Don’t Forget God’s Grace

dWith the upcoming Summer Bible Conference fast approaching, the labor of many chapters is to bring home the message, “So Loved”. The theme is to serve the world with God’s love (John 13:34, 20:21). The vision is two parts: refresh and renew world mission coworkers with God’s love and vision and to inspire North Americans with God’s love to be shepherds and missionaries. Somewhere near the end of the Summer Bible Conference there will be a missionary pledge. Despite all these catch phrases and the amazing themes, the message of all Summer Bible Conferences and life in UBF can be summed up like this, “Don’t forget God’s grace”. Here are my thoughts on the ISBC theme.

Trapped by “grace”

It is still amazing that though I have been kicked out of UBF, I still am listed as a director in the daily bread book, being sent daily bread books, and even promotional literature along with conference posters and invitation cards to invite people to the 2013 UBF International Summer Conference (ISBC) at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Even after being kicked out, I am still bombarded with everything concerning UBF. When does it all end, it is like being a main character in a horror movie though I am not in the movie.

It would be nice to really witness “So Loved” in UBF even if it is for one weekend from August 1-4. Instead the true theme of every conference is always the same. I summarize the true theme like this, “Don’t forget God’s grace”. You might say, “What is so bad with that. Isn’t that what Christians are called to do?” The problem is how UBF sees God’s grace. It is a trap, meant to keep you thankful forever to UBF.

From my early days, I was reminded constantly of this from my shepherd who by the way disappeared from UBF without a trace, no one knows what actually happened to him and his family. I was one of the young shepherds who shared my life testimony at Michigan State University and was told to write a hundred page testimony of my life then narrow it down to two pages telling of God’s grace. I was surprised that God’s grace equaled only what happened in UBF and in Bible study. Later, I wrote a book, “Crossing the Red Sea” to share the grace I learned through the word of God.

Maybe a beard will make you forget God’s grace

The problem lies in how UBF interprets God’s grace. My shepherd was a very wealthy man but he was considered a great man because he lived with a poor street kid from Cincinnati, Ohio. He would warn me daily to not forget God’s grace and prohibited me from growing facial hair because he told me that my old life comes back when I have hair on my face. I think the real reason is that he could not grow a beard and he thought that I was forgetting God’s grace when I grew a beard. The chapter director would invite me over to his nice home and feed me and say, “Don’t forget God’s grace!”

Post Conference Depression

All through out my 20 plus years in UBF, it was always the same message, it was how they kept the bear in me asleep. Everything that anyone done for me in UBF was thrown in my face time and time again to keep me a prisoner in the system. The summer conferences were great but we all suffered from PCD after the conferences which is “Post Conference Depression.” There was no true love. Even to this day, I barely know anybody in UBF personally because it was all about UBF where was the real people, the real Jesus and the real love.

More like a guilt trip

On the UBFriends site, I feel connected with people for the first time because we all know deep inside that the new theme of the upcoming ISBC, “So Loved” is just like “Don’t forget God’s grace”. Many after this conference will go home depressed and even regret spending so much money when they have bills and family matters that are pressing on them. Everyone will leave with a big smile and say what an amazing Bible conference this was, and then suffer on Monday morning from PCD. It happened to all of us in Cincinnati UBF and we all struggled countless times with bouts of depression and with the true guilt trip, “Don’t forget God’s grace.”

Just a stern warning to all who go! Say to yourself, “Am I going to this 2013 International Summer Conference because I experience God’s love in my heart and in our chapter ministry?” or “Am I going because I must not forget the benefits of God’s servants and perhaps if I don’t go I will be rebuked in a stern and angry way?” Beware of PCD. If you have to go to a conference to experience God’s love than perhaps you are already in a depressed state and a weekend of inspiration may cause you to drift into insomnia. How will you escape the PCD?


  1. Yea, we all suffered from PCD in Toledo UBF too. And if someone didn’t have PCD, they most certainly did after the mandatory Tuesday meeting after every conference. This was the “make sure everyone feels guilty for not doing enough” meeting. Only two kinds of topics were ever shared at these meetings: flattery, praise-God type sharings or vague, guilt-laden burdens. It was rare for anyone to give constructive criticism or share how they felt, although sometimes a woman coworker would cry, then we would all ignore her and keep sharing.

    Post-conference time was the most dreaded time for a ubf messenger…..

    • For decades I called them PCB: Post Conference Blues!

    • I used to “joke” that some people are still suffering from PCB for 10 years and counting!

    • Ben, PCS was the worst as a messenger… “Post Conference Slamming”… I realize now that we were being measured by the measuring line of obedience and plumbed by the plumb line of loyalty. No wonder I was always so depressed! This is not God’s way, and it is not a Christian way.

    • Mark Mederich

      may the Holy Spirit cut that measuring line & sever that plumb line, forever:)

    • We had the same PCD and the mandatory Monday meetings :(

  2. Joe Schafer

    Here’s one of my stories about PCD.

    One summer in the early 1990’s, we got a phone call from Chicago UBF. The voice on the line was an American voice, speaking with a Korean accent: “Dr. SL says that every chapter MUST bring 12 sheep to the MSU conference. Those who don’t bring 12 sheep CANNOT COME.”

    So we dutifully obeyed. We prayed and we pushed and we prodded and we pressured people to register for the conference.

    In the end, Penn State brought 12 sheep to MSU.

    And right after the conference, every single of those newcomers “ran away.”

    I was always told that after a conference, Satan becomes jealous and tries to steal people away.

    But those newcomers didn’t leave because Satan entered their hearts. They left because of what they heard and saw at the conference.

    They heard messages that were amateurish and theology that was superficial, unbalanced, or just plain wrong. They saw the hubris, the lack of humility, the spirit of pridefulness about UBF. They didn’t like being pressured to “just believe,” to “just obey,” to just whatever. They thought that committed UBF members talked and acted very strangely. They got to see UBF people up close and just didn’t like what they saw. They realized that they had no future in UBF unless they put on those same unattractive characteristics. So after the conference, they just stopped coming.

    Over the years, we lost a lot of members because of UBF international conferences.

    • @Joe: “Over the years, we lost a lot of members because of UBF international conferences.” – See more at:

      Yes! Every Bible student I ever brought to an international conference quit almost immediately after. The same is true for national conferences. The only conference that didn’t lead to a mass exodus of members was the YDC. Go figure.

    • Joe Schafer

      Joshua, it’s funny that you should say that about YDC.

      At the most recent Well conference, the coordinator for Canada was asked, “What do you think about this conference?” In reply, he said that he was going to withhold judgment until he saw what kind of fruit resulted from the conference.

      He probably meant that he was going to wait and see if the number of 1:1’s or SWS attendants or the ratio of 1:1 to SWS would go up or down. (I say that because I know for a fact that he pays close attention to such numbers.)

      If that were the standard by which conferences should be evaluated, I would have to say that many ubf conferences were counterproductive, because after conferences many people would leave.

      I’m pretty sure that those people would have left anyway, but the conferences probably made them leave sooner.

    • Mark Mederich

      gee i don’t have 12 going, so i’m probably ineligible, but i plan show up anyway this time & seek the Holy Spirit best i can (which may affect what happens next time)

    • The problem was not only that so many people left after the conferences but also that we the shepherds understood that they would surely leave. It was very and very difficult for me to “just believe” that it was possible to “fish” a long time sheep and make him “just obey” the ubf system after regular reality of many sheep leaving.

      And so every Tuesday sogam sharing meeting was the expression of that inner struggle, “I can’t believe but I believe that God will bring through me at least two new sheep to the conference!”. If you don’t say this words of “faith” you’ll likely receive a “training. It reminds me Brian’s lynk to a ubf presentation, “1:1 is natural! OK?” LOL

  3. The worst part about conferences was definitely the pressure to bring Bible students. Showing up without any “sheep” was so shameful that I would go to great lengths to bring my Bible students. I spent more time, money, and effort to bring them to a conference than to bring them to Jesus. Isn’t that backwards?

    And frankly, I never felt that an adequate gospel presentation was given at any of the conferences I attended. Even the messages on Jesus’ death and resurrection I felt were aimed more at instilling a sense of indebtedness to pay back Jesus through our ministry devotion. Students were given a very hazy picture of the way of salvation, then asked to write a testimony in which it was expected they would “receive one word” and somehow “meet Jesus.” It was largely rather artificial and contrived and not organic or Spirit-led.

    • big bear

      yes the horror and pressure of conferences…lost many jobs, got into much debt and I had 5 children, paid many to go with our house payment, often come back not able to feed my family, family strife and pressure to bring students, all ran away when they saw the pressure on us to bring people…we all looked at each other funny after conferences..the month of everyday prayer meetings…the young shepherd who burned his arm on a stove and the senior shepherd who beatup on a young shepherd..the depression was real…family threaten to leave me…could not afford shoes for my kids…the guilt..

    • Mark Mederich

      i’m bringing the Holy Spirit with me (at least as best i can), does that count?..

    • big bear

      Hey mark…the Holy spirit is all that counts

  4. big bear

    THE CONFERENCE IS A SHOW. It is not an accurate reflection of what is going on behind the scenes….the best thing is the food…only times in my life I ate 3 meals a day….but is it worth all the suffering on families and losing jobs, Pcd, and the relationships are so superficial…..last year I visited LA Ubf and after 29 years I had a real heart to heart talk with Pastor Teddy Hemibikides…..why so long…….this is the problem no real friendships

  5. I believe that ideal kind of people ubf desparetely needs as native shepherds and sheep is like this

    • Reminds me of a sentence spoken by Samuel Lee: “With a little training, UBF shepherds can do everything.” I think he said it on a conference, after a “Russian Dance” performance by American shepherds.

  6. My friend told me that while he was an officer in the army he experienced many “miracles” of training. If a private says, “I can’t”, you just order him to push up 200 times and a “miracle” happens! The private never says “I can’t” and does many things.

    I thought about why in ubf it is so important to have all kinds of “trainings”. They all are military style and “just obey” style. To prepare a good message you don’t need the Holy Spirit. What you need is to write the message 4-5 times then rehearse it many times (sometimes 40?) and then maybe your drill sergeant will say “OK the message has been almost prepared”.

    In order to increase “the number” you don’t need Jesus, “you don’t need to think”, you just need “the more you go fishing the more you will catch”.

    Again I want to quote MacArthur, “In a couple of years our ministry was doubled. We did absolutely nothing for that”. Is the secret of increasing number in the work of the Holy Spirit who blesses those who really obey Jesus words (not a heritage) and seek first His kingdom? “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32)

  7. big bear

    The longer I am away from UBF the more I see the arrogance and pride of the leaders and the system that is so wrong…I am so happy I will never have to suffer from PCD again or suffer to uphold a system that all about heritage and about numbers not about love and about caring for others in a true sense..UBF is destroying many lives in the name of serving God and does not see it and families…Truly, what is the point of the international conference..”So loved” this is not practiced only in words….really who are the leaders…I am so thankful for Dr. Ben Toh and Joe, and Brian and others who contribute on this site because I could confirm what I saw with my own eyes is true and that many of us who have left UBF see the same things and we were committed to raising disciples and the system just as much as those who are there…the conference is all about promoting the ideas and the heritage of UBF….I admit I was so arrogant and proud that I did not see it…it took for everything to be taken away from me to see it…I do not wish to do any harm to UBF or to destroy UBF but just pray with an earnest prayer that the abuse and the antifamily and the dictator style leadership will change…another bible conference to promote these ideas will only make matters worst…I say that everyone boycotts and stays home…then things will change…it will send a message loud and clear..if not the madness and the PCD will continue and many lives will be torn apart and families…nowdays I spend my time trying to restore my family, get to know my children deeply, and to learn to love from a healthy church…UBF took 29 years of my life, destroyed my family with its teachings, yet it goes on like doing God’s mission is most important…they fail to see that they are doing their agenda not the mission of love and feeding the poor and caring for the sick, truthfully there is no love in UBF from many of the leaders, when my family fell apart nobody tried in any way practical to help us even after serving in UBF for 29 years, this is a tragedy, someday we all must give an account for the things we have done while in the body whether good or bad…when I shared my life testimony in 1986 I ran to my room at the MSU summer conference because I was so afraid because I had testified only a life testimony that was forced out of me by my director and I was not allowed to share my true story, I felt defiled and emotionally raped because I was not allowed to just share the whole truth…UBF does not want to give credit to other churches for God’s work or to even praise the work of God in other churches…it is the most selfish and unloving church though like the Pharisees has a form of righteousness, I praise and thank God for delivering me from such a distorted and unloving ministry…I hope all of us who want to stand on the side of truth can come together and do whatever it takes prayerfully to change the tide for the sake of families, students, and the body of Christ….UBF speaks two languages…one to Bible students and one to other churches…it is like a two headed dragon…one of the heads must be cut off..then out of the ashes will arise a loving ministry and there will be freedom and peace flowing like a river…I earnestly pray for all those on this site and for all of our stories to be heard by students before they decide to commit to such a ministry that can take away the golden years of their lives with false hopes and dreams

  8. Joe Schafer

    The subject of this article, “Don’t Forget God’s Grace,” reminds me of this interview with the late Dallas Willard where he talks about the meaning of grace.

    That saying — “Don’t forget God’s grace” — assumes that grace is the forgiveness of sin that you once received when you became a Christian.

    Willard contends that grace is not primarily about forgiveness for past sins. It is about being empowered to live in the present, to participate in God’s life here and now.

    The whole video is well worth watching. The part where he talks about grace begins at about 4:40.

    • I think Dallas Willard is right when he says about grace as God’s kingdom in our lives. When we trust our own efforts then we live in “our kingdom” which is a part of “a darker kingdom”. When we lived under the power of ubf directorship we lived in ubf kingdom which is also a part of “a darker kingdom”. It is very difficult and very close to impossible to experience grace and God’s kingdom under the constant pressure of the ubf directorship. This is also a part of what I meant when I wrote that ubf (as a system) and ubf leadership hinder the work of God. There is no time and no space even for the family not to mention for the grace of God. The life of a ubf member it seems to me is more like Jesus interfering through human directorship into the life of a member rather than directors partly interfere in the graceful life. I mean directors often take or want to and tend to take all the space in the life of a ubf member and bi in control in their “darker kingdom”.

  9. big bear

    Again. where is the love of God.

  10. big bear

    DEAR friends….God grace is just what it means….unmerited favor from God thru the forgiveness os sins…this we should not forget….but if so, God love is unconditional….but what about the ice cream soda your shepherd bought you tell your children to remember the ice cream you buy them…this is how self absorbed some of these shepherds are..where is love unconditional….it is a trap of your life…dont take the bait….buy your own ice cream

    • big bear

      IT IS THE CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF BAIT AND SWITCH….I noticed after you leave Ubf you are always tring to question motives of others….God gave me such an amazing wife who truly knows love….and guess what….she has never belonged to Ubf….friends….God is bigger than Ubf…..dont be trapped in the system….be a person who stands in God not any organization…the freedom is amazing grace of God……

    • Mark Mederich

      unconditional, important word for us all to increase understanding of God’s grace (as opposed to human works mentality)

  11. big bear

    upon reading many posts. it all comes back to this in UBF….Dont forget God grace…..the trip to Korea is a marketing trip with all mission trips…..MARRIAGE IN ubf is about marriage to ministry…like a grace trap……UBf has to trap people why else would people stay in a ministry that is abusive, bad theology and makes sure all Bible study makes you leader programmed for ubf so if leave you you will be a wierdo in a healthy church and they can give you the middle finger..see you forgot God grace so you deserve it…they dont want exubf people coming back because they dont know how to deal with healthy Christians…they are so full of works and pride