What next?

tAfter committing to catching up on previous posts, I found myself staying up the entire night trying to cover nearly 5 years of articles and comments. With each hour that passed, I knew I had to get some sleep, but alas, I find myself in front of the computer trying to formulate an article.

I was drawn in by article after article and comment after comment. Initially I was taken aback by aggressive language and seemingly biased points of view. But as I continued to read, I have been impressed by the level of integrity and professionalism you have maintained throughout the website. The articles have not been offensive or slanderous but have been informative, honest, and real.

Due to the degree of honesty and open communication presented here, some of the emotions have been very raw, making some of the comments difficult to read at times. But we need to read and acknowledge people’s pain and hurt. I understand why some leaders may have boldly challenged people to leave if they are not happy. Maybe they wanted to show their strong confidence in themselves and UBF. Maybe it was easier to reject first before being rejected. Maybe love grew cold. But one thing is that the pain will not go away on its own. And the fact is is that no man is an island and we need each other desperately.

The questions I came away with were, “Where do we go from here?” “Is there any hope?” “Has everything that can be done already been done?” I would propose that someone who is trusted by the elders and staff, such as a fellow director who has shown outstanding ability to hold such a discussion or an outside professional, give a set of lectures educating leaders on the art of discussion. Maybe similar to lectures educating leaders on current trends of postmodernism and how it affects how people view and accept the gospel message.

I’ve been hearing in many comments the cry for open discussion, not vindictively, but earnestly. And not just privately, but in an open group fashion. I feel that a little bit of honesty and vulnerability would go a long way.

One of the fundamental problems is that as a group, UBF leadership and members have not been educated on how to moderate a discussion that touches on sensitive and painful issues, using skills such as listening without judging, being vulnerable, the language of apology, receiving criticism without taking it personally, handling conflict and pain in the discussion, handling emotions, etc. And these are not learned naturally. They are skills that need to be taught and learned. There is no blame that we were not equipped. We have to remember that UBF started as a grassroots organization dependent upon the passion and initiative of a handful of people. God used it, but we need to change and grow as do all people and all groups. I believe that the same spirit of initiative, bravery, and independence that God used to bring us here, God can use again to bring healing, restoration, and revival for Americans, Koreans, and all chapters around the world.

However, without a proper foundation, and the right tools to address difficult topics, we cannot expect to have an honest discussion at a larger scale. We need to lay the foundation first. Then, and only then, can each side meet the other from the same starting point and begin the process of sifting and picking topics for discussion without getting defensive or emotional. There would need to be an excellent moderator as well.

Let us wait on God in full expectation. “We can do as little toward the work as toward creating the world, except as God works in us to will and to do. God only asks us to yield, to consent, to wait upon Him, and He will do it all….To wait upon God, and have the heart filled with faith in His working, and in that faith to pray for His mighty power to come down, is our only wisdom.” Waiting on God, Andrew Murray

57 comments

  1. big bear

    Friend…not sure who you are but can see you thought much about the issues on this sight..hope you read our book “The Year the world ended” yes, we all have to wait on God, yes UBF people are not taught good critical thinking skills but they function as shepherds for others and often believe they possess the truth..I have prayed and thought much about the same thing after I lost everything and lived in my van near the Ohio river…I am at work in a hospital and see a note pad that reads, “Love heals” this believe is the answer…UBF does not teach love…love for families, love for the body of Christ, and love for those who disagree for fear they will lose their mission…they speak love but practice legalism and self righteousness and look down on families, other churches and despise true love…God is love..when they accept God’s love thevhealing will begin…

  2. Joe Schafer

    Friend, thank you for your kind words about this website. It personally means a lot to me that, when you delved into the articles and comments, you found quality and professionalism among the conflict, painful accounts, and raw emotions.

    I’d be curious to learn which articles and discussion threads most impacted you.

    You wrote:

    “UBF leadership and members have not been educated on how to moderate a discussion that touches on sensitive and painful issues, using skills such as listening without judging, being vulnerable, the language of apology, receiving criticism without taking it personally, handling conflict and pain in the discussion, handling emotions, etc.”

    Actually, I’ve found UBF leaders and members have always been remarkably skilled at listening, accepting criticism, making apologies, and so on, within the hierarchy of status conferred by age, title, position and gender. An older person can speak to a younger person with remarkable freedom, and the younger person will listen intently, absorb it, apologize for wrongdoing, and so on.

    Here are the points where I have seen communication break down.

    * When people of lower perceived status (younger, American, female) break the unwritten rules of hierarchy and demand to be taken seriously and treated with respect. In the Korean language, speaking to someone without the proper honorifics determined by the hierarchy is taboo. I’ve heard, for example, that it is impossible for a younger man to say directly to an older man, “No, I won’t do it.” In that language, there are no proper words for it; to say “No” would be an unimaginable preach of protocol. On American soil, westerners like myself cannot and should not be expected to conform to such rules. We should not be seen as ungodly for doing what comes naturally to us, which we regard as virtuous, which is to speak honestly and directly, treating everyone as equal.

    * When you bring up especially painful subjects, e.g. the authoritarian practices of Samuel Lee, most people who were trained by him and personally experienced those things (which includes all the older leaders at headquarters and Chicago UBF) will clam up. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, being in UBF was traumatic. This is not an exaggeration: In one way or another, we were all traumatized by SL. We all experienced things that wounded us at a deep level. We all saw, agreed to and participated in things that violated our consciences. Those memories lie buried just below the surface and the emotions are very raw. People are still in varying degrees of denial about what they have seen and done. Many are still afraid to talk about it openly because (a) they are afraid of retribution by the ubf social structure, especially if they receive a salary from UBF, and (b) they are afraid of losing control of themselves if those raw emotions come to the surface.

    * There is a very strong belief that you should not talk about anything negative or controversial or painful in the presence of sheep / young people because it may “plant doubt” in them and cause them to run away. Only highly committed disciples who have demonstrated their loyalty are regarded as strong enough to handle the truth about the dark side of ubf. In my experience, however, trying to keep these things secret is counterproductive and futile; they know it already (it takes two seconds to google “UBF cult”). When newcomers sense that you are being sneaky and dishonest with them by trying to hide UBF’s bad reputation, they are not going to be truthful with you either.

    At some point, UBF leaders could use some training in listening skills, dialogue, conflict management, etc. But most of the training materials that exist for those purposes were developed in western contexts and wouldn’t address the barriers that I described above.

    In my opinion, UBF leaders could benefit from that kind of training, but what they need most is real friendship (not superficial coworking relationships) and psychological counseling to help them come to terms with their past.

    • “1980′s and 1990′s, being in UBF was traumatic”

      It was traumatic because they managed to indoctrinate you to believe that your right to exist, the meaning of your life, and your eternal fate was bound to UBF, you owed everything including salvation to them. It was a very deep bondage allowing “the servant of God” (your shepherd or director) to have a strong grip on your very soul. Younger members of current UBF chapters which are probably much less cult-like than UBF was in the past might not understand what this means.

      It may help to read several of the testimonies written by ex members in the 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, most websites that published these testimonies have been closed now (some after being sued by UBF lawyers). I think that’s bad because these concrete examples help understanding what spiritual abuse is, and how deeply UBF was involved in it. For good reason UBF is also one of the examples in the best-selling book “Churches That Abuse” of 1991.

      I also want to add that being in UBF was not only traumatic after 1980, it was already traumatic in the 1970’s, as the open letter of 1976 shows. It’s a myth to believe that UBF in the old days was somehow better.

    • Joe Schafer

      Agreed. I’m sure that the 60’s and 70’s were traumatic as well. Those were the days when Korean shepherds had to submit to a boxing match to earn the right to be a conference speaker. I’m under no illusion that it was better back then. I’m just reporting on what I saw from the days when I first came.

  3. Joe Schafer

    A couple more thoughts on this.

    * A few years ago, Scott Moreau gave a series of presentations to North American UBF staff and to Chicago UBF about cultural differences between Koreans and Americans. His presentations were very useful and did begin to address some of these issues. The reaction to his material was mixed. Some missionaries liked it; others responded negatively (“This is not from the Bible!”) and others ignored it, thinking that Dr. Moreau as an outsider had no right to tell UBF members what to do.

    * Korean missionaries who have supported themselves and had successful careers in the United States have learned to use good communication practices in the workplace. They had no choice but to follow standards of American professionalism. So they do have the skills and could use them if necessary. But they have not needed to bring those skills into UBF, and doing so would feel unnatural to them, because of the dualism that keeps their “worldly life” or work compartmentalized from their “spiritual life” or mission.

  4. Joe Schafer

    Sorry, I can’t help but make a few more observations, because this topic is very important to me. The need for open communication is the main thing that I pressed leaders on again and again, to no avail.

    * Helping UBF leaders to improve their communication skills was THE reason why we launched this website. The first two articles are precisely about communication.

    http://www.ubfriends.org/2010/06/24/what-is-good-communication/

    http://www.ubfriends.org/2010/07/01/sprechen-sie-ubf/

    UBFriends was designed to be a friendly, open, nonthreatening space where this hands-on training in communication could occur in a steady stream over a sustained period of time. This forum really was an ideal environment for it to happen. And it remained friendly, open, nonthreatening for a couple of years. I believe that, if leaders had participated, it would have been a far more effective method of training than a few professional seminars.

    Why didn’t they participate? You can ask them. My sense is that they didn’t want to. They were afraid. They didn’t think they needed it. They said to themselves, “We already got that covered.”

    At this point, why go to great lengths to train the elders to do something that they don’t want to do or could only learn how to do with great difficulty? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. There are plenty of younger people who already have the necessary leadership skills and relational intelligence to facilitate good communication and will be much better at it than the old guys ever will. (And five years ago, there were many, many more of these people. Dozens have left.) Find the people who are still left who can do it and just empower them to do it.

  5. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    I visited the Springfield chapter and spoke with the chapter there this weekend. I spoke about your comments Friend and the recent explosion of comments. Rebekah said that many times she feels like if posts anything she will be attacked. Her and her husband said it is better to visit places and try to talk to people individually. I will be going to KY this weekend and I hope to meet with the UBF chapter there.

    On the topic of “Only highly committed disciples who have demonstrated their loyalty are regarded as strong enough to handle the truth about the dark side of ubf.”

    My pastor knows I am on here. He praises my “discerning heart”. I am not sure he would consider me ‘strong enough’. I remember him trying to make me swear I wouldn’t go to Florida once. I was highly confused by this, even more confused when he couldn’t articulate any reasoning for this command. I ended up driving 18 hours straight back so I wouldn’t miss Sunday service. I guess he takes what he can get with me.

    • Joe Schafer

      Forests, you may never be strong enough.

      There is an American in UBF whom I’ve known for more than 30 years. He’s old enough to be a grandfather, has served as the president of his local board of elders and is a voting member of UBF-USA. Recently, his Korean chapter director said that I shouldn’t talk to this man (except through him, the chapter director) because he didn’t want me to be to be a “bad influence” on him.

    • By the way, Forest, you often write “my pastor”. Does it mean that it is now usual in UBF to call the shepherds “pastor”? Or is only the chapter director a “pastor”?

      In my time in the 1990s, nobody in Germany UBF was called “pastor,” except the national director Abraham K Lee who was an exception because he claimed to have some theological education from a Korean seminary. All others were considered “shepherds”, not pastors, and were addressed with the title “shepherd” (the Germans) or “missionary” (the Koreans). I know that “pastor” means “shepherd” as well, but “pastor” is an official title and you expect a pastor to have a formal education.

    • Joe Schafer

      “Rebekah said that many times she feels like if posts anything she will be attacked.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/12/what-next/#comment-13659

      I certainly hope that no one will attack her on UBFriends. But even if she does encounter opposition that makes her uncomfortable, why should that stop her from standing up for what she believes and proclaiming the truth with boldness and power? Not being afraid to preach and teach the truth is a main theme of UBF messages. People who see themselves as bold campus evangelists can use their courage to evangelize the readers of UBFriends. Perhaps she is more afraid of what the UBF social network would do to her if it became known that she was reading and commenting here.

      “Her and her husband said it is better to visit places and try to talk to people individually” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/12/what-next/#comment-13659

      Do they actually plan to do this? If they feel it’s not their job, then whose job is it, and will they do to encourage those people (whoever they are) to do their job?

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      Rebekah is a very meek person. She is also a very busy mother. I do not think that she thinks of herself as a “bold evangelist”. As far as if they plan on visiting. I do not think they will. John barely has any free time between ministry, work and family. I am not sure whose job they think it is. For what it’s worth I visited springfield this weekend, will visit Cincinnati UBF next weekend (barring some intervention), and visit westloop in Chicago the week after and also the Daily bread conference. The week that I will be at Northpark and the week after that I will be at a wedding in chicago.

      As far as pastor and Paul’s title goes. I have never seen nor heard of anyone being commanded to call Paul shepherd. He prefers the title missionary anyways. He wanted me to address him this way in my life testimony. As for Paul’s lack of education, which is highly evident. I do think that I call him pastor because he perches on Sunday and administers communion.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      As for my roommate he is never called pastor. The missionaries refer to him as “Missionary Paul”. It is hard to decide if there is a rule since there are so few students. I know the term was absent from Springfield, except with regards to “having a shepherd heart”. The term was used all the time in the Philippines. It never felt forced, or needed. People referred to me as “Missionary Michael” and “Shepherd Michael” but most of the time just “Michael” or “Po”. Dr. William’s daughter called me “kuya” at one point and her brother laughed. I discovered she had called me “older brother”.

      So I think it depends from chapter to chapter like most things.

    • Joe Schafer

      OK, I understand. I was just recalling how, again and again, I was urged by UBF to overcome fear and boldly preach God’s truth and bear all kinds of persecution for the sake of the gospel. For all that bold talk coming from UBF’s leaders, it is remarkable how timid and unwilling they have been to deal with their critics.

    • MJ Peace

      I think it’s cool that you are visiting other chapters, Forests. UBF is too territorial and I think it hinders God’s work. I personally would like to see more co working among West Loop and Hyde Park and any other chapter that is aware of these harmful, spiritually abusive issues in UBF (even though WL and HP are FAR from perfect, we have our own issues and pathologies.)

      I also really like Friend’s positive outlook in this article, when he talks about healthy communication skills he says, “these are not learned naturally. They are skills that need to be taught and learned.”

      Maybe it’s an idealistic view point that these skills can be learned in UBF. Maybe it’s practical, maybe it isn’t (although at this given moment it seems like change with top leaders is impossible.) But who knows? I think if more people are aware of these issues and see a need, the whole body Christ will benefit from it. I believe in unity and solidarity, if a lot of people are noticing and saying something/speaking up; the issues can no longer go unnoticed.

      Moreover, churches that are not gospel-centered will dry out on their own. So many 2nd gents don’t want to stay in UBF anyway. We’ll see what happens 10 years from now. In the mean time I personally want to find like-minded people (whether in UBF or not) with a heart for the church as a whole. I’m glad for ubfriends.org because it connects people and facilitates critical thinking about important topics. It’s a valuable tool to any change that might happen. Thank God for technology.

  6. Friend, thanks so much for your article, which was a great encouragement to me personally. Your effort and labor to cover 5 years of articles and comments indicate to me that you love and care deeply and that you want to understand.

    I also love your fairness, objectivity, forthrightness, as well as assertiveness. What you wrote here fully resonates with me: “Initially I was taken aback by aggressive language and seemingly biased points of view. But as I continued to read, I have been impressed by the level of integrity and professionalism you have maintained throughout the website. The articles have not been offensive or slanderous but have been informative, honest, and real.

    Due to the degree of honesty and open communication presented here, some of the emotions have been very raw, making some of the comments difficult to read at times. But we need to read and acknowledge people’s pain and hurt.”

    Andrew Murray’s excellent quote reminds me of Phil 2:13 and Isa 40:31.

    Like Joe, I too would be quite interested to know which articles or comments affected you the most. Please catch up on your sleep. And thanks so much again for your article. I want to share this with many people who I know will appreciate them.

  7. big bear

    Joe….have friend who is a well known Luther Priest…he told me that nowdays they have to take a pschological evaluation before getting into leadership at their parish….in UBF there is no safeguard…yes I agree those who have been abused in UBF need Christian counseling….I attended for a while myself…another thing is just to connect more with other churches and you will see a broader view…

  8. “…it is remarkable how timid and unwilling they have been to deal with their critics.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/12/what-next/#sthash.uXZjo93Q.dpuf There are likely many reasons for this, many of which have been mentioned.

    1) many older leaders despise/are highly suspicious of social/public media/forum.

    2) many leaders are truly unfamiliar with being critiqued, disagreed with, objected to; for decades it was “breaking spiritual order” and thus regarded as anathema.

    3) English is not their primary language, and they would be at a disadvantage.

    4) the strong over-riding misunderstanding perpetuated to this very day that “you (absolutely) cannot and must not touch the Lord’s anointed.”

    5) this levels the playing field, which again is something totally unfamiliar to many older leaders.

    6) older leaders are so used to operating out of a script/agenda, but in the mindset of many leaders, this public forum throws that out the window.

    7) this forum requires “absolute” honesty, transparency and vulnerability, which is humanly impossible to subject oneself to, if one has never had to do so for decades and decades.

    I’m sure there are other reasons.

    Realizing such seemingly insurmountable barriers and obstacles, what’s really next???

    • Joe Schafer

      At this point, Sharon and I cannot do any more than we have already done. What next? Detach. Heal. Live life. Pursue God. Set UBF leaders free to do as they wish, because that’s what they will do anyway.

    • I don’t disagree. But is there little to no possibility of some form of reconciliation, as imperfect and as unsatisfying as it might be?

  9. Joe Schafer

    Reconciliation requires at least a rudimentary understanding of what has actually transpired. I will do my best not to hold any grudges. If someone from UBF approaches me to apologize, my response will be, “For what?”

    Some UBF leaders have already apologized for not praying for us enough, for not “taking care” of us enough, for not being good friends to us, for not sending missionaries to Penn State to help us, and so on. Every one of those is condescending and completely misses the mark. When they have some awareness of what they have actually done and are willing to admit that it was wrong, they know how to reach me.

    • Joe Schafer

      Here I ought to clarify: ATK has genuinely tried to listen to Sharon and me and, to his credit, he seems to understand fairly well what has happened. I have no hard feelings toward him and I wish him well. And we have some good friends within UBF and will always regard them as such. But as a group, the senior staff and elders and regional coordinator are still clueless. From their perspective, it is I who need to apologize to them for betraying their trust after they loved me and served me soooo much. Unless that mindset changes, they would only want to restore the kind of unhealthy relationship that we had before. Going back to that relationship would be wrong and unloving.

    • Joe Schafer

      If UBF really wants to pursue reconciliation with us, here is a meaningful first step. That group of Korean missionaries from the USA, Canada, Europe and elsewhere who secretly conspired two years ago to get me removed from speaking at the Well. They can identify themselves (I already know who some of them are) and publicly admit what they did and say that it was wrong.

    • Unfortunately, they probably do not think that what they did was wrong, and still may not think that it is wrong.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, exactly. Should I go to the staff conference in New Hampshire and let these people come up to me and smile and greet me as though everything is fine? The thought of seeing these people again without getting real and talking about what has actually transpired causes me to feel physically ill. To be around them again and allow them to continue to play their silly political games would make me ill.

    • MJ Peace

      Please speak at the Well this year, Joe!

    • Joe Schafer

      It’s very unlikely that I would be allowed.

    • As I said the last time the Well happened… I am willing to speak. I am also willing to spend a weekend at any ubf chapter who finds 10 leaders who want to transform their ministry. My offer of sharing the 2013 Willow Creek Summit videos still stands (by the way a couple people did take me up on my Skype/video offer).

      [Note: Yes I know these offers are ridiculous and my speaking at a ubf event would be highly problematic, but where are all the men of courage and women of bravery at ubf? Where are all the Deborahs and Gideons? Can’t they handle some HOT discussion?]

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I have heard 3 differing responses to your sermon at the Well Joe. To be clear I was not there and didn’t really know what it was about. My roommate said it was “spiritual milk” it was “better for new Christians”. A younger missionary’s child really liked it. He admitted that he didn’t understand parts of it. But he also noted that he realized Paul did not like it. Paul felt it was “too emotional” and he asked him what he thought. He didn’t want to cause conflict and could tell he didn’t like it so he said she didn’t understand. Paul cautioned her telling her emotions were dangerous.
      I spoke to another UBF person outside my chapter. He felt it was inappropriate because you mentioned we were being to business like with regards to ministry to a group of mostly younger students.

    • Forests, I heard all the reasons you mentioned. My thought and opinion is that traditional longstanding UBFers (and those who were discipled likewise by them) generally do not like to listen to someone who does not sound UBFish. Joe does not sound UBFish, though he might once have a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

    • Joe Schafer

      Forests, you can listen and judge for yourself.

      http://thewellretreat.org/retreat.html

    • I don’t know if it is just my PC, but the audio links for the messages don’t work.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      broken links seem broken

    • Joe Schafer

      What’s up with that? Maybe JohnY knows.

    • Oh oops. My bad. Not sure what’s wrong with the links on the Well website. I have the recordings somewhere. But I don’t know how to restore them on the Well retreat website. One of the young folks from the Well created this site from scratch and I forgot who is managing this now. (see what happens when you entrust young people with things! Chaos, I tell you, just pure chaos! haha, j/k) I’ll have to ask the new Well Coordinator team to update the website.

      In the meantime, I’ll email the links to Brian K and perhaps he can stick them somewhere on UBFriends. Actually, maybe in the discussion stuck in limbo page. That might be a good metaphorical place for them anyway. The Well…is an ongoing discussion stuck in limbo…

  10. Joe, I think that our older UBFers sincerely do not realize that they are being condescending, partly and probably because they operate “anthropocentrically,” or “idolatrously” as you had put it.

    I don’t think I’m violating confidentiality because no one will know who this is, and the person who sent me this will never get anywhere close to this website. And even if that person sees and reads this, they will think that this is their genuine heart’s desire and prayer for me. Anyway, this is how an older UBFer blessed me through this private message today:

    “Pray God may bless and help you to be a good shepherd and a best bible teacher with the deep meditation of the Bible and pouring out the Holy Spirit so that you can be used as a best servant of raising Jesus’ disciples. Hope to have a good relationship with you in Jesus. Bye.”

    If anyone thinks I violated confidentiality or posted this private message inappropriately, do let me know.

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, those kind of individual messages of peace and goodwill are fine. UBF has many people who, as individuals, are kind and lovely. They have their own quirks and faults just as I do, and I can accept them for who they are. But when they operate as a group, their collective decisions and behavior are harmful and hurtful. We are talking about corporate sin, and it needs to be addressed at that corporate level.

    • Yes, I have no deep qualms about it either, yet do “friends” really communicate with each other in such a way, regardless of whether they are American or Korean?

    • “Pray God may bless and help you to be a good shepherd and a best bible teacher with the deep meditation of the Bible and pouring out the Holy Spirit so that you can be used as a best servant of raising Jesus’ disciples. Hope to have a good relationship with you in Jesus. Bye.”

      Translation from ubfism to English: “Shut the f–k up and get back to doing the work of ubf. If you become loyal to ubf heritage again, I will be happy to eat kimchee with you with much happiness.”

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, I don’t know what that last comment means. Putting friends in quotes is problematic. I want friends without quotes.

    • BK, though many may find your translation highly offensive and off putting, you just made me laugh out loud by myself, which is kind of weird!

    • Joe, “friends” had to be in quotes, because I can’t speak to friends like this. But that may just be me.

    • Joe Schafer

      With ‘friends’ like this, who needs acquaintances?

  11. Joe Schafer

    Here’s a good way to respond to that email. “May God help you to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ with full of Holy Spirit to overcome lazy summer mentality through everyday fishing and early morning prayer so that God may use you in his glorious history to pioneer North Korea. Bye.”

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      My pastor and his wife sincerely pray to go to North Korea if and when the government collapses there. I am sure many many korean missionaries would go back to korea for evangelism.

    • Joe Schafer

      If they are serious about it, God bless them. South Korea needs missionaries too. The percentage of South Koreans who self-identify as Christians has fallen dramatically in the last decade.

    • Most ubf Koreans hold this as their #1 prayer topic “Reunite Korea!”. That is what the “bible Korea” stuff is all about. Imagine this: How the heck can they reconcile North and South Korea who has been at war for decades when they cannot properly reconcile with even 1 former ubf member?

      I say let’s take up an offering to send them all to North Korea. I’ll gladly contribute if they promise to shut down ubf on American soil.

  12. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Hello friend, It’s quite a feat to have caught up on the archives and comments. Joe suggested I look in the archives, but I only got through the first two. Honestly, I couldn’t keep up with the articles and comments just over the weekend!

    “What next?” is a good question, and also one I’ve thought a lot about. Your call at the end to wait on God, “Let us wait on God in full expectation,” however, left me with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. For one, it is true that we cannot help but to wait on God who will accomplish his purpose. And we should wait with full expectation because God is good and God is able. However, I don’t think it means that that is the only thing we can do.

    The story of Joshua and the Israelites immediately came to mind (Joshua 7:1-12). Particularly, Joshua 7:10-11, which say: “The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.”

    Maybe the time is not to put our faces to the ground and wait, but to stand up and clean up.

    For years, I ignored the corporate issues. I honestly didn’t find them relevant to me on a day to day basis. My chapter is on the west coast USA. In many ways, we were removed from UBF at large, in part because of the physical distance, but also, I believe, because of the practice of the former chapter director. He welcomed me and treated me like a fellow person in Christ. I received so many benefits from the freedom he gave me. I was also single and more carefree. But now as a person responsible for a family and seeing much younger people being brought in and indoctrinated in this or that way, and thinking about the future of these younger people, and for fear of ending up counted as one of the “lost generation,” as Joe called it, I am increasingly uneasy with our corporate position. I also thought the bottom up approach would serve best and that I would live and do well in my immediate environment. But that is just for me, here, and now. What about my children? Should they be part of this place at large? What about other new people being brought in?

    The website Brian recently uncovered is quite telling to me that what’s next for UBF as a corporate body is maintaining the status quo. It is not interested in listening or changing. It is strongly against change for fear of losing what it thinks makes it distinctly “UBF,” despite the consequences to its people. I understand the intention of the website in this way because I have also heard it with my own ears from older members. It is a grave concern to them not to lose the UBF image, and, as such, are resisting change and needing to write history in its favor.

    Anyway, I am still thinking about what’s next. So, thank you for your thoughtful comments for consideration.

  13. Gajanan Nial
    Gajanan Nial

    “Some UBF leaders have already apologized for not praying for us enough, for not “taking care” of us enough, for not being good friends to us, for not sending missionaries to Penn State to help us, and so on. Every one of those is condescending and completely misses the mark. When they have some awareness of what they have actually done and are willing to admit that it was wrong, they know how to reach me.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/12/what-next/#more-7892

    Oh! the beating around the bush! so frustrating and sickening to say the least.

    ATK met me also, but he came only to tell me that “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” I really felt like he didn’t know what he was talking about. Wish I had spoke to him at that time how I understand what “gifts” and “call” mean to me without the UBF lens.

    So the question really is “what next?” when the reconciling parties completely fail (or at least pretend) to see the real issues. I think I too have given up all hope and simply giving in to enjoying God and the community (just our two families) and the prospects of pursuing a full time teaching career with some doors being opened to be an occasional itinerant preacher. (This might actually come to some ubf leaders as a relief, because one criticizer will be less!)

    Whether past and present ubf leaders write/preserve their history correctly or not, there is One who is the most excellent at determining the end from the beginning. How we will fill in between has been left open to us (that too are being entered into His Books), and each choice has it’s consequence, albeit eternal.

  14. Finally, a “friend” after my own heart who unlike myself appears to know how to write and communicate and engage. Thanks for this post. We need more folks like you to contribute and create space for effective dialogue.

    I confess over the last couple days, after being admittedly frustrated with the tone of dialogue on this site, I was planning to post excerpts of Thomas a Kempis “Imitation of Christ” every single day until people got tired of me posting boring UBFriends articles without restraint or accountability. :)

    Then the Holy Spirit intervened…

    And in the end, I felt I was emotionally reacting rather than seeking to contribute positively to the dialogue so I decided against it. Ben, Joe and Brian K know about this and they were patient with me, like good friends tend to be with their friends–showing patience and understanding while being willing to gently confront one another with the truth. May our communities both in UBF and UBFriends be characterized by genuine friendship in Christ. I believe both communities (UBF and UBFriends) can get there, so I maintain my hope for both.

  15. I just remember something that is worth mentioning here. As you know, the majority of the chapter leaders in Germany decided to join the reform movement in the year 2001. That’s amazing, because all of them were Koreans from the early days. What’s even more amazing is that one of the first things they did was to enroll as a group in a German Bible seminary, where they had a personal tutor for the whole group, meeting together with him and other teachers on Saturdays, learning the Bible, hermeneutics, pastoral care etc. Maybe it’s hard for long-time UBFers to imagine this happened: Korean “directors” who were in their 40s and 50s already, humbly learning the Bible from a German in his 30s. They admitted, at least to themselves, that their authoritarianism had been wrong and their Bible knowledge was limited and twisted, and they were ready to unlearn and start learning again, like new Bible students, although some had already preached every Sunday for decades and claimed authority over others. Though I sometimes criticized them for not making the final step of showing repentance through a publicly declaration of guilt, yet this is something for which I hold them in high esteem.

    This shows that even old-time Koreans can overcome their barrier of hierarchical thinking. The only problem is that most of the nice Korean leaders of that kind have gone in the 3 reform movements, and what remains are those leaders who are really stubborn and fixated about hierarchy, honor and keeping face. They may even believe that they remained because they were the more spiritual and steadfast people.

    • I still want my German (root) beer, bro. Stay tuned…

    • John, German root beer is an oxymoron. They are at the opposite ends of both the scala of good taste and the scala of purity. I hope we can meet some day so I can give you some practical 1:1 lessons regarding that issue ;-)

  16. Thank you for all the great comments and perspectives. It’s really been helping me to be more well-rounded. I want to say though that I can articulate my thoughts and receive other viewpoints objectively because of Gods leading. The reason I posted the quote at the end was because that book

    • Was gut-wrenching and life changing. (Sorry I posted too early by mistake). It’s almost allergic? for our sinful nature to wait on God. But there have been several moments where I struggled to truly wait on God and when the time was right, it was almost beautiful how the pieces started falling into place. It took longer than I liked, but it was worth it and truly humbling.

      I’d also like to recommend John Mulinde’s website where he talks about his encounters with evil. It may be hard for some to believe it could even happen, but it highlights who the real enemy is and who we must really fight in this world. It also is inspiring to know we have all the power of God at our disposal in his word and in prayer to fight this abominable foe.

      Finally, we need to always be ready to be honest with ourselves and probe our hearts for the fundamental reasons of our unhappiness. I agree that leadership should be held responsible for not promoting and encouraging grace, focusing too heavily on works. Along with that came politics, manipulation, deceit… at the same time, it is important for each person to be responsible before God for the choices they have made and ask ourselves why we made them and why our relationship with God has broken and our joy robbed.

      When I started teaching Bible students, I had love for them. At the same time there was a love of power and control creeping in as well. This was very scary and I had to step back again. But I could see how this could lead to abuse. I’ve seen the desire to please God turn into desire to be recognized and control.

      After my youngest child got in a major accident, I held up like a trooper. But afterwards when everything was ok I started to fall into depression. It was as if I was stripped of everything and crouching like a naked child in the dark. I tried to be positive and get strength from praise songs, but I fell back and Satan would hurl his arrows at me at how I did not deserve to live and was worthless, useless. During that time I had avoided really coming to God bc of the unspoken thoughts: Why did this happen? Am I safe? Can i protect my children? and bc i insisted my innocence and determined that I had nothing to confess to God in this matter. But when I searched myself I realized I had wanted it all, I wanted to be envied for my house, family, car, career. I also wanted to be envied for my (non-existent) ministry, “sacrifice”, “shepherd” life. So i tried to develp strategies to get the most return for minimal effort and become some kind of star. When I confessed my ulterior motives and double mind and recommitted myself to loving God and my neighbor as he led and desired, it felt like a blanket had been placed on me to cover my shame and weakness. At the same time, satans arrows could not get through that covering. Other times I couldn’t let go of control of my life, other times I couldn’t accept God loved another person as much as he loved me.

      Anyway I want to end with some songs: “wide awake” by Katy perry which I started singing randomly and which kind of matches the theme of this site. And “unredeemed” by selah and “grace” and “blessings” by Laura Story which are great songs of grace and redemption.

    • Sharon’s previous comment to mine (thanks sharon) reminds me that we need to be gracious with ourselves and remind ourselves of Gods love, even more so in cases when we don’t get it so much from others. It’s ok not to meet expectations, to have a bad day, to struggle with recurring weakness, to cook instant noodles for dinner, to have rowdy kids and a messy house, to be different. For several years I wrestled with the question, “if I were on my deathbed and I couldn’t help one person commit his life to Jesus, could I die happy?” It was very unsettling to realize my answer was “no”. It was a clash of ideals. Jesus should be the true source of my joy, the apple of my eye. I should be fully satisfied by him. But at the same time Jesus calls me to work in his harvest field, to make disciples, and I wanted to be a part of that too. It took a few years, but God helped me realize that he is all i need and will ever need. He is the giver of all good things and leads me into his goodness and righteousness. My recent definition of grace is God telling me “I will help you become the best person I have created you to be. And we can take as long as you need”. Not a perfect definition but made me very thankful to God. Also grace is not about saying everything’s ok when it isn’t. But its acknowledging God is with us and helping us. It is the hope that through us, a person might recognize the high price that was paid for him and receive the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Jesus’ love is the only antidote to evil and sin and the only thing that can stop the cycle of violence and hatred.

    • P.S. I hope no one misunderstands and thinks that I’m correlating speaking out with broken relationship with God. Sometimes a state of unhappiness or restlessness can indicate a deeper spiritual problem we were not originally aware of. Identifying it and bringing it to God is often very freeing.

  17. Joe and Ben,

    There were times I was skimming very fast through articles. I didn’t do them justice, but I was trying to pick up some recurring topics and themes. But along the way I saw that you covered different spiritual topics to enrich and broaden. there were comments removed due to poor taste and an effort to stay on topic and not dominate a thread with just a couple people. I saw how a person can be vocal against and yet still very committed to UBF. This is a group of people trying to find an answer to questions we should all be asking.