Turning Pressure into Beauty

pPressure. It builds, it mounts and then it explodes. And it is the one reason my fellow outlaw preacher, John O’Keefe, claims as the primary reason people are leaving church. His recent article is excellent: The One Reason People are Leaving Church. I think that pressure is also at the heart of why people (even leaders) have been leaving ubf and continue to contact me for help. Can the church turn that pressure into something beautiful? For many local churches as well as the ubf organization, the answer may determine whether they survive this generation.

It’s not about Hymn 11

While I realize “hymn 11” may be a PTCD trigger for some, the hymn itself is not the issue at ubf. We should indeed “hail Jesus’ name”, and I am just now, after nearly 4 years of ubf-detox, able to say that. But as a former leader, the hymns we sang weren’t really the issue. It would have been nice for a change once in a while to break up the typical ubf boredom, but changing hymns or music styles won’t bring about reformation at ubf. My friend John writes this:

“I tend to think we do a very dangerous disservice to the church, and the people who are leaving, because we are getting people to think, ‘These must be the reasons people are leaving our church, we need to make some changes to stop this.’ The lists always include things like Worship Music, Building Layout, Outreach, Being Missional and so many others; but I think it leaves out the biggest reason people are leaving.” source

We Know Pressure

I think John hits on a major issue for Western churches, especially in America. But the point is even more valid in the ubf context. We know pressure. We know guilt. We know manipulation to “do God’s will”. We know about making people conform. We know about “going back to the bible” slogans. His words are highly insightful and relevant to my recovery from ubf:

“Pressure can take people from the sets and into the streets; life pressure can cause us to run to the Divine, while church pressure can make us run from the Divine. The more I think about it, the more I truly believe that pressure is the main killer of the church today. Think about it for a second, we put forward this image of Christ, this image of what it mean to be a Christian, and in reality no one can live up to it. No one can be the ‘perfect little Christian’ we expect them to be – so, when they fail we jump on them, we demand they “go back to the basics” never truly knowing what those basics are, because they change with every new article about why people are leaving.” source

The Harmful Results of Pressure

If we don’t handle pressure well or when we abuse the pressure that may have otherwise been good, we damage people. We who are involved with ubf all have seen this– and some have watched for decades. I find John’s description of the harmful results of too much pressure to be on target in the ubf context:

“When we put people under pressure we actually achieve the opposite of what we are striving to achieve. Pressure stifles growth, creativity, conversations, being honest, and being open with each other. Pressure places us in a world were being understanding our faults, our weaknesses, and our past, are not talked about, not discussed, and not forgiven. Pressure moves us from a place of love, to a place where cannot breath, we cannot express ourselves, we cannot let others in, and we refuse to allow others to take us in.” source

What can be done?

For me, I’ve been learning from many sources how to transform pressure into something beautiful. Pressure is actually very useful. Without pressure, the world and humanity might not function. Instead of letting pressure build up and explode in a rage of blog posts :) I am learning to let off steam every day, and to channel my energy from such pressure into working for things such as reconciliation, justice and peace. Here are some suggestions John concludes with in his article:

“What do I think we need to do? I think we need to turn the valve and release the pressure. We need to be open with each other and realize that “making a diamond” is not what we need to be thinking – we need to start to be open, loving and admit our mistakes; no judgment, no pressure. But this also leads to the question of how?

I think the first thing that needs to happen is that the Pastor needs to model what it means to be open and honest – they need to admit their faults, weaknesses and misgiving. Sure, this can be dangerous, we have to remember that when we open the valve, steam may come out and hit us in the face. But it is something we need to do, something we need to be honest about; a chance we need to take.

Second, we need to invite others to be open and honest, and we need to make sure we are a safe place for that to happen – In their being open and honest, we have to be ready to stand with them and keep an eye on the valve keepers.” source

How do you handle the mounting pressures in your life? What advice or tips do you have for releasing pressure and turning it into something beautiful or useful or helpful? What are some good ways to react to people who just need to vent and blow off some steam? Is your church or family a safe place to do that?



  1. Thanks, Brian. I love your post and the article on pressure being the one reason people leave the church, and leave UBF.

    I can’t speak for others, but by God’s grace and by the blessing of UBF leaders we began West Loop church on Jan 4, 2008. When we began I shared a few words with a small group of about 20 of us, which I think is a reasonable number to begin a church plant. In no particular order, here they are:

    * Let’s have fun serving God!
    * Freedom (in Christ) must be central and key.
    * Absolutely no more guilt tripping. (No more pressure on others from man!)
    * Nothing is mandatory, not attending meetings, conferences, not even Sun worship service. The point is to let anyone who comes come because they want to, never ever because they have to.
    * Get rid of all “cringe factors” and all “insider language.” Someone who walks into West Loop for the first time must understand everything that we say and do, even if they do not believe or agree.
    * I’m not sure if I expressed this, but I would take full personal responsibility and apply biblical truth to myself and NOT impose it on others. My “job” is to share the good news of the gospel, not squeeze people to make them do what I want (which was my former joy of life!)

    This perhaps does not mean much, but by the grace of God, our worship service has doubled in number from about 30 to 60 since we started on Jan 4, 2008. And this without any prayer topics to go fishing or to bring people or to increase the number. Those who come come because members are happy to invite their friends, relatives and classmates to come.

    But far far more important than the number is the palpable laughter and joy, honesty and sharing, that has been evident every week among ourselves.

    • “the palpable laughter and joy that is evident every week.”

      The word “palpable” is right on target. That word means: “able to be touched or felt; especially of a feeling or atmosphere, so intense as to be almost touched or felt; clear to the mind or plain to see.

      I love worshiping with the “Loopers” :) The love and joy is able to be felt. That was such a breathe of fresh air to me, after the palpable despair and angst that plagued me for 24 years at the ubf self-praise services I attended “absolutely”.

      Ben, the Christian ministry you and Rhoel and the others have created at West Loop Church is something the ubf echelon ought to look at as a model to learn from. Korean missionaries should be flocking to your doorstep and flooding your inbox with questions like “How did you do that? How can we learn from your example?”

      We all know however how you’ve been treated. I don’t think the word “learning” describes how any Korean at ubf has been reacting to you.

  2. Joe Schafer

    Brian and Ben, this is good and very important.

    From the beginning of my involvement with ubf more than 30 years ago, it has been a high-commitment, high-pressure environment. Some would say that it was nothing more than high expectations and that high expectations are good. That’s how I used to defend it. But whatever you call it, UBF was one big pressure cooker. I felt it, my wife felt it, everyone felt it.

    The unhealthiest part was the unwarranted and unrealistic pressure that we continually put on ourselves.

    Here are two paragraphs that I wrote back in 2009, when something in me began to awaken and I started to become more honest. This was part of a report that I sent to the North American senior staff. It was the first of many things I told them that got me into trouble.

    UBF chapter directors tend to be disciplined, hard working, high achieving people. And we hold up as our ideal the person who is successful at everything, the person who can “do it all.” Let’s face it: the ideal UBF leader is a man of steel. He gets up by 5 am and always attends early morning prayer, never missing a single day of Daily Bread. He has a Ph.D. from a top university and is highly successful in his career. He has mastered numerous books of the Bible and has dozens of binders of Bible study notes arranged perfectly on his shelf. He exercises and plays tennis every day. He is not “family centered,” yet he pays close attention to his family. He never argues with his wife and always praises her as “the most beautiful woman in the world.” His children are well behaved, get excellent grades in school and play musical instruments. He himself takes lessons to play a musical instrument. He stays well informed about current events and reads many books each year. He keeps close watch over each of his chapter members, knows about their problems and struggles and helps them with personal spiritual counsel and 1:1 Bible study. He maintains close ties with UBF chapters in his region. He sends regular reports to UBF headquarters along with generous tithes and offerings. Although he takes good care of his chapter, he knows what is going on in UBF chapters all around the world. And he does all of these things with gladness in his heart because, apart from all his outward activities, he prays intensely and maintains a close personal relationship with God.

    Yes, that is the UBF ideal. But an actual UBF chapter director is made of flesh. Because he cannot live up to these implicit expectations, he feels like a chronic failure. He is reluctant to attend national staff conferences because his chapter has not grown over the last ten years and he feels ashamed. He doesn’t want to hear any more reports, panel discussions or presentations by “exemplary shepherds” whose ministries are growing, because he does not share their talents and feels that he will never be able to do what they do. He does not want to hear prayer topics like “every chapter director should maintain five 1:1 Bible studies each week and master one book of the Bible” because he feels it is hard enough just to finish his Sunday message on time. Expanding his chapter does not seem realistic; his only goal is to survive.

    • I love what you wrote because it’s so darn true! Did you get any specific feedback on this?

    • Joe Schafer

      Not from the senior staff. They simply ignored it. But I did get positive feedback from MY #3 (the one who used to be in London). He saw me at the next staff conference, pulled me aside and said that he appreciated what I wrote about “man of steel.” I said quite a few things in that document, but the only part that MY mentioned was “man of steel.” Then he smiled and said, “I support you.”

  3. forestsfailyou

    “How do you handle the mounting pressures in your life?”

    I act like a coward. I try to run away from them if they are escapable, otherwise I try to ignore them and hope they go away and if they remain then I throw everything I have at it until I can’t do anymore. Then once that happens I start praying. Funny how its always that order.

  4. forestsfailyou

    The pressure thing reminded me of something I read a while back as well (sorry to spam comments, it took me a while to find this. The article is called the 6 most counterproductive things you learn in college.

    “Number 1:
    Stress Makes Diamonds

    Some courses claim exclusivity on the grounds of how hard they push their students. It’s the poisonous idea that stress makes diamonds. While that’s technically true, the platitude ignores how diamonds are created by being kept for years in pitch-black crushing pressure, and when they’re brought out they’re viciously carved into shape by experts and sold for profit.

    It also ignores diamond’s tetrahedral covalent bonding. Most materials don’t do that. Which is why stress makes diamonds but breaks almost everything else. That’s why people need university courses before designing buildings and things in the first place. Stress is and has been the worst response to problems since those problems stopped being hungry bears. You stress something and, instead of absorbing impacts, the least touch can cause it to shatter.

    Far better to work on those academic ultradiamonds. Or the idea of using intelligence to make something smarter and better than before, instead of using a load of pressure and time to keep crushing material until someone else says it’s OK. A student should be working to improve themselves instead of completing a checklist. Because education is the best idea our species ever had. And it’s how we’ll have even better ones in the future.”

  5. Happypinky

    Dear Ben, Chris,Joe, and Brian.

    I think as someone has rightly pointed out, my tone was demeaning, and i agree. So I apologize on that. Please accept my apology. I do get overly angry sometimes, as things I should not be so angry about.Yesterday,was one of them.
    Like many of you, I am frustrated with current situation of not just ubf but other ministries I was involved in.

    I would like to say that, like many have mentioned,I thank people like Ben for making this opportunity to be able to discuss these ideas openly and I personally have learned much.
    I would like to make several humble suggestions on how the ubfriends could be more exciting and usefull.

    Basically my argument is that we should change the method of critcism, than it is now. Ive been a keen reader of posts for the last 4 years, and here are the results of how ubfriends affected me both good and bad.

    Good Sides:

    1.Aware of the problems that are going on in ubf.
    2. Good forum to share ideas and build one another in Christ.
    3. I was thankful that among older generation of UBF like Ben and Joe, there are people who understand and feel the same ways as younger generation. This gave me hope that change is possible.

    Bad Sides

    1. The relentless critticms and bashinngs( many of which 100 percent true) make me aware of the problems, but dangersouly they plant a sense of hatred for those in UBF. Criticism is good and a must but the way uffriends has turned into bashingsite is not constructive way of doing things. Why? Because as Brian mentioned psychology, you rarely persuade a person that he is wrong just by hollering at his face for years. I tried it and it brought misery to me and the counterparts. So don’t misunderstand me, we ought not to put everything under rugs and pretend nothing serious is happening. But I think strategy should change.

    2. I really don’t think that releasing all the same criticisms and pain for years, is a way to heal. Its important to talk about them, but there is a limit. As Mother Barry said which I think is right is that those who are hurt can only find resolution from Christ, not people. (Those who abused should be called to repentance) but we should not expect them to do it with right now immediate attitude. Our duty is to 1. tell them their wrong 1 or twice and if they repent great if not 2. Gods fiery judgement is upon them.

    3. Would it be possible of instead pointing fingers at people, we show beautirful examples and changes in our relationship with God, family, and disciples around us? I think Ben’s church is a great example of that.Thank you Ben. Unless those who criticize show a good example and alternative in PRACTICE i doubt people would be listening,although they should. ( Especailly missionaries and older generation, who often have sense of ” I know better attitude, because it worked 30 years ago” So instaed saying how UBF sucks, lets talk about things that were are doing of reconicliation, discipleship, and Bible studies and etc. and their results, without pointing fingers at missionaries and staff. Then when they see results, they will be more open to change than before. Ive seen number of older generations people supprting change after seeing positive results. We are called to bear each other burdens. As many of our missionaries and shepreds have carried our weakness while were still spiritually young,and I am very grateful for that, because in UBF i have seen Christians full of love(albeit with serious weakness). So I personally would like to focus on the positive memories, and kindly carry their weakness, because it is my turn, and it should be our turn.

    4. Off a topic but, my challenge to Korean and all missionaries would be the following: 1).Please learn the culture of the country youre in. It doesnt take that long. 2) Please learn what constitues a apporporate behaviour and what does not. Its hard but if you are a missionary, you are obliged to contextualized yourself. Otherwise, you are prone to failure and potential abuse.
    My suggestion to UBF critics, is learn korean culture as well, especially the methods of effecive criticism. I think a lot of conflicts are indeed cultural. I know this from living in multiple cultures. You are not obliged but majority of UBF is composed of koreans so if we want to correct lets be aware of the methods of persuasion.

    5. I really pray for UBF, If by Gods grace, we do reconcile and repent, than we can a witness to the world and churches that multiethnic Christian fellowship and discipleship is possible. If not we repeat history.

    6. In my experience, when I focus on goods and bads of my friends and ministries Im involved and churches, it is so distressing. If I try to live our Christian walk, because of shepred, a boy or girl you like at church, or because of envy, it is so damn stressing and miserable. Therefore, for me Christ and his law and freedom is above all the other laws and instituiions. In that I find freedom and joy regardeless of the people and church around you.

    Once again, Joe, Chris, and Brian, sorry for for the rant I released last night. Im praying nowdays to be freed from anger issues.:)

    God Bless

    • Thank you for sharing that Happypinky. I certainly understand about getting angry :) I certainly forgive you and welcome your input here. You make numerous valid points that are worth considering.

      I would comment now just on this:

      “My suggestion to UBF critics, is learn korean culture as well, especially the methods of effecive criticism. I think a lot of conflicts are indeed cultural. I know this from living in multiple cultures. You are not obliged but majority of UBF is composed of koreans so if we want to correct lets be aware of the methods of persuasion.”

      Please understand that the point of my books and blogs is not to change ubf. I am no longer part of that organization and I care nothing about how/when/if it ever changes. I care about sharing my story and that of numerous other former leaders. I care about the healing and recovery of people who contact me. ubf can go fly a kite as far as I am concerned.

      I won’t write ubf out of my personal history; they trained me and formed my adult life. They already wrote me out of their history, but I remain in the conversation through social media and in-person meetings. Why? Well because people keep reaching out to me for help.

      I won’t be offering any suggestions to ubf on how to change. Too many ex-ubfers did just that, and guess what? Some ubf person stole their ideas and implemented them. Then they keep on dismissing/condemning those who left, saying “See we are doing what you want, why are you so bitter?” This tends to be infuriating as you can imagine.

      In regard to culture, I will no longer attempt to learn Korean culture. Korean culture was imposed onto my life for way too long. I lost my American identity. And now I must re-connect with my American identity.

    • Thanks, Happypinky, for your willingness to dialogue and for your open-heartedness. It is very much appreciated. I pretty much agree with the gist of what you wrote. I also wish to do what you express, which is to focus primarily on the good, and on what I need to do moving forward, and to be more positive.

      But yet the sad and painful reality is that I also should not neglect “the bad and the negative,” for it is sadly and unfortunately still present and evident. Worse yet it is being ignored or disregarded, which is not being honest or transparent.

    • Joe Schafer

      Happypinky, thank you for your apology.

      Yes, it is easy to fall into rant and sometimes I do that.

      If and when I write more articles, I will focus on what I believe to be the key issues, which are

      * what is the gospel, and
      * how does gospel relate to church

      I will try the best I can to foster healthy discussion on these topics. But I will sometimes have to talk about specific wrongs that have been done in ubf, because those wrongs have hurt real people, and acknowledging those wrongs and fixing them is not a distraction from gospel work but the core of gospel work.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Hi Happypinky.

      I understand your warning mentioned in point 1 of the Bad Sides. Sometimes I feel stressed and tired after thinking about these things of UBF and writing about them. But sometimes I feel compelled to do so because of what you wrote in point 2, in quoting SB, which I disagree with, “but we should not expect them to do it with right now immediate attitude. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16760

      Numerous passages come to mind which tell me otherwise–we do need to settle things between people and not just fall back on letting God do it. I believe that God also has been telling people for ages to get right with each other, even before coming to him (Matthew 5:23-24 is a prime example among many). So, I do find it constructive and godly to think about people and try to talk about things and work it out.

  6. Happypinky

    Hi Charles

    I agree that reconciliation is a very important.

    My point however is that, what if the other party is not willing to admit its mistakes and reconcile as many of those wanting reconciliations and repentance demand?does that mean we ought to repeat the same criticisms over and over again?

    I’m in no way against pointing ought abuses and mistakes. As said, before it is our duty to do once and twice, bring some witness (verse that talk about reconciling with brother who has hurt you), and if they don’t repent and change, well God will judge them in painful way, and they will have to learn through painful ways, aka. People leaving, no growth, and etc.

    When paul and Barnabas fought, they didn’t seem to reconcile immediately. It took a some time. Yet, meanwhile they were going out into the world and doing Gods work.

    Likewise, Jesus did not wait until he reconciled with Pharisees to do the work of the father.

    Martin Luther did not wait until he saw repentance of Catholic Church, the Vatican still hasn’t fully repented of some of the heretical doctrines. Yet, they all seemed to pursue missions and preaching of kingdom.
    After 500 years, at last we are seeing some positive dialogue between Vatican and Evangelicals.

    Conflicts will always exist. Sometimes we will be succesful in reconciling sometimes well have to wait till kingdom of God comes.

    So I dont think that repentance and reconciliations, no matter how important they are, can be achieved on our own accord and time. I think there will be a time, when the wrong side stops listening and we must trust that somehow Holy Spirit will work. In their hearts and bring about repentance.

    All I was pointing at is current ways of pressuring ubfers to repentance, is not the effective way. It seems to cause mainly hardening of hearts, people leaving, and more bitterness.

    I for one, will start with myself. I need to repent perhaps even more that SL. I think repentance starts from each individual, and it is the work of Holy Spirit to initiate that. (Although we need to call out sins) in the way they Jesus did, which was not constant, paul criticized Pharisees, but only couple times. Most of the epistles central theme is not how messed up Pharisees are.

    Our current approach is more akin to boomerang. We attack, ubfers attack, more misunderstanding, more slander, more hatred, less constructive dialogue.

    I think on the only way currently to really address issues, is not to demand all ubf chapters to change or force changes through headquarters or Korea, I means there’s like 30,000 people,( too Much resistance) but to start from individual, family, and his or her chapter, and I think Westloop is a good example of that. When Ben said the numbers changed from 30 to 60 I was like, man, what is different about his chapter. I hope others ask the same question, not that numbers are so important.

    I do have a desire for ubfers to engage with ubfriends and use it as a forum to share creative ideas and ways we can not make same mistakes as we used to.

    My first proposal would be that chapters should strive to come up with a church constitution. A constitution which explicitly outlines what it means to be a church, a pastor, a shaperd. What their right and limits are. A constitution that outlines chruch rules of marriage, dating and courting. Why? Because when there is no constition or proper definitions, there is always power struggle overs the meaning of ” marriage by faith” and those with more establishment and power are often the winners. This type of constitution should be available to everyone a longstanding member to to a newcomer.

    What do you guys think? Of course I may be wrong. Just my opinion.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      You make good points about how people had to “move on” in Christian history. There are several areas of consideration that I see need attention. Jesus and the Pharisees is an interesting case because the conflict between them, I think, is not comparable to that between believers such as we find in epistles. For one, the Pharisees were never baptized by John, an important point repeated in the synoptic gospels. They had titles and authorities, but were not “inside” so to speak. They didn’t listen to Jesus voice and were not his sheep. Now, to those who are and have conflicts between them, that is a different kind of relationship altogether. Joe’s article, Telling It to the Church, is telling of efforts made and the responses given. Martin Luther didn’t just move on from the Catholic church, he nailed his 95 theses to the door.

      When I left, someone said to me, “Focus on your own repentance and holiness now.” I was confused by that. I never said that I would not also watch myself. Should I not be concerned about people and how a ministry I participated in and supported for so long is treating others in the name of serving God?

      I like a lot of the suggestions you’ve provided here. If all were somehow implemented, it wouldn’t look like UBF anymore, and I suppose that’s another reason why it seems leadership isn’t interested in listening. Here’s another thing I heard at a national staff conference, “They’re trying to change UBF.” A person was in tears and angry that at the regional staff conference we didn’t have a proper message on a passage and question sheets during our Bible study. Once you start properly outlining things, such as with a constitution, you create accountability. And that seems to be a big problem.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      A chapter guidelines is being written. I saw a draft last summer. I hoped it would outline things that you’ve said here. But on those important matters it defers to the chapter director to settle at his discretion. There’s ultimately no accountability.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Our current approach is more akin to boomerang. We attack, ubfers attack, more misunderstanding, more slander, more hatred, less constructive dialogue. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16805

      I don’t think “attack” is the right word. At least, I don’t think I’m attacking anyone or fighting. In fact, one reason I left my chapter was because I didn’t want to fight with the director or other (things got to a point where voices were being raised almost every week). I came to this site because I was able to join in discussions that were relevant and important to me regarding the ministry that I couldn’t have in my chapter. I continue to participate for the same reason and new ones, such as bringing some things into the light, to know better the people that interact here, and to learn new things.

  7. “I means there’s like 30,000 people…”

    Woa, what the heck? The documented numbers from ubf, even counting all Sudnay attendants, is at most 9,000.

    The ISBC attendance dropped by about 17% from 2008 to 2012, and offering dropped massively too.

    Where are you getting your numbers from? No way does ubf have 30,000 members.

  8. Happypinky

    Sorry about numbers, my point was a lot. I hope you get the meaning. :)

    • Ok. When I talked to several pastors after leaving ubf, the first thing some of them said was “ubf is so small!” One of them said ubf is too small to make any real impact in the world.

  9. Happypinky

    One thing to add about constitution: It has to be checked and reviewed and assisted by quailed and trustworthy theologians, as to prevent possibly incorrect doctrines and ideas from being officialized. Like marriage by faith, we need to ask whether the example of Isaac and Rebecca is reliable evidence for existing practices. I think the answer is no. So it important to talk to theologians And pastors and get their input. Otherwise, things could get more dangerous.

    One reason I like intervarsity, at least the one in Europe is that, they stress the need for constitutions ( I would sayit helps to avoid 80 percent of problems), and they give a lot of freedom to student groups, tying them only around orthodox statement of faith, constitutes, bible studies. The simple the better.

    I have this kind of vision for. Ubf as well. United in bible study and discipleship, constitution, clear accountabily mechanism, and flexzible on everything else.

  10. Happypinky

    Brian, my point is not really big or small. Starting a change in a church hard enough, starting change from headquarter is harder. But change is a must.so I’m. Saying that it’s probably easier to start fom local church, although at cod hard as well. I guess it’s easitefor throes who have their own chapters, like Ben. But still at at asks man can see. :)

  11. Happypinky

    I meant but still it is hard either way.

  12. Joe Schafer

    Happypinky, I appreciate what you said about writing a constitution. I tried doing that. What I found is this.

    * Leaders and members of local chapters are already stretched so thin, they have little time and no emotional energy to do it.

    * Even if they did, they have no idea if the rules and procedures they propose are sensible. It takes a great deal of experience to understand the problems that may arise and how to prevent them. This is expertise that our chapter directors do not have. They have never seen from the inside how a healthy church operates.

    * As a practical matter, that kind of work cannot move forward until the people involved share a common vision and have mature relationships with one another, and that they know how to have disagreements and work them out in a healthy way. Such conditions are rare in ubf chapters.

    Please keep reading UBFriends, because material will be coming that may help you to understand how these things pan out in the ubf world.

  13. Happypinky

    Hi Joe,

    1. “Leaders and members of local chapters are already stretched so thin, they have little time and no emotional energy to do it. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#sthash.ahRHCqpI.dpuf

    I think, what needs to be done is simplification of a church. It seems that often people in church have to many so to call portfolios, like message, daily bread, cleaning, and etc. on top of that we are told to enagage in disciplehsip. Thats why as I talked to a reverend from church i used to attend, we see many dedicated church volunteers getting burned out and leaving. I would suggest that reccomending no more than one portfolio per member is good. it give time to nurtre family and engage in Jesus style discipleship. Once a year, it would be wise to take a month of sabbatical where members rest and reflect.

    2. Even if they did, they have no idea if the rules and procedures they propose are sensible. It takes a great deal of experience to understand the problems that may arise and how to prevent them. This is expertise that our chapter directors do not have. They have never seen from the inside how a healthy church operates. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#sthash.ahRHCqpI.dpuf

    = I agree, for those who have been in one setting for all life it is difficult to understand what is normal and what is not. Thankfully I had some years where I travelled around and saw similarities and difference. But still, its possible. All weneed to do is talk to those who are on outside. Our church had privelege of hosting intervarsity and former cru leaders, and we had amazin insight on what it means to be a disciple and they learned things from us. Sometimes obvious solutions come from outside observer. Second, there internets, with plenty of material. If we seek we find.

    3.= I think in this case inviting Christian professional mediators and counselors and asking Holy Spirit to guid. Oh my Its America goodnes sake, everything is available.

    4. But Joe, I i think I can feel what you say. its easier to say than to do. However, i think UBF can start from folloiwing starting points. 1) Ben Toe’s style. Basically chapter leaders and shepred who agree that certain things needed to be changed start experimenting in their own chpaters. In Chicago Hyde Park and Westloop seem to be good examples. In Europe, Kazakstan, Astana, Almarty, and Kiev are good examples as well. So things are happening in probably more places. I felt chicago was changing too(although I dont know enough about them) but from discussions i had with shepreds and youth. 2) Those, especially youth who have stubborn leaders, can perhaps start something of their own, and if sucessfull will be possibly effective in persuading many.

    5. I think common frustartion that older ubf people feel about critics is that, they would say things like ” What evidence do they have that things work better?” ” We have experience and we brought fruit” This kind of thinking, and I partially agree, because those who criticize would be much more effective if they have good alternative in practice.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      To add what Joe has already written, my experience at the local and national level has been:

      1. leaders aren’t interested in getting help from outside
      2. They reject what does come in from outside. I’ve heard, “They’re not us. They don’t know how to help us. We take care of ourselves.”
      3. I saw outsiders start to be invited and speak at national staff conferences. It seemed good. But ultimately it seemed only to affirm what UBF is already doing and silence criticisms. When speakers spoke things that affirmed UBF, the audience would smile, laugh and clap. As soon as something was spoken that questioned or challenged UBF traditional ways, the audience would frown and snicker and speak under their breath dismissing words (this was done during the actual presentations).
      4. Many of the small house chapters (one or two families) are just figuring out how to “survive.”

      I think you have great ideas from seeing how other ministries operate. But this is what I’ve seen and heard from UBF leadership. My impression is that these kinds of things aren’t being developed and implemented, and help is not being sought outside, because they’re not listening to issues being presented and, frankly, they don’t want to.

      What you mentioned in point 5, is real. I’ve heard it from senior members too many times. Simply, it’s pride and un-Christ-like. It ignores that we are relational human beings and God is a relational person. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but he has worked in many different ways which we can find even his short, roughly 3 years public ministry before being crucified. He is making everything new.

      In fact, I heard it said of Joe and Ben several times, “If they’re so smart and know better than others, why don’t they go and do their own thing and show us that it is better.” Wow. These people called Joe and Ben proud. Then it was said to me too. I refused. I don’t want to interact with my church in such a way. I am expected to listen to leaders, but to get leaders to consider what I have to say, I need to break off, start my own ministry, show better fruit after a number of years, and then come back? No thanks. I want to be part of a community that respects and listens to each other and humbly considers what people have to say.

      You have acknowledged Ben’s success, but have other parts of UBF? I never heard about how Ben is doing, except what I read here.

  14. Happypinky

    One more thing: You mentioned healthy churches. I think there is no such thing as a healthy church,(at least very few) having witnessed many mimistries and churches, and talked to outsiders, everyone seems to have similar or gave concern about their church and ministies. most common ones are: other beleivers, lack of dedication, pastoral abuses, pastors running of secretaries, strange doctrines, money, relativism, prosperity gospel, political correctness,focus on numbers and nothing else, massive sexual prmiscuities, abuses. and list goes on. UBF is far from pefect, but there were times when i really missed it. I thought Marshill is the perfect church, egh i was wrong after recent events.

  15. Happypinky

    Well someone may say, at least they have ways and procedures of adressing them. Well, that every relative. There may churches who do plenty of adressing the problems, but same crap is happening over and over again. But i agree UBF needs to create somekind of platform, and the best way is to start from each chapters. Not from top to bottom.

  16. Happypinky

    Well someone may say, at least they have ways and procedures of adressing them. Well, thats every relative. There may churches who do plenty of adressing the problems, but same crap is happening over and over again. But i agree UBF needs to create somekind of platform, and the best way is to start from each chapters. Not from top to bottom.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      “Not from top to bottom.” I’ve thought a lot about this, especially as I tried to bring change into the chapter I was in. Some things can be done locally. But at this point I think that a lot of the important factors of change have to come from the top to enable change at the bottom. I don’t mean orders coming from the top for people to change this or that or that an organization get restructured over night. But if the top were to start acknowledging these issues and needs for help, it would do wonders for encouraging local chapters to start taking steps in a new, and hopefully better, direction. But as it stands, the silence from the top speaks only of reinforcing what has already been done and which ought to keep going.

  17. Love your spirit Happypinky. Maybe you can submit an article in 6 months as to how it all worked out?

  18. Happypinky, I fully agree: “Once a year, it would be wise (for ubf members) to take a month of sabbatical where members rest and reflect.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16795 I remember Rick Warren explaining man’s absolute need for rest and the Sabbath: Divert daily. Withdraw weekly. Abandon annually.

    But if you are able to successfully persuade top ubf leaders to give their chapter members 1 month off every year to rest, recharge and renew, then I will honestly be stunned. They will likely say that the yearly ubf conferences (easter, summer, christmas) are the rest. But it has exhausted and drained people because conferences requires much much work. This is NOT rest.

    fwiw, West Loop people can “take their sabbath rest” freely. Well rested Christians are happy people. They experience grace and freedom. And they are willing to voluntarily invest themselves in serving God and the church without being told or being pressured by leaders.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Not just the conferences, Ben, but the daily bread and sincere repentance from digging deep into the word of God gives us rest. Conferences are also expensive!

      Once the current director of LA tried telling me and another American leader how many times we were allowed to miss Sunday worship services. It may sound surprising that I would be allowed to miss any at all (not that I ever missed worship service). Can you guess how many times? :) Of course, I rejected the idea that I would act only by whatever permissions were given me, especially since I acknowledge that I had such a relationship with the director in the first place that he could set these permissions and allowances for me.

    • ?twice a year?? I’ve never heard of any director stipulating in advance how many times someone can miss sun service! Why even bring up such an odd odd subject/topic??

    • Joe Schafer

      twice a year?

    • Joe Schafer

      I know of a chapter where people are graded on a point system. They lose a certain number of points for missing a weekly meeting or for failing to write a weekly testimony. And God only knows what would happen if they didn’t show up for Sunday worship.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      4 times. :) But at the time, the number wasn’t important to me. That he was trying to give me allowances like that was in itself ridiculous and angering. This private meeting happened because another American leader was taking his family on vacations about once a month and sometimes people wouldn’t see him in the worship service main hall and complained to the director.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      especially since I acknowledge that I had such a relationship with the director in the first place that he could set these permissions and allowances for me. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16816

      Oops. It should read “especially since I *never* acknowledged…” This thread is moving quickly.

    • Joe Schafer

      Charles wrote:

      Once the current director of LA tried telling me and another American leader how many times we were allowed to miss Sunday worship services. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#sthash.dTdX8rD5.dpuf

      This is how I wish Charles had replied:

      “As my pastor, you are allowed to give me inappropriate instructions no more than three times per year. After that, you will be punished.”

    • This naming of a number of allowed exceptions in your LA chapter is indeed funny. In my time in German UBF chapters like Cologne, Bonn or Heidelberg, the UBF teaching was very clear in this regard: Zero exceptions. It was all about showing *absolute* obedience. Exceptions, in whatever shape or form were not acceptable, since they contradicted that principle of absolute obedience. This was why a marriage could be cancelled for one time not being obedient and skipping a meeting. My UBF was hysterically serious about keeping that “absolute” attitude.

  19. “I heard it said of Joe and Ben several times, “If they’re so smart and know better than others, why don’t they go and do their own thing and show us that it is better.” Wow. These people called Joe and Ben proud.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16800 Actually, I’ve been called lots lots more than just plain proud, which almost sounds like a compliment.

    “You have acknowledged Ben’s success, but have other parts of UBF? I never heard about how Ben is doing, except what I read here.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16800 Me too! If anything, I’ve repeatedly heard people being warned about being influenced by me, as though I have some kind of bogeyman power! Oh dear, some people just seem determined to give me so much credit. :-) Yup, that must surely be why I’m proud. :D

  20. Happypinky

    Its working pretty well. We recently had two guest speakers, and they said a lot things about discipleship that are at odds with ubf, but none of us snickered or frowned. Actually everyone said, they were super blessed.we gave them huge applauses I was blessed to.:) Why because for me its the scriptures that are the prime law, I am not serving UBF. I guess it could be different in chapters you have described.
    In chicago from my visit it seemed people were very open abou ideas, and to my suprise, even elderly would admit to me about mistakes they made. Came to love them.

    Whats funny though is that i feel like im more UBF conservative than my parents are who are long time sheperds. Found it funny:) I was like how did they change so fast??? To my suprise, my dad happens to be one main leaders in UBF and he said to me when I said that Ubfriends is not good anymore, he replied ” its good that it keeps ubf accountable.” I was like what the heck:). At times I have seen how he confronts and challenges other leaders on issues in UBF like marriage, bible studies and etc. So God is at work.

    One suggestion to soften old generations hearts: Try to appreiciate their efforts and dedication to discipleship, despie their numerous flaws, openly. Im sure it will do a lot to soften their hearts and be more receptive.

    UBF is a very unique place because there barely a church which is multinational, as in Korea koreans worshiping with American Americans, im not talking about ethnicities. Cultural clash is something we should not ignore. In america, i think koreans should adapt to americans ways, which will take time.

    when I think o Western missionaries coming to Africa and Asia and doing so many things they should not done in previosu centuries, Westernization, imperialis,and etc. I am still thankful that God used them to sow the seed of the gospel.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      One suggestion to soften old generations hearts: Try to appreiciate their efforts and dedication to discipleship, despie their numerous flaws, openly. Im sure it will do a lot to soften their hearts and be more receptive. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16816

      Honest question: Don’t you think that we did that for years, especially as we became like them, in thought, speech, action and discipleship?

      Here’s where I’m coming from: The missionaries were always demanding that Americans prove themselves. One American expressed desire to pioneer. He was met with such replies as, “Raise 12 disciples first.” But those people did not raise even 1 disciple before becoming missionaries. In another case, I asked why several of the older Americans were passed over for leadership. Missionaries much younger than those Americans and who had been in the chapter less time than those Americans responded by saying, “They broke our hearts” (translation: they didn’t keep campus mission and made other mistakes that we didn’t approve of). I was furious. This one-sided, double-standard relationship is not something I wanted to keep supporting. Some people have done everything but still aren’t acknowledged.

  21. Joe Schafer

    HappyPinky wrote:

    5. I think common frustartion that older ubf people feel about critics is that, they would say things like ” What evidence do they have that things work better?” ” We have experience and we brought fruit” This kind of thinking, and I partially agree, because those who criticize would be much more effective if they have good alternative in practice. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16803

    I have one question for you. What are the specific kinds of fruit that you are looking for, that would make you want to listen to them?

    • Happypinky

      Dear Charles,

      I totally agree. Repentance, repentance. Maybe this is harsh, but desire for skin color does affect decisions.

  22. Happypinky

    One thing that i heard from political science is that immigrants often tend to reinforce their values, especially when they feel attacked. Could be same with missionaries?

    Ben, thanks for your courage and genuine desire to help. God will bless you despite the suffering you went through. At least I respect you,and support your ideas. Everytime anything negative comes up about you, almost always defend you. I think i defended you like 15 times on different occasions? I think Westloop will be a great model for the future.Keep it up, sir

  23. Happypinky

    To Joe Shafer,

    Since we are a discipleship oriented church, a succesfful discipleship ministry is when a person can produce disciples to the 4th generation whether its one person or 100. i think that is sucess. I answered this way because in that context the fruit refered to disciples.

    That was also the answer given by intervarsity director,an answer which i found biblical.

    but theres a lot more to it of course. That

    • Joe Schafer

      How did you find that biblical?

      And what evidence do you see in the bible for having a discipleship oriented church? As far as I can see in the New Testament, the church is the church is the church. Individuals in any local church have different gifts, but they are supposed to value one another and remain in close connection with one another, because that is the nature of the body. I find no evidence that people who think they have a particular gift go away and start their own special kind of church that specializes in one gift. That eventually makes them unhealthy and deficient, because they cut themselves off from other parts that they desperately need.

      Many people, including Sarah Barry, taught me that UBF was supposed to be church full of Bible teachers. Your worth was supposedly measured by the quality of your Bible study, which didn’t necessarily correlate with how many sheep you had at any given time.

      You said, “a succesfful discipleship ministry is when a person can produce disciples to the 4th generation – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16810

      The way I understand it, one person cannot make disciples. Making real disciples of Jesus (as opposed to followers of one charismatic person) is the work of the Holy Spirit in the fellowship of the church.

    • Joe Schafer

      And the way I understand it, the fruit of the Spirit that God expects of everyone — and that the Apostle Paul urged his churches to display — was never any number of disciples. It was always the inner qualities of love, joy, peace, etc. that display a Christlike character in the individual and in the community. If those are present, then the church will grow in God’s way and God’s time.

      A pastor can have tons of disciples. But if his attitude stinks, and if his church’s attitude stinks, then the fruit is rotten and the community falls apart. Mars Hill is a prime example.

      It is understandable that you might want to measure success by outward results, because they are more tangible and easier to see than inward qualities of Christlikeness. But Jesus and the apostles don’t do that.

      But if you need some tangible measures of success, let me propose these. They are negative measures.

      1. How many people left your ministry because they just couldn’t stand to be around you anymore?

      2. How many people would testify that you threw them under the bus?

      3. How many unresolved broken relationships do you have in your life?

    • “when a person can produce disciples to the 4th generation”

      How do you reconcile such concepts of a discipler who produces disciples attributed to the disciples, even after generations, with Bible passages such as 1Cor 1:14-15 or 1Cor 3:5-11? Or with passages such as Mt 23:8-10.

      Any fruit that a ministry brings is a collaboration of all members, from the teacher and preacher to the one who cleans the toilets. A believer should never be attributed to a single spiritual “father” or “discipler”. Most of all because the spiritual rebirth can only happen through the Spirit, and because the focus on a human person redirects the attention and credit away from the Spirit and from God and Jesus Christ, and exalts and credits individual members and their achievements, instead of the whole church as a community of coworkers, as so nicely explained in 1Cor 1 and 1Cor 3.

  24. Happypinky

    These are the changes that make me love my chapter.

    1. Our church starts attending all kinds of confereces from some charismatic conference to presbyterian bible seminars, to encouraging members to go to seminars. even if these seminars and conferences are not related to us in anywys.

    2. We got people who married in al kinds of ways from tradional ubf style to online datings. i might consider the later, but i dont mind someone finding me a hot and spiritual one in ubf.

    3. our pastor is keen in encouraging me to go in Anglican seminary, which i refuse.

    4. We got all kinds of messagners, from tradional suit and read only to dirtpants power point walk around all stage no notes style.

    5. When i ask pastor to intevene more, his reply, what good is the old generation? I miss his messages, but he would preach because he want young generation to do it. And he doesnt check them.

    6. In one of regional conference, director got into trouble with some because he defended the right of messanges to preach the way that is natural to them.

    7. I havent written sogam in like 3 years, s basically we have testimony sharing session once a month or 2 and we are not obliged to read. I havent hear the ” One word Stand up and walk” phrases.

    8. we recently had youth christin meeting and pastor and shepred joined and we had hot dubstep and rap music in bacround all time. so far no objections.

    9. we actually asked intervaristy leadr and oher church if we can partner together, and visit their church.

    10. when i insited to pastor to make eveyone into fishing and discilpling his response. ” Its the work of Holy Spirit” not force.

    11. We dont use the jargon anymore, at least in official meetinsgs.

    12. We sometimes substitute SL bible studies with ted talks and Tim Keller.

    13. were allowed to have meeting for youth withour prayer.

    14. we actually welcom all kinds of people from young profeesionals to unemployed drug addicts.

    15. we do a lot of social work. not socal gospel.

    16. we dont have to study one to one or disciple. But our guest from itervaristy kind of challneged us saying that we need all disciple. Some shepred just disciple their kids for now.

    17. we actually help even single women from other churches to marry if requested, even if there is not startegic benefit of anykind.

    18. we get all kinds of christians coming and some us ask to help to make things better.

    19. most of us dont do tradional fishing instead we invite friends over and have fun sharing gospel and listening to different viewpoints. Thats young newcomer people love about our church. Pluralism, without relativism.

    20. we dont have orchestra anymore instead we play songs from yotube. or invite creative people to perform something.

    21. some of us openly talk about the ubfs dirty past and present to guests, and ask them for advice.

    22. Sometimes i have argiments with pastor insiting that he needs more in control, but he just refuses saying young generation does it best.

    23. our pastor has suggested us to come with church consitution and ask other churches for help in doing that.

    These are some things I am witnessing and I pray to God it wont get to liberal. Basically, I love our church :)

    • Joe Schafer

      Are you allowed to openly talk about problems and abuses in your history? Have you acknowledged those things to the world and expressed community repentance? Have your church reconciled with everyone who had to leave your church because they were hurt and driven out?

  25. Happypinky

    A true church can not have everyone as teachers. In our church were going to emphasize people to use their gifts. some teaching some rebuking some dancing, some training

    Discipleship is for everyone though. Jesus said go and make disciples to all nations

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      “Jesus said go and make disciples to all nations”

      This is an interesting topic to discuss. I used to think that he is talking to everyone, including you and me. I have to go and make disciples of all nations. I felt guilty that I couldn’t go out as a missionary because the previous director didn’t want to talk about it (after having a few bad experiences in sending people out). It took a long time, but I’ve begun to approach that passage differently. Now, I believe that that passage should be considered again in the context it was given to the apostles. We then ought to consider what they did after he ascended and they received the Holy Spirit, and in what way they communicated this message in their teachings.

      Here’s an example of applying that kind of approach to scripture and sayings and commands in a way that scripture doesn’t endorse: preaching on 2 Timothy 4 and saying that everyone is being charged to preach the word. That application from that passage is not inline with Paul’s teachings and takes no consideration of the context in which this charge is given. When the current GD went around preaching this very message last year it was upsetting. I was sad that we couldn’t more discussions about it when he came around my chapter.

    • Joe Schafer

      Charles, I couldn’t agree more.

      Thanks for posting that link earlier today. I browsed through the material and it looks top-notch.

    • Joe Schafer

      Charles, as you hinted, the Great Commission needs to be understood in its context, i.e. as a concluding statement in the gospel of Matthew. If one does not grasp the central theme and message of Matthew, the meaning of the Great Commission is lost.

      Perhaps you know this, but in case you don’t — it wan’t until the time of William Carey that some Christians began to think of the Great Commission as their mandate for missionary activity. There were plenty of missionaries in the first sixteen centuries of the church. But they didn’t cite the Great Commission as their reason for going out.

  26. Happypinky

    Oh forgot one thing,

    we have some people who speak in tongues in our church. I tried to rebuke and say that this has no place in ubf, and pastor rebuked me saying that it is a gift of God. I was like ” I dont like speaking in tongues.”

  27. Happypinky


    1. Our director get allergies when mom mentioned “deep Bible study” I teach bible not deeply, but I want a person to understand the meaning and apply it to his life. Im happy with that. If u want to get deep and graceful, seminary is an excellent place.

    2. In our church we dont force or pressure anyone to become an excellent deep bible study teacher. But we encourage to do at least something, even cook. Thus contribute to Gods family

    3. I think, everyone should strive or be part of project which disciples and teacher people bible. Like we got local women and grandmas coming, but their discipling fellow grandmas in their unique ways not nessearily at church, but they still contribute to disciles projects like cooking or housing etc.

    • Joe Schafer

      How many disciples must they raise before their concerns are taken seriously?

  28. Joe Schafer

    HappyPinky, I love your enthusiastic endorsement of your church. But it would be a whole lot more convincing to me if you could get similar endorsements from former members (some who had to leave ubf entirely) who come back, reconcile with you, and say that yes you really have changed.

  29. Happypinky


    Thats a great question

    I just came back but from what I see I think there were couple meetings where people talked openly. At people people inside the church seem to talk, even in front of pastor. director also admits at least i have heard him regretting some of his actions even in front of people or attalking about them.

    About former members who left, we still keep in touch with like 50 percen of them. Most who left seemed to leave due to the fact that there incidents of abortion in America, some wanted different mission, some wanted to find a girl outside to marry. But what I do remember is that we blessed those left and we helf a special ceremony of blessing and some of them still visit us on sundays, and some do sports together.
    I think some left legitmiately, others left for wrong reasons, like wanting to sleep around. Did we commie mistakes of course, plenty, but we acknowledge the, at least the people ive talked too.

    One thing that hurts me though is that some people still think ubf style marriage is a bit superior to dating. I thing latter is better.

    But I havent seen director like getting in front of tage remembering all his sins in the last 15 years and reading one by one and begging for forgiveness. And i I think if some insist this kind of apology, i should be first one to beg forgivness, because the way I hurt people is icnmporable to how shepreds or director did.

    But I would love see somekind of grievence platoform, where members get together once couple monthns and talk about grivences, and cry together and repent.

    To your other questions.

    Our director got allergies when someone mentioned “deep Bible study” I teach bible not deeply, but I want a person to understand the meaning and apply it to his life. Im happy with that. If u want to get deep and graceful, seminary is an excellent place.

    In our church we dont force or pressure anyone to become an excellent deep bible study teacher. But we encourage to do at least something, even cook. Thus contribute to Gods family

    I think, everyone should strive or be part of project which disciples and teacher people bible. Like we got local women and grandmas coming, but their discipling fellow grandmas in their unique ways not nessearily at church, but they still contribute to disciles projects like cooking or housing etc.

    • Joe Schafer

      I used to think that a church full of Bible teachers was a good idea. But after listening carefully to the kinds of things that people have been teaching — some of it good, some of it off base, some of it utter nonsense — I believe people should heed the warning of James 3:1: “Not many of you should be teachers…” A great deal of what I see in standard ubf Bible teaching is not apostolic Christianity, but various forms of Christian folk religion mixed with Confucianism and some random weird speculation thrown in. Even people who have been preaching for 30+ years often shock me; some of the things they say are misinformed and strange.

  30. Happypinky

    How many disciples must they raise to have their concerns?

    I have none raised in church, I came Christ only onlike 4 years ago, Im preety young. They took my suggestions very seriously.

    Preety much director’s philosophy is if anyone want to start some project go for it.

    I preety do any project that comes to find only to hear ” sounds excellent.”

    One teen came up and said she is sick of orchstra, so we changed it.

    As I said we have platoforms upon initatiaion, where every member of church can say their ideas and we all vote.

    It was not always like this, there were times when directors word was absolute, but its been a while.

    Also this winter we did not even bother to ask permission if we can take a break from a project, we just did.

    I actually hope youngters do more of input, though. We are looking for ways to motivate them.

  31. Happypinky

    HappyPinky, I love your enthusiastic endorsement of your church. But it would be a whole lot more convincing to me if you could get similar endorsements from former members (some who had to leave ubf entirely) who come back, reconcile with you, and say that yes you really have changed. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16832


    We do have some former members who left with biterrness and now there back, love it, and even brought some individuals with them. Im would say Im one of them.

    Well you see, some members who left, asked us for some help with biblestudies couples years ago, and some members in church are like” when i love the reforms” and we got some outside church members who are well familiar with us now they thanking for changes.

    Take my word for it, 4 years ago, i doubted i would come back, and I did. No plans for leaving for now.

  32. Happypinky

    I used to think that a church full of Bible teachers was a good idea. But after listening carefully to the kinds of things that people have been teaching — some of it good, some of it off base, some of it utter nonsense — I believe people should heed the warning of James 3:1: “Not many of you should be teachers…” A great deal of what I see in standard ubf Bible teaching is not apostolic Christianity, but various forms of Christian folk religion mixed with Confucianism and some random weird speculation thrown in. Even people who have been preaching for 30+ years often shock me; some of the things they say are misinformed and strange. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16834

    = Joe I agree with you and disagree. You see. UBF started as parachurch movemen, and now its borth considered a church and disciplep organization akin to intervarsity, campus, and navigators.
    Currently, only probably 15-20 percent of members out of 55-60, teach bible and teachers. The rest dont, but some still invite and introduce.

    So thats the question i have been wrestling with too. Because if we are church, then principles of Titus, and Timothy are there, but ministries like intervasrity and crew kind encorage everyone do cofirm like teaching group bible studies.

    The intervarsity regional director gave us a good advice.He said we need to select amount of members from church who would be willing to engage with youth and possibly disciple them. The rest of body should contribute to the cause, in ways that church needs, cooking, cleaning, inviting, IT, praying and etc. He said that normally we should have students teaching students. So that my vision. Right now we are considering names for our church Like Youth Fellowship Church. So idea of parachurch among certain church members sounds great to me.

    Ideally for me, I would love to have a church, where if someone want to teach bible, they need to have preparation, reccomnedation and training, and can be desgintaed as Bible teachers. Hopefuly this year, something of this sort can take place. Please pray.

    • Joe Schafer

      Students may teach students, but I think it’s better for groups of students to learn together from some high quality material. Some may act as group facilitators to lead a discussion, but I don’t think they should play the role of teacher.

  33. Joe Schafer

    HappyPinky, thank you. You have great stamina and we have certainly learned a great deal about you today. Please keep reading UBFriends and keep thinking and engaging us.

  34. Happypinky

    Thanks Joe, you really make me think. Seriously. It’s evident you spent much reading bible and asking questions, so thanks as well.

    I was kind of upset that you left, because growing I loved reading your articles in magazines and I was like “I want that Harvard education and be like Joe. ”

    God bless your journey and your family. I also met your daughter Sharon couple tears ago, very sweet and smart.

    Hope you continue to pray and support those who feel calling to stay and work for better.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yeah, I want to be like Joe too.

      The fact is, I needed to find out who I was (the person that God made me) and become that person. And that wasn’t happening in ubf. They really wanted me to be someone who didn’t actually exist. And when they began to see who I really was, they didn’t like him and had little use for him because he couldn’t play by their rules.

      I believe that God brought me to ubf. And ubf had no category for me.

  35. Happypinky

    Sorry, I think it was Ruth

  36. Happypinky


    Great family

  37. Wow, I have been away from UBFriends for a few days, and find a ranting against me and other ex members, then an apology (which I gladly accept) and dozens of new comments and contributions! Thanks everybody for writing, but particularly – Welcome Happypinky, thanks for roughing up this place, thanks for speaking up, thanks for not just playing hit-and-run but actually staying and responding.

    Let me respond to your complaint that I criticize UBF too much (too frequently). The problem here is that people like me are feeling like we’re speaking against a wall. Out on the table are serious reports of misconduct and abuse committed by the top leader which have been also propagating down through the whole body of the community. Let me just mention the ordered abortions. We are not talking about the type of small-scale abuse and occasional misbehavior that happens everywhere. We are talking about things much more serious. Also, this abuse did not happen accidentally, but as the result of the practices and teachings that the top leader introduced since the 1970s and that are up to now considered the “heritage” of the community. Do you agree with me? Do you agree that a “general director” of a “Christian church” who orders people to have abortions is a monstrosity? I hope you do. However, I never saw you criticizing the UBF leadership for doing such things, or criticizing the UBF body for tolerating such things. Instead, the first and only thing I read from you was criticism of those who criticize. Can you understand that I find this pretty strange?

    So, how can I interpret your behavior? Don’t you see how serious the issues are? Don’t you see it because you never read any of the reports and testimonies (like the 1976 letter)? Or is it because you know about these things, but don’t consider them as serious? Maybe you have very different ethical norms than I have? Without you elaborating more and starting a dialog, I cannot know. Why do you consider the problem that people write about it too frequently a larger problem than the problem itself?

    You wrote that if there is a problem in the church, a church member should point it out one or two times, but then if nothing happens leave it up to God. However, from where do you took such advice? This is not in line with the Bible. As I have written here many times, it contradicts very simple Biblical guidelines such as pointed out in Mt 18:15ff. These guideline say that repentance is not something “nice to have”, it’s *essential*. If you give up the principle of repentance, you can give up the concept of Evangelical church and mission altogether. The church cannot accept that someone is continuing to sin without repentance, and still claim to be a brother in Christ – the only solution can be separation from such people. So my question to you would be: Why do you dismiss passages such as Mt 18:15ff so easily? Why do you claim that there is no such thing as church discipline, why do you claim that if leaders sin then the church should only rebuke them once and then if they don’t repent, tolerate and overlook their wrongdoings? A Biblical principle enforced in every church is that particularly the leadership must be accountable. However, as you know, the UBF leadership showed and still shows the utmost form of unaccountability. There were three big reform movements, and instead of repenting, the leadership always just expelled those who tried to hold them accountable. Until now, they have not been rehabilitated. Why do you think the principle of accountability is not applicable to UBF?

    Please don’t answer quickly. Take some time to think over my questions. And please don’t resort to the answer: “This is all a problem of the past that is gone and irrelevant today, UBF is differently now.” since that was yet another point that irritated me in your comments. Actually, the UBF you describe (“I haven’t written sogam in like 3 years”) is something totally different from the UBF I and other dropouts here experienced. In the UBF I experienced, a betrothal could be broken and a marriage cancelled for missing only *one* sogam sharing meeting. So if the current-day local UBF chapter is really as you say, then it is really a totally different beast from the UBF chapters we attended many years ago, then this is all good and fine with *your UBF*, but don’t complain that we are speaking about the experience *we* had in *our* UBF.

    Just think of the abuse cases in institutions of the Catholic Church in Ireland. If people report about the abuse that happened many years ago in the past, do you think it would be an appropriate response for a member of the Catholic Church to point out that in the current institutions this abuse doesn’t happen anymore? Do you think it would be appropriate if they complained that the press reports about it too frequently? Particularly would it be appropriate to complain about too frequent reporting if the Roman Catholic pope would not have even admitted and apologized for what happened, and instead continued to praise those institutions of the past?

    I hope you agree with me that any institution must be held accountable for any form of abuse or misconduct. This applies even more to Christian churches whose members act as witnesses of Jesus Christ. Why do you think UBF is exempt from this?

    Happypinky, the only way UBF can prove that it really changed is that it openly and publicly condemns the abuse of the past, and issues guidelines on how they want to prevent such abuse in the future. Otherwise, there is no guarantee for a member of UBF that their local chapter could not just abuse them in the same way as we have been abused.

    When I left UBF during the 3rd reform movement in 2001, UBF’s response to the allegations were: “These are all 100% lies and slander.” Now I’m hearing from people like you “We know these things are true, but don’t keep repeating them so frequently.” Don’t you think there should be some steps between those kinds of responses? You can’t just jump directly from the stage of complete denial of the problem to the stage of claiming to having solved the problem.

    The other problem is: Sin doesn’t just go away if you just wait long enough. It never becomes a “thing of the past” just by waiting or slowly changing. With that logic the sin of Adam and Eve should have become completely irrelevant by now and the Bible should not report about it anymore. The only possible solution to the problem of sin, according to the Bible, is admittance and repentance. I have written about this principle at length here, and it would be nice of you to explain why you think this principle does not apply to UBF.

    One last point: You wrote “I need to repent perhaps even more that SL.” It’s a variation of the same old argument we heard so frequently, namely that you are not to criticize UBF because a) you are a sinner, too and b) you don’t bring enough fruit to be entitled to criticize others. There are several flaws in this line of thinking. First, it’s really not about the person of SL. It’s about the whole community. It’s a UBF thing, not a SL thing. The whole community failed to hold him accountable. Second, I am certainly a sinner too. However, I do not claim to have authority over others. I do not claim to be “the servant of God” or the personal shepherd of anybody. My personal sin is my personal sin. However, the sin we’re talking about is of a different nature, it’s public, institutional sin, it’s sin committed under the pretense of being a spiritual authority. It’s of a different nature that needs to be addressed differently. Also, claiming spiritual authority over others is already sin per se (Mt 23), but abusing it is even worse.

    Let me explain again the reason why I criticize UBF so frequently: It’s because I don’t get feedback from UBF people like you, so I don’t know whether my criticism has even arrived. Or I get answers that can be summed up as “repentance is not necessary, we solved the problem by simply changing without ever repenting and publicly admitting” – and such answers cause me to explain again why that’s not a Christian attitude at all. I’m not getting tired of repeating these same principles again and again, like a Math teacher who does not get tired of teaching the same Pythagorean Theorem every year. In fact I think it’s a good analogy. Contrary to what you may believe, I’m not writing because I want to complain about how I personally have been mistreated, out of some form of bitterness. It’s more like that I have become an expert on spiritual abuse through my first-hand experience, read the testimonies of many others who experienced it, and studied and discussed the phenomenon very deeply. So now I feel compelled to pass on what I have learned. And I will do so as long as I don’t see that people “got it” or the problem is tackled in UBF itself. So far, I don’t see it.

    • Happypinky

      Hi Chris,

      I actually happen to know you. I think I might have met you in Germany.

      Thanks for your well written response and many valid points. Since there so much info I’ll try to comment on some them and save other for later.

      1. You have mentioned abortions and I denounce abortions in most cases except in cases of abortion presenting serious damage to the mother. I am equally frustrated with issues that happened in the past and even on some reports which happen today. And I fully support your desire to investigate these kind of issues. I have one question though. Do you know the full context of this story? I’m not trying to defend it or ignore it. Some explanations given, which might not be true is that the mother was under serious health threat. I can not beleive it for now, because I don’t know the full story.
      I’ve been here for over two decades, and I can say that some members leave because they are hurt and they deserve an apology.
      The hard for me is that sometimes I hear the victims version of story and assumed perpetrators version, and I honestly at times have a very difficult time knowing who is right. Only some investigative team and process is needed.

      Have you personally met all the victims of abuse? How do you know that all of the things they say is true. I’m certain that a lot or of it is true. Are u aware of all their contexts? I’m not asking these questions to challenge you or deny the problem. But in my experience, there was difference when I read what’s written here and I sought out the alleged perpetrators and heard heir version.

      During my status in some of USA chapters, and elsewhere, I have witnessed though how elderly missionaries or so called SL right hands or lefts hands, would admit to me and others about the mistakes. It happened recently, I was quite surprised, as I did not expect such behavior.

      And I fully agree with you that currently organization lacks accountability process, especially of top leaders, and I think it is general problem of Korean Christianity.

      I think a lot of problems do arise, because there is lack of transparent definitions and rulers. In the other church and ministry I was involved in as a leader, I and other members committed mistakes of overbearing authority and etc, not because I was intentional, but there were lack of defined rules and etc. I repented publicly and some other did as well. Half of former members came back and became active partners in ministry. I’m thankful for that. Yet no one forced me to publicly get on knees and repent, they pointed at my mistakes not hundred times over and over, but several times lovingly. And Holy Spirit promoted me to apologize publicly, as well as some others.

      So in our church, which many considered to be classic, our director encouraged members to come up with some form of constitution, and ask assistance from other churches. In it I would love to define the basics of the ministry, for example what it means to be a mentor and bible teacher, and what the roles are and limits and rights.
      What marriage is biblically and what are the boundaries.
      Because as I said before, when there is lack of clear public definitions, it’s easy to manipulate with terms.

      After having left and returning, I do find that ubf people are some the most warmest and sincere Christians. But I think accountability mechanism must be in check.

      Now the question of how do we deal with the past wrongs and abuses is complicated and I am not sure to be honest.

      Do we create accountability team and dig into every single story since the beginning of ubf and the punish the perpertrstors?
      Do we just prosecute chapter directors, or also Sheperds, ex members, perhaps even you and other here who were? Should Ben Toe and Brian be also prosecuted for all the potential wrongs they have done to others in the past? Because I happen to know some who left, to have committed some really indecent things while in ubf. Should victims also be prosectuted? What about sheeps, should they be prosecuted?

      It would be great if such was possible, but how plausible is that? Would prosecuting them and asking to repent really initstiate genuine repentance? Or is it more of a work of Holy Spirit to bring about genuine repentance? I had people who would apologize yet, I knew it was not genuine? What I would like to see is the genuine repentance and it can only be brought about by. Holy Spirit.

      So Chris, my point here is bit to disparage someone, but to say that only constitution is capable of reaching this kind of reform that we need. Otherwise it just a tug of war.

      For example, should pastor who commits adultery be kicked out or not? What about a pastor who hits someone? To avoid of politics and manipulation of power we need two mechanisms. 1 constitution which defines in which cases pastor or leaders are to be disciplined and or a board of members who are responsible for deciding such issues, preferably, with some outside members.

      I do think that as body of a Christ ubf should work for reconciliation and public acknowledgement, and I will work for that.

      I think as a church, we would be so much at ease if we simply 1) Apply Titus and Timothy, since it gives advice on church structure. 2). Constitution.

      So in many ways, I’m in the same page with critics, yet I think instead trying to impose change from top to bottom, although sometimes nessesary and possible, it is more effective to start change from local chapters to top. I think Westloop and Hyde Park a good example of that.

      I’m glad thought that ubf is changing though. It will continue to change hopefully as we see more youngsters be in leadership positions and leaders go through failures.
      When I criticized ubfriends recently, my chapter director who is quite prominent in ubf said that ubfriends keeps church to accountable. So I guess ubfriends can play a positive role in reforms.

      As Ben said somewhere, ubf is changing, albeit slowly. I have seen other cheaters, where changes were way to rapid and it did not bring good results. Slow but certain change is probably better than fast ones. Fast and immediate change is not always the best. If you don’t beleive take a loot at Syria, Middle East.

      I think that in many ways ubf has excellent qualities that other ministries don’t. I will for now continue to love it and speak truth in love. But more, so I will strive for starting change from myself and be a better example.

      But a Chris, your criticisms are usefull and it personally taught me to think more and question. So if anything I got you, and doing my best improve things for better. :) so far things going pretty well, leaders very receptive to suggestions and enforcement.
      But, I make one thing clear when I suggest, I try to show that my intent is to build up the body of Christ and most importantly show love and appreciation.

      One thing that upset me is when Brian said that he doesn’t care if ubf changes or not. I think ubf people are aware of kinds of criticisms. So as a reformer from within I want ask. Please give them time and pray for them in love. Prayer can be much more effective. People inside also need time to breath and soften their hearts. Constant crticism and with wrong method can actually do the opposite. Simple psychology.

      I can’t make everyone apologize to you and others who are truly hurt, but I’ll do what I can now and on behalf of others, and that is ” For those who are hurt and have left, I apologize sincerely on behalf of those who have hurt, and vow that I will do my best to prevent such mistakes from happening in the future. Please forgive them as Christ has forgiven you and me. ”
      Sometimes, when I think of how certain people have hurt and abused me including racist attacks using a knife and many similar events, I can only forgive them when I think of Cross. They have not apologized to me. Without cross, I can not forgive them.

      Look forward to chats Chris.

    • 1. Regarding the abortions. These things have already been reported in the 2nd reform movemement, by several senior leaders such as Jimmy Rhee and James Kim (who both have passed away already), and have been confirmed by the brother of the child who had been aborted. Jimmy Rhee wrote in the year 2000: “Is there anybody who can and will testify this? Yes! Ask missionary MY how he took a helpless woman to an abortion clinic to obey Samuel Lee!” So he even pointed out how this could be investigated. The thing is: Nothing happened! It would have been UBF’s task to investigate this serious allegation, not my task! I begged my chapter leader to do something about this, to bring this issue up, but he never cared. It was always “not our business,” and the reformers were considered to be liars and slanderers anyway. Recently I heard that MY in fact had confirmed the story. And no, it was really not about health issues. It happened to cover up failed attempts of marriage by faith. Also, this was not the ony report of forced abortions. During the 2nd reform movement, a member of a Korean chapter also complained that his wife had been commanded to have an abortion by the chapter leader’s wife.

      What to do about these things? Well in this case I believe we have enough witnesses who could confirm this really happened. What needs to happen is that UBF leadership officially confirms and admits this happened, to once and for all stop the claims that everything the reformers said was lies and slander, and the myth that UBF’s top leadership followed the Bible. I’m sad to see they’re already starting to twist the story into the direction that it was a “health issue,” something I never heard before.

      In fact, we have little reason to believe these stories have been “made up” or exaggerated by ex UBF members. On the other hand, we have all reason to believe that the version told by Samuel Lee have been lies, because we have many examples of where he was lying – I’m not hesistant to call him a notorious liar. He even faked photos in the UBF newsletter.

      Why could SL do such things? One reason was simply “because he could.” The forced abortions were only the culmination of his incursions into the marriages and physical integrity of the UBF members: He was giving names to new-borns, ordered young men to have eyelid surgery, older men to have perms, dispensed needle shots into the butts of members with his own hands, and many more examples.

      You ask: Have you personally met all the victims of abuse? Of course not, since there are scores of these victims all around the world. However, I have not only read the testimonies of many members on the Internet, and exchanged mails with them on the Internet, I have also met quite a few victims of abuse personally (Koreans and Germans) and listened to their stories, and I could fill whole books with what they told me. It was totally clear that they were genuine people reporting about real experiences, and they were well in line with what I had experienced myself.

      Again, you’re assuming I might have not investigated the abuse well enough to be able to know that it was real. How can we investigate without speaking about it? How can we see patterns and the whole puzzle without everyone of us revealing their parts of the puzzle, as Joe just did?

      Regarding church discipline, I find that you are screwing up two different categories: Mistakes and sin. An then, inside the sin category there are also different categories, e.g. accidental, individual, private sin on the other hand, and systematic, institutional and public sin on the other hand. What we are talking about here is the latter category.

      “How elderly missionaries or so called SL right hands or lefts hands, would admit to me and others about the mistakes.”

      Please, again, think about this more deeply: Were these really only “mistakes”? Is the life that people who do not know the Bible a “sin” and they need to repent to be saved, but if people who shold know the Bible do even worse things, then it’s only a “mistake” and no repentance is necessary?

      Also, don’t you see the duplicity here? After 10 years and in private, they admit these things are true, but 10 years ago, all the leaders claimed everything was lies and slander.

      “Yet no one forced me to publicly get on knees and repent, they pointed at my mistakes.”

      Again, you’re talking about “mistakes.” What if you really commited a serious sin, like mentioned in 1Cor 5:1?

      “For example, should pastor who commits adultery be kicked out or not? What about a pastor who hits someone?”

      These are better examples. But how is this unclear? If you proceed as in Mt 18:15ff, everything is clear. The pastor should be challenged to apologize and repent, if necessary in front of the whole church. If he is unwilling to repent, yes, that pastor should be expelled from the church. If he repents, then he should stay in the church, but it depends on the individual circumstances whether he will be allowed to operate as a pastor (maybe after a time out) or considered to be not qualified for this office any more. The Bible lists several necessary qualifications for a person to be an elder, and I think they should be taken seriously. For instance, if a pastor has serious problems inside his own family, then he should first care about his own family, before working as a pastor. Or if the pastor has problems with getting his temper under control, he should first work on that.

      “Do we create accountability team and dig into every single story since the beginning of ubf and the punish the perpertrstors?”

      No, this would be impossible. But a few representative cases and cases which are still affecting people today should in fact be investigated. Regarding reports like the 1976 letter, it’s obvious that the concrete wrongdoings and the whole background story cannot be rolled up and juristically proven any more. People have died, memories have been lost. However, it’s clear that these allegations were not baseless, and UBF should admit this. It’s also not about the concrete abuse, it’s about the way how UBF has dealt with it in the past. UBF should not primarily apologize for what happened in 1976, but for the way how they dealt with such reports over all the decades, namely by convering it up, ignoring it, and badmouthing those who criticized.

      “Slow but certain change is probably better than fast ones.”

      That’s what I call “sneaky reform.” It’s a way of not admitting that what you did was wrong in the first place. It’s not in line with the Bible at all. If you know something is wrong, you try to change dramatically. First you name and frame clearly what was wrong, otherwise you don’t even know in which direction you need to change. If you know understand spiritual abuse is something horrible, then you will turn your face 180 degree from it and walk from it in the opposite direction, not continue to indulge in a little bit of spiritual abuse in order to not change too rapidly.

      And again, the spiritual abuse that happened in UBF is not something accidental. It is a fruit of UBF’s shepherding/discipling approach. Many other similar groups tried such as the ICOC that approach, and it always lead to spiritual abuse. It is also deeply incompatible with the Bible, since it is based on the “covering doctrine” and a hierarchical, authoritarian church model that contradicts Mt 23.

      “What I would like to see is the genuine repentance and it can only be brought about by. Holy Spirit.”

      Yes, that’s true. But it does not contradict or repeal what is written in Mt 18:15ff. Also, an admittance from the top leadership that they commited serious sins in the past and that the reformers were right about the necessity to change (e.g. things you know seem to take for granted) would be valuable for UBF anyway.

      I agree with you that a proper constitution (by-laws) are necessary in which principles like church discipline are elaborated. In fact, the Presbyterian church has very good constitution in that regard. When UBF separated from the Presbyterian church, it threw all of this away and ignored it. I had discussed with Ben about these things and made constructive suggestions about the UBF by-laws.

      However, UBF by-laws are worth nothing if nobody reads them and applies them. Just like the UBF “ethics committee” is worth nothing if they never meet and do not answer requests. Or UBF “council of elders” when it is just another sogam writing fellowhsip, and all the decisions are still made by the chapter director alone.

      The only thing that would help UBF is to stand before God with a broken heart, just as Joe has recently pointed out.

      “So in many ways, I’m in the same page with critics, yet I think instead trying to impose change from top to bottom, although sometimes nessesary and possible, it is more effective to start change from local chapters to top.”

      I don’t think the critics are on a different page with you in that. However, that does not mean that the local chapters must not care about the history and governance of UBF at large at all if they continue to operate under the umbrella of the global organization. They should also not just ignore what happens in their sibling local chapters. If abuse is still happening there, they should not be quiet about it.

      To sum it up: The point is that something *fundamentally* is wrong and had always been wrong with UBF. This is the crucial point that UBF leaders and members like you should openly admit and talk about, then from there a discussion about change can start.

    • Joe Schafer

      Chris has done an amazing job documenting these problems and abuses. I don’t think it’s right to say to Chris, “Have you personally interviewed everyone involved” and so on, because that is not his job, The onus is not on him to do a thorough investigation. The onus is on leaders to open up safe space so that people are free to talk about what happened. And the onus is on witnesses to say what happened. Even if Chris had personally interviewed everyone that still wouldn’t work, because Chris has no power to loosen their tongues. For 40+ years, speaking of these things has been taboo. Chris has no power to break through the code of silence that ubf members impose on themselves and on one another.

      I know MY. He’s a true friend. He freely admits that the abortion happened, and he is very sorry about it. Someday he may tell his side of it. If and when he does, I hope people will listen carefully. Yes, it happened. As far as I know, it was not forced in the sense that the woman was physically compelled or threatened with punishment if she didn’t do it. The force was carried in the culture of absolute soldierlike obedience where Samuel Lee’s word was treated as law. It was not just SL and MY who were responsible; everyone who supported the community culture of obedience must reckon with this and acknowledge their role, and that includes me. My take on it is this. The tragedy and sin was not just in the act of abortion itself. It was the whole terrible sequence of events that brought this poor woman to the point where it seemed that there was no other way out. (I’m not trying to justify it.) It’s similar to the story of David and Bathsheba, where the whole sequence of sin and coverup eventually led to the tragic killing of Uriah. This is individual sin and corporate sin. That’s my perspective. Yes, these stories need to come out.

  38. Hey Happypinky,

    You asked Chris this question (and I’m sure he will respond :) but I feel compelled to respond also: “Do you know the full context of this story?”

    In regard to the abortions, there are many abortion incidents at ubf. So you would have to clarify as to which one you are speaking about.

    I know of two incidents. In each case a senior Korean missionary confessed to me in person (face to face) that both were true. There was indeed an ordered abortion in Chicago, USA in the past. And SLee did indeed order a missionary candidate couple to have an abortion in Korea as a requirement to become missionaries to the USA. What kind of ministry has abortion as a requirement to be sent as a missionary? Thankfully that missionary candidate refused to “prove they were not family centered” by having an abortion, and left the ministry.

    Of course not everyone had this abortion requirement, it only happened once to my knowledge. But once is one time too many. It is an extreme example, but we all had the requirement to not be “family centered”. My family is still feeling the effects of such demonic teachings today.

    • So there are at least 3 documented cases, because the other case reported from the Nam San chapter in Seoul in 2002 was unrelated to the two cases we know where SL was involved. According to the shepherd in Nam San, his wife had two abortions because the director’s wife gave her that “direction”, and she only later confessed it to her husband.

  39. Happypinky, you wrote:

    “One thing that upset me is when Brian said that he doesn’t care if ubf changes or not. I think ubf people are aware of kinds of criticisms. So as a reformer from within I want ask. Please give them time and pray for them in love. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/26/turning-pressure-into-beauty/#comment-16872

    Thank you for sharing your honest feelings. I hope you would feel the same about the way Joe was treated?

    There was a time when I cared. I cared so much I gave thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of hours and my very sweat and blood to change ubf and support it as a Christian missionary church.

    But I indeed don’t care anymore if or when ubf changes. In fact, I don’t give two shits about the organization. If you do, then great, stand up and change things. I care for those who have been stomped on, broken down, cast out and beat up by the very ubf leaders still in power. In fact those who abuse the most get promoted. That is the ubf way.

    Back in 2012, I still cared about ubf. But even then I did not care too much about change, I cared about repentance. I made two demands which are not about “fast change” but simply about giving up control. If ubf has anything to do with Christ, should they not be able to give up control to Jesus as Lord?

    But no, ubf leaders care only about one supreme value: loyalty to the cause. And they have only one mission: preserve ubf heritage.

    What can ubf do? The starting point is to accept my two demands. All else can be resolved in proper time and in a healthy way if this pressure is removed:

    Karcher 2012 open letter to all ubf members and the General Director

    • Mark Mederich

      this may be a rhetorical question, but since Jesus basically said it’s always either about love of God or money, perhaps all the higher level commitment to cause/heritage is really just a rouse to coverup the real motive-accumulated money?

      it’s like a bell curve, you need a lot of members in the middle to donate/labor/bring in members/maintain order/etc; but later it’s beneficial to eventually pare them off thru troubles/attrition/death/etc to have a smaller pool to share the “pot ole gold” with in the end:) after all if people were really committed to any cause they would care about long-term effects to their cause;

      as it stands it simply looks like abusive control of common resources to hold a carrot in front of the horse to get him to run, only to find out he never reaches the carrot, it’s all about the running…the poor horses are wearing themselves out for nothing: the gig is up-HALLELUJAH!

      I only see one productive counter-control mechanism, limit the input ’cause once it’s in you have no control; even then it’s limited effect, ’cause the pot seems big enough already; on the other hand threaten the pot thru exposure to government intrusion or legal ramifications & there might just be hands/knees apologetics or abandonment of cause/disappearance due to unavoidable cutting of losses/running..

  40. big bear

    Happypinky,Joe,Brian,Charles,Ben and others. I spent 28 years in UBF and tell you that UBF is all about cover-up…saving face…and found that there was no love for people, families and the body of Christ…I read all the post on UBFriends and thank God that people are speaking up against the abuses. I was a the most happy man in the world in my early years of UBF because I ignored the truth of UBF and justified the control and abuse that “we our all sinnner” and every church has it’s problems. But after being asked to leave UBF, I see that the real problem is that UBF refuses to acknowledge it’s abuses and really believes it is the best church in the world. This pride blinds her to the real problems. We were told to ignore our problems and focus on 1-1 Bible study and mission. My chapter director always told me that we can do nothing, just trust
    God and keep promoting the gospel. This works until you have a family and you have to meet real issues. I was teen father when I came to UBF, I was told to pay child support and not to visit my son or being in his life. I justified it in doing the work of God, this was wrong. It carried over into my family and my ministry this UBF first and everything go to hell mentality..(UBF became an idol for me)God has set me free from the hidden agenda of UBF…after getting divorce and my family fell apart..I discovered UBF has a love problem…leaving UBF has been the best thing that I have ever done but it was painful…but it has been liberating..the problem in UBF is that you may feel happy in the beginning but when real problems hit you…there is no support and no true understanding of what a church is suppose to be…UBF leaders are not trained adequately to face conflict or real problems…it is good for people to speak out in love…I will always be a part of UBF because they were my spiritual parents…but pray for them to get healed and liberated and to understand that they need to love people, families and the body of Christ in which every believer is apart of…I feel UBF will be liberated into the glorious freedom of Christ one day..and I will be happy when this day comes for the sake of the body of Christ…

    • Mark Mederich

      “It carried over into my family and my ministry this UBF first and everything go to hell mentality…I feel UBF will be liberated into the glorious freedom of Christ one day..and I will be happy when this day comes for the sake of the body of Christ..”

      I know we want to be kind & hopeful, but perhaps we have to also be real: that day will never come collectively unless the leaders-that-be permit it, or God graciously just grants it at the end.. (although it can & is finally coming individually for those of us who have sought long/hard to find “Christ Alone”/Holy Spirit help somehow, in spite of some people).

  41. Joe, MY routed his flight from Chicago through Detroit so he could meet me, back in 2012 sometime.

    We had coffee and ended up talking for over 3 hours. It was most encouraging and highly fruitful fruitful for me. I respect MY highly after that meeting. Please pass on my respect if you see him sometime.

  42. Joe Schafer

    OK. I hope to talk to him soon. He officiated Ruthie and Paul’s wedding, and it was great.

    • I hope we hear more fron MY. What ubf needs is not new ideas about how to be a better ministry. What they need to see is more genuine examples of repentance like MY and Ben.

    • Note: Both Ben and MY show up in the 150+ former UBF testimonies. So when I mention repentance above I am referring to repenting of the things mentioned in those testimonies. Of course we all need to repent on a personal level but when your name is tied to a reported corporate level or systemic abuse abuse, you need to repent or at least respond. Ben and MY have shown me evidence that they have repented of the things mentioned about them.

    • Joe Schafer

      Four years ago, MY was wrestling with the question of whether to give up his work in Boston and move to Chicago to help UBF to get better. There was a window of opportunity there, but also some very serious opposition. We talked repeatedly and extensively about this, because I too was wondering how much longer I and my family could be involved. That siren call of trying to reform UBF from the inside, from the leadership level, is very seductive. Both of us had to think and pray very carefully and be realistic about what we would be facing and what we could accomplish. As events unfolded, it became clearer and clearer that we needed to keep watch at a distance while continuing to talk to people on the inside.

      This may be hard for some people to believe, but I’ll say it anyway. Despite the pathological corporate behavior that the organization and its leaders and members exhibit, individually there are some good hearted Christian people there, some people of integrity, at various levels, and I do respect them. The current GD is a great example. But for lots of reasons, some of which I can explain and some of which I cannot, the good people cannot see (or have become numb to) many of the things we have been talking about. Or they see those things and don’t think they are quite as serious as we make them out to be. Or they still think they can stick around and make a difference. And they have various coping strategies to handle the cognitive dissonance (just as I do). They are like fish swimming in the ocean who haven’t got a clue that they are wet. That’s what cultural and corporate sin is like. (It’s not so different for me; I swim in an ocean of sin as well.) This is why, I believe, we need to be in committed relationships with people who think differently from us and listen to them and be open to learning from them even when it makes us uncomfortable or angry. There is no other way that I know of for fish to realize that they are wet, but for them to associate with creatures from the land. Hanging around only the people of your kind, refusing to listen to and marginalizing the dissenters is a surefire way to become clueless about all kinds of stuff.

  43. Happypinky

    Hi guys,

    Thanks Chris for detailed reply. I love details. To repeat myself, I am not in anyway trying to belittle the problems and I am not promoting forget and continue attitude. I also believe if ubf is to survive, it needs repentance, organizational restructure, and etc. I believe for those who went throughout the pain is excruciating even until this day.

    I hope that next GD would at the very least come up with an apology akin to that Lutheran Church did for Martin Lither, when confirmed that Luther turned into a fervent anti-Semite at the end of his life. I think in apology something of this sort could be written ” While Samuel Lee has been responsible for starting an Christian Student movement, and has imparted much of good qualities and legacies, there have been truthful and confirmed allegations of abuses. Therefore, we offer apology to all the victims and denounce the unbiblical tactics and actions involved, and will do the best to go back the Bible and implement its practices, with the intention that writers of the scriptures did, not through SLs interpretations in areas of mentoring, teaching scriptures, MBF and etc. I know my versions sucks, but I hope you get some idea.

    Then, it would be basically to form an constitution and accountability process, otherwise sooner or later abuses and problems will continue. If ubf does not form and implement accountability process, it’s not gonna last long.

    This is my vision for how ubf would operate in the future.

    1. Director of Chapter-1) if you are a church consider, not using the word director but applying the biblical term pastor. 2) if you have several mature Sheperds, form an elders committee, like our church did to make decisions for the church together, not all by yourself. Share power. Involve as many dedicated and spiritual members as possible.

    2. Emphasize that MBF, one to one, and etc. may be good methods, yet do not equate them with biblical commands, and judge people according how they fulfill them. Fruits of Holy Spirit, are a way lot more than these. Consider creating some alternative ways of potential training, such as, group bible studies, in other words more options for people to choose. I’m so glad that in my chapter, I’m not pressured to do all the ubf things and ubf ways, we are given freedom to pursue service to God in not just limited ways, as long as we get the message of salvation across.

    3. Instead of implementing all the classics of ubf such as Tw, MBF, etc, just focus on discipleship,and let local chapters use their own tools whichever are the best for the local community. Witnessing in Europe, is million times different than witnessing in Africa.

    4. Work together with local churches and student ministries, don’t despise them but learn much as possible. Don’t fear your members intermarrying with others, I have seen how non ubf people who come over can be such as great blessing.

    5. Emphasize particularly with MBF, that while it is proffered method of ubf, it is not excessive and does not damn people if they choose to marry otherwise, respect their decisions with prayer and guidance. Stress only that which Bible stresses.

    6. Brush up on modern culture, language, and if you don’t know how at least watch some tim keller and modern evangelical preachers on YouTube for a week, and you’ll get a some good insights on how to talk to young people.

    7. Stress that discipleship is not just about church and how many people come to chruch on Sundays and how many people had bible studies with a desk. Have fun discipling, go out somewhere pubs, parks, homes and disciple people. Don’t think of students and sheep as projects, because they are people. Treat them as people and love them the same way where they leave or stay.

    8 don’t be fixed on ubf and it’s heritage, if you make an idol of it as many have done, God might just as well destroy it so as to bring our attention, that man does not live by organization alone, but by the every word that comes out of God.

    9. More than anything love one another, see each other as friends and not merely coworkers.

    10. Don’t just simply send missionaries. If someone wants the title of missionary, provide adequate biblical, cultural training for a set period of time.

    11. Raise up youngsters to be leaders and hand them as much leadership as possible.

    12. Consider coming up with programs for discipleship where consent is a must. In the program which might last a year IR so, I wouldn’t mind if attendants are told to write testimonies, not date, get up for daily bread, and etc. But before training, those trained must be fully aware of conditions and willingly consent.

    • Hey Happypinky, thanks for elaborating about your ideas for the future of UBF, which I think are very good. Allow me some comments.

      First, regarding the apology. Yes, something along that lines should be done. There are many more examples, the list of apologies made by Pope John Paul II, the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt, or the Statement of Concern and Regret of the leaders of the shepherding/discipling movement in the US.

      While the statement should certainly mention the role of the founder and long-time general director, it should still not focus too much on him. There is guilt on many levels, the guilt of Samuel Lee who invented, implemented and refined much of the UBF mind control system, the guilt of people who were his enablers and supporters like Sarah Barry, the guilt of many chapter directors who copied Samuel Lee, the guilt of many UBF members (including me) who tolerated abuse and did not speak up. There is also the guilt of systematically silencing any criticial voice inside and ignoring admonition from outside. There is the guilt of actively committing abuse and the guilt of passively tolerating abuse and not caring about all the people that were thrown under the bus.

      Regarding your vision for the future of UBF, your list looks very much like the suggestions that have been made in the 2nd reform movement in 2001. The whole reform movement did nothing else than 1) calling out several grievances that were mostly connected with the regiment of Samuel Lee, particularly demanding accountability (at that time, there was no financial accountability in UBF at all) and 2) making suggestions similar to yours for improving how UBF should operate. Can you imagine that for this, the reformers were vilified and finally expelled?

    • Mark Mederich

      “and will do the best to go back the Bible and implement its practices”: main apology must be to God for misusing/misdirecting his Name/Words/Resources/etc.

      “fixed on ubf…if you make an idol of it as many have done, God might just as well destroy it”: He probably is/will decrease it until it changes (in which case He could rebuild it better if people let Him) or disappears, & unfortunately nice people caught in middle are also affected (they need to think about this)