What just happened here?

iLet’s cut to the chase. Let’s all take a step back and process what just happened here on ubfriends and at ubf the past several weeks. The main event that just happened in ubf is the election of the new General Director. In the past, the GD was just chosen by a few leaders, I mean “by God”. But now ubf has instituted a voting process. Not surprisingly, this vote has impacted our ubfriends virtual community. Here are the facts that I am aware of. Of course I am biased, so if you see something I don’t, please chime in an clarify in the comments. In order to correctly process Alan’s (aw) comments to me, we need to take a look at the context of that comment. That context begins with the recent election of the new ubf General Director.

After at least 10 years of thousands of hours of private conversations between Joe and many UBF leaders in Chicago and around the world, the President of UBF reaches out to Joe. This is what happened as far as I can tell.

Timeline of General Director Voting

3/1/15 – The President of UBF ignores the past 10 years and out of the blue, asks Joe to vote for the new General Director. Augustine Sohn, the President of UBF, asked Joe if he was still a ubf member and whether Joe would be voting for the next General Director of ubf in a second round of voting. The first round of voting by a small number of top-level ubf leaders had resulted in a tie between Isaac Kim in LA and Abraham T Kim in Chicago. So now the vote must go to the International Advisory Members (about 90 people) to see if either candidate gets a majority vote.

3/2/15 – Joe responds to Augustine and also shares his response in an open letter on ubfriends.

3/11/15 – News breaks about closing a ubf factory in Mexico
Mr. Rhee who is a ubf missionary, owns a sock factory in Mexico. He and 3 other ubf missionaries were detained by Mexican police and their factory shut down for a few weeks. It appears they were released later and the factory re-opened. The allegations were sexual abuse and worker abuse such as long hours, lacking benefits, lacking safety equipement and underage workers. This event had prevented Mr. Rhee from voting in the first round of General Director voting (his vote would have broken the first round tie). Hence, the need to ask more leaders (like Joe) at ubf to vote in a second round of voting.

3/12/15 – Around this time a second round of voting by about 90+ International Advisory Members (that would include Joe if he voted) finishes and neither candidate gets enough votes to confirm them as the next General Director. This means a third round of voting must happen. This is a “vote of confidence” to confirm whether the candidate with the most votes in round 2 gets to be confirmed. Since Abraham T Kim got the most votes (but not a majority) he is the only candidate in this third round of voting.

3/20/15 – The third round of voting determines that Abraham T Kim is elected as the new General Director

4/20/15 – Joe receives a private response from Augustine Sohn, the President of UBF

4/23/15 – Alan Wolff, the Vice President of UBF submits his response to Joe anonymously on ubfriends

4/24/15 – James Kim of New York UBF begins making comments on the anonymous letter
Using the name “mrkimmathclass” James’ first comment is “Best post ever!!!!”. James bulldozes the conversation into a discussion about whether ubf is a cult or a church with problems.

4/29/15 – Alan Wolff joins the conversation

Why Alan’s Comment Summarizes the Problems of ubf

I told Alan that his comment was a slap in the face. His response was “Sorry Brian, what I said what was not meant to be a slap in the face.”

This is a one-sentence snapshot that reveals why I call ubf a cult. Fix these three things and ubf will actually begin changing for the better.

There are many reasons why I say ubf is a cult. I plan to share those more organized thoughts in a follow-up article this week. For today, let’s process the following three concepts embodied by Alan’s simple comment to me.

– Rejecting the perspective of others

Cults dictate their own reality according to their own group narrative. Alan’s comment dismissed my perspective. His words about labels felt like a slap in the face. But he fails to acknowledge that my perspective has any value at all. This communicates to me that my views have no bearing on the discussion. If there is any pet-peeve of my time at ubf, it is that I was trained to dictate my reality. Instead of respect for other perspectives, I learned to force my ideas onto the facts around me. This is the most damaging aspect of ubf training. It is true that we all bring our own bias to any conversation. But it is harmful to create a KOPAHN ideology and then dictate that ideology onto every person and every situation. Christians respect the conscience and perspectives of other people. Respecting conscience is a significant theme in the bible. I see this respect is what Jesus did repeatedly in Scripture. To dismiss the view of someone is to demean their value as a human being. Is there any example of Jesus demeaning the value of a person or someone’s perspective?

– Writing anonymously

Cults give you a non-authentic identity. The need for ubf and ex-ubf people to remain anonymous is understandable, but also a red flag. It is a symptom of having lost your own identity and the ability to make your own decisions. It reflects a desire to be closed off from the outside word. It reflects a desire to hide. Christians do not hide. The gospel message is to be a light on a lampstand. The life of the Christian community is to be a city on a hill for all to see. Sure there are times when Christians may need to go underground. Is this a time when Christians should hide behind anonymous walls?

– Placing value on intention over fact

Cults ignore facts and teach you to figure out and accept the good intention behind whatever leader says or does. (insert Joe’s better thought on exerting yourself as a teacher/expert over other people) What matters to Alan is his intentions and not what he really said. This requires other people to constantly translate what a ubf person intends to say, not what they actually said. This contradicts our ubfriends idea of taking people at face value and not trying to figure out all the complexities of invisible intention. Christians look at the fruit of someone. Do we find any examples in Scripture where people’s intentions are validated when those intentions contradict the facts? Do we see examples of people of faith facing the facts of their lives?


  1. Hi Brian,

    I sincerely apologize for my words and actions that you find hurtful and offensive. That is truly not my intent. I know that I do have many blind spots and sins, and have a great deal more to learn.

    Believe it or not, I love and respect you, and I regard you as a brother in Christ.

    • Joe Schafer

      Alan, I will say this again: I appreciate you and your commitment to remain in dialogue on these difficult issues, even when it’s painful. And I appreciate Augustine as well. I do have some reactions to your letter that I will share soon. My reactions are primarily about your first few paragraphs, where you talk about church and the Body of Christ.

    • Hi Alan,

      I accept your apology. Thank you.

  2. HappyPinnky

    Oh my,

    Brian I think you are over analyzing. Seriously. Brian. Let’s admit it. You are all hurt and bitter.

    But let me tell ya, you’re not gonna heal this way. Go to a Jesus and reflect on your own mistakes and stop pointing your fingers on others.

    Your disease is that you are holding the bitterness for years and it’s killing you from within.
    I don’t you personally know u , but i don’t think I’m wrong.

    If you reflect long enough on Jesus grace, it will easy for you to forgive whether or not ubf apologized to u or not. I am sure for every apology ubf gives out you will call it slap in a face.

    Don’t waste your life like this.

    Have grace on Korean missionaries, whom god used to deliver good news to you. Let them to gods judgment.

    Start doing gods work, and u will find healing that way. I promise you. That is how I found healing when I got hurt.

    • Happypinky, you have just done what Brian’s article says that cults do: you demean the inherent value of Brian as a person created in God’s image. (See my comment below.) You do this right at the beginning (and throughout) by emphatically stating that Brian is hurt and bitter, as though you are God, who knows everything and whose judgement and wisdom is correct and perfect. Please rethink what you just wrote.

    • So:
      1. Brian’s bitterness is all his own fault.
      2. Brian ought to easily forgive easily whether bf apologizes or not.
      3. Brian is diseased and wasting his life “like this.”
      4. Brian ought to have grace of Korean missionaries whom God used
      5. Brian ought to start doing God’s work to find healing, you promise that.
      7. You said that you don’t know Brian, but you don’t think you’re wrong in your assumptions about him.

      If you really think that someone is hurt and bitter, is this how you treat them? One thing that is apparent about your assumptions about Brian is that they have nothing to do with Jesus. I wonder if you think that God considers people in this same way that you have considered Brian.

      Do you think God forgives easily, even though people do not ask for forgiveness?
      Do you think that he asks believers to ignore how we treat each other?
      Has God revealed, let’s say in Scripture, for example, that healing is found in doing God’s work?
      Is this model of forgiveness and grace the same that Jesus taught to his disciples?
      To whom did Jesus put the burden of reconciliation on, those who have something against another person, or the person someone has something against?

      Your thoughtless remark reminds me of this cartoon, also titled, “Helpful Advice”:

    • Ben you nailed it. And just for that, I am going to post an article soon called “Why I Love Westloop UBF!”.

      Charles, that cartoon is exactly spot on. Your friendship means the world to me!

      Happypinky, you claim that I am over-analyzing, hurt, bitter, diseased, unforgiving and unhealed. And yet I feel more discerning, complete, joyful, healthy, forgiving and healed than ever before!!!

      I count 7 commands you give me. What I learned on my journey is that my healing comes by disobeying every command spoken to me by a ubf missionary. So here is how I will disobey your 7 commands:

      Go to Jesus – I will go to my wife.

      Reflect on your own mistakes – I will reflect on the sins of ubf.

      Stop pointing your fingers – I will start exposing ubf more than before.

      Don’t waste your life – I will use my life all the more to love my self and be a family-centered man.

      Have grace on Korean missionaries – I will rebuke Korean missionaries all the more.

      Let them to gods judgment – I will leave them to the scrutiny of public opinion, such as Rick Ross’s twitter feed.

      Start doing gods work – I will stop doing gods work.

  3. Thanks Brian for writing this, though I think it might go over the head of some UBFers, who find such “human thinkings” distasteful, because it is “not Bible study.”

    As stated by others, a major problem with some/many in ubf is that they create their own narrative and perspectives. Then they impose it (usually implicitly) on others, as well as reject or dismiss the narrative and perspective of others.

    Joe gave an excellent example of a senior staff saying to him, “you are a typical Harvard graduate.” With such a rude ad hominem, anything Joe has to say is summarily dismissed and disregarded.

    With Brian, it is very sad when anyone labels him, demon, Satan, pig, hateful, bitter, etc, just because what Brian says challenges the typical narrative and perspective of ubf, which people in ubf are expected to conform to, accept and embrace.

    Even DavidW shared in a recent comment how some leaders regarded him as problematic the moment he began to bring up certain issues and problems, which they wish to ignore, forget about, or dismiss.

    As Brian’s article says, when you reject, dismiss, diminish, insult and ignore the perspective and opinion of others, you demean the inherent value of that person, created in God’s image, which God nor Jesus never ever does.

    Oh yes, Mr. Kim, you asked me several times whether or not UBF is a cult. I didn’t answer because it took me a while to catch up with the flurry of insightful comments. Also, I didn’t answer because I had already answered the question previously: http://www.ubfriends.org/2012/09/10/are-ubf-leaders-cult-leaders/

    • The narrative seems to be that UBF is the savior of people. So, since UBF saved you, they cannot ever be held accountable and must be shown unconditional forgiveness and grace.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Don’t you think that you should change the name of your church?
      You shouldn’t use the name ‘UBF’ while you are cursing at and criticizing.

    • yellowblossom

      We need dialogue like this! Oh I’m so happy I found this site. I wish we could have such freeing dialogue in my chapter instead of walking around like robots shouting every Sunday , let’s make America a Kingdom of Priests and holy nation”… As if we really know what that even means. I’m so tired of hearing how we will send 100,000 missionaries around the world , when only 3 students come to a worship service.

      I know God will take care…but if u really look closely, shouldn’t they have gotten the hint by now that what we r doing isn’t ever going to send 100,000 missionaries by 2041? And to send them to do what. Preach messages with dryness, lack of relate illite, and forceful discipleship training?

      One word: I am so tired, Jesus help us

    • yellowblossom,

      If or when you decide to leave, you should share this as your parting testimony. This is brilliant. I would love to see the look on people’s faces!

      “I know God will take care…but if u really look closely, shouldn’t they have gotten the hint by now that what we r doing isn’t ever going to send 100,000 missionaries by 2041? And to send them to do what. Preach messages with dryness, lack of relate illite, and forceful discipleship training? One word: I am so tired, Jesus help us”

      But seriously, if you or anyone needs help, please point people to my website:


      I tell my journey of recovery from undue religious influence on that website. I’ll send you a free copy of my 3 books that explain my processing of my 24 years there (from 1987 to 2011).

  4. HappyPinnky

    I gave my perspectives before and I have one now, and it has been dismissed and downplayed, and not respected. What I wrote is my perspective so please respect too.

    Let’s have some equality here.

    • Joe Schafer

      HappyPinky, we have provided this space (UBFriends) for you to freely post your opinions. We have not censored you in any way. We have read your comments carefully. Some of us have interacted with you and disagreed with you. Please explain in more detail the kind of response you would like, the kind that would make you feel you are being treated respectfully and fairly.

  5. HappyPinky,

    Brian and others don’t really care about UBF leaders’ weaknesses and flaws. We don’t care that you are lazy or even unintellectual or whatever, those are not fundamental. What this site has pointed out are the ways that many Christians were hurt in the UBF organization, to which the organization has not acknowledged. I think ultimately it is not our job to open your eyes to these things. UBFriends is limited in its power tremendously. It’s up to you to take the information here yourself and see if the factual allegations are true.

    I think UBFriends as a website has faithfully done its job, although very imperfectly, in trying to reach UBF members within. But ultimately this site is not responsible whether it’s successful or not.

    I have made many genuine attempts to reconcile with my shepherd and found it impossible. But it’s not my business to responsible for this.

    Beneath what may feel like an insulting tone, I hope somehow some things will feel relevant to you in the posts and articles, and with that you can decide yourself whether they are true or not.

    • Hi Peter, great thoughts!

      “It’s up to you to take the information here yourself and see if the factual allegations are true.”

      Correct. We are all adults here. We can make our own decisions. We can live our own lives. And here at this website, we can share what we want to share.

  6. I can’t figure out how to edit post – but I am curious what UBFrienders think. Is it our responsibility/are we accountable for convincing and openings the eyes of people we are trying to reach?

    • Joe Schafer

      How could we possibly take responsibility for that? It is impossible.

    • I personally had some feelings of responsibility at one point. I might’ve assumed others had similar feelings too.

    • Joe Schafer

      I do feel responsible for how I treat people. There have been times that I have treated people with disrespect, and I have apologized when I felt convicted. At other times I used harsh words or expressed strong opinions and people chided me for it, but I searched my heart and didn’t feel that it was wrong. Sometimes strong words are truthful and warranted. But if I do my best to express what I truly believe and readers reject my point of view, I cannot assume that it is because I failed.

    • Peter,

      What people are we trying to reach? This is just a website. I for one am not trying to reach anyone. I am trying to process what happened to me and to provide an open mic for people to share and process their own self narratives. I feel no responsibility to reach anyone with anything. I do feel that I should be myself and learn how to respect the viewpoints of others.

    • “Sometimes strong words are truthful and warranted. But if I do my best to express what I truly believe and readers reject my point of view, I cannot assume that it is because I failed. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/04/29/what-just-happened-here/#comment-17768

      Good thought Joe, this helps me to continue growing in my own self. After writing this article I felt as if something broke. Then I began to progressively feel really good. Maybe that was another chain falling off my soul.

      Thank you for your processing here. It has been immeasurably helpful to me. Please let me know if I have misrepresented anything in my article.

    • Yes this is just an internet forum. I think I assumed too much on posters when I said people are trying to reach people. In real life, off-line, this was certainly what I wanted in my personal conversations, and I failed. Online I tried to bring part of this with me too, in the few posts I made.

  7. Joe Schafer

    Traffic on UBFriends is near an all-time high. Mapview reports more than 1,950 visitors in the last seven days.

  8. mrkimmathclass

    I didn’t discuss about if ubf is cult or not.
    That was you guy’s thought. I wanted to know Ben Toh’s personal opinion. Don’t try to change things as you wanted. I ask you to take it off.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Because he was using ubf for his church name. Don’t manipulate.

    • Joe Schafer

      Why should Brian take this article down? It is what he truly believes. Brian was a UBF director. You are free to disagree with him and present your alternative viewpoint here. If your point of view is better or more compelling than Brian’s, then readers of UBFriends (many of whom are thoughtful, reasonable people) will agree with you.

    • mrkim,

      You said, “I ask you to take it off.”

      Ok I just took my shirt off. Now I’m going to listen to Taylor Swift and shake it off.

  9. mrkimmathclass

    But he shouldn’t lie and manipulate.

    It is pathetic. Very pathetic.

    It reminds me of his saying that he broke into a missionary’s house and stole something. Many years passed but he didn’t change much.

    • Joe Schafer

      No, Brian was told by Paul Hong to break in to his former director’s house, and he obeyed. He didn’t steal anything.


      Brian confessed and publicly apologized and took full responsibility for what he did.

      Paul Hong still has not.

    • mrkimmathclass


      More pathetic.
      You said he took full responsibility for what he did.
      I said his character didn’t change much since then. His manipulation, lie and etc. Actually not only him. All human beings are the same. Our personality and character don’t change much even though we repent our sins. In that sense, I can understand him.

    • Joe Schafer

      I have known Brian for a long time. Especially over the last five years, through his interaction with me on UBFriends. He has changed a great deal. This website is am irrefutable archive of how much Brian has changed. Did you read Brian’s confession from 2011? It was a watershed event in his life, and in mine. For the first time, he admitted to the world something terrible that he did because of his loyalty to UBF. That blind obedience to Paul Hong was exactly the kind of thing that a cult member would do.

    • Joe Schafer

      I’m so glad that you brought this up. There are many hundreds of silent readers of UBFriends around the world. Many of them have not read Brian’s article from 2011, written when he was still a UBF chapter director. Now these silent readers can look at it and judge for themselves.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Yes, he could repent of his sin. I agree.
      What I am saying is that his character of lie, manipulation and etc. doesn’t change much. That is why he also wrote down as he wanted even though it is not true.

    • Joe Schafer

      What in Brian’s account is not true? Be specific. If Brian is lying to me, I want to know.

      Also, I hope the silent readers of UBFriends will also read Ben Toh’s confession.


    • mrkimmathclass

      I will write it again.

      I didn’t discuss about if ubf is cult or not.
      That was you guy’s thought. I wanted to know Ben Toh’s personal opinion. Don’t try to change things as you wanted. I ask you to take it off.

      And he said, he took off his shirt.

    • mrkimmathclass

      You said that he stole because of loyalty to ubf. Do you think anybody will believe that?
      In my whole life, I have never been asked by any shepherd or missionaries to do wrong things or sins. Even though they ask, I wouldn’t do that. I am not that stupid. Who would do that? Even ten year old boy or girls wouldn’t do that. Isn’t that too much?

    • Speaking of lies and manipulation:

      mrkim, here are the accounts from James J. and Rebecca B. Kim, whose house Brian broke into. Please read them and compare with Brian’s story.

      James J. Kim’s letter: http://www.priestlynation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/JamesKim2001.pdf
      Rebecca Kim’s Letter: http://exubf.blogspot.com/2007/05/rebecca-b-kim.html
      Brian’s Confession: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/05/14/my-confession/

      Here’s an excerpt from James’s letter:

      “He would go down in history as the one who successfully collaborated with D. Lee in chasing James Kim out from Toledo like a dog and subsequently discrediting him and picturing him as a rebel and self-centered man, Satan or whatever D. Lee wanted to depict James Kim as. I still vividly remember how he persuaded Toledo brothers to break into my 1824 Kensington home on one cold winter day of February of 1990 in Toledo in order to carry everything we owned into an 18-wheeler truck. The driver of the truck was Paul Hong’s sheep, Alex, a Middle Eastern man. At that time, my family was down to Houston to look for a rented house.”

    • Joe Schafer

      Please read my words. I said that Brian didn’t steal anything. Brian’s account of what happened in 1990 is credible and was supported by multiple witnesses, including James Kim, Rebekah Kim and other UBF members involved.

  10. mrkimmathclass

    Ben Toh,

    Don’t you think you should change your church’s name?
    Why should you continue to use the name you curse and criticize?

    • MrKim, you mentioned twice that I “curse and criticize.” Honestly, I have no idea what you are talking about.

      By God’s grace I’ve stopped cursing since I became a Christian in 1980. Before that I swore daily throughout the day with F bombs almost constantly. So when you accuse me of cursing twice, I’m really wondering what I am cursing??

    • mrkimmathclass

      Doing twice was my mistake. Because in the phone, I couldn’t find the proper location.

      You said you didn’t curse and criticize UBF. But what you mention about ubf is the same thing. If you say, you sound only sneakier. Everybody knows how you commented about ubf, mentioning cult. Isn’t it cursing and criticizing.

      I wonder why you keep the name ubf for your church. Could you explain about it?

  11. mrkimmathclass, does being a person in UBF mean that that person cannot criticize UBF? Is there no place for it?

    Do you think Paul should have distanced himself from the churches he wrote to? His epistles contain some tough criticisms. Should he not have written to the churches as he did? Was Jesus’ criticism of the people of his day wrong? Should he have distanced himself from the Messianic work he was doing? Ben has been a lot nicer than Paul or Jesus at times.

    You’re a very forthcoming person. I’d love to hear of a time when you spoke so brazenly to other senior people in UBF, particularly Korean missionaries.

  12. Mrkimmathclass, as a UBF member, we need to admit that we do have many things to address. If what this website has to offer is to expose these things and even offer how we can do so, I think we can see it more as a constructive way to deal with it in our own ministries and lives, not taking it as an attack to fight against the people posting.
    I know that many people come to this website and some are surprised to hear what is written, but many of the issues are real and need to be addressed so that we can build trust and accountability and a better church. No church and no person is perfect.

    • jdkim, I am glad we got to meet in person and I very much appreciate your interactions here in the past. I know we had passionate discussions, but I want you to know that you are an example of Christ-likeness and I thank God for thank.

    • My apologies, jdkim, if you are not the j kim I met. Still I appreciate your words here. (How many James Kims are there at ubf?)

    • Hi Brian… I am Jacob Kim, a 2nd gen from Toledo, now Chicago. Although I didn’t really know you personally in Toledo, I’m sure you remember me and my family. Although it doesn’t really mean much coming from me, but I’m sorry for the hurt you have from past abuses in the church, but I’m glad you have found healing and new passion, and I really do believe that what you guys are doing is meaningful and beneficial.

    • Wow! Hi Jacob! Well then my comment stands even though I was talking about a different person!

      I saw you so many times but you were less than 5 years old. My family bought your old house on Kensington back when we were in Toledo. Grace and peace.

    • Joe Schafer

      Jacob, welcome. It’s extremely refreshing to be in dialogue with a second gen who doesn’t feel the need to remain anonymous. This is a very positive sign. May many more follow in your footsteps.

    • Howdy, Jacob. Thanks for your recent contributions here. If you’re down, we can meet up to chat some time. Grace and peace.

    • mrkimmathclass


      Didn’t we admit that we have many issues?
      When did I deny that?
      I am arguing with these people because of their attitude and how to call our entire ministry. Personal or individual experiences happened in some churches. But, you cannot apply those things to all the churches and conclude that we are cult. And I have seen some cases with my own eyes and they were lies and exaggerations. But, they don’t care about the truth. That kind of attitude I am talking about. As you said, no church is perfect and no person is perfect.

    • mrkim: “I am arguing with these people”

      And that’s the problem. I am trying NOT to argue with you. But you are making that very very difficult.

  13. btw, all you UBFriends are among the most thoughtful and erudite people that I come across.

  14. mrkimmathclaass,
    Although I don’t know you personally, I can guess that you are one of the korean lay missionaries who had devoted their lives to God through the ubf ministry. I will probably give my respect to you if I meet you personally because of your sacrificial and faithful devotion to God.
    I believe your passion is to love the Bible and teaching the Bible to collage students. I am totally guessing this based on my personal experience with many ubf missionaries including my family and friends. You might not be different from them. I can understand your anger and frustration when you get to know this site. I’d like to say two things to you if you don’t mind.

    First, people here who are talking to you had been like you. They had been lived faithful and sacrificial life in ubf for many years. They even defended ubf like you’re doing now. Then, you should know why they are writing things on ubfriends first before you judge them. Please listen to what they had seen, heard, and been treated in ubf.

    Second, think about how a christian should communicate with others whose opinions are different from him. You might be offended by ubfriends’ opinion. I believe true Christians will reflect Jesus and true Christianity when they are face to talk to people they don’t like. That really reveals who is in us. Rather than giving harsh and offensive comments including ‘biblical direction’ back to the offender because of your conviction, I hope you may listen to them, share your thoughts and agony. I believe they will listen to you as well. I think we are all learning this because ubf have never taught on this.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Don’t you teach Brian and others how to say and what to say?

    • No that would be Chris who taught us – the dark Sith lord who gave birth to the three-headed dragon …-. :)

  15. Mr. Kim, do I understand you correctly? You ask Ben to not use the name “UBF” for his church any more, because he started opposing cult-like methods, abuse, authoritarianism, bad theology and lack of accountability, tries to avoid them in his local ministry, while keeping the good things he appreciated in UBF? What’s so bad about that? Can you only have the name “UBF” when you cover up abuse and follow the Samuel Lee heritage of authoritarian mind control? Is this what constitutes the label “UBF” in your view?

    I believe ministries and churches can change and should change, just like individual people can and should change. The reformers in the history of UBF had that hope for UBF. They wanted to reform and transform UBF, but they were expelled, in all three reform movements. Therefore, many of us have given up that hope for UBF, but Ben is still having it, and the example he sets is really the only hope for UBF. Without repentance and radical change, UBF stays a cult. No matter how much you hate that word, people everywhere in the world including in my country Germany know UBF as a cult, and it has been labelled as such since the 1980s, for legitimate reasons. Start reading testimonies on this website and others, then you will start understanding the reasons and what we’re talking about.

    • Just to clarify: The first reports clearly showing cult symptoms were already from the 1970s in Korea. When I wrote 1980s I meant the first accounts I found in Germany. This was before I joined UBF. So it is not just “us guys” who are having these ideas. I have been in UBF mainly in the 1990s and throughout that time, UBF chapters in Germany clearly operated like cults. After leaving UBF and reading books from cult experts and dropouts of other cults, I could only come to the conclusion that UBF was very much like all these other examples of cults. Yes, I know, the word “cult” is not very well-defined, and there are better or more precise terms such as “mind control group”, “high pressure group” or “totalist aberrant Christian organizations” (please read this if you haven’t heard that term). Still everybody knows pretty well what constitutes a cult, so it’s ok to use the word in a broad sense.

    • Thanks for linking that article Chris. That is an excellent read and highly relevant to what we’ve been discussing.

      The Other Side of Discipleship

  16. HappyPinnky

    Sometimes I feel like that when you talk to some people here, it is akin to talking to conspiracy theorists. Just a thought.

    “btw, all you UBFriends are among the most thoughtful and erudite people that I come across.”

    So this a praise bomb, please explain.

    Anyway, my general question to you all is. ubf is changing and it has changed a lot in some chapters, I cant speak for all chapters. Some chapters have changed way too much, and not in a good way.

    So why are you guys putting forth same criticism over and over again. Don’t you think this is a disease? If you’d don’t believe me should we consult psychologists?

    Many of criticism are valid, but you talk about them as if we on inside don’t know and don’t do anything about it.

    I personally believe that it will not be possible to appease the some of critics here.

    Once you start appeasing Brian, he will keep on demanding us to espouse homos and transsexuals lifestyle.

    Joe shafer will start demanding that we get rid of Chicago statement of

    • “Anyway, my general question to you all is. ubf is changing and it has changed a lot in some chapters, I cant speak for all chapters. Some chapters have changed way too much, and not in a good way. So why are you guys putting forth same criticism over and over again.”

      Because Christianity is not about outward change, but repentance of sin. And repentance of sin includes first and foremost the admittance and confession of sin. So what we are missing is corporate repentance. It’s over 50 years now and we have still not seen any official admittance of its wrongdoins. UBF must clearly name and frame what exactly was wrong and what and wny and how they want to change it, instead of sneakingly making some changes here and there while never officially admitting they had anything done wrong in the first place. By the way, I would expect and demand that admission of wrongdoings in the past also from secular organizations or entities. Everybody understands this, for instance when people demand from Turkey to process their past and acknowledge the Armenian genocide. Turks could also argue, why do you keep talking about this? It’s a thing of the past! We have changed so much since then! But no, it’s unhealthy for Turkey to not process its own past and admit its own wrongoings and instead concentrating on the glorious heritage of the Ottoman empire. Anyway, the point is that UBF wants to be a church that teaches the Bible. And what does the Bible say? Repent, and believe in the gospel! If UBF does not follow that teaching regarding itself, it has lost all credibility and right to exist. Don’t you understand this?

    • Happypinnky,

      The difference between the praise bomb of jdkim and that of mrkimmathclass is that jdkim expressed himself and explained more details in his prior comment: “I know that many people come to this website and some are surprised to hear what is written, but many of the issues are real and need to be addressed so that we can build trust and accountability and a better church. No church and no person is perfect.”

      mrkim’s first comments here were more of a drive-by-praise bomb followed by many hate bombs. I respect jdkim way more.

    • Happypinnky, I have read many of the articles and comments and I feel they are very thoughtful and well supported based on theology and church history and reason. Some may no longer participate in UBF currently, but that doesn’t mean that their view is not without merit. Maybe it does not paint an accurate picture of your ministry or about UBF in your experience.
      As a UBF member, I feel like our first response is a feeling of this is not all true (of my experience) and this is a bad influence to people who come and see these things. Many who have come here have questioned UBF’s integrity. Some have even been discouraged to participate in UBF and left. When this happens, we blame the writers of this website or others. We take things very personally and become filled with bitterness. I have also experienced friends who struggled with the issues brought forth. I have seen new students come to our church and suddenly leave after reading these websites and questioning our ministry. You can’t really escape it, and UBF has mostly ignored public dialogue. I’m really happy for the recent response, as well as the non-public efforts made and being made.
      You say UBFriends are bitter and wounded, but I think we need to also examine our own hearts. We are hurt and take offense by their effects and our responses reflect this as well.
      I believe they are sincere brothers in Christ. I just hope that as a church we can respond to these with understanding, respect, and opportunity to become a better church.

  17. HappyPinnky


    On in my experience, their criticisms and the way they were expressing their criticisms were not edifying at all.

    On the opposite they helped me to ignore the good and only see the bad and planted hatred in my heart.

    That is why ubf people call this the work of devil.

  18. HappyPinnky

    1. What you say is important

    2. How you say it and when you say it is also very important

    Ubfriends have excelled in the first one and failed in the second one.

  19. Joe Schafer

    “Joe shafer will start demanding that we get rid of Chicago statement of Innerancy [sic]”

    UBF does not ascribe to the Chicago Statement and never has. The UBF Statement of Belief states “3.We believe that the Bible is inspired by God…” which I happen to agree with.

    HappyPinky raises an interesting question. What do I want?

    There are many people who were hurt by UBF over the last five decades. Was this intentional? Probably not. But the damage is real. I would like these wrongs to be made right, to the extent that they can be, to repair the damage so that love and grace may flow. I would like to see repentance and (God willing) reconciliation taking place in visible ways. That cannot happen unless the wrongs are acknowledged not just by some individuals but embraced by the community as a whole, so that community repentance and renewal becomes an integral part of the story that UBF tells about itself. And I would like the friends and acquaintances of mine who are still in UBF to be fully freed to become the beautiful people that they are, the beautiful people that God made them to be, without being hindered anymore by silly politics and social pressures. I would love for UBFriends to become a place where people have theologically meaningful, transformative interactions that help us all to understand what the gospel. Believe it or not, that has happened, and it is still happening now, even though HappyPinky does not see it. The last article posted by DawidW (the one just before this one) is a wonderful example of this. HappyPinky, you didn’t comment on that article. Did you even read it? Did it edify you at all? Or did it plant hatred in your heart?

    I lost count of how many articles I have written for UBFriends over the last five years. Most of them are not primarily about UBF, but about the gospel, Scripture, mission and church. Their tone is positive and constructive. Writing those articles and discussing them with many people on this website (many of whom are still in UBF) was a life transforming experience for me. I would like that to happen to others as well.

    HappyPinky, if that is the work of the devil, then the devil is very stupid.

  20. Joe Schafer

    “2. How you say it and when you say it is also very important”

    HappyPinky, please instruct me. Take any one of the many articles that I have published here, and show me how, when and where I should have said it. I am open to your correction.

  21. mrkimmathclass,

    I love you. You are welcome to comment here now and in the future. We won’t ban you but will continue to listen to you and to ask you questions. I’ve got a feeling that you are going to need an online community one day. You are welcome here.

  22. Joe Schafer


    I love you too and will listen carefully to whatever you say.

    And you are welcome to correct me as well. If you think I am not telling the truth, or if you think I am not communicating properly, take any one of the many articles that I have published here, and show me how, when and where I should have said it.

  23. HappyPinnky

    Jd kim

    What do you think makes them are sincere brothers in Christ.

    You accept their label as a cult member since you are in ubf, yet you think somehow you are brother in Christ?

    If someone openly espouses homosexual lifestyle, which is clearly contrary to biblical teaching, they are still your brother in Christ?

    Are you just saying this to sound nice and loving or do you really mean it?

    Don’t you think that only 4 members regularly post here, is a sign that something is also wrong with these members and site? They will assert its because of ubf persecution they might face.

    That’s is why I say that arguing with some of them is like arguing with conspiracy theorists.

    And as someone who temporary left ubf, I know of many who left in bitterness and pain.

    And I can say that many of those who left owe sincere repentance and apologies for how they have treated some people within and ways in which they left.

    So to be fair, why not encourage all ex ubf members to come up with official lists of their repentance towards missionaries and brothers and sisters in Christ.

    So maybe Brian and Chris and Joe can work on recruiting all the letters of apology from ex ubf members, and those who are inside can work together to promote official declaration of repentance of UBF? Sounds fair right.

    Apor are we wiling to buy into idea that it only the ubf that should repent?
    Blame the system right?

    Can we also to be fair talk about some of horrendous things that ex ubf members have done to their local chapters and missionaries as well. Well I know some like Brian and Joe and Ben have done that. But would you be willing to go extra mile and call up missionaries or Sheperd you have wronged in ubf and go to them individually and repent special fiscally of the sins you have committed. Please don’t tell me you have not wronged them in anyway.

    I want to see not just one way repentance but but both way.

    • HappyPinnky, although I was raised in UBF as a 2nd gen, at one point I left the faith and did not believe in God for several years. I came back to faith through loving relationships I had with other Christians in UBF and through reflecting on and accepting the Gospel and the word of God newly. Although only God knows people’s hearts, I believe that UBFriends are sincere brothers and sisters in Christ and not unbelievers as I was.
      I will let Brian speak for himself regarding “espousing homosexual lifestyle”, but I believe he is misunderstood in the same way Jesus was misunderstood for commiserating with sinners and tax collectors.
      Regarding cult status. There are seriously destructive practices that cults are known for, and to the degree that UBF committed these in its history and from it’s practices is the reason why we are on several cult watch lists. No, I do not consider UBF a cult, but the facts should be concerning to us.

    • Well said, Jacob.

      HappyPinnky, you wrote: “Blame the system right?” Correct. And also blame the enablers of the system such as myself in the past.

    • “Can we also to be fair talk about some of horrendous things that ex ubf members have done to their local chapters and missionaries as well.”

      Such as what? WTF?

    • Joe Schafer

      HappyPinky, I encourage you to start a website to document all the horrendous things that ex-members have done to UBF. I will gladly read and comment sometimes. I’ll even suggest a name: UBFrenemies.org

  24. HappyPinnky


    By the way, my reference was not to articles. Yes, your articles especially have been very thought provoking and that is why I liked to come back be a regular reader.

    Brian, and Ben have contributed excellent articles.

    What I’m referring to mainly is the conversation part.

    I have no problem whatespverbwith articles on most part, that is what makes me want to come back.

    • Joe Schafer

      Articles and comments are not the same, and they don’t need to be held to the same standard. Comments are off the cuff, less formal, more immediate, more conversational, more emotional. Some of them are just thinking out loud. Conventions that I use in personal conversation (hyperbole, sarcasm, irony, humor, etc.) appear more frequently in comments too. I hope you can make allowance for that.

  25. Mark Mederich

    “the degree that UBF committed these in its history and from it’s practices is the reason why we are on several cult watch lists”: borderline?-like the personality disorder:) gotta keep an eye, ’cause if it looks like/scurries like a rat-it mayyy beee a ratttt:(

  26. HappyPinnky


    That is the answer I expected. So u did not bother to ask misionaries about their pain caused my abnormalities of those who have left? Right? ” such as what” after you begins lease for 20 years, I would expect you to know wrongdoings on broth sides? If you want to cuss, you can do it straightforward. What the fuck? Is that what you wanted to say to me?
    The fact that you don’t know any of the bad practices committed by some of those who left, is a problem.

    It tells me once a person who left, that you are deciding to take a very one sided view.

    And please do not ignore my comments that I put forth to you in other section. It’s very unloving.

    • “And please do not ignore my comments that I put forth to you in other section. It’s very unloving.”

      My ignoring your rhetorical questions that show you refuse to process my article is not being unloving, it is being non-combative.

  27. HappyPinnky


    My challenge to you is serious,

    I dare you to think of all the wrongdoing you have done to ubf people before, and you seem to be very good at remembering this and even about people on the other side of continents, and why don’t you go to them and give your apology to them. Same challenge to you Brian.

    I think the oriental missionaries and cultish ubfers will be touched and do the same to you, thus culminating to the official ubf genuine repentance.

    You can start with an example. I’m sure whether

    And please Brian, don’t tell me such as what?

    • Joe Schafer

      Please enlighten me. A sinner is blind to his sins and needs someone to open his eyes. Me David, you Nathan. Go for it. Tell me what I did, and I will listen very respectfully.

    • HappyPinnky

      Are you guys serious? Or this a joke?

      At least some ubf people were willing to go out and seek out people and apologize.

      You don’t bother doing that.

      Joe, I really did not expect such immaturish answer from Harvard graduate.

      Brian, the comments I put forth to you are serious.

      Since you are earning a phd on ubf bashing, it will be good for you to think about what I wrote as well. It will make bashing all more credible.

    • Joe Schafer

      100% serious. Enlighten me, not by invective but in a calm, intelligent way that opens my eyes and helps me to realize my sin.

    • Mark Mederich

      I like that: we shall get honorary PhD’s as bashers..:)

  28. This is an appropriate comment from the original article, which more or less is sharing and experiencing what many on ubfriends have been saying repeatedly:

    I, too, experienced spiritual abuse. I followed the Matthew 18 guideline in how to deal with a brother in sin and was met with a refusal to acknowledge or take responsibility for personal sin.

    Since it was with a pastor and there was an attitude among the leaders that pastors are God’s annointed and should be protected, the other leaders refused to hold him accountable. Therefore, the way they chose to deal with the situation was to make the victim the problem. What followed were incredibly hurtful meetings. After 30 years there (many in leadership), my husband and I quietly left. Without explanation so as not be divisive. Four years later, I am still unable to attend another church.

    When spiritual authority that is charged by scripture to love, protect and care for the flock instead uses its authority for selfish reasons and covers sin, the affect on the victim is devastating.

    Church members have a right expectation to be treated fairly and lovingly. When instead they are abused, there is confusion, resentment and, most of all, a loss of trust that naturally follows.

    Spiritual abuse is real and a serious problem. What makes it worse is church members refusing to consider that something this serious is happening in their midst and their leaders are behaving as humans (sinners) who need to be held accountable. Only when the church is willing to get involved and recognize and confront sin will this problem begin to resolve.
    Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/what-not-say-someone-who-has-been-hurt-church#21tMKvKBvLmh6Z21.99

    • oops I posted this with the wrong article!

    • Good thoughts, but I highly and strongly recommend against this approach:

      “After 30 years there (many in leadership), my husband and I quietly left.”

      Leaving silently does not help you to heal, generally. Of course everyone is different but I find that my healing is my better when I become vocal and visible. That way I find others who share my story.

      I say leave in the LOUDEST MOST VISIBLE manner possible! Rock the boat. Sink the boat. Do whatever you feel. Let your emotions guide you because emotions are a gift from God. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. Anger is not a sin (holding onto anger is a sin).

      My journey has been a search for validity of my genuine emotions, conscience and knowledge and a desire for accountability where there is none in leadership.

      This is what I wrote several years ago. I am so glad I left by making a lot of noise and documenting everything so that I can return to it and others may learn from it:

      –A search for validity

      Along this journey, I have discovered things that convince me UBF is a cult. But this does not mean I think everything in UBF is (or was) invalid. Some things in UBF continue to be valid. Finding salvation, my marriage, my friendships: these are all valid.

      –A search for accountability

      Another purpose God has put on my heart is accountability. Who would dare attempt to hold Korean UBF missionaries accountable? Quite a few have tried, but were portrayed as “rebels” or “unGodly”. Those who tried to reform UBF and hold leaders there accountable were far more ambitious than I ever will be. I am like a small guppy swimming in a tank of sharks and whales! Who can hold leaders accountable? God can. My blogging here is to speak the words people in UBF are afraid or unwilling to speak; to ask the tough questions no one in UBF wants asked. All this I do in love and hope and in prayer that the dark side of UBF may be transformed and made into a vessel useful to God.”

  29. I don’t think that UBFriends posters are just making the same criticism over again in light of change on UBFs part. In my opinion the issues addressed are more related to sin covered up and people being really hurt, things which may only be solved through revisiting these things. I don’t want to mention specifics of “abuses”. They are heavy and are well over this site. These are not just “criticisms”. They are things which should make us sit down and ask “what’s going on?”

    And also, UBFriends will never be perfect. The posters here will never be 100% perfect. And I don’t feel that I can claim to be better than someone in UBF. I was in UBF too. But you can still learn from what is said here and I hope readers really do.

  30. Another thing, following the theme of “What just happened here.”

    A korean missionary posted about 20-50 times before, finally, writing a sincere post that said, he honestly didn’t understand why people are discussing/complaining/criticizing UBF on this website.

    It’s amazing that it took so many hurtful, insulting, blasphemous, angry (remember what Jesus said about anger!) words to finally sit down and say, listen guys, I don’t even begin to understand where you are coming from.

    There is a reason so many missionaries and leaders just don’t have any idea where we’re coming from.

    This is quite a pattern, which is the very reason why we bring the issues up. They are indicative of a very deep sickness, and if the issue is not singled out, it will continue to spread and cause more sickness.

    • Joe Schafer

      MattC, because you are still “in” UBF (whatever that means) to some degree, and you are thinking and writing and saying things like this, and because you are trying to speak honestly to the missionaries, I have a question.

      Do they respond to you honestly? Do they tell you what they actually think of you and your views? Or do they dance around it?

      What I found, especially with the UBF senior staff, is that they almost never leveled with me. There were a few brief flashes of honesty (I can share some of those later) but 95% of the time they held their tongues and did not actually open up to say what they really thought of me and my ideas. It would have been better for them to just go ahead and blast me, because then at least we would have some semblance of human-to-human communication. Instead, they tried to act nice, holding back their true thoughts and emotions. Then then engaged in lots of passive-aggressive behavior to drive me away, without admitting to themselves or anyone that this is what they were actually doing.

      In my opinion, it would have been healthier and more Christlike for them to just be honest and blow up at me.