The Woolly Mammoth in the Room

wAs I read through Ben’s reflections on the 2013 ubf ISBC and the comments that followed, I was encouarged to see honest sharing. That tells me the gospel messages are permeating the ubf fabric. Here are my observations.

Red Flags

I did not attend the ISBC, and after reading the comments, I’m glad I didn’t. I’m also relieved that I will never have to endure such programs ever again. Why? Because I see numerous red flags of what’s known as B.T.E. control. Stephan Hassan developed the B.I.T.E model of control, which explains how authority figures can influence and control even the brightest-minded people, and even people who are very independent. Due to the internet, ubf leaders can no longer control Information, so they are left with B.T.E. – behavior, thought and emotional control as means to influence people to support their cause. I see red flags in the comments to Ben’s article. I won’t point them out however. Those who can see the red flags already know what I’m talking about. Those who don’t see the flags will be best served to discover for themselves what I’m talking about.

A new thing

Based on the comments about the ISBC, I can see that nothing has changed over the past 25 years. The slow change has been going on for decades in ubf. It is always just slow enough for leaders in ubf to incorporate new ideas into the ubf heritage. I did notice one new thing this time though: a woman lecturer. Because my views about women in ministry are egalitarian, I’m glad to see this.

The Woolly Mammoth

The famous saying about an “elephant in the room” applied directly to the 2013 ISBC. It also applied to the 50th Anniversary celebration in 2011; except the “elephant” is now so big and hairy that it is the size of a woolly mammoth. I was told in person by the ubf GD that mentioning the 3 reform movements (of 1976, 1989 and 2000) was discussed in the planning of the 50th Anniversary. And it was decided by the leaders to leave out any mention of such events. They decided to “address it later”. I was assured personally by the GD that such events would be addressed sometime soon. (I knew not to hold my breath however because “soon” in ubf normally means about 50 years…)

The 2013 ISBC was the perfect moment to address the former members and the crisis of leaders leaving. But as someone noted, no mention of such things happened at the ISBC. If the leaders did not address the crisis openly at the ISBC, we can only conclude that the events and people involved will not be dealt with in any public or honest manner. In fact, I suspect a handful of Korean directors who haved caused much of the spiritual abuse and other problems in ubf will be once again glorified for yet another “successful ISBC”.

So after all the effort to produce another ISBC just about like all other ISBC’s, these “elephant in the room” questions remain. Will there be a leader in ubf with enough courage to address these questions publicly and honestly?

1. Will the facts of the 1976, 1989, 2000 and 2011 movements be addressed honestly and openly? Will anyone openly discuss what has been happening in Korea ubf chapters? Will anyone admit that several ubf chapters disintegrated recently such as in Russia, China and North America? Where can we get unbiased numbers?

2. Will the leaders in ubf continue to require a permanent, personal shepherd for every member of ubf? Will the shepherds and directors in ubf seek outside Christian resources to grow beyond their shallow, harmful theology? Will ubf conferences and programs continue to be times of binding people’s lives to the ubf heritage with the ubf ideology?

These are my repeated demands openly addressed to every ubf chapter director and to the General Director and also to the directors in Korea. I will continue to give voice to these concerns. And I will continue to be an open, available resource and a friend to anyone who was castaway or crushed by ubf leaders.

Will there be silence yet again?



  1. My (subjective) sense is that younger leaders (both foreign and indigenous) want to openly address the issues of the past, while older leaders (the “ancestors”) who have “more clout” and influence are generally not in favor of doing so. We can only wait and see.

  2. Brian, you forgot HR at one of the other conferences – I can’t remember….anyway, it was on the Samaritan woman. (Would it be any other way in UBF?)

    • Hmmm, yes I think you are correct, gc. Well then scratch that “one new thing”.

    • Hey fellas, I’m finding it pretty offensive that specific names are being put out there in cyberspace in ways that are not very flattering, whether or not they happened to give a ISBC message that fit your stamp of approval, or in reference to specific events that we may not have the full knowledge of what is being referred to. Most likely, well-meaning individuals that you all directly name or indirectly not name will be hurt by the things said on this website over the last couple days, or that someone is talking about them on a public forum. Big downer to me. Makes me hope they don’t read UBFriends for that reason. Can we raise the “friendship” level of this site a bit? Give me a SHOT please.

    • JohnY is right, not everone is fine with his full name being quoted on the Internet.

      Regarding women delivering sermons in UBF, it’s really not something new. I remember 15 years ago they sometimes also had women as messengers (maybe not on the ISBC but on other conferences in Europe). UBF never had a dogmatic stance about this. Men are usually preferred, but they have no problems using women as messenger, chapter director (as in Canda) or even general director.

      Like Brian I’m ok with this, the only problem is that they have no rules for when they take the Bible literally and when not. They use the Bible as a stone pit, taking only the stones that they like and then axing them until they fit.

    • JohnY,

      If someone is going to give a lecture at a conference where the material is made public, they probably should get used to having their name out there in cyberspace. And “world class leaders” should be able to handle some criticism.

    • John Y, you raise a valid point. I am anonymous for a reason as ‘gc’ so I ask Brian, Joe or Ben to abbreviate the name to initials in my post if possible. It was an oversight on my part since many UBF leaders already have their names published online as Brian alluded to.

      As for my extra comment it was nothing against the messenger at all. It was against UBF system for using a woman specifically to give that message. I am not at all commenting on the women should be silent etc….that many people can address with Biblical references. Although it is not a Christian reference…..I appreciate women in the role of educating. One of my most favorite Biblical educators was NJ who was among the female initiates to pray at the wall in Israel many years ago. I know her personally and she calls a spade a spade.

    • As requested I abbreviated the name to HR.

  3. Brian, I believe there is still a lot of information control going on. They will tell people that UBFriends is “evil” and “full of hate”, and if even DB believes this is true, the UBFers will believe it as well. Even if someone is reading here, they will quickly find some comment that somehow “offends” them or sounds “unspiritual” to their taste (due to the mass and diversity of comments here), and so they happily conclude all of UBFriends and all criticism of UBF is like that and they decide to never visit again. You still must search actively for information, and many UBFers don’t do that because it is considered “unspiritual”. In the ICOC, any critical material, particularly on the Internet, was called “spiritual pornography”, so the members felt very bad and dirty when reading it. I believe similar mechanisms are at work in UBF.

    • David Bychkov

      Hi Chris. Actually I’ve never said that UBFriends is evil and full of hate. I only expressed my feelings regarding one particuliar article. May be i still was wrong but I thought I have to let you guys know what I feeling. Regarding entire site I said it is more destructive then constuctive lately. And btw I like things here more during few last days may be because of fresh people which came here.

    • Hi David. I used your example to show how easily people find certain article evil or hateful though in my view there is nothing evil or hateful about them. I believe you can differentiate, but if you’re deeply involved in a group like UBF, you don’t differentiate. When you read only one “offensive” thing you are happy to have found a reason to dismiss everything alltogether. You lump any criticism and critic together, give them a label like “R-group”, and stop reading anything from them. Even Sarah Barry said she immediately deleted any emails coming from the “R-group” without reading them. I remember that while in UBF I read an article about UBF by a cult expert, and I totally dismissed the whole article as wrong and unspiritual at the time because because I found one sentence with info which was not 100% correct, and because of the “offensive” wording, like calling UBF missionaries inviting on the campus “recruiters”. (But today I think the article was spot on. And I think it’s ok to call UBF missionaries “recruiters” because they don’t just evangelize, they effectively recruit people for UBF. I think it’s ok if people call a spade a spade.) I also remember that one UBF friend of mine totally stopped reading the old rsqubf forum because he found one offensive comment. People know they should be better informed, but they find reasons to avoid it (“What you don’t know won’t hurt you”).