Jesus is Lord

OXYGEN VOLUME 13When Christians preach the gospel of Jesus they say to their converts that “Jesus is our Savior and Lord”. We all discuss UBF here and we all know what UBF is, what it teaches and preaches. To newcomers UBF shepherds preach Jesus as their Savior. When newcomers come to know Jesus the Savior the Holy Spirit gives them new birth and makes them Christians. Then in the life of the newborn Christians in UBF starts what we call here “abuse”. It is because after the new birth young students are not taught the lordship of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Instead they are taught that “the disciples of Jesus are not born they are made through training by UBF shepherds” (and they are destined to be UBF shepherds all their lives and be forever thankful to their UBF missionaries even in the life everlasting). The young Christians are not encouraged to learn the will of God and to follow that will, to actually have Jesus as Lord. They are encouraged to obey or even to “just obey” their UBF shepherds “by faith” in hope that this way they will “grow spiritually” and become mature Christians, “good disciples” of Jesus and even the Green Berets of Christianity.

 So while in UBF any member can hear about “Jesus is our Lord” but can he/she experience that and understand what it actually means and live up to it without hindrance? Often the so called “former UBF members” testify that they could hear the voice of the Lord without any hindrance only after they obtained freedom from the many human (authority) voices of UBF missionaries and the very “busy” life in UBF activities. Often it is only then he/she makes the first step to being obedient to the Lord.

They say that an interpreter is good when nobody notice he is there. (The translation comes smoothly and nice). The interpreter is bad when he makes mistakes and/or makes everybody notice him. The Bible teaches us that the same is with God’s servants (pastors/shepherds/angels, etc). True servants of God serve the Lord. They make themselves unnoticeable to people, they never rob the Lord of His lordship and power and glory, they are very meek and humble and fearing the Lord. They just serve the Lord and do their best to bring people to the Lord and they speak the word of God, not their own inventions. They don’t want praise and worship, they want people praise and worship the Lord only. They are like good interpreters. But there are also bad interpreters and bad “servants of God” who actually are the servants of the Devil. The servants of the Devil want praise and worship from people and continually rob the Lord of his lordship and power and glory.

Let’s take some biblical examples. Once Peter the apostle came to a Roman officer Cornelius. “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man” (Acts 10:25,26). Another similar event is described in Revelation 19:10. “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. On the other side, the Devil said to Jesus, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine” (Lk.4:6,7).

Augustine wrote much on what is the difference between the servants of God and the servants of Devil, between the prophets and the false prophets, between the true angels of God and evil spirits. And he calls this attitude toward praise and worship the main difference by which we are able to know who is before us. So it doesn’t matter how “the servants” call themselves. What matters is how they serve the Lord.


A servants of God would say: A servant of the Devil would say:
Worship God Worship somebody/something/us (not God)
Obey the Lord Obey somebody/something/us (not the Lord)
Trust the Holy Spirit whom the Lord sent Trust somebody/something/us (not the Holy Spirit)
Study the Bible itself and follow it Study the Bible and follow what fits our heritage
Be thankful to the Lord Be thankful to somebody/something/us (not the Lord)


Who is your Lord? Whom are you personally serving? Have you ever been deceived by a false “servant of God” in your life? Have you heard mostly what a servant of God would say or a servant of the Devil? Whom are you thankful for your salvation and the new life?


  1. Thank you for submitting this timely article, Vitaly. Your article speaks to yet another glaring hole in my theology: the gospel of the kingdom. This is an explicit gospel message that we dare not miss (Matthew 24:14).

    I would love to debate and dialogue about the lordship of Jesus and what it means to live as a citizen in the Kingdom, submitting to Jesus’ rule. But alas, I do not have the capacity to discuss such things apart from the ubf context yet. I hope the farther away from ubf I get, the more my eyes will continue to open and see such amazing truths that I blatantly ignored for two decades. I pray for such mercy from God.

    In the meantime, I highly recommend reading John A.’s 8 part blog series about The Gospel of the Kingdom.

  2. And I just have to say the sweetest words I’ve ever heard: Иисус есть Господь!

    It is clear that one reason the shepherding movement failed is because those groups claimed authority that only Jesus can have. Perhaps this “taking authority” is the one thing that cannot be forgiven? I see grace and mercy for all other sins, but where is grace for one who puts himself in the place of Jesus’ lordship?

    I will never forget hearing the life-changing hymn sung on Russian soil “Я знаю, в Кого уверовал”. I still long to see my friends in Russia… “не знаю, почему” is still a phrase I often say in my mind, singing it to the tune of that old hymn.

  3. Thanks, Vitaly, for this post. I think that most who comment on UBFriends have experienced some UBF leader who caused them to worship/trust/obey/submit to/be thankful to them or to UBF or to Korean sacrificial missionaries who sacrificed themselves for selfish sheep.

    Those UBF leaders who do that are clearly dishonoring God and minimizing the lordship of Christ.

    But I will say that not all missionaries and leaders are like that. Sadly, the top leaders of many UBF chapters, even small UBF chapters, tend to be like that.

    As I had stated (, UBF missionaries are good because they are sincere. I believe that most of them are genuine Christians. So they can lead you to Christ and to love the Bible and to take your Christianity seriously.

    But they are also bad/ugly because UBF teaches the gospel of mission, sacrifice, loyalty, obedience (to UBF), which is not entirely wrong. But UBF does not clearly teach the gospel that gives freedom, rest, brokenness, vulnerability and HOT.

    Because of unbalanced Bible study and shallow theology, even some top leaders in UBF still primarily communicate mission, sacrifice, loyalty and gratitude (to UBF). It is quite sad.

    Because of the hierarchy and pecking order strongly prevalent in UBF, almost ANY dissenter (including UBFriends) becomes in some way maligned, marginalized, demonized and excluded.

    A pastor friend (not from UBF) sent me this link that addresses 10 abusive traits evident in churches that sadly many UBF leaders do not seem to want to read or address: Or they deny it.

    • +1 Ben.

      “But I will say that not all missionaries and leaders are like that. Sadly, the top leaders of many UBF chapters, even small UBF chapters, tend to be like that.”

      Both statements you just made are blatantly obvious to us former members, and should be readily seen by anyone who happens to read this blog (and thousands are).

      I have always said privately and publicly that my aim is to tell my story and let people make up their own minds. All college students are adults (well unless someone “fished” a teenage prodigy :). Adults are capable of making up their own minds. There is no need to coddle them and protect them from “spiritual pornography” websites such as ubfriends.

  4. Thanks Vitaly!!

    I will add just one verse: John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.”

    John the Baptist was given a very important mission, to prepare the way for Jesus, but he did not go beyond God’s plan. John, prepared the people for Jesus and then once Jesus began his public ministry stepped back.

    I am not sure where I read it before or by whom, but I recall a Korean missionary stating that the reason why growing native leaders are heavily monitored at first is to be clear that they understand and can teach the gospel without their own ideas. Duh, that is our very concern about the Korean missionaries when they impose cultural value system on Jesus’ teaching be it subconsciously or deliberately. Either explanation is not excusable.

    If we talk to a friend, parent, child, stranger – if we are responsible to teach the Bible in any way or place – we must become invisible. If John’s role was to become less, then we must be invisible. As Vitaly said, “They say that an interpreter is good when nobody notice he is there.”

    Moreover, we say disciples are made and not born. Now, how may we interpret “to make”? I see it as a means of the Holy Spirit, but what I am told from the moment I enter UBF is that my shepherd’s role is to mold me into a disciple, shepherd and Bible teacher.

    If I examine the Bible I can see that Jesus did many things to teach and train his disciples, but he did not demand that they lose their personality – he demanded that they follow God. When many left he did not threaten or drive fear into the twelve. He simply asked, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67)

    • gc, yes John 3:30 should have been a key verse for ubf. I can’t remember if we studied this part of John 3 in our chapter during my 17 ubf years.

  5. big bear

    Great true in many ways…there are two ways to pray and be a part of change: stay in UBF and quietly try to speak to the leaders and show them the true way of living in God or leave and be a voice on the outside…I was asked to leave so I chose the latter..I learned so much just reading the posts on UBfriends and it confirmed everything that I knew but when you are in UBF you always justify it by saying well there is no perfect church or perfect person…what you fail to see is there is right teaching and right motives and right way to treat family and others in the ministry. Last night a family whom I have always loved visited us and he chose the former way to create change in UBF but I can see that many UBF members are in agreement with what is written here and hope for change…we must continue to speak out and pray much…God will change the tide..

  6. “he chose the former way to create change in UBF but I can see that many UBF members are in agreement with what is written here and hope for change…”

    Yes indeed big bear. I hope none of us ever feels alone or that we are the only voice. I have recieved MANY private communications over the past 3 years that indicate agreement with almost everything written here on this blog by ubfers who wish to remain anonymous, secretly telling me many are in agreement. I will publicly say that even the GD has sent me such secret emails. (but they also almost always tell me that they don’t agree with our tone and that I’m scary :)

    • And in contrast what kind of email have I gotten the past 3 years from ubf chapter directors and leaders, especially in Canada?

      The leaders tell me privately things like… None of our coworkers here want to receive your emails… or Nobody cares about what you have to say… or my favorite, classic: “God bless you! Don’t send me an email ever again.”

      And I just loved my Christmas card from a ubf chapter director which said: Merry Christmas! Don’t ever send me an email again.

      And of course the ever so popular voicemail (which I have a digital recording of) from the same ubf chapter director: You had better be careful to not send me emails ever again. That is a serious matter. I want to you to consider my request very seriously. This is a harrassment of me.

    • [The above comments by me need to have the Benny Hill theme song playing in the background for the full effect…]

    • Gasp! How un-Canadian! Detroit is close enough, Brian. We should gang up and remind these directors of our Canadian national motto:

      All together now: “I’m sorry.”

    • LOL, yes joshua. Perhaps that can be the theme song played at every meeting at the upcoming ISBC?

      And yes I can see the Canadian shore from the end of my street…I think of you and your family often when I see the beautiful Canadian shores…

      Our families should meet up. Perhaps we’ll take a trip to Canada over the summer. I’ll buy you a coffee (or a beer if you prefer).

    • Actually I should say maybe that can be the “motto” of the ISBC. “I’m sorry” goes over way better than “So Loved. So Love.”…

      And maybe we could get Colin Mochrie as a guest speaker? I LOVE Who’s Line!

  7. @big bear: “I learned so much just reading the posts on UBfriends and it confirmed everything that I knew but when you are in UBF you always justify it by saying well there is no perfect church or perfect person.” Touche!

    I quoted this on FB yesterday: “…messengers of the gospel are guilty of a cultural imperialism which both undermines the local culture unnecessarily and seeks to impose an alien culture instead.” John Stott, Culture and the Bible.

  8. Joshua wrote, “When my parents initially disagreed that my wife and I decided to marry by faith, someone angrily said, “Your parents are so unthankful. THEY SHOULD COME AND BOW DOWN BEFORE ME IN THANKSGIVING THAT I HELPED THEIR SON GET MARRIED.”

  9. big bear

    When I got married by faith, it was a marriage of desperation. I was in UBF for about 10 years, could not date, it was prohibited by my shepherds. Years of emotional damage by Cinti work and in the crazy system of obeying everything they told me, boxing with one shepherd to learn how to be mean and tough…this was demanded of us, told to get up at 4:00 am in the mornings running around the campus and yelling by faith, being on the news as a cult leader, I was broken down so much that I felt at times I was going to die, working full time, teaching the Bible every day, writing testimonies and messages weekly, giving little money I had to offerings that I could not pay my rent, and the time I was allowed to marry I was so desperate that I would have married anyone. Did not know the woman I married and found we had nothing in common and that I was not even attracted to her but I though I would marry or I would die in UBF as a single man. The chapter director told me nobody would marry me that I should be thankful that I got married but this is not true. This was a big fat lie. I see this now as I am married again, how much I have missed with someone who I chose in faith instead of UBF. I think UBF is a cult in many ways because of the way they treat families, how they raise disciples, and how marriage is for the sake of committing to the ministry not for love or for the right reasons. My ex was a good woman and God blessed me with great kids by her but she deserved someone who loved her not just married her for mission and we never got along and the kids suffered for this. UBF marriages by faith are not fair. Maybe some work but many are quietly enduring because it is too late now they have children. There should be more dating and freedom in meeting your wife.

    • sheepherd1

      big bear,

      There’s a Korean missionary, whom I respected and loved,used to always boast about the 0% divorce rate at UBF. I guess that’s not true.

      I asked fellowship leaders at UBF about MBF and they said it’s not true, but they admitted that they “used” to do it. They said they do “introduction” not “arranged.” Is this true for those who are still at UBF?

    • hi sheepherd1 and welcome. I’m sure bigbear will reply, but I just want to interject something.

      As a director who resigned in 2011, I can say with full confidence that the answer to your question is yes, ubf still does arranged marriage.

      Because of me, Joe and Ben speaking up loudly in private and in public, and thanks to everyone contributing on this blog, ubf directors are now scrambling to find new terms and still do the same ubf heritage “marriage by faith” or “form a house church”. So “introduction” is just a sly way to ease people’s concerns. In fact, that is what they told me back in 1987 “We just introduce people”…

      “I asked fellowship leaders at UBF about MBF and they said it’s not true, but they admitted that they “used” to do it.”

      What did you ask them exactly? What does “it” refer to? If you don’t think ubf does “marriage by faith” (arranged marriage) try having a girlfriend who is not part of ubf, then express your desire to get married one day. And then be prepared for some kind of training (unless you happen to be in one of the 2 or 3 redeemed ubf chapters).

  10. big bear

    When the marriage does fail, the same director who set me up disowned me and even told me to go away like he is some god. He told me to keep my mouth shut and to attend another church quietly. Where is the forgiveness of sins that he so preached to me, where is the love of God, where is the humbleness of Christ, what a jerk. There is so much that he is hiding under his religion and I pray others wake up and change comes in his heart that he may truly live before God not hid behind title or chapter, only the blood of Jesus saves.

    • big bear, yes, the leaders are quick to arrange marriages or to interfere into families, but when anything goes wrong, they don’t take any responsibility and do not want to be held accountable. They claim that divorces happen only “in the world” and not in UBF, but it is absolutely not true. There are dozens of examples of divorces caused by UBF arranged marriages (often followed by one partner leaving UBF, and the other one getting another UBF arranged marriage). UBF tries to cover up these tragedies and treats them as taboo. In our chapter, all pictures of the ex wife of the top shepherd were removed from the UBF photo albums and nobody spoke about her any more, as if she had never existed.

    • Failed marriages are very sad. A failed marriage occurred recently among my relatives, and it was like a nuclear bomb detonated in the whole family. The fallout reached even to extended family members. I realized first-hand why God said, “I hate divorce.” (Mal 2:16) It was a wake-up call to me in my own marriage to take it seriously and not disregard my marriage and children as any lesser of a mission, but the foremost mission.

  11. big bear, maybe some ubf-style yoga and zumba will help remove the tension of all you experienced…or not.

  12. big bear

    shepherd1, It simply is not true. Those who divorce are kicked out or it is covered up…one arranged marriage only lasted a day…yes it still goes on arranged by faith marriages..ubf is a proud ministry this is why many leaders are sick…beware

  13. @sheepherd1, your question is somewhat difficult to understand, but it is true that arranged marriages still occur as a regular practice in UBF. In larger chapters, it seems that allowances are beginning to be made to allow dating, but clearly only with other UBF members.

    It should also be stated that arranged marriages are not necessarily forced marriages. The distinction is important. I was very happy to not date and wait for my pastor to prayerfully introduce me to my wife. My chapter was very small, and there were no single women in it. Because of my struggles before accepting Christ, I didn’t want to pursue romantic relationships, and I was also pretty young (20). It was a great grace that God used UBF and the people in it to introduce my wife and I. To their credit, it really was just an introduction and I was clearly and explicitly given freedom to decline the proposal. We both felt such an overwhelming feeling of peace, not to mention deep love, as we got to know each other, and concluded that it was from God. Almost 7 years later, I love my wife more than ever!

  14. @shepherd1, your question looks like it has several questions. Let me ask rhetorically, Did you once want to marry in UBF because many claim that divorce does not happen? Also, do you presently want to marry in UBF? How do you imagine the marriage process in UBF?

    Please do not answer these online, especially if you are a member. I am merely trying to organize your thoughts.

    Regarding divorce, UBF is not immune. Although it is uncommon for the average member to meet someone who shares their story openly, divorce does occur. It has even been that some marriages (even between Koreans) only lasted in ritual and the couple did not remain together. Consequently, think about how fragile someone might be if they were rejected in this way – be they male or female.

    Divorce can also be through commitment to the ministry. To whom are you marrying when you marry by faith? Are you marrying UBF or a potential spouse? The loyalty card gets played with marriage, because any screw up you might make between engagement and marriage and even after can reflect badly on the leaders who prayed for and arranged the marriage. It is once again about losing face and takes away from the life-long commitment between two people.

    Marrying by faith in UBF can be the best decision you ever make, but it can also be the worst. Like Joshua gave example, I too had the choice to say no. No one is ever forced into it, but if you read through comments about marriage and family as has been posted, there are consequences that come with saying no. For me, I was already a difficult person, so things could not get any worse. If I had said no to marriage it would have been predictable and in keeping with my character.

    There is limitation on two people who cannot get it or click or connect….Because of UBF activities it is possible to only know each other superficially. It is also easy to cover up what you don’t like about each other because the family unit is compromised for UBF responsibilities. As a result you never really get to know each other. Please look at Joshua’s earlier comments: in one article he spoke about idealism in a sense. That he and his wife wanted to be the best co-workers to live for God and teach students etc….This is exactly what leaders will praise you for because it demonstrates not a human desire for the family, but one that will boost UBF and mission. The worst thing in UBF is to envision the family unit as one about the family. I said this before, why is marriage such an honourable goal to reach if the responsibilities of children label you as being family centered?

    I know your question was directed at big bear, please review all of his comments on articles in the last couple of months. In addition review all the nuances. Remember, you must think about marriage in the long term. You have eyes, look around you in your church. How are couples behaving? Do you know who is married to whom? If you see singles, consider how and why they are being separated. If a brother or sister has/had a boy/girl-friend how was that addressed?

  15. big bear

    SHEPHERD1…if you marry in Ubf you are marrying the ministry not love…your wife and children have to go thru much abuse in the name of raising disciples and they will have to be able to accept all the bull shit from some of the leaders and you must be ready for a hard life and look the other way on wacky theology….I did it with 5 kids and 19 years….talk to the children…they will tell you the hell….go to a healthy church

    • “…go to a healthy church.”

      1000 times Amen. As laudable as campus evangelism is, it is not the Church. Christians need to be in a church. I haven’t been in a UBF chapter that I would consider qualifies as a church, even ones that have 300+ members.

  16. big bear

    JOSHUA…I am happy you have been blessed with a good 7 year marriage…I felt the same after 7 Years….pray much…be careful….I was married for 19 years in Ubf….make sure you watch your doctrine and your family carefully….make sure your wife and kids are first even over prayer meetings etc……go to marriage counseling and meet with other married christian couples out of ubf and if needed allow your children freedom to choose their life dont try to force ubf teaching on them…they will see the abuse in time..dont deceive yourself…pray friend

    • @bigbear, thanks for your words of encouragement. I left UBF last year partially for the reasons you have shared in your many comments. We have gone through something similar to what you described, albeit to a lesser degree (by God’s mercy). I couldn’t agree more about marriage counseling, meeting Christian couples, and giving freedom to my children.

  17. gc, I think this needs some more discussion:

    “Like Joshua gave example, I too had the choice to say no. No one is ever forced into it, but if you read through comments about marriage and family as has been posted, there are consequences that come with saying no.”

    If there are consequences to saying no, as you correctly point out, how can we say no one is forced into marriage by faith? Certainly I have not read reports of being “forced” as in at gun point. But every testimony about marriage by faith (MbF) has involved some form of manipulation. This includes Ben’s story even though he counts it all as wonderful.

    And we should clarify what is being forced (manipulated is my preferred term). Like most ubf shepherding advice, MbF is a one-shot deal. Rarely has anyone ever had more than once chance at MbF (there might be one or two examples in the past 50 years). So the consequence of saying no is that you won’t be doing MbF anymore.

    The other clarification is that even if you were not manipulated into who to marry, the other aspects had much manipulation: when to marry, how to marry/ceremony, where to marry and why to marry (house church mission).

    And let’s not forget the two biggest MbF manipulations: 1) the fact that you must marry a ubf person and 2) the fact that you cannot remain in ubf as a single person very long after college (which is a contradiction since SB never married).

    Maybe some are called to celibacy for life like SB? No! Not according to ubf directors. You simply must marry and your director/shepherd must have his/her say in the who, what, when, where, why and how of your marriage. They may be giving up some control of the “who” part of the equation, since that was never really a concern in the first place. ubf directors may not much about “who” to give the false impression that they are “progressive” or “reformed”.

    And then there is the massive intrusion and manipulation into your family after marriage that is often overlooked. The fact that you did MbF will be held over your head the rest of your life. If you want to leave you will be likely asked to meet separately with ubf directors/shepherds from your wife/husband (like we were in 2011).

    Hey newly married ubf couples, are you prepared to sleep apart as training the first months or even a year? (I was asked to do this and I said no after only one night). Are you prepared to say “no” when you are asked to sleep apart for some length of time? Are you willing to fight tooth and nail to protect your children?

    • @Brian: very important that you brought these up, and I’m very glad that you did so. My comment above was not all that I have to say about my marriage, just the good part. Absolutely, I’ve observed the manipulative parts of marriage in UBF are primarily in the what and why, and then the how, followed by the when. It would take way too many blogs to properly describe each one.

      @sheepherd1: just take it from us that the families that are strong in UBF are strong inspite of the ministry, not because of it. The marriage counselor once said to us, “The joke is on UBF; despite all their efforts to bring you together and then keep you apart, the two of you fell in love and are forming a strong and healthy family.”

    • In Russia I observed that in order to be in control of a “sheep”s life ubf directors MbF sheep right after their graduation. Otherwise sheep would go to their home town, parents, to find a job in another city, wherever. MbF is a very effective tool to keep people inside ubf system.

      One shepherd had to serve in the army as an officer. He went through MbF very urgently and only then went to the army. Two years later he came back and joined his family. He had never been a ubf-like person. He would surely not come back if not the MbF.

  18. big bear, I agree: “I am happy you have been blessed with a good 7 year marriage…I felt the same after 7 Years….pray much…be careful… ”

    7 years is the normal time when almost all marriages hit a wall. How you both work through that wall usually determines the rest of your marriage. I say this merely from observation and my own 19 year marriage. My grandparents have been married over 65 years, and they say the same thing. My grandpa gave me “marriage math” once. Normally you might think that 50% plus 50% equals 100%. But he said this does not work in marriage math. 50% plus 50% equals at most 50% and the marriage will almost always fall apart when each partner gives only half the effort, because in marriage “the two are one”. So therefore each partner must be willing to give 100%. So that you end up with 100%.

    Anyway what I really want to say is that I have observed that most human beings seem to have about a 6 to 8 year commitment span. So in ubf, many, many, many of my friends and myself included, hit major walls in our commitment to ubf at about 7 years. It seems normal in human relationships that we need to rebuild and rework every 7 years or so.

    The bottom line is that I feel strongly that we should challenge the ubf idea of ignoring the seasons of life.

    • Your marriage math sounds like a multiplication rather than addition.

      It seems that Scripture supports your 7-year theory for human commitments, as in the Sabbath-year laws, and setting free slaves after 7 years.

    • I think it is division :)

      (50 + 50) / 2 = 50

      (100 + 100) / 2 = 100

  19. big bear

    When I got married in Ubf, my director told me one day out of the blue…I have someone to meet in Chicago…went there but I confess I was desperate without a woman for 10 years…I knew it was now or never problem was when I got married and realized my wife was steeped in debt, could not cook, did not know much about anything and was from abusive family and yelled all the time and was not equally yoked with me….I drowned myself in mission to escape her depression and 5 kids…I endured 19 years by God grace…I was always treated as a project arfornd second rate shepherd…chapter director always used me as example…it a miracle he got married…but my ex was not a type of woman I would marry…the night before we got married she had a dream she was with my roommate…19 years later I had a dream she fell in love with a younger man and she left me…the dream was so vivid and it was true….I woke up in a sweat….she confessed it was true….God prepared my future……….in one year my whole world ended…I was so caught up in Ubf that I did not see the warning signs in ubf, marriag etc….stay tune for a tell all book…love to have a cowriter

    • @bigbear: “One day out of the blue…”

      Sorry that I laughed when I read that. It was not too different with me. One day after a Bible study, my shepherd said, “Today is a happy day…” and proceeded to give me a life testimony written by my wife.

      Strangely, a few months before we took a brief trip to Chicago, unbeknownst to me to see a different shepherdess candidate at a Friday meeting. It turned out that she didn’t attend the meeting. Perhaps she smelled something was up! Anyway, she wasn’t considered anymore, and I believe it was God’s hand directing my wife and I together.

      Prov 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

    • Joshua, in my case after our marriage we went to Moscow for a conference. And there the Moscow ubf director told me something like this, “We had a stratigic plan to marry your wife to a Moscow shepherd, unfortunately you have married her”. I felt very strange. Maybe the ubf presentation Brian linked to expresses my feelings well. I mean that I felt that I was “a product”, “a work force” who married another good (loyal) “product” and “work force” of ubf.

    • “in my case after our marriage we went to Moscow for a conference. And there the Moscow ubf director told me something like this, “We had a stratigic plan to marry your wife to a Moscow shepherd, unfortunately you have married her.”

      That is a good example, Vitaly, of why I say ubf chapter directors don’t care so much about “who”. They slyly know that “who” is of utmost importance to shepherds and shepherdesses however.

      At least you weren’t asked be married off while you were still married (as far as I know). That is what happened to me when I went to Korea for 10 days on s “short term journey”.

      I look younger than my age (or at least used to :) So one senior missionary took me to a “romantic river” and tried to convince me to marry by faith. I had to explain that I had already married by faith! Now this case was indeed a lack of knowledge on his part. But he is to blame for assuming I needed to marry by faith without asking me! He just smashed down my personal barrier and took the position of power and control. That is how ubf people are trained to be.

    • So in regard to “who” of marriage, the director’s concern is almost always “who” is going to serve where, not who is marrying who for the sake of the people, but only for the sake of supporting certain ministries.

  20. Without a doubt, there have been many great and wonderful marriages and families in UBF, perhaps more than unhappy ones. (I am sorry big bear that yours turned out the way it did.)

    Some leaders in UBF seem to want to “take credit” for the wonderful marriages in UBF, as though they are the cause of the great happy marriages. Theologically, this is a significant problem, since all good things that happens, including wonderful marriages, comes from God above (Jas 1:17), and not from UBF or from UBF’s “marriage by faith.”

    Those who want to “take credit” for the good, unfortunately do not similarly “take responsibility” for the bad, but remain silent or they distance themselves from the bad.

    Joshua’s quote is cute: “The joke is on UBF; despite all their efforts to bring you together and then keep you apart, the two of you fell in love and are forming a strong and healthy family.” – See more at:

  21. big bear

    Dr Ben Toh…I have been in UBF for over 29 years…I have not seen a good marriage in UBF where the kids were happy and the parents were truly happy…what I witnesses is a lot of pretending to be happy from parents and kids..a lot of mask from the those who belong to UBF…you are taught to put on an act in front of sheep and to disguise the bad and the ugly…the good is what you want people to see…perhaps you have a great marriage and family and others…but I have not witnesses a healthy family in UBF even from the top leaders…I could be wrong but I did not see it…

  22. During my talks to the director the missionaries always used the marriage card. I mean that my wife always argued with me and rebuked me and was on the side of “the perfect servants of God”. To “reconcile” I always had to step back and surpress my conscience. But when I left it was very natural. I don’t know but God prepared everything. My health condition didn’t allow me to attend any other ubf meeting. I felt that one more talk to the director and I literally die. But most importantly God’s hand was on my family. My wife who had always been on ubf side and used to cry (and once she said crying: “If you ever leave ubf you will completely ruin my life!”) this time acted according to her conscience before God. God opened her eyes. She talked to the “missionaries” and seeing no result and no hope stood firmly on my side. She began to ask questions and make suggestions and it made the “missionaries” furious. Actually she was kicked out of ubf because they couldn’t bear her anymore. It was God’s hand and God’s grace upon my family. Later she thanked me much that God saved her from ubf cult through me.

    The “missionaries” shouted to my wife, “Your husband has found a church for himself, now go to that church along with him! Don’t come here anymore!”. This kind of shouting was not the first one on in our chapter. Usually the director’s wife shouted this way to mean, “You can be sure that ubf is the best you can have and fear that you are one step from losing ubf!”. (This time her shouting didn’t work). Once when I argued with the director on Gen.1 his wife told me, “If you are so clever don’t come to the Bible study anymore”. Yes, “God worked in me mightily through this ubf missionary”! I asked her question to myself. And I understood that I had no need of coming to any ubf events! Why coming? What for?! I realized that I had not received anything from ubf Bible study, sw messages and “prayer” meetings for years! I received God’s word, God’s grace at home when reading the Bible and praying. And I received literally nothing in the ubf center. Now I attend a healthy church where pastor often says, “Study the Bible at home. Don’t be dependant on the church: today it is a healthy church tomorrow it can become a heresy. You should be Christians who follow Christ not a church and who give their life and service to the Lord. Do what the Lord teaches you to do”. So I join the words of many and even of the ubf missionaries, “Find a church and go there and don’t come to ubf anymore!”.

  23. I wanted to think and ask about such a thing: what if ubf changed and became non-abusive and free from “lording over” and Confucian things? (I don’t think this happens). Would ubf Bible study as it is attract you to ubf? Would your conscience allow you to stay in ubf and bear its teaching your whole life? Does the Lord want you to follow Him this “hard way”?

    Many have shared that ubf Bible teaching is not biblical almost on every Bible passage. To change ubf means to change its Bible approach, its teaching. But how? Will you argue at every “Bible study” meeting? Would you like and enjoy it? For how long is an intelligent person able to “study” the Bible in ubf? What do you think?

  24. @Vitaly, you are perhaps expressing the elitist or exclusive mindset/sentiment/attitude of many UBF missionaries that is is either UBF or bust.

    • Ben, I have come to that conclusion, yes, after 2+ years away from ubf. It really comes down to “ubf or bust”. I choose “bust”.

  25. @Vitaly, God works through His Spirit and His Word. Because of UBF missionaries earnestness and sincerity, I believe that you and many others were moved initially through their Bible teaching to accept Christ or to take Christianity and the Bible seriously.

    But after some years, nothing really changes. There is only more training, more self-denial, more sacrifice, more discipline, more, more, more from the same repeated Bible passages on mission.

    UBF rarely if ever teaches rest, so people are tired and burdened.

    We also rarely if ever teach or preach freedom, so people feel enslaved or trapped by the UBF system.

    We also don’t declare that Christ is the head of the church, so you have no choice but to “absolutely obey” your chapter director who is the practical and functional head of the church.

    • Correct Ben, on all accounts. And that is why I concluded 3 years ago that we do not need anymore testimony. ubf is a cult that wants to control your life. There are limited options: stay and fight, leave and shut up, or leave and be vocal. And yes of couse there is the choice to stay and submit. This is all really becoming clear for me. Are there any options besides these 4 options?

    • And I can find biblcal support for all four options. I guess the decision is how is Christ leading each of us?

      1. stay and submit
      2. stay and fight
      3. leave and shut up
      4. leave and be vocal

      ubf says only #1 and #3 are valid. I say all 4 are valid, although I strongly urge caution if someone chooses #1.

    • “But after some years, nothing really changes.”

      You may think so, but in realty, a lot changes. Your faith and salvation and thankfulness become more and more tied to UBF instead of Jesus. Your emotions and thougts become shallow and wither, like your social interaction outside of UBF. Your conscience gets numb, your ability to make decisions on your own and be accountable for your life and family shrivel. Your intellect becomes stunted. Your individual personality vanishes and you resemble more and more the mold of a UBF shepherd. Your understanding of God changes. Instead of a loving father, you start to fear him as a capricious ruler who will discard you when you make only one mistake and do not fulfil the requirements. A lot of things change, slowly and imperceptibly. It’s a process of spiritual and emotional degeneration.

    • @Chris: yes, and it takes a long time for the degeneration to be reversed. It takes a long time to repair the relationships that withered after years of neglect. It takes a long time, and a lot of prayer, to be able to accept that I am truly a son of God and He is my loving Father.

  26. Maybe a 5th option is to stay and resist, reject and repudiate anything that is “negative,” “discouraging,” or “UBF bashing.”

    • #6 Chapter Reform ( this can only happen from top down, if the leaders have been awakened by the Spirit, and God’s Word is preached accurately)

      With God all things are possible!

  27. sheepherd1


    “What did you ask them exactly? What does “it” refer to?”

    -I asked because my friends suddenly left UBF because they learn something about UBF and “Marriage by Faith.” So I went and ask.”Is it true that Marriage by Faith is a arranged marriage?” By the way sorry for the confusion, the “it” I was referring to was UBF’s Marriage by Faith.


    ” Did you once want to marry in UBF because many claim that divorce does not happen? Also, do you presently want to marry in UBF? How do you imagine the marriage process in UBF?

    – No,marriage never went in my mind. I don’t want to marry in UBF because I don’t go to UBF anymore even though if I was still there. I think I still can’t marry because i’m not loyal or obedient to UBF. I don’t know the process of marriage in UBF. Can you explain to me the process? Btw,I’m still in college so marriage is not in my mind.

  28. There are variances between chapters. For one, I came from a chapter that had just had a mass exodus of people before I entered. The conflicts and troubles that occurred caused my chapter to restrict marriage. Anyone in my home chapter had to perform with exceeds expectations or just stay the course. Needless to say, I was not married there – I rather fell between the cracks. By performing, I mean obedience and willingness to serve unconditionally. This means regular daily bread, fishing, receiving/giving Bible study, attending meetings/conferences, bringing sheep to conferences….the list is endless. Now, I have heard truthfully, that not all chapters are strict like what I have just explained, but you must remember that you are being groomed and everywhere there is a systematic approach.

    First, you are asked to prepare a life testimony with the intended goal being marriage. A lot of prayer is given to this. Also, you are probably asked to share the testimony at least once publicly at a meeting or conference. Usually, women get first refusal when accepting to read any life testimonies from candidates. Men usually get the follow-up, but I do not believe this to be the standard, just what I have heard and witnessed over the years. There may be variance between chapters.

    After that you either agree or disagree to meet. The meeting has formalities and yes even though you’re meeting with the intention to get engaged you are led around (and separated) by your shepherds and/or chapter directors. The engagement is confirmed through ceremony. Through this ceremony you are not obligated to say ‘yes’ but we have already discussed consequences of saying ‘no’. That in consideration, my wife rejected at least 2-3 possiblitities before saying ‘yes’ about me and there were no consequences for her.

    The rest depends on case by case situation between the time of engagement and the wedding.

    Please refer to the following links:

  29. @gc: when I met my wife for the first time, we were with our directors’ wives and went out for lunch. Then we visited the university just her and I. I was surprised that we were given time alone! Then we joined all together for dinner and she went to her leaders testimony meeting. The next morning we had daily bread together just her and I, and then I left for the airport. The next time I saw her, I proposed. Before my proposal, I was really nervous because there was a whole engagement ceremony afterwards with coworkers from all around Canada. I was so nervous that I barely popped the question in time to make it to the ceremony!

  30. Hey, Joshua, yeah, I know some variances. I too had freedoms, actually, but I was addressing a more generic experience. We could even discuss the relevancy for spiritually superior spouses contrasting spiritually deficient ones and rationale behind compatibilities. You are gonna call me out one these days ;) In time I will share my raw and exposed details, but for now, I am limiting myself….believe me….I may have to quit contributing here. I am getting closer and closer to just saying what has been happening in my family for the past while, but I know that the impact hits not only me, but also my family. This is a warning for any unmarried people in UBF – the question of openly discussing controversies and potential for leaving should be mutual between husband and wife unless you have no problem divorcing because of a loyalty to UBF.

    • It’s no wonder that there are variances, since the whole concept of MbF is not officially documented, as so many teachings and practices of UBF. There are no official instructions of “How to conduct a MbF” for chapter directors. Actually, there is not “handbook for chapter directors” at all. It all works only by copying the behavior of DL (director Lee), or some other director who himself directly or indirectly copied DL. But MbF is considered an element of “spiritual heritage” and therefore taken very seriously. It is also taken seriously because it is a mighty instrument in UBFs toolbox for manipulating people.

      Let me give an example from my chapter in Heidelberg, Germany. This was 10 years ago, but the same director Hong (DH) is probably still in control. (It is difficult to find out, because even though the director holds so much power, he is usually not mentioned on the official homepage – these people want to have all the power, but they never want to be held accountable and stay invisible for outsiders. When there were questions from the media or the landlord, the director sent me or somebody else ahead as his speakers; he avoided to appear in public.)

      So in our chapter there was a shepherdess (S.) who had been about 5 years in UBF. She was praised a lot because she was very busy fishing and had many sheep. There was also a “brother” (“shepherd candidate”) (A.) who had been in UBF only about 1 years. He had a strong Christian background and knowledge and opinion of his own. Therefore, and because of his junior status in UBF, he was not so much respected. Anyway, these two somehow fell in love; they secretly prayed with each other and became convinced it was God’s will that they should marry. (In fact, they really fit together very well; every normal person would have immediately agreed it was a match made in heaven.) So they came out and S revealed her plans to her shepherdess, the wife of DH. She expected that she would be blessed. And A did not expect problems anyway, because he did not yet know the dark side of UBF. Both were pretty naïve. You all can guess what happened:

      S. was told to repent for her “sinful desire”. Everybody in the chapter was told she had fallen into sin and we needed to pray for her. A. was told to not visit our chapter anymore and to get training in the national headquarters for some years (which was impossible for him because his study course was only offered at our university, that’s why he came to Heidelberg in the first place, and the director knew this very well, so he was basically telling him to quit his university study).

      S. kept strong and kept insisting that she wanted to marry A. because they both felt it was the will of God. DH and his wife also kept strong and kept insisting it was sin. (The sin of course was that they made a decision of their own. You are not allowed to make decisions on your own in UBF – particularly not if these decisions are about your own life.) In the end, S. had only the choice between A. and UBF. Even though she was a very loyal person and usually submissive, this time she decided for A. and to marry anyway. Still, she did not want to cut ties with UBF. But when she did not “repent” for wanting to marry, she was expelled and needed to find another church to get married. They chose a very strict Evangelical church in Heidelberg where they were accepted and got married after some weeks of marriage preparation. For her marriage, she invited all her old friends of UBF, but nobody came except me and my wife (we made the wedding cake for them). Even after all that happened, she did not want to speak badly of UBF. (You see, dropouts behave very differently – some speak up, some silently swallow everything.) A. and S. happily lived together and became active members of the church and teachers in the Christian school associated with the church.

      Later when I spoke with a missionary about why they were not allowed to marry, he answered: “DH needed to make an example of them. If he allowed people one time to marry on their own decision, everybody would want do that.” For the first time I heard someone acknowledge that this was really a strict rule. Nobody really knew how strict it was, because nobody dared to try it out. And as long as you do not try it out today, you will also not know whether it is effective today or not. It is a hidden, unspoken rule, a typical sign of a cult. Yet, this rule that you are not allowed to marry based on your own decision (which is a part of the rule set of MbF) was kept very strictly in my chapter, even though it was nowhere written down and never really communicated. A. and maybe not even S. did not know about the strictness of that rule before.

      What I want to see from UBF Heidelberg and Chicago is this: Frankly and public admit that this rule existed. Frankly and publicly apologize and renounce that rule.

      You may say that my chapter was particularly strict. No, it was average in Germany; there were chapter directors who were even more authoritarian and abusive. Also, DH became European director shortly afterwards. So he was a representative of UBF and widely acknowledged. Nobody criticized him. All the missionaries in my chapter accepted his decisions and nobody protested when he and his wife said that S. “had fallen into sin”.

      Also, and this is my main point, DH did not behave like that because it was his own idea. Everything he did was done exactly the way he had learned from DL. He believed that DL was a specially anointed servant of God whose methods and ways he and all of UBF must follow, even if we didn’t understand what DL did and even if we thought it was unbiblical. He said there may be “misunderstandings” because we do not know all things and are generally not so wise, but in the end, if we simply obey, we would do the right thing.

      This is why I as a German am so adamant in my assessment of DL. If not for DL, the marriage of S. and A. wouldn’t have been such a mess. It should have been the happiest time in their life, but it was the hell they had to go through and almost their marriage was doomed because of DHs silly intervention.

      By the way, even though I married in UBF, we also went through hell because DH tried to intervene and impede our marriage in the last moment even though we were already engaged for a year. And DH did all of this not based on his own ideas, but based on the example given to him by DL.

      All these problems around marriage were already mentioned in the 1976 open letter. If DL had taken the letter to heart and repented, everything would have been solved. But he never repented, and that’s why we have this struggle and fighting and tears and division and hurt even after his death. The only way to solve this would be for his official successor to apologize and repent. No other way will do.

      And as long as UBF has not openly admitted their former practice of MbF and openly renounced it, I will advise everyone against staying in UBF and trusting their marriage into the hands of UBF leaders.

  31. I have a story from my childhood. I lived in a small peaceful town. And children from big cities came to our town for summer. I had friends and once upon a time a city boy joined us. We accepted him and played together. But one day he suddenly said to my friends, “Let’s throw stones at this swine!”. We all were stunned. Then he began throwing stones at me. He didn’t know I was very good in throwing stones )) And he didn’t know that my friends were my real friends. So he left crying many tears.

    I find that ubf directors act the same way the city boy did. They come to a foreign country. They claim that they are the servants of God and so they are higher than natives. They fool natives with this doctine and then freely say anything they want like, “All Russians are irresponsible!”. We are hospitable and can accept different people. But who will accept abusing foreigner for a long time?!

    Despite ubf Bible abuse Jesus makes friends with “sheep”. He wants to be their gracious and powerful and blessing Lord. But the “missionaries” after the “sheep” are born again begin to describe and present (and replace) Jesus in a quite foreign ugly way as if they intentionally try to interfere and destroy Jesus’ friendship. We (Jesus’ friends and actually Jesus’ servants for he is our Lord) don’t like when someone try to destroy our friendship. But what is worse for the destroyers is that Jesus doesn’t like it either.

  32. A Study Bible says, “There are both good and bad angels, but because bad angels are allied with the devil, or Satan, they have considerably less power and authority than good angels. Eventually the main role of angels will be to offer continious praise to God”.

    Through this quote I can see that really “bad angels” are like people who like to live and eat among the rubbish heaps and graveyards. They are not normal angels, they are not great. They do their small ugly things.

    And it is very interesting that there is no such thing as “angel-possessed” person in the Bible. Angels worship the Lord and bring people to worship the Lord. They don’t want to “possess” anyone. But Satan and demons who have “less authority” are happy when they can possess and control someone.

    As I wrote previously, a good pastor is a “visible invisible” (as John Stott puts it), he is like a good interpreter. Such pastor doesn’t want to “possess” someone’s life. Isn’t it a satanic and demonic desire when someone wants to have “authority” in the church, to “possess” and control someone life?