Change is coming

cChange. Some people fear it. Some embrace it. Change happens, whether we like it or not. Sometimes things around us change the way we want. Other times we have no control over what or how we change. Often we want to change ourselves. Other times we want to change other people around us. Today Ben sent us a “blast form the past” that highlights how various people have changed (or not changed) the past seven years.

John Armstrong’s Article

In 2007, our friend John Armstrong wrote a series of blog articles about his interactions with ubf. I find it sobering, helpful and intriguing to look back on my comments and other’s comments in 2007. Here are my thoughts today.

John’s good advice

John gave us all wise words to consider back then. I find these thoughts to be quite sobering and true.

“If you are not extremely careful you will project your response toward UBF on to everything that you now think and do as a Christian, responding as if UBF is the whole story of your life.”

“Remember the examples of those who have learned to pray for their enemies as our Lord taught them and us. And recall that even he urges us to do good to those who have done evil to us.”

“This is a primary issue that counselors face every day with adult children who were abused by their parents. The child, who is now an adult, must finally come to grasp a simple fact—¬they may never be completely restored in a healthy way to their abusive parent(s). The child will eventually have to learn to let this go, step by painful step. And the child will also need to forgive the parent without agreeing with everything the parent says or does. Many parents will even deny that they ever did anything wrong at all in such circumstances. Christ wants to heal these types of pains in all of us but we must invite him to do so and pursue him for it in good faith.”

Former member’s comments

The comments by former ubf members back in 2007 were just too much for my small mind to process at the time. I had just finished 2 years of intense ubf defending (2004 and 2005) and thought all the former member stuff was over with. I was wrong. In fact, it was these very kinds of discussions that helped open my eyes to see that former ubf members were not so “evil” or “poisonous” but displayed love and serious concerns.

These comments were very helpful for me:

“Brain, again I recommend that when someone is communicating something regarding UBF, do not reframe it to fit your perspective. Do you think you are the Tom Cruise of UBF? You need to come off your UBF highhorse and stop trying to silence the incredibly apparent dark side of UBF. This is disrespectful, insincere and intellectually irresponsible. This is the same thing your late leader, Daniel Hong did and it is a bad attribute you picked up from him. I don’t need my words respun by you like you are superior to me. You have no idea what I have done since I left UBF so you need to stop trying to infer that we are not doing the work of God.”

“I have also seen UBF Bible students (some of them my friends) suddenly become fearful and suspicious and break-off their relationships with their UBF shepherds. Yes, some began behaving like enemies instead of friends, almost overnight. I know of many who even packed their belongings in secret and left their UBF housing secretly, were never heard from again, were hardly mentioned again except to say that they had “run away” from UBF (UBF leaders’ words, not mine). Why did they “run away?” Because of what they had “seen with their own eyes or experienced themselves” after years of a relationship with UBF. The breaking point was (and still is) often the surprise introduction of a “marriage partner” and the corresponding pressure to get married to this stranger.

And this was long before the Web, email or even fax machines.
The web sites that so trouble UBF leaders have been around only since 2001 and probably weren’t even on the usual Web search engines’ radars until 2002-2003. One might also ask why these UBF recruits are googling for “university bible fellowship a cult?” in the first place.”

My comments

Some of my comments, as I look back, were stupid. I was just plain wrong. One comment however that I totally agree with 100% today just as much as when I wrote it in 2007 is this:

“JCO, you make a good point. As Dr.Armstrong pointed out, love must prevail. Attitudes toward UBF will never unite anyone.

I do see the love of God here in some ways. I see the love of God in Dr.Armstrong’s allowing these conversations to take place on his blog, and by his wise and Godly words. I see the love of God in ChrisZ, JimSL, ExUBF and AndrewP who must care a lot to post such zealous words. I see the love of God in BenToh, JoeS and others from UBF who showed thankful minds and tremendous restraint in not replying with anger or bitterness.

So perhaps we can agree to be united in the love of Christ. In the end, Christ’s love is the one common denominator of Christianity.”

My identity was changing

I can clearly see my cult identity falling away and changing in some of my comments:

“My point of emphasis, and the reason I brought it up in the comment above, is that I strongly believe the Bible should be the center of my faith. I don’t think Luther’s words (or Dr.Samuel Lee’s words for that matter) should be the *center* of my faith. Certainly they are worthwhile for learning and maturity.

I welcome your attitude of love for us “evil, power-mongering, pyramid-scheming, abortionist, divorce-ridden good for nothing, going to hell” UBF members. (I don’t mean to dismiss criticims of UBF here, but at some point I can only laugh and cry at certain attitudes expressed on various comments here. At least I can take comfort in being upgraded from the “Bagdad Bob” of UBF to the “Tom Cruise” of UBF!)”

“When will it end? We in UBF already hear your points. We already are learning, growing and changing. What more do you want?”

My stupid comments

Some of my thoughts were just strange, shallow and borderline idiotic:

“Jim, you crossed the line here. So I will speak up. I respond to your writing below.”

“Another central problem to UBF is the financial unaccountibility.”
>>> Jim, you are on shaky ground here. Do you realize our books have been audited and approved? I don’t know about the Chicago chapter, but the Toledo chapter always gives offering reports and they match exactly to the penny. Please refrain from making generalizations about all of UBF when you only know part of the issue.

“>>> Jim, you are welcome to your opinion. You say UBF is evil. I wholeheartedly disagree with you.”

“As Amy mentioned, we need to consider “the whole counsel of God”.
When I see Matthew 18, the whole chapter, I see the following points:
1) I must learn the attitude of a child.
2) I must learn the attitude of a shepherd searching for lost sheep.
3) I must confront a fellow believer who sins against me.
4) I must not be an unmerciful servant.
What do you think?”

Thoughts about Change

We all are changing. I’ve found the following quotes about change to be helpful on my journey of change:

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” (Leo Tolstoy)

“Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby- awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess.”
(Lemony Snicket, Horseradish)

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)


  1. Joe Schafer

    Reading those comments from the past is like looking at embarassing pictures of myself from the 70’s or 80’s or 90’s. Is that really me? What was I thinking?

    This website has been around for only 3.5 years, and in that span of time, we’ve all changed a lot. We’ve all learned at a very fast rate. In the last 5 years, I’ve grown and changed far more than I had in the previous 20.

    Moral of the story: If you are in ubf and you want to grow exponentially fast, start thinking outside the ubf box. STart interacting with and listening to people who are different from you. But if you don’t care whether you grow — if you are content to remain pretty much the same as you are now for the rest of your life — keep doing what you have been doing.

  2. Reading what I wrote on Armstrong’s blog in 2007 was like reading about a different version of me!

    I think that for the most part I could still stand by what I wrote in 2007. At that time I wrote in defense of UBF, Lee and marriage by faith. But today, though still a UBFer, I want to write with less defensiveness and with more balance, honesty and transparency.

    What has changed in me is the first hand experience of some leaders who use their position of authority to dictate what you do with your life in UBF. They might regard it as their God given right to do so, which it very well may be. I call it “playing God,” weakening trust, and breaking relationships.

    Also, I am hearing more and more exUBFers who have clearly been wounded by UBF’s authoritarian system of “shepherd abuse” that almost uniformly happens throughout the UBF world in varying degrees to this day.