This is your Church

graveSo for anyone at UBF, here is what your leaders think. This is your church in a nutshell. Why do you put up with such things?

This is from a SL worship service lecture.

“Today we are gathered here to remember Dr. Samuel Lee who was our teacher, shepherd, and most of all, a good soldier of Christ Jesus. It has been thirteen years since he entered the heavenly gate like a victorious general after fighting the good fight.  We miss him so much.”

>> Are you gathered to remember SL or to worship him? I can’t tell the difference. 13 years? SL died in a fire in Chicago in February 2002. That was 12 years ago.

“Today’s passage is Paul’s personal admonition to Timothy. These words are also fitting for us who serve Campus pioneering and world mission. I pray that we may renew our soldier spirit and be good soldiers of Christ Jesus.”

>> So you admit that you serve the mission. At least you are being clear. Your ministry places mission above people. You are willing to sacrifice people for the sake of mission. This does not sound like Christ who had compassion for people.

“Apostle Paul reminds Timothy of his spiritual identity as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. A Christian is a soldier whose commander is Jesus Christ.”

>> Ok so yes a solider is one metaphor used in the bible to describe Christians. Are there others?

“A Christian’s goal is to fight against his enemies and defeat them.”

>> Well no, that is the goal of a terrorist. The goal of Christians, according to the bible is to love. Christ won the victory already.

“Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against Satan.”

>> Ok yes that is correct. There is a battle. Our enemy is not people.

“We have to fight against our sinful desires to enjoy worldly pleasures and complacency. We also have to engage in the spiritual battle to rescue God’s flock from their sin and Satan. Moreover, we have to engage in the one to one battle to pioneer college campuses around the world, expanding his kingdom work.”

>> Wait, what? You just said our enemy is Satan, not people. Yet now my “self” is the enemy? Now the campus is a battlefield?

“Then, what kind of attitude should we have as good soldiers of Christ Jesus?”

>> Wow, what a loaded question, proof-texted by your own claims prior to asking the question!

“Paul says, “Join me in suffering.” It means first, to participate in Jesus’ suffering.  Jesus came to earth to live a life of suffering. Jesus prayed early in the morning, healed many people with all kinds of diseases, fed them and taught them until he  became like a root out of dry ground (Isa 53:2).  Finally, Jesus went to the cross at the age of 33.”

>> Yea, Jesus did those things. He also did a lot of other things that did not involve suffering. He made wine at a wedding. He ate grain from the field on Sunday. He slept in a boat during a storm. And many many other wonderful things.

“Jesus’ life itself was suffering. Paul also learned from Jesus and lived a life of suffering.  He was in prison, flogged severely and exposed to death many times.  Five times he received the forty lashes minus one. He was hungry and thirsty (2Cor 11:23-27). But he confessed in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Our suffering secures a crown of righteousness and glory. Therefore, soldiers of Jesus Christ should not be afraid of suffering but enjoy it with joy.”

>> Now you are binding our minds incorrectly and unnecessarily to suffering using the bible as glue. We should not be afraid of suffering, correct. But life does not equal suffering only. That is more of an Eastern philosophical value proof-texted with bible verses. Jesus came to give us life to the full.

“Second, “Join me in suffering” means you will receive training.”

>> WTF? Oh yeah, you must mean the ubf six stage training.

“A good soldier matches his training.  Whether you are a good soldier or not largely depends on the degree of the training you receive, not on human conditions.  In order to become a foot soldier, you will receive 6 weeks of basic training. But in order to become an officer, you have to receive 4 months of officer training.  In the case when you want to become a special force soldier, you will receive unbearable training. One example of survival training is where you are left alone on a mountain with only a knife and map to survive by eating snakes and rats.  Through receiving this special training, soldiers can survive in any circumstances and carry on any given mission.”

>> So now we are in la-la land. What are you talking about?

“Since we regard UBF as a spiritual academy, we use many military-related words such as “training,” “battle,” and “conquer.” We have received many types of spiritual training such as “Daily Bread training,” “message training,” “testimony writing training,” “Skokie training,” or “one to one training.” Dr. Lee called himself, “army sergeant” who raised spiritual generals, and trained many shepherds. Through this training in the early days of UBF, many UBF staff shepherds and senior missionaries were raised. Dr. Lee wore army clothes with a beret on his head and rode a Jeep because he considered himself a field commander in the front line of world mission. We must inherit this soldier spirit to love training and suffering in order to send 100,000 missionaries to 233 nations.”

>> Thank you. This is the best documentation of KOPHAN theology I’ve come across. At least you are bold enough to document it.

“Unfortunately, when God blessed South Korea abundantly, she began to have a spiritual crisis of materialism, hedonism, and complacency. The Christian population has now dropped from 12 million to 8.5 million. It is hard to meet one sheep and raise him as a disciple and so Korea UBF is seeing a constant drop in student Sunday worshipers. However, I have hope when I see God’s work done through a small number of trained soldiers who have soldier spirit both in South Korea and around the world.”

>> So how did we get to South Korea so quickly? Clearly you are on your own soapbox and not teaching us about the bible or Christianity. Your words sound like a certain group in Germany a few decades ago.

“There are many shepherds in UBF who are on fire about God and feed 15 to 20 one to ones per week. They are called one to one zealots. There is a shepherdess in Kwan-Ak chapter III.  It seems to be impossible to fish SNU medical students because they study all the time.  So she went fishing at 11PM when the medical school library closed.  In this way, several ancestors of faith were raised and now 40 families were established in Kwan-Ak chapter III.  Around her, there are many women coworkers who are one to one zealots, and every day they engage in united prayer and go out fishing, and in this way they invite 50 freshmen each year. Among them, 12 future leadership candidates are chosen to have common life. As a result, the number in Sunday worship grows constantly. Among 130 worship attendants, 80 of them are students. While the student attendants in most Korean UBF chapters are decreasing, Kwan-Ak chapter 3 is ever growing.”

>> Yes, thank you for admitting the problem: zealots. Way to heap guilt upon the heads of all your fellow ubfers.

“There are many one to one zealots in El Camino UBF.  I heard that they had 320 one to ones last week.  I think we should all be greatly challenged by that.  I pray that we may also learn their one to one zealot spirit so that we may overcome this stagnant time of ministry and revive it.”

>> Well, perhaps you should visit El Camino UBF and see what they are really doing…From what I can tell they have rejected a lot of SL’s teachings and are practicing Christianity. Maybe that is why they are now attracting people?

“I was called as a Gwang-ju staff shepherd just after accepting Christ 2 years and 10 months earlier.  But at that time I was not mature enough. Thus, God trained me severely.  Dr. Lee tried to help my marriage problem and brought a shepherdess from Seoul all the way to Gwangju upon my agreement. But my heart turned cold and I refused to marry her.  Another time, I came back from Jun-ju after successfully passing my ministry onto the successor. Dr. Lee told me that I would work in the daily bread department as an office worker since I lacked the intelligence to become a staff shepherd but had the faithfulness to be a good office worker. At that time, I was very confident as a staff shepherd since I was successful in Jun-ju ministry growing the number from 80 to 130. Upon hearing his words, my pride was hurt and I became upset. So I told him, “I was not called as an office worker but as a staff shepherd.”  As a result, I had to bounce a volley ball to the ground for three hours in the staff conference.”

>> Wow you are really good at praising yourself. And you admit you have endured such abuse. Your self-glory statements go on and on in the next paragraph. In fact this whole thing seems like you are trying to justify the abuse done to you…

“Among the sacrificial shepherds, S. Ok-ki Lee was an intern shepherd. He was the first UBF 1:1 zealot, who did 25-30 one to ones per week.  He then was scouted by Dr. Lee and sent to Jong-ro center as an intern shepherd under S. Maria Ahn.  S. John Park, staff shepherd of Gwang-ju 2 came to center from his freshman year. He received a full 4 year scholarship to Cho-sun law school and is a gifted scholar and a servant of God’s Word.  His chapter has 110 Sunday attendants. Dr. David Park is the layman staff shepherd who serves Gwangju III focusing on Chodae medical and dental schools. He has raised numerous medical doctor shepherds, including three professor shepherds in Chodae medical school and six medical missionaries. People used to call Chodae hospital, “UBF hospital.” They have 120 Sunday attendants.”

>> Nice. More guilt-trips for your audience.

“…I give my praise, thanks and glory to God who saved this sinner, and who called and trained me to be a useful servant of God.”

>> Was it God who trained you? Or SL?

“Let us renew our soldier spirit as good soldiers of Christ Jesus and love training and suffering to become strong warriors of faith.  In this way, I pray that we may recover our passion for one to one Bible studies and carry on our mission to send out 100,000 missionaries to 233 nations. Let’s read verse 3 together. “Join me in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”

>> Maybe you should recover your passion for Christianity and Jesus instead? Maybe you might one day view people as more than a means to preserving your heritage?

So maybe one day ubfers will give up this SL praising and worshiping. Their latest report tells me that God cursed the latest SL worship.


  1. forestsfailyou

    Although your points are well taken, and I think they are perhaps a bit harsh given the audience and purpose of the speech (honoring Samuel Lee…) This just stuck out as weird and bizzare.

    “I was called as a Gwang-ju staff shepherd just after accepting Christ 2 years and 10 months earlier. But at that time I was not mature enough. Thus, God trained me severely. Dr. Lee tried to help my marriage problem and brought a shepherdess from Seoul all the way to Gwangju upon my agreement. But my heart turned cold and I refused to marry her.”

    The idea that he was trained by God because he refused to marry a woman that was approved by a religious leader is insane.

    • What is bizarre to me, forests, is how quickly this man switches between “God” and “Dr.Lee”. Who trained him? Who is his shepherd? He cannot distinguish between a dead man and the living God.

    • forestsfailyou

      I suspect the man believed God was using the agency of Samuel lee. We need to test God’s will, 1 Tes 5:21. The issue is not that they cannot see the solution, it is that they cannot see the problem so no solution is necessary. That store is a simple story of abuse, to glorify it as admirable seems to be what is at issue.

  2. There are a lot of things that you point out, Brian, in your posting. Definitely there is so much here that we could dissect for a long time and still not get to the bottom of things.

    First, how exactly do you know this was the SWS message? The question is there and the website is unfortunately devoid of any situation or date/time for this message, unless I missed something.

    Second, the intercultural aspect of this is very concerning. You obviously bristle at most of it. However, there is a thing here to note, that Korean language makes broad sweeping gestures at realities, and very rarely develops fine details. The problems of this are manifold.

    Claims that Jesus lived a life of suffering. You found the problem with that. Jesus lived a life of joy, peace, love, and longsuffering. He lived the Human Life perfectly, and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for not suffering enough, or not enjoying it. Jesus didn’t enjoy suffering on the cross. He did it purposefully–but not carelessly.

    Even the idea that life is suffering comes directly from Buddhist teachings, by the way.

    Then there is also a constant tendency to label things broadly and that’s good enough. Korean verbs and adjectives are not that much different.

    That being said, while a gentle person like Ben could see the good in the message, there is an obvious issue that the way the message is presented is extremely likely to make American English speakers very uncomfortable.

    With so many Ph. D.’s in our ministry, I find it hard to believe no one could figure this stuff out.

    In Korean culture and history as well, great kings who do a lot of good are idolized. They say that if you ask any Korean the best king in their history, they will say King Sejong. He was an amazing and talented person. I almost feel that he is idolized historically and that there is a tendency to idolize leaders in such a way.

    All in all, as you’re pointing out Brian, I think this web posting is going to show that the apparent solution to the uncertainty in many respects regarding ministry in UBF is to hunker down in the old soldier mentality. SL may have been a gifted person, but if people equate suffering with success, then what will happen if their own carelessness and ignorance leads them into mistakes that ought to teach them better lessons? They’ll just keep hunkering down . . .

    • Hi Matt,

      Just a couple brief answers to your questions:

      “First, how exactly do you know this was the SWS message? The question is there and the website is unfortunately devoid of any situation or date/time for this message, unless I missed something.”

      >> This is not a SWS message. This is something given at a SL memorial service, per the website. That is what I meant by “SL worship service lecture”. I was making a play on words. I did not mean SL “worship service” I meant “SL Worship” service. I don’t know if this was on a Sunday or not.

      >> btw, this brings up a frustrating aspect of the shiny new ubf website. All the dates are messed up from the articles! They just imported old articles and so now no one know the real publication date. And on most articles, we don’t even get to see the publication date. Nor do we get to see who posted it. So the website is now more anonymous than before. Maybe this is just a glitch in the software someone will fix some year.

      “Second, the intercultural aspect of this is very concerning. You obviously bristle at most of it.”

      >> Bristle is a good word. ubf claims to be such an “cross-cultural” ministry. They are proud of having so many different nations represented by their one family house churches. But this is fantasy. ubf is a “mono-cultural” ministry that I call “hyper-Korean” culture. ubf culture is not Korean culture, but a new kind of culture rooted strongly in Korean culture.

      >> I know a Korean man at my workplace. He and his culture is nothing like ubf culture, though both are clearly Korean.

    • And my culture comments are not my own idea only. My thoughts stem from several conversations online with a Korean man who never heard of ubf but who experienced the same Christianized-Confucian/Buddhist pseudo-Korean culture in other Korean churches (he had never heard of ubf but we could both describe the same basic ideologies).

  3. Just curious… anyone go sit on SLee’s grave again this year? All new students just recruited into UBF one-to-one (1:1) weekly Bible study for 1 hour need to know this: Your leaders sit on SLee’s grave and take pictures of themselves worshiping UBFism.

    Usually they claim God blessed the gravesite worship because it was sunny and nice weather. But when it rains they don’t say God cursed them. Just another contradiction to point out to new freshmen students meeting a UBF shepherd for the first time on campus.