Another John 10 Testimony

Recently someone shared a quote with me

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them they should have behaved better.” It is in the same vein as Chesterton’s quote on publication. Chesterton was a journalist first, so this quote carries a lot of authority with it

“In matters of truth the fact that you don’t want to publish something is, nine times out of ten, a proof that you ought to publish it.”
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With that in mind I would like you show you something I never planned on publishing. What follows is my “revised” testimony on John 10. John 10, if you recall, is the chapter where Jesus says he is the good shepherd. UBF is all about this chapter, and it is frequently used to solicit what I will call a “shepherd’s confession”. In this confession the person dedicates himself fully to being a shepherd to God’s people which sounds good. In reality the phrase means one dedicates themselves fully to UBF. There is no concept of fulfilling this shepherd calling in any other way. When I wrote my first testimony for John 10 (which was published here) I made sure to explain that Jesus is my shepherd and he will guide me, and secondly it is dangerous to take the shepherd metaphor too literally, and too far. I was told that my testimony was not enough about Jesus. I was told that I had “controversial ideas”. My ideas were compared to Stephan Hawking’s atheist responses to religion. With that in mind I wrote the following masterpiece.

 

John chapter 10 is about Jesus the good Shepherd. In this passage Jesus explains he is the good shepherd. Jesus protects us and takes care of us and keeps us from straying. He punishes the stubborn sheep to put them back in line. I once heard of a story of Dr. Samuel Lee who would help correct his sheep by dropping them off far away from the Chicago main center so they could learn the humility of Christ when they walked back. In this way he was a shepherd. Jesus is the gate and the only way to obtain salvation. Salvation comes only though a personal relationship with Jesus. No head knowledge is needed and it will hinder and harm a perfect walk with Christ. As Cs Lewis says “[theology] is a way, not the safest way.” In fact the Phrassies were very knowledgeable. Jesus the Shepherd wants his sheep to obey their shepherd. Jesus lays down his life for his sheep and then comes back from the dead as he is given authority to do. This is the basic premise of the passage. But what does this mean for me? It means I need to learn obedience to God’s shepherd. It means I need to accept the idea that I am to be a shepherd otherwise I cannot be sure that I will do what God strenuously desires for my soul. It means that I must be like Jesus. And who was Jesus? He was a shepherd. Since he was a shepherd I must be a shepherd. How did Christ love us? He died for us, but more importantly he made disciples and fed God’s flock. I must do the same. Otherwise I am worthless. “Woe to me if I don’t preach the gospel.” This spiritual milk, this line of reasoning, is needed to help my weak and immature heart. It is necessary to understand my role as God’s kingdom worker.

If I don’t feed God’s sheep I have no mission in my life. If I don’t feed God’s sheep I have only a worldly purpose. Christ wants everything from me. To him no half measures are any good. In perfect obedience to Him and his servants must I be otherwise I will be dead in my purpose. If I do not take up his yoke of raising disciples in accordance to Mat 23:19 I am nothing. I may as well give all I possess to the poor and surrender myself to the flames because I have not the love of Christ in my heart. My worldly pursuits and secular interests take away from the time that I could spend serving God in obedience making disciples and reading the bible. My interests cannot be divided. My key verse for this year even says as much “I would like you to be free from concern an unmarried man is concerned with the Lord’s affairs how can he please the Lord.” I pray that I can be a shepherd like Jesus.

 

The confusion ran high after this. It was not presented and I have not since had my testimonies edited. I guess I made my point.

14 comments

  1. I remember you mentioned this once.

    I have been warned that most Koreans have very little grasp on how to manage sarcasm effectively.

    For me, what you say is definitely a representation of the collectively accepted and deferred-to idea of what a shepherd is in UBF. However, most of the people who really need to see what you wrote are, in their own minds, blind to the fact that they are supporting such an abusive, authoritarian and narcissistic culture.

    Recently I have been engaged with two missionaries in my chapter who would be considered in charge, and in being honest, pointed, insistent and determined to speak the truth, it has caused far deeper consternation, though perhaps just as much confusion and lack of interaction as your testimony.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I mean, sometimes I just get tired of being pointed and insistent. Especially when people just don’t get it. When I have explained very clearly that I am not going to do something- or something is not right, and have a person agree with me, but then ignore everything I say by their actions I am at a loss.

      I will say though that after this things changed a lot. I think the person this was written for realized that he couldn’t accept me on someone else’s terms. In the several months since this was written our relationship has become much better. With maybe 1 exception we have had no disagreement or argument.

    • “In the several months since this was written our relationship has become much better. With maybe 1 exception we have had no disagreement or argument” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/04/13/another-john-10-testimony/#comment-17419

      I’m not convinced that the removal of disagreement equates to a healthy relationship. That may mean you have reached a certain “chi” partnership, sort of an agree-to-disagree, I-leave-you-alone, you-leave-me-alone type of tension.

      I’m not convinced this is the kind of tension the gospel calls us to walk into. Maybe you could explain more about this relationship dynamic forests? Is this indeed a healthy relationship?

  2. “The confusion ran high after this.”

    That’s not surprising. The ubf people were confused by your thoughts. I must admit that I too am confused. I’m confused by your article, forests, and cannot comprehend what your point is. Perhaps you are using multiple layers of reverse psychology? Maybe you are trying to hold up a mirror to the ubf people? Maybe you are pretending to be “sold out to shepherding” as a means of exposing how dangerous shepherding is? Would you explain your thoughts here a bit more?

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      So when I gave my testimony I was told it wasn’t about Jesus, so I edited it and talked more about Jesus, then I was told it was controversial. Since it seems like they wanted to hear certain things, I just wrote everything they could want to hear.

      My point was, that I can write cloned stuff too. I can write just like Samuel Lee if I want to. I have read enough of his stuff to fake a SL mask too.

      Is this what people really want? Once this was written there seemed to be a struggle in those who read it. On one hand it was something they wanted to hear, but on the other hand…something seemed wrong. It forcefully brought great clarity to what they were either intentionally, or unintentionally trying to do. And after that it was not attempted.

      I don’t think it’s possible to ever be sure that someone is being nice and pleasant to you without other motives. Maybe if you catch them lying or something, but I can’t read minds. I think it’s generally better to watch what people are doing. I like things around here much more these days. I have seen a departure from some of the old school ideas like praying for X missionaries/ bible teachers by 2050 and the KOPHN prayer. There is also more openness about people attending other fellowships and the like. There has been slight involvement with other churches and we will being having communion regularly.

  3. Forests….I thought about private messaging you about this first since I am reluctant to post, but recently I may have reason to make some contributions here depending or not. Can you answer for the benefit of all readers here? – Those who know you and those who don’t.

    I looked at both articles (original Sept 27, 2014). When did you revise and share privately this backlash and retaliation? For how long did it take you to come back at the chapter director after he compared you to Stephen Hawking?

    In the original I see a lot of thinking happening – which is good – but you already know that in UBF you are not supposed to think. Just blind obedience is required. We all see you did talk about Jesus, however, you did not practically reveal with examples how you would attempt to struggle to be more like the good shepherd…

    In this revised testimony I see a direct attack with examples of SL and comparisons to Pharisees with a heavy layer of sarcasm and hostility. In fact, it is not a testimony, but more an explosive and retaliatory forum. I am not discrediting you on this at all.

    But, I doubt that your points were sincerely recognized. I remember chatting with you and Brian a long while ago. I do not believe that your point was received. I also do not believe that the chapter director has granted you a new respect. Have you been given space? Of course, but are you of any lasting influence. Not likely. I have also stood my ground privately and publicly in the past many times and I was always “present” in UBF. That does not mean people look to you for long term leadership. They rather see you as rebellious and immature. It truly is a shame that the influence from Ben, Joe, Brian, Chris, etc….has been rejected.

    I believe all readers understand your emphasis that in UBF it is a shallow and one-dimensional path of experiencing Jesus, by being a shepherd…You well outlined the perceptions from both sides above. But, I must say, if UBF has not yet replied to Joe, so that he can publish and make an open dialogue as a result of his open letter, then it is quite unlikely that anyone of us can change little aspects of how UBF defines a mission centered life.

    It is difficult to make a discussion here since most of us agree that the lack of dimension for mission roles in UBF is exasperating.

    Shepherd = Bible teacher
    Bible teacher has no clear definition in UBF. One just accepts as many roles and hats as they can until they breakdown, divorce, alienate their children and families, lose their jobs…..

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I wrote this 30 minutes after I was compared. I was suppose to share that Sunday, but I wouldnt compromise what I thought. Since the goal seemed to be the shepherd’s confession, which I believe comes with too much extra biblical baggage I wondered what would happen if I just said “sure all those things are cool”. The stuff about SL wasn’t really mentioned, there was concern over the numerous mentions of obedience.

      These days I’m pretty apathetic to whether I am thought to be rebellious, immature, or what not. Jesus is the only person I want to please, if I stand with him and other stand against me its their problem not mine.

    • Thanks for sharing more details forests. Those details are helpful. So you rewrote on the spot essentially. This is helpful because it shows you were not taking many weeks to craft some callous response– you reacted as you felt compelled in the moment.

      I must say that is impressive. Your mind is brilliant, if not a bit devious! I love how you are processing these things in the present and reacting as prompted.

      This is a great quote you shared in this article: “In matters of truth the fact that you don’t want to publish something is, nine times out of ten, a proof that you ought to publish it.”

      That is exactly how I felt about my books at first. I wondered if I should make my life a literal open book. I am glad I did because every time I share my life narrative, I find more and more healing.

  4. Hi gc! Welcome back. Hope your journey is taking you to new and exciting places.

    “if UBF has not yet replied to Joe, so that he can publish and make an open dialogue as a result of his open letter, then it is quite unlikely that anyone of us can change little aspects of how UBF defines a mission centered life.”

    This is quite true. We should not expect any real change in regard to the ubf mission. The missionaries there have taken vows unto death to pass on the ubf heritage to their Korean children.

    Don’t be fooled. The “mission” of ubf is simply to provide a good life for Korean second gens (not a luxurious life, but a good life). Sometimes this works out and the 2nd gens wonder what all the fuss is about. Other times this mission fails miserably and the 2nd gens in that situation endure far more pain and suffering than I’ve experienced.

    Recently I received actual organization training (i.e. how to recruit, how to get people organized around a cause, etc.) I realized that the things I was learning line up nearly perfectly with the training I received at ubf. ubf has very little in common with a church and is very much a political recruiting system. They just use Christian concepts and the bible instead of a political agenda. Anyway, the recruiting training was eye-opening to say the least. I can see more and more clearly how far from Christian theology the KOPAHN recruiting system really is.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      The thing I like most about your books is that you can see a real change in your outlook from the first to last book. it’s like how the tone in “grief observed” changes.

    • Thanks forests. Writing out my own life narrative in the 3 books was highly cathartic for me. I am in the midst of 3 more books where I am working out my theology of lambheartedness.

  5. I have to say, GC’s and Brian’s and Forest’s points are full of truth.

    John 10 is the shepherd testimony passage, and they were trying to let you know that you were failing the test. As a result, they will put up with you, but not much more training or pressure, since you are disobedient.

    The truth is, anyone who criticizes Dr. Lee’s Ephod will not be granted influence. If they don’t consider you one of the ones rising, they will not take you seriously in a wide variety of matters.

    In my own recent forays into the struggle of being truthful, after I told my chapter director that I wasn’t sure I could consider serving God as I do when I have so many issues with the ministry, the response was, well, yes, if you have that many issues with our ministry, well then, I don’t see how you could serve here either.

    No attempt at reconciliation or setting wrongs to right. Just more Bible study, just more reflection writing. It’s truly beginning to show itself as an idol to me, as the followers of Gideon prostrated themselves before his ephod long after his death. God save us.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      the response was, well, yes, if you have that many issues with our ministry, well then, I don’t see how you could serve here either. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/04/13/another-john-10-testimony/#sthash.CsEjftNB.dpuf

      I had a similar conversation with the director in LA. The response I received was, “I guess the only option is for you to leave.” OR, imagine this, we could have explored another option, that of actually talking about the issues and working towards reconciliation and setting things right–I liked those words you used, Matt.

      A few weeks ago, a friend still at the chapter said that a missionary commented that my case wasn’t handled properly. Although I may not be there, the issues still are. There is still time to “handle” them properly. I stated many times that the issues I was presenting were not about me and personal injury, but about years and year of injury to many and for those who would be recruited in the future. But they didn’t believe me and told me I was just stressed out. Then it was announced I ran away. I’m so sick of the BS from UBF.

    • Somehow, they can only imagine that someone has problems because he has been hurt personally. They cannot imagine that people have problems because others are hurt, or because they are sick of living with lies and abuse of people and the Bible.

      And yes, a UBF members also told me how he spoke with one of the Korean top leaders, mentioning that he doesn’t like that everybody is called a “shepherd” and how he got the answer “then you can leave if you don’t like it”.