This is My Life

brianjohnkarcher copy“It feels like we are just floating in space.” That’s how one of my friends who left UBF ministry with me described how she felt after leaving. I can relate to this statement very well. At UBF we were tethered to the “mother ship”. But now we had to navigate our own path. We started making life decisions on our own, with no checking against our UBF shepherds for “God’s will”. Some of us made these decisions like this for the first time, even though we are all adults. How do you find peace and contentment when your faith community just collapsed in epic fashion? Where do you go when you cannot find a local church where you feel comfortable attending? How do you begin trusting people again after being betrayed by church leadership? What do we do now? Here is what I’ve been doing: writing books. The 300 pages of three books tell the story of my life. My life has indeed become an open book.

Book 1 – Rest Unleashed: The Raven Narratives

In my first book, I was inspired by a simple word Jesus spoke. “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” Luke 12:24 ESV. I found that ravens are fascinating birds. They are scavengers though, and have typically been depicted as symbols of evil in many books. Jesus said to consider the ravens, so I did.

In this book I shared my exploration of midrash, telling the story of Jacob and Esau from what I think might have been Esau’s perspective. I shared what I was learning about the gospel of Jesus, based on numerous books and my new bible study classes I was taking. In the final chapter, I shared a long version of my life story, from my perspective and without spinning tales of glory. This whole process was a baseline to reset my personal life narrative. The book is dedicated to my late father who died of ALS in 1989. And as with all three books, I asked for artwork from my parents (and later from my daughter).

Book 2 – Goodness Found: The Butterfly Narratives

In my second book, I shared all the things I wanted to put in my first book, but didn’t have the thoughts or the courage. I explore three burning questions: Why did I join UBF? Why did I stay at UBF over two decades? And why did I leave UBF? I found that my search for goodness, my father’s death, and my own self-absorbed thinking contributed to all three questions.

This book was frustrating to write, and ends rather abruptly. I was not happy with this book at the time because it stirred up so many emotions. As I analyzed the UBF theology called KOPHAN, “kingdom of priests and holy nation” I became more and more furious at having been duped out of believing the Christian gospel that Jesus preached. Still I was able to document, for the first time as far as I am aware, the main components of KOPAHN. I explain in detail and with personal experience the recruiting principles of UBF missionaries (such as low commitment/high reward promises), the six-stage training system, the three layers of burden placed on new recruits, the four elements of control woven throughout the UBF culture, and the twelve heritage slogans that all UBF people will instantly recognize. All this is the UBF-style shepherding theology called KOPAHN. All this stroked my own narcissistic desires for fame and glory. After writing all this, I found that the process, though messy, was very good for my soul.

Book 3 – Unexpected Christianity: The Penguin Narratives

In my third book, I attempt to connect with Christianity. I do so by weaving in the story of my family’s move to Detroit from Toledo, stories from 2003 to 2012. I tell what happened when we were sent out by Toledo UBF, how people in Toledo UBF would share various struggles with me, and in painful detail, I share what happened as my family slipped away from UBF in “blaze of glory” fashion. One of the sparks for our departure that I describe is ironically Sarah Barry’s 2011 new year’s card, where she prayed for all UBF missionaries to be men and women of integrity. My third book tells my journey to be just that—a man of integrity.

I am most pleased with my third book. I get a lot off my chest in this book. And it was the most painful to write. But it shows in vivid detail how I was able to find faith, hope and love again—the faith, hope and love that Christianity is supposed to be all about. I dedicated this book to myself, because Jesus said to love your enemy.

Who am I?

These three books tell the story of my search for who I am. If you want to know me, or understand why I did what I did, please read my books. If there is any “one way” forward for UBF ministry, I suggest for your consideration that the one way begins with reading my books. You might just find Jesus all over again. Thanks for listening. My story is complete. My journey now takes an entirely new turn. And I am happy.


  1. Thanks, Brian. Thank God who endowed you with the perseverance to dig deep to find Jesus and to find yourself.

    As I read your synopsis, this question struck me: “Why did I stay at UBF for over 2 decades??”

    It made me think that one thing some ubf leaders do not want to hear are the reasons why so many people, both missionaries and natives (not just indigenous people), have left ubf after many years, usually after 5-10 years, but some even after 20-30 years.

    I hope the day will come when more and more leaders will be seriously willing to hear from “their sheep” how they were deficient and lacking in the way they had loved and served others.

    It is NOT A SHAME to admit and acknowledge our shortcomings and failures, but would instead indeed indicate integrity.

    It is the stubborn unwillingness to openly and publicly examine the pain and wounds that they caused others that is causing ubf to loose credibility with more and more people, even with their own children, even while their children still dearly love their parents.

  2. Just tagging this here. If anyone is interested, I am offering free exit counseling. See my website for more details.

  3. Hey everyone, all 3 of my books in Kindle format are FREE on Sunday (tomorrow) 9/28/2014.

    FREE Kindle edition, 1 day only:

    Brian John Karcher – The Three Narratives: Ravens, Butterflies and Penguins

    • Thanks everyone! I gave away 57 books yesterday on Kindle. My books are always free on Amazon for people enrolled in the Prime/Unlimited program.