12 Things UBF Taught Me (3)

d3Campus Evangelism” – The third point in the ubf heritage is about college campus ministry. I normally combined “World Mission” and “Campus Evangelism” in to one slogan “World Campus Mission”. But really there are two slogans here. Campus evangelism refers to some specific lifestyle choices that are eventualy required of bible students in ubf (called “sheep”).

In their own words

Before I share my thoughts, here is a published description of “Campus Evangelism”. This matches what I was taught.

In this way God gave our ministry the specific mission of raising students as spiritual leaders. A broken shepherd heart and a burning love towards students became the spirit of our ministry. Because of this we had to see ourselves as permanent students. Those who graduated from college and got a job did not think of themselves as salary men but took pride in being shepherds of students. Whether others recognized us or not, we loved students more than the president or the chancellor or professors.


We believed that we owned the campus. With this sense of mission and pride of being shepherds, we dedicated our youth and possessions to God. Especially, married women spent their time more on campus than at home, more in taking care of student sheep than their own children. Those who could not graduate from college came to our ministry and accepted campus mission. Though they were older than average students, they entered the college in order to shepherd college students. Moreover, even though the rent around the university was more expensive than other places, we wanted to live near the campus and feed student sheep with the word of God.


Maintaining the status of a permanent college student and campus shepherd is a peculiar way of life and required constant struggle. When old people kept on coming and going through the campus, they became the objects of suspicion and investigation. Some was accused of being a kind of criminal. To make matters worse, some missionaries were even put into prison, including Dr. Joseph Chung of Chicago UBF, who was imprisoned for a few days. In spite of all these hardships, we did not abandon campus mission because it was God who gave us the specific mission of campus evangelism, and this mission became our reason to live and the purpose of our lives


God did not call us to be ordinary people who does ordinary work. Among all peoples of all nations, God called us to be shepherds for students. Our mission does not end in gathering students. God called us to be disciple-makers who raise up spiritual leaders and shepherds. May God help us to keep this spiritual heritage of God’s specific calling to us as disciple-makers among college students to the end.

Source: ubf history

The good, bad and ugly

Good (keep it)

– Nothing good comes to mind about the slogan campus evangelism. I am too jaded by this one. Anyone?

Bad (change it)

– I cannot think of anything to change in this one. I can only think of things that must be stopped.

Ugly (stop it)

– I was taught to believe that we owned the campus. Note the statement above “We believed that we owned the campus.” This led to things like marching around the campus 7 times like Jericho, which I personally did not do but it was reported several times from other chapters. But I did walk on campus much and participated in ubf prayer meetings on campus. Some claimed they would bury their bones on campus.

– I was taught that ubf is a college ministry, and it is. But they also extend the ubf context to all ages of life. The have BBF (for babies), MBF (for middle school/elementary), HBF (for high school), UBF (for university). Then after that you go through MbF (marriage by faith) and start the whole cycle over again. The ubf people who become 60 or 70 years old are pressured to become “silver missionaries”, usually accompanied by a joke about “retire” meaning “put new tires on”. So ubf presents as a campus ministry, but tries to enforce all ages to conform to the campus ministry paradigm. You can’t have it both ways. Either ubf must choose to actually be a campus ministry only or create unique programs suited for various ages.

– I was taught to “be part of campus life” my whole life. As ubf’s own words say, “Maintaining the status of a permanent college student and campus shepherd is a peculiar way of life and required constant struggle.” ubf demands that you stay a permanent student. So ubf should not be surprised when many leaders in ubf eventually leave.



  1. Thanks, Brian.

    The good. To this day (because of “campus evangelism”), I have loved meeting with, dialoguing with and engaging with college students ever since I’ve been in UBF in 1980. It has compelled me to fight against simply and naturally gravitating toward becoming a geriatric church, to contextualize the gospel to the next generation, to love CCM in addition to hymns, and to “feel” young even though I am no longer in my 20s, since I have always been around people younger than I. In Manila I am 3 times older than the students I meet for Bible study.

    The bad. Showing favoritism toward college age ministry, while regarding BBF, MBF, HBF, music ministry, etc, as “inferior” to college ministry. Regarding “campus ministry” as more important than your secular occupation and even your own family. Having no theology of work whatsoever. Becoming dichotomous rather than holistic in outlook.

    The ugly. “Campus evangelism” has become an idolatry, an elitism, an exclusivity, an insularity, an isolation, etc, as though UBF has the corner on the market on campus evangelism. (“We own the campus.”) Perhaps, it sadly justifies to some UBF leaders when older UBF leaders leave after decades, since we can simply “fish more new young sheep,” without working toward trinitarian reconciliation, relational and trust issues that are key and foundational to the health of any church or ministry.

    • “Perhaps, it sadly justifies to some UBF leaders when older UBF leaders leave after decades, since we can simply “fish more new young sheep,” without working toward trinitarian reconciliation, relational and trust issues that are key and foundational to the health of any church or ministry.”

      Precisely why I am so “scary” and “poisonous” in the minds of ubf directors. Going on 3 years now since resigning, and I haven’t gone away as they had hoped.

      Recently a friend in ubf asked me why I seek tension instead of peace with regard to ubf. My answer is that I seek tension in order to keep the dialogue open, to provide some level of public accountability to ubf directors, and to use such tension to counteract the pressure ubf directors are giving to ubf members.

    • And so far, its working.

  2. big bear

    Campus ministry…it is because students are vulnerable..away from home…this is why UBF gets away with it..my sister told me this after she found out UBF kicked me out…so many people rejoiced because they saw the hard reality…UBF wears a mask that they are interested only in evangelizing students when in fact they are destroying families and even students with their obsession…UBF is a business…once my director told me this…they want to make profit…after graduation..UBF people should move on…but the wives and the children and everybody else is dragged into this obsession that they are all abandoned for the mission and are depressed and deformed…it got so bad that my children did not even wear proper shoes or clothes..everyone wandered why a family with two Registered nurses could not even afford a pair of shoes for their kids…UBF drains you of all your money in offering and many little ways like conferences..you can’t do overtime at work…miss meetings..for 29 years I could not work on Sundays and most good paying RN jobs require it so we settled for low paying jobs and raising 5 children…the director lives very comfortable since his wife is a doctor…it did not make sense to me…yet he never wrote testimonies or never repented openly..hid all his sins from all of us…this was so that he could be the righteous one and all of us sinners…students hated the Cinti UBF because it was unfriendly, cultish in what it did, the director is so controling over students that I often was ashamed of being even coming from Cinti UBF…students are abused and rebuked openly and forced to cut off all ties with family and friends…it is not right

  3. big bear

    I can honestly say that if you leave UBF you will be much better off in every way…don’t ever believe if you leave you are going to hell or God will curse you…this is farthest from the truth..I believe that many in UBF are living in a hell on earth and that there is no regard for people in UBF…people are only means to do campus work…when you break down or stop just for a moment..you find that there is no true love…it is all about control and numbers…

    • bigbear,

      “it is all about control and numbers…”

      At the director level, yes indeed it is. I heard directors say many times “Change anything you want, just don’t change the gospel.” As I look back, that was loaded language for “Don’t mess with my authority and don’t tarnish my glory.” The gospel of “human power and glory” needs to be challenged with the gospel Jesus preached. Such a challenge requires courageous, bold and decisive action.

  4. big bear

    The director wife never made it to many of the meetings or their children..in fact you never saw them much…but all other people were rebuked if did not make it even wives who had 5 small children…it was so hypocritical..these leaders will have to answer to God…I pray they may live before God not man made systems and rules…they have no conscience for real people in general

  5. big bear

    This is from Big Bear…Get out…I plead with you before it is too late..campus ministry is just another way to exploit families and students…

  6. @bigbear: Every day since leaving UBF in August last year, I turn to my wife and tell her how relieved I am that we left UBF. When we left, my unbelieving relatives cried tears of joy, for even they had observed the abuse and the pain we were going through. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by when I haven’t given thanks to God for leading us in and then, at the right time, leading us out.

    I’ve been listening to some awesome messages from John MacArthur from Galatians. Especially, this sermon resonates with what I was implicitly taught and made to believe: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1665/fallen-from-grace-part-1-the-works-of-false-doctrine. If you have a free hour, I highly recommend listening. It is so helpful to deconstruct the spiritual system that I was immersed in.

    • Thank you, Joshua, for the link. Some months ago we studied Galatians and I was very surprised with Paul’s words of condemnation of those who bring a different gospel with some addition of works and efforts. It seems that it is nice if someone tries to be good and to do good according to the Law of God (without Christ). Is circumcision that bad? But Paul says, “Let him be eternally condemned”.

      Thinking about ubf it has been discussed already that ubf’s official statement of faith is nice but the practical life is very legalistic. ubf teaches that people are saved by faith, and at the same time it is really difficult for any ubf member to stop doing any ubf practice (daily bread, testimony writing, meetings and fishing and sws) even for a while. If someone stops doing something or express some “doubts” he/she is rebuked and feels inner fear and guilt for not doing something even once or for having a desire, a thought about not doing or not doing enough. In this sense ubf is surely not a Christian organization, it is a “fallen-from-grace” legalistic system. It has been bringing to young people a different gospel. It can be humanly nice as Confusianism and Judaism are humanly nice, but according to Paul “Let it (the system and whoever brings it) be eternally condemned”.

      Some quotes from MacArthur’s sermon,
      ” Now throughout all of the history of man, God’s religion of divine grace has been opposed by Satan’s religion of achievement or self effort or self righteousness.”

      “Conversion was the act of emancipation, and the Christian life is the life of a free man… It’s freedom on conscience. Freedom from the tyranny of the legal system. Freedom from the terrible frustration and pressure of struggling to keep the law when you can’t. Freedom from the terrible pressure that comes by trying to do things that will gain God’s meriting favor.”

      “The law is like a prison. It keeps people bounded by walls, because they don’t have internal capacity to govern themselves within the limits of law… It means that he (a Christian) now has the capacity to walk out of his cell and still live within the bounds of law, but not by being walled in, but by the internal restraints that are built in through the ministry of the Holy Spirit” (not through the ubf’s life-long trainings to make you a disciple)

      “They (Galatians) have that Holy Spirit there. They turn right around, walk right back into a cell that they don’t even need to be in and thus confine the Holy Spirit to their cell.” (Very similar to ubf)

      “If you come all the way up to grace and you say grace is where it’s at and all of a sudden you add law, you’ve fallen from grace as a principle… Christ becomes of no effect to you.”

      And this story express ubf’s history and future so well, “There was an artist long time ago, I read about him this week. He had a dream all of his life and his dream was to sculpt the masterpiece. A masterpiece of multiple characters. He finally received a commission from a great donor to do a work that was to be placed in a great museum and it would bring him honor and fame. And so he began to work. He worked from the early years of his life until the end of his life. Year after year after year he toiled and his masterpiece. It was mammoth. He finished it. And he was all ready to win the acclaim of the world. And they found there was no way to get it out of the room that he’d built it in. And nobody was willing to pay the price that it would have taken him to work to destroy the huge building in which he had worked. Everything he’d done was captive to the prisoner of the room in which he’d done it.”

    • I thank God he helped me to stop building the ubf’s mammoth and go out of the room into Christ’s freedom after 17 years (not in the end of my earthly life). When you are in, the mammoth seems great, but the sooner you understand it is of no use the better it is for you.

      “You can not serve both God and mammon” And you can not serve both God and mammoth :)

    • @Vitaly: You identified the exact quotes that spoke to me. I typically listen to Dr. MacArthur’s sermons while jogging or walking. I sometimes have to stop and just weep over the wasted years of trying to live by law and trying to merit God’s favour through all my activities. Also, weep over the grace that God has given us in Christ, that I am free to live out of that bondage in freedom and liberty in Christ. The series on Galatians has been so reparative for my Christian walk.

      God bless!

  7. Joshua, bigbear:

    “Every day since leaving UBF in August last year, I turn to my wife and tell her how relieved I am that we left UBF.”

    We know the feeling. For at least one year after leaving, nearly every day either Mary or I would say “I’m so glad we left when we did!” We’ve stopped saying that now, so I think we’re on the road to recovery. I feel so fulfilled now, as if the empty shell of myself is full.

  8. Brian, Joshua, bigbear,

    Sadly, many older UBF leaders (who have been in UBF as leaders for 2-5 decades and who know virtually nothing outside of UBF) simply do not know or realize just how oppressive, burdensome, restrictive and constrictive they are to their own younger UBF members and new sheep.

    They really do not have even the slightest clue. Even when they hear you telling them how intolerable UBF may be, they will IMMEDIATELY begin thinking in their own minds what YOUR PROBLEMS ARE for voicing any concerns about UBF. Until the Holy Spirit opens their hearts and minds, they are simply unable to listen or hear or process the legitimate concerns you have to express.

    UBF has focused primarily on new sheep, and on those “leaders” who never question the status quo. Virtually anyone who dares to challenge the “untouchable” UBF paradigm has left or has been marginalized.

    Seemingly this has always been how God fulfills his own mysterious plan and purpose.

    • “They really do not have even the slightest clue.”

      I think you are correct, Ben. I’m aware of this. But what about other people in ubf? I think they do have a clue, many clues in fact. And I think those people can and are changing and becoming aware of our concerns. So yes I expect the reaction you mention from ubf directors/etc. But I think other people will respond more positively.

  9. Just pointing out that the 50th Anniversary book gives some more description of “campus mission”, plus several other heritage points.

  10. “In spite of all these hardships, we did not abandon campus mission because it was God who gave us the specific mission of campus evangelism, and this mission became our reason to live and the purpose of our lives”

    I think it is simply not true and can not be true. Faith and calling of Christians are based on the word of God. To say that all the prophets and God’s servants were campus shepherds is crazy. To say that every part of the body has its own function and so every organization is a part of the body of Christ and has its “specific mission” is also a fruit of the crazy ubf theology. God created His Church and it was not for campus students. So there is no and can not be a calling from God for an organization and “our reason to live and the purpose of our lives” to have this “specific mission”. It is ubf’s self-deceit. And it is a tragedy that the idea of the “specific mission” has been sold for decades and also has been bought by many naive students who thought they were taught the Bible. (Though by God’s mercy ubf is not successful in “fishing” campus students and so not many buy the idea). And when ubf tries to attach all ages to the “campus mission” it looks very unnatural and shows that it should not be this way in a church. God’s church is for everybody, for people of all ages.

    Again, for me as I see ubf as a cult, the easiest target for cultish manipulation and abuse is campus students. The students are children without parents nearby. Other people wouldn’t buy ubf’s teachings and practicies. And fortunately the “post-modern” generation of campus students is familiar with internet which is not on ubf’s side. John Stott wrote, “Nothing can be more distasteful for a modern young person as hypocrisy is, and there can be nothing like honesty that attracts young people. And in this they are similar with the Christ who strictly condemned hypocritical people”. (Sorry for my poor translation from Russian). I hope that even reading through this site many young people will see what the truth about ubf actually is.

    And one more quote, “Dedicated to the young in whose spirit the search for truth marches on”. (Oliver Stones film on JFK)