My Last Few Days in Chicago


The closing testimonies at Campus night last Friday were given by Moses Noah, Jim Rabchuk, and Ron Ward. The title on the program was “Campus mission, my family, and my profession.” The slide presented was the above. I was slightly irritated by this slide, since it ignored family and excluded any mention of Christ. And that was also their point.

Moses Noah gave his testimony about how he had been married and sent to pioneer Atlanta by Samuel Lee in about a month. He said as a recently married graduate student who was committed to pioneering he rarely had time for his wife. Later he shared that he struggled as a professional, trying to juggle a family, a ministry, and a demanding job. Because of his commitment to give everything to God and his mission, he failed to give adequate time for his wife. He said that in the last few years he read Timothy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage and learned from Ephesians 5 that married couples present their spouses to the Lord. He said “She is my life long project.” And how after 16 years of marriage they had went on a honey moon to Hawaii with their children where they had wedding photos taken. He said that he had been growing as a husband. He never realized how unkind he had been to his own wife and it grieved him greatly looking back. Additionally he shared that God had been so great to him in profession. He nearly lost his job due to his lack of grants, but suddenly God helped him to gain more grants than he could have asked for.

Jim Rabchuk gave the second testimony. He said he had three main goals in his life. His first goal was to be a missionary to Russia. He said he went to Russia shortly after the end of the Cold War and somehow ended up with a wife. I had heard this story from Mark Yang’s book on Discipleship. But in that version of the story all the blame rested on the woman. Here Dr. Rabchuk says he was not ready to marry and did so hastily on the basis of her appearance (although he used the term “seduced”). He said after 4 years his marriage fell apart along with the dream to be a Russian missionary. He went on to describe that his second goal in his life had been to form a large fellowship in Macomb. I have visited Macomb three times in my life, for IMEA competition. When I asked my mother where all the life went I remember her saying “This is Macomb. No man’s land.” He said he watched as pretty much everyone left his ministry. He learned that his dream would not become a reality, and he had to humble himself. His last goal was to be a part of UBF leadership. He said this presented an enormous strain on his family. He said that one Thanksgiving in the middle of dinner he left for a conference. For readers who are not from the states, in America you are more or less required and expected to see your family on Thanksgiving and at Christmas. Failure to do either can result in extreme breakdown of relations. This aspect of the story is telling. It means he was risking huge conflicts with his family, or his family had long since became jaded and just expected that kind of treatment. After leaving he realized he didn’t have enough money in gas to get to the leadership conference. As he said “I began thinking of many ‘by faith ways’ I could come up with the money. But then I realized that at that moment the most important thing in the universe to me was getting to that conference, and I had left my family to do so.” He said that he returned home so that he could finish dinner with his family. He had been working on making do with what God has given him. His testimony was inspiring to me because it did not ring of false humility but of honest to God truthfulness. It is hard to convey this through an article but you could hear the pain in his voice. He went so far as to state “I turned UBF into an idol.” These sentiments that family something to be taken with world mission, and not at its expense are in contrast to what was written in 2007 about family
“Another challenge is the American dream to live a family-centered life, with no mission from God.“- Kevin Albright, Founders Day report

The last speaker was Ron Ward. I met Ron Ward last year when I attended Ben West’s wedding. I remember telling him that at my wedding I wanted to give people silly string and air horns. He said “That would certainly be interesting.” I was so blessed to hear Ron Ward speak. His smooth voice was like a river chocolate. I thought I was going to be taken away by his baby soft voice. He said that current college students want a real message. In the postmodern world the message is increasingly relative and because of the concreteness of the gospel we have a real chance to reach students. But, he added

“We should be deeply concerned with the actions of our leaders. When we are unkind to each other, students won’t take us seriously. Of course we don’t see violence. I don’t see people fist fight. Instead it’s a kind of cold war- gossiping and thinking ‘this is my sheep, don’t come near my sheep’…we cannot expect them to remain in that environment. They should not remain in that environment.”

Honestly I don’t recall the most of the rest of what he said. When I came back several minutes later he was saying “Jesus is saying ‘They are dying. My children are dying you have to help them.’” But I was so stunned by the previous comment and how unbelievable that sounded to me. It is unbelievable because it seemed directed not at students, but at leaders. That is more or less a compete summary of Campus Night.

A few other things of interest
I caught up to a few different people about the recent open letter to the president of UBF. Nobody had heard of it. But when I briefly explained the letter I was told that the voting is different this time around. This time two people are put on a ballot and a simple majority is required, then they are confirmed with a 2/3 vote. I was told that Dr. Abraham T. Kim did not want to run, but was going to anyways. At the Sunday worship service this was also made clear. There is also works to create a membership category and class. This was taking a longer amount of time than usual for various reasons. In speaking about sexual misconduct and abuse I was told that pastors and missionaries are obligated to call the police.

I experienced a lot of other amazing things and caught up to a lot of great people. I enjoyed my time and hope to visit some other time again. I had one of the best bible studies I have ever had with Dr. Augustine Suh, which I hope to write about soon.


  1. Thanks for sharing these insights, forests. You mention some noteworthy events that should not go unnoticed.

    “But in that version of the story all the blame rested on the woman. Here Dr. Rabchuk says he was not ready to marry and did so hastily on the basis of her appearance. He said after 4 years his marriage fell apart along with the dream to be a Russian missionary.”

    This is simply remarkable to hear someone finally telling the truth. That story about Jim’s first wife has been spin a thousand different ways, but no matter how you spin it, you just cannot get rid of the smell. In no way can this story be spun into a glory-story that glorifies God, although many have tried.

    But notice what happens when Jim simply faces the facts? When he comes clean, the burden is lifted. We see the truth, and God is in fact glorified properly.

    This is a prime example of what I’ve been looking for. 2 Corinthians 7 explains the evidence of the Spirit of Christ, and apart from these recent reports, I have not seen such a Spirit among ubf leaders. When this Spirit is not present, ubf is a harmful cult.

  2. Joe Schafer
    • Well, I guess the pictures look great! But I’m wondering what a professional editor would say about the report at least with regards to content, accuracy, grammar, and how such a report would capture the interest and excitement of any reader.

    • This is SO true!

      “We grossly covered three areas: (1) Motivation and necessity of campus ministry, (2) Historical and comparative review of campus ministry and (3) Practical examples by campus workers.”

      Yes I imagine it was gross…

    • If this report were to be fairly and unbiasedly graded by a English professor or even an English High School teacher, what grade would this report deserve??

    • forestsfailyou

      Interesting… “He shared three surprising victories that he had not anticipated.” Was “the three failures he didn’t anticipate”. I mean, maybe we didn’t listen to the same thing, or maybe he was struck hard in the head as he walked out. Who knows.

  3. forestsfailyou

    The English here is middle school level

    “Some guests came from far distance such as the St. Georgia UBF, the Montreal UBF, the Milwaukee UBF, the St. Louis UBF, and the Akron UBF.”

  4. Speaking of English, I am compelled to share another English lesson that reveals some things that have been on my heart for many, many years. What I lost at ubf was the nuance of the English language (yes I know all you Russians and Germans will laugh because English is one of the least nuanced languages there is :) But bear with me. Spaceeba bolshoy :)

    So here is my thought that weighs on me as I wake this morning: there is a difference between the phrase “cover up” and “cover over”, and our understanding of that difference may just tell us boat loads about our theology.

    To “cover up” something means you hide it. You don’t fully reveal what happened. You share just enough to convey the message you want. This is how I was trained to deal with sin by ubf. Our theology taught us to cover up our sins and the sins of our leaders. It was better that way, we thought. We called such covering up as repentance. And we accepted the keeping face as God’s forgiveness. The gospel was that we could then continue on as honorable servants of God.

    We learned how to share just enough about a situation to let people know to pray for us, but not enough to lose face. Because of this, we didn’t get to know each other very well. Eventually we all began to look the same to each other.

    To “cover over” something means you bring it to light, accept the consequences and then learn the joy of forgiveness. Yes love covers over a multitude of sin, but to cover over is vastly different from covering up. How can sin be covered over by love? I contend that the process involves coming into the light.

    I experienced this in a dramatic way here on ubfriends. Sure this is just a website. But this website has fostered a new community for me. For many years my conscience was bothered more and more by my illegal actions toward the late James Kim and his family. Breaking into his house, removing all his belongings, and then hiding the truck that contained those belongings, was wrongdoing. It was my sin.

    When I confessed my sin to the ubf community, first privately, then with a few leaders, then with the Toledo chapter, I was met with a strong dose of the “cover it up” theology. I was told not to stir the pot. Why bring about trouble from so long ago? I was met with apathy. Who cares? This left me more and more agitated. If there is any reason I resigned my position as a ubf director, it was the way this event was handled.

    What happened when I confessed my sin on ubfriends? Note that I did so on May 14, 2011. This is *before* I left ubf. I resigned on 7/4/2011 and officially left forever in December 2011 after my open letters. When I confessed my sin publicly, to the ubfriends community that was just getting started, I found the joy of forgiveness!

    Reading the comments to my article left me in tears. Waves of light and love and life flooded over my soul. Finally I was cleansed. And now I am free. Yes the event is still there for anyone to read. But now my sin is covered over. I am not yoked by the burden of that sin anymore.

    Then I was able to forgive myself. Later I wrote a poem about how it felt to come into the light.

    So I ask again, can it be said that we love the light?

    Some related Scriptures that come to mind and deserve more discussion are these: 1 Peter 2:16, 1 Peter 4:7-9, Luke 12:1-3, Psalm 32:5, Proverbs 17:8-10

  5. On the use of “the English” above, it would be graded as High Intermediate. Not bad, but a bit embarassing for someone who has been in the US for a while. One of the consistent problems is that individuals feel compelled to be “in control” and do not learn particular lessons well.

    It’s VERY interesting to me to see Forest’s version of Jim R’s testimony. That’s the most info I’ve ever heard from it and reflects brokenness and healing. It reminds me again that the UBF culture “puppets” positive examples of native shepherds instead of really acknowledging them and valuing them. In fact, I’m pretty sure a very small percentage of UBF leadership knows the difference.

    Forests, was the “Augustine Suh” the one who was in St. Louis for a number of years?

    • forestsfailyou

      Yes. I cannot extoll high enough praised for him. Brilliant, humble, and kind- a great husband and father. He left shortly before I came to St. Louis, but I met him last year on the day I left for the Philippines.

    • Forests, is he in Chicago? He is a bright light in the UBF Conundrum.

    • forestsfailyou

      Yes. He moved to Chicago. He was employed as a seminary professor in St. Louis but then UBF hired him to teach classes to UBF pastors. So he gives online church history classes and produces material for leaders.

  6. Note, I meant to write, “to see Forest’s version of Jim R’s testimony compared to the UBF report.”

  7. forestsfailyou

    Here is the Ron Ward quote:

    “One challenge: developing a Christ-centered, loving Christian community. Or stated differently, “practice what you preach.” As we have experienced the transition from a modern to a post-modern culture, the mindset of young people has changed. They no longer trust authority figures easily, nor do they accept philosophies that seek to explain the world around them in comprehensive terms. They have been disappointed by theories that sound good but end in disaster. They want to experience the reality of a message and test its integrity. After hearing the gospel message, they want to know the character of leaders and relate to them personally. So, we need to be deeply concerned about the character and integrity of our leaders. As Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life for others, so UBF leaders should follow Jesus in self-sacrifice, service and genuine love. This is how Jesus laid a good foundation for the early church.”

  8. forestsfailyou

    Very interesting. The part that Ron Ward mentioned that I quoted in the initial article was either ad libbed, or purposefully omitted from the publication.

    • No surprises. Master manuscript writers, master editors.