Telling The Truth (How West Loop UBF Began)

tellTheTruthAs Joe is telling it to the church (I am lovin’ it with high fives!), I wish to tell the truth as a parallel post. UBF leaders like to say among themselves that UBFriends is declining with only the same few tired commenters. Translation: “Don’t worry about UBFriends. We are still in control.” Nonetheless in just the last few days, as Joe tells it to the church, there were over 140 comments in 3 days! and with new fresh commenters who had not commented before. For the record, UBFriends has no political agenda. As Joe said, which I echo, “Neither of us (Joe and Ben) has tried to gather supporters behind us to start a countermovement to make demands from ubf leaders. Basically, all we have done is to write articles on this website to express our opinions.” Amen.

What Joe has written is appealing primarily because it is true. He tells it like it is without spin. Joe also writes in an organized, systematic, methodical and logical way (which is thoroughly enjoyable to read), perhaps because he is a skilled statistician. His scope is also broad and far reaching. But what I am about to write has a narrow scope. It is also disorganized, jumbled, confusing, messy and done on the fly without much forethought or plan! When his sidekick anxiously asked Indiana Jones during a crisis, “What are you going to do next?” Jones replies, “I don’t know. I’m making it up as I go.” I am sorry to confess to you that this is how I write (and live)! Incidentally, this just drives my wife nuts.

Let me start with Joshua’s recent comment, which expresses what many UBF people feel, which UBF leaders do not want to hear, nor believe. He wrote, “(UBF) totally sucked the life out of me and made the last 1-2 years of being in UBF utterly deadening, so frustrating, and so joyless.” UBF is making people tired!! At every single major UBF conference, one of the prayer topics is to encourage tired, burdened and discouraged missionaries. After 50 years of UBF’s existence have we not already figured out why UBF missionaries are tired, burdened and discouraged?? Did not Jesus promise that in him we find rest for our souls (Mt 11:29), and that we will enjoy times of refreshing (Ac 3:19)? Joshua says clearly what many have expressed in private conversation, emails and on this blog: “UBF sucked the life out of me.” Will UBF leaders PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS!

After initially giving me life, UBF eventually sucked the life out of me as well. After a quarter of a century of being a Christian in Chicago UBF, I felt dead, frustrated, joyless and angry. From reading and studying the Bible, I knew that this was not how the Christian life should ever be. It should be filled to overflowing with love, joy and peace (Gal 5:22) and with life to the full (Jn 10:10b). But what I felt was exasperation instead of love, gloom instead of joy, angst instead of peace and deadness instead of life.

Whenever I spoke (or rather ranted and raved) to my wife about UBF, her most frequent response to me was, “Stop!! I don’t want to hear this anymore! You are giving me such a headache!” Then I will wait until her headache goes away and start all over again!

Eventually I spoke to some senior UBF leaders who have known me for over 25 years from the time I became a Christian in 1980. I met and shared with them in private meetings regularly for over a year. Simultaneously, I also emailed many UBF leaders. The immediate reason was to start a new UBF chapter at UIC (now called West Loop [WL]). Why? We have a brand new 1.5 million USD Bible house that is totally unused every weekend, because everyone who lives around UIC goes to the Chicago center for Sun service, a half hour drive away. Also, I personally needed to get away from the Chicago UBF politics and authoritarianism, which sorry to say was “sucking the life out of me.”

But that one year of seeking approval from Chicago UBF leadership to start a new UBF chapter was a hell I do not wish for anyone to ever experience. I told my wife that it felt worse than losing $1,000,000. Despite all the reasons and proposals that I patiently and privately presented to the UBF leaders for over a year, I was repeatedly and roundly rebuffed and rejected, primarily with ad hominem arguments. I will not share them. But I cannot resist sharing the cutest one: “Dr. Ben wants to have a worship service in our brand new expensive UIC Bible house, because he wants to claim it as his own.” My response: “Hey, why didn’t I think of it? I must be such a dummy!!”

By God’s grace and to the credit of the GD and the Chicago elders, they did finally approve of us starting a new UBF chapter at UIC in Jan 2008. To this day I am truly thankful to each one of our UBF leaders who gave their formal blessing and approval.

Unfortunately, there were conditions. We could not call ourselves UIC UBF because UIC “belonged” to Chicago UBF. So we took the name WL UBF. The GD said that up to 10 families could join me. But an elder wanted to restrict those who joined me to 10 people including children, which would be only 2 families: my family and one other with their kids and Bible students. But those who willingly wanted to join initially were 8 families including mine. 1 family has since left UBF, and 3 families have since joined.

Two weeks before we were to start our new WL UBF chapter, I suddenly received a new condition: I had to sign a 2.5 year lease/agreement where we had to agree to leave the UIC BH after 2.5 years of starting WL. At a meeting, no one among the 8 WL families wanted to sign this dreadful distasteful lease. But we were told in no uncertain terms that unless we signed this lease, we cannot start as we had planned, even though we were already given approval. It felt to me like Pharaoh who released the Israelite slaves after the 10th plague of the firstborn, and then regretting that he let their slaves go. A vote among the Chicago elders was taken and we were outvoted. We had to sign the lease, or WL cannot start as promised.

This caused a disarray among our WL families. No one wanted to sign it! Thus, we could not start. The given approval to start would be refused, reversed, revoked and repudiated. Honestly, this stunk! When it seemed that no one among our WL families wanted to sign the lease, some Chicago leaders in the room appeared happy and relieved, because it meant that we could not start a new WL UBF chapter as was promised. All of our hearts sank. Our hopes were crushed and dashed to pieces. Then, with great reluctance and with a spirit of protest and anger, I agreed to the 2.5 year lease. I held up the lease in my hand and declared as loudly as I could, “I will sign it and WE WILL START WL UBF on Jan 4, 2008!” Interestingly, those very leaders who looked so happy when we refused to sign the lease suddenly became visibly and palpably deflated and dejected.

This is the sad and happy true story of how WL UBF began in Jan 2008! It felt like a new day, a new morning and a new song for us Loopers, as we call ourselves. This is purely and entirely God’s undeserved mercy and grace to us. Personally, I have never been happier. I tasted God’s tender love newly. We are still proudly UBF, even if some in UBF continue to say to this very day, “West Loop is not really UBF.”

As promised, this is the very very messy truth that I am telling. (There are other truths I want to tell as well.) Did I do this perfectly as Christ would? The answer is obvious. Nonetheless, this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth as coming from a sinner whose only claim to righteousness is in Christ alone. I do not say this with any arrogance, but with deep fear and trembling and with humility and tears.

Will you also tell the truth and declare it to the whole world?

58 comments

  1. Sharon

    This is funny, Ben. Thanks for helping us to see the funny side of things again. I love your “on the fly” style and can just see you laughing in every paragraph….like spending a few hours just hanging out with you….which I hope we will do again very soon!

  2. Mark Mederich

    Hallelujah!

    • Mark Mederich

      thank God you persevered to put the million dollar building to use & escaped the magnetic pull of the mother church to branch out

  3. joshua

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the article. I guess I’m not a part of the joke, because I’m not as tickled as Sharon is. I have a few questions, though. In the spirit of honesty, openness, and transparency, I’d like to ask them. If these are better suited for a private conversation, feel free:

    (1) Why was the Chicago UBF leadership so reluctant to allow you to start a new WL UBF chapter? It seems a little bit strange. I remember seeing the big poster on the wall and seeing how many 1:1s you had. I thought that you like a legend! I don’t understand the reluctance on the part of the UBF leaders. Was it because it was known that you planned on doing things differently and WL UBF wouldn’t be a typical local UBF chapter? Was it a lack-of-control thing do you think?

    (2) What happened with the YDC? I know that you had some role in leading or overseeing it the first few years, but then a few years back your role with the YDC was given to a missionary, and it reverted to a more traditional UBF-style conference. The last year before that happened (was that 2008?), my wife went, and she said that it was the most refreshing and invigorating thing she had even been to. The following year, it was much more typical and (honestly) not so inspiring. I thought that the messages were rather hum-drum–and I was one of the messengers! (I guess I can’t blame anyone but myself for that!) Was the change with the YDC a part of the decision to start WL UBF?

  4. Hi Ben! That you are funny became clear when you came up with a title “My hindu sheep ask–where’s the beef?”,for one of the report I presented. I didn’t like the title but for the sake of fun and for submitting to your “spiritual authority” I had no other choice. :)
    Thank God for the existence of WL UBF. In spite of many good things that we have repeatedly been grateful about on this site and elsewhere, UBF stinks because of the kind of leaders you have described above. Sometimes I wonder why are our “spiritual leaders” so full of lies, politics, manipulation etc. And all in the name of defending the honor of their idol (UBF) at any cost. But in fact they are trying to save their own glory and honor. Is it a soft form of apostasy predicted for the last days?

    • joshua

      Mt 24:12 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”

      Indeed, the apostasy in my own life occurred when I tried to win God’s favor not through Jesus but through appeasing people and earning their approval through my own good works. My heart grew cold as I made an idol of people’s approval and commendation, and equated it to God’s approval. And my heart grew cold as I denied my humanity, suppressed my unique identity, stifled my opinions, and renounced God’s blessings in a misguided effort to show God how much I loved Him.

    • Mark Mederich

      well said, i think many of us can relate to this in our own journey

  5. Hi Gajanan,

    Thanks for your comment about my sense of humor. I am just now remembering that SL often told me that I did not have a sense of humor, even though I know that people often laugh when they hear me speak and share.

    So, as my mentor, I interpreted his statement to me in that I was not really spiritual and that I was only trying to make people laugh, so as to be funny, liked and popular. For sure, there is an element of truth to this.

    When I wrote this article I was simply “telling the truth.” What I wrote was not an artificial attempt to be funny. Of course, I laughed as I wrote it, because I saw God’s tender love, mercy and grace to me, even though I was like an uncontrollable madman in those days. My wife says that sometimes I still am! Joshua’s words are most fitting, for I literally felt as though “life was sucked out of me by UBF.” Of course, whenever I shared this, it was always my fault why I felt this way and never the fault of UBF.

    I am not saying this to accuse anyone, or to make anyone look bad. This was the simple truth as to how I felt. Looking back, I can say that God’s was only merciful to me in spite of my sins, and in spite of UBF, even if UBF continues to insist that they “did nothing wrong.”

    • Sharon

      As I read this, your honest “on the fly” account, I merely imagined sitting across the table hearing you tell it. I didn’t think you were making an artificial attempt to be funny. You were just being yourself. Even as your Bible student, I remember you seeing the humor in everything. I really like this about you.

  6. That’s why UBF leaders like to invite us to personal talks to appease us. But they avoid engaging in serious communication via mail, or Internet Formus, or discussing serious things in larger groups or panel discussions with many witnesses present.
    Chris’s comment above in Telling it to the church reminded me of the day I decided to clash with my director over the issue of immorality of a missionary the director was trying to bury under the carpet in order to save ubf from any disrepute and in fact his own reputation as an exemplary and fruitful director.
    I sought a meeting with him in the evening with two other coworkers and their wives and refused to tell him the agenda. He tried to contact the two other coworkers to know what was our agenda. He even invited us individually for a lunch with him before the meeting but we refused him one by one. In the evening when we met, he behaved like he had called the meeting and made us read some Bible passages to show that how we were wrong and sinful etc. When that did not work, he said that the other two coworkers were too junior and inexperienced to talk about any of his mistakes. Well, that meeting ended up him denying our charges and trying to justify his lies and wrongdoings in the name of protecting the victim.
    Subsequently, he arranged my participation at the European 40 years anniversary conference. He thought that a sponsored trip to Europe would melt me to be “loyal” again to him. When I was not willing to participate the EU conf, he got me a phone call from SB to participate it. Moreover, he thought here I was supported by other coworkers so I was becoming stronger, but during the journey he would be able to enter into my mind and convince me that he was right. However, his plan backfired and instead more of my friends came to know what had happened here and that angered him the most.
    After return, I told him to let me pioneer a new chapter to which he readily agreed. This was the time I stopped delivering KOP&HN-centered messages and focused on looking inward and found what God was telling me to be my life and my message. My messages focused on God’s love and work of the Holy Spirit, rather than commands to do more fishing, 1:1 etc were called “superficial” and “floating in the air.” During annual conferences he would try to use delegates from Korea to brainwash my wife not to support me but to support the director. His loyal friend from Hidelberg who has never missed any Indian conference would talk to me to know what I was thinking so that the director would orient his strategies toward me accordingly. DK, his mentor from Korea would demand that I should get my messages corrected from the director and should not talk about the Holy Spirit in my messages.
    Though I had already left in my heart and mind, I formally announced my leaving ubf at the beginning of 2011. The director spread lies about me telling I was influenced by cult groups and was paid money to join some other church. Similar lies he spread about others as well who left india-ubf.
    I know that like Ben and Joshua, God used ubf to give me life, then ubf sucked it out of me, and now I am enjoying the life God had intended after leaving ubf.

    • Oops! I wanted only the first paragraph to be in italics.

    • That’s funny. You have a sense of humor too! OK, I corrected it.

    • namuehling

      “DK, his mentor from Korea would demand that I should get my messages corrected from the director and should not talk about the Holy Spirit in my messages.”

      This is something I have noticed to often be absent. Which is interesting, considering UBF talks about every other type of spirit-hard working spirit, sacrificial spirit, etc.-Why is this? I find it disconcerting that man-made rules become codified, while having a relationship with God and following the Holy Spirit becomes de-emphasized or ignored altogether.

    • namuehling, yes I had a fight with DK over the issue of mentioning the Holy Spirit as the living water offered by Jesus in John 4.
      I have known DK for discouraging and prohibiting people from practicing Holy Spirit’s gifts of speaking in tongues etc.
      As we have discussed numerous times on ubfriends, ubf leaders cannot support or allow anything (Anybody?) that they cannot control. And Holy Spirit, His works and gifts are certainly beyond anyone’s control.
      Replacing Holy Spirit’s role in the life of those they serve–in the name of “shepherding”–in my opinion is the source of all abuses in UBF.

    • formershep

      Well, accept the Holy Spirit or not, he is working and he is breathing new life into these tired old bones. Eze 37:3

    • Halleluiah & Amen to that, formershep!

    • AbNial, are you talking about Kaleb H from Heidelberg? I remember that once when he came back from India there must have been a big split. He said there was one Korean UBF director in India who always “made problems” and caused discussions, but then he finally left (or was pushed out) and now that the troublemaker was gone things were so much better and peaceful. Today I can guess what kind of “trouble” that missionary had been making. He probably wanted to preach about the Holy Spirit or change some of the problematic things in UBF. That must have been at the end of the 1990s before the reform movement. Maybe you know more about the background. It would be really interesting to know how many of such larger and smaller unpleasant and painful divisions have happened in the history of UBF. Unfortunately, the history books of UBF always forget about them, or they write about them from the view of the “winner”, ie. those who remained in UBF. But even inside of UBF, there are so many divisions, like in St. Petersburg in Russa, Colgone in Germany, or Ulan Bator in Mongolia; and to me it seems much of what is called “pioneering” is actually a result of an internal division and conflict.

    • Mark Mederich

      long live the Holy Spirit!

    • @Chris: ” It would be really interesting to know how many of such larger and smaller unpleasant and painful divisions have happened in the history of UBF.”

      Here is one easy place to begin such a history: Look at the list of ubf chapters and look for any “ubf 1”, “ubf 2”, etc. Those are practically guaranteed to be the result of painful division. The ubf fantasy ideology considers dividing over disagreements as a virtue because it keeps the chi of the community. Splitting Toledo into multiple chapters was repeatedly mentioned by the seniors who visited. In fact one person suggested I help form “Toledo II”. I refused because quick division is not from the gospel Jesus preached and splitting people up doesn’t address anything.

      Sometimes I wish ubfers would just wake up and smell the kimchee.

    • Yes Chris, I was talking about KH of Heidelberg. And the incident you mentioned him reporting must have happened in late 90s. There was one senior pioneering missionary other than the director, who was intellectual (a PhD and professor) and was more fruitful in terms of numbers compared to the director. Then there seemed to be continuous power struggle between the two about who should actually lead the ministry. Of course, he was not liked by SL and got pushed out in the name of “pioneering”. I do not know him much except that I have attended the last conference where he still was part of ubf in Oct 98. I was too young spiritually and physically to know the behind story but we all sensed the tense environment and competing glory between these two powerful guys. It was something like: “See, I have raised these many shepherds and my ministry size is such and such, so I demand these many main speakers and life testimony speakers at the Conf.”
      And at the beginning of 99, we were told that SL expelled him and his ministry from ubf. Frankly I was too young at that time, but this is what I was told by others. That missionary is a professor in Delhi University now and leads a big ministry of about 1000 members under CMI.
      And yes, many more painful divisions have happened since then. I know of at least 7 or 8 missionary families and many other indian families and single shepherds who left ubf over a period of last 14 years, due to various problems in ubf, other than the exodus of several key members in 2011. Among old timers, only one Korean family is still associated with india ubf. But that is only after being away from the director and his immediate control in the name of pioneering south india.

    • Thanks for the background info, AbNial. I wonder why KH interferred everywhere in Europe and even India when he told us at the same time that politicking was bad and the reason why reformers were unspiritual. Double talk everywhere. But it was probably the same reason why he also believed he must interfer into my marriage. He believed the job of a spiritual leader is to manipulate people and re-educate “fallen” people until they follow the party line again.

    • I wonder why KH interferred everywhere in Europe and even India when he told us at the same time that politicking was bad and the reason why reformers were unspiritual.

      In my view there is no senior Korean willing to hold his peer accountable for the things they do. Rather, it is this blind support and “loyalty” to their peers rather than caring for “truth” and “justice” that frustrates me the most. This is the reason for most of the bleeding. Will some senior Korean rise up to be more “loyal” to Jesus than anything else?

    • joshua

      In my view there is no senior Korean willing to hold his peer accountable for the things they do.

      This statement is the most frustrating and maddening thing for me too. I quickly realized that, by and large, UBF leaders do not love the members of UBF OR other leaders OR themselves OR their family OR God as much as they love UBF. If they loved UBF less than any one of those things, everything would be different.

      Of course, this is a generalized statement. But for those who protest at me making it, I say this: PROVE ME WRONG!

    • Joshua, I don’t even think that they love UBF. I think they just love being leaders and all the honor and power and status that comes with it, and they also love the imagination of being special people who “conquer the world with the gospel” and the expectation of getting a huge reward in heaven and then getting even more honor, shining like stars (Dan 12:3) and ruling over many cities (Lk 19:17). That’s what they love. And they don’t want anybody to destroy the honor and righteousness they believe to have and their fantasy image of themselves. (Of course, repentance would not destroy, but establish their righteousness, and earn them respect, but they don’t understand that, because they do not have “gospel faith” but live by Confucian values).

    • @AbNial

      Heartbreaking story. I am deeply sorry for you.

      Your experience is very similar with me.

      I want to tell you there are some more Korean shepherds who wanted to hear and learn about “God’s love and work of the Holy Spirit”. Eventually, some left the ubf and they were accused as a cult group.

      Justices and unbiblical practice is the first mountain to UBF. The second mountain would be the works and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

      AbNial, you made a good decision. I know you are really happy and satisfied.

    • Thanks vmi, for your encouraging words!
      Yes I am much more happy and satisfied now in terms of God’s leading and healing in my life. I love the freedom to go after God, to study what the Spirit seems to be hinting, to have a small community of precious friends who are free to listen to God in their personal lives and are willing to help me by holding me accountable in love when they do not agree with me fully. We all try to encourage each other to grow in the kingdom lifestyle as explained by Jesus through the Sermon on the Mount.
      Putting it simply, I am loving the FREEDOM and I am loving the relational dynamics with family, friends, people in my spiritual community and outside, in other churches, in many places of the globe. Needless to say, I am loving ubfriends :)

      However, deep down my heart, I also long for the day when not only ubf but all parts of the Body in every places will realize our imperfections, our need for each other, the importance of our unity and the Lord’s zeal to present us to Himself as unblemished bride, whom He loves even now with the same love, in spite of many dark spots in us. (Song of Songs 1:5)

  7. Hi Joshua, Thanks for asking the 2 most relevant and pertinent questions that I have often wondered about:

    (1) Why was the Chicago UBF leadership so reluctant to allow you to start a new WL UBF chapter?

    (2) What happened with YDC?

    I want to give a HOT reply, but it will probably be rated G or PG, and not PG 13 or R. I wanted to tell the truth about virtually those questions that you asked in a future article. But I will briefly try to answer it here.

    1) Briefly, if they allowed me to start a new UBF chapter, then people who wanted to join me will be taken from Chicago UBF. I knew this. I declared to them repeatedly, which they did not like to hear: “If you give away, God will bless you with more than before!!!” I encouraged them to not only allow UIC to have her own chapter, but also Northwestern and Northeastern as well. But sadly, to this day, Chicago still wants to cling to NW and NE. It is like the Dead Sea when you do not “let God’s people go!” and keep holding on to them as though you own them, when you do not.

    2) Very simply, I am a gospel guy, not a “UBF core values” guy, which I once was. In one sentence, I was unilaterally dismissed and replaced without discussion, because “I was not structuring YDC according to our UBF core values.” My prayer for YDC was that each person meet Christ by the work of the Spirit, and not by the forced imposition of UBF on them. Obviously, the GD and other senior UBF leaders made sure that I would not influence YDC. I thanked God for this, because clearly God wanted me to focus my efforts elsewhere, according to His leading. God is good.

    I hope I kept to at least PG 13 in my response!

    • Mark Mederich

      easier to teach giving than to do it: “let my people go (& their offering) so they may worship me”; why not have worship service at existing bible house on campus? (more convenient for students) members can’t tear themselves away from mother church service?

    • Starting a new church plant/service is the “best” way to advance God’s kingdom/spread the gospel/reach your community for Christ. But UBF wants to “build a big center,” when God Himself will build a “bigger center” when you “let people go!” When you “hold people,” involuntary divisions/splits happen.

  8. This is what a friend who has been through Chicago UBF shared with me after he read my post:

    “God bless you brother Ben. I prayed many times for God to bless UBF and I’m glad that he is using you as an answer to prayer. Sadly change seems to be so slow and painful. But you are right. Following Jesus is supposed to be joyful and bring peace. Burnout does not come from the Lord. It comes from man leaning on our own power and not the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray Eph 3:14-19 over you.”

  9. “As Joe is telling it to the church (I am lovin’ it with high fives!)..”

    Me too!

    “UBF leaders like to say among themselves that UBFriends is declining with only the same few tired commenters.”

    LOL. Well here’s another comment from one of those “tired commenters”… I absolutely love the explosion of comments here!

    • Blessed are the “tired commenters”, for they shall have fun!LOL.

    • From one tired commenter to another tired commenter: Is there a way to find out how many tired comments we had daily over the past tired week or so?

    • Boy, am I tired. It’s 11 am in Chicago and midnight in tired Manila.

    • @Ben: Yes I’m putting together some statistics. I have the stats of who commented when and how often on a big poster board in my house. I am tracking them to make sure we increase our clicks (just kidding, sorry for the bad humor referencing the big poster boards ubf has in order to track attendance, registration, bible studies, offering, etc.)

      @AbNial: I love your comments about the Holy Spirit! You are spot on. I continue to be amazed at how the Spirit has spoken to so many of us in all the corners of the world, telling us nearly the exact same message!

      @Joe: Your articles reminded me of a list of ubf problems sent to me by a concerned grandmother a while back. I posted her critique and questions to ubf on my blog. I couldn’t have said it better.

  10. Hi Gajanan, I heard about the clash between you and your director regarding covering up the case of a shameful immorality. This has been a sad recurrent pattern of UBF: Truth is trumped by a UBF director’s decision which is usually to safe face or protect their honor.

    All this shows is that those who do this do not believe the gospel, where righteousness comes only from God and not from anything we do.

  11. formershep

    All the comments from the past few days have been so excellent. It’s encouraging to hear the personal stories of many new people. I hope that many more will join the discussion and share honestly. Also hoping that more people in UBF are able to see these posts and begin evaluating their conscious. Thanks everyone!

  12. MarthaO

    formershep, I agree, thank you everyone for your comments and for being honest, open and transparent( that’s for you Ben:))!!

    There are many people reading and listening to these comments. What I find amazing is that there are comments from all over the world. How could any Christian leader turn the other way and pretend like nothing has/is happening? Don’t they realize that God is in control and this abuse has been going on for too long? UBF leaders, do you not fear God?

    As we all pray, God will intervene, He will not delay, for who can control the work of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is definitely working and strengthening His people to rise up.

    Yes, Ezekiel 37:3-10

    • Hey Martha. Here is the problem: ubf directors and some sh/shs have taken the “Soldiers’ Oath”, now called “Missionary Pledge”. So it is just as the German soldiers who took an oath to obey Hitler and could only break that oath under penalty of death. So yes, many directors may actually realize the pain they are causing, but they live in denial and view the pain as a necessary evil in order to keep their vow to God.

      “How could any Christian leader turn the other way and pretend like nothing has/is happening? Don’t they realize that God is in control and this abuse has been going on for too long?” I suspect they realize these things, but they have been trained to be soldiers who deny such reality. One example is messenger training. ubf messenger training in my experience is more like preparing one of Goebbel’s propaganda speeches or one of the rally speeches to young people. As a ubf messenger, I felt more like a cheerleader, trying to convince people of our “holy soldier” identity and our need for ubf ideology.

      You might think I’m being too harsh in bringing up Nazi’s… but take a look at slide 16 and the notes on slide 16 from this 2010 director’s presentation. It is rather scary to me to actually see a WWII reference in official ubf material.

      Directors in ubf look to war examples, even comparing making disciples to making atomic bombs. They would salivate over the German army’s obedience and Nazi desire for “world mission.”

      “16. In nature, the isotope U235 exists only 0.7% among uranium atoms. It means that an atomic bomb cannot exist in nature. To make an atomic bomb we have to use much effort and money. (Manhattan project) What % of invited sheep grows? One missionary found that of 300 students he invited, 30 emails were given, 5 students responded to emails, 3 students studied the Bible, and 1 student grew as a disciple of Jesus. 1 of 300 è 0.3% (less than U235) Gospel work is a hard job. But it is the way to make an atomic bomb. Just as the atomic bomb ended World War II, we should raise up several powerful and influential leaders in order to change our nation and entire world.”

      (source: 2010 Director’s Conference Presentation Notes)

    • Brian, that’s all very scary indeed, and I’m glad you bring it up. Note that this is material from 3 years ago only. Yes, it reveals some of the real teachings and ideas of UBF. But still, the documentation only mentions the terms “disciple training”, “soldier training” and “leader training”, but they don’t dare to clarify which practices are really behind these words, and which limitations they should have if any. Humiliation is certainly a necessary part of soldier training. I still remember how one of our drill sergeants shouted a one of my comrades while exercising in the army, “Sie Würstchen!” – which is a really humiliating offense for a very small man that he was, but nobody dared to say anything. People already considered this as normal. We saw similar humiliations happening in UBF in the name of “soldier training”.

      In the Hitler speech you linked to, it was interesting for me to note how Hitler told the young boys “you must be peace-loving”. To say such a thing while planning a war of annihilation is the ultimate example of misleading doublespeak. Very it’s a similar doublespeak as claiming that God’s work is done through the Holy Spirit, not by special methods, and at the same time propagating these very special methods and not respecting the work of the Holy Spirit in members at all. By the way, I also remember how my chapter leader told me I should have an attitude of being the “Leitwolf” (alpha dog or literally “leading wolf”) for the young students who newly joined UBF. Did you know that the name Adolf is also derived from the word “wolf”? The references to words like “leader”, “wolf” and “absolute obedience” were always scary for me as a German, because they reminded me of what happened in German history not so long ago. There is an educational book and movie called “The Wave” that everyone should know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICng-KRxXJ8

    • Chris, I’m glad you became a Bonhoeffer instead of a Leitwolf. I am thankful for all the Bonhoeffers among us :)

  13. Mark Mederich

    “how the west was won”/”westside story”:)

  14. @Gajanam: “In my view there is no senior Korean willing to hold his peer accountable for the things they do. Rather, it is this blind support and “loyalty” to their peers rather than caring for “truth” and “justice” that frustrates me the most. This is the reason for most of the bleeding. Will some senior Korean rise up to be more “loyal” to Jesus than anything else?”

    @Joshua: “In my view there is no senior Korean willing to hold his peer accountable for the things they do. This statement is the most frustrating and maddening thing for me too. I quickly realized that, by and large, UBF leaders do not love the members of UBF OR other leaders OR themselves OR their family OR God as much as they love UBF. If they loved UBF less than any one of those things, everything would be different. Of course, this is a generalized statement. But for those who protest at me making it, I say this: PROVE ME WRONG!”

    If older UBF leaders cannot exemplify what Gajanam and Joshua clearly state, is there any hope for UBF?

  15. When I told a friend that my favorite group all time is Led Zeppelin, this is what he emailed me:

    “Led Zeppelin: That explains the “Dazed and Confused” nature of your comments as you “Ramble On” in your posts about the “Communication Breakdown” that seems to have occurred on your “Stairway to Heaven.” But thank God that he has shown us a “Whole Lotta Love” through Jesus Christ!”

    Sorry for you non-Zeppelin fans who may not appreciate this!

  16. If I may make a suggestion: Perhaps commenters may respond sequentially even if it was in response to an earlier comment, for easier follow up by readers. So now I would like to respond to AbNial’s last comment.

    @AbNial. Thanks! What you describe is lovely: “I love the freedom to go after God, to study what the Spirit seems to be hinting, to have a small community of precious friends who are free to listen to God in their personal lives and are willing to help me by holding me accountable in love when they do not agree with me fully… Putting it simply, I am loving the FREEDOM and I am loving the relational dynamics with family, friends, people in my spiritual community and outside, in other churches, in many places of the globe. Needless to say, I am loving ubfriends :)”

    My friend and dear brother, I believe you are describing New Testament living in the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the indwelling of the Spirit!

  17. Yes Ben, the journey of learning from array of witnesses in many parts of the one invisible Church, from the experiences of others and from my own experiences and mistakes have been thrilling so far. As shared earlier on ubfriends (http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/03/14/is-there-glory-and-honor-in-reconciliation/#comment-5969), I am committed to push the “delete” button to my mistakes that God progressively highlights and to “sign-up” again for more grace. :)

    I had not given many details about my circumstances earlier. Thanks for your article letting us know your struggle to start WL UBF, and encouraging us to speak the truth. You, Joe and others here are doing fantastic for taking your stand for truth, justice, freedom, peace, reconciliation and what not.

  18. James Kim

    @AbNial, thanks for your comment.

    “However, deep down my heart, I also long for the day when not only ubf but all parts of the Body in every places will realize our imperfections, our need for each other, the importance of our unity and the Lord’s zeal to present us to Himself as unblemished bride, whom He loves even now with the same love, in spite of many dark spots in us. (Song of Songs 1:5)”

    This may be the heart of Jesus who prayed in John 17.

    • James, wouldn’t it be so nice to hear this teaching at a conference called So Loved? Love is indeed at the heart of John 17 and John 17 is at the heart of what Jesus so wanted to communicate to His disciples at that upper room discourse. Why does the ISBC lectures skip around this so important point, which you made so well here?

    • joshua

      Listening in on conference planners in the past made me realize through, broadly, the objective of such a conference isn’t to highlight God’s love or Jesus’ prayer to know God’s love and live in God’s love, but to draw out a feeling of indebted to God’s love and then channel that sense of indebtedness into devoted service in “God’s work”.

      The major theme of my Christian life for the past 10 years was, “Remember the grace of God upon your life.” Then, as I remember God’s grace, I should naturally want to sacrifice and serve to give thanks to God. So my focus was always this: How thankful am I to God? Am I showing enough appreciation for His grace? Am I forgetting His grace? Is my motive from God’s grace? If I felt tired or unhappy, it must be because I forgot God’s grace upon my life. As Ben’s recent post pointed out, who wouldn’t get burned out? I was imprisoned in a jail of grace! This misrepresentation of God’s grace shackled me and bound me to a works-righteousness crazy-train. And the only help I received was to shovel in more coal.

    • “If I felt tired or unhappy, it must be because I forgot God’s grace upon my life.”

      And that could even raise the question if you were born again and saved. So you would need to work again to assure yourself you’re still under God’s grace.

      “I was imprisoned in a jail of grace!”

      Funny but sadly so true. Best way to express my UBF experience in one sentence.

  19. @Joshua. “I was imprisoned in a jail of grace!” You guys are just hilarious (without making light of the seriousness of what you are saying). Am I going to be left with no one in UBF with any sense of humor? :-(

  20. @Joshua, @Chris: “If I felt tired or unhappy, it must be because I forgot God’s grace upon my life. So you would need to work again to assure yourself you’re still under God’s grace.”

    Richard Lovelace, in his “Dynamics of Spiritual Life” refers to this theologically as “basing your justification on your sanctification,” which will always make people tired. I hope that someday UBF may understand this.

  21. Darren Gruett

    Ben, I am sorry to join the conversation so late. This is kind of a weird question, and I hope it’s not off topic, but aren’t you still in the UIC BH? I guess I don’t understand the point of the lease agreement then, if you were supposed to leave after 2.5 years. If this is a question better asked off line I understand.

  22. Thanks for asking Darren. I love such questions! My preference today is that most communications be done honestly, openly and transparently, as long as it does not violate confidentiality or slander anyone.

    Yes, we are still very much at the UIC BH and enjoying it in the love and grace of Jesus. Yes, we were “supposed to leave after 2.5 years” according to that fateful meeting that I described. But no one has raised this as an issue since we started WL on Jan 4, 2008.

    But if someone, anyone in UBF wishes to, I would be more than glad and elated to address and answer to it, since I did agree to those terms, even if it was under severe protest and with great objection.

  23. Darren Gruett

    Thanks for clarifying that. I guess this is further evidence of God’s grace toward the church and ministry there.

  24. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Ben, is WL still in that same building you originally leased?

  25. Charles, it is in the building that UBF bought about two decades ago: https://www.facebook.com/westloop.church?ref=hl