The Only Necessary Thing

c1Forgiveness is such an important subject and one of the main teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught his disciples to forgive those who wronged to them seventy times seven which means endless forgiveness. Henri Nouwen is a Catholic priest. He taught at the University of Nortre Dame, Harvard, and Yale. I first met him through reading one of his books, “The Prodigal Son” several years ago. This book gave great impact on me.

In this book, “The Only Necessary Thing” Nouwen mentioned his own experience of hurt and pain. He confessed like this, “I am struck by how I cling to my own wounded self. Why do I think so much about the people who have offended or hurt me? Why do I allow to have so much power over my feelings and emotions?”

Most of these quotes are from the section of “Forgiveness” in this book.

We are all wounded people. Who wounds us? Often those whom we love and those who love us. When we feel rejected, abandoned, manipulated or violated, it is mostly by people very close to us: –Those who love us wound us too. That’s the tragedy of our lives. That is what forgiveness from the heart so difficult.—Forgiveness often seems impossible, but nothing is impossible for God. The God who lives within us will give us the grace to go beyond our wounded selves and say, “In the Name of God you are forgiven.”

In our context, those whom we love can be trusted shepherds and bible teachers.

Forgiveness means that I continually am willing to forgive the other person for not being Godfor not fulfilling all my needs. I, too, must ask forgiveness for not being able to fulfill other people’s needs.

Our heart—the center of our being—is a part of God. Thus, our heart longs for satisfaction for total communion. But human beings, whether it is your husband, or your wife, or your father or your mother, your brother, sister or child, they all so limited in giving that which we crave. But since we want so much and we get only part of what we want, we have to keep on forgiving people for not giving us all we want.

We have certain expectations from others and when these things are not met we feel betrayed and hurt. But even that we can accept positively from God’s point of view. There is reason to celebrate.

The interesting thing is that when you can forgive people for not being God then you can celebrate that they are a reflection of God. You can say, “Since you are not God, I love you because you have such beautiful gifts of God’s love.” You don’t have everything of God, but what you have to offer is worth celebrating. By celebrate I mean to lift up, affirm, confirm, to rejoice in another person’s gifts.

One of the solutions to overcome our hurt feeling is to detach a person and sin in him or her. Bible teaches us to love a person but hate the sin in one’s heart. This is the way to true freedom in God. We have to make decision not to allow the hurt feeling to overpower on us. Then we can make the first movement in our dance with God.

Healing begins not where our pain is taken away, but where it can be shared and seen as part of a larger pain. The first task of healing, therefore, is to take out many problems and pains out of their isolation and place them at the center of great battle against the Evil One.

As we create the space to mourn, we free ourselves little by little from the grip of the Evil One and come to discover in the midst of our grief that the same Spirit who calls us to mourn stirs us to make the first movement in our dance with God.

–We have to forgive our church and civil leaders for their ambitions and manipulations. Beyond all that, we have to forgive all those who torture, kill, rape, destroy—who make this world such a dark place. And we, ourselves, also have to beg forgiveness. The older we become, the more clearly we see that we too, have wounded others deeply, and are part of a society of violence and destruction. It is very difficult to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. But without this, we remain fettered to our past—unable to dance—

Forgiveness is the great spiritual weapon against the Evil One. As long as we remain victim of anger and resentment, the power of darkness can continue to divide us and tempt us with endless power game. But when we forgive those who threaten our lives, they lose their power over us—Forgiveness enables us to take the first step of the dance.

Forgiveness is made possible by the knowledge that human being cannot offer us what only God can give. Once we have heard the voice calling us the Beloved, accepted the gift of full communion and claimed the first unconditional love, we can see easily—with the eyes of a repentant heart—how we have demanded of people a love that only God can give. It is the knowledge of that first love that allows us to forgive those who have only a “second” love to offer.

All our human love is “second” love comparing the great first love of God.

Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all of us love poorly. We do not know what we are doing when we hurt others. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour unceasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family. The voice that calls us the Beloved is the voice of freedom because it sets us free to love without wanting anything in return.

But each time you pray really pray for your enemies, you’ll notice that your heart is being made new. Within your prayer, you quickly discover that your enemies are in fact your fellow human beings loved by God just as much as yourself. The result is that the walls you’ve thrown up between “him and me” “us and them” “ours and theirs” disappear.

I find it difficult to conceive of a more concrete way to love than by praying for one’s enemies. It makes you conscious of the hard fact that, in God’s eyes, you’re no more and no less worthy of being loved than any other person, and it creates an awareness of profound solidarity with all other human beings.



  1. James,

    How do you forgive someone who abuses power and authority? How can you forgive yourself for allowing someone to control your life? How do you forgive a religious system that controlled your life for decades?

  2. Mark Mederich

    wow, sounds like free license for us too, to do anything anytime & we simply must be forgiven (or am i applying too much reverse psychology:)

    i think it’s time to defeat people at their own game (oh, no i sound competitive now); although i got the point of prayer/forgiveness, i also must point out: if leaders don’t need accountability at all, then certainly followers need even less..i’m starting to like religion after all..

  3. James,

    Are you saying that exUBFers should forgive abusive UBF missionaries?

    I am wondering, “Do abusive UBF missionaries and chapter directors forgive from their whole hearts ‘their sheep’ who now comment and critique them clearly and publicly and repeatedly?”

  4. Thank you, James. As far as I understand from the article and from your previous ones you personally had many wounds while being in ubf under some shepherds and leaders. And you found power in Jesus to forgive those who abused you (possibly for decades).

    And how do you express your love to those who abused and manipulated your life now after you forgave them? Do you honestly say them the truth so that they could repent and be saved from God’s judgement? Or do you stay silent and trust it to God?

    And I am sure that if you were abused and wounded and manupilated yourself then now you know what it means to be a “victim” and so you don’t abuse anymore and don’t lord over God’s flock but rather protect God’s flock from abusive leaders and fight a good fight for the freedom of God’s precious sheep and for the freedom of the work of the Holy Spirit and of His gifts in His children in the Church.

    Is my understanding correct? (I ask this because it is rather difficult to understand you and your feelings for you give only quotes without your personal story or opinion)

    • James Kim

      Vitaly, thank you for your comment. I agree with you.

  5. James, some comments and questions regarding your posting:

    * I don’t think for any of us it was a problem that we did not get what we want or “got only part of what we want”. We didn’t expect anything from the leaders. The problems was the other way around, they expected things from us.

    * Do you think it is appropriate for a UBF leader to give people abused by UBF the advice to simply forgive, without apologizing and clearly admitting the abuse in the first place?

    * Do you clearly admit that the behavior of Samuel Lee and many others who followed his example (some examples were given in was abusive and sinful? Do you think corporate repentance and apology is necessary?

    * Do you think it is appropriate for a UBF leader to continue “teach” disgruntled UBF members and ex members in such ways instead to listen to them and respond to their questions and concerns?

    * Do you agree with me that, besides the concrete abuse done by leaders, there are systemic sins and flaws in the teachings and practices of UBF that will continue to hurt people? Forgiveness is not a good solution to this problem. I can forgive a person, but can I forgive a wrong teaching? What should we do about these wrong teachings?

    * You wrote “Jesus taught his disciples to forgive those who wronged to them seventy times seven which means endless forgiveness.” You are referring to Mt 18:21-22 here. But Mt 18:21-22 is a sequel to Mt 18:15-18. So it assumes forgiving a brother who repented. Mt 18:15-21 clearly says that there is no “endless forgiveness” for sin committed in the church. There are clear steps to be taken and the last step for an unrepentant sinner is not “forgive anyway endlessly” but the last step is clearly “treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector”.

    * Can you explain to me why in 1Cor 5, Paul recommended to “expel the wicked person” instead of “forgive the wicked person” if forgiveness is really the one necessary thing? This is a honest question to you. Please explain.

    * It seems for Nouwen prayer is “the only necessary thing”. I think it is more Biblically to say that “knowing Jesus” or “learning from Jesus” is “the only necessary thing” (based on Lk 10:38-42). But if you assume that prayer is “the only necessary thing” then why is UBF so obsessed with mission instead of prayer? Why is prayer and living a spiritual life then not enough for UBF?

    * Nouwen was a Catholic priest. How do you think the Catholic church should deal with the recent cases of child abuse in so many different countries? Do you think talking about forgiveness is enough and should be the first step?

    * Why are you almost only quote passages from books instead of taking part in the discussion and responding to our concrete questions and concerns?

    • Mark Mederich

      yeah, priests & bishops should have been forgiven without question or consequence:)

  6. @James: “Why do I think so much about the people who have offended or hurt me?” – See more at:

    I’ve been told that thinking about how people offended or hurt me is very normal. It is a healthy and normal part of the healing process. It demonstrates that while the relationship is severed externally, internally the emotional connection and the relational feelings still exist and take longer to disassociate. My counselor said that it is normal for separated or divorced couples to drive by each others’ homes, check out each others’ facebook pages, and so forth, even for years after the relationship has been terminated. Similarly, I spend a lot of time thinking about UBF and writing down my experiences and thoughts here. It is not because I have unforgiveness, bitterness, or resentment bottled up in my heart. It is because my emotions and my soul cannot instantly end the relationships that were so dear to me for the past 10 years. Sometimes I ask myself if I will ever stop thinking about UBF. I suppose it may happen, but I’m not there yet. And that’s okay. Sometimes I sneak past my former director’s home. I am curious about what he’s doing, and what his kids are doing. It shows that I love him deeply and my emotions and soul cannot let go of that love so quickly.

    I cannot speak for others, but for myself, I write what I write not because of unforgiveness, but because of a deep compassion for the unhealthiness and dysfunctionality I see in the UBF ministry. I believe that the sincere people there are not well nourished and not well supported in their Christian walk, as I wasn’t, and it breaks my heart. My words often fail to convey what is in my heart, but my motive is restoration, not retribution. I believe that your motive is the same too, right?

    • +1 +1 +1 +1!

    • This is very helpful, Joshua. I wish I had left ubf after only 10 years or so, instead of staying for 24 years. I admit freely that I write out of a mixture of compassion, anger, bitterness, unforgivness, hatred and love. It’s all mixed up for me. But this website helps me immensely to work through all these feelings I suppressed and denied for so many years. It is so liberating to kill my KOPHN fantasy self and take my ubf mask off and just be me, ugly, crazy, beautiful me.

    • In Christ, even the so-called “ugly, crazy” is beautiful!

    • James Kim

      @Joshua, thank you for your comment and your heart desire/ prayer for restoration, not retribution.

  7. James,

    “We have certain expectations from others and when these things are not met we feel betrayed and hurt. But even that we can accept positively from God’s point of view. There is reason to celebrate.”

    This is not my problem, and from what I can tell, it is not the problem of almost any exubfer. Our problem is not that expectations were not met from ubf shepherds. Our problem is that ubf shepherds expected us to conform to ubf ideology and support ubf heritage and be thankful to them for the rest of our lives. Turning the tables doesn’t help anyone.

    “One of the solutions to overcome our hurt feeling is to detach a person and sin in him or her. Bible teaches us to love a person but hate the sin in one’s heart.”

    This is highly unhealthy and in fact is one of the main reasons I will never return to ubf. Detaching from reality? How can that be healthy? I am a sinner. God loves me, sinner though I am. If there is any “expectation” I had for ubf shepherds it is simply that they get off their high horse and admit that they are human beings like the rest of us. Instead, they detach themselves from reality and create some sort of a KOPHN fantasy view of themselves. So they can say “I am the worst of sinners, but no problem, I am a KOPHN, anointed by God to teach the bible.”

    And where do you find this teaching in the bible? “love a person but hate the sin in one’s heart.” That sounds more like Christianized Confucianism to me. Maybe I’m wrong, but please show me why you think the bible teaches this.

    • Brian, I don’t think the detaching of a person’s sin from a person’s self is a bad or unbiblical thing, and I don’t think it has something to do with detaching from reality. Personally, I try to do this, even if it’s difficult. I really hate what my chapter director did to me and others, and I know that he has not repented for this, so that I would not even want to shake his hand, but on the other side, I seriously and honestly still love him as a person, because I see him as more than the sin that has taken posession of him. I know he has many good sides and would have been different if he had not fallen into that sin trap that changed and distorted his true self which would be much nicer and which may appear again one day and shine if he starts to repent.

    • Mark Mederich

      detaching from reality, sounds like a psychedelic experience:)
      perhaps we’re missing all the fun

    • “I don’t think the detaching of a person’s sin from a person’s self is a bad or unbiblical thing”

      Perhaps we are seeing this from two angles. Now that you explain detaching sin from another person, especially one who has done harm, I see this can be a healthy coping mechanism. And that I agree with. I have had to detach sin from people in my mind in order to cope at times. Perhaps I can see this teaching in the bible.

      I read this as more of a self-view, as in detaching my own sin from my own self. I see such a self-view as escapism. I don’t see the bible teaching us to detach sin from self, but to surrender to grace as as we are.

    • James Kim

      @Brian,Romans 7:7-25 comes to my mind when we talk about detachment.

  8. big bear

    James and all of UBF,

    Yes, forgiveness is one thing but deliberate abuse and ignoring the realities of UBF is another. Where in the gospels did you see Jesus abuse anyone? What about his disciples, they were sinners for sure, but they never used their calling to cover up sin or to do evil? What about the power hungry people in UBF who deliberately hurt and defile God’s people where many have to go through years of counseling and prayerful healing at a healthy church? I am convinced more and more that the Korean culture and mentality has infiltrated into the chapters and make families to be abused and sheep in the name of Korean pride. Dr. Samuel Lee was a very proud man and did many harmful things including permitting an abortion and many other things in the name of serving God. The problem is when you join UBF these facts are hidden from you until you are hooked then you say to yourself, “I met Jesus here so I guess all the other things are acceptable.” We must fight against sin and corruption in our churches and for sin to be sin. Yes, there is forgiveness but it is not a license to sin refer to Romans.

    • Mark Mederich

      the problem is there is so much hidden & so much lies that we can only say like Pilate: ‘what is truth’

  9. James,

    Your book review implies that forgiveness is the only necessary thing. But I find this an unfair review. I’ve not read the book, but any cursory glance tells us that the late Nouwen’s point was that prayer is the only necessary thing.

    Here is a quote from his book: “Prayer is the center of the Christian life. It is the only necessary thing. It is living with God in the here and now.” I would suggest our readers read the reviews of this book on Amazon

    I think Nouwen has a valid point to consider. Indeed, we should dig deeper into the value of prayer.

    I hope one day James you could pray and let go of your ubf mask, and actually answer some of the questions posed to you here, even if the questions do come from exubfers mostly. I really hope you are not waiting until Joe responds…ignoring questions just because they come from ex members.

    • Mark Mederich

      i guess if you wait long enough, everyone will be ex-members who likewise learn to ignore questions

  10. “The voice that calls us the Beloved is the voice of freedom because it sets us free to love without wanting anything in return.”

    Great quote by Nouwen. Maybe this could be the tagline of the upcoming ISBC?

    Something like “So loved. So freely loved that we don’t expect anything in return for your loyalty! We love you and do not expect you to support ubf heritage for the rest of your life.”

  11. Okay, once again we enter the classroom and our textbook is The Only Necessary Thing. Our guest lecturer is JK. Fine.

    I fail to see that exmembers who speak up need to forgive. It is true that motivation to drive anyone to speak up and pursue something could come from unforgiveness, but that is a simple, one-dimensional way of viewing their endeavor. Speaking up has been rather a call for accountability. It is driven by both personal experience and also observation of persistent and justified wrong doings in the name of Christ.

    If UBF had been named after the founder than it could be more palatable to accept abuses. But its name includes the Bible, therefore people have an expectation that it is an abuse free zone (which is impossible with man), and for this reason people are speaking up. This is not out of unforgiveness, but out of forgiveness and a call for accountability. Do you really believe Big Bear, Brian, Joshua, Chris, Vitaly, Abraham N. and so many others wanted to close this chapter in their life? They most likely had to, because it was destroying them. It must be understood that being a silent or invisible reader is very easy because only God sees you. But actually making comments and your identity known is a step forward regardless of what you may have said. It is a sign of willingness to speak with others.

    I will not comment on the other thread any longer, because the argument for/against positive and negative commentary is a sham. UBFriends opens a public place for people to read, comment and even contribute. The fact remains that “in house” efforts only work when you break spiritual order and consult with someone who is a safe distance from the problem to become mediator. That being said, depending on who and what is being discussed matters very much.

    Please don’t talk about love. What’s love got to do with it? There are many shepherds who do act out of love, but sadly we are not referring to them. The majority of leaders who have been referred to negatively served with ambition to be somebody important. When they served they acted according to a script of love, but not out of love itself. I am sorry to point this out.

    Is it really important for the spiritual growth of a sheep to be paraded around to both national and international chapters so that “they” become known among leaders? Really?! Who is this action meant for – the student or the shepherd? I have been around Koreans for so long – long before UBF and even I understood at my engagement ceremony that someone was getting a pat on the back for establishing another house church. This is all part of climbing the UBF ladder. Frankly speaking this is more disgusting than examples of the shark tank in corporations. At least the corporation does not claim to be any more than money – but a church… A church is made up of sinners, but that is not an excuse – that is why people will continue to speak up about accountability. If you are truly a repentant sinner – then you should own your errors and misdeeds.

    For me, I know people rarely here me say I forgive someone, but that is my character. My expression of forgiveness is usually in a gesture or an action. For example, everyone knows that I had dispute with my original shepherd for a long time, but that never changed my love or forgiveness to him. It was so much so, that when I did marry I specially requested he be given priority as a prayer servant during the ceremony. His active participation in my life was very important despite the fact that I had some hard feelings at times in our relationship.

    • Mark Mederich


      what’s love but a 2nd hand emotion..

      blind obedience: a long gone, absolutely obsolete modus operandi

  12. Sibboleth

    I find this hard-to-find Rick Warren sermon to be notable for its descriptions of what forgiveness is, and more for its descriptions of what forgiveness isn’t:

    (I grabbed the following excerpts from somewhere else.)


    When somebody comes and asks for your forgiveness and you say, “It’s no big deal. It really didn’t hurt. as if it wasn’t a big deal, you don’t need forgiveness, and you don’t need to offer it. That actually cheapens forgiveness. Forgiveness is only for the big stuff. You don’t use it for little slights that are just minor issues. If it really requires forgiveness then you should not minimize it when somebody asks you for forgiveness.


    Just saying “I’m sorry,” is not enough. In fact, the Bible teaches three things are essential to resume a relationship that’s been broken: repentance, restitution and rebuilding trust. You have to be genuinely repentant and truly saddened about what you did. That’s not just saying, “I’m sorry.” It means saying, “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” … And rebuilding trust, friends, takes a long, long time. Forgiveness is instant. When somebody hurts you, you have to forgive them immediately. But trust is something that’s rebuilt over a period of time. It must be re-earned.

    In our culture, most people don’t get this. Whenever a political leader, a religious leader, an academic leader or anyone like this gets caught in a scandal of any kind, there will always be some people who say, “We’re all imperfect. We’re all human. We need to just forgive him and keep on going.” Yes, you must forgive him immediately. But the Bible says trust is built on time. All leaders must have trust and credibility. It’s the currency they live in. And that isn’t going to happen instantly.


    You’ve heard this phrase over and over: forgive and forget, forgive and forget. There’s only one problem with it. You can’t do it. It’s impossible. You really can’t forget a hurt that’s been in your life. It’s like when you go on a diet, you think about food all the time. You think about it more than when you’re not on a diet. You actually focus on it. The only way you can forget something is to actually refocus on something else.

    But forgetting is not what God wants you to do. There’s something better than forgiving and forgetting. What’s more important than forgetting is actually remembering the hurt and then seeing how God brought good out of it.

    One of the greatest verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28. “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose.” It doesn’t say that all things are good because all things are not good. Cancer is not good. Disease is not good. Death is not good. Divorce is not good. War is not good. Rape and abuse is not good. There are a lot of bad things in life that are evil. Not everything that happens in this world is God’s will, but that’s why we need God in our lives. … So forgiveness isn’t forgetting what happened, it’s about finding what good came out of it.

    And by the way, forgiveness never eliminates the consequence of the sin. A prisoner can be repentant and be forgiven but he’s still got to serve his time and pay his debt to society. There are always consequences to sin. It always hurts somebody. Forgiveness doesn’t get rid of the consequences.

    You can actually pray for God to bless the person who hurt you. The Bible says, “Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. And pray for those who mistreat you.” One of the ways you know you’ve matured, that you’re a mature person, is that you can look beyond the hurt that was done to you and see their hurt and what caused them to hurt you. Hurt people, hurt people.

    Once I forgive them I can stop looking at how they hurt me and start seeing why they did it. I can actually be sympathetic and begin to pray for them, for the hurt they carry that caused them to hurt others. I relinquish my right to get even. I respond to evil with good.

    • I once heard someone say “Forgiveness is when you can remember the hurt without feeling the pain.”

    • Good quotes about forgiveness. But let’s not forget that the problems we are dealing with have an even larger dimension. It’s not only “ordinary” sin of one person hurting another, that can be solved between these people by apology and forgiveness. It is not only the individual hurt and the individual cases of abuse. Sure, all of these need to be handled, and forgiveness is part of the solution. But there is another dimension to the problem. Our case is “extra-ordinary” in that it is systemic sin, a whole pattern of abuse, due to wrong teachings and practices that effect a whole ministry, and not even one chapter, but to more or less extend all chapters of this ministry. This is more like the sin of the churches mentioned in Rev 2 and 3, where the churches are accused of tolerating certain people as spiritual leaders and holding fast to certain wrong teachings. In our case, we could say the problem is that UBF tolerated certain leaders even after their spiritual abuse of church members had been clearly reported and documented, and also holds fast to the wrong teachings of shepherding/discipling in the the form of “UBF spiritual heritage”. The problem of UBF is even on a larger scale and even systemic than the problems mentioned in Rev 2 and 3, because they affect so many chapters of UBF (local churches if you will), while the problems in Rev 2 and 3 were clearly individual problems of individual local churches only. Such problems cannot be solved by forgiveness. Or do you see “forgiveness” mentioned as a solution anywhere in Rev 2 and 3? I see only the word “repentance”. I agree that forgiveness is an important thing that needs to be talked about when we come to the individual cases of abuse, but it is only a part of the larger problem that UBF as a whole needs to repent.

    • James Kim

      @Sibboleth, thank you for your comment.
      “You can actually pray for God to bless the person who hurt you. The Bible says, “Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. And pray for those who mistreat you.” One of the ways you know you’ve matured, that you’re a mature person, is that you can look beyond the hurt that was done to you and see their hurt and what caused them to hurt you.”

    • Sibboleth

      “Even so, now I realize that there are so many innocent victims and my silence cannot be justified any longer. My forgiveness also does not exclude speaking the truth (Eph 4:15).”

      That was the late Jimmy Rhee giving another perspective on forgiveness, a perspective that I think is not inconsistent with Rick Warren’s.

  13. Joe Schafer

    James, your article is about forgiveness.

    After closely observing the leaders in your organization, I believe that they do not want forgiveness. Forgiveness requires the acknowledgment of wrongdoing. An admission that beyond the platitudes of “No church is perfect,” and “We’re all sinners, aren’t we?” which minimize what they have done.

    I believe that many of the people who have been hurt by UBF leaders are ready to forgive. But those leaders don’t seem to want forgiveness.

    If they wanted forgiveness, then they would actually ask for it.

    • James Kim

      Joe, recently GD made a reconciliation committee. We want to acknowledge our wrongdoings and apologize. We welcome you and Ben for this endeavor.

    • James, your words remind me of something a famous US politician said after the epic Republican loss in 2012:

      (paraphrase) “Outreach is not 5 white guys sitting around a table calling Latinos. Outreach is having Latinos, blacks, etc. sitting at the table making decisions to revolutionize the party.”

      In the ubf context this would be: “Reconciliation is not 5 ubf men sitting around a table sending letters to former members. Reconciliation is having former members, women, etc. sitting at the table making decisions to revolutionize the organization.”

    • As a sign that you are serious about reconciliation, could you please answer my question whether – according to your personal opinion – the behavior of the UBF founder Samuel Lee (as listed in the article ttp:// was abusive and sinful? This is an important question because the things SL did were the prototype of nearly all abuse that happened in UBF committed by people who followed his teachings and practice and example of raising disciples.

      It would be also nice if you would answer my other questions, too, but this was the most important one. Please don’t always cherry-pick only the easiest-to-answer question and avoid answering all the other really important questions.

    • James Kim

      @Chris, I wrote this before and now I write again. I see S Lee is good and bad and ugly. I love him and I hate the sin of pride in him. No more no less. This applies to you and me too. I see your problem is that you made a forgone conclusion that he is bad/evil. I do not agree with that.

    • Joe Schafer

      James, you wrote: “I love him and I hate the sin of pride in him. No more no less. This applies to you and me too.”

      The sin of pride is in everyone, myself included. That is beyond dispute.

      But that’s not what we have been talking about.

      We have been talking about regular, repeated overstepping of pastoral authority that controlled, manipulated, damaged the lives of many people under the guise of discipleship. It’s important to me that the leaders of your organization acknowledge that this has happened, and that they have participated in it. If not, then why start a reconciliation committee?

    • @James, as Joe already answered, this was not my question. I did not ask whether SL as a person was a good man or a bad man. I asked whether his behavior patterns in his function as general director were – in your opinion – abusive and sinful. We may speculate whether there was a deeper, underlying sin like pride visible in his behavior. But even that was not my question. My question was only about the concrete cases of abuse which formed a certain pattern, about the way he exerted authority and prescribed training. Was this pattern abusive and sinful? You can even abstract from the person Samuel Lee. Imagine somebody else did exact these same things. Do you think they were abusive and sinful? That was my question.

    • David Bychkov

      Joe, Chris, could we ask if the committee would be ready to consider the hurt which was caused not only by individuals as individual cases but was a result of systematic fundamental issues in organization including the patterns which was shown by it’s founder?

    • David Bychkov

      James, don’t you think that involving 3rd party organization in this process would be very helpful? I know there are agencies who are doing this quite well (e.g.

    • David Bychkov

      The abuses and the core values and practices of UBF are so deeply connected, so many people are in one or another way involved in these practices, so many people claims they were hurt by UBF, so I just can not imagine how UBF can solve it in a reasonable way. So I think if UBF would be really willing to recouncil with many-many of her former members and to correct her values/teachings she desparately need external help.

    • David Bychkov

      here is one example of the investigation of systematic abuse:

    • A good example, David. I’m sure a lot of good things can be said about NTM as well. Still there was that horrible pattern of abuse. It was different from UBF, but there is one point in common: “When missionaries are also parents, New Tribes generally requires their children to live in dorm schools owned and operated by New Tribes. The children are under the constant care and supervision of New Tribes teachers and “dorm parents,” couples who live with the kids and care for them in place of their parents.” This is a recipe for disaster. If you have a family and children, you must care first and foremost for them, not about mission. You must not give them away (as has been demanded in some cases from UBF parents as well) or neglect them in the name of mission. If you want to devote your life fully to mission, then don’t marry or at least don’t have children. It’s as simple as that.

    • The one necessary thing for UBF to he healed is not forgivenes. It is coming into and living in the light. Here are some wonderful Bible study notes (mostly collection of Bible verses) which explain so very well what is needed:

      It is really worthwile to stop and carefully read all the verses listed there.

      Quote: “In the light, we experience forgiveness, love, healing, and fellowship.”

      Forgiveness will come automatically when people start to live in the light.

      1 Jn 1:5-10 “Here then is the message which we heard from him and now proclaim to you: GOD IS LIGHT and no shadow of darkness can exist in him. Consequently, if we were to say that we enjoyed fellowship with him and still went on living in darkness, we should be both telling and living a lie. But if we really are living in the light in which he eternally exists, then we have true fellowship with each other, and the blood which his son Jesus shed for us keeps us clean from all sin. If we refuse to admit that we are sinners, then we live in a world of illusion, and truth becomes a stranger to us. But if we freely admit that we have sinned, we find him reliable and just; he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil. For if we say ‘we have not sinned,’ we are making him a liar and cut ourselves off from what he has to say to us.”

      Therefore I say the one thing that is needed (as a first step) is not forgiveness, is not even repentance, but is to come into the light and admit and expose the ugly truth. Then all other steps, repentance, apology, forgiveness, reconciliation, healing etc. will naturally follow.

      Therefore I also think creating a “reconciliation committee” wiould be putting the cart before the horse. Everybody knows that reconciliation needs first coming to the light and facing the truth. That’s why such commitees are usually called “truth and reconciliation commissions”, with truth coming first in the name. That’s also why I asked as a first step to admit the concrete abuse that started with the founder of UBF. A sign of coming into the light is that you start to call a spade a spade and not beat around the bush. That should be the first task of any committe dealing with the problems, and a sign of seriousness of anybody who wants reconciliation to happen.

    • Sibboleth

      Some thoughts on attempts at reconciliation by UBF:

      1. Reconciliation involves forgiveness or seeking forgiveness. If UBF is seeking “mutual” forgiveness, leading to reconciliation, then forget it. As has been made clear by others, seeking forgiveness should only flow in one direction in this reconciliation process. If this was an attempt to reconcile after a doctrinal split or division or something, “mutual forgiveness” might make more sense.

      2. A third party in the reconciliation process needs to understand point #1 above. Unfortunately, a third party is assumed to have to be perfectly “neutral,” which works against their understanding and application of point #1. A third party in this process will have to be carefully chosen.

      3. UBF must understand that its attempt at reconciliation is not to be for the sake of healing its former members/critics/victims. The last thing former members/critics/victims want is to hear UBF saying to them, “You poor people. You need to be healed.” No, UBF must understand that its attempt at reconciliation is to be for the sake of healing and correcting ITSELF. In other words, as part of the reconciliation process, changes in teachings and practices must be considered, proposed and carried out.

  14. So true, Joe. I want to forgive. But the problem to me seems to be that the offenders really do not think they did anything wrong at all.

    In fact they think that they had the right to do what they did, and that they are the ones who need to forgive me. So they “put up with me.”

    • “But the problem to me seems to be that the offenders really do not think they did anything wrong at all.”

      That’s why I think it’s important to start with concrete examples as those listed by Joe. Let’s go through each of them concretely and always ask the question: Was this wrong or was this right? And then we can go a step further and ask: If it was wrong, why? What basic principles and ethical or Biblical norms were violated? How do we need to adapt or change our teachings and practices based on this insight? That’s a constructive way to deal with the “heritage of spiritual abuse”.

  15. James Kim

    Thank you for all your comments. I generally agree with most of your comments. I see your comments are all very sincere. Forgive me for not responding individually. It was overwhelming for me to read so many comments in one morning.

    As the author said we hurt each other because we love poorly. Our love is “second” hand love comparing the first love of Jesus. Many times I believe it was not intentional but the result was hurt and pain.

    I don’t have all the answers to the questions you posed, but I believe forgiveness is a good topic to discuss and learn from each other. It may not happen instantly and it may take time, sometimes long time.

    It is not easy to forgive others especially when we are wounded by them deeply. I know this because I have very close relatives of mine who do not talk to each other for many years. But when we hear God’s voice, “You are my Beloved” that helps us to overcome the pain gradually.

  16. James Kim

    @Chris You said, “It seems for Nouwen prayer is “the only necessary thing”. I think it is more Biblically to say that “knowing Jesus” or “learning from Jesus” is “the only necessary thing” (based on Lk 10:38-42). But if you assume that prayer is “the only necessary thing” then why is UBF so obsessed with mission instead of prayer? Why is prayer and living a spiritual life then not enough for UBF?”

    Nouwen mentioned 15 topics in his book. Prayers and forgiveness are part of “the only necessary thing”. I believe they are related to “knowing Jesus” personally.

    I agree with your comment, “UBF is obsessed with mission”. Traditionally we defined mission in a narrow sense in UBF as you know. Gittins defined evangelization is everything Jesus did on earth. We should broaden our eyes to accept new paradigm.

    • To call a list of 15 different topics “the only necessary thing” would be a bit strange. It is obvious that this one thing Nouwen had in mind was prayer. Forgiveness is one of the maybe 15 things that can be covered in prayer, but it is not “the only necessary thing” as implied by your article.

  17. Sibboleth, thanks for sharing Warren’s thoughts on forgiveness. I find those thoughts highly relevant. Our church did his study, “Have the Funeral”. That was highly helpful to me. I had the funeral for the ubf system in my life. Now I’m in the stage where I keep coming back to the grave site because I can’t simply walk away instantly from a long-term relationship.

    For me, the good/bad issue about ubf is most easily explained by the famous fly in the soup allegory. Suppose a waiter server you a good bowl of hot soup. As you are eating it, a dead fly surfaces in the soup. Would you continue eating it? No, you likely would complain to the waiter. Maybe your appetite is ruined and you leave the restaurant disgusted.

    That’s how it is for me and the ubf system. I enjoyed the hot bowl of soup, only to find a dead fly tainting the whole thing. The 1990 event for me was my “fly in the soup”. I am now disgusted and repulsed by just the thought of ubf activity. Just thinking about sitting through 5 hours of testimony sharing again on Friday nights makes me taste my own vomit.

    And worse yet, not only did I find a fly in my soup, I woke up to “Lord of the Flies”.

    So this is not just a matter of forgiveness. This is a matter of justice. It is a matter of exposing the flies buried in the soup before young students eat the soup and get sick.

  18. @Chris, @Joe, I think the question is clear: “Is the pattern of behavior of some UBF chapter directors, as expressed ad nauseam on this and other websites, sinful and abusive?”

    This may be very hard for virtually all older UBF leaders to answer because under the pervasive 50 year influence of Confucius in UBF, you NEVER call your leader, or elder, or chapter director something negative or derogatory like sinful and abusive. Gosh, if you do, you make them equal to their sheep, or equal to those who comment on UBFriends!

    • “This may be very hard for virtually all older UBF leaders to answer because under the pervasive 50 year influence of Confucius in UBF, you NEVER call your leader, or elder, or chapter director something negative or derogatory like sinful and abusive.”

      Yes, Ben, I know. It’s like a taboo or a magic spell that must not be said to not break a ban. But then ban must be broken. That’s why I am so insistent in this point. (And just to repeat and clarify again, it’s not about calling the people derogatory names, but speaking about their deeds which did so much harm.) Somebody from the top leadership must make the beginning and speak out what everybody knows and silently admits anyway.

  19. Joe Schafer

    Ben, if that is true, then why should I bother taking part in a reconciliation committee or related efforts? If they have decided to go to their graves without ever admitting what is so painfully obvious, then what can I possibly do to help them?

  20. Joe, Even if somewhat reluctantly by some, I think that there is a far stronger sense that something ABSOLUTELY needs to be done soon. Yeah, there are some who still keep insisting–bury the past, ignore the disgruntled, and move forward. But the outcry for justice is getting louder. More insiders (outside the hierarchy) are sensing and expressing the unpalatable top down authoritarian rule of some UBF leaders. (Many chapters have decreased in number.) I think it is just that old habits die hard, especially the horribly bad habit of unaccountability at the top.

  21. Interesting 6 myths about forgiveness:

    Myth 2: Forgiveness means you excuse the offender’s hurtful acts.

    Myth 3: Before forgiving you must first understand why the offender hurt you.

    Myth 5: Forgiving means that the offender will face no consequences.

  22. Joe Schafer

    Ben, perhaps there is now a stronger sense that something must be done among some elders and leaders in headquarters. That is good. That is where it will have to start.

    But I don’t see any willingness to deal with these things among the chapters in my region. There is no tangible evidence that we will start to address the problems — the same old problems — that have hampered ministry growth regionally and have made it very difficult for me to collaborate with them. If that is not going to change anytime soon, then it just doen’t seem worthwhile for me to pursue this.

    • @Joe: I’m not in the loop anymore, but a year ago my impression was that some Canadian chapters were pushing for change but the Canadian national director was applying the brakes. Once I attended a meeting of the Canadian directors, and when a certain issue was raised over which there was some disagreement, it was suggested that they take a vote. In response, the national director answered angrily, “We are not a democracy. I’m the national director, so I’ll decide what we will do.” That was a very unsavory experience to behold.

    • Yeah, we are not a democracy. But neither are we a dictatorship!

    • Mark Mederich

      maybe should be more like democracy..shared insights from the Lord:)

  23. Joe, I hear what you’re saying regarding chapters in your region. The unpleasant experience that you have is sadly not uncommon, as you know. Sorry to say, I experience it too albeit in a different location.

    Personally, I will continue to press this unwillingness to seriously and transparently address problems, and especially the very very real and practical problem of ALWAYS deferring to the top, which thus maintains the stifling and suffocating status quo of the leader’s way or the highway.

  24. big bear

    James the real question is not about forgiveness but change to protect families, students and others from the regime of UBF…I do not share on here to seek forgiveness but to seek change for the sake of God elect…someone should be a voice for the innocent lives of families and students…..I invite you to come visit me and I will be happy to talk to you alone face to face…..UBF must wake up to God and the outcry that has reached the throne of grace…it is time for true repentance by the leaders….God is not pleased with many of the things going on in UBF….it is very hard to die to our pride and the Ubf delusion of being the best bible study and church in the world…James as president you must hear the outcry….the ax is at the door

  25. It seems ridiculous to me. Maybe I am just plain and dumb.
    When leaders gather for meetings or conferences the decline in numbers gets mentioned as a legitimate concern – and it is, but what do top leaders expect? For years complaints have been made, abuses have been exposed, stories have been told….

    Still, the struggle continues to stabilize the ministry. Ben, you have already reinforced rationale very well earlir in this thread.

    If top leaders are not willing to be publicly accountable and apply the necessary policy changes inside of UBF than the declining numbers should no longer be a cause for concern. The only answer to the declining numbers is to address the real errors of UBF leadership. For anyone to accuse a member who leaves for weak faith is covering up the issue and also blaming he/she who quit. UBF is bleeding and until abuses are clearly addressed it will continue to do so.

    I get that older generation (Confucian or not) are stubborn, but really. It is so painfully obvious. The numbers are going to continue to decline. If UBF refuses to be accountable for a legacy of unbiblical behaviour than I don’t want to hear outcry for the decline in attendants. If top leadership really doesn’t care (and that’s the message their sending to people all around) then why should young people stay in UBF?

    Young people are not obligated to stay and wait around in UBF. There are much better ways that God can use them to serve his work. Besides that they are not included in anything except for testimony performance and singing and dancing when necessary. They are not made to feel like part of the organic whole of UBF. In the broader sense what incentive do young people really have concerning the bottom line in UBF?

  26. gc, Some UBF leader’s reasons for the declining numbers are:

    * those who “ran away” did so because they don’t want to obey and sacrifice for mission.
    * those in ubf didn’t pray enough, work hard enough, sacrifice enough, go fishing enough, obey enough, etc.

    Interestingly, the reasons mentioned are rarely ever because of something internally wrong or unhealthy with UBF or with senior UBF leaders, because they are “exemplary” “faithful” “loyal” “committed” “sacrificial” etc. That is why it is so hard for the hierarchy to take responsibility.

    So far some leaders only want to take credit for what God has done in UBF, but not take responsibility for the obvious decline in numbers.

  27. Ben, yeah, I know how it is justified. That’s why I said, maybe I am plain and dumb. If they don’t take responsibility then no one should be surprised when young people leave or even when leaders leave. It is a shame, but I know in Canada UBF they can always cover up Joshua’s story because presently there is a wave of younger growing leaders in GTA. But this is an insult and a betrayal – not against Joshua, but against the many potential and able bodied people who were leaders (including Joshua).

    If we continue to devalue the loss of our friends it cheapens the relationships and bonds that were once strong. It becomes meaningless to serve and call ourselves Christians. It redefines the ministry through survival of the fittest – yeah – the fittest to endure everlasting abuses and incorrect teachings…

    • gc, ubf leaders are trained to use the minimum barrel principle in ministry. If there is a low-performing plank in the barrel, just rip out the plank and rebuild the barrel. The problem is that this method means the barrel keeps getting smaller and smaller and actually holds way less water than if all the planks had been in place.

      By the way, not sure if everyone noticed, but I linked to the offical ubf director’s trainig presentation in my “minimum barrel” article. I used the exact picture from the ubf PowerPoint slide in my article. I was not making that up; ubf actually teaches this principle.

      For me the principle was tied to the bible using the “To whom shall we go?” passages in John’s gospel. I was taught to let go of former members and just redefine “who is my neighbor” to be those still left in ubf. When I did this, I found that my “neighborhood” of people to love kept getting smaller and smaller as over 100 friends (including wives and chldren) left the ministry with varying levels of trauma over 24 years.

    • @gc: What a sad, sad comment. I don’t have my ear to the ground in Canada UBF anymore, so I don’t know if what you say is really going on. If it is, how sad. I really hope that Canada UBF is not “explaining away” my family (or yours for that matter) and justifying it by adding new students. I thought that they were my friends and they cared about me for me.

      You know, when I joined UBF, people were so thrilled. I was called, “the hope of Canada” and “a shepherd for Canada”. I was told fairly early on that leaders wanted to groom me for leadership of Canada UBF someday in the future. And now who am I? The disgrace of Canada? A blemish on Canada UBF? I didn’t change, except that I decided to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. God’s will for me and my family didn’t change. Why must we now be covered up and justified away?

      How sad it is when agendas and ministry paradigms are placed ahead of people. How it breaks the heart of Christ, who died to save sinners.

    • Joshua, I know it is a sad comment. I tear up when I think of the close brothers or sisters that I saw come and go throughout the ministry – not just my home chapter. Because it is still small in Canada even one chapter feels like your chapter. In terms of how loss is handled I have always felt uneasy. No one grieves or mourns, nobody communicates about it until after a formal gathering closes and we go for coffee or something. You know me so well that I often made a face or said something out of turn at times. Some times I was just being insensitve, but most of the time I wanted to see whether or not UBF really is a close community. I am sorry to say, but if I cry it is okay. None should be guilty for expressing normal feelings (perfectly expressed in PF’s The Wall: The Trial). A loss of a member is a loss of life itself.

      As for what is happening in Canada I have heard that GTA is the most vibrant so I can conclude from experience that it will cover up losses. It cannot change the reality from your chapter, but I will repeat more boldly what I said a long time ago. After I joined your chapter in 2009 we had a national conference. One missionary from my home chapter turned and said to me, “Look, we are doing so well.” They had brought many students and their dance was so glorious. At that time I had a policy to not sing, not dance, not be part of activities because I just wanted Bible Study and Sunday worship service. (Maybe, I should write another article about 2007 – when I suddenly woke up.)

      In all honesty, the only ones who know the dirty details are the top leaders in Canada. Maybe you received an email from out West – that’s because I shared part of your story and encouraged correspondance. I really believe the only healthy course of action is to embrace those who leave or who are thinking about it in true love for the person. I have never had interest to make someone stay, but if we are not sincere then what does that mean about our relationship.

      If the foundations of relationships are the result of obedience to mission than how can they really be sincere? Once someone is affected and walks away true opinions are expressed.

  28. Just a quick comment about declining numbers. I noticed that the international conferences appear to be increasing in number. For a time, they were. But because I worked on the registration team for a couple conferences, I noticed two disturbing trends:

    1) Inviting more and more non-US guests to make the total number higher, even thought the US guests declined or stayed the same. I wouldn’t be surpised if 3,000 people attend this latest ISBC because so many non-US people have been “invited” (i.e. required to attend).

    2) Many shepherds in Chicago especially, inflated the numbers by paying the mininum registration fee (like $50) for people they invited, whether they came or not. They were willing to loss hundreds of dollars in order to keep their pre-conference registration numbers up. So we had a lot of fake names in the database, such as “Dummy Sheep”, etc. The final numbers did have these removed, however, the pre-conference numbers were articifially high in order to “encourage” more registration. Sort of like “See how many people registered?” in an effort to generate buzz.

    • Joe Schafer

      If the number of physical attendees goes down this year, no worries. After the conference photo is taken, we can always Photoshop some more people in. It’s part of our spiritual heritage

    • David Bychkov

      Joe, for me this remark sounds like unnecessary sarcasm. Are you sure that people who are in charge of the conference did such things and it is their usual practice?

    • David, for me some of your remarks sound like unnecessary hypersensitivity and political correctness which I perceive as much more annoying and diverting attention from the real issues than sometimes over-the-top irony or harsh rebuke (though I don’t think this particular comment was over-the-top. After all that happened, I don’t think it’s necessary or appropriate to handle UBF people with kid gloves, and I think it is totally legit and appropriate to use sarcasm in this situation. Even the Bible uses sarcasm in many places. It is sometimes our only way of expressing our distress and frustration.

      Faking conference photos and other photos in newsletters was done by Samuel Lee and he did it not only once. Even if those who are in charge of the conference right now don’t do it, it is still part of UBF history that has not been processed. Those who adressed this issue last time in 2001 were expelled for not following spiritual heritage. The UBF leadership has never officially admitted that this happened and that it was wrong. Those who are currently in charge with the conference can not claim they have nothing to do with it if they don’t make a clear statement about the past.

    • David Bychkov

      May be you are right Chris. But I still believe that we need consider how we talk and especcially how we confront others (Gal. 6:1, Mth. 7:3, 2Tim. 2:25).

    • David, I’m glad that you’re not in a huff about my response.

      I think we should not take our guidelines so extreme that we become humorless.

      You’re mentioning Gal 6:1, but the same Paul who wrote that verse also wrote Gal 2:11. He did not emphasize that he opposed Peter “gently”, but that he opposed him “to his face”. Of course usually a confrontation should start gently, but it is not always and forever appropriate to speak or stay gentle. You find many examples where prophets, apostles and even Jesus did not speak genly. It’s a fallacy of many Christians to believe that they must always and in all circumstances be gentle. Maybe Eli believed this too, when he “confronted” his sons (1Sam 2). The problem was that he spoke too gently with them. The sinfulness of their actions and the gentleness of his words were not in an adequate proportion.

      By the way, I do not even think Joe wanted to confront anybody. He was just using a bit of humor. Humor is always the last resort if you feel helpless and despaired. And it also spices up discussions and makes them human.

      The elephant in the room is that James refuses to answer some simple questions, not the tone of some commenters here. That’s why I react annoyed when people start to divert attention from that.

    • Joe Schafer

      David, you are correct. My comment was sarcastic. Some will judge it as inappropriate and unnecessary. Perhaps others will find it humorous. Sarcasm is found in the Bible. Many of the prophets used it, Paul used it, and (depending on how you define sarcasm) perhaps Jesus even used it on occasion. Is the use of sarcasm always wrong?

      SL doctored photos of conferences and world mission reports to make the crowd seem bigger than it was. I saw him do it. Those doctored photos appeared in ubf newsletters and calendars. Perhaps he thought he was doing it for a good purpose, for the glory of God, to give people vision, whatever. But it was dishonest and I don’t believe it glorified God. I wrote about it here:

    • Is it too sarcastic when I note that this story of a maid who runs to the police for help somehow reminds me of this comment thread?

    • Beautiful Chris +1 – Who thinks this should be a conference drama? (sarcasm is fantastic)

    • Joe Schafer

      No Chris, it is not sarcastic. That story of the maid is a parody, but it closely resembles some of my experiences in bringing issues of abuse before ubf leaders.

      If anyone thinks this is unhelpful or unbiblical, note that Jesus used a similar strategy when he spoke to religious leaders(e.g., the parable of the Good Samaritan). And Nathan used that approach to speak truth to King David and lead him to repentance.

    • David Bychkov

      Thanks, Chris, Joe.
      I do believe that sarcasm can be used for some good purposes, including for showing people their wrongdoings. And I believe that strong language also can be used. Examples for both could be found in the Bible, and I think sarcasm and even strong words have their place in how God has created this world.
      I even was taught to use sarcasm when rebuking people by my UBF shepherd. He taught me something like this – you have to offend the person in order to make him think seriosly of his sin problem. Is it necessary wrong? May be not always (is there something good in ubf disciple training? ha-ha). Anyways that’s a good topic to investigate. And I’m glad you guys mentioned this.
      But, seriosly sure sarcasm and/or harsh words can be used wrongly and often are. So my answer will be – no, sarcasm is not unnecessary wrong but may be very wrong and unnecessary.
      May be Joe was just humorous and I just have not got it. And I believe it is so. Unfortunately, we are online community and I can not see your face and listen to your voice when I read your comments. And you guys also can not do it. So I hope you will forgive me my comments which could sound annoying, legalistic and hypersensitive.
      What did SL may be was wrong no matter which motives he had. And may be it should be recalled. Though in this comment I hear that such manipulations with numbers are our heritage and therefore we are just get used to them and therefore we are always ready to do them again and again. Again may be nothing offending here – just humor. But if it is there, and if such comment should communicate to a UBFer that for him it is just ok to manipulate with numbers without any doubts b/c this is his spiritual heritage, I am not sure if it is necessary.

    • David Bychkov

      I believe that in UBF could be people who sincerely want to please God and who sincerely view the ISBC as the tool for it. I believe that there are people who have this as their main motive.
      I believe there are could be people who do not know about what have been done by SL. I believe that there are could be people who are aware of what SL has done and who are troubled by this, and this is the pain in their heart. In sence they themselves are victims of what was done. They know, or they feel it was wrong but they are not ready to handle it properly. I think we know just well the reasons.
      I worry that such people can be hurted unnecessary by not careful general words, were used words “we are always ready” and it would lead them to close heart instead of open.
      For me the problem is that UBF is not abusers only, many of victims are still in UBF, and we need to be aware of it. Therefore I found the dialog in the link not really helpful.
      Sorry for annoying you guys.

    • David Bychkov

      So I’m not really bother if abusers would be hurted or anything. But I think it could be cruel to unnecessary hurt the victims b/c of sins of their abuser, and to guilt them with this very abuse they already experienced themselves.

    • “But I think it could be cruel to unnecessary hurt the victims b/c of sins of their abuser, and to guilt them with this very abuse they already experienced themselves.”

      David, I tried hard to understand what you want to say with this, but I can’t.

      We can’t “guilt” anybody in UBF because we don’t claim to have any special spiritual authority, and those in UBF don’t think of us like that either. If anything that has been written here really makes them feel guilty (if they are reading here at all and not keeping themselves busy preparing the ISBC), then it can only be their own conscience that is speaking up. And that would be a good thing.

  29. big bear

    JOSHUA…UBF unlike many ministries has to bribe, manipulate, and buy its members… family was always in large amounts of debts because we were worn down to increase numbers, to payBible students conference fees, to take care of new bible students, and I had to take low paying jobs to be able to be at all the meetings….this wears on big families….you are so beaten down by the demands that you have no energy to speak out….new students are crushed by all the demands…I believe this is why many dont speak out against the corruption…but we must…I went thru this prison for 29 years….I pray no student has to endure in the name of God this subtle abuse…you are stripped of your own conscience and right and wrong….the bible study is great but the unwritten rules will destry you…the theology is wrong….after the bible study our director would then justify UBFISM….THIS IS WHY HE ASKED ME TO LEAVE…he saw a crack in his little system…it open a window to the truth

    • “I went thru this prison for 29 years”

      I went thru the prison for 24 yeas. And “ditto” to all you just said bigbear. Maybe I should contribute to your new book.

    • After 24 years of being “trapped by grace”, I saw my life rapidly deteriorating. 5 more years of UBFISMs and I would have been in the Ohio river with you big bear :(

    • And it just dawned on me big bear… About the time you were struggling so desperately, SZ reached out to me in Detroit to create a computer system for ubf doctors in Bethsezda (sp?). I’m glad I backed out of that…

  30. James Kim

    Chris, thank you for your comment. “But the problem to me seems to be that the offenders really do not think they did anything wrong at all.” That’s why I think it’s important to start with concrete examples as those listed by Joe. Let’s go through each of them concretely and always ask the question: Was this wrong or was this right? And then we can go a step further and ask: If it was wrong, why? What basic principles and ethical or Biblical norms were violated? How do we need to adapt or change our teachings and practices based on this insight?”

    I agree with you. We have to come to the light of Jesus and see our problems in the light of Jesus. Also I think it is important to try to understand many problems from God’s point of view; how God sees all these problems.

    • Joe Schafer

      Good morning, James.

      I’m glad that you agree that we have to come to the light of Jesus.

      You said, “Let’s go through each of them concretely…”

      When and where shall we do this? And who will be present?

      These are the kind of discussions that (in my view) cannot happen just among a few senior leaders behind closed doors. That is not coming into the light. Senior leaders know some things, but they also lack eyes to see and ears to hear. They have grown accustomed and desensitized to abusive practices. They judgment of the whole church must be brought to bear in some fashion.

      If this is going to happen, you have to make it a priority.

  31. James Kim

    Nouwen pointed out in this book, “We are part of a society of violence and destruction.” It may mean that we are collectively responsible for many problems in the society. Maybe the same is true with us in the church. Rather than finger pointing to certain people for the problem, I (and we) also should feel that I am a part of the problem.

    • Joe Schafer

      James, we absolutely are part of the problem. I’m not talking about finger pointing and blaming only certain people. All those in ubf share collective guilt for what we have actively done, for what we have passively allowed, for what we have covered up, for what we have failed to look at, for the orders that we have blindly followed, for the objections we have failed to raise, for the questions we were too cowardly to ask. I am guilty of all these things.

      I am even guilty of participating (indirectly) in the coverup of the abortion incident in the mid 1980’s, because I failed to stand up and ask tough questions. I allowed our mutual friend JRhee to become the fall guy. I allowed other people to slander him and RebekahY in my presence without objecting. She was my sister’s first Bible teacher. I allowed people to denounce her unfairly. I never demanded that SL and other leaders answer the tough questions about what they had done. I was a coward. I didn’t know any better at the time. But now I do. I participated for many years in a community that did hurtful things in the name of Chrsitian discipleship. That was wrong.

      James, this is not about blaming anyone. This is about bringing these issues into the light so that we can put aside the silly delusions of grandeur about ubf and see ourselves more plainly as others (especially ex-members) have seen and experienced us.

    • James, I’m confused. The only way in which I can imagine that I am part of the problem of spiritual abuse in UBF (and this is what we are talking about here) is that while in UBF I looked away for too long and did not speak up, and sometimes was abusive myself to “my” sheep by following the methods of UBF. But I’m speaking up now. Are those who left UBF or those who are in UBF and speaking up against spiritual abuse still part of the problem?

    • Mark Mederich

      of course we are all sinners/part of problems everywhere in life; but as we mature in Christ/in life we must take more responsibility for our part/increased in what happens;

      a young person should not be expected to know better than an older person (although they may:) a follower should not be expected to correct a leader (although they may:)

      so no, i’m afraid we do not all share ‘equal’ responsibility; that perpetuates problems at the top rather than improvement/good example for those below;
      on the other hand, i belong to noone but Christ anymore regardless where, so if He helps me seek better ways it may influence upward, yet it is tiring constantly advocating upstream:

      yet God strengthens us to do so; however eventually it will be better to mutually influence sideways (no longer waste time trying to help unchanging above): were parishioners held accountable for priest abuse? no. were priests themselves & their overseeing bishops? yes. common sense

  32. James Kim

    This is from the article Ben linked about forgiveness.

    The Choice to Forgive

    The decision to forgive an offender is probably the hardest choice we can ever make. Some crimes seem too horrible to forgive. Our instincts tell us to avenge the person who caused us pain, not to release him from the debt he owes us. But as Christians, we can’t afford to have unforgiving hearts, for we have been greatly forgiven by God in Christ (Ephesians 4:32).
    Only forgiveness can release us from a life of hatred and bitterness. “Forgiving is a journey, sometimes a long one,” wrote Lewis B. Smedes in Shame and Grace. “We may need some time
    before we get to the station of complete healing, but the nice thing is that we are being healed en route. When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover the prisoner we set free was us.”

    • Joe Schafer

      James, I am willing to forgive anything of anyone. That is not the question here. The question is whether ubf leaders are going to make the tough choices that are necessary to bring the community into the light of truth, or just continue to turn a blind eye to the problems that are so painfully obvious and act as though everything is ok.

      By quoting that material now, it seems that you are indirectly calling me bitter and unforgiving. Perhaps I am. If that’s what you think, please say so directly. I can handle it. I’m a big boy.

    • James, I would appreciate if you could answer our open questions and objections before posting more quotes about forgiveness.

      But if you insist on speaking about forgiveness, let me tell you my experience with forgiveness in UBF.

      The person who hurt me most in UBF was not my chapter director, but another missionary, who, while I was in a severe life crisis, suddenly kicked me out of UBF without giving an explanation. This happened after I just accepted my calling to be a UBF shepherd. So I felt like I had been rejected by God. After UBF had given me the meaning of my life in the form of being a UBF shepherd, they took it away from me in a moment. I cannot imagine any worse spiritual abuse. I sat alone in my apartment. Nobody in UBF cared. I got no apology from that missionary or any other missionary. No elder or chapter director visited me to hear whether my expulsion and condemnation was just or not. Only one shepherd visited me and made Bible study with me, but the only thing he had to say about this whole issue was that I had to forgive my offender. I disagreed and disagree until today. The Bible does not say “If a brother sins against you, then forgive him and that settles the matter.” The advice I got from that shepherd was not Biblical and only served to make matters worse. Today I’m feeling in the same situation again.

      Many years later, after I had been back in UBF and then finally left UBF forever, that same missionary came to me and apologized for his authoritarian behavior. Meanwhile, after being a UBF missionary for over 20 years, he had also left UBF and clearly understood and articulated what was wrong in UBF. I knew that his apology was serious. So it was not only easy for me to forgive him, but it was a real joy. I did not even time to get over it, it was instantaneous. We became very good friends. Our families often met and made Bible study and prayed together and talked with each other, but not about the things he did to me, because that was all like blown away. It was a real reconciliation. I’m bearing no grudge against him in my heart any more. Don’t you think that if I can forgive this person, I can’t forgive any other person in UBF? Why are you continuing to hold a monolog about forgiveness like the shepherd who visited me after I had been expelled from UBF?

    • By the way, the advice “Just Forgive” is handled in the well-known book “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” in chapter 8, titled “Revictimizing Victims”.

    • Joe Schafer

      Chris, thank you for sharing this experience.

      James, I urge you and other elders to read what Chris wrote and consider his words very carefully. Admonishing someone to forgive, especially when it comes from a person or organization with a history of abuse, is very unhelpful and will make matters worse. If you want forgiveness from someone, you should ask for it very specifically, making your best attempt to acknowledge the harm that you have caused, and realizing that what you are asking for would be a gift of grace, not something that you deserve or are entitled to.

  33. @Chris, “Is it too sarcastic when I note that this story of a maid who runs to the police for help somehow reminds me of this comment thread?” – See more at: I hope that everyone in leadership—UBF or otherwise—would read this parody of one who suffered abuse (the maid), and the leadership (the police) that practically stonewalls the process of justice with excellent “Christian” logic!

    This is classic “do nothing” leadership:

    The police: No need (to do anything), I tell you. All of us are Christians, no one will do anything because no one wants to play God. You are Christian (the abused maid), I am Christian (the police), he is Christian (the abuser). So if people outside see one Christian puts another Christian to jail, it will be a bad witness, no one would come to Christ anymore!

    It seems to me that some senior leaders in UBF are so deathly full of fear to deal with such obvious spiritual abuse, because they fear the consequences: UBF will be shamed. No one will come to UBF. UBF might get sued.

    This fear of consequences of doing the right thing will be the very death of UBF….unless someone, anyone, takes a clear stand.

    So what does UBF do in the meantime? Command the abused to forgive the abuser!!!!

  34. James,

    Whether knowingly or unkowingly, your words here display some classic manipluation techniques. As a ubfer, I didn’t even realize how manipulative I had become, due to my training. Maybe you don’t recognize these things. Here is a list of manipluation techniques from some healthy training I received at my workplace (How to recognize when you are being manipulated).

    And yes, we all bear responsibility for being part of the problem. And that is precisely the difference between me (and other former members) and ubf directors. I took responsbility for my part in the problem, repented before God and before people, publicly confessed my sin, and have renounced and stopped all known controlling and abusive practices.

    What have you done to take responsibility and make youself accountable? What has any chapter director done like this?

    Here is the list I mentioned of manipluation techniques that identity thieves use. Sound familiar?

    1. diffusion of responsibility: make sure the target person knows they are not solely resonsibile for what happens.

    2. chance for ingratiation: make sure the target perso feels thankful and is indebted by gratitude

    3. trust relationships: do something to earn some trust, but not too must trust, such as use insider terminology the person would feel familiar with

    4. moral duty: implant the notion that the target person has a moral duty to uphold

    5. guilt: make sure to tweak the guilt button of the target person

    6. identification (befriending)
    7. desire to be helpful
    8. cooperation (resort to anger or forceful commands)

  35. @David, “For me the problem is that UBF is not abusers only, many of victims are still in UBF, and we need to be aware of it. Therefore I found the dialog in the link not really helpful. Sorry for annoying you guys.” – See more at:

    btw, David, you are not annoying. This is my question: Are you saying that “victims” in UBF who do not know that they are being in some way abused by some spiritually abusive UBF leaders should not be told the truth?

    • David Bychkov

      No. I’m saying that they are not neccessary to be accused in the abuser’s abuse.
      Joe, I’m sorry for using your comment as example. I believe it was just a joke or you told what you’ve told with some other intention.
      But here what I read: All UBFers, b/c they have the spiritual heritage where SL manipulated with facts, are guilt in it and are used to doing the same. So they share SL guilt and they are just like him. Ok. I suppose that in UBF there are sincere people abused by SL and the part of this abuse was the manipulation with Photoshop. They already was hurt/confused/mislead by it. and now they are guilt with the same fact and accused of being used to the same behavior.
      Again I’m not claim that what was Joe said. Joe I’m sorry. I just trying to explain what bother me in such comments.

  36. James Kim

    Joe, thank for your comment. “James, this is not about blaming anyone. This is about bringing these issues into the light so that we can put aside the silly delusions of grandeur about ubf and see ourselves more plainly as others (especially ex-members) have seen and experienced us.” I feel your heart pain and I agree with you. That’s why, instead of doing nothing, we took a first step by forming reconciliation committee and we talked about necessity for public apology in some form. We never have done this before. So we need God’s wisdom and your continuous prayer.

    • “We never have done this before.” Now there’s a HOT statement. Don’t you think that might be a part of the problem?

  37. James Kim

    Chris, thank you for your sincere comments. You asked some answers to your questions. Honestly I don’t know the answer. This is not ducking your questions. We agree some points and we disagree with other points.

    But one thing I can tell you that I respect your opinions and sincere efforts very much. Few years ago I never imagined that I could talk to you freely like this because I heard many negative things about you. (sorry) This is a great progress and I believe it will continue to progress if we dialogue with love and respect.

    • James, thanks for admitting some of the things we think are part of the problem, for instance, that there was never an attempt to create a reconciliation comittee (much less a truth and reconciliation committee – even in case of severe accusations there were never investigations) and that negative things were spread about critics like me (as an attempt to invalidate the criticism by maligning the critic).

      But you give me a hard time believing that you don’t know the answer to my simple questions because they were easy to answer. They were not questions about knowledge, but about your opinion and willingness to face the obvious truth. When you say “we agree some points and we disagree with other points” then this shows that you do have an opinion and you know very well in which points we agree and in which not, and to find this out was the purpose of my questions, but you don’t want to say.

      As I repeatedly explained, the one important starting point for me is whether the actions and teachings of Samuel Lee that were listed here were abusive and sinful or not. You know that it is obvious for me that this is the case. But I don’t know your opinion. You say we agree in some points and in some not. Is this a point where we agree or where we disagree? If you believe that only certain things were abusive and others not, ok, then list those points where you agree and where you don’t agree. We can talk about it. But so far I see an unwillingness from your side to even make a clear statement (“sogam”) concerning these matters. Therefore you also make it next to impossible for me to believe that creating a reconciliation committee has any value at this point.

      Answering these questions is in my view a basic prerequisite for any further dialog. Therefore I will back out from this website until I see that something substantial has changed. This will also give others, hopefully current members, a chance to engage more, in case my participation was too much or in some ways deterrent for the sentient beings in UBF as David signified.

  38. big bear

    JAMES..-YOU NEED TO QUIT AVOIDING ISSUES under the false sense of virtue and you dont know answers…this is how the Pharisees answered Jesus…abuse is abuse no matter what ministry you are in or how good your intentions….many Ubf leaders hide in this….a false sense of humility….be courageous and answer….how are you going to lead others in Christ if you cant see the speck in your own eye…….Sl was abusive……and if you dont fess up to it…you are abusive and you are leading an abusive ministry….leaders will accept the evil as normal…before God you are placed in a position to renounce sin…will you or will you hide in religion…have courage to stand up…praying for your repentance

  39. James Kim

    @Chris, you asked me a specific question about the abuse of S Lee. I acknowledge some of his actions were abusive although I don’t believe he did it with evil intention. This is my personal opinion.

    • @James, is your opinion shared by other senior leaders?

      Is there a humble willingness to publicly acknowledge that the pattern of abuses in UBF over many decades and in many countries is wrong and unbiblical?

    • James, I did not want to write unless I see some substantial change in your opinion. Though I’m glad you acknowledging a little bit, I’m not sure if this is a really substantial change.

      The words “some of his actions were abusive” could be as well be said about everybody including myself. You should be clearer about this. Can you be more precise? Do you think any of the things listed at were not abusive? Do you think the abuse was systematic and happened continually over decades?

      You also didn’t clarify whether this abuse was sinful or not. I don’t know how to interpret “he didn’t do it with evil intention” in this regard. Do you think there are cult leaders who act out of “evil intention”? I think this is rarely the case. Most of them believe they’re doing the right thing, they just have a narcissist mind that makes them believe in the grandeur of their own person, ideas and organizations. Their failure is that they don’t care to whether their actions are hurtful or not in line with the Bible. I think this is the case for Samuel Lee. Though he claimed to be a man of the Bible, he had no real respect for the Bible. Otherwise how could he easily order divorces, and do so many things that directly contradict the Bible. Or how could he ignore baptism when even his favorite verse Mt 28:19 demands it? We could go on and on. The system he set up is one blatant disregard of everything Jesus said in Mt 23. A person who claimed to know the Bible better than anyone and claimed to have such an authority over anyone should be measured against this self-imposed standard, not against your lowered standard. Didn’t he sin against God and God’s flock, and the whole UBF together with him by not repreheding him and showing him his limits, but doing the contrary?

      If you really want to do something to solve the situation and process the past, you must go ahead and speak much more clearly. Why do we always need to force you to admit a little bit of the obvious? And even if you feel forced to go one mile with us, why don’t you go two miles with us?

  40. James Kim

    Ben, I believe so. Although public apology is just the beginning and it is not the ultimate solution.

  41. big bear

    James…thanks for finally coming out and saying that some of the things SL was abusive…this is a big step for UBF and an amazing change in your heart…we pray for UBF even as exmembers because we want change for the sake of families, students and most of all for the glory of God…please continue to denounce sin and abuse so that the leaders may understand that these practices are unacceptable no matter who you are and what ministry you belong to..this is great for the body of Christ…the whole church worldwide…amin

  42. Joe Schafer

    “…public apology is just the beginning and it is not the ultimate solution.”

    I agree with that. Public apology can be very meaningful, or it can be essentially meaningless, depending on the actions and culture of the community. If it is crafted behind closed doors by a few top leaders and then adopted by a split decision and is not symptomatic of a large shift in attitudes and practices, then better not to do it. I think an apology should be a sideshow, not the main act. The main act should be open acknowledgment of the problems and hurt that we have caused on an ongoing basis — in conference programming, in Sunday messages, in group Bible studies and in shared testimonies, even when fishing on campus — with people taking full responsibility for what they have done and resolving not to do it anymore.

    In my opinion, the whole community needs to adopt a new narrative about itself, a narrative that includes the stories of abuse alongside all the stories about the supposedly great things that God has done through ubf.

    • Joe Schafer

      I don’t think that anyone ought to sit by and wait for an ethics committee or reconciliation committee to get its act together and issue a statement or apology before they take action. If the Holy Spirit has convicted you that there is a pattern of abusive practices in ubf and that it is wrong, then you can start today by openly talking about these things in your fellowship meetings and group Bible studies. If you attend the ISBC, go ahead and talk about these things openly as God leads. Share them in your sogam as God leads. Some people will get upset. They may rebuke you. They may take you aside and pray for you to stop listening to Satan. They may tell you to stop looking at books and articles on the internet (especially UBFriends) and put aside complicated human thinkings and just go back to the Bible and listen to Jesus only. (All of those things have happened to Sharon and me, and plenty more things that are much worse that I won’t mention now.) But that is the price you will have to pay to do what is right and necessary. Until a critical mass of people overcome fear and start to openly talk about these things at ordinary ubf contexts, nothing meaningful can be accomplished by the leaders.

    • Mark Mederich

      Joe, i think you are right, the best thing is simple/brave processing/sharing of bad & good; isn’t that part of a normal growth process anyway? we evaluate what seems good & what doesn’t, what works & what doesn’t. & it really doesn’t have to be an adversarial process (denouncing one another), it is an honest search for God’s right best ways. to be honest if people can’t or won’t see it, it really doesn’t matter: what matters is sincere dialog so as to be/do better & not waste our lives with religious ‘pipe dreams’ or human battles, etc

      actually if leaders don’t catch on yet, they probably will/must after enough followers catch the Spirit/seek God’s true fruit/expect better from all (ourselves included); the choice is really simple: change is coming, leaders can either end up shining by wallowing with us thru the mud of repentance/change first, or can hang onto false shimmer/lag behind/look like slackers in the end..

      isn’t it exciting? it’s like in ‘fiddler on the roof’ when the winds of change were coming in russia & beyond (like it or not) & people had to adapt to new things but also had new opportunities; sometimes it is better to progressively change/lead the way rather than avoid/wait to be forced by circumstance

      i am going to the conference this time for various reasons, but not to be particularly compliant or disruptive, rather to seek/hope Holy Spirit starts to work more in spite of ourselves: if He doesn’t, it may affect my decision about future conferences; if He does, there may be hope for collective redemption (keep the good & get rid of the bad elements of belief/practice)

      by the way when i use lowercase it is for speed/expediency, only bothering to capitalize something like person name, reference to God etc

    • Mark Mederich

      i just remembered an old movie that was kind of simple/funny: it was one of Hugh Grant’s less known movies: ‘the englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain’; he was a mapmaking asst during world war 1 traveling in a little village of Wales on the west side of Britain; the town people were proud of their ‘Mountain’ & sure that the map survey would highlight it as a landmark in the area; unfortunately when measured it fell several feet short of the required 1000 feet to be called a mountain so it would be listed only as a ‘hill’;

      the townspeople were mortified, it was their main claim to fame in the area; they cleverly ‘tried’ to convince the mapmakers to stretch the result to qualify, detained them making their car not work, etc; in the end, they devised/got sermon inspiration for collective effort (at their only little church) to all work hard together carrying buckets of dirt to the top of the hill to make a landmark tall enough to measure it as a ‘mountain’; the sun turned to rain almost defeating their efforts in progress, but even the mapmakers joined the cause & it got just tall enough to enter the map as a Mountain..

      cute story & not sure it’s exact bearing here, but i think it’s helpful to think how we can avoid breaking rules (but maybe bending them if man-made interpretation is unreasonable/extreme), collectively overcome challenges, & realize after all it really isn’t important if our famous Mountain is only a hill as long as we work together to take care of it/use it wisely for benefit of all..

    • “Public apology can be very meaningful, or it can be essentially meaningless,”

      I don’t want any more apology from ubf people. If I had a dollar for everything a ubf person apologized to me the past 2 years, I could retire!

      In fact, I don’t want anything from ubf. I do however DEMAND two actions.

      I DEMAND every ubf member to do the following, as I shared endless times in my open letter:

      1. Confess the abuse. Admit it. Confess it publicly and privately. Talk about it. Open up. Discuss it.

      2. Renounce the shepherd/sheep relationships. Do something to end the abuse at the heart. Stop requiring permanent submission to a human shepherd.

      Those are my demands. I will keep making them the rest of my life. In fact, you can put those two demands on my tombstone.

      As long as love and justice are suppressed by denial of reality and acceptance of lording-over authority, ubf has no right to claim to be a Christian ministry. And I for one do not want to stand before Jesus with denial and obedience. I will gladly fall before Jesus with giving my all for love and justice.

    • Mark Mederich

      Brian, you are right, there has to be confession/renunciation; maybe we have to be brave enough to lead the way & others get encouraged to follow;

      my part: i’ve been in & out of ubf a couple times since late 80’s (tried other churches inbetween); i’m in now (only God knows the future;

      i personally am sorry whenever (especially early on) i pressured people wrongly, on the other hand i’ve been kind of a ‘failed shepherd’ anyway not having much ‘following/fruit’ to show for my years (which is probably a good thing now i guess);

      so ‘accomplished’ members may not see me as ‘worthy’ of confessing (i took a long time to feel comfortable even trying to be a fellowship leader/help lead much, so i’m nobody in the hierarchy); anyway big or small (coerced or not in our deeds) we all need to confess

      secondly i absolutely agree we all need to renounce even temporary ‘one way’ submission; i believe bible only teaches mutual basic respect/submission to function in the church/world, basic respect for govt/church leaders (as long as their ideas/behavior don’t grossly violate our conscience/God’s ways); in recent times i haven’t been very ‘good’ about having submitting relationships up or down (here again probably a good thing) but i happily renounce whenever i have;

      here again, some may look at me as a nobody who has little to renounce, but small or big it’s the point that matters

      all this is not to say that someone can’t offer (not impose for some benefit) spiritual support/encouragement (like a big brother or sister in Christ helping someone sincerely or godly coaching to avoid pitfalls of religion/world..)

    • Thanks Mark. You just expressed everything I would be looking for in a ubf member. And that is huge. If even 10% of ubf members visibly expressed such an attitude, ubf would be remarkably better.

    • “I don’t think that anyone ought to sit by and wait for an ethics committee or reconciliation committee to get its act together and issue a statement or apology before they take action. If the Holy Spirit has convicted you that there is a pattern of abusive practices in ubf and that it is wrong, then you can start today by openly talking about these things in your fellowship meetings and group Bible studies. If you attend the ISBC, go ahead and talk about these things openly as God leads. Share them in your sogam as God leads.”

      I want to repeat Joe’s recommendation, particularly in view of comments like “I used to think that UBF is me and my friends” that Ben got as answer on Facebook. Yes, I also used to think that way. My UBF would not tolerate leaders to order aboritons. Because it thought is is my UBF and that of my friends (I was so naive to believe they shared my ethical standard and vision) I challenged my chapter director about that and supported the reform movement. The result of this was that I found out that my director and most of my “friends” had a totally different idea what UBF was. They didn’t care about any of the wrongdoing that I though were incompatible with any Christian church or ministry and with the most basic ethic behavior. And all of those in the reform movement who seemed to share my views were oficially expelled from UBF under the leadership of Samuel Lee and Sarah Barry because they broke “spiritual order” and “spiritual heritage”. So UBF turned out not to be me and my friends, but the spiritual heritage and pride of some Korean honchos in Chicago and Seoul who are only interested in their own agenda. If you want to find out whether UBF is really what you think what it is, I challenge you to do the same as the reformers did, as Joe did, as so many in UBF did, who were then all in some way or the other pushed out.

  43. James Kim

    Joe, thank you for your comment. I agree with you on this.
    “But that is the price you will have to pay to do what is right and necessary. Until a critical mass of people overcome fear and start to openly talk about these things at ordinary ubf contexts, nothing meaningful can be accomplished by the leaders.”

  44. James Kim

    @Mark, thank you for your comment.

    “Joe, i think you are right, the best thing is simple/brave processing/sharing of bad & good; isn’t that part of a normal growth process anyway? we evaluate what seems good & what doesn’t, what works & what doesn’t. & it really doesn’t have to be an adversarial process (denouncing one another), it is an honest search for God’s right best ways.”

    Mark, sometimes I did not understand some of your comments you made on this website when you used idioms. This one I clearly understand. Thanks. Some time we have to meet and talk.

  45. big bear

    James,,the price for change is costly but needed…transparency and revealing the good, the bad, and the ugly with tears of repentance is needed in every chapter and accountability is so needed..I spent 29 years with UBF…every leader should be given good biblical counseling and in no way should any abuse be covered up in the name of the greater good..God is not pleased with these kind of actions..Bible students should be give freedom and be respected and SL should not be honored or anyone who abuses others…yes God works despite of us..but we should not praise a man who ordered an abortion (this is a direct violation of the value of a person’s life and is abusive and he is a murder) I know many chapter directors don’t want to reveal the whole ugly truth for fear that people will leave…but actually it will be purging of the sins of UBF and a new beginning in his grace…I am only speaking out because I believe it is my god given right and obligation to protect families, students and the world…many of us on this website are speaking out because we are servants of God not evil people trying to plot in vain against UBF…I am tired of getting unwanted threats from people…you know who you are…I put my hope in Christ, the only rock, not UBF

  46. James Kim

    @Mark, I agree with you when you said, “i believe bible only teaches mutual basic respect/submission to function in the church/world, basic respect for govt/church leaders (as long as their ideas/behavior don’t grossly violate our conscience/God’s ways)”

    It reminds me of Ephesians 5:21. “Submit to one another our of reverence for Christ”. I believe love and respect is the basic relationship for all believers regardless of our differences among us. It is also triangle relationship with Christ on top of triangle and each other at bottom triangle.

  47. @James, your point is valid in a general sense. But your point is invalid in the ubf context.

    Mark’s caveat is needed in the ubf context: “as long as their ideas/behavior don’t grossly violate our conscience/God’s ways”

    2 Corinthians 11:20 is more appropriate in the ubf context: “In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.”

    You Korean missionaries have slapped us in the face for too long. We won’t put up with it any more.

  48. Warning to reader: drive-by quotes/random thought responses by the John Y-ster

    Been reading about reconciliation and forgiveness in a chapter of a book called “What We Believe and Why”

    Probably the most challenging and convicting chapter I’ve read from a book in a while. Given the theme of this discussion, I wanted to know what people thought of it who read the book. There are some challenging thoughts in that chapter about what reconciliation is and what it is not, and what forgiveness is and what it is not. Been mulling it over for two months now.

    At the same time, read a quote by JI Packer in the book “Keep in Step with the Spirit”

    “We need to realize that while God’s acceptance of each Christian believer is perfect from the start, our repentance always needs to be extended further as long as we are in the world. Repentance means turning from as much as you know of your sin to give as much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of your God, and as our knowledge grows at these points so our practice of repentance has to be enlarged.”(pg.87)

    One thing I painfully appreciate about a forum like this is that the Lord uses it to enlarge my knowledge of the first point (knowledge of my sin so my repentance enlarges). One thing I appreciate about my fortunate (but perhaps rare) experience with the healthy spiritual mentorship I’ve received by particular UBF leaders/mentors over the last 15 years is that the Lord used it to enlarge my knowledge of the second point (knowledge of my self so that my repentance enlarges). My prayer is that both this online community forum and the UBF leadership that God is both using to minister positively to my life these days may be in a great place where it also consistently enlarges my knowledge on the third point (knowledge of God so that my repentance enlarges). The George Koch book above sort of did it for me this year. Not sure why I’m sharing this. Anyway, wanted to commend the book to my friends here.

    Been also thinking about what Apostle Paul prayed in Philippians 1:9…came to the conclusion that I not only want my repentance to be enlarged, but my love to be enlarged as well with greater knowledge and depth of insight. I pray that both love and repentance enlarges communally and personally at ISBC as well as my regular community life and daily family life.

    Hey all, pray for me that my repentance and love may abound and enlarge more and more in knowledge, and thank you everyone (both active UBFriends contributers and silent UBF leadership-readers) for contributing to the growth of knowledge for my edification. Everyone, I think we’re getting there. Thanks for the (S)HOT conversations. Radical repentance. Radical love. Enlarge both in my life, O Lord.

    David Bychkov, I just wanted to say that you are a man after my own heart. I catch your heart behind all your comments and I deeply appreciate it.

    Uh, someone tell me what I’m going to do now that google reader is officially inactive? any other Readers out there I can use? Help.

    • John Y, I also miss Google Reader. But there are replacements, e.g. BazQux (with special support for blog comments), Feedly, Digg and AOL reader.

    • Hey JohnY, glad to see you venture into this blog again :)

      Speaking of George Koch, check out his shout out to ubfriends:

      reviews of Koch’s book

      I am making my way (slowly) through this book. It is profound. It exposes MANY holes, flaws, shortcomings, contradictiona and fallacies in my ubf-trained thinking. Should be REQUIRED READING for EVERY ubf person.