The Blessed Life

bBecause I have found myself in the unofficial, unsanctioned exit counselor role for ubf, people from ubf have contacted me for help at the rate of once per month. From January 2014 until now, exactly 17 people have reached out to me for some sort of assistance in processing their ubf lifestyle. One of the most comon themes is that ubf shepherds tell them that leaving ubf will bring about God’s curse, or at least will mean not having God’s blessing. The teaching is that if you stay you will be blessed, if you leave you lose that blessing. This is such a traumatic issue to deal with that many have been distraught. One young woman who contacted me last year was so depressed over this issue that she had thoughts of suicide and was seeking professional psychology help. She is much better now thanks to the mercy of many people. So today I want to share how blessed my life is after leaving ubf. I share these things not to brag, but to demonstrate my life as living proof that leaving ubf does not equate to losing God’s blessing. If anything, the norm I have seen from those who reach out to me is that after an initial period of turmoil, their lives become notably more blessed.


Words of Blessing from Scripture

A scan through the Holy Scriptures reveals the nature of God’s blessing.

Psalm 106:3 “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!” My process of leaving was spurred on by the injustice of my sin against the Kim family in 1990. My conscience was bothered more and more as I was told the forget about this event by ubf people. The more I sought relief from this pain of conscience, the more blessed I felt. Seeking justice opens a door to God’s blessing.

Isaiah 30:18 [The Lord Will Be Gracious] “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” I was told repeatedly to just wait on ubf leaders to change. But I saw no evidence of change, just a mere rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. So I decided to stop waiting on ubf leaders to change, and to wait on God to work His justice. Waiting on God is so much more blessed than waiting on change in an organization.

What does Jesus say?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that blessing is not about being “in” or “out” of some community. Blessing is the gift of God, bestowed upon both individuals and community.

In Matthew 5:1-12 Jesus tells us the kind of people God blesses. They are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the people who are insulted and persecuted. I am not going to claim to be great in these areas. I know I fall short. Yet it was these verses of blessing that comforted me so many times during my leaving process. Every time I thirsted for righteousness, sought to deepen my understanding of godly sorrow or strived to be pure and honest, I felt the hand of God’s blessing. This brought much persecution from ubf people who cared more about obedience and loyalty than righteousness or purity of heart. And that led me to be greatly blessed.

What is blessing?

I have discovered that ubf taught me a vending machine attitude toward blessing. Go to daily bread in the morning, get a blessing that Sunday. Write a glory-story testimony, get a blessing that Friday. But Jesus does not have such a pragmatic idea of blessing. Jesus says blessings are the kingdom of heaven, comfort, the earth, satisfaction, mercy, the ability to see God, and the children of God. Surely there are many pragmatic blessings, but Jesus invites us to gain the greater blessings. Before leaving I and my home chapter in Toledo went through several years of discord. There was no satisfcation or comfort. But I found these blessings poured out on us through my leaving process.

So then, God does not show favoritism. Being “in” ubf is no more special than being “out” of ubf. In fact, maybe we could drop the in/out dichotomy and say “at” ubf. Some, like Ben and forests, are at ubf ministry. But they are not “in” any special blessing. I am not at ubf ministry. But I am not “out” of any blessing from God.

My Blessed Life after ubf

My life is also practially blessed. My wife and I went on our first date after 18 years of marriage (instead of single college students who “co-work”). We are learning and succeeding at how to be good parents (instead of passing on a heritage). My job is stable and our finances are recovering from the finance abuse. At ubf, I had 19 jobs in about 20 years. Now I’ve had the same job for two years in a row! Our family is making new friends and resting in the blessing of God. We have actually studied the bible and learned from the bible (instead of just making copy-cat white binders).

Our family had an initial time of turbulence, but that is smoothing out now. I no longer think it will take 24 years to recover from my 24 years at ubf. After just 4 years, we have already seen so much healing and blessing.

So please, ubf shepherds, can we stop the false teaching that when you leave ubf you are cursed? We former members are just as blessed as you are. Surely there is blessing at ubf and not at ubf.

5 comments

  1. Thanks, Brian. I am so blessed and too blessed by just reading about how blessed you are!

    By God’s help, ever since West Loop started in 2008, people have left us to join other churches. But even after they leave we are still good friends and we can meet to chat and fellowship freely anytime with no discomfort, ill will, guilt feelings, or cringe factors. This is surely nothing but God’s marvelous grace and God’s manifold blessing to us, who are “at” or “out” of UBF.

    • Indeed Ben. You can say “I have a blessed life at ubf”. I can say “I have a blessed life not at ubf”.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Me too, Ben. I’ve been blessed by reading about Brian’s blessings. Thanks for continuing to share, Brian.

  2. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Thanks, Brian. To those who don’t know, I also reached out to Brian after “leaving” UBF last year. I am very grateful that he listened and shared advice during that time. I had participated in discussions on this site and I found that in leaving, as well as while in UBF, I shared similar experiences to Brian and others here. I’m grateful to everyone who has posted here. Here are some of examples:

    1. I felt free and relieved
    2. My relationship with my wife and kids improved greatly
    3. Seeking justice led me out of UBF. Justice compels me to remain in the conversation.
    4. I been isolated from the world outside of UBF, including family and friends.
    5. Disappointment, disillusionment, and hurt at those turned on me from the UBF chapter, those were silent, and how business went on as usual.
    6. Blessings and joy in beginning to connect with and learn about Christianity outside of UBF and with the world, including extended family and seeking new friendships.

    I thought I was doing right for my family, myself, and the church / God by my duties, offering them by faith. My devotion and activities were rewarded by UBF. But I realize that I was badly mistaken. I can say that am now in a much, much better place.

    I remember vividly how my eldest daughter reacted the first week I was ‘out.” She knew that every Friday night I went to the church for music practice, since I led the praise music for the Sunday service. She asked me, “What are you going to do this Friday, Daddy?” I hadn’t thought about it—or her. I replied, “Whatever you want to do.” Her face lit up with joy and her eyes widened. She asked me, “Can we ride our bikes around the block?” When I told her, “Yes,” she was happy and stunned. I too was stunned by the amount of joy she received from my confirmation of something so seemingly simple.

  3. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    The false teaching the blessed/cursed life connected to UBF is a deception that is deceptively subtle. I found that many who espouse it do so unintentionally. Unintentional in the sense that they do not mean harm and truly believe they are doing right for a person or God. They too are just following what they had learned and experienced by UBF studies and training. This is why I made an effort in speaking up to do so against the UBF system for creating this cycle of abuse and not against specific people as if the issues were merely personal issues.

    The subtlety of this false teaching is often used in talking about “God’s calling.” I heard, “What about God’s calling for your life?” or, “Didn’t God call you to UBF / campus mission?” and so on. These are manipulative questions to incite guilt and to paralyze a person. This is often followed by comments on love and expectation from the organization, just as mrkim used with cmdiaz in a recent comment thread.

    Again, we can look to UBF teachings on the book of Genesis for the basics of this indoctrination. Abraham’s story teaches someone says to leave “______” (all connections of love and attachment, such as family, friends, romance) and be blessed. Isaac’s story teaches to “stay in the land” and be blessed. Jacob’s story teaches to struggle with God alone and do as directed, although it seemingly contradicts the direction given to Isaac. Joseph’s story is used finally to teach that a person should accept all of the “sufferings” that come with following these UBF teachings that ironically lead people into a place similar to Joseph’s, isolated, indentured servitude, under the reason that God is sovereign and will bless you for it eventually even though you don’t know the outcome. It is taught that In the end that what happened was done by God, and you end up giving all to UBF.

    The teachings of the body of Christ and the kingdom that Christ preached, especially by N.T. Wright, were immensely influential in regards to opening my mind about these false teachings and what the community of God’s people ought to be like—at the very least that community has to be a part of my thinking and doing, and that this community is much greater and far reaching than UBF. I’m also largely indebted to UBF daily bread that went through the books of Kings, Chronicles, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Hosea, Micah and other minor prophets at that time which all bring out the sin of the leaders and the people which was not religious but lacking in justice, mercy, compassion, and love for each other.