues. When I mentioned the serious allegations that had been published in the Internet at that time, like the ordered abortions (which was not a slander but the unfortunate truth) and asked my director to start discussing these things, he put me off, saying we should now concentrate on the “upcoming” (yet many weeks away) conference. After the conference, he conveniently had forgotten about his promise to talk about these things. When I remained insistent, he finally gave in and offered me weekly meetings to discuss reform issues. In these meetings, he would listen to what I say, and then, without responding to anything, start to brainwash me, telling me that I need to forget everything, that he knew the backgrounds better than I, and that I needed to “start from zero” again. It was obvious that the purpose of these sessions for him was nothing else than “re-education” of my person. He had no, absolutely no, interest to talk about concrete cases of abuse, nor about general problems with the practices and teachings of UBF. He also had no interest in speaking with me on eye level. After all, he still considered me to be his personal sheep, disciple and subordinate coworker, not a brother in Christ. I had a prayer topic for reform of UBF that year, but everything soon became just a complete farce; my wife and I had to leave UBF in order to keep our sanity and integrity, and we also felt the Holy Spirit pushing us out. I can understand when other people in other situations feel that it is better for them to stay, and I admire and appreciate Joe for doing this, but I feel his patience is also coming to an end. Maybe that’s what UBF leaders actually want. For many of them, the problem would be solved if people like Joe and Ben just left.

    • Joe Schafer

      Chris, thank you for that excellent comment. I was hoping that you would chime in about this.

      You mentioned a message on Psalm 2 by SL from January 2001. Do you have a copy of it? Most of SL’s messages have quietly disappeared from cyberspace because ubf leaders have come to realize (without actually saying so) that they contained a lot inappropriate material. It would be interesting to look at this message today.

    • David Bychkov

      Very interesting discussion. And this topic is still not really clear to me.
      The reform/division/ubf past became significant and painful to me once we had division in our chapter, when almost 1/3 of members left us in 2007. That time I was convinced that most of those people are not really mature, they doing something really wrong, they are proud, not commited, destroying the work of God etc. I was convienced in this and I opposed them as much as I could. Today I can clearly say that my own position was not mature. Everything in my mind was really just balck or white. Everything related to UBF was just white, and everything against UBF was black. So I totally refused any discussions with those brothers, just tried to rebuke them and convience just to obey leaders and work out the mission. This was really immature position.
      Now I can clearly see that those brothers had pretty good reasons to do what they did and say what they said. But it still seems to me that they or some of them behave in the way similiar to my own. So everything related to UBF haritage, practices, SL etc. was just black b/c of the terrible and scandalious facts we know. Therefore we hardly could meet and talk with each other that time. I told them – look, I was saved and discipled through UBF shepherds therefore UBF is nothing but the work of God. And what I heard from them (it may be my impression though) – look, in UBF terrible things happened therefore it is nothing but the kingdom of satan. There is no place for dialog in this pattern.
      Well. I can say it just about my own experience. And it still may be wrong b/c my own UBF lens I saw the events. OK, but when I started reading the open letters, the testimonies, the articles, discussions on english speaking forums, I was surprised. Sure it was painful experience, but as for many of the authors or commentators, I saw deep, right thoughts, great deal of frustration, desire to help etc. So I can hardly tell from what I read that the behavior of many of reformers from the past was immature. But, I’ve just read some of their articles and discussions, and was not a witness of the events.
      Well. Once it came to me, once I realized I can not live according to my UBF haritage any longer, but need reform my life, once I started express my thoughts and struggles, I believed it would be different. I believed I would be mature enough to remain faithful to myself and still be respectful toward leaders. I believed they also will be mature enough to listen to me and something more good can happen this time. But I was not even let to say anything at all. And some my fellows have been expressing the opinions that I am not mature enough, that I wait too much from people, that I have personal conflicts, that I am not focusing on God, that I need just to move forward, that I am too hasty to discuss things, that I need to be careful and not hate people, that I need to check my own relations with Jesus, that I need to learn how to resolve problems through Christ etc. I need to admit that quite a few people are still pretty good and kind to me and my family, show some level of undestanding and respect, but I have heard quite a few remarks regarding my maturity.

    • Hi David, I understand what you want to say. There was really a lot of “spiritualizing”, “demonizing” and “black/white” thinking in those days. After all, that was what people learned in UBF. Everything is spiritualized in UBF and you always have this black/white us-versus-them-mentality (a typical hallmark of cults, by the way). But still, most of such black/white argumentation came from the hardliners. UBF reformers never said or thought that everything of the “UBF heritage” was wrong or bad. Thoughts like “in UBF terrible things happened therefore it is nothing but the kingdom of satan” may have been expressed by some dropouts, but never by the reformers. They really considered it to be the work of God and just wanted to reform it. And they wanted to stay united with the rest of UBF by all means. If they believed the hardliners were children of the devil, they would not have wanted to stay united. Samuel Lee and the hardliners were those who created the separation and expulsion of the reformers, against the declared wish of the reformers. In fact, even after they had been expelled from UBF the reformers pretty much continued to follow the “UBF heritage,” and CMI chapters are not so much different from some less strict UBF chapters.

    • David Bychkov

      Chris, I agree with what you and Brian below said. I agree that the black/white thinking is something we learn in UBF, and UBF hardliners make things look this way, and I agree that previous reform movement was pretty polite (as far as I can know from what I’ve read). What I’ve said reffers just to the division I saw in my center and in CIS. And that was my impression.

  30. I don’t know how much longer I can be associated with a ministry that is unwilling to face its history of abuse. Praying a lot in light of these recent comments and revelations.

  31. lostnfound

    Joe, As a second gen raised in Chicago ubf, I can attest to the truth of everything you mentioned in your list and then some. The spiritual abuse I saw and experienced caused constant dissonance in me because I felt moral revulsion toward it, but it was constantly justified by my elders as spiritually good. I always felt ashamed of my church as a result and could never accept it as a legitimate church even though I tried to justify it to others and to myself. I am still ashamed that people continue to be abused in many quarters of ubf. I and many others both in and out of ubf continue to face the emotional scars and spiritual distortions that the history of abuse has left.

    I ask the Lord for mercy upon all those who have been appointed as leaders in ubf to fast and pray so that there may be confession, repentance, and reconciliation both corporately and individually. This will truly be to God’s glory. Lord, your will be done.

    • Joe Schafer

      lostnfound, you nailed it. There is a great sense of shame about this church in the hearts of many. Because of that shame, most of the leaders — the older korean missionaries and the handful of older natives around them — and many of the second gens just can’t bear to talk about these things. Their shame is thinly disguised and I’ve seen it come out in all sorts of ways, especially when they try to interact with Christians from other churches. They desperately want to be validated. They want to be seen as legitimate Christians but have a nagging sense that they are not. That shame is a crimson stain that will never, ever be wiped clean without honesty, repentance and application of the blood of Christ.

      Unfortunately, there are some who do not have that sense of shame. There seems to be a handful of true believers who really do think that ubf is the greatest thing ever. Those pathological ones I pity the most. Something inside of them, some key part of their humanity, seems to be missing or broken.

  32. Thanks Joe, for writing this.
    Surprisingly not so surprised, most of the abuses mentioned are not restricted to Chicago or USA, those have happened almost every place where UBF has gone. Of course we do not have snow and Skokie in New Delhi. :)
    As you have painfully expressed, all options have been exhausted and so called efforts of reconciliation are either non-existent or misunderstanding of the biblical idea of reconciliation itself. I fully agree with Brian, Chris and others that it is not a struggle between natives and Koreans. I have seen so many Korean families leaving India and subsequently leaving ubf because they refused to accept abusive ways of the director (who is Korean). It is primarily between a ubf director and the rest, though it applies to anyone who does “shepherding”. My wife (Korean) was the first to point out that the abused mentioned by Joe are happening everywhere.
    From the comments above two serious issues (in fact they are two sided of the same coin) that stand out clear are excessive control on others’ lives by the director and instilling fear of man in the hearts and minds of his members.
    The director interferes and controls in others lives so much that when the person is left to decided some matter (happens rarely) on his own, he does not know what to do. Key members of India ubf left the ministry, but the one in power refuses to learn anything. It seems he has seen so many people joining and leaving during his directorship that it does not make any difference to him.
    I too am not very hopeful of any human effort bringing any real change to ubf as on organization publicly admitting its abusive past and present. But in God I hope that He will intervene for the sake of His bride. The saying goes: fall on the rock and break yourself when there is time or the Rock will fall on you and will grind you to powder.
    All said and done, we are vocal about the abuses done by ubf because we received the grace of God in ubf, and we love our friends and brothers there. However, in no way that should justify the abuses being not publicly admitted. God loves sinners but He hates sin. God can only forgive if I confess my sins in His terms, but sadly He cannot repent on my behalf. And this “cannot” that applies to God is a very heavy one.

    • Hi Gajanon! Good to hear from you.

      “Key members of India ubf left the ministry, but the one in power refuses to learn anything.”

      Yes that indifference, as MarhaO pointed out recently is THE most infuriating thing to me. In the midst of our meltdown, our director mentioned “I’ll just start all over with one faithful student.” And even in the Sunday lectures it was pointed out that senior Americans just sit around talking about the problems of the ministry, but new young students are sooo faithful and are busy doing the work of God.

      “I too am not very hopeful of any human effort bringing any real change to ubf as on organization publicly admitting its abusive past and present. But in God I hope that He will intervene for the sake of His bride. The saying goes: fall on the rock and break yourself when there is time or the Rock will fall on you and will grind you to powder.”

      Indeed, any “success” is attributed to the intervention of the Spirit among us. I define one element of success as any bridge of relationship built between ubf and ex-ubf. I love Luke 20:17-18! I can only hope for a better reaction from ubf directors. But so far Luke 20:19-20 seems be the common response :(

      “All said and done, we are vocal about the abuses done by ubf because we received the grace of God in ubf, and we love our friends and brothers there.”

      Yes, indeed. My motive is to remain connected enough to find our way to grace and love.

  33. David Bychkov

    Dear Joe and Sharon. I appreciate all your efforts to help UBF and to live according to the truth, including this website and this post. I feel great sense of a deep personal grief in your words. I am crying together with you and all our friends, who have been trying to help the ministry.
    I remember the enthusiasm I (and I think all of us) had three years ago. And now it seems to be just a frustraition, like a death… But I am thinking about the resurrection of our Lord. He is risen. May he comfort you. May he raise our joy, love, hope and faith.

    • Joe Schafer

      Thank you, David. Yes, it does feel like a death.

  34. Sharon

    “It seems he has seen so many people joining and leaving during his directorship that it does not make any difference to him.” This indifference is common and it is what bothers me the most.

  35. Sorry to say, some leaders really don’t care who leaves, or is wounded, or tries to resolve conflict, as long as they are still in power, which seems to be the only way they know to preserve and protect their own honor. Or they appoint a puppet leader who is functionally still under their control. Will such horrible precedent ever change?

  36. MarthaO

    Joe and Sharon ,

    Thank you so much for what you are doing. I did not experience direct abuse from SL, but indirectly from the similar controlling practices that have been passed on, taught and learned over and over.

    “This indifference is common and is what bothers me the most” Yes, Sharon it is bothersome. Timothy Keller says indifference is the worst form of hate. Many people think its anger, but in anger we are showing human emotion. Being indifferent means you can no longer feel or experience any form of human emotion. you are simply in a state of not caring. the heart has been hardened and cannot feel its own pain much less empathize with the pain and sufferings of others.

    • Joe Schafer

      Martha, thank you for what you and Mark are doing.

    • You’re so right, Martha. Of all disappointing things I had experienced, this indifference was the worst and the most bitter disappointment for me. Several times when I told former fellow members about all the evil things I had discovered, they just stared at me and said nothing. I had understood if they had said “this all cannot be true, I do not believe it, let’s check the facts” but they just said nothing. On even asked me “why are you so bitter?” I remember this until today because it was such a shocking kind of response. They were determined to continue to live in their fantasy world, and did not want to have their dream broken by me or by reality or by the suffering of other people.

  37. Swindoll’s list of bad/blind Christian leaders is worth listing:

    Authoritarianism: Watch out when the leader deliberately represses your freedom…when inflexibility, oppressiveness, and threats take the place of a servant’s heart. …if a teachable spirit is absent, pride is present. If he or she refuses to listen to your words of concern, leave!

    Exclusiveness: It’s the we-alone-are-right-about-everything syndrome. Watch out when everything gets inbred, prompting a clannish, cliquish, closed mentality. If the leader is becoming the sole dispenser of truth, leave!

    Unaccountability: Beware of the touch-me-not guru who operates in his (or her) own world claiming, “I am God’s anointed! I answer only to Him!” No matter how gifted, competent, or popular, no one can maintain godly leadership without faithful counsel and occasional confrontation from objective, wise, truth-talking confidants. If your leader is totally unaccountable, leave!

    Rationalization: When wrong is justified, when plausible but untrue reasons for conduct are used, when scriptural truth is twisted to fit a lifestyle that lacks credibility, stop your support. Leave!

  38. Yea, Ben, I keep coming across lists like that, lists of “mentoring pitfalls to avoid” or “what not to do as a leader”. It is mind-numbing and sobering to acknowledge that I majored in the pitfalls and upheld what-not-to-do as the best way to be a shepherd.

    Joshua just shared this on my blog, and I want to repeat it here:

    What I want: “Today, we recognize this policy of life-long shepherding, lording-over authority, and control is wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our ministry. The leadership of UBF sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the wounded people all over the world for failing them so profoundly.”

    What I got: “Today, we recognize this policy of life-long shepherding, lording-over authority, and control is God’s best way of making disciples, has caused great blessing around the world, and is the sole purpose of our ministry. The leadership of UBF absolutely commits ourselves to this task all the more for the next 50 years and asks the patient understanding of the wounded people all over the world for our attempts to bless them so profoundly.”

    By the way, ubf folks who are attending the ISBC in August. Be prepared to take the KOPHN soldier oath. It’s in the schedule for the last day of the conference. Can you commit to that oath knowing the pain of the “fallen soldiers” around you? Can you really claim your ministry is for Jesus and for God’s glory when we former members see so little compassion, grace, love or friendship? Can you take that oath knowing that you are enabling a loyalty-based religious system that is exactly the kind of system Jesus said don’t set up?

    Or will you act courageously like the soldiers in Saving Private Ryan? If you want to be marines of Christianity, then I say act like it. Leave no man or woman behind.

    • I’ve never heard of the KOPHN soldier oath. I’m going to the ISBC, but only to see people I haven’t seen for 5 years. I’m really tired of conferences and I know they are an artificial form of communication, but it’s better than nothing. I’ve gone to so many already hoping to get in contact with old friends, but they’ve always been so busy that I never get to have any real conversations with anyone. It seems as though with UBF people you can only communicate on UBF terms with some agenda.

      Anyway, I’m giving this conference the benefit of the doubt and I hope it’ll be good. But I won’t be taking any KOPHN soldier oath..I rather go to a workshop affiliated with ubfriends, presenting the articles that don’t get accepted into the PIG groups (or whatever term you use for those.) Topics about John 17 and Daniel and Revelations and other passages of the Bible that get overlooked.

    • MJ, the ubf soldier oath has many variations, but this is what is publicly available on the ubf self-glorification page.

      1. We are soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. By correctly handling the word of God, we want to establish a Christian view of life.

      1. We are soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the sake of Bible Korea and World Mission, we participate in the sufferings of Christ voluntarily.

      Notice the number “1” repeated. That is not a typo. That is because for the ubf soldier both are “prime directives”. To SB and SL and all the senior ubf people, this oath is binding forever and commits you to a holy soldier life. This is at the core of the ubf silence toward former members. I am just a fallen soldier who rejects his mission and purpose of life in their eyes.

    • Note the time allotted for all ISBC attendants on Sunday (around 10:30 am) to take the “Missionary Pledge”. That is the new name for the old ubf “soldier oath”. They probably realize it’s not wise to go around talking about soldier oaths. They want to bind obedience for life along the lines of Ecclesiastes 8:2. But to me, the pledge reminds me more of Hosea 10:4 and Matthew 23:16

      By the way, this is what makes ubf directors salivate. What many hardliner ubf soldiers really want is a worldwide business with galvanized workers to ensure their lineage will remain as long as possbile. They are using the name of Christ to do so because they see a method to build an eternal kingdom. Too bad they aren’t paying attention to what Jesus really said.

      And wow does the report actually say this… “He also pointed out that as disciples of Jesus we have so many spiritual riches to gain and also some human riches, like brothers and sisters in Christ; we are definitely not losers!”

      And yes it also says this, which is the clearest expression of what the worldwide ubf network is really all about:

      “After making a good profit in the first year, Dr. Marc Choi used all this money to buy the present center in the heart of Paris. Still God continued to bless them. God has used this company also to grant proper jobs for missionaries. Not least of all, being a businesswoman also earns M. Rebecca respect among tough French students. Although the present economic situation doesn’t seem inspiring, Dr. Marc and Rebecca Choi have a vision that God may use LIKE to support 100 missionaries to Africa.”

    • So here is my plea to anyone attending the ubf summer bible conference in Pennsylvania (ISBC)… [btw I took this oath and I hereby publicly renounce it.]

      When you are standing there with about 2,000 people on Sunday morning, and you hear the chant of the Missionary Pledge, ask yourself: Does this sound Christ-like? Is this something Jesus wants his followers to do?

      Or does this seem more like this?

    • The “ubf soldier oath” is mentioned on slide 10 of this presentation from the 2010 ubf director’s conference

      [Note: This is the stuff ubf directors think about constantly. So I urge caution if you view this presentation…it is a glimpse inside the messed-up mind of a ubf loyalist-type director.]

    • Wow, Brian, is that a “how to maintain a cult” manual?

      Slide 10: Does the slide with the UBF hamster wheel indicate that people after going through the various stations of indoctrination and training as leaders need to be born again (again and again)?

      Slide 12: “Disciple products“. I think this is at the core of all problems. UBF leaders view their followers not as peers and friends, not even as human beings, but just as “products”.

      Slide 16: “Relational approach”. This slide clearly shows that this approach always creates a hierarchy with a human leader at the top or center, which is very different from what Jesus envisioned, namely that Christians should be all brothers with no human “master” (Mt 23).

      Slide 19: Does this slide suggest employing “front groups” (as many well-known cults do)?

      By the way, I found the notes for that presentation here:

      One phenomenon I learned in UBF is that they often say the exact opposite in what they really believe, to the total confusion of listeners. For instance, in the last passage of the presentation notes he says “I learn from the God of Paul that God’s work is not done by special methods, but through the Holy Spirit”. He says this after just having shared a presentation that was all about explaining the special methods the UBF invitation and indoctrination process as the only system to create a “healthy ministry” (“healthy” in the sense of creating the highest and most unvarying quality of “disciple products”) and without mentioning the Holy Spirit anywhere before. UBF follows this pattern in all areas: Officially they claim something, but in reality they do the opposite. This dissociative mind also shows up in the formulation “the God of Paul” as if there were multiple different Gods or God would only exist in the imagination of a certain person.

      And then the last passage also shows their real motivation behind doing all of this: It gives them the feeling they are somebody “special”. And they just love this feeling above all. Quote: “through the special men who … seek God’s glory alone like Apostle Paul, like Dr. Samuel Lee, and like you, my respective European National directors.” The more disciples someone “produces”, the more he can puff up his ego and believe he is somebody special. That’s what I am bemoaning regarding UBF: In all of its history, it mainly produced puffed-up leaders and uniform “disciple products” as well as disappointed and hurt dropouts and “collateral damage” to people and Christianity in general, and it is still praising this system as the way to go to create a “healthy ministry”.

    • Yea Chris, that presentation is rather incredible. We are getting closer to actual documentation of the ubf belief system. At least we have official slides and notes.

      I am going to critique this presentation on my own blog soon (If I can stomach it…this presentation makes me literally ill…).

      Slide 20 is most interesting. And the associated note: “20. After meeting your new sheep through your outreach, you may need to develop a relationship with your new sheep step by step; Curiosity >Test >Infatuation >Fatigue >Matured True Love.”

      Yea, you may need to develop a relationship…but hopefully not. Hopefully you can just produce a shepherd product out of the sheep material without any personal interaction. It’s easier that way.

      I think you nailed it Chris: “For instance, in the last passage of the presentation notes he says “I learn from the God of Paul that God’s work is not done by special methods, but through the Holy Spirit”. He says this after just having shared a presentation that was all about explaining the special methods the UBF invitation and indoctrination process as the only system to create a “healthy ministry”…

      Indeed, the only thing “double-ministry” does is give you a double-mind.

      For example, Slide 20 is an ultimate hypocrisy: On one hand ubf prohibits dating because it is “sinful”. And yet they want to “fall in love” with their sheep step-by-step?? “Curiosity >Test >Infatuation >Fatigue >Matured True Love.”?

    • Mark Mederich

      Chris, you clarified some key issues of religion: product, brothers, system. Jesus was guiding not producing (ok here’s my humor since I drink Dr Pepper: “I’m a product, he’s a product, she’s a product, we’re a product, wouldn’t you like to be a product too!”:)

      & yes believers are brothers/sisters in Christ, part of his body, with Him alone as Head..leaders of religion are to be mentors/facilitators; Jesus is the living Cornerstone & Capstone (top/center stone of arch), we are living stones built into his building by the Holy Spirit.

      & why is a system needed? (unless a system of encouragement) Do we not trust the Holy Spirit to guide us?

  39. “On numerous occasions I have communicated my concerns privately to the General Director. I have brought many specific issues to the attention of the North American senior staff. I have been in close communication with the Ethics Commitee. I have exhausted every avenue of private communication that is available.”

    Joe, what was the General director’s comment on your concerns? What was the north American senior staffs’ response when you brought up the issues? What answer did you receive from the Ethics Committee? What exact word did you hear from the ‘leaders’? Could you name specific people who gave you any words about your concern?

    • Joe Schafer

      I’ll answer some of these questions in my next article. Stay tuned.

  40. Can’t wait, Joe! Reflecting on what has been shared, it seems that UBF “shepherds” people in 2 opposite ways:

    Attack mode: Publicly shame and humiliate you in the sermon, prayer topics and announcements, private rebukes, critiquing your inadequate testimony, blaming you, accusing you for various deficiencies, etc.

    Passive mode: SILENCE, indifference, ignore you, look and act as though they are totally disappointed with you, that you had hurt them “so much.”

    Often such “highly skilled shepherding techniques” fluctuate back and forth and back again, depending on the shepherd’s mood.

  41. @vmi, yes the previous attempts at reform since 1976 were often quite brutal, rude, disrespectful, slanderous, angry, etc.

    I believe current attempts at reform, such as UBFriends, wants to keep our commenting policy of civility and respect.

    Honestly, still comments heard is that UBFriends is negative, discouraging, wasting time, participates in “UBF bashing,” and “they should feed sheep instead!”

    Will a day of genuine corporate reform happen in UBF?

    • joshua

      Sure, if by reform you mean re-form up into twos and go to campus!

  42. Joe Schafer

    vmi and Ben, is it really true that previous attempts at reform were brutal, rude, disrespectful, etc?

    Remember: History is written by the winners and survivors. Much of what you and I have heard about these reform movements came from of stories told by SL and spread through the ubf grapevine. Much of this was character assasination, ad hominem argument, malicious rumor, etc.

    As far as I know, SL never had anything close to a dialogue with any of these reformers. He fought them and marginalized them and pushed them out in all sorts of ways, always being careful to make them look like the bad guys.

    Ben, if you and I had said a tiny fraction of the things we have said when SL was alive, we would have been skewered by him. When he thought someone was disloyal to him, he could be brutal.

  43. Joe Schafer

    Ben, all of the ways that we have been marginalized by the ubf community for speaking our minds — all the ways that we have been made to look like the bad guys — those same things were done to the reformers. But SL was ten times better at it.

  44. I think SL had a great deal more clout and charisma than any other UBF leader. Thus, whatever he said and did simply carried tremendous weight, which may still be influencing current UBF leaders today, and which some use to their advantage, I might add. How often might some of us have heard, “But that’s what SL did,” or “But that’s what SL did not do.” On this basis, virtually anything done in UBF can be justified.

    Yup, Joe, anyone who dares to voice an opinion or sentiment that does not come from the higher echelons will be marginalized and made to look like the bad guy who is ungrateful and with unresolved “sin problems.”

    From my perspective, it is just so much more fun being the “bad guy!” Go Ahead. Make My Day!

    • Mark Mederich

      maybe “religious” people don’t repent, because spirituality isn’t the problem?
      Diagnosis: Megalomania (power-monging)
      Cause: mental illness or emotional imbalance?
      Transmission: communicable to others by shocking fear & anxiety
      Treatment: friendly disobedience & shocking disregard:)
      the gig is up, Hallelujah!

    • Mark Mederich

      (by the way different religious styles explained by culture/race/etc are cute excuses but irrelevant, we are all one humanity; America has one color: green=$)

    • Joe Schafer

      “Friendly disobedience and shocking disregard.” Nice.

  45. I agree and acknowledge all comments even though I never knew the figurehead of cultural heritage in UBF. (figurehead or idol?)My first encounter with objectionable rebuke or training or whatever you call it came as a very young sheep. It was of course over the usual boy/girl matter (sigh and yawn). The fact that still bothers me to this day was that I was never a member at that time. I only studied the Bible and attended very basic activities at a very distant level of interest. I had never consented to anything, nor did I have any knowledge of the giant albatross that is UBF.

    At that time it was not my ambition to make UBF my lifelong calling, but this is where we may misuse scripture to tell ourselves everything is okay. (Jn 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”) This means that because my shepherd came to me and I accepted everything becomes permissable and justifiable. (No, not really.)

    The trouble I experienced and always concerned about when serving/approaching young sheep (especially freshmen) was that I did not want them to go through what I had gone through. This indeed limited my usefulness as a shepherd to say the least. No matter my protest or desire to seek reason or solution or reconciliation with my shepherd or with the administration in my chapter I was always met with silence and resistence. In fact my directness and independent attitude have marked me my entire life in UBF.

    Last year, I met with a shepherd who had left my chapter for another chapter, but had known me since my start. I viewed our relations strongly, but was a little embarrassed when even my wife got a hint of “you know what he was like…” during our time together. All meaning to say that a member who objects once is always unreliable in the UBF mold.

    When a person objects to something it had to come from somewhere. If you eat some moldy, contaminated or soured food your tongue tells you right away. Likewise, when we experienced unnatural approaches (Note: unnatural not unorthodox) it sent shivers through us or something similar.

    Everyone here has no interest to roast or diminish the Bible studies we once had. It is however to shed light and change among practices that have long since origins been unacceptable. I am still in a UBF chapter – that I might add – is seen as a little lax by others – but the attention to Bible study is what got our attention. Sometimes even testimony writing as long as shepherds and leaders backed away to let YOU express the grace in YOUR life and not impose THEIR desires or ambitions on YOU.

    I thank everyone here and I pray for the change in UBF. It sometimes seems hopeless, but never give up! Certainly, never close your door on one who needs these blogs and support. It is a lonely existence for a scared and uninformed sheep who does not know what to do or how to act. This website says u-b-friends – allowing for healing. We can express pain and sorrow and mourning but it is not UBF bashing – it is a call for healing among the wounded and ignored. Thank you Joe for this article and everyone else who contributes.

  46. Thanks, gc, for calling UBFriends a place “for healing among the wounded and ignored!” It is such an encouragement to hear this, after hearing ad nauseam how negative, discouraging and bashing a place this is! Even if just ONE person in all the universe is encouraged, I think that Joe’s dream has been realized.

    My one single word of advice is this: Fear no man, but God (Prov 29:25). Speak with conviction and stand boldly on the basis of truth without wavering and without fear. Whatever you say or do, prayerfully do so with respect, humility and gentleness to anyone and everyone without deferential discrimination.

    I’m not saying that I am able to do what I advice. But I know that I give good advice a lot better than putting it into practice myself. Lord, have mercy!

  47. I want to make an earnest plea to listen to Chris’ words, especially this:

    “The belief that the reform movements failed because of the immaturity or rudeness of the reformers is a complete myth.”

    When I was defending ubf in 2003 to 2005, I was the one who was immature. I trolled the Voy forum. I posted through anonymizers. And I couldn’t articulate my way out of a paper bag.

    Yes, Joe and Ben’s movement has gained significant traction. But it is not because they are “more mature” and the old reformers were “so political and harsh”. I have read some of Joe’s letters that have not been publicized, and some of those letters are far more vitriolic than what I’ve read from prior reformers. If anything, the prior reformers were too polite.

    Yes I know that prior R-Group people went a little overboard. They stood in picket lines with anti-ubf signs at some of the ubf conferences. They contacted TV stations, and 3 of them did investigations into Chicaog, Toledo and Columbus. Many of them contacted newspapers (which anyone can easily read on my blog.) But all this is example of godly sorrow that produces indignation, alarm and eagerness for justice.

    I am ashamed that I was the immature one, supporting ubf mindlessly and using illogical and unbiblical defenses. I did not admit it at the time, but people like Chris and rsqnonny and yes even NickT were far more mature and gracious than I was.

    The current movement/crisis in ubf that started in 2010/2011 around the world is having an impact, not because we are “more mature” or “less poisonous” but because of what was already done by the prior 3 reform movements. We owe a lot to the CMI people and to people like the late James Kim and my newfound friend from Toledo, Desiree.

    • Joe Schafer

      I agree with Brian. There is no sense in which I can claim to be more tactful, reasonable, etc. than people who have raised concerns in the past. The situation is different today in so many ways.

      The only real difference that I can think of between what Ben and I have been doing and what others have done in the past is this. Neither of us has tried to gather supporters behind us to start a countermovement to make demands from ubf leaders. We have not become activists to urge anyone to do anything. Basically, all we have done is to write articles on this website to express our opinions. And we have had a great deal of private correspondence with ubf leaders about very sensitive issues that we won’t share on this website.

    • It’s very true. The approach of the present forum encourages discussion, sometimes theological and sometimes academic. It is open to personal reflection – but, there is the caveat that protects this online community from juvenile witch hunts.

      What makes me comfortable to contribute here is the simple fact that the dialogue is motivated to generate a positive correspondance among each other but also with leaders in the present UBF.

    • One valid criticism of the R-Group people in the past might be collusion. Organizing a picket fence rally sounds enticing to me right now…(anyone want to take a road trip to PA this August? :) …but I am heeding the advice from my current pastor to avoid “triangulating” my frustration.

      But here is an interesting twist. Who is colluding now? Who is triangulating support by avoiding direction interaction? That would be ubf directors.

      What did ubf directors do instead of commenting or engaging us on this blog? They took a massive ubf survey ABOUT this blog! Some are now using those statistics about ubfriends to justify or defend their silence. Instead of facing the problems and interacting directly, some ubf directors are talking about us, colluding against us in an attempt to gain support.

    • “Neither of us has tried to gather supporters behind us to start a countermovement to make demands from ubf leaders. We have not become activists to urge anyone to do anything.”

      Yes, that’s a certain difference. But still, there were also many people in the past who tried to challenge the leadership directly and privately, apart from the larger “reform movements”. The difference to the reformers is that of course you never heared of these. I know at least on of the respected Ph.D. “German shepherds” in Cologne who confronted the director. The end result was that he had to leave the ministry and was forgotten. Another difference is that in the first 3 decades of UBF, there was no Internet.

      “Yes I know that prior R-Group people went a little overboard. They stood in picket lines with anti-ubf signs at some of the ubf conferences.”

      This is another misunderstanding I want to clarify. The reformers who engaged in the reform movement in 2001 and then founded the CMI on the one hand, and the dropouts who were activists against UBF and created websites like RSQUBF on the other hand, were two completely separate groups with different ideas and goals; they did not coordinate any activities. UBF lumped them together under the name “R-group,” but they had very little to do with each other. Those who tried to warn at UBF conferences were just dropouts who did not want other students to experience the same abuse they experienced in their time of UBF, and wanted to help their former fellow members. They had nothing to do with the reformers, who were active in their own CMI ministry and just tried to forget about their UBF past.

      The existence of an anti-UBF “R-group” is another myth created by UBF leadership that needs to be debunked. They probably used that strange term because “R” could also be interpreted as “rebel” and they wanted to obscure their real goal of reformation. UBF leaders were always very good in using loaded language. In reality, there was only a “reform movement” (let’s call it like that) that later became “reform UBF” and then “CMI”, consisting primarily of Koreans, and a loosely connected network of frustrated ex-UBF members, consisting primarily of non-Koreans. The only conncetion between the two was that much of the dark side of UBF was revealed by the reformers, which of course made the anti UBF movement much more determined.

    • Thanks for the clarification Chris: “This is another misunderstanding I want to clarify. The reformers who engaged in the reform movement in 2001 and then founded the CMI on the one hand, and the dropouts who were activists against UBF and created websites like RSQUBF on the other hand, were two completely separate groups with different ideas and goals; they did not coordinate any activities.”

      Unfortunately, the “R-Group doctrine” is still something embedded in my mind, that I still need to untwist and weed out.

    • Joe Schafer

      Chris, thank you for making these careful observations and distinctions.

      There been the tendency for ubf members to think that all people who have any misgivings about ubf are of one mind and that they are all part of some unified movement or conspiracy. It’s simply not true.

  48. Joe, back to your article: “My concern is that UBF leaders are still unwilling to face the ministry’s history of abusive discipleship practices. These abuses did not just happen once in a while. They were a regular defining feature of UBF as far back as I can remember.”

    I too have experienced a severe lack of self-awareness and introspection among directors. The first thought of a director when someone leaves is “what is wrong with them”.

    This reminds me of something our pastor said in one of our cohort groups when a long-time leader left our church to follow other pursuits. Our pastor’s first response was “what is wrong with me”. The parting was peaceful but even then he met the person right way and wanted to know what he could have done better to make them want to stay longer. He was not overbearing, but sincerely wanted to know.

    So my point here is that maybe one of the best things for ubers to do is to look in a mirror and have some objective and honest introspection combined with earnest action to go and meet people who left and ask them what could be done better.

    • And realize that you DO NOT have to wait for your director or shepherd to approve or initiate such things. You are free to go and talk to whomever you want.

    • joshua

      I wish I could institute a rule: all UBF members must bring a mirror to testimony-sharing meeting. Whenever you say anything to anyone, position the mirror so that you can see yourself talking. Then take your own advice. Everyone will be greatly edified.

    • +1 Joshua.

      But here is what I experienced. In addition to my own shortcoming and failures, I often have to deal with this: ubfers see the mirror I’m holding up, and what they see is ugly. But instead of realizing they are seeing a refecltion of themselves and their teaching, they think they are seeing me. The person holding up the mirror often gets blamed for being the source of the ugliness. That has been my cross to bear lately.

  49. Chris, Joe

    I am not saying SL or UBF were more mature than R-group.
    I would say, the failure is due to 99% of SL side and 1% to R-group side. What I wanted to say is that SL used that 1% as a foothold to accuse R-group as political rebels and many were convinced, and focused the 1%, which made the communication even harder till now.

    It might be unfair, if I just point out 1% of immaturity but ignore 99%. I believe 99% reasons have been discussed a lot on this site.
    I think God also sees that 1% and He is not happy about it because it does not represent Jesus. Maybe in God’s eye, it is 50%, we are doing the exactly the same ungodly thing. It does not mean we should stop talking about it, it’s greater sin to be quiet and doing nothing to injustice and ungodliness.

    The 1% I wanted to point out was that, before CMI leaders came to talk to SL politely, they had already sent the letter to all leaders and missionaries, which was eventually leaked out to whole UBF members. They refused to send tithe to UBF headquarter and refused to come to World Mission Report. They used their relational power to gather more people to their side. (I know this wouldn’t happen if SL responded in godly manner in the first place) This brought some division to mission fields where there were mixed group of each side. Most leaders were very patient, kind and gentle. But some people under them did speak very ungodly words in public, and the leaders let that happen. I don’t think they were sometimes rude, brutal, or slanderous. They were treated like that by SL for many years. I was with CMI group when they started reform movement. I love them and still support what they did in general. But it doesn’t mean that they were perfect in doing it. It’s easier to make mistakes when we are angry and frustrated. I can understand that. But we should not give any foothold to Satan to take advantage of it. Satan will use those things to destroy the both sides. Many people failed to see Jesus through both sides, they left the both sides. Some weak believers left Jesus in the middle of it.

    The reason I mention this is to avoid making the same mistakes.
    I am not saying, we can be successful in restoring UBF by following Jesus’ instruction perfectly. Jesus didn’t grantee the 100% success in doing that.

    But one thing I am little bit optimistic about this time, a lot of people in UBF think it is not political or relational issue. Those list Joe mentioned have grown like tumor for 50 years, it is hurting the whole body now, many people recognized that they got cancer which need to be removed with major operation. Some deny that that they have cancer, some don’t know how to deal with this cancer because it is been long and all spread over whole body, try to ignore it unless it it not hurting so much. Some want to get long-term therapy with less risk and pain. But the doctor never blame the patient why he got the cancer. Maybe he have lived in unhealthy life style (alcohol, smoking). Maybe his environment was not really healthy. There may be more complicated reason for that cancer. But a doctor don’t blame the patient. A doctor wants to heal him. (Well I should stop here)

    • vmi, thanks for clarification and putting things into perspective.

      Sure, how the reformers proceeded was not as mature as would have been desirable. But you can’t expect that from people who lived for so many years in an environment that promoted immaturity and stifled critical thinking and open communication and cooperative problem solving. The reformers were not saints. That would be the same black and white thinking again. And they never learned how to make a reform “properly”. They only learned obedience. By the way, their refusal to send their tithe until there was proper accounting is understandable for me. (Ab)use of offering money and lack of proper accounting was one of the issues in 1976 and 2001 again.

      It’s encouraging for me to see you recognizing the actual problem as the cancer that is corroding UBF. 10 years ago, I was told that the reformers, i.e. those who talked about the problem, were the cancer of UBF. You said a doctor doesn’t blame the patient (e.g. for drinking alcohol or smoking). I’m not so sure. At least he will clearly point out that smoking was a possible cause of the problem and that it is bad and the patient should stop. Also, the picture is not quite applicable because the sickness of UBF does not only affect UBF itself, but many people who are invited by UBF. Maybe you could compare this with “passive smoking”. I really would blame parents who smoke heavily in the presence of their young children.

    • Joe Schafer

      vmi, I appreciate what you are saying. But resolving conflicts and reforming a community is always, always, going to be a messy process with mistakes by everyone on all sides. There has never been a single dispute in church history where someone did not step out of line. Even the Apostle Paul said some nasty and inappropriate things about his opponents (Gal 5:12). Creating an unreasonable standard, and then refusing to listen to critics because they fall short of that standard, is wrong. (I’m not saying that you are doing that. But SL’s supporters did. SL’s supporters criticized the reformers for all sorts of things that SL did many times worse.)

    • joshua

      When people such as the religious leaders had a dispute with Jesus, it was 100% their problem and 0% Jesus’ problem. But this is the case only with Jesus. With human beings, it is never 100-0, but somewhere in between. The problems in UBF that we are identifying and trying to discuss and resolve are not 100% the leaders fault. As Joe said, everyone involved makes mistakes and reacts in unwise or unthoughtful ways. As aw said, the best way to resolve is to both come to the cross. But coming to cross means exposing ourselves honestly before Jesus and before God’s people. Many times in the past, I was wronged but the person didn’t ask me forgiveness, but just repented privately in his own personal prayer. In his own terms, he went to the cross. But even though he went to the cross, there was no healing because he didn’t also come to me. When we come to cross, it must free our relationship with God and with people. Moreover, coming to the cross implies deep contrition and a willingness to acknowledge wrongdoing and make a personal and/or corporate change in order to prevent it from occurring again. I think that the majority of the comments here reveal that such condescension, contrition, willingness to acknowledge past wrongs, and an eagerness to facilitate change is still not present among the majority of UBF leaders.

      It seems that God’s marines are too busy fighting the good fight on the campuses of the world to join us wounded ones here with Jesus at the cross.

    • And our protestant hero Martin Luther also said some very nasty things about the pope, like that he was the antichrist. You could also say that the behavior of Luther was immature and you could justify the unrepentant behavior of the pope and his clerics by claiming that Luther had not talked to them privately, but publicly nailed his 95 thesis on the door of the church which “eventually leaked out to whole church members”.

      Likewise, you could also say that the behavior of the reformers before they started the reform was immature, when they sent offering money to the headquarters without ever requesting a statement of accounts and knowing what the money was used for, of tolerating many unbiblical practices and teachings in UBF, just because they were propagated by the top leader.

    • Mark Mederich

      maybe humor is best healer; hard to fix past but try do better now (e.g. house not worth what paid but still live in); maybe need Saturday Nite skit portraying damaging religious leadership practices to display how ridiculous/useless

    • I believe God wants us to be holy, blameless and perfect. It’s our ultimate goal to be like Jesus. If we are starting from 1%, we can learn from the bible and the church history and do our best to be 0%. Martin Luther did brave thing and God used him. But let’s not forget that Martin Luther tried to remove the 5 books of the new testaments from the Bible. Unbalanced view point of bible is as much dangerous as unbiblical view point. Luther had fought for the truth but also failed keep other truths.

      I believe, UBF leaders had never learned to humble themselves to apologize or to confess and repent their own sins before God and OTHERS, because they have never seen that from their leader. I think they are starting from 99%. It would be hard to go down to even 95% from 99%. It might be harder than going from 1% to 0.5%.

      All Christians should accept each other, whether they are at 99% or 1%. We should not accept their behavior but accept people as Jesus accepted us when were were 100% wrong. It’s so sad and wrong if SL supporters ask you to be 0% to talk to them. I think they may not listen to you either when you are 0%, faultless because they are not listening to Jesus’ word.

      I fully support what Joe is doing. I think no man could do better than what Joe is doing. My honest prayer is that he may not lose his heart and continue to walk in love when he goes through this path.

      Chris, you are right. Cancer patient is damaging others including his own family. What I meant was our role is a doctor like Jesus on earth not the policeman or judge who is coming.

    • Mark Mederich

      see I feel better already; drama therapy: play your favorite character..

    • Vitaly

      vmi, I agree that God wants us to be holy, etc. But why not to be holy without associating with ubf and its leaders? Many say very good things here, but it seems to me that thinking about the way of the dialogue with the abusers you may never come to the last step in Jesus’words: “treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector”. I think that Jesus meant to stop any dialogue and trust such people to the Judge.

    • Vitaly

      In my chapter very many people left ubf and some people left God because of the ubf abuse. Now all the native people left ubf and none of them is going to leave Jesus, all of them joined healthy churches. I don’t think that in 2001 some people left Jesus because of the reformers. But so many people left Jesus and are still leaving Jesus because of ubf. The sooner one leaves ubf and joins a healthy church the better.

    • vmi, I agree with that. You’re right in that the problem is that UBF leaders never learned that leaders need to repent, too, because of the bad example of the top leadership. And they also learned over decades that they are able to “get away” with that attitude. They learned that there are sometimes troubles, but the troublemakers will finally leave or be kicked out, and they can start over again with new people. But that cannot be an excuse. UBF leaders have to re-learn. They also have to remember and apply what’s actually written in the Bible. As Bible teachers we should hold them accountable.

      “What I meant was our role is a doctor like Jesus on earth not the policeman or judge who is coming.”

      Basically I agree with this. But there are certain situations where Christians actually need to be judges, or even like policeman. This is when sin is openly committed inside the church under the name of Christianity. You see an example in 1Cor 5, where Pauls says at the end “Are you not to judge those inside?“ This is a rhetorical question. The answer is clear: Inside the church, there should be judgment about the conduct of people. This is also known as church discipline. This is also the content of Mt 18:15-17. In the end, it someone is stubbornly, absolutely unrepentant, and does not listen to the church, he should we treated as pagan or tax collector. Similarly the passage mentioned by Vitaly, Titus 3:10-11. What is this other than judgment? Of course, this is not final judgment. Such treatment may help the person to later repent anyway. The final judgement is made by God. But inside the church, judgement should take place, absolutely. And the problems we are dealing with here are such a case, where the people of the church or the organization of UBF should judge.

      Jesus was like a doctor for the sinners, that is right, but he dealt very differently with some of the Pharisees who believed they don’t need a doctor and they are themselves the doctors. It is such people we are actually dealing with.

  50. In my opinion, these conflicts can only be solved at the foot of the cross of Christ for all of us. I say this not as an excuse for any wrongdoings of the past in UBF or current entrenched practices that are wrong. Rather, it is a basis though for coming more into the light of Jesus with things and continuing to walk in that light. It is also a basis for us to be reconciled to each other.

    • +1

      I agree fully, aw. There is a large crowd gathered already at the foot of the cross. We (former and current) are waiting for ubf directors to join us there. As joshua says eloquently just now, there is no reconciliation if we go to the cross in our minds only, and don’t make every effort to also come to the people involved. That is merely a fantasy worldview. Many of us former members and now a growing number of current members are all waiting at the cross to see the day of jubiliee when ubf directors come to join us instead of walking over us to go about their mission.

    • Sharon

      I agree, aw. But I have to say that when such things are said by UBF people I often bristle a little because of an association between “coming to the foot of the cross” and humbly participating in UBF lead meetings, conferences, etc. Not saying that this is what you mean, but I often wonder what people mean when they say this.

    • Hi Sharon,

      What I meant is sincere repentance and confession of sin on the part of all of us including people at every level in UBF and outside of UBF, accepting the forgiving grace and mercy of our Lord through the blood of Jesus.

    • Sharon

      Ok. But when and how? Only through painful and honest dialogue. It’s not as if everything goes away just because someone has “gone to the foot of the cross” to confess their sins. Jesus is very clear that we must seek reconciliation with each other through even “brutal” honesty and dialogue. So I just don’t get it when people in UBF say this to each other. What are they talking about? Usually, I think it just means be quiet, don’t complain, don’t listen to Satan…

    • When and how? Now if possible and by any means possible. Painful and honest dialog such as what happens on this website hopefully leads us to Jesus with sincere repentance and confession of sin. Confession before God and to God is necessary (1 John 1:9) but James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

    • Sharon

      Aw, I’m glad to hear you say this. Thank you.

    • formershep

      I’m not going to argue with repentance. And maybe I’m misunderstanding. But as a former shepherd(ess) who endured spiritual abuse on various levels for more than 10 years, I don’t think I have to repent of anything regarding that. I definitely need to forgive. But to “be reconciled” I don’t think I need to repent to my abusers.

    • Sharon

      Formershep, this is true. I also believe that in cases of abuse, one side repents, the other forgives. Reconciliation can’t happen without responsibility for abuse being owned by the abuser. I’m sure that this becomes very clear at the foot of the cross. Any unforgiveness on the part of the abused will also be revealed there.

    • aw, that sounds good but it misses a point, namely that the things that need to be dealt with through repentance are not only individual, personal, things we randomly did to each other. They are systematic sins that were intrinsic to the UBF “system” and its leadership. Therefore, next to the reconciliation on a personal level, we also need a “coporate repentance” of the organization and a particular personal repentance of those who represented, founded or directed that organization. UBF is an organization, and some in UBF even believe it to be a “spiritual entity” (“the work of God” or something). As such, it needs corportate repentance. As an example, take the “Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt” of the protestant church in Germany. Many Christian groups like the “Lauderdale Five” shepherding movement, the ICOC (partially), the “Worldwide Church of God” made such public statements. Corporate repentance is absolutely necessary to solve this issue, otherwise no healing can take place ( The harm that has been done and sins that have been commited while fighting over these issues are peanuts compared to the issues themselves. The problem is that UBF tolerated and even followed and copied the harmful teachings and practices of its founder, without ever listening to those who warned or cried as victims. This must be the core issue of repentance, all other things are secondary battlefield. If we stress too much that “everybody needs to repent” then we are distracting from the real issue and mock the victims of decades of more or less systematic abuse.

    • Hi Chris,

      Thank you very much for your comments. I agree that corporate repentance is needed and Biblical. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” In some cases repentance is hard, but it provides a wonderful direction for us and a promise that God will forgive and heal.

      I think that sometimes UBF leaders asked others to repent in a one sided manner. They are the ones who need to repent in these cases of abuse. But we should be careful that in asking them to repent we don’t become like the monster we are fighting. In my opinion, we should all be aware of our own frailty and ask the Lord for his help and mercy for all us during this process.

      I am so sorry to hear about the cases of abuse. I know the hurt was and is real, and what happened misrepresented the character of our gracious Lord who is gentle and humble in heart.

  51. Hi Joe, You quote Gal 5:12 as being nasty and inappropriate. I saw it rather as as biblical stamp approval to go after those who you believe are damaging and wounding “sheep” in the church. I believe Paul used the strongest language possible (Gal 1:8-9), which would surely anger his opponents, in order to make crystal clear that salvation is by grace through faith, and NEVER by works, performance and keeping the law, which in UBF are the so-called “core values.” Thus, one’s self worth in UBF is directly proportional to your conformity and endorsement of UBF’s core values.

    Why are old school UBF leaders angry with UBFriends? Firstly, they should be angry! because it is addressing issues and abuses that some of them refuse to address by insisting that they are right, and that God has blessed UBF for 50 years, etc, and that those who come to UBFriends are wasting their time and not “going fishing and feeding sheep.” Do some of these leaders go fishing and feed sheep themselves? Or are they more interested in playing political posturing and positioning of their own power in UBF?

  52. Joshua, I have told the GD and many older UBF leaders that our UBF leaders, almost uniformly, do not know or are unable to humble themselves to apologize or to confess and repent their own sins before God and OTHERS. I said that one area that the gospel of Christ has not evangelized is the UBF leader’s strong sense of honor. Why?

    They think that as leaders their honor is “higher” and that to apologize and confess their sins publicly (which they require of their sheep) is to loose face. Until this changes (by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit), the most common response of the top UBF leaders and most recognized UBF heroes in every continent of the world will be SILENCE and INDIFFERENCE.

  53. Vitaly

    I’d like to share some words of a ubf director. “I am not going to leave ubf. There is no perfect Christian church. ubf is not perfect either. But ubf has a great advantage such as 1:1 Bible study. I don’t understand why you want to join other churches, I love ubf”. These are the words of an abuser. Abusers love and will love ubf, it is their ministry.

    • sheepherd1

      Hey Vitaly,

      I’ve heard those words before by UBF “spiritual” leaders when my friends were leaving UBF.

      “I am not going to leave ubf. There is no perfect Christian church. ubf is not perfect either. But ubf has a great advantage such as 1:1 Bible study. I don’t understand why you want to join other churches, I love ubf.”

      UBF leaders really take pride in their 1:1 bible study method and their organization.I heard from a UBF leader at a Easter Bible Conference say that, “the best way to serve God is 1:1 bible study” I was sitting down cringing as I was hearing it. When I stopped doing 1:1 with my former bible teacher, people thought I wasn’t repenting, which was not true. It’s funny how gossips quickly spread in a fellowship.I also heard that I had “Marriage by Faith” problem. Not agreeing with MBF, it doesn’t mean I have a MBF problem. As Christians, we are suppose to marry the person has God for us by faith. I guess they were talking about UBF’s MBF. When I heard it, I was very shocked that they would think like that. In regards with 1:1, I was doing bible study by myself and reading books about theology. My faith grow more doing that than if I continue bible study 1:1 with a shepherd or a shepherdess. To be honest, 1:1 was not very good for me because of the authoritativeness of the shepherd. I felt like a prisoner. I’m not saying 1:1 is not good but it’s actually good. It just depends how the shepherd or shepherdess handle shepherding.

    • sheepherd1, when UBF leaders say “the best way to serve God is 1:1 bible study” they actually do not mean 1:1 bible study which is not bad in itself. They mean a particular variant of one-to-one Biblestudy which is more like one-over-one Biblestudy. They imply that the weekly bible study is mandatory, that it must be done based on a UBF questionnaire, that it must always be passage based, not theme based, that you must always have the same “teacher/shepherd”, that your roles may never change, etc. Plus, it comes bundled with a couple of other practices like weekly sogam sharing which all together form the “UBF heritage style” of serving God. It’s a very peculiar and unique style like Gangnam style. When UBFers speak about “1:1 Bible study” they actually mean that style and that complete package. In reality, you can have 1:1 Bible study in any ordinary church. Just find a fiend in the church or invite him or her to church, and read the Bible with together whenever you like. Learn together from a commentary or other good auxiliary material, and discuss about your understanding and application of the Bible text. For some time, maybe you will be like a “mentor” for the new believer, but over time you will become just friends and mutually learn from each other. And you can both freely decide how often and when you want to read the Bible together. That is a very healthy form of 1:1 Bible study.

    • MarthaO


      That is what UBF leaders say, and UBF is not the only one doing 1:1 bible study. I was in a 1:1 study before I came to ubf!!!

      Can I say this loud and clear…UBF is not the only ministry that does 1:1 discipleship. Intervarsity and Campus Crusade both do 1:1 outreach. yes, its an awesome way to build up the church, without the controlling methods we have in UBF.

  54. Vitaly

    “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Mt.15:14).

    “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (Rev.22:11)

    • The thing that Vitaly wants to point out that there is one next step after the step “tell it to the church”. If nothing helps, you either need to expel the wicked from the church or leave the church in case you can’t expel him because he actually is the boss of the church. And Vitaly is completely right with that. All these Bible passages show that wicked behavior inside the church should not be tolerated forever, but at some point there must be a clear break and either of the two things mentioned above must happen.

      In our case, the only thing that makes this a bit more complex is that UBF is not a single “local” church, but an organization of many local churches. So what to do if your local chapter is not as bad as the one Vitaly experienced? Should we apply this teaching to the whole organization of UBF then, and leave UBF anyway, even if some chapters are nice and making progress? I think everybody needs to decide this for himself. There is a certain limit, though. By associating with certain people or organization and supporting them directly or indirectly, you become partially responsible for what they are doing. The Bible teaches this very clearly. See for instance Eph 5:11.

      I think Vitaly and Brian made the right step in leaving, but what Ben and Joe are doing is also right. However, it will become more and more difficult for them the longer UBF does not make any progress in terms of public repentance.

  55. Sharon

    Thank you, Chris. Very well said, as usual!

    • Sharon

      Oops. This was supposed to go under your comment earlier about the need for corporate repentance.

  56. Sharon

    This is an important point, aw. I think we have to guard our hearts very carefully, for our own sake and for the sake of reconciliation. This doesn’t mean we trust and forget and move on to reconciliation in a mere vertical and one-sided manner.(I think many people expect us to do this…”If we have a right relationship with Jesus, we can have a right relationship with others”….this is way too simplistic and has been used ad nauseum to push down legitimate issues) Rather, it simply frees us to be a channel of grace to those with whom we seek reconciliation.

    What we need to look for is genuine repentance that DOESN’T LOOK PAST the real ugliness and pain of sins committed. That’s why we have to keep confronting it.

    At the same time we have to fight against our own tendency toward disdain and resentment.

  57. James Kim

    This is the sermon of Richard Owen Roberts whom Chris linked for the topic of Corporate repentance.

    His message based on 2 Chronicle 7:14

    • Hi James, My suggestion to you is that you let us know what you think about the sermon, so that when we watch it we have some idea what it is you want us to get from it.

  58. Maria Peace
    Maria Peace

    Chris, I do agree with your comment that each person need to decide for themselves about UBF. Actually I also love UBF because of the one to one Bible study and I received much grace from it. I also love Daily bread and testimony writing. My daughter calls me an old timer. I love conferences as well. But I do not like abusive leadership which I experienced and my children experienced. I have spoken about this to the GD and others. They are well aware of the problems. Like AW said we need to go under the cross of Jesus. Believe me I have but I think we need to do more than that. Those who claims to be leaders in this ministry needs to take a stand. I for sure will. May God help us to do the right thing for the future of our church and the flock of God under our care.

    • Mark Mederich

      well said, Maria. Amen
      it is easier to advise a “sheep” (go this way); it is harder to advise a fellow shepherd (Prophet Nathan to King David: You are the man! You killed Uriah & took his wife!)

      leaders must not be afraid to correct ourselves & one another to honor God;
      we must be afraid to OVERHONOR MAN & end up DISHONORING GOD;
      The Holy Spirit Rules!

  59. Maria,

    Thanks for sharing this. I also love UBF and am so thankful that God has used it for me to meet Christ and in many other ways. At the same time, I am grieved to hear about what happened to you and others. I know that you say these things publicly because you want to do what is right before God and you care about the future of the church as well as the many sincere people in it. Thank you for your devotion and service in Christ. May God bless you and John and your family.

    One issue is that there is a clash / misunderstanding between those who value loyalty and those who value candor. But they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, love for God and man involves both. And yes true loyalty is loyalty to Christ who is most faithful to us. As such, we are committed to the Lord and have a bond as members of his body whether inside or outside UBF. Mark’s example of the prophet Nathan rebuking King David shows that loyalty before God and even criticism of leaders could co-exist in an Old Testament monarchy: when necessary how much more valid is it within the body of Christ in the 21st century!

    • Mark Mederich

      Hallelujah! Thanks, aw, for saying it so well; I also have experienced much good, but some excesses/bad, over the years (not just in UBF but in the Body of Christ);

      Jesus said: Woe to you Pharisees..; I think the meaning included: Whoa horse/hold your horses/wait a minute. He was calling them to repent & eventually some did:

      Acts 6:7 “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” And of course Saul, the religious murderer, later became Paul, the spiritual mentor..

      Herein lies our challenge: to take current religion to another level. Many have risked to pave the way: most recently Joe, Ben, & others. Our choice is simple. We can shrink back into hierarchy/benefits/fearful bondages/pleasant delusions/etc

      OR we can lead by seeking “the more excellent way” of God’s Spirit

  60. Mark Mederich

    isn’t this exciting? Actually it isn’t a battle among people, it is a battle among the good & bad parts of ourselves. We must rise to the occasion to practice God’s right/better ways; otherwise we are stuck in the mud feeling sorry for ourselves..

    • Maria Peace
      Maria Peace

      My very good friend who is in UBF and works in a Christian Organization told me about a lecture she heard or some thing she read that really made sense. Christianity is like a polluted lake. To find pure and clean water one must go to the source. That source is Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit and God our Father, three in one. That’s makes sense. Rivers and lakes in Ukraine are so polluted that I don’t even want to swim in them. But summer my family and I went to the carpathian mountains and climb the highest mountain in Ukraine. There were brooks so clean and pure that I just kneeled down and drank the cool, refreshing water. I filled up my water bottle and enjoyed it the whole day. In another note my family made a cellar and because of the heave snow we had it filled with dirty water. It takes a lot of work to empty and clean it up. I can say I will just built me another cellar. But this is my cellar. I bought the stones to make it. I will do my best to clean it up. One person told me sue the builder who made it, another told me count it a lost and forget it. All of them are entitled to their opinions but I love my cellar. I know the stones I bought and had put on. I know the builder. He’s my friend. I forgive him. But my forgiveness is not cheap. I have to now pay for his mistake like Jesus did for me on the cross. When I come to Jesus under his cross all the anger I have, found a place of release.

    • Maria, good example. But wouldn’t you agree that we as citizens of a country should hold our politicians and company owners accountable so that they don’t pollute our rivers and make politics which facilitate polluting water? Should we silently watch how this happens and just try to climb higher and higher in the mountains? See, even the top of the highest mountain in the Ukraine you mentioned, the Hoverla (I have been there, too), is already polluted, because busloads of tourists are visiting it now. Some volunteers try to clean up from the garbage the toursists are leaving there, but it is a fight against windmills. We need awareness for environmental protection and hold people accountable to the standards. If our church wants to somehow reflect the pure and living water of God, we should not allow it to be polluted. You’re right, it will never be as clear as the “original”. But we should try to do the best we can. Can we say that UBF is doing this? Or do we just believe we can leave it as it is because members already became accustomed to the pollution and the symptoms of drinking the polluted water are hushed up or countered by saying “you must drink more of it” (i.e. “come to our summer conference”).

    • Maria, some more thoughts regarding your analogy of “Christianity as a polluted lake”. If you think of the different local churches and church organizations as different lakes (UBF leaders always speak as if they are like lake Michigan while they are more like a small pond in this analogy), would you agree that there are lakes that are more polluted and lakes that are less polluted? Also, would you agree that there are lakes which have an assimilative capacity and free flow of water in and out the lake, and there are lakes which are more like ponds which do not have enough oxygen for fish and other animals to live there, with now circulation of water and smell from rotten material? Or like the dead see which has no outlet streams and in which animals cannot flourish because of the amount of salt that accumulated?

      In his letter to the ICOC church, Henry Kriete used a similar analogy, comparing the church with a stream that had been dammed up, because they were not in exchange with other churches, but created their own practices and teachings and just like UBF allowed people only to marry inside the church. He wanted the church to become a freely flowing stream again, that has the ability to purify itself:

      “In finding its medial course a stream may wash from bank to bank. Although it receives pollutants constantly, the flowing stream tends to purify itself. Dam it up, and it stagnates and breeds all sorts of scum and slime. The free-flowing stream is in a constant purifying process even though it is never pure in the strictest sense.

      So it is with the church. The free, autonomous disciples must be permitted to go unrestricted by earthly rulers. Free people may vary in interpretation and understanding in different congregations and in different generations. The church may go from one extreme to the other as it seeks constantly to correct its course. The church will have constant danger of impurities, so it will always be in a state of reformation, but because it is composed of erring humans, it will never be without flaw entirely. One generation cannot crystallize and credalize a system in order to guarantee that its concepts will be bound on the next generation to insure its faithfulness. Efforts to control the next generation are attempts to force unity by conformity. When the stream is dammed up, it becomes stagnant and begins to depend upon intellectual inbreeding, which produces doctrinal monstrosities.”

  61. Maria Peace
    Maria Peace

    Hi Chris,

    I just came back from a conference in Odessa and didn’t read your comment until now. You are absolutely right. We must let free water to flow in and out of our Christian lakes or ponds. Also we are responsible for cleaning up our water. I like your quote of Henry Kriete. We need a new wave of the Holy Spirit to come to our ministry. Jesus refered to the Holy Spirit as the spring of living water in John 4. How? We must start with the pond that we are in now. I think our chapter is more like a small fish bowl than a pond. So it is easier to clean than the pond of UBF. Our chapter is open to suggestion and even John is going to seminary school to learn more about theology.

  62. Neil Macdonald, the senior Washington correspondent for the Canadian state broadcaster CBC, recently wrote an article about the increasing prevalence of sexual assault in the US military ( The story is an example of the failure of an organization to properly investigate and punish unacceptable behaviour “in-house”, preferring to hush-up and blame the victims and excuse the perpetrators. I think it highlights the importance of honesty, openness, and transparency. If the ones investigating the abuses and problems in UBF and making decisions about the future are members of the same “old boys club”, wouldn’t that favour the sort of dysfunction that the article highlights?

  63. big bear

    Dr Joe and friends……I did not know SL or know about these things being from Cincinnati UBF. I cant deny God worked in my heart through UBF but I was told that these things were false accusations and just a means to destroy God work. I now see that some of these things were practiced in Cincinnati UBF but I saw them as faith training such as the pressure to leave job to be at prayer meetings. God only knows how many jobs I got fired for just to attend Bible conference and how many times I ignored my children to do mission work. This had some impact on destroying my marriage and now understand the importance of love and family. I had to come to grips before God in these matters.

  64. wesleyyjun

    Joe, about your list of Dr Lee’s abuses of authority,
    “* Sometimes he told missionaries and shepherds whose parents were well off to ask their parents for large sums of money.” I am surprised you did not list what he told me to do: He told me to give away one of three sons to Dr. Noah and Sweety Rhee, who were childless at that time. This is exactly what happened: Dr. Lee and I were having lunch at the church with a couple of others. My wife was recuperating at home from delivery of our second child. Out of the blue, Dr. Lee asked me to give our second son, who had just been born, to Dr. Rhee. Strangely, I did not think he was crazy but remembered Genesis 22, Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac. I did not think repercussions that might happen if I actually did it. I believed that God would take care of the rest if I followed to do something Abraham did. So I picked up the phone and called my wife at home and told her what we should do. I did not say it was Dr. Lee’s idea. There was a long pause on the other side of line. Then she said she couldn’t do it. So we couldn’t do it. A few years later Sweety Rhee was conceived and gave birth to their first child after 20 years of marriage. At the news I almost cried. For the next few years after our botched attempt of giving away our son, at every Christmas, Dr. Lee used the incident to illustrate how great the love of God was that he gave us his One and Only Son to us sinners while Wesley could not give one of his three sons(my third son was born soon afterward) to a noble professor.
    These days I think a lot how mellow our perception of Christianity has become–just too psychological, sensitive,… We try very hard to analyze and find the source of our hurt feelings and who to blame for them.
    I remember a dialogue between a condemned criminal who was about to be hanged on gallows and a priest, who had come to perform the last rite. The criminal refused to be comforted by the priest. Instead he rebuked him, “If you really believed heaven and hell, you would deem it right to give your life to preach the gospel to every person in every corner of Britain, even if it would mean you have to crawl on your knees and elbows all over the land. Then someone like me might have been saved.”
    This makes wonder what our priority is. Is it to reach out to the unsaved every corner of this country even if it means to crawl on our knees and elbows all over the land? Or is it to dig out the funny and crazy things that a dead person did during his lifetime because they caused us to be hurt, depressed or whatever?

    • Wesley, I am quite shocked to hear both your account of what Samuel Lee did, and the way how you want us to overlook such abuse.

      Ben already responded and I agree with him.

      You wrote “is it to dig out the funny and crazy things that a dead person did”. First, these things are not funny. They are crazy, but not just crazy, they are also prime examples of authority abuse. It is exactly what Samuel Lee did: He ursupated the role of God in the lives of people. Or rather the role of a caricature of an Old Testament God. Second, the point is that Samuel Lee was not just a “dead person”, but the founder and general director of UBF! He was the one who taught all the people in UBF including you, so that you have become unable to see how unethical and horrible all of this is. This needs to be exposed, and UBF most officially denounced the underlying teachings. This is the first priority, before reaching out to any unsaved people. UBF has unclean hands, and should not try to reach out to “unsaved” people with dirty hands.

  65. Hi Wesley, your account is quite familiar to me and to many in Chicago UBF. I will reserve my thoughts and opinion about SL’s directive to you to give away your newborn son. I am sure that your wife’s response would likely be the most common response of most people, Christian or non-Christian.

    My objection and distaste is your argument by using the story of the priest and the condemned criminal. I have already heard such arguments over the past decade, expressed somewhat like this: Why do people waste time on UBFriends instead fishing and feeding sheep?

    I hope you and other UBF chapter directors, elders and missionaries who use such reasoning can somehow see that it is really quite a distasteful, flawed and offensive statement and argument. To be honest it makes me feel quite sick and upset–not at you personally, but at those who make such insensitive statements and arguments without considering the implication, arrogance and accusation of what that communicates to others.

  66. Wesley,

    “is it to dig out the funny and crazy things that a dead person did during his lifetime because they caused us to be hurt, depressed or whatever?”

    I for one could not give a rat’s patookie about that dead man or the stupid things he did. I want answers to my two demands and the abuse in 2013 to stop.

  67. Wesley, your logic is faulty. There are not only two choices to follow Jesus.

    And your words “Is it to reach out to the unsaved every corner of this country even if it means to crawl on our knees and elbows all over the land?” sound like Matthew 23:15 to me.

    Me and Chris and Vitaly and big bear are not the way we are because ubf failed. We are the way we are now because the ubf system did what it is designed to do. The ubf system “worked”. The problem is that the ubf system is designed to raise heartless yes-men who don’t know how to love their wives or children. We each hit the ceiling of the ubf system and had to leave otherwise we would have nothing left to salvage of from our conscience and our lives.

  68. @Wesley, I listened to a sermon recently from John MacArthur about the mechanism by which God works in the world. The way that God works in the world is primarily through the church. Therefore, the church is most important. The health of the church is most important. The health of the people in the church is more important than the ministry of bringing people into the church. The pastoral epistles seem to make this statement clear. If the church is unwhole, what good will it do to bring people into the church? That is why I agree that the best thing for UBF to do is stop, look around at the unwholesomeness in their midst, and listen to voices of the injured people around them. Stop, look, and listen. Once the leaks are identified and plugged up, UBF as a ministry will be able to hold the new wine that God wants to pour into it.

    • And by the way, I think that the testimony of Scripture is clear that children come from God and they are given to the parents as a charge from God. It is therefore a sin, in my mind, to give those children away. It is an abdication of the God-given responsibility to raise the children in the fear of the Lord. For a pastor to suggest that a Christian should give away their child is strong evidence for his unsuitability of pastorship according 1 Tim 3 and the weight of Scripture.

    • Joshua, I really like your clear and short comments.

      Wesley asked why we care so much what “crazy” things the church leader did. You gave a good answer. These things were not just “crazy”, they were sins. People in the church must always care about sin. I never read any rebukes in the Bible that people weren’t doing enough mission, I only read rebukes that people in the chruch sinned or tolerated sin.

      Note that this example not only shows that Samuel Lee did “crazy” things, but that he made all the others do crazy things as well. Isn’t it crazy to ask your wife to give away her newborn child to another family? Isn’t it crazy of all the bystanders who knew of this story to not rebuke Samuel Lee for doing such things? The only person who does not behave crazy in this example is Wesley’s wife. Thank God! This example does not only tell a story about Samuel Lee, but also about the people in his organization.

      Also note that this is not the only story of this kind. I remember that the reform movement in Germany started because Peter Chang in Bonn demanded that she gave away her child for adoption to him. This missionary bitterly complained in a letter about this and other abuse, and even Samuel Lee was informed. Guess what Lee did. He started to praise Peter Chang. Instead of Chang, the reformers were explelled from the organization. At that time I was shocked. But now things start to become much clearer.

  69. @Chris: Yes indeed, we must expose how that one man’s teaching has lived on even today. That theology must be exposed and repaired.

    @Joshua: You are correct. It is unthinkable that one who claims to be “God’s anointed” would demand someone to give away their child. This is wrong theology based on 1) Abraham did not actually kill Isaac but kept him, which was God’s point and 2) God did give up his son, but that means we don’t have to because God’s sacrifice was complete. The sacrificial system ended and was fulfilled in Jesus.

  70. wesleyyjun

    Ben, I don’t necessarily think you are wasting time on ubfriends. I liked some of postings here. I learn a few things I should do and should not do as a pastor. But some are honestly distasteful just as you found my example of a criminal and a priest. Some found my logic faulty. And I do find the prevalent logic in this site faulty: Dr. Lee was the founder and he was wrong, and we learned from him and we must be wrong. (I don’t really agree that he was that terribly wrong. But I am talking about the logic.)Little Samuel was Eli’s disciple. Eli was wrong. But Sammy was right.
    Ben, in your recent posting, you appreciated what Abraham Kim did. I appreciated your appreciation of him. What I am trying to say is we have to hear more what is happening in ubf now, not what the person who are not with us did decades ago. I am sure we have been changed from old ways even a little bit. What is really happening now? How are we doing?
    I still don’t think the criminal and the priest example was too bad. I did not use it to accuse any of you wasting time here, but that this site should be used somehow to advance the gospel to reach out to the unsaved like the criminal. What else can be more important?

    • @Wesley: “What else can be more important?” I think that the answer to your question is found in the prayer of Jesus in John 17. The theme of his prayer is unity: that his followers may be one with God as he is one, and they may be one with one another. This unity is more important than reaching out with the gospel. We must be right with God before our gospel ministry can be effective, and we must be united also as brothers and sisters in the Lord for our gospel ministry to be effective.

      You mentioned earlier crawling on hands and legs. That is what UBF has been doing to my eyes; it is crawling because it is legs are broken, its hands are unwhole, and its body has all kinds of sickness and unwholeness. My current church doesn’t pride itself in doing campus mission, but I’ve seen literally dozens of university students come to faith since I joined this church in August. And it’s not a very large church, just a healthy one. So I say, stop crawling and get better–restore the connection among believers, build bridges to the ones broken in the past, seek fresh leading from the Spirit. Then, once the healing has been completed, UBF won’t have to crawl, but it can run freely and powerfully in the ways God wants.

      @gc: thanks for your words. I appreciate that you boldly tell the truth and speak your mind from a standpoint of love.

    • Mark Mederich

      have we identified the past/learned from it so as to avoid repeating same? are people safe to trust spiritual influence in light of religious histories? me: I go straight to Christ for awhile now since I found no other valid path, I participate with others but must keep priority in Christ to rescue family/others from the detrimental effects of faulty theologies

  71. “What is really happening now? How are we doing?”

    Probably should ask one of the 20 families who left Toledo the last several years…

  72. “What I am trying to say is we have to hear more what is happening in ubf now, not what the person who are not with us did decades ago. I am sure we have been changed from old ways even a little bit. What is really happening now? How are we doing?”

    Wesley, I agree with what you say here in terms of what can be changed in UBF. But your words are insensitive to anyone who has been out of UBF for more then 5 years. Why would someone like that come to UBFriends with no better interest than to see someone in high position from the ministry denounce the past publicly and make a move to more sound Biblical doctrinal practice.

    I am sorry Joshua. Wesley, Joshua is a perfect example of a young shepherd family who left within the past year because of the abusive system and authority. His testimony and struggle to deal with many troubles in his heart are public to be seen on UBFriends. I kid you not, he gave everything he could before reaching that final point. There could be many other examples but many people today are not ready to open up. So if you want to really know what is happening now you need to apply the various questions of accountability that can be found on UBFriends internally for each chapter director/wife to come forward, but I doubt that will happen.

    We have talked about family a lot here. As for family, I find the whole behaviour sickening. First, men and women are groomed to be married. With this both senior members feel a little smug. Second, the question, “Any good news?” is persistently asked. When a pregnancy does occur it has been subject to the convenience in ministry (see past comments, especially Chris). Third, once the family is established beyond a married couple the children themselves are treated to feel like an inconvenience. Why have them? ….

    It is no wonder why in some cases families break apart. However I do not know big bear – my heart goes out to him. Past or present all of the testimony, reflection and honest discussion are important here. I agree we need present day examples – but do you really mean what you say? All the time these discussions reflect the past you can write it off. You can undermine it. You can turn a blind eye, because that was not your leadership – it was someone else’s.

    I have already stated that I still remain in UBF. I am happy to, but, under the present state of things I for one will not be quiet and shut up. I will not – I will never melt in your waters.

    One more thing: Joshua repeated not once but at two or three times that he was warned about having his sins exposed if he did not stop publishing on UBFriends. This is a very real example of why present day (ex)members are reluctant to speak about what they see and hear every day.

    • big bear

      gc…I say to anyone who wants to speak out do so…God is above UBF and I am confident God will fight for you..

    • Mark Mederich

      I think many leaders/followers end up in mental/emotional bondage to humanistic system & having trouble breaking free like gravitational pull of black hole, but those who have sought Spirit of God enough are breaking free to know Christ & experience fruit of the Spirit

  73. big bear

    Brian…you are to those who left and you will find the answers to how to make positive change in UBF..don’t ignore us…we will not go away…we are the voice of change, the voice of God, and God wants repentance…He wants to protect His children…This problem happened in the Catholic church…no one listened..but God knew that His shepherds only fed themselves and did not look out for the broken and the abused and the neglected…thank God Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep…

  74. wesleyyjun

    Ben, if you are familiar with the story that I was asked to give my son to another missionary, you should be familiar with this one also: My wife was found with breast cancer. Her doctors and you also said her survival chance was 50-50. My wife hardly cries for any reason (except when my stupidity drives her nuts sometimes). If we watch a sad movie together at home, it is always I, not her, who shed tears. Then she looks at me and teases me. But while we were coming out of the doctor’s office with the news of her cancer, she held my arm and shed a few tears. She and I together went to Dr. Lee. He gave her Bible verses from Psalm 121:1,2: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” He also told her to read 10 chapters of Bible every day. Sarah read 20 chapters a day, underlining many verses until her pens ran out of ink. She ended up reading the whole Bible a few rounds. Then one word deeply touched her: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” Her 8 months of chemotherapy would have been too difficult to bear without the Bible and the church’s support. For entire 8 months, every single day, she was visited by church members, who came with food without fail and prayed with her. Some brought his guitar and held a mini concert. Eight months of ordeal of fighting cancer turned out to be experience of heaven.
    Some ubfers talk about ubf elders’ adherence to the church core values. I am not really sure what they are. I don’t get up every morning and enumerate them. But I will never forget our church members’ visit to our home for eight months without missing a single day. I have been sent out to lead a church. I tremble at the thought our church should be a place where its members love one another in the way I saw my home church members love one another.

    • Thanks for sharing this story, wesley. It is good to recall the love of God’s people and acknowledge that it is good and pleasing to the Lord.

      But I have a question for your honest contemplation: do you think the loving response of the congregation would have been the same if, instead of cancer, your wife was suffering from chronic depression, and instead of a missionary, she was a young local shepherdess with little children? Do you think they would still have visited her and played guitar with her and treated with so much well-deserved dignity and respect? Or do you think she would have been chastised, criticized, blamed, rebuked, trained, called merely “a sheep’s wife”, and held out at arm’s length to suffer?

      I have also observed the unbounded love, generosity, hospitality, and care of many brothers and sisters in UBF. Everybody on this blog has. We have never disputed that. Our dispute is that a little leaven spoils the whole batch. It should be honestly identified and cast out so that the genuinely loving people can serve God unhindered as He intends.

  75. wesleyyjun

    Joshua, thank you for your response and questions. First of all I don’t see why a young shepherdess would be treated differently. And why on earth should we chastise a sick coworker? But being a “local” shepherdess may cause some problem. To be honest it is my own concern. If anybody in my small chapter gets sick like my wife was, what should we do? We are short of man power. But I shouldn’t worry about it in advance. Tomorrow will take care of itself. If it does happen, I am sure God will show us way to support one sick coworker.
    If my wife had suffered from chronic depression, I don’t know what would have happened. I don’t want to hypotheize it. Different people have different views of depression.
    You are absolutely right we must “watch out for leaven.” It was Jesus’own warning for his disciples.

    • wesley: “And why on earth should we chastise a sick coworker?”

      HA! How long have you been in ubf? You know very well why a ubf director would chastise a sick coworker.

      It is the same reason I was called Satan for attending my brothers wedding. When I confronted the ubf director who called me Satan, he said “As a policy I never call people Satan. I don’t remember doing that. Why would we call anyone Satan?”

      I’m sick of the false innocence! Are ubf directors so blind? And why don’t you answer me directly?

    • Mark Mederich

      hate to return to a recent almost analogy; but i’m afreaid we are beating a dead horse; breath is wasted when mind control is too strong; just do what i do & hope rubs off on others..

    • Thanks Mark. Yes we are cycling a bit here. That is another condition of the ubf mindset I need to continually be aware of and weed out.

      You are correct. We must give hope. We must get up and try.

  76. @Wesley, you describe the warm and genuine communal love of UBF, which is surely the most wonderful aspect of UBF, which is likely not as exuberant in perhaps most churches in the U.S., or Canada, or anywhere else in the world. I have said often that the hospitality of Koreans is likely unsurpassed by most peoples of most nations. That is surely also why Korean Airlines is tops for her hospitality, compared to other airlines.

    What Joshua addresses is quite valid. Likely, because of Asian culture, you–as a beloved longstanding older UBF missionary family–will be highly regarded, while a young native shepherd’s family, might be regarded differently.

    Also, the problems that UBFriends primarily addresses is the hierarchical authoritarianism and spiritual abuse that clearly has wounded countless people who have gone through UBF through out our 50 year history. If you care to, do review and critique my sermon from last Sun at West Loop that directly addresses where I believe UBF leaders have clearly disobeyed Jesus:

    • Wow Ben! Excellent sermon! Maybe you could deliver that sermon at the upcoming ISBC as the main preacher? Those who attend already heard the lectures given by drones. They need to hear a sermon like yours about Jesus!

    • Note to ubfers: A sermon preaches about Jesus and is meant to proclaim the Christian gospel. A lecture teaches some principles and is meant to educate people in a certain way.

      ubf needs no more lectures. ubf needs sermons given by preachers.

    • Mark Mederich


    • And kudos Ben, for mentioning “Jesus” 45 TIMES in your sermon! In most ubf lectures the “Jesus count” is 0 or maybe a few times.

  77. @wesley, @brian. Why do some UBF leaders chastise sick coworkers? Such UBF leaders see their own sin and apply it to their sheep/members.

    If a single UBF person wants to date, there is ONLY ONE REASON: they are full of lust.

    If a UBF member is sick, they is also ONLY ONE REASON: they are basically lazy and making excuses, because they do not want to work hard and sacrifice for mission and make the chapter director look good.

  78. big bear

    THANK YOU FOR SHARING THE TRUTH. I did not know all this when I joined UBF but witnessed some same things in Cinti Ubf by the director there.

  79. Mark Mederich

    sad to have to tell the church:(
    (shouldn’t need to be told)

    but ah well, the israelites shouldn’t have needed to be told

    certainly the pharisees had no excuse for needing to be told..

    • Mark Mederich

      religious pride must be repented of; it’s not a game, lives are damaged;
      especially children/youth are at stake: if adults can abandon man-made religious corruptions & mature in Christ, then there is hope


  80. big bear

    Still telling it to the church…3 more books later and the abuse still continues

  81. Mark Mederich

    Jesus said: “Come follow me.” people don’t always listen, but sometimes follow (tired of saying the right thing?, just start doing the right thing..:)

  82. Mark Mederich

    >If you say no again, you will go to hell..
    Failure to obey even in a very small matter could result in..
    No one could miss a Monday night meeting or a Friday night meeting or SWS ever..
    If you objected to any of these practices, all of the missionaries and shepherds would immediately counsel you to obey SL because he was God’s servant. Failure to obey even in a very small matter could result in Skokie training, monetary fines, public shaming, etc<

    that's why NO/DISOBEY/MISS/OBJECT must be our middle name..