Forgiveness: Loyalty, Love and Life

lRecently I was inspired by the discussion about David’s lament and praise of Saul. I really appreciated Terry’s input to try to stimulate discussion. I also wanted to revisit the theme for love and forgiveness for our Bible teachers. Unfortunately, (but necessary), examining the heritage and what that means causes some HOT and SHOT dialogues. Some may be offended by what has been said, but we must look past the facade and accept the various stories and experiences no matter what language is being used. We need to discuss the array of accounts and details so we may be clear on the UBF narrative as had been stated in Joe’s article. As always I will leave this somewhat unfinished in hopes that the readers can develop the body.

David was a man after God’s own heart.

David called upon God in his moments of struggle. He gave praise to God in his moments of triumph. In moments of sin he earnestly repented and prayed to once again be right with God. David loved God above everything and everyone. There are a number of reasons why David demonstrated loyalty to Saul. He had first been a harp player to help Saul through the torment of an evil spirit. After slaying Goliath Saul kept David with him like family and did not let him return to his father’s house. (Jonathan had also made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.) Later Saul became David’s father in law. As time passed David’s success in military campaigns raised him up among the people.

It must be highlighted in 1 Samuel 24 that David has his first opportunity to strike down Saul. Verses 4-7 read, “The men said, ‘This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Afterward David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.’ With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.”

After looking closely at this event it is clear that David was willing to make a move to harm Saul despite his relations. David only cut a corner piece of robe, but immediately realized the danger before him. He was conscience-stricken as a result of the Lord God. We must remember that David almost always called on the Lord and accepted any guidance for his life. Indeed he could have struck Saul down, but he didn’t because Saul was God’s anointed. David did not even let his own men take action. David feared God more than anything and was not willing to strike down God’s anointed – even a rejected king. David’s loyalty was rather to the Lord God.

It must be added that after David had heard about Saul’s death along with his sons that David had the Amalekite who lifted his hand to Saul run through. David’s attitude was absolute that the Lord’s anointed must be respected even though Saul had been rejected by God as king. Afterward, David was made king over the Israelites. David’s lament for Saul was a communal event. His heart was moved by the death of Jonathan. Saul’s other two sons are not even mentioned by name in his song (2 Samuel 1).

How then should we see leaders/elders in UBF?

It is interesting to note that the relationship between Saul and David has been made an example for loyalty. Saul pursued David more and more with intent to kill him. He did so with full knowledge of how people were comparing him against David. The people had fallen in love with David. Saul also knew already that his days were numbered as a king. Samuel had rebuked and warned Saul that his family would lose the kingdom and that the Lord had left him. Indeed sometimes it is possible for even our chapter directors, shepherds or even standby leaders to resemble Saul. Their pursuit in way of control and direction for our lives to satisfy their own interests is indeed a repeated abuse. Such abuses have variances according to where to continue studies of undergrad, masters, phd. It also affects who you marry and when. Where you live and work and how you distribute your money. The list goes on and on.

Is it possible to understand David’s loyalty to God as a loyalty to Saul? How do we see God’s servants in UBF? Are they anointed? Should we show the same praise, honour and respect as illustrated by David? Remembering Jesus’ command to love one another and also forgive our brother, can we also understand David’s actions toward Saul as he is right with God? Do we need to love and forgive our Bible teacher or another member of our church? How can such understanding affect our salvation?


  1. Sibboleth

    Bringing up Saul and David is an old trick in abusive Christian-y circles, and I’ve heard it used in UBF to try to shut people up. The recent mention of Saul and David may not quite be an example of the “Touch not God’s anointed” fallacy, but in case the discussion slips in that direction, let me offer the following link: If there are UBF members/leaders still stuck in the “Touch not God’s anointed” mindset, I feel sorry for them.

    On David’s loyalty, he may have commemorated Saul in song after his death, but that doesn’t mean that he was silent about Saul’s evildoing while Saul was alive. He publicly confronted Saul after he spared Saul’s life in the cave. And he also immortalized Saul’s bloodthirsty and unjust pursuit of him in a few Psalms.

    • Sibboleth

      “…and I’ve heard it used in UBF to try to shut people up.”

      Example from 2001, during 2001 reform effort:

      “First, I am afraid to say that in the name of conducting reformation, you are comitting the sin of rebelling against God who uses a visible servant like Dr. Samuel Lee. Jesus did not receive a baptism from John, because John was somebody but because of God who uses John. King David did not treat God’s servant like this. And by this I do not mean that Dr. Samuel Lee is like King Saul. I do not mean that Dr. Samuel Lee is faultless either. It is God alone who is perfect. All I mean is that we must learn to respect the servants of God whom God put over and above us, to supervise us, and to ensure that we walk in the right paths.”

  2. Thanks, gc. After reading your post and Sibboleth’s comment, I was inspired to write this: DO NOT Touch the Lord’s Anointed

    • Thanks for this nice summary with links to detailed articles which are all very well written and worth reading for all UBFers. We need to create a list of FAQ or actually FRO (frequently raised objects) with proper answers to all of them. I heard the “don’t touch the Lord’s anointed” argument indeed several times during the 2001 reform movement.

  3. Yes, God is Holy but we live in new testament times…all Christians are Holy in Christ….no preacher is above the least of God children….such an example is dangerous and twisted theolgy… chapter director hid behind this to justify his abuse

  4. Joe Schafer

    I appreciate this discussion about David’s lament for Saul and what, if anything, we can learn from it about how to deal with the sins of the past.

    For what it’s worth, I would like to step back and ask the much larger question about how Christians ought to be approaching the Old Testament. (Big bear just alluded to this.)

    Some of the discussion thus far is built on the following logic.
    1. David was an exemplary Old Testament king, a man after God’s own heart, someone who (except for the Bathsheba incident) is worthy of being emulated.
    2. After Saul’s death, David mourned for him, paying respect to the man and to his kingly office.
    3. Therefore, if we encounter a situation in our lives that looks similar to that (e.g., the death of a ministry founder) then we should do what David did, mourning his death and not criticizing anything he did.

    Stepping back even further, this line of reasoning appears to be built on the following premises.
    * All of Scripture, including the Old Testament, is divinely inspired. (For the record, I accept that.)
    * All of Scripture, including the Old Testament, is full of eternal truths and teachings that are highly relevant to our lives today. All portions of Scripture can and should be mined for principles to guide our thoughts and behaviors.
    * If the Old Testament presents a character (say, David) as essentially good, then he is a positive role model who deserves to be imitated. If Scripture presents someone (say, Cain) who is essentially bad, then we should not do the things he did.

    For many years, I approached the Old Testament in this manner. For any given passage, I would
    * read the passage carefully, noticing the specific details
    * try to discern the original specific meaning that the author was trying to convey
    * try to extract more general teachings and principles, and then
    * look for ways to directly apply those general teachings and principles to the specifics of my own life.
    Many Christians seem to think that this is what it means to live a “biblical” lifestyle.

    This approach is not categorically wrong. If you do this, you will certainly learn some good things from the Bible. But as a general way to approach the Old Testament, it can lead you to conclusions that are rather absurd. For instance, it can support this line of reasoning.
    1. David was an exemplary Old Testament king, a man after God’s own heart, someone who (except for the Bathsheba incident) is worthy of being emulated.
    2. David had multiple wives. The text does not explicitly denounce David’s polygamy as sinful or wrong.
    3. Therefore, if a man finds himself in situations similar to David’s, taking multiple wives is okay.

    I now believe that this is not the best way to approach the Old Testament. Although many Christians do this, and it does not always lead us astray (especially if they are part of a healthy Christian community), it limits our understanding and causes us to miss out on a great deal of what Scripture can do for us.

    In fact, I would actually say that this approach to studying and teaching the Old Testament is rather unbiblical. It’s not how Jesus or the apostles or the authors of the New Testament approached the Old Testament. If the New Testament as a whole teaches us anything, it shows us that Christians should not be simply reading the Old Testament and applying it directly to their lives. Rather, we need to be reading all of Scripture, especially the Old Testament, through the lens of Christ and the gospel.

  5. @Joe, “…this is not the best way to approach the Old Testament.” I agree. I shared a very brief overview of how one should preach and teach from the OT in a sermon from Genesis: What Sally Lloyd-Jones wrote is most poignant (take a minute to read this):

    “Now, some people think the Bible (OT) is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

    Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose), they get afraid and run away. At times, they’re downright mean.

    No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne–everything–to rescue the ones he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

    You see, the best thing about this Story is–it’s true.

    There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

    It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in the puzzle–the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.”

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, I fully agree with that perspective. The Bible is first and foremost a story. It’s a collection of stories that tell the Great Story. And the center of that Great Story is Christ.

      That perspective is a great help because, frankly, many parts of the Old Testament are very hard to understand. Taken at face value, the Old Testament contains a lot of bad theology. As a whole, evangelicals haven’t been very good at processing those difficult parts of the Old Testament. We can and should do better.

      That’s what I plan to talk about at Westloop this Sunday. Looking forward to it.

    • @Ben and Joe. This is the kind of view that I am dreaming and praying (and will soon strongly advocate for) will be adopted where I am at. To be sure, I can’t force this view on anyone, but I wish that we would at least consider it because it is biblically sound and points to oft over-looked aspects of God such as his grace, sovereignty and power and conversely man’s utter ineptitude; we usually suffice with being anthropocentric in our reading or processing of the Bible (e.g., Joseph was an upstanding man of the OT times). But this can lead to ‘moralistic’ sermons rather than ones which preach the gospel from all parts of scripture.

      Someone recently pointed out that in all four of the gospel narratives we see three things: 1) Jesus giving commands and 2) promises and 3) the disciples utter failure to either carry out these commands or understand and grasp his promises. Jesus gave them enough faith to persevere during his earthly ministry, but in the end they simply couldn’t do much of anything (most poignantly they ended up deserting him) until the Holy Spirit came. This points to the fact that we can be so close to Jesus, even spend three years with him face to face, but until he does his work in us, we are hopeless in carrying out his will. So the gospel narratives are a story about Christ’s faithfulness and ability in spite of his chosen people’s failures. It’s like the OT in a revealed nutshell.

      But so many times, I hear sermons which use these narratives as a way to teach Christian ethics, using some of the characters as upstanding moralistic case studies. Why do we do this? Don’t we realize that it obscures the gospel of God’s glorious grace and effectual work? The true path to change in the congregants is helping them to understand the gospel so that they can firmly take hold of God’s mighty, outstretched arm.

    • Thanks, Dave. A “bad” way of studying 1,2 Samuel is “Saul is bad” (1 Samuel), but “David is good (“basically”)” (2 Samuel). Thus, the unfortunate implicit point of 1,2 Samuel Bible study is “Be like David (except for the adultery and murder!!); don’t be like Saul.” There is zero gospel in such a sermon/Bible study.

    • Joe Schafer

      David, I fully agree. I hope you are able to bring it about.

    • wow, so many other salient things have been posted in the time span that I wrote this. What we’re talking about here may seem like a side issue to some, but to me it touches upon one of the core issues that our ministry is facing: we need better, biblical, gospel-centered teaching and preaching in UBF. Why is it so hard for UBF to nail this down?

      Honestly, I’m thankful to all of the messengers who struggle every week to prepare sermons and I truly respect them as fellow brothers in Christ as well as admire their character. But we have to do something about the hermeneutical lens (and more fundamentally the exegetical one) which determines the quality of the sermons; the more I learn about what the gospel has to offer, I just don’t understand why this problem exists. Ben and Joe, are there any suggestions of how I could go about presenting a view such as this in sermon prep? I’m not even an assistant pastor in my chapter; what can I possibly do?

  6. Thanks for sharing this discussion-starter, gc! I appreciate your way of thinking.

    In my journey, I discovered that one of the most misunderstood terms in my flawed thelogy was the word “fulfillment”. This is a critical gospel message to articulate. I believe many of us have failed to incorporate the gospel message of fulfillment properly, so we end up on a hamster wheel out of fear.

    My first attempt to understnad fulfillment is on my other blog: Sermon of Sermons: Fulfillment. Through my learning on Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount, I found some things that struck me:

    -It is significant to note that the Law does not only refer to commands. The Law is also composed of guiding principles meant to supervise the Jewish way of life.

    -It is highly significant to remember that the Law includes many promises. To delight in the Law of God is not merely to obey commands but also to hope in promises, namely the promise of a Savior.

    I welcome any and all debate, challeng, criticism and discussion on this topic. I find it fascinating. The bible seems to me like those compter-generated pictures that look like nothing until your eyes focus properly–then you see an amazing 3D picture.

  7. I think that it is right when (even ubf) people compare ubf directors with such Bible characters as Saul and Joseph’s brothers. Some people in my former chapter compared the director to Judas (Judas supposedly baptized some people but the baptism was valid before God inspite of Judas’ being evil; after we left some were baptized by the director with faith in God that He can use even “Judas”).

    The Bible stories helped me a lot to have faith in God’s sovereignty, to forgive the evildoers, to be free and have peace with God. So yes, gc, I believe we should forgive and the Lord enables us to do that. At the same time we should reject and condemn and expose the sins of abusers and understand that God rejects and condemns the abusers. God condemns even those who pervert the gospel into a legalistic system. (Gal.1:6-9)

  8. Thanks guys for getting this started. Also, can the dislikes explain themselves? I would agree with Terry as per Joe’s article that this has regurgitated the common dialogues. That being said, it was put here to more closely examine a Bible interpretation and understanding as commonly known. It is up to people to share their thoughts.

    I am alarmed that no one has addressed the core point of forgiveness. I wanted to focus on love for Bible teachers in a previous attempt, but that became lost in too many ideas.

    I value the illustration portrayed by Terry earlier – and not in the “don’t touch” sense. I valued it because indeed, why?

    When I review this passage I am reminded above all else that David did keep the integrity of Saul. Saul was not without failings, but neither was David. Similarly, we were all once grateful and moved by the serving of our shepherds. However, at some point something happened or maybe a series of events happened. Anyway, too often relations between Bible teacher and student have been severed and broken.

    Was this article ambiguously written? Yes. Did it leave way for the same old dialogue? Yes. Could it have been done differently? Of course. My purpose when I contribute on ubfriends is to always give the counter balance for those who have been wounded. I have personally struggled to figure out what went wrong with my own experiences and have often sought counsel in the accepted process, but like many others I was silenced by the system.

    Why have ubfriends at all if it is going to look, feel, taste, smell and hear like UBF the ministry? I caveat this by saying that two or three sides of the coin must be permitted to break through.

    But, I will return to my most important point of this article:
    Forgiveness: Loyalty, Love and Life. For our own well being should we not forgive and love our Bible teachers. Is that not in itself somehow a sign of loyalty. No one even referenced Jesus’ command to love one another, nor did they mention forgiving their brother. When my family found itself heading for Korea a couple of God’s servants likened my situation to that of David and Saul. Indeed, the chapter director was behaving like Saul in a way. Can I forgive him? Yes. Can I love him? Yes. Can I be loyal to him? If ‘yes’ is in speech then I can. But if ‘yes’ means returning to the chapter then no. This matter is far too complicated and even elders in Chicago aided in my relief.

    I would just like to say about vulnerability also as per Terry’s input on Joe’s article. We desperately need people in this community to become more transparent and vulnerable. Indeed, sometimes discussions are just not worth entering. Also, for those who would rather be more comfortable if I used my name I will explain simply. GC is convenient to keep myself anonymous from inside UBF – I won’t disagree. But my reasons for remaining as GC have more to do with my surname tied to many religious controversies of history. It is rather a privacy issue of the internet. For more interest please see:

  9. Terry Lopez

    Hi everyone!

    Sorry I left so abruptly earlier. I have a nasty tendency to pontificate… :-D. It’s my pride in action… And I started to see me doing so. I started getting people’s attention here, and then I started using it to say things that I really did not mean to say and behaving like I know more than I really do…

    For starters, I told Brian that I would talk to our ‘Korean’ fathers, because he was finally being ‘honest’… Really, really bad choice of words… Brian, please forgive me. You really are honest, some may accuse you of being too honest… :-D What I was really meaning to say, “Is that I will talk to them, now because I feel I can say something to them, on behalf of you and others.” What I mean is this: I wouldn’t go and speak to them, when all I could see was a desire for them to basically admit complete wrongdoing and to publicly prostrate themselves before you all. I honestly wont do such a thing; one, because I don’t think they are as bad as they are being painted; and second, because if I was them, I wouldn’t bend my stiff neck before such a demand either… Real reconciliation, even in relationship counseling, for it to work, has to be founded on the premise that both sides are willing to be ‘honest’, not only with their critique of the other, but also ‘honest’ in their own part of the broken relationship. I’m not willig to go and demand (and that is what it appears is being done here) for them to ‘confess’ their sins and amend their ways. I’m not willing to go to bat for anyone here, no matter how much of what you say is correct and honest, until you are able to be ‘honest’ enough to realize that the picture that is being painted isn’t the whole ‘truth’. I don’t have a corner on truth, nor does anyone else here. The analysis of events and the ‘real’ reasons why they were done appear to me to always, invariably be read in the most negative way. I will use the example of the $1,000 dollar car given to me by Msn. Isaac to highlight my point. Invariably, the question posed was, “Where did he get the money?” Really?

    I can share another story about Msn. Isaac. Many, many years ago when we used to have ISBC’s every two years. I remember Msn. Isaac took out a personal loan of like $20,000 (I don’t know the actual amount, but it was alot). He took it out in order that students could attend the conference. And I distinctly remember him fretting about how he was going to do this again in two years time… And pay for it… lol…

    My dentist is one of the missionaries. I’m am a forklift operator. I am a Teamster, so I have good medical insurance, but my dental insurance is not the greatest. And over time, and in this economy, it’s only getting better (sarcasm…). Now, this missionary takes care of all of my family dental needs. My insurance only pays a portion of the ‘real’ bill and I’m stuck paying the rest. But oh no, not I… This missionary only takes what the insurance company will pay and I NEVER see a bill… Not only that, but my dentist has even taken me to Korean BBQ afterwards… Now how many people can say that!!! LOL… :-D She’s also bought my family pastries (I guess she’s insuring we will have to see her again…), afterwards. :-)

    Again, UBF is not a monolithic, entity. All of us here have experienced real, genuine benefit and not all of it has been darkness and manipulation and pride. When everyone is willing to see UBF for what it really is, and not just a punching bag and caricature for all that is wrong and evil in the world, than I will be happy to go and speak to our ‘Korean’ Fathers. That is what I meant when I said, “You are being honest, Brian…”

    • Thank you Terry. That helps explain.

      But speaking of being honest… I really have to plead with you for the love of God don’t use “submissive dogs” as an example here! Do you realize how insulting it is to use “submissive dogs” as an example when talking with former UBF members?

      Ever heard of dead-dog training? Know anyone who has been subjected to dead-dog training in ubf? I do.

      One man was told to drop his pants in front of his shepherd to prove his loyalty like a dead dog (which by the way, note to gc: that’s one reason gc that I can’t respond to this article because you tie loyalty into the other words). One woman was locked out of her ubf center all night and told to walk around it wailing until she could have dead-dog obedience. One man was told to walk 30 miles to prove he had dead-dog obedience. One man was told to walk around the ubf center on his knees to prove he had dead-dog obedience. One man was given dead-dog training and later committed suicide. There are many more instances of such abuse. Most of these happened on American soil. I won’t stand for it. My resignation from ubf was intended to bring these things to the public because they have been swept under the ubf rug for decades. That rug is too small to hide the sins of power and authority any longer.

      Some of the very same Korean men you and I both know (and whom you praise) have done this. So maybe this helps explain why I’m so “feisty” when you come here saying we should “remember the good things” about ubf.

      UBF is forever tainted for me by the evil abuse of authority to demand obedience and loyalty. Such men who are the worst abusers are still in high levels of authority and influence in ubf to this day and even helped organize the ISBC. I will keep speaking up until such men are exposed and expelled. I can forgive a lot but I won’t be silent about such matters.

  10. Terry Lopez


    Thank you for this new post. And thank you for really thinking about my question. I’d like to say, I don’t have a good answer. :-D I’m much better at asking questions than answering them… :-D I have alot of musings, but I really don’t know why David did what he did? But I got to say I am impressed with what he did… And I’d like to think that when I have some ‘murdering psychopath’ chasing me, I’ll be able to forgive him… It might be easier, if he’s dead… ;-)

  11. Terry Lopez


    Talking about questions. I have lots of them all the time. I think my favorite question is ‘Why?’ I’d love to make a whole new post titled, “Why?” Where I could just pose all my “Why?” questions…

    Questions like:

    Why did Jonathan wilingly die by his fathers side, when he knew his father was wrong?
    Why did David get to keep Bathsheba as his wife?
    Why wasn’t she punished personally?

    I also have some more questions that aren’t from the Bible, but are bouncing around in my head.

    As I shared, I just watched the movie, Mission. And there were some great questions that came to my mind after watching it.

    Why did Jeremy Iron’s character tell Di Nero to apologize to that stinky Spanish character who Di Nero ‘insulted’, when in reality it was true the guy was a liar?
    Was Jeremy Iron’s wrong for demanding Di Nero to absolutely listen to him and apologize, even though he had been telling the truth?
    Did the Jesuit’s really have a standing order of absolute obedience to their seniors?
    If so, was that a good thing? Or a bad thing? Or perhaps, it was a little of both?
    Was the Cardinal, who eventually gave the go ahead to demolish the missions and the condemn the indians to slavery and death, as bad as I think he was? Or was he doing the best he could?

    I really love that film! It is one of the most well treated films about real issues that the church really faces and not just a bunch of cliche’s or mistreatment of the church or its people, I have ever seen. But that’s just my opinion… :-)

    • Yes we should have a post called just “Why?” Why do I speak the way I do? Here’s one reason:

      While we’re at it, why did at least 159 former UBF members feel compelled to write and share their painful stories of suffering under the ubf machine over a span of more than 10 years?

    • And why did this man feel so compelled to share this? Clearly many things are wrong with the ubf system regardless of any of the bible’s 31,000+ verses and regardless of anyone’s good experiences.

  12. Terry Lopez


    You know another thread I’d like to start would be titled, “Who I met today…”

    This morning while at the dog park, I met a young women, named Gretel, like Hansal and Gretel. She is a very interesting young woman. She had a Corgi mix male dog. His name was Spirit. When I heard his name, I was intrigued… So I got to talking to her and I learned some really interesting things from her. She has her own dance studio and she loves to teach young children, (at this time, all her students are girls. Go figure…) She teaches primarily Ballet. I learned that she is the oldest of three siblings, she has a brother, who is in the middle and the youngest is a sister. They are all close in age and very close friends. She shared with me that they were all homeschooled by their parents. She shared that her parents saw that their children were all naturally creative and expressive and her parents didn’t want them to go to public school, because they don’t believe that public school’s nurture creativity or expression.

    Gretel shared with me that her parents have tons and tons of books and that her and her siblings love to read and learned many things. She said her parents are intellectuals and are professionals. Her father is a medical doctor, and her mother is a psychologist. Actually, her family came from Mexico. And her father was a doctor in Mexico, but because he would have to redo internships and what not, he did not continue his profession when they came to the U.S. Instead, he works for a health dept. checking on Restaraunts and grading them on cleanliness. Her mother stopped being a Psychologist because she chose to be a fulltime mother.

    I shared with her about my life and how I love my job because it affords me a great deal of time to go to campus and study the Bible with students. She told me her parents are Catholic, and that she is spiritual, but does not attend a church. And she shared a really neat thing with me. I was sharing how nice it was to meet her and how when I was young I treated people more like objects than as actual people. I told her that now that I’m a little older, I’m beginning to find, I like people and I like meeting them. And then she said, when she meets new people she sees them as a Sunrise, greeting her newly and as she meets them, they begin to unfold in all their glory. I have to say, I was taken aback by her statement. I thought, Wow! What a wonderful way to see others. I was so happy I could meet her. I hope I can learn to see others as sunrises, greeting me. She needs also to be careful of me. Because I have an ulterior motive in meeting her. I want to be her friend…

  13. Terry Lopez


    I think it might be nice if there were a couple more threads, like the two I just suggested. Something, that doesn’t have to do with criticising UBF… It might be a nice breath of freash air and perhaps people might not find the place so boring… Honestly, I know you have done just that in several threads, like sharing about your marriage. I got to tell you, it was that thread that got me here, not the other type…

    Have a good nite. (This time it is night here in Los Angeles… I said nite b4, Joe, because I thought it was early evening in the east coast…) Btw, Joe, I am really, really envious of where you live. I really like Pennsylvania. The people are amazing! So friendly and so genuine and so down to earth. I really like them. Primarily, I spoke to the people who served us in the cafeteria, they were older, but they were soooo nice. Actually, I met a young girl at the all night supermarket called Big Eagle (or something like that). I love that place! It was open all night and I and Mari and our daughter (well that’s what we call her) Maggie, sat at one of the booths and drank coffee and wrote our testimonies. Actually, I think we talked more and wrote little, but whatever… We enjoyed ourselves. :-) Well, at the check out there was this young girl, and I found out she is originally from California and not only that, she lived in the same city as we do, Downey!!! Now, what are the chances of that? How often you going to go to Indiana, PA and find someone who once lived in your neighborhood. What a small world we really live in… I really like Penn, Joe. One day, I’d like to go and see that patio of yours, that you built by your own hands… :-)

  14. GC,

    I didn’t click the dislike on this article, but at the same time I find that I just can’t respond to it. I wanted to, but I can’t process your title. Combining forgiveness, loyalty, love and life is not something I can unpack right now. And I can’t connect those things with the content of what you say in the article. Maybe if you clarified why you chose the title that would help me process?

  15. Sibboleth

    FWIW, I’ll share some stray thoughts on all this:

    1. After he spared Saul’s life in 1 Samuel 24, Saul asked David to swear an oath not to wipe out his name from the history books or destroy his descendants, and David complied. So David, being a man of his word, may have felt some obligation to eulogize Saul’s memory after Saul’s death to try to prevent or forestall an attempt to purge Saul’s family.

    2. There’s been a thread before on forgiveness. I think the most recent one was started by James Kim. Maybe I’ll just provide a link back to it.

    3. Sure, I think David probably forgave Saul, but as someone said, Saul was already dead. Maybe David forgave Saul while Saul was still alive, but if he did, he forgave and ran like hell. Forgiveness and trust are different things.

    4. Great, powerful, charismatic men inspire loyalty. Kings inspire loyalty. UBF Bible teachers apparently inspire and maybe habitually try to buy loyalty. I don’t know if God is entirely pleased with loyalty given to men. (1 Samuel 8:7-9)

    5. Loyalty to people is double edged. It can be a force for good or for evil. We should be careful about the people to whom we give our loyalty. Spouses should definitely be loyal to each other, but even then, that loyalty can be used by one to try to manipulate the other. David inspired loyalty because he did things such as welcoming outcasts in the Cave of Adullam when he was desperate and on the run. But then he used Uriah’s loyalty to kill him and steal his wife. Truth needs to trump loyalty at all times.

    6. I’d *never* criticize my Bible teacher because he did this and that for me, and I was so touched? Such statements should be re-examined. Hard.

    7. Are the concepts of grace and loyalty compatible? In a “spiritual” environment in which loyalty is tacitly or explicitly expected and valued, can grace thrive? I think not. Grace is something given freely with no expectations, not even an expectation of a “Thanks” in return; loyalty is all about expectations. When I start thinking about my son, “Why, that no good, ungrateful, inconsiderate…,” I’m expressing the expectation of loyalty; then grace disappears and tension/fighting commences.

    8. Also, thankfulness is not the same as loyalty. In an environment of grace, the distinction between thankfulness and loyalty is understood. In an environment of ungrace, thankfulness = loyalty.

    • Sibboleth

      A couple more stray thoughts:

      9. Actually, there is a loyalty that is compatible with grace. It’s the loyalty that we give freely, without thinking whether the one we give it to has earned it from us. It’s the loyalty–not “shepherding”, not handouts–that we give to the suffering, wounded, abused and bitter. The best example of this grace-ful loyalty, in my mind, would be Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi. After my UBF experience, this is the only kind of loyalty I’d want to see and hear about in my chosen Christian community, a community that is supposed to be comprised of brothers and sisters, not kings, generals and soldiers.

      10. In American politics, you’ll sometimes hear this being said: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” There’s some truth in that. Loyalty can take different forms, and dissent can be one of those forms.

  16. Joe Schafer

    Like Brian, I too felt conflicted about this article when it first appeared. Lots of themes in one article.

    I will attempt direct answers to each of the questions from the end of the article.

    “Is it possible to understand David’s loyalty to God as a loyalty to Saul?” I don’t think so. In fact, I don’t think that David was loyal to Saul at all, not as Saul would have defined loyalty. From Saul’s perspective, David was a rebel, a traitor, a usurper.

    “How do we see God’s servants in UBF? Are they anointed?” No, they do not have any special anointed status. There is only one Anointed One. Jesus. His title, Christ, means “Anointed One.” It refers to his kingship, and to the fact that he was baptized and anointed with the Holy Spirit. All who believe in him share in his anointing and his baptism. On day of Pentecost, the whole church was anointed. To look at the Old Testament passages like 1 Samuel 24 and then ask, “Are certain church leaders today anointed by God?” is to miss a great deal of what the New Testament says.

    “Should we show the same praise, honour and respect as illustrated by David?” If the situation calls for it, then yes. If the situation does not, then no. As Christians, I think we need to look first to Jesus and consider what he did. Jesus, not David, is our primary role model. David is a worthy role model only to the extent that he was doing what Jesus would have done. David’s actions and kingship were only a faint picture of the reign of Jesus.

    “Remembering Jesus’ command to love one another and also forgive our brother, can we also understand David’s actions toward Saul as he is right with God?” I’m not sure what forgiveness would mean in this context. Forgiveness, as I understand it, is to put aside the desire to get even or punish someone for the wrongs that were done. It’s a step along a process of reconciliation. After Saul’s death, David couldn’t have punished Saul even if he wanted to, nor could he reconcile with him even if he wanted to. This is why Jesus urges us to work out our sins against one another and forgive and reconcile here and now, while we are still alive, not waiting for the world to come.

    “Do we need to love and forgive our Bible teacher or another member of our church?” Yes, we need to extend love and forgiveness. And do so with a good understanding of what forgiveness actually means. Forgiveness is not something that one can extend right away, especially if the wounds and hurts are deep. Forgiveness must fully acknowledge the wrong, not deny it or minimize it. When someone has been deeply hurt, the victim needs to process what actually happened and understand how he or she feels about it. The hurt may need to be shared and talked about for a good long time. That is what has been happening on this website. People from around the world who have common experiences of being hurt by ubf have been processing their experiences and feelings in the presence of other like-minded people. What is happening on UBFriends is not some bitter people mindlessly regurgitating antiUBF complaints over and over ad naseum. It is human beings doing what human beings need to do — processing their trauma. When someone gives 10, 20, 30 years of their lives to a community, and then when they raise legitimate concerns, that community (which supposedly loved them soooo much) chews them up and spits them out, what are they supposed to do? Are they supposed to write one article about it, or comment once, and then quickly move on to other things so that occasional readers of this website won’t think their comments are too repetitive and boring?

    “How can such understanding affect our salvation?” Sorry, I don’t understand this question.

    • I think I should stop commenting here because some hours later Joe comes anyway and expresses everything I wanted to respond in a much better way ;-)

  17. Terry, after you shared your experience with UBF and your thoughts about loyalty, let me share some of mine.

    You wrote IK gave 1000$ to you. That was nice of him. But since you started to brag, allow me a little bragging, too. I offered much, much more money to UBF. I also gave nearly 10 years of my precious life time to UBF. One summer long I renovated our chapter, neglecting my university studies. When I started to work, I gave my first salary to UBF. After work, I “fed my sheep”, or went to the campus, and during the weekends, I spent most of the time in the center, because we had many mandatory meetings and tasks to do. Part of my offering money was also used as a salary for my director, certainly much more than 1000$. So he should be very loyal to me, much more than you to IK, right? But as I shared, after 10 years of UBF, when I did not obey him one time by not coming to only one a meeting (after having attended all the weekly meetings for 10 years without fail), he tried to separate my fiancé and me, cancel our marriage and expel me from UBF. Is this loyalty? Still, I remained loyal to him, because I believed he was “God’s servant” and “my shepherd”. Can you imagine that my wife and I still remained in UBF after that experience?

    I only started to open my eyes in the year 2000 when the reformers started to publish the wrongdoings of Samuel Lee, and at the same time there was a big scandal around Peter Chang in Germany. These things were shocking to me, but what was more shocking to me was how leaders and members dealt with these serious allegations, which all turned out to be true and were backed by testimonies of many witnesses (much more than two witnesses which would suffice to take an issue seriously according to the Bible). The members’ predominant reaction was indifference. The leaders’ reaction was to deny, cover-up, call everything lies and slander or tell us to overlook the ugly evidence because SL was God’s anointed anyway, we just needed to trust and follow, and denounce the reformers as rebels, “crazy dogs”, “Satan’s tools” etc. Then all the reform minded leaders and chapters were expelled from UBF. In Germany this was more than half of all chapters. The abusive leader of UBF Bonn was demonstratively made a main speaker of the ISBC at the time, and later even made the European director. This was the point where I could not stay any longer in UBF. The indifference of members towards injustice and abuse and the unaccountability of leaders and their reaction towards reform became unbearable. I was so disappointed, first about the ugly things that were revealed, but many times more disappointed how UBF dealt with this situation. Those who I once considered to be my brothers and sisters turned out to have a mindset so completely different from mine.

    Now you say we should forget about this all and talk about the good sides instead. No. I can’t and I won’t. This will only be solved when this has been properly processed, and so far it hasn’t. If you want to have normality in our relations and balance in our talk about UBF, then do your utmost to help that these things are properly processed and not covered up. Actually, this whole issue is open since the open letter of 1976. It is still an open loop, a gaping wound and it cannot be resolved differently than by corporate repentance. Corporate, because it was not the sin of SL alone, but the whole organization who tolerated this sin and even copied it.

    My question to you, Terry, is: Where were you and where was IK during the reform movement 2001? How did you react when all these things were published? You complain that people talk about these things when SL is already dead. But where were you and IK when SL was still alive? How did you show loyalty to those fellow UBFers who served in UBF for decades and now tried to reform UBF, but were treated as “crazy dogs”? Did you ever read the testimony of the 7 Korean shepherds? Did you read the testimony of Rebecca Kim who was in Toledo before SL replaced her and James Kim with Paul Hong? Did you read any testimony of those who suffered under Peter Chang in Bonn? All these things have not been resolved. Nobody has admitted that those who wrote about Peter Chang did not write only “lies and slander”.

    Terry, I never heard your voice before, I never heard you demanding reform, I never heard you condemning forced abortions and other abuse, I never saw you agreeing with anything that had been written here on this blog. The first thing I now hear from you is that we should stop talking about Samuel Lee and write more about the positive side of UBF. Maybe you can understand why I’m responding the way I do?

    • Terry I asked you “Where were you and where was IK during the reform movement 2001?”

      You didn’t answer that. But I just found the answer what concerns IK in his letter to the reformers. I had totally forgotten about that.

      Clarly, IK was one of those who condoned the inaccountability of Samuel Lee and supported him, using that very argument “don’t touch the Lord’s anointed”, so now I’m not amazed to see you argumenting in similar ways. It seems he was successfully in feeding you his own Confucianistic ideology. IK even justified the fact that UBF did not have proper accounting (even though it handled millions of dollars!) saying that we should just trust the servant of God. Let me ask you: How trustworthy is a man who faked photographs and sent a missionary to an abortion clinic and had allegations of financial misconduct already in 1976? And even if the man would be an angel, shouldn’t there still be ledger books if you deal with millions of dollars? Sorry to say, Terry, I know you will be upset to hear it, but it is the truth: IK and people of his ilk caused the reform movement to fail, caused UBF to be considered a cult (and rightfully so), and caused UBF to get into the situation that it is now in. Even if IK himself was nice and meak, like SB, he was a facilitator of abuse just like her, an inhibitor of justice, somone who stabbed his fellow members who reported about injustice in the back on grounds of feeling loyal to one man SL. He knew about the issues, since the reformers wrote him and sent him all the information. But he dismissed everything prior to even reading it (see his words in his response) on the base that SL was God’s servant and could not be challenged. This mentality is the root cause of all the problems, and you are still upholding it by criticizing us of speaking about the wrongdoings of SL.

      I also remembered that later, IK even became co-director of UBF USA for some time together with MY who was the one who brought the missionary to an aboriton clinic by order of SL. So Isaac became accomplice of evildoers. MY seemed to have repented and left UBF, but what about IK?

      Sorry, my image of IK as a nice man severly changed after finding/remembering his role in the reform movement. Even if he bought you a Lamborghini I would still be disgusted by his answer to the reformers.

  18. Hi Guys,

    Yes I know it is not so easy to process combining everything that has been put together. Part of the trouble comes from what I would say is personal internal struggle. The other cause for this was the way Terry posed the initial question. It didn’t seem to matter what we added to try to answer or illustrate about David and Saul – we always seemingly missed the point and did not get what his underlying point was. I was sort of drawing out dialogue on David and Saul for two reasons: 1) We should discuss arguments such as this and 2) What was his point anyway? (He has now answered he does not really have a simple answer, but rather more questions.)

    To elaborate on the struggles within. Yes, we have had both good and bad experiences with our shepherds, chapter directors or just simply elders. I noticed in myself back in 2006-2007 difficulties to process everything for sure. I observe a similar dilemma among people who have left UBF after 10, 20 and 30 years….

    I can say that I was revisiting the fact that relations can be so close. For example, some time ago when Joshua commented about hugging the chapter director’s wife I understood where he was coming from. I too felt this when I requested my original shepherd be a prayer servant at my wedding – I am not so sure he would have otherwise been made so. It was not out of loyalty, but out of love that I did this.

    The title is a little confusing I agree – it just came to me, but I agree the contents are not necessarily clear.

    Forgiveness: I could only imagine the need to forgive as any reason to handle such a matter of personal proximity.
    Loyalty: This was straight from Terry’s logic. I actually would not have used the word and that’s why I could not even confirm where I stood in my previous comment.
    Love: Simply love for each other.
    Life: Both in this world and eternally.

    Joe, as for my last question, maybe it is more from observation of people then actual personal feeling.

    >How can such understanding affect our salvation?
    This question was posed because for some reason some people really are bothered by broken relations such as these. If someone really takes to heart some of Jesus’ words about forgiveness and love and so on…can they not maybe feel lost in their salvation? The power that surrounds all of us who have been wounded is tremendous. If we have left UBF (or any church) it bears a new context because we either stay isolated from such a community or look for the closest healthy community to aid in our spiritual healing.

    Remaining isolated is a lonely and tough existence. In 2007 when I started to step back from everything I felt such a loss, but maintained my independent Bible reading. I will explain some personal background of this later on in a more personal post.

  19. As Chris expressed, Joe has an uncanny, explicit, non-ambiguous, clear and simple way of expressing what I believe is as close to any true statement as possible about UBFriends articles and comments:

    “When someone has been deeply hurt, the victim needs to process what actually happened and understand how he or she feels about it. The hurt may need to be shared and talked about for a good long time. That is what has been happening on this website. People from around the world who have common experiences of being hurt by ubf have been processing their experiences and feelings in the presence of other like-minded people. What is happening on UBFriends is not some bitter people mindlessly regurgitating antiUBF complaints over and over ad naseum. It is human beings doing what human beings need to do — processing their trauma.” – See more at:

    Isn’t it quite revealing that those who are processing their “same” trauma from UBF have been/are being expressed by multiple nationalities/ethnicities from the following places?:

    * US
    * Canada
    * Germany
    * Ukraine
    * Yekaterinburg
    * Russia
    * India
    * KOREA

    • btw, I have been told that there is a website in Chinese where exUBFers from Hong Kong UBF express their grievances—i.e. processing their trauma (perhaps similar to UBFriends)—in Chinese, which none of us here can read, including me—a Chinaman!

  20. Joe Schafer

    Chris and gc, thank you for sharing more of your stories.

    I haven’t done nearly as much reading as Chris has about cults. Or about the various reform movements that took place in ubf. But Sharon and I have learned a little bit about abuse, about its effects on churches and communities, and about the common mistakes that leaders make which only make matters worse.

    What I fervently desire is healing. Healing for individuals and for the community.

    For healing to occur, experiences of abuse need to be acknowledged and processed — not just by the individuals who were directly involved, not just by a handful of leaders (e.g. an ethics committee), but by the community as a whole.

    What tends to happen, however, is that leaders and members do not want to directly face these things, because they are unpleasant and threatening to the community’s self image. So the victims of abuse, and the whistleblowers who bring their stories to light, get marginalized. The community pushes them aside or, in some cases, pushes them out. Their stories are never spoken about in the open; they are are never heard, recognized or validated by the community as a whole. For as long as that marginalization persists, the healing cannot even begin. As long as the community deflects the stories and refuses to embrace the victims, the psychological pain continues. Salt is being poured into their wounds, and the victims feel as they are being victimized again, over and over. They are not languishing in bitterness because they stubbornly refuse to forgive. They are experiencing a very natural reaction, doing precisely what God designed them as social creatures to do, crying out for healing and oneness of which the community has deprived them.

    It is not an overstatement to say that the UBF community has never created any safe spaces (i.e., times and places) for the experiences of abuse victims to be heard. Every one of those stories has been deflected. The victims have been pushed aside and silenced, and the community just goes on with business as usual. Never once in my 30+ years have I ever seen any victim’s story validated on a ubf website or spoken of with compassion by any leader at a ubf event (except, in a few recent cases, behind close doors). UBF leaders need to understand that, at this point, going on with activities and conferences as usual inflicts pain on those who have been pushed aside. The mere act of holding an event like the ISBC — even if most of the content of the program and messages was very plain and mild and unobjectionable — hurts the marginalized people a great deal, because it sends them an implicit message that they do not matter, and the organization is doing just fine without them, thank you (which isn’t actually true).

    Because UBF never created the space for victims to process their stories, UBFriends has now become that space. When we started this website three years ago, that was not our intention. But that is what happened by default, by necessity, because there was literally nowhere else where someone who was hurt by ubf could tell the story and have at least a few current ubf members listen without being dismissed. For those who desire a biblical analogy, UBFriends has become something like the Cave of Adullam (1Sa 22).

    As a founder of this website, it does pain me to see that this website has morphed into something other than what I had envisioned. But it pains me much more when members of the ubf community criticize this website as unproductive and unhealthy, with the desire to push victims away even from UBFriends in the name of making it more “fair and balanced.” Until UBF creates generous safe spaces within itself for these stories to be heard and validated and processed by the community, I will not discourage anyone from sharing those stories here, because the alternatives to doing it here are much worse.

    • “When we started this website three years ago, that was not our intention.”

      It is interesting to look back, Joe. When you asked me to join this effort, I was a ubf loyalist, I was “in”. No one, especially me, would have ever dreamed of any remote possibility that I would ever even consider leaving the ministry. Indeed I had no intention of ever donig such a thing.

      But in an odd twist of events, SB’s 2011 new year key verse letter inspired me to be a man of integrity. I decided in 2011 to do just that, not knowing where it would lead me. I never imagined the website we helped start in order to discuss Christianity would become a source of healing and recovery from the very ministry I thought I would never leave. In fact, back in 2010, I almost imagined that ubfriends would be another defense of ubf :)

      I am so thankful for everyone’s contribution here. It means a lot and I don’t mind the messy conversations and even the driveby’s add to the mix to make things interesting.

  21. Terry Lopez


    How dismissive you are of what Msn. Isaac did for me. “That’s nice…” How many people do you know that are not family, give a car so you and your wife can live? You sound as dismissive as your very own director was towards your offering of time, money, energy, etc… You bring up your own very wonderful and amazing offering of love and why? To say, it wasn’t received by my director with loyalty. Basically, you bring it up to say, Terry you shouldn’t be so loyal to Msn. Isaac because he did that. But in reality, you weren’t happy your offering was not respected or was dismissed so lightly by your director, and I agree with you. But you turn around and do the very thing to what Msn. Isaac did for me. You dismiss his offering of love to me with two simple words, “That’s nice…”. That IMHO is weak! I could care less wether you think I should not be loyal to someone or not. That’s my choice. I’ll take loyalty, which can also be taken to mean gratitude every time, whether you like it or not, and no matter of discussion is going to change my view about it…

    I have a question I’d like to ask about your offering of love. It was an offering of love wasn’t it? If so, why are you bringing it up? Did anyone put a gun to your head and demand you to offer? Or do you regret giving it now, because it was given to UBF and not really to God? Was your motive to please your director or was it an offering to God? If it was for the director then you got what you deserve? If it was to God, why in the world would you bring it up as ‘evidence’ to convince someone not to have gratitude or loyalty to someone? Are you really going to defile your own offering of love to God for such a petty argument? Really! I have one word to you, Grow up!

    • @Terry. Ах, Моська, знать она сильна, раз лает на слона! :)

    • Мне нравится слонов.

    • Brian, well done! … almost :)

      The right variant is Мне нравятся слоны (plural) or Мне нравится слон (singular)

      Yes, Russian is very difficult, I know that. I heard that Mark Twain said that to learn English it’ll take 30 days, to learn French – 30 weeks, but 30 years wouldn’t be enough to learn German. He studied German and said that he buried 3 teachers while doing that. Russian is more difficult than German. Thanks to God there are many difficult languages in the world (e.g. Chinese) so I can understand those who study Russian. Thank God He gave the gift to the disciples to share the gospel in the beginning of Acts. But also though English seemed to someone as an easy to learn language I can’t hope to speak it properly this side of heaven. I can’t learn and adapt myself to another culture either. It would be nice if ubf missionaries understand it as well and follow Paul’s example of doing mission. It would be nice if they free the gospel message they preach of the ubf heritage (heresy).

      The sentence I wrote in Russian can be understood only by Russians (and by those who have Russian speaking wives, Chris hopefully). It is a quote from a very famous Russian “басня” (a short wise poem/parable) by Krylov. The басня says that a small dog might seem great and powerful if it barks at an elephant. But the truth is the dog is small and powerless and like nothing before the elephant. Terry’s words reminded me of the басня. I wouldn’t say “grow up” to Chris or to Joe, Ben and you, Brian. But there are some very spiritual and wise people in the world (and in ubf there is a consentration of them) who know why when how and who should grow up. Such advices of some help (me) understand how deep ubf problems are. I become more and more grateful to God who saved me from ubf and ubf’s messages and language.

      The direct translation of the sentence would be “Oh, Mos’ka (the small dog’s name) it is evident that it is powerful for it is barking at the elephant!” :)

    • Thanks Vitaly, I make no claims about speaking Russian well :) I just love trying to do so! I made quite a few Russians laugh when I tried to speak there! I found a great quality of the people I met in Russia. When I spoke only English, they ignored me. But when I at least made an attempt to use Russian, they helped me learn the proper way. No matter how bad my Russian language was, they would help me when I tried. I loved their passion for being correct.

    • It seems that Russians love American guests. The cultures are not that far from each other as Korean is. While in ubf I wished and prayed that an American missionary would come to our chapter. I was sure it would change much. I liked when Americans trained the messengers for Russian conferences and Korean (including my director) were just put aside.

      At the same time when RW and JR were with us in a bus I couldn’t help laughing when just looked at them. I am laughing even now as I am writing about them. We have a funny slang word in Russian “лох” which describes how they looked like for Russians. I don’t say they were such but they looked like that. Nobody wears e.g. caps in Russia the way they did. I respected them but the cultures are different, really.

      Still if you live in Detroit I suppose you would look much better for Russians )) btw I liked how Top Gear presented Detroit in one of their shows. I’ll try to find a link.

      I remember how I tried to do my best at a CIS conference and translated from Russian into English. I saw that when I was speaking all the Americans were listening with a very attentive and serious look but from time to time they laughed and couldn’t help laughing even on the stage. I suppose my pronunciation and what else made them laugh. Later some of them saw me in a building and asked, “You did the translation, right?” and then they laughed. ))) They couldn’t stop. Then they stopped and said, “You did well! We should speak true English the way you do, seriously”. I understand them. Once I listened to a radio interview where two people: an English and an American were talking in Russian. They did well, very well, professionally but they made many Russians laugh.

    • Here is a link (unfortunately in Russian) watch 1:30 – 2:30 Detroit sightseeing.

    • Terry Lopez


      I must apologize to you. Those last two words, “Grow up”, bothered me the whole time I walked my dog, this morning. They were very wrong of me to have written. I must shamefully confess, and ironically so, that it is I who needs to grow up and not be so easily offended by others and not you.

      I was very angry that you dismissed what a friend, whom i even consider a father, did for me out of love, so easily. I take it very seriously, what he did for me so very long ago and I will NEVER forget it, and I don’t like when others dismiss it so easily.

      But that does not excuse me for telling you to “Grow up”. It was wrong and I am genuinely sorry. Please forgive me.

      I would like to latch onto a word you used while addressing me earlier. “Brag”. I did say, when I shared my sons letter to me, that I was “bragging”, but I would like you to clearly understand what my “bragging” entailed and what it did not entail. I will let you know that, my “bragging” will always be what others have to say about me and not what I say about myself. I was very glad and thankful of what Joshua had to say about me here in one of his posts. I will “brag” about that. But deep down I really know that I am the greatest sinner I know. And I really, truly believe that, because I know me. And my sin revealed itself again in my great pride once again in my final two words to you in my earlier post.

      I will also share with you that I try to point out only my sin and not others, with varying degrees of success. I also try to find others great points and speak of them, again with varying degrees of success.

      To Vitaly,

      I find it very interesting that you use my personal shortcoming as an indictment against the whole of UBF. Must they bear my sin? Am I not enough to bear my own shortcoming and sin?

    • Terry, I was not dismissive of what Isaac did for you. When I wrote “that was nice of him” I really meant “that was nice of him”. I don’t understand what you interpret into my words. Neither did I want to convince you not to me loyal to Isaac if you think you need to. You are all reading all of this into my comment and I can tell you that everything you were speculating about my thoughts and motivations for offering was wrong. Try to respond to the things I really wrote.

      My point is that you came here, dismissing all our criticism of UBF with the simple argument that Isaac bought you a car. Yes, it was a nice deed (I repeat, it was nice, no sarcasm!) but it has nothing to do with the problems we are discussing here. And compared to the offerings that most ordinary members in UBF like me gave to UBF (which were also used for the livelihood of the leaders) it was peanuts (again, this is not to downplay the deed of Isaac, but to show the perspectives). The members in all the reform members that were expelled from UBF have certainly given millions of dollars as offering to UBF in the years they had served in UBF. But only those missionaries who remained in UBF can expect a pension (if they are lucky). A pension that is paid from offering money that once was collected from reform UBF members. Anyway, this is not about money, but about justice.

      Remember, nobody here as ever criticized LA UBF. Our discussion is about the mainstream UBF. I gave you some examples of the kind of problems we are talking about that happened in the mainstream UBF while you were enjoying your life in LA UBF, but you completely don’t want to hear them and only feel personally offended. And you didn’t answer any of my questions or respond to any of the things I wrote in my comment. That’s sad.

      It has been said that the tone of us UBF critics was unfriendly, or we were not “welcoming” enough (I think it was even you who said this), but how friendly and welcoming are the words to me in your comment really?

    • Terry, it seems our responses crossed each other. I did not read your response when I wrote mine and vice versa. Just so you understand why I didn’t respond to your apology which I gladly accept. And I hope you really understand that I was not and am not dismissive of anything you write about LA UBF and Isaac. I always give people the benefit of doubt, and unless someone proves otherwise, I believe he is a nice man and not the typical SL-style UBF leader. That was never the question. The question was how your experience in LA could invalidate anything we experienced elsewhere.

    • Hey Vitaly, we Germans spiek matsch better English than you Russians.


      Other proof? Me writing “I must know as a Germany”

    • LOL, Chris :) btw what are sinking about?

      Actually Germans speak English much better than Russians. I admired how any German at an ISBC prayed in English and spoke in English fluently (When ubf missionaries from Germany prayed it seemed awful to me)). Your English is much better/richer than mine. I wonder how your wife speak German now. Hasn’t she forgotten Russian/Ukrainian yet? Or maybe you has learnt some Russian?

      I am reading a book now about the Nicolas II’s death. I learnt many interesting things that Russians and Germans are brother-nations. Nicolas’s wife was German. But German goverment betrayed the Russian emperor’s family for the sake of some political and economical interests and supported killing the family.

      btw Russians lived in the north part of the modern Germany. Do you know the Rostok town? Rostok is a Russian word and there are many towns near Rostok which have Russian names. In our region we had a German governor for many years. Our pastor now is partly German. His grandma left Russia for Germany to receive a better pension and to share it with Russian churches. Germans are famous in Russia for being very accurate and loving order. That’s why there were so many German housekeepers in the Russian Empire. Even now there some German villages in Russia and they look like the places of absolute order, they look like Germany inside of Russia )) And the ubf’s approach to Germans in “stop thinking and keep shooting” style seem to me just crazy.

    • Vitaly, I already learned Russian as a kid, voluntarily, because I like the language so much. I also remember that Kasachok was my favorite dance in the kindergarten. My son is also learning Russian and Ukrainian from his mother (who speaks German perfectly). My Russian has become a bit rusty, but when I’m in the Ukraine, after sto gramm vodka I can speak Russian perfectly. And after another sto gramm I can even speak Ukrainian.

  22. Terry Lopez

    And I will tell you where I was in all the reform movements in UBF. I wasn’t a part of them. Nor will I ever be.

    • Terry, I know you weren’t part of them. I wanted to know where was you loud voice when the reform discussions took place and Samuel Lee was still alive? Where was your protest when the reformers reported about the forced abortions in UBF? Where was your protest when nearly half of the UBF chapters were expelled because they asked legitimate questions? Did such things ever bother you?

    • I remember where I was when I received the reformers letter and I remember being shaken. I remember deciding to ignore this information in favor of giving SL the benefit of the doubt. I remember saying, “I know that if he did this, God is his judge, not me.” I added that he must have done it for a very good reason because I didn’t want to think ill of him. I then set the information aside. I wasn’t compelled to stand up for those who were so hurt by this kind of abuse of authority. I now am ashamed that my heart wasn’t broken for SL and for all those impacted.

  23. Terry Lopez


    I just read A little of what you just wrote about healing, and you say that for healing to occur it must be acknowledged by the community and not only those who were involved. But I have a question, how do those who were not part of it really know what to acknowledge. Just because someone says they were abused does not mean that it really was abuse. That is not to say no abuse has taken place, that is obviously naive and not true, but not everyone who cries abuse are all true also.

    It’s a strange thing, I’ve encountered in my life. Whenever I met a husband and wife who were in the midst of divorce, their stories of why they are divorcing so diverge from one another. Which is true and which is false? How to tell?

    • Joe Schafer

      Terry, you asked some great questions.

      “…how do those who were not part of it really know what to acknowledge”?

      “Whenever I met a husband and wife who were in the midst of divorce, their stories of why they are divorcing so diverge from one another. Which is true and which is false? How to tell?”

      If you are a bystander, your job is not to listen to one side, then the other side, then render an impartial judgment that one story is true and another is false. Quick judgments and binary thinking about specific cases can make matters much, much worse. An ethics committee can do a full investigation, if they have the time and resources. But bystanders needn’t do that. They shouldn’t do that,

      The role of the bystander is to listen carefully. As you listen and analyze what you hear, you must also analyze yourself to understand your own subjective biases. Everyone has them. You will need to listen to all the stories carefully. If two people tell radically different accounts of the same event, it is not necessarily a contradiction. Neither one needs to be lying. People can and do experience event in very different ways, because they have different backgrounds, values and biases. As people tell their (often conflicting) stories, the community as a whole needs to struggle with the synthesis and, in the process, analyze its own culture and biases.

      This is a long, painstaking process. It cannot be rushed out of a desire to get back to business as usual.

      The short answer to your question is: Don’t. Don’t place yourself in a position of rendering judgments, unless you have specifically been charged with that duty (e.g. as a member of an ethics committee). Instead, use the opportunity to gain wisdom to better understand others and yourself.

    • “But I have a question, how do those who were not part of it really know what to acknowledge.”

      You were “not part of it” because you did not care. Maybe it was not obvious or provable to everyone that the allegations brought forward by UBF reformers were true, but what was obvious was how the UBF leadership dealt with them, namely by not even investigating, by not listening, and not discussing these things, but instead attacking the character and motivation of the reformers and calling everything lies and slander. When I started to care and read about these things, it became clear very quickly which things to acknowledge and which not. For instance, when I read the report of Rebecca Kim, I was pretty sure that what she wrote was the truth. Like the fact that UBFers broke into her home. And now Brian has confirmed it was true. You should give those who report about abuse always give the benefit of doubt, and at least investigate the issues.

      Much of the evil in this world happens because people have this attitude “I don’t care”, “as long as in my part of the world everything is ok, I’m fine” or “I’m not part of it” or “I cannot know whether it’s true anyway” or “I just blindly trust my leaders, they know better anyway”. As a Germany I know what I’m talking about.

    • Mark Mederich

      yeah we are all idle bystanders of much evil in this world (no time, no resource, no way to do much about it)
      yet history has reached a point where we can choose to speak up (thanks to techno communications) or act (thanks to increased disparity between the haves & have nots)
      come oh hitlers, do thy evil to be broadcast live for the world to immediately speak against you; come oh dictators, increase thy disenfranchised masses to the point they will soon overrun/depose you:)))
      (i’m half german/half east european mix)

  24. Terry Lopez


    And why must someone who had no part in them have to be part of the healing process? How does that bring about healing?

    • Joe Schafer

      Another great question. Like it or not, if you are a member of a community, then you are already involved. You are a carrier and builder of community values. If you hear stories of abuse and then do and say nothing, you are very much a part of ignoring and marginalizing. To listen, to hear, to acknowledge, to internalize and reflect back what you hear has immense healing power.

    • Joe Schafer

      To clarify: “acknowledge” doesn’t mean “I have listened to your story and I believe it is 100% objectively true.” It means, “I have listened to your story and am trying to understand it as best as I can. I do not dismiss it. I do not think you are lying. It represents your telling of your experience as you witnessed it. Love compels me to take your story seriously, to do my best to understand where you are coming from.”

    • Terry, people who had no part in the problems (if that is even true) are the BEST people to be involved. Why? Because they shoud be able to be objective. You cannot be objective about ubf, just as I really can’t be either. We are both too invested in ubf to be truly objective. That’s why it is so essentail to connect with the oustide world and with 2,000 years of Christian history. btw imho and fwiw I would suggest not becomeing a marriage counselor…stick to your day job!

  25. Thanks, Joe, Brian, for sharing how UBFriends started! I don’t think UBF people know the true story behind our origins. For instance, most/many UBF people do not know/realize that I WAS NOT part of the start of UBFriends. In fact, at the time I did not blog, nor did I know anything about blogging. I think I posted my first article ~a year AFTER UBFriends started.

    Interestingly (and humorously), a few months ago a native shepherd was told that “I STARTED UBFRIENDS.” (Sorry, Joe, Brian [and Mary] for receiving 100% full credit for your brainchild!)

    It gets better. He was told by his UBF chapter director that I started UBFriends because I am determined to destroy UBF through UBFriends!

    That’s not all. He said that all the UBF directors in his country know this about me. Then he was told that I am determined to destroy UBF because RW was made the USA UBF leader instead of me!

    I realize that other people have made my life full of fun, unpredictability, excitement and hilarity. Thank God. So, I love them with no ill will whatsoever!

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, you didn’t start the website. But when I left my faculty position and started a new job and began to put my life back into order in 2011, I completely checked out and did nothing with the website for about a year. It was you who stepped in and posted articles and kept it alive.

    • Sometimes all we can do is laugh… It was said also Ben that you caused me to “become disloyal and leave ubf”. You get WAY too much credit! I didn’t even talk to you until after I had left.

  26. LOL, Ben. It is typical for ubf to have such stories told about former or “negative” ubfers. The director in our chapter said that I left because I had a job problem, then because of my wife’s bad influence. According to him my wife left ubf because of jealousy to another shepherdess. Later all left because of one man’s (me) negative thinking. Another shepherd left “because he is against daily bread and sogam writing”. I asked the shepherd and he told me that he didn’t even mention daily bread and sogams in his talks woth the director. To call a spade a spade it is LIE which is so common and typical for ubf directors.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, Vitaly. And members who hear such explanations and accept them and repeat them as if they are true are a huge part of the problem. Directors will often spin such tales. People need to realize that just because a director says it doesn’t make it true.

    • I think one reason almost all my friends in Toledo suddenly went silent and haven’t talked to me since 2011 must be because of what was said about me by the former director. He was free to spin any kind of tale about me that he wanted since I wasn’t even in the same city. I heard that some were discussing whether or not I was filled with an evil spirit. Others explained that I couldn’t handle the burdens of life (that was in an official report to Chicago). I really wish I could talk to them again in person to explain myself with my own words. I hate that fact that my story is always told by others. My whole life narrative was dictated to me piece by piece for 24 years and now some continue to dictate what I’m doing after leaving. That is the saddest part of leaving ubf. I saw it happen to many of my friends over the years.

    • And, Brian, that’s why a month after I left I sent a letter to all natives in my chapter. I explained why I left ubf. They gave a copy to the director and then those alarm, yelling etc started! Koreans used to leave silently so it was very challenging for the director. He thought it was a satan’s sudden attack against him :) I wrote many more letters and talked to the people a lot, so the director’s lie about me and us didn’t work.

      The director laughed to my face when I spoke about Ben and Joe. It seems that it is very difficult to understand for him and the like why the GD and other seniors didn’t expell them from ubf at once. It is the one and only change that has taken place in ubf: Ben and Joe are not expelled the way 2001 reformers were. (I am sure it is the only ever possible change in ubf)

      If the fruit of the tree is regular LIE then what kind of tree is that? If Satan is the father of lie then what would his children say: lie or honest truth?

    • I have been a silent reader of much of the discussions that are going on here. But could not stop telling what JL and DK told about my family after we left ubf. First, they said that my family joined a ministry based in US by the name International House of Prayer in Kansas City(IHOP-KC), which is a cult as per the assessment of JL, DK and SB because of it’s teachings about the end-time. Secondly, they said that my family was paid a large sum of money to join this organization. Sadly many followers of these God’s anointed believe those to be true. By spreading such lies they thought they could hide their abuse of power and unbiblical practices. For sometime I felt really bad as to how so called spiritual leaders give in to maligning and character assassination. Instead of thinking whether their could be truth in what I am saying, sadly many ubfers will think that I am doing exactly the same (maligning and character assassination of JL, DK and SB) after reading my comment.

    • Joe Schafer

      AbNial, thank you for your comment. I agree with you and am sorry about what happened in India. It is one of the worst happenings in UBF history.

      And, sadly, there are many in the organization and leadership who, if they saw what you just wrote, will say that you are not being fair and balanced because you
      * failed to include a long introductory paragraph that praises God for all the great and glorious things he has done through UBF, and you
      * failed to express how thankful you are for God’s servants and all that they have done for you.

      I understand that an introductory paragraph that lauds our great leaders and traditions is a standard cultural practice for some. If they feel the need to always do that, fine, they don’t have to stop doing it on my account. But I have stopped doing it as a matter of principle, because it’s not part of my culture, and because I think it’s condescending. If people want to interpret this as a sign that we are bitter, immature, blatantly unbalanced, etc. then I cannot stop them. But in my opinion, AbNial, you are none of those things. You are a man of principle and conscience and you tell the truth.

  27. So in regard to ubfriends… When I met ATK in person (with Ben and JohnY) he told me and Ben: “You guys are the leaders of ubfriends. You should take control of it and make it better”. I had to laugh out loud. ubfriends is not a ministry that we established as “leaders”. It is an open mic with loosely enforced policies. No one can control this website, and why would anyone want to control it? It was revealing to me that ATK tied “leadership” with “control”, even in the context of a blog.

    • Joe Schafer

      Reminds me of John A’s great article yesterday, titled “Why Missional-Ecumenism Needs Creativity, Not Problem Solving.”
      Leaders see problems and want to fix them directly. Those fixes usually make things worse. UBFriends is a living system. It’s a cat, not a toaster. If you try to open up a sick cat and fix it as one would fix a broken toaster, you end up killing it.

      What we need is not a problem-solving strategy, but a vision of what UBFriends can be, and the willingness to try creative initiatives to get us there. And UBF needs the same.

    • Joe your comment reminds me of a somewhat related programming principle we software engineers sometimes use:

      Open chest surgery is not needed when putting on a coat.

      I just want to meet with ubf people and talk but they seem to treat such a meeting as open chest surgery.

      I’m at a loss for any kind of vision these days. But I suspect it might not be as difficult as we imagine.

  28. @Terry: “And why must someone who had no part in them have to be part of the healing process? How does that bring about healing?” – See more at:

    My wife and I have four kids. If one of my kids are traumatized, like it or not, the other five of us in our family, plus in-laws, other family members, and close friends are going to be involved, like it or not. Imagine if after my son expresses some trauma, I say, “No one else needs to be involved in this, because I was not the one traumatized. Also, no one else in the family needs to be involved because they were not traumatized. You should solve your problem on your own.” I wonder how this would go down for my traumatized son.

    Brian has been in UBF for 24 years, which is the age of my youngest son. If he is experiencing some or any angst or trauma from UBF, all of his “spiritual” family should be invested in it and concerned about it, should we not?

    • Maria Peace
      Maria Peace

      Chris I’m sorry to hear that. What you went through. Like gc said please continue to write. Your input is important and relevant. I know the guilt trip about spending time with family. But in my situation I was able to make it work out. Our family took a road trip to Florida to visit John’s parents while we were in Chicago UBF under SL. After every SWS I went to visit my sisters and parents in the suburb of Chicago. During conferences my sisters took our children to stay with them while John and I went to the conferences. My mother always found us live in Filipino grand mothers who lived with us Monday to Friday and took care of the children while we worked, attended meetings, and fed sheep. I worked full-time, John was studying and worked part-time as well as being a staff shepherd. My family was a big help otherwise I would have had a hard time to serve in UBF or my serving would have been limited. My family knew my church and work schedule and they were always willing to help out. I have 3 sisters and one older brother. My parents were always ready too. I have many pictures of them with the children. My mother once offered me $25,000 dollars to leave UBF, and a promise of a new house and car. She was a Catholic and wanted me to remain a Catholic as well. But I told her I met Jesus through this ministry and I believe in student ministry. This was God’s calling for me. After I said this and refused her offer she began to help me the best way she could. We even brought our Bible students with us whenever we had a family birthday or celebration. My family knew that when we came there were always someone with us. They accepted them and knew them and in a way my family was part of our ministry. Even today my sister who is a professional caterer (not a UBF member)would cater UBF events for free and help out my other sister who is in UBF. But not everyone can follow such a regime as you mentioned Chris. It should not be mandatory but voluntary. We can not do all the same things and each of our gifts to serve God is different. While I was in Kyiv we also had early morning daily bread meeting. We attended and then afterwards, John and I prayed or we prayed before the daily bread meeting. John and I always found time to pray together. We really enjoy it.

    • Maria Peace
      Maria Peace

      Hey Brian, can you move this reply to Chris’ comment. I kinda put it in the wrong comment section.

    • Maria, thanks for sharing that. [There isn’t a good way to move comments here…but I put a link to your comment under Chris’ last comment; not sure exactly which of Chris’ comments you meant.]

    • Mark Mederich

      in excessive situations, family of origin availability/assistance makes much difference (unfortunately many had little such resource to help meet expectations while limiting stress)

      for example the expectation for both parents to do everything (finding/affording/trusting babysitters): those days have not/will not be forgotten…:)

      on the other hand, ‘getting strong now” like Rocky: those more abused have become stronger survivors, HALLELUJAH!

    • “Chris I’m sorry to hear that. What you went through.”

      Maria, the problem is that it’s not only me who was affected, but many other members who had to (and still have to) go through this, or who went through this and then left UBF or even left Christian faith because of the bad experience. And not only in my chapter, but in many similar UBF chapters all around the world (ask Vitaly for example). You should be sorry for all of them, not just me.

      You wrote that you could visit your parents every week, but it was not possible for me because they lived too far away. I never could visit them on the weekend because SWS attendance was obligatory. As I already mentioned, when I missed a single meeting on a Sunday (an additional meeting, not the SWS!) to spend time with my mother, this was enough reason for my chapter director to cancel my marriage. UBF was always willing to accept practical and financial help of the members’ parents (e.g. when I was a student, my offering money was actually taken from my parents’ financial support), but when my parents needed any support from me, I was not allowed to visit them (theoretically it was allowed, but practically it was not possible because of the distance and all the weekly mandatory meetings – it was not allowed to take a hiatus from UBF even for a weekend or a whole week to visit them).

      “But not everyone can follow such a regime as you mentioned Chris.”

      This sounds as if I was only to weak. As if it was something that was only bad for me, but as if it could potentially good for other people. No, such a regime isn’t good for anybody because it is not in line with the gospel at all: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” People who abuse the gospel to put other people under a yoke are counteracting the work of Christ. As Martin Luther said: “I want to preach it, I want to say it, I want to write it, but I don’t want to push and coerce anybody with force, because faith must be willing and uncoerced and must be accepted without compulsion.”

    • Maria Peace
      Maria Peace

      Chris, I don’t think you are weak at all. You are an honest and true person. Yes I agree with you that many chapters in UBF demand a lot from their members in time and commitment. I am sorry that many people went through it and were hurt. I also went through it and so did our daughters. I just stated how I was able to deal with it and still have time for our family. It was because my extended family supported me and that they were all close by. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do all that was required of me. Family is very important. Those chapters in UBF that does not see this must change. There are some chapters in UBF that are open and share the responsibilities of the ministry together with its member, like in Westloop. That’s were all our children are now. Our eldest daughter who was wounded in another UBF chapter loves Westloop. She is coming back to Kyiv but later in the near future she wants to return to the US and take an internship in Westloop UBF.

      We had one university student who went to Nova Siberia to be with her family for a month. Her whole family are atheists there. We told her please go and pray for them. Who else could reach them for the gospel if not her. When our members want to visit their family on the weekends and miss our SWS we bless them. We tell our students to preach the gospel to their family as well. I know all the family members of our students. John and I even visited their homes and had SWS with them. One of our student’s father who was against God and suffered from depression and suicidal tendency and was unemployed. We put him to work to built our house. He worked for us 7 years now. Yes, we are still working on our house. He has peace and became such a happy man. He told me he has such little faith. I told him, so do I but it is God who helps us. A little faith can go far when we believe in God.

      Chapters in UBF are different like night and day. That is why we need a code of ethics and a sound theology. We can learn a lot from people who left our ministry. We need to learn from them and see what went wrong. What needs to change. How we can reconcile and treat each others as brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe this is what Jesus meant when he said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John13:35 If we can not love other Christians especially those who were once in our ministry, we can not call ourselves Christians. Even Jesus said love your enemies. How much more our former brothers and sisters in UBF.

    • Mark Mederich

      real solution is leadership leading way in repentance & seeking Holy Spirit help for reformation/transformation; however their silence communicates inability (bound to spirit of control/works/etc): we must pray the Holy Spirit help them

      yet, in the meantime we must forge ahead with Holy Spirit help

      it is inevitable that we all must face the futility of human efforts/gains; we all must forgo privileged human benefits & be content with sufficient God given benefits

      (those not willing to do so, only increase their own elevated fall when some day their inflated life bubble bursts)

    • “Chapters in UBF are different like night and day.”

      In fact there are now two opposite extremes. Those who follow the old SL style and those who turned around to do the opposite of what SL taught, like Westloop, because they experienced, understood and acknowledged how bad the old style was. Brian called these the “redeemed” chapters. However, this is not a situation that can last forever. Either the “redeemed” chapters will finally be expelled (as SL did in the past with all who did not follow his style), or they will disassociate themselves from the old UBF when they see that there is no hope for change in the rest of UBF any more. What good is it to stay forever in an unhealthy organization that teaches and practices the opposite of what you believe is right? Or, to quote the Apostle Paul: “What fellowship can light have with darkness?”

    • REPLY TO Chris’comment: “In fact there are now two opposite extremes. Those who follow the old SL style and those who turned around to do the opposite of what SL taught, like Westloop, because they experienced, understood and acknowledged how bad the old style was. “

      FYI-I am in Westloop and my sister is Maria Peace. I just wanted to clarify about our chapter and what we follow. We follow the Holy Scriptures that reveal the gospel thus we struggle to live by His grace alone so that we live out our gospel-centered faith in community and life. Now to say that we in westloop do the opposite of what SL taught is not quite true. In fact, I personally am thankful and moved by Samuel Lee’s life for he taught me many spiritual lessons while he was alive. But I also know he is a sinner like me. Whatever style we follow, we must hold unto Christ Crucified.

    • I don’t quit understand, Elena. So, you still follow the paradigm of SL that nobody is allowed to correct or criticize leaders, that there should be no financial supervision of leaders and transparent dealing with money, that you need to give people abusive “trainings” and humiliate them in many different ways to make them obedient, that you need to arrange marriages of people who never met each other, that you need to cover up mistakes and fake history, that members should be divorced and remarried and children should be aborted if these arranged marriages fail, that leaders are to be considered “commanders” and that people should be taught that they will experience accidents if they do not obey the leader? I’m not moved by the life of a person who did all of these things. I would be sad to hear that you don’t follow the opposite of this paradigm of “spiritual” leadership.

  29. Terry Lopez


    Yesterday, I found an interesting thing that happened to me. While taking my dog Kuma for a walk in the evening with my wife, a time I cherish and which is a time for me to give my undivided time and heart to her; well, while I was walking, I am usually fully engaged with her, but last night, she made a comment to me that struck me. She asked, “Are you alright? You seem distant.”. When she said it I felt extremely bad, because it was true. My mind was elsewhere, it was thinking about the posts here and my response to some and the good pints made by some. And I realized that I, because of my own inability to compartmentalize multiple tasks well, I had allowed this site to consume more of me than I should allow it to.

    So I will continue the dialogue and participating, but only as much as I can “handle”, ie, am mature enough to handle without it affecting other areas of my life.

    Have a great day everyone! :-)

    • Yeah, Terry, this site could be addicting. Use at your own risk. As “Hotel California” poignantly says, “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” :-D

    • Joe Schafer

      I can definitely relate. Sharon and I have to talk through these things at length, processing them together. But sometimes we have to consciously put them aside, lest they consume us.

    • Woa, wait a minute Terry.

      “While taking my dog Kuma for a walk in the evening with my wife…”

      I’m glad to hear this BUT if I and my friends had done that on a regular basis we would have been rebuked or given some training for being a “family-centered, weak Christian”. A huge fight would have ensued. We would have had to rebelliously do this at the risk of pissing off the director.

    • “While taking my dog Kuma for a walk in the evening with my wife…”

      Brian, I had the same sentiments when I read this. In our part of UBF, having a pet, even a dog that needs much time and care, was a sign of being family-centered and not fully focused on campus mission. One young American girl who really was mad about dogs and was married off to one of our shepherds has been refused to have a dog (one of the reasons she left UBF and in turn divorced by her husband). All our other members were so hardcore that they would not have even dreamt of having a pet dog. You just didn’t have the time to care for a pet dog, if you were a UBF shepherd. That’s also what upset me about John Armstrong when he defended UBF some years ago. The picture on his blog showed him with his pet dog. I really got upset when I thought how he could approve (all of) UBF, without understanding how life in our part UBF really looked like, so different from his happy life with his dog.

    • I join the sentiments about having a dog. I had a big dog before ubf. I loved it. As a responsible dog owner I understood well that to have a dog for me was absolutely impossible while in ubf. We had meetings every evening. I couldn’t dream to walk with my wife during my 17 years in ubf. Yes only after leaving we could walk together. When we walk now we say, “Look, we are walking together! Yeah!”. We went to the cinema several times and we visited our children’s concerts which was absolutely impossible while in ubf. Who can walk and watch movies and have a dog and visit concerts when in the army?

      And I shared already. We had a ubf missionary in Yekaterinburg. He lived with a dog before ubf. When he became a ubf shepherd he was asked to eat his dog “by faith”. And he obeyed, absolutely. That’s ubf!!!

    • “When he became a ubf shepherd he was asked to eat his dog “by faith”. And he obeyed, absolutely.”

      That’s just sick. So we have had a missionary candidate couple who were demanded to have an abortion as a requirement to become missionaries and now someone eating his dog out of obedience.

      That’s what happens when you bind people’s lives to a heritage wrapped in Confucian values with a warped or missing gospel.

    • So I learned another variant of UBF “dead dog training” today. I already knew several variants, but this one was new to me.

    • Maria Peace
      Maria Peace

      Hey Chris, Brian and Vitaly, I know many people in UBF some of them are UBF directors who have pets like dogs, birds and cats. We have two beautiful dogs. Also while in UBF, my husband and I attended most of our children concerts, recitals, sport games and so on. For the last 15 years almost every morning my husband and I drink our coffee, talk about life, read our Bible and daily bread and pray together. The first 10 years of our married life it was difficult because our children were young and our work schedule were very different. Also the first 10 years are the most difficult time in a marriage. You can’t blame the institution for not having a pet or spending time with your family. Terry has a wonderful and close relationship with his wife while being in UBF. I know many who also have it. I just want to keep the record straight.

    • Maria Peace
      Maria Peace

      We have two big dogs, a mix golden retriever, named Mahal (which means love in the Philippine language) and a pure white labrador named Alika.

    • Maria,

      “You can’t blame the institution for not having a pet or spending time with your family.”

      When the institution controls your life, yes you can blame the institution.

      “Terry has a wonderful and close relationship with his wife while being in UBF. I know many who also have it.”

      That’s nice.

      “I just want to keep the record straight.”

      But you are just sharing a different experience. We don’t dispute that it is possible to have such good experiences as you have. Sharing a different experience is not the same things as setting the record straight.

    • Maria Peace
      Maria Peace

      Sometimes Brian the comments here sound like no one could have a pet or have quality family time and still be in UBF. I don’t agree with that. My experience was different and I was under SL for 20 years. That’s the record I want to keep straight.

    • Maria, I just wrote that I wanted to refrain from writing here, so just a quick answer without wanting to get lured into another discussion again:

      In my part of UBF, having a pet dog was unthinkable for a missionary or a shepherd. Heck, the director’s wife even adviced my wife to stop breastfeeding so that she could spare time for UBF activities! If you aren’t given time to feed your own baby, how could you take time to care for a dog? I also met no other shepherd or missionary in my 10 years in Germany UBF who had a dog. Nobody dared to even think about taking time for pets, vacations, hobbies. It was all unspiritual, you had to give all your energy, 100% for campus mission, you had to give account about your activities in your sogam every week, you had to give account about how many people you fished and how many you made Bible study with every Sunday. If you had many sheep, you were busy with preparing and conducting all the 1:1s with the sheep, and if you had no sheep, you were expected to go fishing every day until you had at least four. Everything else was considered distraction and a lazy worldly lifestyle. How can you have time for a dog when you have to attend endless meetings every week and spend most of the weekend in the UBF center? And then there was all the sogam writing, message writing, conference preparations etc. Maybe it was possible to have some secret time for yourself when you were unemployed and not studying at the university, but nobody was in that situation, and it would have still been considered unspiritual. Maria, I believe it was not much different when you were still in Chicago under the regiment of Samuel Lee. It’s only now in Kiev that you’re allowed more freedom.

    • Mark Mederich

      dogs help herd sheep; dogs sense evil spirits/gnash teeth to ward off (you’ve seen the old movies:)

      but let’s face it, many ‘extreme shepherding’ situations did not have time/$ for that (work/family/MISSION/etc)

      of course some individuals may have had less survival responsibilities at some time depending on their resources or CONNECTIONS

      also some places farther from HQ like California may have had more freedom, especially if leaders were less anxious/controlling…& don’t forget, in America historically all fads good or bad start in Cali & head east:)

      luckily dogs are man’s best friend so they usually don’t eat their owner, but if owners eat them, others may catch on & get even for them:))) just a little reminder to humans to be as kind as animals, if possible, if ‘faith’ allows……….

    • Mark Mederich

      let’s face it, leader who demanded extreme acts is only devoted to himself & his kingdom, simply became deranged, & needed human being training (a dose of his own medicine:))))))

    • “For the last 15 years almost every morning my husband and I drink our coffee, talk about life, read our Bible and daily bread and pray together.”

      Again, I cannot leave such statments uncommented.

      We had to meet in the center every morning, very, very early. It was called “Frühgebetsstunde” (“early morning prayer hour”) for a reason. And it was also called “Stille Zeit” (“quiet time”) for a reason. Someobe had to prepare a special “daily bread” sogam every day (in addition to the usual weekly sogams) which was delivered from the pulpit, and then in the rest of the time we were expected to write “daily bread” and pray in silence for at least an hour. After that, we prayed in “circles” (for the usual number goals, for Samuel Lee and Sarah Barry, and against the “ungodly individualism” of our sheep and students as by instruction of our chapter director). All the shepherds and missionaries were expected to attend the early morning meetings. And most of the missionaries needed to commute by train to go to work. So there was only a quick collective breakfast in the center between the daily bread meeting and going to work. There was no quality time with husband or family alone at the breakfast table for our shepherds or missionaries. All this regimentation of time was ordered by our chapter director to keep us in spiritual discipline.

      He also prescribed that a sogam had to have three parts: Part 1) “review” (how I spent last week, review of spiritual victories and failures), part 2) main part, rumination of the weekly lecture that had been preached by the director on Sunday,
      part 3) “outlook” (promise which spiritual victories you want to achieve next week). Of course, the spiritual victories were mostly having 1:1s with sheep or fishing new sheep, and in real life it was usually failure, not victory. In part 1) people repented for having failed to have the expected number (12 was good, 4 was acceptable, 2 was absolute minimum) of sheep and in part 3) they promised to make every effort to achieve that number next week. It was a vicious circle of failure and guilt and group pressure. The constant feeling fo guilt and failure kept you at work in the UBF hamster wheel and prevented you from criticizing anything because unworthy sinners are not allowed to criticize servants of God (who was exempt from everything and never shared such a sogam).

      And in addition to these weekly sogam sharing sessions (often different kinds of meetings per week), we also had a special “staff meeting” after the Sunday service. In that meeting, all the 30-40 members had to sit in a circle and everybody had to report again the number of 1:1 he or she made with sheep, had to repeat one point that he or she learned from the Sunday sermon of the director, and had to give a promise how many 1:1s he or she will make next week (“I pray for…”). It was an immense group pressure, like in a doorstep brigade meeting. There were always 2 or 3 missionaries who could not find sheep for various reasons (e.g. they were not talented to learn the language and/or they were shy and introvert) and they always had to confess they failed to have 1:1s but still had to say “I pray for… (at least 2 sheep)”.

      That was just to give you an imagination of the atmosphere in our chapter (and in some German chapters it was even worse) and help you understand why I’m upset when I hear you had so much freedom. All the missionaries, including those who were married with children, were expected to take part in all of these activities. Whenever the chapter director (who did not have a day job) felt we had too much time, or when there was a holiday, he simply added another meeting to our schedule. So when I hear people talking about quality time with family or having pet dogs as if this was normal in UBF, I can only laugh (a bitter laugh). I remember that even after I left, I felt guilty when I tried to have only one week vacation with my family. It was so ingrained into my brain that vacation was unspiritual. The feeling to just have time for your family without attending any meetings was so unusual and guilt-provoking for us that we even found and attended a Bible study group at the place where we made vacation in order to appease our manipulated conscience.

    • Chris, it has definately been one of Terry’s weaknesses to mention so many references of ‘free time’. He mentions his dog, walking with his wife and even recreational activities with his children. These are all things we could have hoped for when we were stuck in the routine schedule you describe.

      I have had it easy for schedule in many ways. I did participate in chapters which regimented and documented activity and how you spend your time. However, after my initial conflict I did not know how to properly participate in all such activities. In fact the pressure was indeed there, but I had already lost my chance by being vocal. After I did attend such meetings and did try to do things it was not enough anyway. So, at the loss of being exalted I just gave up and gladly took the lowest place.

      I have been silent about Terry’s words in this area, but what offends me most of all is the frequent use of “I don’t care.” If those are the feelings of someone who has in fact been made an elder then it distresses me very much. There are many young people who I have met in the past who wanted to serve in so many ways and they in many cases could not endure past the 1:1 relationship. “I don’t care…” it is not the statement itself, it was how often it was used and in which contexts. I will say this I do hope Terry returns online, but I understand if he doesn’t. Also Chris, don’t hold back on commenting – your input helps a lot. You always stand by your original concerns to the end. You also give a fair explanation when necessary.

    • Маria,

      When did you adopt your dogs, before coming to Kiev, after separating with Peter Kim or sometime between? Once I had a pet rat for 3 weeks while I was in ubf. No, I did not eat it, I gave it to another shepherd who loved him very much. The day the rat was dying he called me at 11 pm and asked me to drive both of them to the clinic. I refused him – it was one of my few refusals in ubf. I hope he forgave me for it. To my knowledge there were no dog in Moscow ubf – for 10+ years I remember one cat, two rats, one rabbit, and several turtles. The shepherd family with the cat was under pressure because the cat scared a woman missionary who studied 1-1 at their kitchen. Some time later the missionary and the cat became friends. Nevertheless the family left the ubf later.

      “You can’t blame the institution for not having a pet or spending time with your family”.

      During 12 years in UBF I never visit on weekends my mother who lived only 200 km away. According to your statement I can’t blame highly demanding ubf leadership for this. But i do. I found the way to spend time with my mother – I took days-off from my job to visit her. But I was heavily blamed for missing yet another Thursday meeting.
      I hope your dogs are not living better lives then shepherds in your next door Kiev ubf.

  30. @David: “Ben and Joe, are there any suggestions of how I could go about presenting a view such as this in sermon prep?” – See more at:

    I’m sure that they are multiple ways to go about this. Since UBF loves Bible verses, how about these?:

    * Ac 20:24 – Paul had a singular goal to testify to the gospel/good news of the grace of God. Shouldn’t our sermons and Bible study highlight grace and the gospel? Rather than law and imperatives??

    * 1 Cor 1:23 – Paul preached Christ crucified, not law or mission or commands.

    * 1 Cor 2:2 – Paul resolved to know nothing but Christ and him crucified.

    * 1 Cor 15:3-4 – What Paul regards as of first importance is the gospel, not mission, law, imperatives and commands.

    There are countless other verses that basically say that the primary message of the Bible is Grace, not Law.

    • Joe Schafer

      David, if I understand your question, you are asking for practical strategies on how to write expository sermons that are more gospel-centered and Christotelic. (Christadelic?)

      There are many fine examples of Christ-centered preaching out there. And various ways to do it. For example, Tim Keller likes to allegorize and find hints of Jesus in a passage. Some passages (say, Gen 22) really cry out for the preacher to do that. For some other passages, that feels less natural to me.

      I suggest that you create occasions for your fellowship to set aside inductive Bible study to openly discuss the larger issues of how to approach the Bible. The problem is that people spend so much time trying to study the Bible that they don’t leave any time to step back and think about how to do it. They examine the minute details of every brick but never take the time to assemble the building. If you don’t talk about these things as a fellowship, then even if you are able to deliver good Christ-centered sermons, people won’t understand why you are doing so, and they might reject the approach simply because it sounds unfamiliar. Take some time to read a book together, or a chapter or two of a book, about approaching Scripture in that way and then discuss it together. Or watch some video sermons or lectures and discuss them together. That way, it can benefit everyone in the fellowship and give them a new framework for how to approach Scripture.

    • Thank you, Ben and Joe. This is truly helpful advice. I suppose the next logical question to ask is do you know of any good video series or books that are not too theologically complex that I could present to say, undergraduate students? We do inductive some times, and that helps. But in addition to this, I think that using some sort of distilled, focused series of lectures which advocates for embracing gospel-centered hermeneutics as a framework for studying the Bible would be very helpful.

    • * Also, a few years ago we preached through Galatians by referencing John Stott’s excellent commentary on Galatians. This was transformative in that we/I discovered that the freedom of the Gospel is the freedom from the sin of legalism, that is, the freedom of older brother sins, rather than younger brother sins.

      * Presently, for the rest of the year, I hope to preach through Revelation, God willing, by focusing on the gospel, rather than speculative futuristic prophecy.

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, preaching through Revelation will be a great challenge and useful exercise. Some ubf chapters have tried to do it. For example, Washington did a couple of years ago. The commentaries that they relied on were premillennial and dispensationalist (basically, American fundamentalist), which were the kinds of things that were being taught at the seminary where the director was studying. But as you may know, UBF has never been big on that sort of thing, because of the ministry’s Presbyterian roots. SL leaned toward amillennialism, and SB didn’t (doesn’t) like premillennialism or dispensationalism either. The ministry never gave chapter directors any concrete ideas on how to handle Revelation, so some chapters did their own thing and began to pick up this premillennial stuff from the very conservative / fundie types in America. Some on the senior staff don’t like it either, and once I heard PH say it was “embarassing” that some UBF missionaries were teaching this stuff.

      Sharon and I really like “Reversed Thunder” by Eugene Peterson (author of The Message). He presents Revelation as pastoral poetry, and gives lots of interesting ideas on how to bring out its relevance for modern times. I’ve heard good things about Gordon Fee’s commentary as well.

  31. Vitaly, thanks for the link!

    Here is a link (unfortunately in Russian) watch 1:30 – 2:30 Detroit sightseeing.

    My wife reminds me daily that there is a big difference between British and American :) I love watching Top Gear, and also Dr. Who.

    And yes, that is what Detroit looks like. I drive some of those streets everyday to work. But downtown Detroit is being rebuilt:

    I am glad to be part of this rebuilding through my workplace.

  32. One thing I would like to add from the sidelines over here.

    When we enter UBF for the first time there are definately the ‘loyalists’. Now, what I mean by this is simply:
    “I went through X,Y,Z training and therefore it is the standard and unchanging. It is only fair this way for everyone.”

    I am not saying this is the logic of the loyalists, but we know social environments well enough to see through the disguise of senior people in an institution be it work, school or church or whatever. There is a distinction between a senior who approves and a senior who disapproves. There may also be common ground between the one who disapproves and the one who has left.

    The one who disapproves and the one who has already left does not mind if the pain that they suffered and the actions they took to change the system in some way benefits the new comers or next generation. But the long term unchanging seniors generally want everyone to have the same experiences as they did.

    I am indeed oversimplifying this, but in essense it is not too difficult to explain – of course it comes from our OSN.

    • @David. Joe forgot to mention that we did a video series by Walton(probably the same Walton he mentioned) through the Bible in 90 Days program. It was really helpful.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, the Bible in 90 days program has weekly video lectures that are very well done. The Old Testament is handled by the same John Walton. The professor from Wheaton who also wrote the fascinating book The Lost World of Genesis One.

  33. @David: “do you know of any good video series or books that are not too theologically complex that I could present to say, undergraduate students?” – See more at:

    Since 2008 when West Loop began, this is a short list of what we have done, which I trust has helped us to transform our image to being more gracious and Christ-centered:

    * Preach 6 sermons from Tim Keller’s Prodigal God after listening to them (which are free online) and studying and discussing together. Some of us read the book, Prodigal God and studied his study guide weekly based on his book for 2 months.

    * Preached 6 sermons from Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods after studying the book together. I wrote on this:

    * In early 2013, I preached through John’s Upper Room dialogues by referencing DA Carson’s highly recommended John’s Gospel commentary:

    * In 2012, I studied and preached through Genesis over again by studying books written by several reputed Genesis/OT scholars and seminarians:

    * Presently, I’m reading Tim Keller’s “Judges For You,” which is short and easy to read. His “Galatians For You” is also excellent.

    * Don Carson’s book (and video series) on the overview of the Bible is a little heavier but very good: “The God Who Is Near.” In 14 chapters/lectures, he covers the entire Bible.

    * I’ve read books on biblical theology by Graeme Goldsworthy, Sidney Greidanus, Dennis Johnson, (which are on the bookshelf in the Bible house), which all exegete the bible text to point to Christ, rather than to simply follow or obey good moral and ethical examples, and avoiding bad ones.

    • Joe Schafer

      David, many of the books that have helped me to get more out of the Bible are of a different sort than the ones that Ben suggested. The writings that have influenced my the most are books that

      * helped me to understand how my own cultural values and presuppositions and community have colored the way that I have approached the Bible thus far — basically, to help me stop pretending that any of us can approach the Bible objectively, so we have to understand our subjectivity and embrace it in a healthy way

      * helped me to understand the humanness of the Bible and the human process by which the Bible came to be. The books of the Bible didn’t suddenly drop out of the sky on tablets of stone. The writings are divinely inspired (God breathed) but God used people and cultures to create them in a process that was bumpy, quirky, and not too different from the way any other body of human literature takes shape. Understanding that does not denigrate the Scripture or diminish our respect for it as God’s word, but rather, tells us a great deal about who God is and how he interacts with human beings. And it helps us spproach the text on its own terms, not forcing it to be something that it is not lest we be accused of becoming liberal and going soft on core doctrines (e.g. strict views of inerrancy) which, truth be told, were never considered to be core doctrines by most Christians in most places and periods of history.

      Two great books for a general audience that are easy to read and hone in on these two aspects of the Bible are Blue Parakeet (Scot McKnight) and Genesis for Normal People (Jared Byas and Peter Enns). Either of those books could be read by a fellowship and discussed in fellowship meetings.

      On the exegetical side, I have grown to appreciate the “for everyone” series of commentaries by NT Wright. He is a first-rate scholar who understands church life and the role of a pastor, and he writes in a charming, intelligent, witty and non-technical style. I love his “Paul for Everyone” series on Romans and Corinthians. He keeps the focus squarely on Christ. And he helps us to read the epistles, not in the context of Martuin Luther and the 16th century Reformers, but in the context of the early church for which they were written.

      Another reference book that I haven’t gotten yet but want to read is The Bible Story Handbook by John and Kim Walton. It was intended to be a reference guide for Sunday School teachers, giving them very specific tips on how to handle all the popular Bible stories: Cain and Abel, the Flood, David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Jonah, … Sunday school teachers — and ubf messengers — tend to focus on the characters in those stories, using them as positive or negative role models. The Waltons contend that, instead of focusing on the qualities of the Bible characters, we should be looking for God’s revelation of himself. Many pastors (not just Sunday school teachers) have found it to be a helpful resource.

    • Sorry, this should have been posted here.

      * Also, a few years ago we preached through Galatians by referencing John Stott’s excellent commentary on Galatians. This was transformative in that we/I discovered that the freedom of the Gospel is the freedom from the sin of legalism, that is, the freedom of older brother sins, rather than younger brother sins.

      * Presently, for the rest of the year, I hope to preach through Revelation, God willing, by focusing on the gospel, rather than speculative futuristic prophecy.

      As Joe alluded to, the popular Bible stories, need to be understood from the perspective of how it points to the gospel–to God, or to man/sin, or to redemption/Christ, etc. If this is not done, as is often the case, then all these stories are simply used as illustrative examples of how to live as a Christian. Some common ones (that I am guilty of) are:

      # Be like Able, not Cain; build an ark of salvation like Noah; be a father of faith like Abraham, not a compromiser like Lot, dig wells like Isaac, don’t be an animal man like Esau; conquer the giants in your life, as David slew Goliath, etc. Teaching the Bible in such a way primarily produces moralistic and legalistic Christians.

      As already mentioned, we need to study the Bible in a Christocentric, or Christotelic way.

    • Joe Schafer

      And this should have been posted here:

      Ben, preaching through Revelation will be a great challenge and useful exercise. Some ubf chapters have tried to do it. For example, Washington did a couple of years ago. The commentaries that they relied on were premillennial and dispensationalist (basically, American fundamentalist), which were the kinds of things that were being taught at the seminary where the director was studying. But as you may know, UBF has never been big on that sort of thing, because of the ministry’s Presbyterian roots. SL leaned toward amillennialism, and SB didn’t (doesn’t) like premillennialism or dispensationalism either. The ministry never gave chapter directors any concrete ideas on how to handle Revelation, so some chapters did their own thing and began to pick up this premillennial stuff from the very conservative / fundie types in America. Some on the senior staff don’t like it either, and once I heard PH say it was “embarassing” that some UBF missionaries were teaching this stuff.

      Sharon and I really like “Reversed Thunder” by Eugene Peterson (author of The Message). He presents Revelation as pastoral poetry, and gives lots of interesting ideas on how to bring out its relevance for modern times. I’ve heard good things about Gordon Fee’s commentary as well.

  34. @Joe: “Ben, preaching through Revelation will be a great challenge and useful exercise.” – See more at: YUP!!!

    The books and commentaries I prefer tend to be ammilennial/idealist, while I am also reading John MacArthur who is premillenial/futurist. Those postures and preferred positions have caused massive schisms, debates and disagreements, that have not been pleasant or amicable.

    Hopefully, by God’s grace, we may embrace each others preferred view. As the joke says, “Instead of being premillenial, ammillenial or postmillenial, let’s just be panmillenial, because it will all pan out in the end.”

    • Joe Schafer

      I agree that these postures have caused unfortunate controversy and schism. For me, it is helpful to step back and ask the more basic question: What sort of literature is Revelation? (and Daniel) Of course we all heard that it is apocalyptic literature, but that’s just a name. What was that genre? How did it function, and what sorts of expectations did the early Christians bring when they first read it? It seems to me that, until we have reasonably good answers to those questions, we have no framework to navigate the passages and understand what they meant in the original context, much less what they might mean for us today.

  35. @Vitaly: May dog lovers “rejoice” at this!

    “We had a ubf missionary in Yekaterinburg. He lived with a dog before ubf. When he became a ubf shepherd he was asked to eat his dog “by faith”. And he obeyed, absolutely. That’s ubf!!!” – See more at:

    • Joe Schafer

      That practice “kill and eat” is very biblical (Acts 10:13).

      An American leader in New Jersey was told to euthanize his dog, and he obeyed. He killed, but I assume he did not eat.

  36. @Joe, great questions regarding Revelation!

    Please feel free to give me your feedback on my write up for chapter 1:

    • From my limited readings, I thought that a good question to first ask regarding explaining Revelation is “What did it mean to the original hearers/Christians when Revelation was read to them in the late 1st century?”

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, I like the paragraph titled “Apocalyptic.” I would have added a bit more. Apocalyptic literature, as I understand it, was a kind of political commentary mixed with religious instruction, in the form of highly creative and fantastic imagery (like a dream sequence from a modern movie). The symbols represent nations and rulers and events of that time. The purpose was to help the church, which was facing hardship and persecutions in the immediate future, to take heart and see how God was at work. The apocalypse/revelation was not so much an unveiling of the distant future, but of the fact that Jesus is already on his throne ruling the heavens and the earth and shepherding his church through terrible times. It is a prophetic book in the OT sense of the word prophet. The prophet’s main function was not to predict future happenings, but to speak God’s truth to the current happenings, often in opposition to what religious and political authorities were saying.

  37. @Ben, Joe and Sharon. Thanks for all of the great references; I think that this information will prove to be massively helpful in the near future. Speaking of N.T. Wright, I tried to read his book The NT and the People of God in order to get his take on reading the NT texts in a contextual manner. He said that he wrote the book because he got tired of his graduate students asking basic questions regarding the cultural nuances prevalent in 1st century Israel. I say that I ‘tried’ to read this book; it is by no means facile because in the introduction he gives a long-winded, but perhaps necessary, exposition on the importance of one’s philosophical outlook when encountering historical texts (something you alluded to Joe). When I get some time I’d like to tackle it in order to satisfy my own curiosity and perhaps understand Jesus’ teachings in a more contextual manner. I also tend to be a bit wary of N.T. Wright because sometimes it seems as though he is thoroughly impressed by his own ideas :) He’s a great scholar though.

    • Joe Schafer

      It’s easy to get that impression of NT Wright because he has so many ideas and he’s super-smart. His technical writing can be intimidating. But check out his “for everyone” series. He reveals a very approachable and human side.

    • Thanks Joe, I’ll be sure to check that out. I remember when the controversy arose between John Piper’s and N.T. Wright’s respective views on justification, I got the impression that while Piper was emotional in his advocacy for his view, Wright seemed to have this air about him, as if he was thinking, ‘dude, chill out, I’m just using my ridiculously erudite expertise in ancient languages as well as both Jewish and Hellenistic cultures to analyze the original Greek texts and this is what I got. No big deal, bro.’

    • Joe Schafer

      Sounds about right. Their personalities are very different. Piper is very much about defending truth and delineating boundaries, so he’s pretty quick to say, “The gospel is at stake.”. Wright is very much about upholding unity-in-diversity, about welcoming those who are different from you into the family of God, so he’s quick to say, “Chill out.” Perhaps I’m not being generous enough to Piper in that description. At this stage in my life, the message of Wright resonates with me more. Both are excellent preachers, and God uses them both. And, honestly, their positions aren’t very different.

    • @Joe and Ben: the inner turmoil that a Piper devotee experiences when they realize that N.T. Wright has gotten the NT right:

    • Joe Schafer

      David, I saw that video and I think it’s hilarious. I hope that Piper fans can laugh about it too. I understand that, in polite company, Hitler and comedy probably shouldn’t mix. But my sense of humor can be very inappropriate.

    • I feel you, Joe. My wife always says that I have the humor of a fourteen year old. And granted, it is perhaps a sacrilege to even think that Hitler would have such an internal conflict. But then I thought, it would be even more sacrilegious to pass on posting such an ingenious display of creativity and humor. Cheers, Piper fans!

  38. Chris mentioned something that stands out to me:

    “all the 30-40 members had to sit in a circle and everybody had to report again the number of 1:1 he or she made with sheep, had to repeat one point that he or she learned from the Sunday sermon of the director, and had to give a promise how many 1:1s he or she will make next week (“I pray for…”). It was an immense group pressure, like in a doorstep brigade meeting.”

    Yes it was the same for our chapter for many years. Ours was eventually changed to be a mandatory fellowship leader’s meeting instead of all 30 to 40 members of of chapter.

    For me there was also the post-Sunday meetings for administrative stuff like counting offering, preparing my fellowship report, preparing the chapter weekly report, preparing the offering report, sending all summary reports to Chicago and finally delivering the offering money.

    Here are some highlights from those mandatory Sunday meetings (which were the culmination of about 30 hours of meetings all through the week).

    1. During one Sunday meeting I was suddenly appointed as fellowship leader because my shepherd had left the ministry with his wife.

    2. During one Sunday meeting I was told to confess that I had acted like Satan and would repent for being too family-centered. [I had done the unthinkable– I attended my brother’s wedding on Saturday]

    3. During one Sunday meeting we came up with a plan to protect the chapter from “Donny Dynamo”, who was a “sheep” who had become physically violent during one Friday meeting and who had pronounced judgment against us in one Friday testimony.

    4. During many Sunday meetings we discussed who would be marrying and how they would be married.

    5. During one Sunday meeting after Christmas we were rebuked for not reaching our offering goal (something like $13,000 and we only made $11,000 or so). We were told to make a “make-up offering”.

    6. During one Sunday meeting when all the ministry was there, we divided into multiple groups to pray: those who had no sheep, those who had 1 sheep and those who had more than 1.

    7. During multiple Sunday meetings we discussed all our plans for getting sheep to come to the next conference. Everyone had to share in detail what steps they would be taking to ensure their sheep would be attending. We all knew who was lagging behind due to the 6 ft by 6 ft chart of conference attendance we always had to make.

    • Mark Mederich

      & praytell what was that ‘insufficient’ offering used for? if offering was demanded then, accounting for it’s use must be over-demanded now

    • Terry Lopez


      That is waaaay insane and overboard. I’m surprised you stayed as long as you did. I would have said Adios Amigos long before all that…

    • “That is waaaay insane and overboard. I’m surprised you stayed as long as you did. I would have said Adios Amigos long before all that…”

      Actually, I explained to you in a very long comment why people like us stayed in UBF and put of with all the abuse and nonsense for so long. It seems you haven’t understood. We really believed in all the ideological garbage they implanted into us. Obviously you didn’t, but you shouldn’t gloat about that and thereby kind of declare the other members who really took UBF and the things that Samuel Lee preached seriously.

      Did I also mention that Samuel Lee preached that people who abandon the mission (and who do not obey him as the “commander”) would experience accidents? Or that campus mission is our calling and the only thing that gives our lives and marriage a purpose and meaning? So people who believed that garbage were idiots? And at the same time you say we should esteem the life of Samuel Lee?

    • Terry Lopez


      The great problem with writing and not talking in person is that you can never really know when someone is ‘gloating’ or saying something out of amazement. I was trying to say that it took a way better man than me to stay as long as he did. Is that clear enough for you? Also, you think that I didn’t get your point when you posted your long post and I beg to differ. I think I got your point loud and clear. And finally, I never said you had to esteem Samuel Lee, you think I wrote that, but I NEVER did. I said, criticizing a dead man is weak and unimpressive. Not to long ago you criticized me for not reading what you wrote and instead that I read into what you wrote, but in truth from the very beginning, people here wrote that I was trying to equate Samuel Lee with Saul. But I NEVER did that either, you all read into my simple question, ‘Why did David sing a song of praise concerning Saul? That is all I ever asked. You guys took it from there… I take my calling that I received while in UBF very seriously, just because I don’t buy into all the nonsense, doesn’t mean I don’t. That is why I’m not leaving the ministry. I met God here personally. I received my calling to serve campus students here (but that isn’t the limit of my calling or service to God). Just because I tell you and others ‘I don’t care what people think’ doesn’t mean I don’t care what I am doing. I absolutely do. But I realize that my Judge, my ONLY Judge is God and NO man. Neither you or anyone else. So don’t misunderstand me.

      I’ll call a spade a spade. If someone mistreated me, I’d say something to them. What Brain shared I truly believe is unbelievably wrong and I would have left. Would I have called the ministry a cult because of it? No I wouldn’t. That is the problem of one man in Toledo and he will have to answer for it and deal with it and all the repercussions of it also. But not to me. He’s not my enemy and I’m not his judge.

    • “But I realize that my Judge, my ONLY Judge is God and NO man. Neither you or anyone else. So don’t misunderstand me.”

      That’s what I’m saying. You make a discrenment between God and man. Many UBFers don’t. For them, the “visible servant of God” (wording by your chapter director) is the representative of God, he gives them orientation and is very well allowed to judge them. These people have “captive hearts and captive minds” (title of a highly recommended book by Madeleine Landau Tobias, Janja Lalich and Michael Langone). I can really say that I was among them; and it was NOT only my own fault, I did not make up this idea on my own, my chapter directory captivated my mind in such a way, and he deliberately did so. He taught us that we have to obey the will of God absolutely, and the will of God was ordained to us by the servants of God (like him or Samuel Lee). Now you come across as somebody who tells us we were stupid to believe all these things our chapter directors told us, gloating over your independent, not captivated mind.

    • Joe Schafer

      Hi Terry,

      You wrote, “That is the problem of one man in Toledo…” I wish that were the case, but it’s not. Similar things happened in Chicago and elsewhere and are sometimes still happening. There is such a thing as corporate sin. I wouldn’t want to single out one person and make him a scapegoat for bad practices and poor theology that have been embedded in an organization’s culture for a very long time. Yes, people need to take personal responsibility for what they have done. But to treat the things that Brian mentioned as isolated problems just isn’t realistic.

    • “Similar things happened in Chicago and elsewhere and are sometimes still happening.”

      The exodus and expulsion of half of the German UBF members during the reform is another example. In UBF, nobody cared, and nobody was held accountable for this until today, though clearly, Abraham Lee, Peter Chang and Kaleb Hong caused this division. People like these or Paul Hong are never held accountable in UBF. You claim that it’s not your sake. But whose sake is it then to hold people accountable, if your organization has a structure according to which leaders are not accountable?

    • Terry,

      “I would have said Adios Amigos long before all that.”

      I wanted to. So why didn’t I? Because I love Jesus. Because I believe people can be changed by the gospel. Because I believe God called me to be an instrument to UBF. But also because of fear. I feared what would happen if I spoke up. I feared being shunned. I feared going to hell. I feared more angry rebukes.

      And guess what Terry… I also stayed because of people gave me advice just like you have expressed here already.

      I am no longer bound by fear. Christ broke those chains.

  39. I am enjoying reading about the dog (except about eating one’s pet dog as repentance)! Reflecting on myself, some people think that I am unspiritual, unholy, worldly and “not focusing on mission,” because I often talk about my 3 cats with profound affection and joy, and I refer to them with delight as my “3 family idols.”

  40. Thanks, Dave. Brilliant hilarious video!

    • Mark Mederich

      hard let go that ‘ole time religion, hitler baby! especially when you invested so much self in that theology & it’s useful to justify genocide/world domination:)

      seriously now, God is not talking on the mountain anymore, Jesus is sitting at right hand of God (not walking on earth), so it’s time for the Holy Spirit to help
      (regardless of man’s ideas which only God knows sure interpretation anyway!)


  41. Mark Mederich

    robert frost poem: the road not taken:
    “…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.”

    we can bow to religion or we can make it worship God, just as Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (certainly the Sabbath was in no way lord of Him)