12 Things UBF Taught Me (2)

d2“Do world mission” – The second point in the ubf heritage is World Mission. I learned that World Mission is something you do. The idea is that people in the world are in terrible shape. The “world” was defined as everyone outside ubf. All those worldly people are from many different countries, and the worst of them are on 561 American campuses. [Note: The 561 number came from a old Navigator survey that found 561 major campuses in America at the time.]

So to “do” world mission meant you go out into the world (i.e. the closest campus) and fish. To “fish” means to invite students to one-to-one bible study. This seemed to fit nicely with point 1 of the ubf heritage, “go back to the bible”.

The good, bad and ugly

Good (keep it)

– The world mission slogan helped me to expand my thinking beyond my own little world. Growing up as a country boy from a small hick town, this idea of serving the world was helpful.

– I learned to tolerate and accept people of different cultures and language than me.

Bad (change it)

– Emphasizing “Jesus’ world mission commands” lead me to ignore Jesus’ other commands, many of which are more important.

Ugly (stop it)

– I learned quickly that even though I was to think about many countries around the world, Korean culture was supreme.

– World mission taught me to lose my identity as an American and adopt the ubf version of Korean culture.

– I gave up all my dreams and sacrificed much in order to be a missionary to Russia, only to be told this would not be possible in ubf. I found out ubf is not a missionary sending organization. ubf is a Korean missionary sending organization. A small number of non-Koreans have been sent by ubf, but those actions seem to me to be just an appeasement.


  1. World mission is still a very important activity for all Christians. I agree with the situation that placed many Korean missionaries in so-called Christian countries in the west. I agree because so many have become secular and/or there has been a backlash with modernity and revealed scandals. (That being said, UBF and any other evangelical organizations would be wise to avoid and stop anything that smells bad.)

    About opportunities to be sent out I do remember my chapter director and shepherd and others had desire to go to certain countries and found themselves in North America instead. By default I am a missionary (I cringe when I hear the title applied to me). I would just rather be recognized as serving God in my capacity – forget the title and place of honour.

    Now, for Korean readers I am not undermining a certain aspect of world mission – BUT – I must say it: We must demonstrate equal emotional response for importance based on the spreading of God’s word. Because I have always been close to Koreans (pre-ubf), I notice how if someone mentions Korea or even North Korea or especially peaceful reunification it is met with abounding applause. Please keep it controlled!!

    If there is anyone who is not even thinking about the Koreas than it is okay, even fantastic and a potential great work of God.

    Do not say ‘gc’ does not understand. ‘gc’ understands better than his own wife. My wife is from the south-western coast, thus there was no remembered loss in the family because of the split. But, ‘gc’ is a remnant family from Crimea-Russia. Thanks to internet and facebook I could re-connect after one hundred years and share genealogies with cousins that I have never met face to face. My own grandfather was separated from his sister and parents because of politics (they never saw each other after that) – SO – everyone has a story that can be shared that draw upon emotions.

    World mission is about Jesus’ love – not only one or just a few countries.

  2. Thanks Brian. World mission is very interesting.

    My current church is very passionate about missions. It isn’t an especially large church (~300 people), but they support a handful of families in various places around the world. But the understanding of world mission is totally different than in UBF.

    In UBF, the view I observed is that we are the last hope for the world, and if we don’t go out, no one else will. We are the elite special forces specially chosen to infiltrate the whole world and bring the dark heathen students filled with secularism and post-modernism to God.

    In contrast, in my current church, they recognize that we are not well equipped to evangelize and plant churches because we are outsiders, but we can equip, encourage, and support. So rather than going to “convert the heathen” they go to strengthen the local church, build relationships, help provide training, resources, and equip the saints. They view themselves as the equippers and supporters, while UBF missionaries almost viewed themselves as the saviours for the poor lost students.

    I think that the distinction makes a huge difference in the attitude of the missionary and in the environment of the mission field. In UBF, world mission was viewed as being our mission, given to us from God. In my current church, it is viewed as God’s mission, one in which we participate with all believers.

  3. big bear


    • Or, if you really want to focus your life on world mission and evangelization, and you are able to do that, then simply don’t marry. It’s not for all, but for some. But *if* you marry, then take your marriage and family seriously and understand raising your kids and loving your wife as your first responsibility. You have the freedom to choose, marry or stay unmarried, both is blessed by the Bible. But you can’t have it both, marry and then live as if your are unmarried. UBF really needs to “go back to the Bible”.

  4. ubf’s world mission efforts have brought more than a thousand Koreans to the USA, Canada and Europe. Some missionaries admit that they went out as missionaries with the idea of a better and more comfortable life. And they were going to serve students with the “sacrificial” and even “martydom” soldier spirit. SL mentioned in his messages that many ubf missionaries in the US hadn’t had a sheep for 23 years being in the US. Joe mentioned that ubf’s statistics include every Korean who went out of Korea or was born out of Korea as a missionary. That is understandable if you know ubf’s love for numbers and its seeking glory among Korean churches. So ubf’s world mission seems to be Korean mission and to be Korean outside Korea is a more important thing than being a true missionary actually. And “mission” in ubf is based on an interpretation of “making disciples” as that “people are not able to become disciples of Jesus themselves and we ubf missionaries are called to make them disciples through our training”. This kind of “making” and “training” have nothing to do with Jesus’ words. But that’s ubf’s “world mission”.

    And I thought about God’s word “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”. This word teaches that God’s house should and must be open for people from all nations so that they would come and pray there. God’s house is not for the Jews only and surely not for Koreans only. I have a question, “Can you being a member of ubf see that non-Korean people are free to come to ubf centers and pray there the way they see right before the Lord?”. My personal answer is “No way!”. Ubf is not for all nations, it is for Koreans only and for those who are not against humbly feeling themselves of an under-Korean nation.

  5. Speaking of “doing world mission”, here is a list of the all-time top 20 countries visiting here (from 6/2010 to 7/2013, about 3 years). South Korea seems quite interested :)

    The overall, 3 year average time spent here per session is 7 mins 2 seconds.

    1 United States
    2 Canada
    3 Russia
    4 Germany
    5 Ukraine
    6 Philippines
    7 South Korea
    8 India
    9 (unknown)
    10 United Kingdom
    11 Australia
    12 France
    13 Malaysia
    14 South Africa
    15 Singapore
    16 Japan
    17 Brazil
    18 Belgium
    19 Indonesia
    20 Hong Kong

  6. I am neither a nationalist nor a racist. We know that there are no differences in Christ. If we are Christian, we are in the same family.
    I don’t deny there are cultural barriers and even individual differences in one’s world view, values and backgrounds that should be overcome by learning from Jesus.
    I agree that authoritarian leadership and spiritual abuse should be discouraged. Also we should be keenly aware of Satan behind division, misunderstanding, bitterness and a vengeful spirit.
    When Hitler was, Bonhoeffer was too. Don’t think all Koreans are same.
    People can make mistakes due to unbearable burdens, imbalance between input and output, out of ignorance, idolizing the ministry, selfish ambition, pride… etc.
    The place we live in is a fallen world and there will be no utopian ministry. We will suffer from sin and its consequences until last day. We should deal with them wisely.
    I also have had to endure the pain while I was in the ministry under the leadership of an American shepherd.
    I don’t think the issues you guys speak about apply only to Koreans or UBF. They are from the sinful man’s mentality.
    No one is completely safe. You and I can be the ones who make the same mistakes if we do not watch out.

    • @Green: I agree with you. We are all human. No one criticizes UBF missionaries for being imperfect. We are critical rather because their weaknesses, sins, failures, over-reaching abuse of authority, etc., and that of the ministry are not properly identified, renounced, repented of, and moved away from. Instead, all kinds of explanations, excuses, and appeasements are produced while the philosophy of life and ministry that produced the problems are enshrined and exalted. “There is no perfect church” is used to excuse wrong-doing. Why not just repent and come into the light of truth and freedom, where the blood of Jesus makes us perfect and bonds us together in perfect unity, because he has imputed his perfect righteousness to us?

    • @Green, I also agree with you. At the same time as other have shared already I can not see in ubf a leadership but Korean (or under-Korean which is not leadership). And I acknowledge that I being a non-Korean sub-leader in my chapter did many ugly things (sins) of abuse and so I believe did many other “native shepherds”. But I repented and apologied and talked to all my former sheep and even other shepherds and sheep who were not “mine” in ubf. It gives much freedom in discussing ubf problems now for we are not a part of them any longer. The problem with Korean leadership in ubf is that it is Confusian in its essence and so is not able to act in a Christian way (for example to repent and apology like Zacchaeus who abused many, instead ubf leaders choose the way of pharisees who opposed Jesus and were righteous in their own eyes anyway).

      “You and I can be the ones who make the same mistakes if we do not watch out” – Exactly! And I think that former ubf people are experts now in discerning such mistakes and can be very helpful to churches for they know how it should not be in Christian churches and are very sensitive about abuse.

  7. big bear

    Green…there is no excuse for abusive leaders…the abuse is real and yet there is no acknowledgment of wrong doing in UBF by its leaders or apology…this is scary..yes we are all sinners and yes we are all capable of doing evil in the Lord’s eyes…but deliberate and continual abuse is unacceptable for leaders…they need to step down..maybe get away from UBF for awhile until they get healed in God’s love…

  8. Green, I also agree with you. However, it must be openly discussed that the influence on UBF’s origins only come from one American woman Sarah Barry. The rest of the development was established by and among Koreans. As a consequence (for better or worse) the social culture of UBF is Korean. It is no surprise that growing shepherds comply with the standard and social culture. We are all sinful humans who lust after power, recognition and a playground to fulfill our needs.

    I am not surprised that an American shepherd was being abusive – that was how he was taught within the system. We have discussed the character of people before in context with the system. People are not bad, nor are they the problem – but the system itself is flawed from the beginning. If there is a cultural influence it is Korean – sorry!

    How many similarities for experience can you find between UBF social culture and the comments on this blog for teachers?
    Just look something up.

    For one I love Korea, Koreans and most definately my wife and family, but I am not going to sugar coat the problems. The problem is systematic. People are objects, be they American, Russian, Korean, South African, Mexican etc…..
    As long as people justify their actions in the name of one sober man trying to keep unity and peace in the church how can we have a sensible discussion about this? Abuse is abuse.

    We must refer to Joe’s earlier comments on Brian’s 6th article about spiritual order. It illustrates quite well how efforts to follow world mission have been stifled by such a system. Brian’s sarcasm might bother some when he says that American’s are the worst, but this is often expressed in the dominant Korean social culture of UBF. To reinforce your point however not all Koreans are alike and many do not like UBF either.