Why Samuel Lee Was Deified and Demonized

Many readers of this blog may not have personally known Samuel Lee. Lee was a loving husband, a good father, and the cofounder of UBF. He went to be with the Lord in 2002. He left a great legacy. God did momentous things through his life, amounting to what I think would qualify as a decades-long spiritual revival.

Interestingly — and perhaps not surprisingly — Lee was virtually deified by those who loved him and demonized by those who did not. In this short essay, I will try to explain why Lee was so loved and hated by sharing the story of how he personally influenced my life.

I met Lee in 1980 when I attended my first Sunday worship service at Chicago UBF. My first impression of him was that I didn’t understand a word he said. He spoke with a thick Korean accent, and I remarked that it would have been better for the American presider to give the sermon. For many years after that, Lee would jab at me and joke with me because I made that unflattering comment.

In 1981 he introduced me to my lovely wife, Christy, to whom I have been married for the 29 happiest years of my life, and through whom God granted me four children (and, recently, one fiesty grandson), who are my pride and joy.

For the last 22 years of Lee’s life, he loved and served me and my family and my fellowship members. As a result of his consistent, tender loving care, God’s blessing upon my life and upon the lives of members of my fellowship have been immense and ongoing to this very day.

When I think of him, the one word that comes to my heart and mind is forbearance. I was, by his prayer and estimation, not living up to the grace of Jesus upon my life. I have to agree with his evaluation of me. Yet, despite my uncountable shortcomings, Lee was always gracious toward me. He never treated me as my sins deserved. His exasperation or frustration or disappointment toward me was always tempered by more-than-sufficient grace. When a group of us visited him a few weeks before he died in 2002, his last words to me were something like this: “I believe that God has worked in you, and that God will continue to use your life for his glory.” He did not use those exact words, but it was the essence of what he was communicating. Little did I know that this would be the last time I saw him alive, and that those would be his last spoken words to me.

Lee’s personal touch and interpersonal connection were always tempered abundantly by the grace of Jesus, and so were his sermons and Bible studies. I vividly remember him giving a sermon on Mark chapter 1. The key verse was Mark 1:15: “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” I had often heard this verse applied as a severe warning to “repent and believe,” with an emphasis on repent. I used it in my own forceful way to squeeze repentance out of my Bible students and fellowship members. But Lee emphasized the coming of the kingdom of God and the marvellous grace of Jesus. When our hearts are touched by that grace of the coming of the kingdom, and only then, are we able to “repent and believe.” When I heard his message, I felt severely rebuked, even though he was not rebuking me. (Or maybe he was!) I did not immediately stop pressing others to repent. But I never forget that sermon, and it has weighed upon my soul ever since.

Lee’s Bible study, interpersonal relationships and sermons were seasoned with the grace of Jesus, and I believe that this was the very power source behind his personal influence upon others who knew him, and upon UBF at large. The future of UBF is not dependent upon our keeping Lee’s legacy or methodology alive, but upon magnifying the marvellous grace of Jesus through all our decisions and doings.

It was because of the marvellous grace of Jesus expressed through Lee’s life that Lee was greatly admired by those who personally tasted his love.

But Lee was also criticized and demonized. As a human being, he had blind spots and feet of clay. Many of his shortcomings, I believe, can be accounted for by his nationality and his culture.

I want to apologize in advance if some older members of UBF take offense at me saying this. But I think it needs to be said. The gospel compels us to see everyone, including Lee, as a sinner saved by grace. I do not believe that pointing out his shortcomings will tarnish his legacy or dishonors him in any way. And that is not at all what I am trying to do. Rather, I believe that acknowledging his shortcomings demonstrates how great indeed is our Lord Jesus Christ that he would use a man like Lee to glorify Himself.

At one time or another, Lee was, I believe, all of the following: authoritarian, totalitarian, and draconian. In my estimation, he was a benevolent dictator. Those who deified Lee extolled his benevolence; those who demonized him emphasized his authoritarianism.

Lee was a a great Christian and a genuine lover of souls. No one could credibly assert that what Lee did was motivated by selfishness. He was indeed benevolent, more so than any man I have ever known. As someone aptly put it, everything Lee did was “to please God, and to benefit you.”

But as benevolent as Lee was, he was our top leader, and very few in UBF ever dared to disagree with him. He is the only human being of whom I have ever been “terrified.” Being afraid of him was good for me, as it helped me to live in the fear of God. But under his forceful leadership, disagreeing with a UBF leader came to be viewed as a mark of insolence and disrespect.

Lee gave “training” to everyone in UBF, regardless of his position. It didn’t matter if you were a chapter director, an elder, or just a young Christian; if you encountered him, he trained you. Many who received his training were grateful for it. It humbled them. Many saw it as I did: as Lee’s personal love for them. But some who were trained by him became bitter, resentful and angry, and they were among those who subsequently demonized him.

Lee sometimes discouraged us from reading Bible commentaries. He emphasized that we should only read the Bible and study his manuscripts. He also discouraged some from going to seminary. I understand why he did this. He did not want UBF leaders to become puffed up with seminary degrees and expert knowledge, while lacking in mission and practical Christian living. But the downside is that this became an anti-intellectualism. Our theology became unduly influenced by this one man’s personal understanding, interpretation and application of the Bible. His unique observations and sermons have shaped UBF’s Bible study and Christian expression through out the world. This is very understandable. But it does limit the way we understand the Bible. It has given us a tendency to disregard the insights and contributions of great Christians and theologians, past and present, and isolated us from the larger Church.

Until now, I don’t think that anyone has ever written in the same article about why Lee was both deified and demonized. On official UBF websites, and in UBF newsletters and testimonies about Lee, he was essentially flawless. On anti-UBF websites, Lee is brutally — and, I think, quite unfairly — slandered and portrayed as the devil himself. Neither of these views is realistic or accurate.

Lee was a great Christian man. He had weaknesses and flaws. Yet he was still very much loved by God and used by God. He is still highly honored by many of us who knew him personally.

I will conclude by saying this. My strongest recollection of Lee was his infectious smile. I still see it in my mind’s eye to this very day, every time I remember him, with utmost gratitude and tears. I miss that smile and I long to see it again when we meet in the kingdom of God.

163 comments

  1. Brian Karcher
    Brian Karcher

    Well said! I didn’t know Dr. Samuel Lee personally as you had. But I did meet with him several times, and even prayed with him a couple times.

    I first met him on my way to Russia in 1992, since I was leaving from Chicago. He was so excited that I was going to Russia that he photo-copied the entire encyclopedia section about Russia for me to read on the plane. His one prayer for me was that I could stay in Russia long enough to attend the Moscow summer Bible Conference, which I did end up doing.

    I remember before we prayed he talked about Jesus our Good Shepherd. He said “The problem with the Pharisees is that they had a narrow mind with a broad focus. Jesus always had a broad mind, with a narrow focus. Have a broad mind and a broad heart as a Christian.” I also remember him saying, “Most people don’t ask ‘why’. You should always ask ‘why’.”

    Another time, I met him in Chicago after driving some missionaries back from Toledo. I stayed in Sarah Barry’s house (her mother was still alive at the time.) Dr. Samuel Lee told me: “It would be good to marry someone 1 inch taller than you, so that you will always have vision to look up to God.” One day after getting married, I looked up at my wife and realized she is 1 inch taller than me.

    • Thanks, Brain, for your poignant recollecting of Lee. I know of quite a few Americans who like you, met Lee only briefly or infrequently, yet have warm heart felt recollections of him.

      Praise and thank God for using Lee to touch the lives of so many in so many countries and continents for Christ. He was surely a man with a broad heart and broad mind because of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m thinking quite seriously that only a man like Lee was able to love and embrace a strong willed opinionated man like myself.

  2. Ben, thank you for this reflection.

    Samuel Lee was a complex man, and UBF members learned many different things from him. A couple of months ago, I heard a senior missionary describe Lee as a soldier. He characterized the legacy of Lee as “soldier spirit,” with an emphasis on discipline, training, hard work, and absolute obedience.

    I was surprised, amused, and distressed by that characterization, because that is not at all how I remember Lee. I knew him and interacted with him (not as closely as you did) for 20 years. Some of the major things that I personally learned from him were
    * respecting the dignity of women
    * appreciation for music and the arts
    * belief in the power of prayer
    * willingness to put people before principle, and the well-being of one person before the organization
    * compassion for those who were suffering

    Although he was the co-founder of UBF and its principal visionary leader for 40 years, this ministry has always belonged to God, not to him. UBF should exist to proclaim the gospel, not to perpetuate the legacy of its founder. (I’m sure that he would strongly agree with that statement.) A decade after his passing, his values, beliefs, and habits — both positive and negative — are still with us, and he is still a huge part of who we are. To understand ourselves, we ought to be willing to discuss him as objectively as we can. Our varied personal recollections of him are important, because without these his “legacy” is too easily reduced to a caricature of who he actually was.

    I found him to be paradoxical. On the one hand, as you pointed out, his messages and interactions with people were always seasoned with grace. On the other hand, he did have an authoritarian streak and often tried to micromanage people’s lives. He was, as you have said, a benevolent dictator. But there is a point beyond which a heavy-handed management style interferes with the proclamation of the gospel, because the gospel is meant to make us free. Freedom is not real unless we are free to disobey. Under his strong leadership, I think it became too easy for people to obey his direction for the wrong reasons. At times, we all obeyed him to keep the peace, to stay out of the doghouse, etc. Many of us obeyed him even when it violated our consciences, which was not healthy.

    In my estimation, Lee was a great lover of Jesus and of the Scriptures. He was a fearless proclaimer of the gospel. But, in contrast to Sarah Barry, he was not really an incarnational Christian. Yes, when he lived in America, he did eat lots of Big Macs. Yet he stood apart from American culture and strongly resisted being melted into it. A huge component of his training of young Americans was to bring them out of the American way of life in ways that were helpful and in ways that were unnecessary. For example, each year he encouraged us to fight against the Superbowl demon rather than just enjoy the benign pleasure of watching the Superbowl. Under his care, young American men and women began to resemble UBF missionaries in America rather than authentically American Christian disciples. While in Korea, Lee found the message that inspired Korean students and changed their lives. UBF in Korea was a truly indigenous (thoroughly Korean) student movement. But this has not yet happened in America. UBF in America has not yet become indigenized. Hence there is now a great tension that needs to be resolved before UBF in America can thrive.

    Some UBF members will dispute this, of course. Some will say that the prayer topic “May America become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” is the authentically American vision that will inspire young Americans. But, with the passing of time and endless repetition, the meaning of that prayer topic has become less clear to me. To me, it is now more confusing than it is inspiring.

    In 1990, Lee (at Ben Toh’s suggestion — thanks, Ben!) introduced me to Sharon who, after 20 years of marriage, is the great love of my life. I am extremely grateful for this. Without Lee’s intervention, there is no way that we could have met and begun a relationship, because our social circles and life-paths were just too different. Perhaps Lee’s greatest legacy is the many happy families that were established through him. For the record, I give credit for my marriage to God and to Lee’s and Ben Toh’s personal prayer and loving concern, and not to any specific method, principle, or doctrine of courtship and marriage.

  3. Jennifer Rabchuk

    Dr. Lee was the best friend I could ever have. Through his prayer and serving, along with the love and care of Dr. Ben and Christy, Sh. Jim Rarick and many, many others, I came to know the grace of God through Christ Jesus. For this, I praise God. Happy New Year to you all!! xoxo jennifer

  4. Ben, i really appreciate your article. Unfortunately, as a 2nd gen growing up in Germany i didn’t have much chance to personally meet and interact with Lee. My lovely wife Grace grew up in Korea and never really met him, either. Our son Sam Paul was born years after Lee passed away. It is to be expected that he will grow up in an UBF environment where the majority of the people have never met the co-founder of the church. And so we are fully dependent on the accounts of people who have witnessed and experienced his leadership and pastoring personally.
    All of this makes the lack of a somewhat unbiased, neutral picture (hard to imagine that something like this would ever be possible!) of Lee even more unfortunate. You are absolutely right in saying that there are hardly any accounts, which provide a balanced view on Lee: i either heard lavish praise for his person or absolute rejection.
    i agree with Joe that Samuel Lee was a complex man. And so much more about how God had used this man for his glory, in terms of Lee’s strong points as well as in his weak points, needs to be passed on. With this being said, we will eagerly expect the day for Lee’s biography to be published hoping it will be a book that praises the grace of Christ, which was so beautifully revealed in the life of Lee.

  5. david bychkov

    Thank you, dr. Ben for the article. I wandered, why name of Lee is so rarely mentioned on UBFriends, while it is so clear that he is one of very key factors which affects and still affecting our ministry. So it made me feel that we are not completely honest and still trying to escape the most problematic and complex issue here on UBFriends. I also was confused about so great imbalance between what I heard about him from our leaders, official sermons and newspapers and what I heard and read on antiubf websites. And this imbalance and denial of our leaders even to consider it had provoked the division in our chapter (for the record I’m not sure that there were no others issues, the divisions are more complicated things, but this issue was the initiative). And I’m sure that we should have correct and balanced evaluation of “Lee’s factor” in our ministry in order to get rid from unnecessary reasons for further divisions as well as further mistakes.

  6. I appreciate the honest reflections concerning Samuel Lee. I myself only met him in person a few times and then only briefly and at a distance. I remember thinking he was really funny and insightful while listening to his announcements at an international conference. After someone had spoken on John 4, I remember he kept repeating the words “Will you give me a drink-uh” (the “uh” is because of the Korean accent). It was heart moving. He was really encouraging people to learn the grace of Jesus in dealing with others, especially people they studied the Bible with. He said we shouldn’t see people as rebellious but as cute. Another time he told everyone, “If you don’t write a repentant testimony, I will kill you!… So that God can raise you to life again.” I remember people around me being sort of shocked by that comment. I thought it was really funny, and that it was pretty obvious that he was joking around and that it was said in love.
    One theme I wanted to pick up on, as it applies more broadly to our ministry (not limited to Lee himself) is the authoritarianism issue. I’ve actually been wrestling with this for some time. The expectation of leaders that members of their chapter will obey them “absolutely” and will not express disagreement with them seems problematic to me on many counts, and I am praying that God will change the hearts of those of our leaders who have this attitude and expectation. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just missing something, and that there is really something spiritually beneficial about obeying leaders. But I personally don’t get it. I am not going to go on much more about this now, though I think it would be awesome if this topic would break out into an actual open discussion about the topic of “spiritual authority” where those who support the idea could present their views on it so that those of us (including myself) who don’t get it and think it is bad could at least develop a better understanding.
    (Please let me know if the topic of spiritual authority has already been discussed at length. If not, maybe I’ll write up something about it, unless someone else beats me to it. I think it’s a big issue for our ministry.)
    I’ll just end by noting what is for me one of the most troubling effects of the authoritarian attitude: I think the expectation of absolute obedience to leaders makes the members of the group who are under the authority of the leader feel like (a) they are not free to express how they really feel and think, and (b) their perspective and opinions are not valuable. This is a problem because (among other reasons) God’s spirit lives in each of us, and so if many of us feel suppressed, then the leader is actually missing out on alot of insight and perspective that could be had if there was a more open environment. I think Christian leaders should be broad-shouldered and humble enough to receive (and take seriously) constructively critical feedback from their chapter members – even from “spiritually young students.” I would actually recommend to any leaders reading this that you adopt a policy of actively soliciting feedback from your members. This will make them feel valued and respected, and will also enable them to feel free to take positive stewardship in the ministry.
    On a little bit of a tangent, but also sort of related, check out this sermon on Jonah by a little girl! Better than alot of sermons I’ve heard by adults (including my own)… http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=9EM911NU

    • Andy, thank you  for  these comments. In the weeks ahead, we will be publishing more articles on the Holy Spirit (one per week) and we will briefly touch on the issue that you raised, the issue of authority and obedience. But we will not deal with it directly. I have my own ideas about the subject, but I would love it if someone else (such as yourself) could write a thoughtful piece that is not too one-sided.

      Over the years, UBF has developed an implicit theology of “spiritual order” and obedience which deserves to be articulated and openly examined. Clearly there are positive and negative aspects to it. I hope that we can have such a discussion with multiple viewpoints. People like yourself, who  see problems in  what UBF  has been doing, have been willing to step forward and contribute articles and comments to UBFriends. But others who may believe differently, who think that  the  culture of obedience is good and proper, have been  extremely quiet. Perhaps they are not reading UBFriends. Perhaps they do not like this website and think that having  a discussion out in the open like this is rebellious and wrong. Whatever the reason, I personally wish that more UBF leaders — especially those who uphold and practice obedience-oriented discipleship — would be willing to talk about it in an honest manner and defend what they do. An open conversation will have to take place sooner or later, and the earlier it happens, the more fruitful it will be.

  7. Thanks, Andy, Joe. Perhaps, the issue of authority might be the single most sensitive and gut-wrenching and heart wounding issue in UBF. It seems to me that the single reason why many leave their original UBF chapter or leader is because they can no longer bear the authoritarianism of their leader. But as Joe mentioned, our  older leaders may not be open to freely discussing their own authority, perhaps because they regard it as being ordained by God, and therefore should not be called into question by any man.

    My opinion and observations after being a Christian for 30 years is that human authority is wonderful in Christ, yet has limitations. Dr. Lee had tremendous spiritual authority. But I personally witnessed how he acquised to those who opposed him, or disagreed with him, or were rebellious toward him. I felt on several occasions that he “gave in” to me, even though he didn’t agree with me. It is because of his humility that I could perceive that validated his authority over me and others. Still, about one third of UBF left because they felt (rightly or wrongly) that Dr. Lee was too authoritative.

    I think the Bible is quite  clear that no  Christian leader should impose his authority upon others (Mark 10:42-45; 1 Cor 4:1). Rather, authority must be earned before others, and never demanded or commanded. If it is, then it is no longer spiritual authority but authoritarianism. Ultimately, only God is our leader, and every Christian leader should defer to Christ as the head of the church. Otherwise, it is implicitely or even explicitely taught that we have to obey our human Christian leaders.

    I’ve heard very painful stories from multiple sources and people of how someone who has been serving in UBF faithfully for 1 to 2 decades or more being just crushed and wounded by the authoritarianism of their shepherd or leader. (Of course, they are sinful, but so is the leader.)  My prayer is that we may begin to openly discuss how we have been hurting each other within our own UBF church, simply because we are not willing to openly and prayerfully discuss these painful issues when they arise.

  8. I’ve never met Samuel Lee in my life. Ever. I’m a stubborn sheep. I don’t know. If ever I was one of his sheep whom he personally supervised, I might not last. (lol). Based on my own experience with my shepherd, I could have almost run away if only he’s not humble to take care of me. And here I am on my 3rd year in Bible study. I don’t wanna be a racist but with Samuel Lee’s training, I would certainly give up. He (and the other Koreans) must be somehow very legalistic to the point that I won’t be able to understand what this Christian life is all about. These are just my impression to him by the way as I looked on his picture. But really, I don’t know him. Only by the grace of God that I’m still in this ministry, willing to serve God and marry a strong woman of God, and thirsty to know more about the word of God. How I wish I’ve met Lee…

  9. Actually, Noah, Dr. Lee, despite his authoritarian leadership style, was a very gracious man. I think that you will actually love him and like him very much. All of my fellowship members loved him. We were also scared of him, but we loved him, because he was full of grace and truth, I believe.
     
    I think that a problem that we have experienced in UBF is that our leadership style in some UBF chapters follow Dr. Lee’s authoritarian style of leadership, which is justified as “keeping the spiritual order.” (Someone perhaps needs to write a balanced article about this phrase in its use and abuses.) If a man is overflowing with the grace of Jesus (like Samuel Lee), and overcoming cross-cultural issues and barriers, he might “get away” with being authoritarian. Otherwise, there will arise issues of divisions and splits, as has happened in not a few UBF chapters throughout the world. This is what I had previously written about: http://www.ubfriends.org/2010/11/why-do-we-have-divisions/
     
    Personally, I am thankful that I do not sense any authoritarian issues with Philippines UBF. This is surely the grace of Jesus to all of you.

  10. david bychkov

    Recently I finished reading the biography of John Calvin by W. Walker. Besides many interesting things I want to mention one. Almost all his life Calvin was deeply convicted that he is nothing but servant of Jesus Christ. He struggled much to not live for his will but for God’s. In the same way he struggled much to be faithful Bible teacher and to set pure and coherent Christian theology. Therefore he was convinced that his teaching was nothing but faithful interpretaion of the Bible. And this deep convincience gave him strength to persue his purposes with all his strength so he was able in his short and difficult life complete great work. This deep convincence made him very charasmatic and influenced orator who was able to won innumerable number of very loyal followers   among all kind of people from different social and national backgrounds, in fact he was able to unify all protestant world of that time (besides anglicans and radical lutherans).
    But this very convincience made him very sensible to almost any kind of criticism. Because he thought of himself that he is nothing but God’s servant, he considered almost any kind of criticism directed on him as criticism toward God. Critism of his teaching and reforms were also considered like criticism toward God’s word and will. This made him even to commit crimes agains religios freedom, to supress strongly any kind of opposition etc.

  11. Thanks, David. I love your word “convincience,” which seems to be a combination of “conviction” and “conscience.” :-)

    John Calvin’s life and works are immensely edifying to the church. Spurgeon even once said that “Calvinism is the gospel,” because Calvin trembled before God’s word, as he wrote and explained the Bible perhaps “better than any other man.”

    Yet, he approved of the execution of Michael Sevetus, because Sevetus denied that God is trinitarian.

    We humans are both good and evil, even the best of men like Calvin, and surely Dr. Samuel Lee as well. Yet, our God is always good 100% of the time, and his goodness, grace and mercy  is extended to us who are all both good and evil.

  12. Correction
    Who said Lee Changwoo was “a soldier.” He deserted his unit which was engaged in the last ditch effort to defend from the North Communist when American young soldiers came to Korea to fight for Korea.” He was a deserter, not a soldier.

    • John, would you please explain your reasons for posting your comments? Not many of us know details about Samuel Lee’s war life decades ago. Please read our Commenting Policy and Prayers for Blogging.

    • Brian Karcher

      Because the subject was Lee’s being deified and demonized.
      Another reason, as you said not many of you know details of Lee’s past.

    • John, I removed your duplicate comment.

    • John, I’m not sure I understand. Are you saying Lee should be demonized because he deserted his army unit in the 1940’s? Was that before he became a Christian?

    • Hey, Brian Karcher

      Korean war started 1950 and ended in 1953, which is not important. I do not know if he was Christian or not at the time he deserted, possibly leaving his fighting parters in danger, certainly to death. Nakdong River combat was fierce and one of American general, John Dean(?) was taken prisoner. I think it is the first time in American history where general was taken a prisoner. I was not with him when he deserted because I was only a child at that time. I heard about his desertion from his former confident.
      I am not sure deserting is a sin or not. Coin has two sides. But I definitely do not adore who deserts his position leaving his neighbors to certain death. Recently I watched the movie, Saving Private Ryans. It was soul inspiring picture.

    • John, thank you for correcting me. I feel it is important to get the dates correct!

      It seems like you have a story to tell. Would you be willing to write an article and submit it to our blog for review? (see the Submit an Article link).

      I believe no human being deserves to be demonized nor deified, but should be seen in the light of God, both good and bad. Perhaps your story can give more insight into what made Samuel Lee into the man he was. But I ask caution since he is no longer living.

    • And I’d like to remind us here that one of Joe’s comments to me recently was to “focus on the facts” of a person or situation, and leave the judgement about “why” to God. God is not pleased by spinning facts to suit our own ideas.

      Ben made a good point in his article above: “Lee was a great Christian man. He had weaknesses and flaws. Yet he was still very much loved by God and used by God. He is still highly honored by many of us who knew him personally.” We need to be able to see both sides of the coin, as you said, John.

  13. John, whether your last statement is true or not, I cannot judge. You may have been in his unit way back in the Korean war; you may have fought next to him; you may have had a keen sense of history that I need to respect. Or you may be one of many who have unfortunately found themselves personally wounded and hurt by Lee Changwoo such that you have thus chosen to use this online forum to grind your personal axe.

    What I do know is this comment strikes me as somewhat uncharitable and I believe it violates the commenting policy against using this site to launch personal attacks against someone, whether grounded in truth or not.

    I’m not necessarily trying to defend Lee Changwoo, but I am interested in preserving the integrity of this site for honest but charitable discussions amongst our community.

    For what it is worth, let us remember that the early disciples of Jesus could also be known as former “deserters” of their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. By the grace of Jesus, we now remember them as flawed but forgiven sinners used by God to accomplish His own will and divine purpose.

    For those out there whom I have hurt or wounded (or those whom I will someday be in acute danger of doing of hurting or wounding unintentionally, perhaps like my young children who will be reading this online site someday), I hope you will remember me, not by my cracks, dents and defects so evident in this pathetic jar of clay; but that you will remember me by the treasure of God’s grace and the small bursts of Glory that somehow might have been displayed in my life despite myself.

    • Hey, John Y.

      You said right.
      As you said, early disciples were sinners but forgiven to accomplish His own purpose.
      I think Lee should be remembered as a sinner and be forgiven, but not many of you know about his past (sin).
      If nobody mention about Lee, how can he be remembered and deified.

    • JohnY, You make an excellent point:

      “For what it is worth, let us remember that the early disciples of Jesus could also be known as former “deserters” of their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. By the grace of Jesus, we now remember them as flawed but forgiven sinners used by God to accomplish His own will and divine purpose.”

      If we are honest, each of us has deserted our Lord at some point, and likely more than once.

  14. Also John, I may have likely offended you by my blunt response. Please forgive me and pray for me to better fulfill the prayer expressed in this song:

    • John Y.

      No, I am not offended at all. I am used to it. It is the human nature that one doesn’t want to hear what one doesn’t like or agree with.
      Many time we have to think outside the box.
      Why Jesus’ being sinner (doubting and lamenting on the cross) is well advertised and glorified but not Lee’s cannot be.

    • John,

      Did you mean to say that Jesus was sinning? Jesus was not a sinner and did not sin: “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:22 (NIV)

    • Brian Karcher

      Didn’t Jesus doubted his Father on the cross and resented being deserted?
      I am not a Christian and I may interpret things differently from believers.

    • Hi John,

      If you are not a Christian, are you interested in learning what it means to be a Christian?

      Jesus’ prayer in Gethesemane (take this cup from me) and his agonizing cry of dereliction on the Cross (why have you forsaken me?) are 2 beautiful stories that teach many crucial aspects of Christianity, and it shows us why Jesus had to die for our sins, and the great cost of his life that he had to pay in order to save us from sin and death and hell.

      I hope that you will meet a good Christian to help you understand those two beautiful stories of Jesus’ suffering and death.

    • Hello, Ben Toh.

      Subjects I would like to say here apparently violates the policy and some were removed. Brian explained why and I understand. I understand this page is about Changwoo Lee (Samuel Lee).

      Changwoo Lee is nothing without Sarah Bary. I met Sarah Bary in 1965 or 1966 when she first started English Bible lesson in Seoul. As a lay person, I regard Sarah to be very nice person. She even confided her personal matters to me. However, out of some reason she was very much manipulated by Changwoo Lee.

      I am 72 years old. I graduated from the Seoul National University of Korea which Changwoo Lee so much wanted to conquer with the Words, but failed, in my opinion. I have lived in Canada for 42 years and am a Canadian citizen. I was UBF-goer from 1965 or 1966 until 1969. I was one of the few who were at the very first English Bible Classes in Seoul.
      I have never been a Christian and I think I am not a religious person. I don’t know what is religion.

      Changwoo Lee or Changsun Jun (John Jun) branded me as a gangster together with another student and published in their writing, which should be considered as Genesis of UBF.

      If you want to know more about early days of UBF, Changwoo Lee or Sarah during their early days in Seoul, please contact me at ckoh@rogers.com.

    • Hi John Koh,

      I hope you do not mind me addressing you by your full name, since there are others who are also named John.

      I am very sorry that you were “branded as a gangster” in 1969. I’m sure that it must be very humiliating, and dehumanizing, even after 40 years. Why were you branded as a gangster?

      Though you may not be interested in religion, I pray that you may know the love of God who gave us his one and only Son Jesus to show us the love and affirmation that nothing in this world can ever give.

    • John K,

      It seems like you have an interesting perspective to share. I would be interested in hearing your story, though in a way that doesn’t violate our commenting policies. Perhaps you can submit an article on the topic of what it was like to be a college student in the 60s in Korea, how you decided for or against religion in your life, and what role that UBF or members in UBF had played in shaping the kind of person you are today. If this story can be shared in a honest but charitable fashion, you would be serving as a model for how to promote the kind of discussion this forum was meant to serve. If you need an example for how to do this, I will refer you to the following UBFriends article. (http://www.ubfriends.org/2010/08/stuck-at-the-wall-part-1/) Just a friendly suggestion! Thanks for participating in the discussion.

    • Hi, Ben Toh

      I understand that you and Hanna Zun belong to same branch of UBF or at least know each other.
      I am sure you don’t want to give me her where about but can you ask Hanna Zun if she wants to contact me and if so give my email address to her so she can contact me? Isn’t it in the bible which says about the sheppard going out in the middle of night to find her lost sheep? She was one of the most favorite friends of mine while we were in the universities. My name in Korean is 고 종호, romanized as Ko Chong Ho. I am very sure she still remember me.

    • My good ness, Ben Toh.

      I forgot to write my email address.
      My email address is ckoh@rogers.com

  15. May be not on the cross, but somewhere, close to the end.
    Didn’t Jesus say “Lord, do you foresake me? If possible take away the cup from me” or something like that. May be on the hill.

    • John,

      Jesus said in the garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

      Jesus said on the cross: “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

      Jesus did not doubt he was forsaken; he knew he was forsaken at that moment. Jesus did not doubt the Father’s love; he knew he was loved. Jesus did ask “Why?”. I would not consider asking “Why?” to be a sin or show any resentment. Is asking a question sinning?

      Jesus said several other words during those final days. None of them show even a hint of doubt or resentment to me. It is amazing actually, to read Jesus’ final words on the cross again. I could not have said such words.

    • So he resented. Or at least did not like it.

    • He was actually quoting Psalm 22, which is a messianic psalm. So in essence he was claiming to be the messiah. That being said, I’m sure he didn’t like being crucified. It was one of the most painful methods of torture ever invented. I don’t think it is a sin to dislike being crucified :p

      Here are some tidbits from psalm 22 btw:

      1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
      Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

      8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
      let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

      16For dogs encompass me;
      a company of evildoers encircles me;
      they have pierced my hands and feet[b]—
      17 I can count all my bones—
      they stare and gloat over me;
      18 they divide my garments among them,
      and for my clothing they cast lots.

      23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
      All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
      and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
      24 For he has not despised or abhorred
      the affliction of the afflicted,
      and he has not hidden his face from him,
      but has heard, when he cried to him.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I don’t buy that Jesus is just quoting that just to quote it. I think that this was the moment God doubted God, and the whole Earth trembled. When the world shook and the sun was wiped away, it was at this cry- not the crucifixion. God confessed that God was forsaken of God. As Chesterton says

      “Christianity is the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete. Christianity alone felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point — and does not break. In this indeed I approach a matter more dark and awful than it is easy to discuss; and I apologize in advance if any of my phrases fall wrong or seem irreverent touching a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach. But in the terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt. It is written, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” No; but the Lord thy God may tempt Himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane.”

    • Hi Jach, and welcome to ubfriends! Thanks for reminding us of Psalm 22. There is a lot to process there…

      I notice my comment above from 2011… “Jesus did not doubt”… I remember struggling with doubt so much. But now I’ve matured (just a little) and learned that doubt is not the arch enemy of faith–fear is the bigger enemy. It was not the doubt of Thomas that caused Jesus to react strongly, but the fear of Peter (“get behind me Satan!”).

      And thanks for the Chesterton quote, forests. I love his perspective on the cross.

      In the end we don’t know what Jesus was really thinking; I for one am trying not to speak for God anymore. Who knows the deep mind of God?

      We do know what Jesus was recorded as saying. One thing he said was “Father forgive them.”

      “The cross is another “raven” in the bible, something that is at the same time ugly and ghastly and beautiful and astounding. On the cross, Jesus was surrounded by his enemies. One could argue that all humanity was Jesus’ enemy that fateful day. What did Jesus do in that situation, being surrounded by enemies? One thing Jesus did was to pray, “Father, forgive them.” Much has been written about the cross and these famous words of Jesus. I will not delve into the deep meanings that others have expounded on with eloquence. I could not do the words justice. I can however notice something rather odd. Jesus did not say “I forgive them”. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.” Could this be Jesus giving us a great example of what we humans can do when we have no strength or ability in us to forgive? What can we do when we cannot forgive those who have abused us, those who have harmed us, those who have mistreated us? What can we do when we cannot forgive the church, or maintain fellowship with the people who claim to know God because they have failed us? Jesus shows us the way. When we cannot say “I forgive them” we can pray “Father, forgive them”. pg 14, “Rest Unleashed: The Raven Narratives”

  16. Dr. Bill

    Hi John. It’s an important question you ask: “Didn’t Jesus doubted his Father on the cross and resented being deserted?” We can learn many things about how Jesus felt and what He was thinking as He died on the cross. The Bible records seven things that He said. For example, He spoke to His disciple John, the ‘beloved’ disciple, and told him to take care of His mother Mary. But the most powerful thing He said was “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” These are not the words of someone in doubt, or resentful. In fact He was praying to His Father; He was “full of grace and truth” right up to the end. These words are very moving, and testify in the end to the Jesus’ great faith. Despite all the agony, all the pain, all the darkness, Jesus kept the faith.

    One of the last things he said was “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) Then, it seems to make sense to me that with his last breath he said “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Jesus was faithful to the end, even in the most difficult of circumstances, during the most trying time of his life. As it says in Hebrews 5: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

    If you care for a longer answer, John, here is a description of all seven things He said.

    Do you know anyone who has suffered agony? I mean someone you know who truly agonized over something: the loss of a loved one, or an emotionally pain-filled divorce, the death of a child, a chronic, debilitating illness, the unfaithfulness of a spouse… All these things and more can bring great pain to people, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual pain. Most, like me, do our best to avoid agonizing situations, and when we find ourselves in them, we desperately pray to be delivered from them. Yet agony is an inescapable reality of the human condition in which we find ourselves. No matter how we try, difficulties come, trials come, and we find ourselves swamped by them, and caught like a bird in a snare. I ask you once again, is there anyone here who has no problems in their life?

    Tonight, as I said, we will think of Jesus’ agonies, not only his physical suffering, but the agony that led him to the cross in the first place. We will consider the agony that Jesus suffered on the cross. We will think about the agony that led him to the cross in the first place, the agony of God.

    Let’s pray. Father, as we consider this passage tonight, my prayer is twofold: first, that you would grant me the grace to convey the Truth rightly, “Not by might nor by power”, but by Your Spirit. I also pray according to Your Word, which You said “cannot be broken”, that Your Word “will not return to [You] empty, but will accomplish what [You] desire and achieve the purpose for which [You] sent it” tonight, which is the salvation of many souls. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    Let’s begin by looking at the first few verses, John chapter 19, verses 16-18:

    “Then Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others – one on each side and Jesus in the middle.”

    The first thing we notice is that Jesus carried his own cross. This was common practice for condemned criminals who were sentenced to die. They carried the crossbar of the cross on their shoulders. Jesus, even in his weakened condition after the scourging and much abuse by the Roman soldiers, still had the resolve to carry this heavy crossbar. This is the kind of person he was and is: “scorning its shame” with a face like flint, he pushed through this very, very difficult task of being whipped almost to death, and then carrying the crossbar which would be used to put him to death.

    In verse 17 we read that he went to “the place of the Skull”, which is where we get our English word ‘Calvary’, which is Latin for ‘skull’. Tradition holds that this was Adam’s final resting place. Although we cannot be certain about this, it does give us insight into Jesus’ character, his mind, because there is little doubt that he had Adam in mind as he made his way to the place of the Skull. Not only Adam, but all of us – each one of us. The Bible says that God calls the stars each by name, and Jesus said that not even a sparrow “will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” The love and grace of God extends to each and every one of us as individual people, intentionally created by God. Yes, you can be sure that Jesus was thinking of you, and me, and Adam and Eve and everyone in between as he made his way to the place of the Skull.

    In the following verses we read that as was customary, Pilate had a sign posted on Jesus’ cross which detailed the charges against him. In this case, the sign read “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” In Mark’s Gospel 15:23 we read that the soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh, a narcotic designed to dull the pain, but Jesus refused to drink it because he had already steeled himself to “drink the cup the Father” had given him. His resolute determination is clear from his words earlier in Gethsemane “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Jesus was fully determined to accomplish His Father’s purposes of world salvation through suffering on the cross.

    In verses 23 and 24 we read that the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ undergarment, which was a valuable piece of clothing. John is careful throughout this passage to point out that all of this happened in fulfillment of Scripture. Three times he underscores the point that “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled”, and references four different prophecies, three of which he includes quotes from scripture. John is making an important point, which he reiterates later in chapter 20 as well. John’s purpose is to demonstrate undeniably that Jesus’ death and resurrection was prophesied long before it happened. This is the touchstone for believers, and is foundational for understanding who Jesus is, because Jesus himself said “The scripture cannot be broken.” According to Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”, there are 61 major prophecies that are fulfilled by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Some scholars count as many as 300-400 messianic prophecies, many of which Jesus fulfilled during his time on earth 2000 years ago, and the remaining of which will be fulfilled when he returns as King. Considering just a few of these, Peter Stoner calculated the odds as one in 100 quadrillion, or 10017, that someone could fulfill just eight of these 61 prophecies between the time of their final writing and today. So what is John’s motive in recording these words? John too has a shepherd’s heart, and is following hard after Jesus. He too is feeding Jesus’ sheep when he says later in this chapter in verse 35 “The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.” John, with Jesus’ shepherd heart, is stating very simply and clearly that everything about Jesus was prophesied, and part of God’s plan. This is intended to give us confidence because we too can trust this record – it really is true. Jesus really did live, performed many miracles, was crucified, died and was buried, and rose from the dead the third day following his crucifixion.

    The following verses, 25 and 26, depict a moment of tenderness where the love of Jesus for his mother shines through. Here we have recorded some of the actual words that Jesus spoke from the cross. In fact, in order to understand Jesus more deeply, we should consider what he said and did on the cross. If we consider all four gospels, we can see that the record contains seven things that Jesus said while on the cross. Let’s consider them one-by-one. The first is recorded in Luke 23:34.

    “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

    It’s important to consider the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ words. From all four Gospels we see that two robbers were crucified with Jesus, and John tells us that one was crucified on his right and one on his left. Mark tells us in 15:32 that “Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” Similarly, Matthew tells us “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!'” Likewise, the chief priests and elders mocked him. Do you know that this was prophesied to happen? Read Psalm 69, verses 20-21. Let’s read it together. Ok: “Scorn has broken my heart and left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none. They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” Do you know that Jesus was heartbroken on the cross? Do you know that he felt helpless, overwhelmed, in deep agony of mind, body and spirit? Do you know what it is like to be heartbroken? Jesus was heartbroken on the cross. “Like fine flour”, he was crushed, completely. A heartbroken Jesus said, in the depths of his agony: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Has your heart been broken? Jesus’ has. In the midst of his agony, he could not stop thinking about his sheep. He prayed for them, because despite his broken heart, he still loved them, and had compassion on them. No matter what the cost, no matter what his own personal condition, Jesus had to feed his sheep. Who were his lost sheep? After hearing Jesus’ words of forgiveness, one of the two robbers crucified with him repented and became his sheep. Witnesses to the crucifixion included his lost sheep. Some here tonight are lost sheep. The Good Shepherd is calling to each and every human being who has ever been born or ever will be born. Jesus’ agony is to care for his sheep. Despite being heartbroken himself, and in tremendous pain, Jesus never lost sight of his purpose in life and in death – to care for and feed his sheep. This is in fact the next thing that Jesus said on the cross: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” The robber trusted Jesus, the Good Shepherd, at the very end of his life, and with great love and a tremendous sense of fulfillment, Jesus welcomed him into his eternal kingdom.

    The next thing we read about Jesus is the aforementioned verses in this passage, John 19:25-27.

    Here we see another side of Jesus – the eldest son. Although the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus’ parents did not have any children, we see in Matthew chapter 12 that they not only had children, but that Jesus was Mary’s oldest son. As the eldest I think Jesus felt responsible to care for his mother. Although the Gospels do not mention it explicitly, it seems that Joseph, Mary’s husband, had passed away, leaving Jesus to ensure his mother was provided for. This shows us once again Jesus’ true heart – despite the agony he was suffering, like the Good Shepherd he is, he provided for his mother. Despite his own intense suffering and anguish – spiritual, mental, emotional and physical – he still did not lose his heart of love for his sheep. Jesus loved his mother deeply, and knew that her heart was also breaking – a “sword” was piercing her heart, and he knew that she simply could not survive the anguish without the presence of other believers to carry her through. Whenever we lose a loved one, we need to have other believers around us who can carry us through the grief, the pain, so that we can eventually become whole again. So here too, we see Jesus’ deep heart of love for his mother, in spite of his own anguish. Jesus deepest agony was to save his lost sheep; even deeper than the physical agony he was suffering, which in itself was tremendous; even deeper than the anguish of rejection, and his own broken-heartedness and overwhelming sense of helplessness, was his anguish over his lost sheep, of which his mother Mary was one. Are you getting a little better sense of who Jesus really was, and is?

    The next thing that Jesus said on the cross is recorded in Matthew and Mark. Jesus was on the cross for three hours from noon until 3 PM. During this time the sun stopped shining and darkness came over the whole land. This moment was the most difficult moment of Jesus’ entire life. The words he said are a quote from Psalm 22:

    “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    This was the most difficult moment of Jesus’ entire life here on earth. Here we see the entire purpose of his life fulfilled. Jesus’ agony reached a peak at this time. His physical suffering was intense, unbelievably intense. He was in turmoil emotionally, rejected, heart-broken, suffering intense emotional anguish. Yet this was nothing compared to the inconceivable anguish of spirit he experienced when the Father turned His face away.

    May I ask you something? Have you ever experienced the fellowship of the Holy Spirit? Have you been given a sense of assurance by the Comforter? If you are a Christian, I know you have. Those who “have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age”, know what it means to be comforted, assured, protected, uplifted and delivered by the Holy Spirit of God, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God specializes in ‘Holy Spirit hugs.’ :) If you’ve been with God through a difficult time, you have experienced the love of the Comforter. As we grow in grace and are molded into the image of Jesus per God’s eternal purpose for mankind, our awareness of the presence of God becomes greater and greater. Like breathing, the spirit of a born-again Christian is continuously communing with God’s Spirit, and as we grow in grace we become more and more aware of this communion. It was like this for Jesus too. He was continuously aware, in his spirit and in his conscious, waking mind, of his Father’s presence. Like the mother of a child, Jesus utterly depended on the Father for everything: for guidance, for direction, for comfort, for assurance… in literally every way, every day, every moment of his life, he was in closest communion with his Father. Nothing ever separated them, nothing ever came between, nothing ever broke that incredibly close-knit relationship throughout Jesus’ entire life, except at this moment. At this moment, the darkest of his entire life, in the midst of inconceivable agony of mind and body, Jesus experienced, literally, the death blow to his spirit. God the Father, in the form of the Holy Spirit, withdrew from him. God the Father turned his face away from his only begotten, dearly beloved son. Perhaps another time we will consider the feelings of God the Father, but for now we are focused on Jesus. Losing the sense of God’s presence, God’s assurance, God’s love: these things are unimaginable for a Christian. It is simply impossible to conceive of what it was like to be separated from the living God in this way.

    For me personally, there is no question that without the continuous presence of God, without the continuous assurance of God, without the continuous comfort of God, the protection of God, I literally would not be alive. I would be a broken man, mentally deranged and completely lost in darkness of mind, body and spirit. Yet this is not what happened. Instead, God the Father sent His Holy Spirit to deliver me from evil, to protect, uplift and deliver me from everything that threatens to overwhelm me. “Thank you, thank you, thank you so much God, thank you so much Jesus, for what you have done for me.” Without the presence of the Holy Spirit, without the comfort and protection of the Comforter, I would be dead. This same Holy Spirit is the Word of God, upholding and sustaining all things, including the incalculably precious faith of each and every sheep in God’s fold. I believe that it is this Holy Spirit, this Comforter, that in some sense left Jesus when God turned his face away. I believe that this is what caused Jesus to cry out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    Why did God the Father turn his face away from Jesus, his precious, beloved, one and only Son? The answer is simple: there was no other way. If God did not allow his own Son to pay the death penalty incurred by man’s sin, mankind would be eternally lost – eternally! God’s love for his lost sheep is so unimaginably great that he was willing to come down from heaven himself in the form of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, to die in order to satisfy the judicial requirement in heaven that mankind must die. “You shall surely die” is what God told Adam in the Garden of Eden. Instead of you and me, Jesus died. In the moment that God turned his face away from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, God executed the death penalty. Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb of God, taking on himself the sins of the whole world. He became sin for us, and took the full force of God’s judgment directly on himself – the death penalty in mind, body and spirit. In that moment, Jesus was separated from God the Father spiritually, because he literally became sin for us, and God judged him on the cross in our place. As I said, this was necessary in order to fulfill the judicially decreed death penalty for sin. Jesus, as the pure, spotless, sinless Lamb of God, was the only candidate possible to suffer the death penalty. No other sacrifice would suffice to meet God’s demands for justice. In the cross we see the character of God very clearly: God is a God of justice, who agonizes over injustice. He literally cannot stand injustice in any form. At the same time, God is a God of mercy, of love, a God who is full of compassion and cannot stand to see suffering and pain. In the cross the character of God is perfectly expressed: He is a God who is 100% merciful, who took our sins upon Himself in order to deliver us from death, darkness and eternal separation from God. He is also a God who is 100% just, who paid the complete, full and total penalty for our sin. There is no other God like this who is 100% merciful and 100% just. Though you search the world over, you will not find any other God who is 100% merciful and 100% just. Only the God of Jesus Christ is this way.

    In his book of daily devotions, “My Utmost for His Highest”, Oswald Chambers had this to say about the Cross of Christ: “The Cross of Christ is the revealed truth of God’s judgment on sin. Never associate the idea of martyrdom with the Cross of Christ. It was the supreme triumph, and it shook the very foundations of hell. There is nothing in time or eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross— He made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God. He made redemption the foundation of human life; that is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God.”

    “The Cross was not something that happened to Jesus— He came to die; the Cross was His purpose in coming. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” ( Revelation 13:8 ). The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. Beware of separating “God was manifested in the flesh. . .” from “. . . He made Him. . . to be sin for us. . .” (1 Timothy 3:16 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21 ). The purpose of the incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take sin away, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both.”

    “The Cross is not the cross of a man, but the Cross of God, and it can never be fully comprehended through human experience. The Cross is God exhibiting His nature. It is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. But it is not a gate we pass right through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there.”

    “The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.”

    Let’s turn now to the remaining verses in this passage. We have touched on the first four things that Jesus said on the cross, and now we move to the remaining three. In verse 28 we read that Jesus once again made every effort to ensure that the Scripture remain unbroken. As we discussed a few minutes ago, this is one of the three places in this passage where the author John makes it abundantly clear that everything to do with Jesus – his birth, life, death and resurrection – were all according to the Scripture which was prophesied long before, and “would be fulfilled” “in the fullness of time.” We who have trusted Jesus for the salvation of our souls have the rock of Scripture upon which we base our faith, a record which has withstood the test of time and to this day stands firm against all attempts to discredit its validity. We only need consider testimonies such as Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ” or Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” to realize the truth of this statement. Praise God for the comfort and instruction of the Scriptures in which we can fully trust.

    The final two things that Jesus said on the cross are recorded in Luke 23:46 and in John 19:30. I am not quite sure in what order these occurred, but suspect that he spoke the words in Luke first. These words are very moving, and testify in the end to the Jesus’ great faith. Despite all the agony, all the pain, all the darkness, Jesus kept the faith. One of the last things he said was “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) Then, it seems to make sense to me that with his last breath he said “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Jesus was faithful to the end, even in the most difficult of circumstances, during the most trying time of his life. As it says in Hebrews 5: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” The agony of God is to redeem lost souls.

    Dear John, this is the Son of Man and the Son of God in whom we believe and have put our trust.

    In closing, I want to ask you a question… did you know that it is when life is most difficult, most dark, most trying, most hopeless, most painful, most agonizing – did you know that this is the time that you are fulfilling God’s purpose for your life? Christians, molded into the image of God the Son, are also destined for the cross. This is part and parcel of what it means to be a Christian. In this world, you will encounter many difficulties, but by faith we overcome the world and win the victory, the final result of which brings praise, honor and glory to God, and eternal life with Him. Let us rejoice with Jesus, Prophet, Priest and King, when he says “It is finished.” Praise God that salvation has been accomplished and the way has been opened for each and every human being to trust in Jesus for eternal redemption. Praise God that salvation, full and free, has been accomplished, for as we read in Hebrews 9:12 “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” Praise God the Jesus paid the price “once for all”, and by his sacrifice the way is now open to all who put their trust in Him!

    • Hello, Dr. Bill (Dr. William?)

      What does it got to do with Lee Changwoo’s deserting his duty leaving his neighbor soldiers, including American soldiers to come to Korea to defend Korea, to certain death?
      I learned that before the WWII there was no draft for the army. It was volunteer system. Because Americans believed in Nobles Oblige so much many educated people, such as doctors, lawyers professors engineers etc. volunteered to the front and perished to defend their country. Realizing this will deplete the population of educated and conscious people, America introduced the conscription system. Isn’t it irony that Korean war deserter came to America and teach Americans?

    • Dr. Bill.
      I should include clergy among the Nobles.
      Yesterday was memorial day and the PBS broadcasted Memorial Concert with flashbacks of the war.
      There was a scene of Khesan battle (Vietnam) where a chaplain was helping the dying solder with last blessing amid explosions. The scene was so contrasting American soldiers fighting and dying for Koreans while Koreans were deserting. It is a shame.

  17. John, I want to let our readers know that I have already warned you the other day privately by email regarding your comments here. I have moved some of your comments to a holding queue because they violated nearly all of our Commenting Policies. If you’d like to submit an article about Dr. Samuel Lee, please do so. In spite of the title of this article, this blog is not intended to be a place for demonizing Dr. Samuel Lee.

    Dr. Bill, please remember our policy to be concise.

    • Yongha Lee

      Thank you Brian for the reminder. It is good that we have comment policy!!

  18. Brian Karcher

    The other day privately you asked me for the proof such as the newspaper in order for you to believe what I said and removed from your site. I have sent the internet news, which was published by a prestigious Korean Christian media already. Have you not received it or do you still doubt it?

    John

    • John, I have not received any newspaper articles or links from you.

    • Hi Brian.

      It’s weird.

      You said you are a computer scientist and you are missing emails.
      I have just sent you another email with the attachment again but it was returned because the addressee is no-reply address. If you give me your email address which accept reply I will send you again.

      If you still have doubt visit http://www.deulsoritimes.co.kr/index.php?var=news_view&page=7&code=201&no=3185

      To be honest, the original of the file I sent to you disappeared from my main computer. I am suspecting being hacked but I saved the file in many places such as hotmail or yahoo mail and of course in CD and USB in order to protect from hackers.

      Sincerely.

    • Hello, Brian.

      Did you have chance to have the newspaper article translated for you? If not, I can use this opportunity to translate it and point out for you which part (in fact almost all of the article) is wrong and intentionally wrong.

      In cluding the person’s being Spanish translator for the president’s wife.

      J

    • Just pointing out something for our readers… John contacted me privately a few years ago. He experienced the same problems at ubf in 1958 (*before* ubf was founded officially) as we did in 2011….perhaps John will be asked to contribute to the ubf history website? … or not :/

  19. The annual graveyard celebration continued this weekend. Think ubf will change? Think again. Apparently “true succession” doesn’t involve non-Korean leadership. And the standard of ubf messages is to use Lee’s messages…

    “Fourth, succeeding of UBF ministry does not come from changing people one day from Korean missionaries to native leaders. True succeeding comes from imitating the UBF bible messages. For this M. Daniel proposed producing the standard message of UBF based on reviewing Dr. Lee’s Bible messages.”

    • Hi Brian, I was searching but I could not find the UBF link to where you found this to report on it.

    • Ben,

      This isn’t published as far as I know. ubf sent the to me indirectly. Here are the new rules of accountability that ubf leaders have to live by now:

      1. Any “sheep” or “sheherdess” or “shepherd” anywhere in any timezone at anytime can contact each other and/or me and former members via numerous social media methods.

      2. Any report or announcement about ubf could be instantly made public around the world via social media.

      3. Reports that piss me off will end up on my blog.

  20. I appreciate the article and I am glad it’s posted as it shows exactly what the UBF does or has done to us. So you can can understand my perspective, my entire childhood up until the end of high school was spent with UBF. Not only that, but my family started multiple smaller chapters around the US, eventually ending up (with Brian Karcher) in Toledo UBF.

    I don’t think anyone questions or is misunderstood in understanding that the intent behind why UBF was created was all good. I also don’t think anyone honestly believes Samuel Lee created this for his own manipulative ways. The issues at hand more revolves around the effects of what ubf has done and it’s manner in which they address issues, problems, etc. and the unsatisfying answers in how they are to be solved.

    There can always be misplaced blame as well as misplaced victimization. It’s a quite common psychological to justify things that are obviously negative or “not right”. I’m sure through everything people have pointed the figure at Samuel Lee and maybe because of emotions have crossed a certain line of blaming / embellishing etc. On the opposite side of that though, one can’t infer in any way shape or form that Samuel Lee deserves sympathy or is some type of victim.

    Your article is clear on its neutrality for either side as stated in the info of both sides and opinions. That being said, using the word “defied” and the overall sentiment of the article infers Samuel lee as a victim of some sort with a “raw deal”. This however is a perfect example of how powerful the effects are of those that came through their system. They mold you to think and believe a certain way that is ultimately to their benefit and likeness. The problems with Samuel lee and the past isn’t about basic human tendencies etc. The issue is about how those tendencies as a whole set the foundation for what eventually warped and ruined innocent families, children, and relationships.

    That all being said, you are right in that we are human and mistakes happen. But when there is no true accountability or closure, aka many people felt the organization as a whole never really addresses or has addressed serious issues, we are talking about something that will continue to go on. Families, children, and relationships will continue to be changed in a “warped” way. Whether positive or negative is defined by the individual.

    I just want to conclude by saying this. The reason why I posted this is because I think of all the kids that will walk through their doors now and in the future. We all understand that in our world alone (not including religion) many kids are neglected and left behind. When a religious organization whose motives are meant to be positive but to the opposite, are the reason behind the negative repercussions to kids especially; we all should do something about it. That is why I do take issue with article because although not literally biased it obviously infers sympathy towards Samuel Lee as if he was some treated with unfairness and ridicule. However, it makes sense to see the natural tendencies the UBF leaves behind in all of us…even if we don’t notice it ourselves.

    • Thanks PaulLee, I hope you don’t mind that I paragraphed your comments.

    • No Problem, Thanks Ben.

    • Ben Toh, I have been reading up on some other ubf stuff from other websites and I couldn’t help but notice your name came up quite often with some horrible memories. I apologize if this has been addressed but
      1) Could you point me to a link where this is addressed or if I’m mixing people up

      2) Are you still an active member of the UBF as I’ve seen you come up in many recent posts on google with UBF

      Thanks

    • MJ Peace

      “The reason why I posted this is because I think of all the kids that will walk through their doors now and in the future. We all understand that in our world alone (not including religion) many kids are neglected and left behind. When a religious organization whose motives are meant to be positive but to the opposite, are the reason behind the negative repercussions to kids especially; we all should do something about it.”

      I agree with these sentiments completely and they are the reasons why I read ubfriends and comment. There is a problem with UBF (implied) doctrine and it cannot be ignored. (I don’t even know what UBF doctrine is, but I guess it’s the core values.) I don’t know how change will happen, but it must. Even in Ukraine UBF, I see children neglected. I was with the CBF kids the other day and saw how their parents spend time in Bible Studies and Prayer meetings, but don’t know how to raise their kids. Sometimes their babies are left alone, while the parents are at meetings. I thought this was old school UBF, but it still goes on. (I’m not saying all the parents are like that. There are awesome parents too. I respect them and love them as my brothers and sisters in Christ. But my point is that UBF needs to offer more than just Bible Studies and campus ministry. As a church, UBF needs to support the congregation and provide lessons on practical life, marriage counseling, children raising, etc. Sometimes, UBF acts as though family issues are mundane and not as worthy of time and energy as campus ministry is.)

      Reconciliation is also a painful topic. People who have left the ministry are still “demonized” or worse completely ignored and cut out of life. It’s unbelievable how shallow UBF relationships are. It’s heartbreaking that people who you thought were your friends, suddenly ignore you or are afraid to be seen with you because the “Pastor” says you are heretical. They say apathy is worse than hate.

  21. Hi Paul! And welcome to ubfriends.

    “Not only that, but my family started multiple smaller chapters around the US, eventually ending up (with Brian Karcher) in Toledo UBF.”

    I remember you, but I don’t recall ever speaking with you. HBF was a “taboo” zone for anyone to get involved with. I was to be focused on “campus mission”.

    I remember talking many times with your father. I only know your parents as “Abraham and Sarah”. But your father always struck me as what I would call a “man of the Spirit”. It was odd to me at the time, but I was very much drawn to whatever your father had to say because I could sense a genuine, Christian attitude.

    I hope someday we can learn the stories behind your family’s disappearance. Your family’s stories are an important piece of the Toledo ubf puzzle.

    But at least I can understand one thing better now. Anyone (like your parents) who respected ubf authorities but ultimately obeyed the Holy Spirit, are pushed out of ubf or just leave. There is no room in most ubf chapters for genuine, Spirit-led Christians.

    • Hey Brian, I want to say thank you btw for this site as I feel it provides a lot of people some feelings of peace and closure. I feel my perspective is a little unique as I am part of the 2nd generation that went through that horrible “system” and now as an adult can share my thoughts.

      In regards to your questions and comments…
      Yes, I remember you as well but I don’t think we spoke much. Now being 30 years old, some of the memories are gone ;)

      My dad is a super spiritual guy and in my opinion one of the few people that (although not correct) stayed consistent with the purpose of UBF.

      As we all know, a lot of the ubf stuff also comes from Korean male testosterone etc etc. That being said, my dad is absolutely in that same boat in regards to his faults. However, my dad actually cared about God and spiritual relationships genuinely. He still however should have had the common sense to realize the hypocrisy behind the entire ubf model but that is neither here nor there.

      In regards to our leaving Toledo UBF I will let you know my side of what happened…

      *Let me preface this by saying that I own my business, I have my own lawyer, and am very knowledgeable of the law and would never post anything that crosses those lines or couldn’t easily be defended in court etc.

      We moved to Toledo for my dad’s work in Jan 1999 and for once got to join an actual big church instead of always being in house churches. Because we had prior relations with the hbf there I was very excited. Throughout our time there everything was pretty typical etc. In 2000, (right before the reform movement started) my father felt he could be better utilized starting another house church as Toledo UBF was booming at the time. Since toledo has the main university there plus at that time a medical college (where he taught at) he wanted to focus on that school.

      From what I understand Samuel lee immediately said no or whatever and toledo ubf’s pastor, the infamous Paul Hong (like all ubf leaders) agreed with him. At this same time all of the ubf reform stuff was going on and my parents became a big part of that. They felt that things weren’t being communicated correctly and decisions weren’t being made with “god” in mind.

      My dad obviously decided god’s calling for him was to leave etc etc. This was a problem because he was clearly defying his orders. So in true Ubf/Samuel Lee form, at our last worship service or week per say at the toledo chapter our family was completely thrown under the bus & humiliated. Paul Hong in “all his splendor” publicly bashed my parents decision, informed others to not support/communicate us etc. and the list goes on and on.

      As a 16 year old boy I had already realized that UBF was a complete hypocritical joke so I wasn’t surprised. However, the two things I was surprised by were the following.

      1) Friends and people of that chapter literally stopped talking to us and told others that we were outcasts, horrible people, etc.

      2) My family (we are not rich) gave everything to that chapter since the day we got there. My brothers and I were at that silly church almost 6 days a week as well doing whatever they needed! Orchestra Practice, Daily Bread, Sunday Service, HBF meetings, testimony writing, and the list goes on and on.

      I couldn’t believe that after all of this people actually “just like that” looked at us as if they didn’t know us anymore.

      After we left was when the whole reform movement really was getting big. Around the peak of it was when there was that big forum going around where people spoke etc.

      One incident that was memorable around that time was Daniel Hong, (Shippensburg, PA UBF Pastor) who was also Paul Hong’s (Toledo UBF Pastor) brother, emailed the university my father taught at, asking them to “fwd his emails” (about my dad + what was going on with ubf / the reform) to my dad. Obviously he was essentially using a bully tactic by trying to make him look bad and somehow get him in trouble with his job etc. Obviously just an absolute low ball & pathetic method of bullying and intimidation. Ironically, Daniel Hong passed away a little bit after all of this stuff went down.

      Since then, we haven’t had any relations with them and I know for me, never will. I will say that the reform itself, although with good intention, ended up being just a UBF #2.

      I was to point out that this isn’t about my dad being right or better etc. I personally believe all father’s (including my dad) that stayed in the ubf system that long, all while clearly seeing the hypocrisy, are themselves guilty as well.

      Any dad that keeps their family and children through that system should be ashamed. At the age of 16 I could list 20 things about the ubf that were very wrong / odd. I am glad this website exists so that other kids can possibly be saved from ever having to go through what I and many other kids went through.

      I could rant all day about my 18 years in that church, but due to the length that it would be, maybe I’ll save that for its own post ;)

  22. Sorry, I left one part out on my previous comment. Everything I stated in terms of the “negative aspects” or repercussions as well the vast quantity of people hurt by it is generally why you rarely see people bring up positive aspects of Samuel lee and why people are so against shedding any type of positive light on him in any way shape or form. It’s not that he probably wasn’t a good guy or had good intentions, it’s just that all the bad farrrrr out weigh the good to most people. Similar to the scandal at Penn State with the legendary Coach Paterno. When it’s all said and done, there is no question the great things and kind man he was. However, Paterno’s mishandling of the Jerry Sandusky stuff and the children that are forever scarred from it now make his past positives nothing but a memory.

  23. Brian, PaulLee, did your parents have these traits that may have caused them to leave ubf? http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/06/20/traits-ubf-leaders-do-not-like/

    • Ben, in my memory, Abraham and Sarah Lee displayed most of your traits listed…They appeared to me to be the strong, silent type and showed very much respect to everyone they met.

      3. Bold.
      4. Takes the initiative.
      5. Speaks out. Speaks his/her mind freely.
      6. Independent minded.
      7. Follows one’s conscience or the Holy Spirit, rather than the leader.

    • To be honest, only 1 of those traits truly describes both of them…

      7. Follows one’s conscience or the Holy Spirit, rather than the leader.

      I personally have never felt God telling me what to do etc. but many people like my parents obviously do. They left for one reason and one reason only, and that was because they felt it was God’s calling.

      That’s literally their whole life. They follow the bible to the tee and everything is about doing whats best for God and not people.

  24. Hi PaulLee,

    Can you elaborate on this statement to help me understand what you are attempting to ask me: “I couldn’t help but notice your name (Ben Toh) came up quite often with some horrible memories.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-14521

  25. Hey Ben, from what I read in blog posts (to generalize) former ubf members were inferring that you had many similar traits of Dr. Samuel Lee and a lot of people have had bad experiences with you in the form of typical ubf-mental-verbal abuse or “training”. I believe the user name ben toh responded but didn’t know if this was you or not. Have you had past experiences with ex ubf members posting about you and past instances?

  26. Paul,

    Sounds like we should meet :) There is a lot of catching up to do. For example, it is likely that only one or two families are still at Toledo ubf from the time you were there. My family “pioneered” Detroit, then shut down our chapter in protest. Even PH is not the director any longer there.

    Some of us participated in the prior ex-ubf community. You can even read my foolish defense of ubf from 2004/2005….

    http://www.voy.com/60734/

    And you mentioned something about lawyers… I should contact you as I want to have a lawyer on standby. The ubf leadership already initiated a lawsuit against one of us back in 2007, and they would not hesitate to do it again, given my priestlynation blog and my two books published about my ubf recovery.

  27. Yes, PaulLee, this is basically true: “former ubf members were inferring that you had many similar traits of Dr. Samuel Lee and a lot of people have had bad experiences with you in the form of typical ubf-mental-verbal abuse or ‘training.’” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#sthash.Td6GY7gh.dpuf

    Over the last few years, I’ve made personal efforts to visit and apologize to several of my former fellowship members for hurting and lording over them. Here is what I wrote over 2 years ago, which also includes other links: http://www.ubfriends.org/2012/03/29/abuse-part-ii-spinning-the-truth-avoiding-transparency-guilt-manipulation-promoting-neediness/

    • Ben, I just posted something on another article but it was before I saw this post. Read that when you can and I will read your links as we speak. Respond at your convenience. Thanks

  28. PaulLee, I browsed through John Armstrong’s link that you provided in your other comment. In 2007 I was “coming out of my UBF box and bubble,” for want of a better way to say this. Sometime after the blog postings, I called and personally met up with Jim St. Lawrence and apologized to him. I was and am sincerely sorry for the things that I said and did that hurt him. I think our meeting went well and he accepted my apology. I also met with another person who commented anonymously on Armstrong’s blog and apologized to her and her husband.

    Yes, I should not have stated that “I don’t remember.” It is not helpful and it only avoids taking full responsibility and accountability for my hurtful words and actions.

  29. Though this has unfortunately been true to varying degrees, probably more so with the older missionaries families, trying to see this as GHF instead of GHE, this is likely changing gradually, especially with my own children’s generation: “Sometimes their babies are left alone, while the parents are at meetings. I thought this was old school UBF, but it still goes on. Sometimes, UBF acts as though family issues are mundane and not as worthy of time and energy as campus ministry is.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-14542

  30. Even if ubf leaders are still unable to or not quite ready to address this on a significant and practical scale, I subtly sense that more and more leaders are gradually realizing and beginning to acknowledge that this is a HUGE HUGE HORRIBLE HORRIFIC PROBLEM: “Reconciliation is also a painful topic. People who have left the ministry are still “demonized” or worse completely ignored and cut out of life. It’s unbelievable how shallow UBF relationships are. It’s heartbreaking that people who you thought were your friends, suddenly ignore you or are afraid to be seen with you because the “Pastor” says you are heretical.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-14545

    I’ve been chanting this mantra for the last few years: “Reconciliation is at the very heart of God and the very core of the gospel. If any church does not regard reconciliation work (which is painful and messy) as of high priority and importance, she would become less and less like Christ.”

  31. Ben, I wonder if you can answer a question. It’s a very personal question, so it might be very difficult to approach online. However, I sense in this article you wrote (about 2 years ago) you share lovingly about how Dr. Lee blessed your life, while acknowledging things that were problematic as well.

    I wonder, if Dr. Lee were in your life now, what would you say to him regarding problematic behaviors?

    The reason I ask is, there are a number of people in UBF who have such a person (such a blessing in many ways, yet authoritarian and non-listening, at worst) to whom we are indebted but who also crosses a number of boundaries.

    And if you were to say, approach them lovingly and prayerfully and be honest, what if said blessing person is extremely defensive and offended?

    Not to dig up old skeletons, but learning how to approach this kind of situation is crucial to personal spiritual formation and possibly the future survival of UBF.

    Any thoughts?

  32. Matt, I’ve wondered that same thing. Ben is free because Slee is dead. But what do you do when your authoritarian shepherd who crosses all your personal boundaries is alive?

    • There’s another Slee in the organization now btw, so you can’t use that shortcut lol.

  33. Thanks Matt, Brian, for your excellent question. I’ve thought of this question myself. This is my spontaneous extemporaneous unscripted and likely very messy answer which I am still trying to figure out as I type!

    My first thought is that I don’t really have to answer the question or deal with it! since he has already passed on in 2002.

    Next, I felt that God took SL when He did to allow things to happen as they have been happening since he died–which are good for some and bad for others.

    It has been great for those who are willing to and able to articulate grievances and address glaring problems and issues, especially of authoritarianism and spiritual abuse. But for those who want to ignore these messy problems and issues, or keep the status quo, or keep the lid tightly on, it has likely not been the most pleasant of times for them.

    Nonetheless, my thought today is that if SL were still alive, I would say and do what I have been saying and doing. If he was the person he was when he was alive, I might have been treated the way some of his objectors were treated. Of course, this is pure speculation and really a moot point, since God took him when God took him.

  34. MattC, Let me add that this is a practical and real issue that I have heard countless times from many different people: “And if you were to say, approach them lovingly and prayerfully and be honest, what if said blessing person is extremely defensive and offended?” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-14555

    My thought and suggestion is to keep pressing the issue (with gentleness, prayer, respect and humility) as much as you feel compelled and convicted by God to do so.

    I’ve tried to explain to some leaders that some UBF leaders simply do not welcome nor allow their people to question or disagree with them. I’ve repeatedly stated that this HAS TO CHANGE.

  35. My firm conviction and unwavering belief is that you have to be who you are in Christ.

    Therefore, you do not have to be what someone else says you should be.

    It is absolutely not their right to do so as a Christian, or as your pastor, shepherd, missionary, or chapter director.

  36. I appreciate your honesty and sincerity, Ben, and also how you were able to respond to my question. It appears to be a simple one, but it is not. I think your approach is the one God has also been unraveling to me as well.

  37. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    Ben Toh’s willing acceptance that Dr. Samuel Lee’s wrong doing cause me to trust him more than anyone who refuses to do so.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      **Ben Toh’s willing acceptance of Dr. Samuel Lee’s wrong doing cause me to trust him more than anyone who refuses to do so.

      Is there no edit function?

    • “Is there no edit function?”

      Forests, we did look into comment editors in the past. But the plugins we tried out messed up our theme and made the articles difficult to read (some sort of CSS/stylesheet issue). I’ll check again though.

    • And I agree fully, Forests. One of the qualities that gives me confidence to choose to trust someone is their ability to see both the good and the bad. Conversely, I stopped trusting the ubf echelon because they refuse to acknowledge the bad. I no longer trust anything published from ubf.org either, because it is just nostalgic hagiography.

  38. “I stopped trusting the ubf echelon because they refuse to acknowledge the bad.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-14580

    Without justifying or excusing anyone, part of the reason and explanation as to why some older UBFers are unable to or plainly refuse to see, realize or acknowledge the bad is likely cultural.

    In such a life long culturally conditioned authoritarian hierarchical psyche where unquestioning loyalty to a leader or church is a most valued attribute and sentiment, it would seem to be virtually and practically impossible to call out someone “above you” as bad or wrong.

    It does not make it right. It certainly comes of as being either dishonest or lacking objectivity or plainly stubborn. But that is the unfortunate current reality not of all UBFers but of some.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      More and more I discover that many many UBF people do not think with this twisted ideology, but cannot/will not challenge life long friends and family.

    • Great obersvation Forests. Most of ubf is made up of “enablers”– people who silently mind their own business and don’t speak up. There are quite a few “propagators” who promote a toned down version of the heritage. And then there are the “guardians” at the top, about 20 or so worldwide, who have vowed their life to the ubf cause.

      In the past there were also “defenders”, like I used to be, who actually tried to make sense of the heritage and defend it. There are no more defenders as far as I can tell. And so now there are “instigators” (like me) who expose things.

      Perhaps new types of people are now at ubf?

    • Here is a real example from Toledo ubf. The claim by the director was always “we must work on unity”. After the new building project, he claimed “We are so united now!” But then half the leaders left the ministry, about 40 people in total including children.

      What I discovered was that Toledo ubf was VERY united– almost all the members were very closely united in what they wanted Toledo ubf to be. They had only minor disagreements about various issues. The HUGE disunity was that the director and a couple top leaders had massively different ideas about authority and the heritage.

      So the seeds of discord were sown by the top 3 or 4 leaders who refused to listen to the larger group of members. In my observation, those 4 guardians shipwrecked the Toledo ubf chapter.

      My role was to connect people and get them talking to each other. That’s all they needed to do to realize we were all fighting against the same thing– heritage guarders who insisted on being “God’s anointed servants” for life.

    • “… part of the reason and explanation as to why some older UBFers are unable to or plainly refuse to see, realize or acknowledge the bad is likely cultural. In such a life long culturally conditioned authoritarian hierarchical psyche … would seem to be virtually and practically impossible …”

      Yes, it’s part of the explanation. But remember 1974 again. The open letter shows that it was not virtually nor practically impossible for the Korean senior shepherds to call out the director. The problem started when Samuel Lee refused to answer them and admit his wrongdoings, he simply denied everything and went abroad for a while, until the dust settled, with the backing of Sarah Barry, only to reappear as big boss in Chicago, continuing the same kind of abuse. So it’s much less about Korean culture than it’s about UBF culture, and that culture was coined by Samuel Lee (bad cop) and Sarah Barry (good cop), not by the UBF members at the bottom. The whole misery of UBF cannot be understood or explained without speaking about the personality of its founder. Just like you can’t understand ICC without speaking about Kip McKean. It doesn’t have much to do with American culture (in this case), but mainly with he founder figure and the special cult(ure) he established. That UBF is an even more complicated case because of Confucianism is obvious. But it’s not so fundamentally different from a group like ICC.

  39. Yes, Chris, the founder and leader’s influence–both good and bad–permeates throughout UBF to this very day.

    Yes, the bad has been well reported and documented frequently since the 1970s on multiple different websites, including this one. But it should be noted and acknowledged that there are also many good things in UBF which continues to this day, which perhaps is not expressed often on UBFriends or on other websites that perpetually only highlight the abuses of certain UBF leaders.

    These are some of the good things that came out of UBF: Love of Scripture, frequent/regular reading of the Bible, Daily Bread/devotion, weekly fellowship, sharing and community, mission and world vision, evangelism and discipleship, self-support, spirit of responsibility and hard work, tithing, etc. I personally attribute my love of these things to the positive influence of UBF upon my life to this very day. So it is likely not fair to simply say this: “…only to reappear as big boss in Chicago, continuing the same kind of abuse.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-14590

    • Ben, all of these “good” things are in one or the other way tainted and therefore stop being good. And all of these slightly tainted things together make up a strongly tainted environment, because they amplify each other in a negative way when used in combination.

      Plus, and I repeated this often enough, in the context of a church (which UBF is claiming to be) of when somebody claims to be a teacher and authority over life of others (which UBF does) there is no outweighing of bad vs. good. Jesus said we should be perfect. That is the measure stick. There are many passages that say that even a little leaven leavens the whole lump. We know well enough there is more than a little leaven in UBF, and it has completely permeated the dough for decades. Therefore it is only fair to say that the whole dough is spoiled, unless this problem hasn’t been thoroughly been tackled. And so long as UBF is in complete denial and praises itself well enough through its websites and even museum, there is absolutely no need for me or any other critic to say anything good about it.

      You can take an example from the Bible: Isn’t it clear that there were a lot of good things the Pharisees taught and practiced and isn’t their devotedness to God admirable? Yet, the Bible doesn’t seem to say a good word about them and is only speaking bad about them as if they were the worst sinners of those days. Isn’t that unfair and unbalanced in the same way as you say our criticism of UBF is unfair? But remember what you wrote about the seriousness of the sin of the “elder brother”. That’s why the Bible is so harsh with the Pharisees and does not mention their “good things”.

      Also, don’t confuse criticism of the UBF system and its leaders with criticism of UBF people in general. There are many nice people in UBF, since UBF systematically fishes those who are obedient, diligent, religious, sacrificial. But that does not make the UBF system and its leaders any better, only worse, since they are exploiting the naivety and goodnaturedness of such people.

      I don’t understand your last sentence. I think it’s completely fair and correct to say that Samuel Lee continued the same kind of abuse as he started in UBF. It is also fair to say that he made himself a “big boss”. What does “General director, Ph.d. Litt. D.” that he himself printed on his letters different from “the big boss”?

  40. Chris, As I’ve expressed countless times before, I do not disagree with you. But don’t you think you have taken a hard line on the other side, as some UBF leaders have taken a hard line on the side of UBF?

    You say UBF is bad and the good negates the bad. But I know many good people in UBF who say that UBF is good despite the bad. Who is the final arbiter of what is good and bad?

    You judge UBF as mainly bad by quoting various Scriptures. UBFers judge UBF as having much good and having done much good also by quoting various Scriptures.

    You insist you are right in your reasons and arguments, and UBF is wrong (again by quoting verses), while UBF keeps insisting you are wrong and that UBF is still helping people come to Christ.

    Are both sides (UBF vs. anti-UBF) that much dissimilar to the horrible seemingly irresolvable Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where both sides seem to not be willing to budge, but keep hurling bombs and missiles at the other side? Of course, we Christians are not that violent! We just do so in a Christianized “polite” version using words and quoting Bible verses that basically do not promote understanding, concession, friendship, humility, gentleness, patience, kindness, trust, grace and reconciliation.

  41. “Are both sides (UBF vs. anti-UBF) that much dissimilar to the horrible seemingly irresolvable Israeli-Palestinian conflict”

    Sorry, I see no similarity here at all. We’re talking about an organization that claims to be a church, but has a founder and a set of teachings and practices resembling a cult. “Anti-UBF” are just those who criticize the organization because of that. Also, the whole thing is not irresolvable. It is easily solvable by top leaders admitting the clearly documented abuse of the past (like the forced abortions), repenting, and apologizing, or by members informing themselves and either demanding that this happens or leaving. Should not be difficult for people who claim to be Christians. You’re really comparing things that have nothing in common. You could just as well claim that “Jehovah’s witnesses” and “Anti Jehovah’s witnesses” are like Isrealis and Palestinians, it would make just as little sense to me.

  42. Ben,

    Have you seen the movie Coraline?

    That movie describes the ubf experience most of us had. Only if someone extraordinary happens does someone have a different experience. And even then, those people cannot ignore the reality of what ubf life is all about.

    If you really “do not disagree” with Chris’ perspective, then what is the rub for you? I don’t understand your perspective.

    I find Chris’ comments accurate and would commend him fully for explaining very plainly and without anger.

  43. The subtlety of language and communication is vast and limitless in her varied expressions.

    I can annoy and even pick at my wife’s short-comings and she can laugh and feel loved (most of the time), even if others who notice our bickering have expressed that I do not love her, because I am intentionally provoking her and making her upset.

    At the other extreme a husband can behave well and come across as being very loving, but the wife perceives that he does not love and treasure her deeply from his heart.

    Incidentally, I have never advised any husband to do what I do!

    Yes, Chris’ comments and the comments of many (including mine) I believe are for the most part accurate based on our own (and others) opinions, assessments, evaluation and perceptions. Many of us have already stated ad nauseam the countless demerits of UBF. I’m not saying that this is ever easy or that I know how to do so. But how we express UBF’s wrongdoings can either promote dialogue and open channels of communication, friendship and trust, or they may shut them down altogether, and never the twain shall ever meet.

    Are we truly more interested in somehow finding some way to reconcile and dialogue and make UBF friends, or do we take delight in just repeatedly expressing over and over just how horrible UBF is?

    As many have already said, “There are many good people in UBF.” They may not know or care about all the bad UBF stuff. You may think they should know, but no one should force them if they are truly not interested. Toning up the rhetoric is not going to make them interested, if they are not. When they read and hear such critical stuff they will personally feel that they are being attacked, even if we say that we are simply targeting a few authoritarian leaders, who are determined to push their own top-down ubf agenda to their dying breadth.

    The vast majority of the UBF leaders being criticized really don’t give two hoots about anything written here. Right or wrong, they think they are “above” such petty complaints. Those who may read are the “common man.” In my opinion, repeatedly trashing UBF or bashing SL (even if true) will not appeal to the common man.

    • “The vast majority of the UBF leaders being criticized really don’t give two hoots about anything written here. Right or wrong, they think they are “above” such petty complaints.”

      And therein lies the problem: 1) The leaders don’t care 2) The leaders consider us ex-leaders as only petty complainers.

      You cannot resolve the ubf/ex-ubf division by changing us ex-leaders. We are a product of the ubf heritage training system. The only way anything will change is by changing the ubf leaders and their system. That happens to line up well my 2 open letter DEMANDS: 1) admit abuse 2) release the bonds.

      If those 2 things don’t change, then nothing changes.

      If leaders don’t show they care and admit abuse honestly then their authority will continue to be undermined by people like Forests.

      If leaders don’t put an end to their heritage training system (i.e. CME) and release their “sheep”, then people like me will continue to exist.

      If ubf people don’t want criticism from ex-leaders like Chris and I, then they should stop raising up people like us. Our problem is not that we rejected the ubf heritage training, but that we obeyed it too much.

    • “As many have already said, ‘There are many good people in UBF.'”

      Yes, and there are many good people in cults like Jehovah’s witnesses or among the Moonies or groups like ICC. They all want to do something that pleases God or bring peace to the world. That does not mean that the teachers and teachings of such cults are good, though.

      > They may not know or care about all the bad UBF stuff.

      Wait a monment. You should look at these people separately.

      First, there are those who do not know. What can we do about them? I think the best thing we can do is educate. I.e. if necessary, repeat the same info over and over again. Recently a long-time UBF member posted here who said she did not even know about the 1974 letter. So obviously we haven’t talked enough about it yet and I totally don’t understand your allegation that we talk “too much” about them.

      Second, there are those who know and do not care. This is a different group. To me it indicates they don’t have a conscience and they are not living before God. I don’t really consider such people among the “good” ones in UBF.

      I agree that in reality it’s often not that simple to separate these groups because of the psychological dynamics going on – cognitive dissonance and all that, we talked about it at length already. It’s particularly difficult when a group uses mind control to instill the belief that the group is God’s special ministry and their calling to be a member is their only and absolute purpose in life and even eternity. You’re then in the dilemma of either facing reality and admit evil or giving up your whole fantasy world in which you and your group are something special directly approved by God. Still, the only way to cure and debunk such delusion is to speak frankly and openly and repeatedly about the misconception and the errors and the sins.

      > will not appeal to the common man.

      There is no “common man” in UBF and I don’t think it’s the task of a Christian to speak in a way that pleases the common man.

  44. This member vs ex-member issue is important to think through. Sometimes it helps to get some third party viewpoints not related to your own organization or former organization.

    For example, read the reviews of Ron Enroth’s book “Churches that Abuse”.

    So yes, Enroth’s book does have a case study on UBF, the entire chapter 5, but the comments from the Amazon reviewers are NOT ubf or ex-ubf people. Read their words and see if what they say remind you of your ubf lifestyle. It is eye-opening to say the least.

  45. So then, back to this article: Why was Slee deified and demonized? Well he was demonized because some outside observers such as Mr. Enroth saw dangerous signs of abuse and documented it. Some of us say those things and reacted to them. At the same time other people shows signs of worshiping Slee even now, building a museum in his honor, visiting his gravesite annually and share lectures on his grave propagating his heritage teachings, and even hanging his picture in their house to get a buddha-like blessing.

    • Speaking of Slee’s picture…which is on the wall of most ubf Koreans houses… One time around 2004 or so I happened to visit Chicago ubf. I visited the house of a high ranking leader (still there today). I look younger than I am so he thought I was a single, young “shepherd”. He showed me Slee’s picture and began to tell me all the glorious things he saw in Slee. The way he looked at the picture while talking to me was eerie. Then his wife saw this and rebuked him, because she knew I was already a ubf director/house church. She said, “He already knows about Slee”.

    • The way this Korean leader spoke affectionately and with glazed over eyes reminded me of a teenager in love. Steven Hassan describes this phenomena in his book Freedom of Mind.

  46. Thanks, Chris, Brian, Again I really have no disagreement with the content of what you say. It is simply critiquing something that is perhaps impossible because it is purely subjective and subjunctive.

    The difference between us is perhaps simply that I am in UBF. Many leaders have a major problem with me probably simply because I write and comment on UBFriends, and I more importantly I regard you as my full fledged friends whom I can fully trust, while some UBF leaders would regard you as untrustworthy hateful evil enemies.

    My question still remains: “Are we truly more interested in somehow finding some way to reconcile and dialogue and make UBF friends, or do we take delight in just repeatedly expressing over and over just how horrible UBF is?” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-14596

    • “Are we truly more interested in somehow finding some way to reconcile and dialogue and make UBF friends, or do we take delight in just repeatedly expressing over and over just how horrible UBF is?”

      That this is a false dichotomy: There are many more different motivations than those two you present as the only two.

      Brian already explained some of them. My motivation is the same as Brian, I don’t want people both in UBF and not yet in UBF to not repeat the same mistakes I made. As I already explained, I’m following the “golden rule” here. Do to others what you want others do to you. Personally I would have liked others to warn me much earlier and tell me about things like the 1974 letter much earlier. I only learned about it after 10 years in UBF. Or, using the words of Brian: Friends don’t let friend become ubf shepherds.

      Actually we want to show much more generally how horrible spiritual abuse is and how wrong the whole shepherding/discipling movement is. The problem is not UBF, the people, but UBF the system. Because we love the people, be warn of the system, its teachings and practices. And yes, these teachings and practices are tightly coupled with the personality of its founder, that’s why we mention him so often. It’s not to “bash” him as you keep repeating. You simply can’t talk about UBF problems without talking about Samuel Lee, just like you can’t talk about the Unification Church without talking about Sun Myung Moon. We do not want to “demonize” Samuel Lee (another false dichotomy). We know that in a way he too was a victim of the system he himself created, and that he also was a victim of the flattery and blind loyalty and lack of honest criticism of the people around him like Sarah Barry and the upper echelon of UBF Koreans. If they loved him, they had criticized him frankly (Lev 19,17-18). In my understanding, the reformers loved Samuel Lee much more than all those who “deified” him.

  47. Ben,

    “It is simply critiquing something that is perhaps impossible because it is purely subjective and subjunctive”

    > No, ubf as an organization can be critiqued objectively (with reason) and indicatively (with facts). I care about the subjunctive wording found in both ubf and ex-ubf stories, but I care more about the indicatives observed about ubf for 50+ years. That is one smokescreen defense: ubf cannot be critiqued because everyone has their side of the story. Truth is indeed perspective, but when over 300 perspectives are processed, we can get a very clear picture of ubf.

    “Are we truly more interested in somehow finding some way to reconcile and dialogue and make UBF friends, or do we take delight in just repeatedly expressing over and over just how horrible UBF is?

    > Do I want to find a way to reconcile? Yes, but in a Christ-like manner.

    > Do I want to find a way to dialogue? Yes, but ONLY publicly. I will not dialogue much in private now.

    > Do I want to make UBF friends? No, I care nothing about MAKING friends with ubf people. I care deeply about BEING a friend TO ubf people. Friends don’t let friends throw their life away to the ubf heritage. Friends don’t let friend become ubf shepherds. Friends don’t let friends go through marriage-by-faith.

    > Do I take delight in just repeatedly expressing over and over just how horrible UBF is? No, I do not like going in circles. I don’t like those discussions. I do however enjoy taking the discussions to new places. I delight in exposing the truth. I delight in finding facts and making new connections and discovering new ideas. I delight in helping a plethora of ex ubf members cope with their ubf time. I delight in meeting people online like MattC, DarrenG, MJ, CharlesW, forests, and PaulLee and the others. And I will never tire of explaining and expounding on why the ubf heritage/CME training has almost nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  48. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    I feel like this conversation happens every two weeks. I have been silent so far.

    First, the “ubf system” of which I mean traditional works based salvation/sanctification via a prescribed “ubf way” justified by “ubf is a discipleship ministry”. It comes along with a lot of Korean stuff, like gossiping for one’s own good, which is based on the standard “ubf way”, assuming everyone will come around to the “ubf way” given enough bible study and praise, and holding hidden agendas to train “ancestors of faith”. Because UBF leaders assume the “ubf way” is solid no amount of argument against the assumption works. As my real analysis professor once said “You cannot hope to prove something you assume is false.”

    So what do you have to do? You have to show them contradictions, you have to make them question their assumptions. Simply put you have to break their rules and come out in a better spot than they would expect. You need to conform just enough to make them think you are loyal, and then challenge them showing in the end that you are more “blessed” due to the disobedience. That is the only way, and once that is done the only reasonable conclusion is that some assumption was wrong. Let me give you an example. The Philippines does not follow the traditional “ubf system”. They do some “ubf things” (like marriage by faith) but it is contextualized to their culture. What happened? Well they have astonishing numbers. To a hardline UBFer this does not make sense. What happened? I thought the system worked? So when I mention to a korean UBF leader of 30 years that they do not follow traditional UBF practice yet they have so much success what is his responce? A few weeks ago at a summer conference I heard him say “We need to not only teach students, but also learn from students. In the Philippines most students are not fished, they are brought by friends who have relationships. We need to have relationships with students and see them equally.”

    • Hey Forests, I really liked this response and I just wanted to add my two cents.

      It is good to find

      However, just a word of caution on the idea of getting involved, getting faithful enough, to bear some influence. In my last 13 years of doing pretty much that in UBF, while I have made some wonderful friends and learned a lot, I think there are still other considerations. Though I have more years than any american in our ministry, still my concerns, when voiced, are rarely received well. So it’s not just a matter of getting credibility. I guess all people are like that. Ultimately, we just have to do what’s right before the Lord, and “Live before God” in truth and spirit and let God do his work, without expecting people to listen much. Maybe you already thought about this. But I became sober to this reality last year in a very painful way, and it made me throw away my expectation that people would understand me “if only”. that really set my heart free to look at my situation in light of God’s grace and take one step at a time.

      It seems the person who is coming around the most to seeing what I see is my wife. She surprises me in seeing things more clearly at times than I do.

      Anyhow, standing in that middle ground is a daunting task for new believers, and I think that is a huge barrier both to genuine spiritual growth and “increasing disciples.” Ultimately, we need to do what you said and celebrate Jesus and ask him to use us to reach out to others on his behalf. that’s how UBF got God’s blessing and that’s the only way to keep it, in my humble opinion.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      MattC, that’s a good word of caution. Despite years of faithful service, speaking up may lead to several negative backlashes, such as accusations of wanting power, threats of not being considered as a leader anymore and breaking influence, showing others that you really need more training, and guilt trips. To build up credibility for the sake of influence can be a high risk gamble.

    • Charles, you forgot to list “being considered demon-possessed”.

      If you speak up rather bluntly like I did, you are quickly shunned and labeled as part of the R-group. Some Korean missionaries actually discussed whether or not I was now demon-possessed.

      I can see now that I did not speak up in a “most gracious and humble manner”. But my conscience was stricken over my involvement in the 1990 events. Speaking up about those events was like lighting a powder keg.

      I don’t blame the ubf Koreans for reacting like this. They likely will always consider me the “evil anit-christ”. I can take it (so I tell myself…) That’s ok with me if my speaking up can be used for good. I mainly want to prevent this from happening ever again.

  49. A great strategy, Forests! But I don’t think it will work for those who have “had it.”

    Being there every year over the past decade, I can personally attest that the Philippines UBF paradigm “works” very very well. No “pulling teeth” has ever been necessary.

    A major reason is that the leaders primarily “preach the gospel of God’s grace” (Ac 20:24), rather than trying to “train their sheep.” They experience “rest” and “freedom” from the gospel, rather than the “pressure to bring sheep” or to “increase the numbers.” There is no “guilt tripping” and “motivation by pride” that makes their UBFers feel burdened to prove themselves or to validate their ministry. They are simply basking and enjoying Jesus, while the fruit of the Spirit overflows among them (Gal 5:22-23), as the mysterious wind blows imperceptibly (Jn 3:8).

    It’s quite a miracle how such a small seemingly insignificant shift of simply focusing on Christ and the gospel makes (1 Cor 2:2; Rom 1:16).

    • Excellent observations Ben!

      “A major reason is that the leaders primarily “preach the gospel of God’s grace” (Ac 20:24), rather than trying to “train their sheep.” They experience “rest” and “freedom” from the gospel, rather than the “pressure to bring sheep” or to “increase the numbers.”

      This is not a small thing. This is EVERYTHING! That is what Christianity is all about! That is the gospel Jesus preached. And that is the essence of the issues we former Toledo/Detroit UBF leaders wanted to discuss, and did start discussing in many different ways in 2010 to 2012.

  50. NT Wright made this comment when asked about Darwin: The false “either-or” of “Bible or Darwin” is thus itself a dangerous symptom of a sub-Christian culture. – See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/06/03/nt-wright-homosexuality-science-gender/#sthash.MFKHj2Vh.gCKL1wtx.dpuf

    I believe this statement would also apply to the current hot button issue of same sex marriage. Genuine Christians hold opposing positions passionately, sometimes to the degree of “hating” those Christians who hold opposing views.

    I might be accused of excessive extrapolation, but so be it. I’ve heard many UBFers express how horrible UBFriends is and how no reasonable UBFer should ever read it. On the “other side” there are many comments on this website that makes critiques of articles from UBF websites that will not be welcomed or embraced by traditional UBFers.

    Then there is the issue of the founder. One side (“deifies” SL) says, “SL is a sinner, but God did many great works of God throughout the world through his life and faith.” Another side (“demonizes” SL) basically says, “SL did so many evil things and never repented, which is proof and evidence that he is not even a Christian.”

    So let me paraphrase (out of context) NT Wright’s quote: “The false “either-or” of “’SL is God’s servant’ or ‘SL is evil’” is thus itself a dangerous symptom of a sub-Christian culture.”

    • Very nice. Holding a black or white stance on anything is becoming increasingly untenable. We must learn to live in the tension of the grey areas that reality presents or else we will be unrealistically optimistic or depressingly pessimistic. This especially applies to how we look at fellow human beings who are a mixture of both good and evil.

  51. I think I should accuse you of something Ben, but not sure what that is… :)

    My first reaction is that you have unfairly described what is going on and are stoking the fire unnecessarily, but you are free to share your perspective.

    I find the full Wright quote to be more helpful:

    “The trouble is that much “conservative” Christianity in America has bought into the same split-level worldview and simply emphasizes the “God” side of it. The false “either-or” of “Bible or Darwin” is thus itself a dangerous symptom of a sub-Christian culture. I explain all this in that first chapter, of course. But yes, it is a false choice. We urgently need to take a couple of steps back in order to see the issues more clearly and go forward with confidence.”

    The issue Wright doesn’t like is the “split-level worldview”. Who is heavily promoting a split-level world-view?

    And his advice is helpful for all of us, to “steps back in order to see the issues more clearly and go forward with confidence.”

  52. Ben, your choice of words is sometimes concerning to me.

    “’SL is God’s servant’ or ‘SL is evil’”

    Who on this website talks about SL in the present tense? SL is only dead in the present tense. Speaking of him as if he is still alive tells me you have unresolved issues, which are painfully poked by Chris or other’s comments. I’ll try to be more sensitive to this in the future. But the reality is that SL died 12 years ago and can only be spoken of in the past tense, as with all dead people until the resurrection. It’s not our place to say who will rise to life and who will rise to damnation.

  53. Brian, I’m sorry that “stoking the fire” could actually be my middle name. :)))

    Yes, tons of “conservative Christianity” (which in my opinion includes UBF) sees Christianity as either good/bad, right/wrong, heaven/hell, obedient/disobedient, absolute/relative, etc. I likely lived all in with such a “split-level” worldview for the first quarter of a century of my Christian life. Today, I find it unappealing, if not unpleasant and distasteful. In my opinion, such a worldview makes Christians seem narrow-minded, bigoted, sanctimonious, critical, judgmental and self-righteous, even if they may be genuinely godly loving Christian people at heart and center.

    That’s why I want to encourage dialogue (without diatribes) and hopefully reconcile (without being reductionistic) what I regard as unhealthy and unhelpful when “both sides” either deify or demonize Samuel Lee, and neither the twain shall ever meet.

    Isn’t this “split-level” dichotomy so closely and eerily similar to the two sides of the LGBTQ debate?

    • Yes, indeed it does sound familiar Ben.

      In my learning, I found that my own split-level world view stemmed from from my split-level view of the bible. I split the bible into “OT” and “NT”. Thus I had many fragmented ideas about the gospel.

      One symptom of this problem was that I tried to keep the OT blessing/curse dichotomy, fervently attempting to do the mental gymnastics required to live with that tension.

      I am all for living with the tension the gospel can create at times, but the gospel itself is something Jesus claimed a child could understand. The simple version of the gospel is that the way to blessing is no longer conditional obedience to the Law, but unconditional love from the Spirit.

      Holding onto the Law results in a split-level worldview and fragmented relationships. The way to abundant life is to surrender to grace and swim in unconditional love. That is the essence of Jesus “teaching we must obey” and the “new command he gave us”.

  54. Brian, Not that I disagree with it, but might you not be inadvertently creating a “split-level” dichotomy by this statement of yours? “The simple version of the gospel is that the way to blessing is no longer conditional obedience to the Law, but unconditional love from the Spirit.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-14638

    • I ask this because many Christians would see “love and obedience” as being “one” and not split into two separate entities. Obedience by the Spirit and obedience out of love and reverence for God and for Jesus’ commands and OT commands (love God, love your neighbor, etc) is hard, if not impossible to separate.

  55. No, Ben, I’m not creating a dichotomy. I am saying our righteousness must surpass that of the Law-enforcers (i.e. Pharisees). How can that happen if we combine love for Jesus and obedience to the Law? Jesus did not give us a better way to obey or power to obey. He obeyed for us and asks that we obey His command, which is to love as He did.

    Why would we attempt to obey the Law that was fulfilled?

  56. Ben, I think I see the confusion…

    I wrote, “I split the bible into “OT” and “NT”. Thus I had many fragmented ideas about the gospel.”

    And then, “the way to blessing is no longer conditional obedience to the Law, but unconditional love from the Spirit.”

    I do see the entire bible as one story. And clearly there is one Lord and one gospel. My point however, is that the way we humans approach God has profoundly and forever been changed by the cross. We no longer approach “Mt.Sinai” full of fear and lightning. We now can approach “Mt.Zion” full of joy. Is this a dichotomy? Perhaps but if so it is a true dichotomy as we find in Hebrews, esp. Hebrews 12:1-29.

    I no longer concern myself or others with obeying the OT law. And I am fully joyful and content about it because Christ is living in me. Love is the new law.

  57. Yes, I believe that the cross changes everything forever. I shared an Easter sermon entitled “The Resurrection (preceded by the Cross) Changes Everything.” (http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/04/21/critique-my-resurrection-sermon/)

    Regarding obedience, the Greek word is repeated 21 times in the NT: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G5219&t=KJV

    I agree that obeying the OT Law (or even any NT command) cannot save anyone. Yet, the Bible does call forth obedience (which would involve your volition), not for any other reason other than love and gratitude to God that arises out of a willing heart.

    Though you might insist otherwise, you, as a Christian, are “obeying the Bible” based on your own understanding, sentiment, experience and articulation, willingly, even if you do not wish to use the word “obedience.”

  58. And since my middle name is also “stoking the fire”…

    Unless you are an orthodox Jew, I guarantee you are not even close to obeying the OT Law. So why do Christians tend to claim they obey the Law and that the Law is still our authority to which we must submit to?

    That is a predicament for some, but not for me. Both Jesus and Paul already solved that predicament. The Law is not our supervisor. The Law has been nailed to the cross. The Law reached its goal in Christ. Therefore, trying to obey the OT Law now (cold sins) is also a cursed way of life, just as cursed as disobeying the OT Law (hot sins).

    This is at the heard of why we forget the “older brother” in the parable and why so many are confused about “hot sins and cold sins”. Both are equally cursed.

    The answer is in the gospel Jesus preached.

  59. I agree that obeying the law like the older brother is just as cursed a life (if not more cursed!) as the younger brother “obeying” his feelings!

    Like you I don’t think I operate thinking that I am obeying God by loving my wife. I am also not thinking that I am obeying God by living as a Christian. Everything that I do, I wish to do out of love, joy, peace, thanksgiving and self-control only because of the mercy and grace of God.

    Nonetheless, you could say I am obeying God because I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (Dt 6:5; Mt 22:37), even if I fail miserably every single day, multiple times a day. But my failure to obey God as I should does not cause me to be a whipped dog, but to realize and deepen God’s grace to me even more.

    I cannot stop saying, “I am simply living a charmed life,” none of which I deserve or have earned. It is truly all of grace.

  60. By the way, Ben, I think it is a “cold sin” like the older brother to spark the law/grace debate on your own article to get more hits :)

    • Oops, double oops, you figured me out!!!

    • As you can tell, I love this debate. And it is ok to disagree with me openly. Disagreement won’t change our friendship one bit!

    • +1. I had to add another hit to my article, since we took out the LIKE buttons!

  61. I’m not an anarchist :) So in general I don’t have problem with the word “obedience”. Jesus is Lord. I do have a problem with the “obey the Law” articulations. And of course, I have a HUGE problem with the “obey your shepherd” bullcrap.

  62. If there’s one thing I learned from UBFriends, it is to disagree without being disagreeable, to argue without being angry and to hear and respond to an opposing opinion without being offensive. This is truly such a joy and delight, in that we can be “one,” and we can be “united” as brothers and friends (Ps 133:1; Jn 15:15), even when we are not unanimously agreeing. Sorry for adding another hit to my article!

    • Agreed and +1.

      I think we’ll both be in hell anyway :) This was so much fun, I’m going to share an article tonight about my thoughts. I want to iron out my thinking and check my blind spots.

      Hopefully that will result in catapulting me into getting at least one of the top 10 most commented articles…

    • I’m rooting for you Brian! But in the process I’m making it harder for you by adding another hit to MY article.

  63. Saw this today and thought it was relevant. We former members have made some extraordinary claims about ubf and SL. Is there extraordinary evidence, evidence that spans both time and geography?


    “Claims do not count as evidence. They require evidence to count.”

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”

    “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

  64. If I get what you’re trying to say, Brian, it is that former members have made extraordinary claims which are unfavorable to UBF and SL which should not be dismissed.

    But as you know, there are also countless UBF people who have made extraordinary claims about the extraordinary expansion of UBF throughout the world over the last half century (despite the fallout from the mass exoduses in 1976, 1989, 2000s and 2011).

    So if former members what UBFers to look at the “negative” evidence, UBF people will likewise say to look at the “positive” evidence of the “extraordinary” work that God has done through UBF, despite much odds.

    • “UBF people will likewise say to look at the “positive” evidence of the “extraordinary” work that God has done”

      You probably know it already, but there are three flaws with this argument:

      1) UBF is systematically fishing people at the universities. In our chapter we visited the dormitories 2 by 2 according to written plans, very much like Jehovah’s witnesses do. The wife of my chapter director clearly told me how it works: You need to approach and invite at least 100 students to fish 1 for one-to-one Bible study. And you know how it continues: After fishing, you try to establish a relationship (love bombing). After that, you try to manipulate and make dependent. Make them deliver a testimony at a conference. After that, you give obedience training. Tell people that becoming a shepherd and fishing is the only way to serve God and be sure of your salvation. There is nothing “extraordinary” or magical about this recipe. There are always insecure and vulnerable people among the students. It’s all human effort, and the recipe is the same as of other cults. I never experienced a single student who came to UBF on their own, because UBF was so attractive. It was always intense fishing, then love bombing, then pressuring people to stay.

      2) The argumentation should be the other way around: Why does UBF, even if they put so much effort and human resources into these activities, have so little success? Why is UBF still so small, when such methods should actually cause exponential growth? So in reality it only reveals an extraordinary failure.

      3) The “work that God has done” claim is therefore completely wrong. UBF’s activities, revolving around fishing, re-affirmation sessions and obedience training are all based on human effort. Therefore It’s wrong and presumptuous to always present this as the work of God. It also leads to the awful consequence that nobody is allowed to criticize what UBF is doing, since “it’s the work of God.”

  65. Good discussion. Though we are not bound by the OT law, there are many commands, directives, imperatives, etc. in the NT. Of course, we are not made righteous by obeying even these directives; to be sure our righteousness is found in Christ. But still, we need to make sense of the fact that we have our own volition through which we can either draw nearer to God or stray farther from him; through we are in Christ he does not force Christ-like conformity upon us, if that makes any sense.

    One way I’ve thought about NT directives is that because this side of heaven we do not yet fully know God we need instruction so as to know how to both press into his blessings more deeply as well as avoid things which diminish a blessed life. And I believe that church leadership, despite the fact that they are capable of erring, is put into place so as to contextualize these guidelines to our present culture (unless people see some deep spiritual value in making women wear head coverings while in worship service). This is why the leadership needs a firm understanding of the progressive revelation of the Bible and ultimately the gospel itself.

    • Hi David,

      You made some very good points I want to expand on:

      “there are many commands, directives, imperatives, etc. in the NT.”

      Yes! Now those are commands we should be talking about, as long as we understand the main point: love is the fulfillment of these commands.

      “But still, we need to make sense of the fact that we have our own volition through which we can either draw nearer to God or stray farther from him; through we are in Christ….”

      This wording no longer makes any sense to me. I suddenly stopped thinking about “drawing near” to God or “drifting away” from God. What has happened to me? It is as though God never leaves me; as if God is inside me. I no longer think of being “in Christ”. It is as if Christ is “in me” and I can’t get rid of Him no matter how hard I try. No matter what I do, I have a tangible sense of being “held back” and being driven to do and say certain things.

      My prayer life has completely changed. I remember struggling to “come to God in prayer”. God was far away, in Heaven. Now it is as if He is right here, and I don’t need to long for Him, for He hears my thoughts before I articulate them, even sometimes He seems to intercept my thoughts for me…

      I suppose most will just dismiss me as crazy or demon-possessed or hell bound. I feel, however, entirely opposite. I feel more clear-minded than ever, more close to God than ever and as if heaven is already here.

  66. Ben, my logic still holds.

    “So if former members what UBFers to look at the “negative” evidence, UBF people will likewise say to look at the “positive” evidence of the “extraordinary” work that God has done through UBF, despite much odds.”

    Yes I too used to make extraordinary claims about myself and ubf. In my mind, we were the largest missionary sending organization in the world. We were world-class leaders. We were the marines of Christianity.

    But then I looked at the evidence. The evidence did not match my claims. In fact, all the mountain of evidence pointed to validating most, if not all, of the former member claims.

    ubf people have a skill at spinning tall tales and not blinking an eye. I found I can do this because my conscience was withered away, replaced by the ubf heritage conscience. Right or wrong was defined by ubf ideologies. So I was free to be very inventive.

    Because of all this spinning, ubf conferences are typically cheerleading exercises, with many attempts to rally the troops, usually done by sticking people’s noses in the bible with little chance for honest, open, transparent or safe discussions.

    Therefore, the evidence gets brushed under the rug and ubfers believe the spinning and tall-tales of great “work of God” (code word for selfish ambition).

    A true picture of ubf comes into focus when looking at the offering decline from 2008 to 2012, the ISBC attendance decline, the massive loss of leadership around the world and the more elusive evidence of morale and discontent hidden just beneath the surface of most ubf members. There is more evidence too: all the 3rd party claims and observations of cult-like control and manipulation at ubf, found in newspapers, TV reports and books. And we should not dismiss the 200+ former member testimonies published on the internet.

    There is little evidence of positive extraordinary accomplishments by ubf people. There is a lot of self-glorification and self-written history and even a self-made museum. But the evidence points the other way.

  67. Just some thoughts on the big claims I used to believe:

    “ubf is the largest missionary sending organization in the world”

    No, ubf is simply small and Korean.

    “We were world-class leaders”

    No, ubf heritage teaches almost nothing about actual leadership. After 24 years of “world-class leadership training” at ubf, I lost a lot of my ability to listen and speak as an American.

    “We were the marines of Christianity”

    No, ubf is more of a cancer sore on the Body of Christ. The real “marines” are the Mother Teresa’s of the world, the single-mothers who sacrifice everything just to keep their family alive and the brave men and women who have been excommunicated from churches around the world.

  68. Ben, you mentioned something above:

    “I’ve heard many UBFers express how horrible UBFriends is and how no reasonable UBFer should ever read it.”
    – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-14650

    Ah but they do! ubf people DO read this website. We know they do. We have even verified reports, such as from a Russian conference where leaders met to discuss “what to do about ubfriends” and MJ’s story. And the stats show continual readership from the cities and countries where ubf chapters exist.

    This is yet another contradiction and manipulation attempt by ubf leaders. They do read this site, then they claim to have “figured it all out” and don’t want anyone else reading this. The ubf chapter directors read all this stuff privately and then they discuss it in private emails (they often have multiple email accounts). The directors want to be the first to read it so they can concoct their responses beforehand.

  69. I often feel like when we have “pro”/”anti”-UBF discussions, we perhaps might be simply talking past each other (rather than “to” each other), with each side basically accusing the other side of some misgiving, some wrongdoing, some error, some blind spot, some lack of objectivity or bias or prejudice.

    Both pro/anti sentiments express in one way or another virtually exactly the same absolute assertion by citing their own evidences: “You blindly refuse to look at the obvious facts to see that UBF is (something good)/(something horrible).”

    I thought this is an excellent quote from “To Kill a Mockingbird”:

    “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk in it.” Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Since no one can really climb into and walk in another person’s skin, perhaps we should be more patient, kind, gracious, generous and restrained in our statements, declarations and assertions.

    Even if the “other side” absolutely refuses to see “your side” (which to you is obviously the right side), I think that we should still respond gently, kindly, graciously, with much restraint, and without any blatant statements like “Samuel Lee is not a Christian.” Only God knows the truth about this matter, and I don’t think that any mortal, limited and finite human being should make such or similar bold declarations, either about a particular person or about the entire ministry. We can let the “Cult Watchers” do that.

    • “…until you climb into his skin and walk in it.”

      In my case, I DID climb into the “skin” of a ubfer. And I DID walk in all the ubf ways. So what you advise, Ben, may be well and good for a 3rd party person, but I am a first-hand person when it comes to ubf. I was “Mr. UBF”, and was “patient, kind, gracious, generous and restrained” for over 20 years. The time for such things is over for me.

      “I don’t think that any mortal, limited and finite human being should make such or similar bold declarations, either about a particular person or about the entire ministry. We can let the “Cult Watchers” do that.”

      No, I cannot let the cult watchers do that. I invested TOO MUCH to let some outsider label my organization. Do you think I enjoy admitting my church was a cult? Do you think I have any pleasure in admitting I was a cult leader? And it is just those very “bold declarations” needed to wake up people who are in denial.

  70. I believe that the original intent of this website (which of course can change over time) was that this would be sort of a safe place for anyone to come and share their experiences.

    But at this time, anyone who has any even remotely positive experience in UBF will avoid making comments “for fear that their positive UBF experiences” would simply be ripped apart and shredded to pieces, because their own personal experiences will be dissected and attempted to be shown to simply not be plausible or possible.

    I understand (I think since I have not walked in their skin) that some have had really bad, horrible and inexcusable spiritual abuses perpetrated upon them. They were taken advantage of, and basically subdued by the arbitrary whims and fancies of their particular shepherd or chapter director. Yes there may be 200 of such people who have testified online, and likely even more who have not.

    But there are also those who do have quite positive and pleasant UBF experiences even with the oddities and subtle or blatant spiritual abuses thrown in, because God is greater than any “spiritually abusive UBF leader.”

    My point is that if we stop ripping apart positive UBF comments, UBFriends would not just have “silent” readers, but more active participants who contribute their comments, even or especially if they are favorable toward UBF. Presently, the implicit sentiment is basically that “positive UBF comments are not allowed,” since they have invariably been heavily and severely critiqued if not lambasted.

    So if we continue to shred and rip apart any positive or favorable UBF experience that one has about UBF, then I guess we’ll just continue to have silent readers, who would never ever dare to comment. I guess that might be OK.

    • Ben, you make some valid points. I think the articles set the tone however, more than the comments. Whose articles continue to “shred and rip apart any positive or favorable UBF experience that one has about UBF”?

      Take a look at my recent articles. I am attempting (in case you haven’t noticed) to move the discussions away from talking about ubf. I really really want to talk about other topics. I don’t liek the PTSD reactions I keep finding. I believe I’ve shown a real effort to move past that. And I love talking about the bible! Isn’t that what ubfers want to do?

      And yet your articles continually are embedded with ubf experiences in a “I love ubf yet hate ubf practices” kind of way.

      Maybe we all could work on articles that have nothing to do with ubf? I have shown that this is what I’d like to do. In fact I would love to talk about 2 Corinthians for example. And the law vs grace debate, for exmample.

      And yet the comments on my articles inevitably draw us back to SL and ubf. I’ve had my say. Nothing will change me or Chris’ attitudes. But I think, at least for me, I would love to talk about Christianity instead.

      Maybe we could both start submitting articles and comments that say nothing about our personal experiences?

  71. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Hi Ben, do you think it’s fair to use the “anti/pro” labels? At this point, I don’t. I actually think it’s dishonest and hurtful. I’m not saying that you are or have been dishonest or hurtful to others. It’s those labels. I have observed that from those voices in the “anti” camp are years of repeated, patterned abuses across the world in UBF establishments that cannot be described just as the “arbitrary whims and fancies” of a shepherd or chapter director. The repeated patterns show a system that has enabled, encouraged and even rewarded such practices. I think therefore there is a legitimate concern to inform others, acknowledge what has taken place and take the next steps.

    Put another way, should someone who is a victim of bullying or domestic violence, for example, and speaks up be labeled as “anti” and asked to not judge but instead honor all of the good things that the abuser has done? Calling out the abuse is necessary and has nothing to do with the other good things a person may have done or intended. Is ubfriends the place to do this? It seems so right now. This is not to say that other discussions should not happen here. The regular commenters and “anti” people have shown themselves eager to do this as well.

    About silent readers, I’m curious why you attribute silent readership to the fear of having positing UBF comments ripped apart. It reminds me of the recent commenting changes on YouTube. The anonymity allowed by the internet also allowed the comments on YouTube to become a hostile and rude place at times, to say the least. That same anonymity exists here. Users can register and post any whatever name they choose without revealing their identities. Consider how many reveal their full names or have posted with a picture of themselves. ubfriends largely doesn’t see the abuse of anonymity to troll and rip apart others’ comments. I think there’s more to the silent readership. If there are UBF leaders are labeling ubfriends as a bad place and meeting about how to prevent their members from reading here, then the bullying and stigma put on this site of being “horrible” and not for the “reasonable” might also play big parts in the silent readership. I’ve also heard from others simply that they find it boring. For me, it can be overly time consuming.

  72. Brian, like you, I love to discuss the gospel and Scripture. But as we have all experienced, UBF-related articles receive far far more views and far far more comments, as would be expected.

    Charles, you’re right that UBFriends can be “boring and predictable,” as some have commented to me. You can somewhat predict which comments are going to be lauded or blasted! :-)

    Yes, I absolutely do not like the “pro/anti” labels either. That’s why I put it in quotes. It is primarily for simplicity. Otherwise I would have to write out “comments favorable and positive toward UBF” vs. “comments unfavorable and negative toward UBF.” If this is a poor or lame excuse I’m sorry. :D

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Ben, I find that the more I learn of the gospel and Scripture (outside the UBF context), the more it makes me think about, talk about and question what is happening in UBF. I don’t mean just “bad” things, but exploring what we are doing and why are doing it. It’s difficult for me to separate the two because UBF is part of the context of my Christian living.

  73. Charles, I hear ya! Yes, in light of the gospel, ubf does many many good things, and “……”

    Brian, I couldn’t stop laughing when I read this quote by Thoreau and I think it’ll resonate quite well with you as it did with me: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/31537-disobedience-is-the-true-foundation-of-liberty-the-obedient-must

  74. Thanks for this reflection of the cross from Lk 23:34, which I think is helpful, useful and applicable:

    Jesus did not say “I forgive them”. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.” Could this be Jesus giving us a great example of what we humans can do when we have no strength or ability in us to forgive? What can we do when we cannot forgive those who have abused us, those who have harmed us, those who have mistreated us? What can we do when we cannot forgive the church, or maintain fellowship with the people who claim to know God because they have failed us? Jesus shows us the way. When we cannot say “I forgive them” we can pray “Father, forgive them”. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-16214

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, I understand what you are saying, but the Lord’s Prayer makes it pretty clear that we must forgive others as we have been forgiven. On many occasions, Jesus tied our forgiveness by God very closely to our own willingness to forgive others.

      But of course, this doesn’t mean that we should lie. One of the worst things that we can do is to fake a smile and pretend that we have forgiven someone when we actually haven’t. Many of us have been trained to do this. We need to process our emotions and be honest with ourselves. Otherwise we are just hypocrites.

    • Great point Joe. We must forgive. The question for me is when?

      Here is how this works for me: I first face the facts that I cannot forgive a certain person. I confess my sin and admit I need a safe distance (or some period of “time out”.) Then I remember Jesus’ prayers, especially on the cross. When I pray Father forgive them/him/her, that opens the door to actually say “I forgive them/him/her”.

      Surely there is no single process of forgiveness for everyone, and I really don’t like to promote process-based Christianity. But my point is mainly that facing the facts of my present condition and accepting my reality, and then praying “Father forgive them” is a remarkably good path for me to be able to forgive in a real, honest way.

    • Joe Schafer

      Totally agree. When the hurt runs deep, forgiveness is a long process, not a one-time event. Best to take your time and, most of all, keep it real. That’s what I’m trying to do.

    • Mark Mederich

      of course it is hard to forgive, but isn’t it even harder to individually/collectively do right so as not to need further forgiveness?

      which is most dangerous/damaging to human experience, unforgiveness or uncorrected wrong?

      so of course we must forgive, but even moreso we must constantly press to change wrong to right, otherwise the world will always stay bad or get worse rather than get better (which seems to be the predominant issue in history)

      how seldom have brave voices like jesus, john the baptist, paul, martin luther, martin luther king,jr. actually sought real change by publically calling collective responsibilities to account? how often have innocent individuals through years/decades stumbled into unmarked travesties because those before haven’t had the guts to mark the spot with a warning or better yet correct the problem?

  75. Yeah, Joe, I agree that “the Lord’s Prayer makes it pretty clear that we must forgive others as we have been forgiven.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-16224

    Yes, I must forgive, yet I know that I personally often have no genuine authentic ability to forgive anyone, sometimes not even someone close and dear to me. Yet, I must.

    My thought is that though I am unable to fully and genuinely forgive (even though I truly want to forgive), I do not want to have any negative or condemning or bitter sentiments toward anyone, no matter what they have done either to me or to others. So I want to pray that God forgives them and even blesses them, so that they can know God’s gracious generosity toward them.

    Ultimately, I know that though I cannot change my own heart to truly forgive others, I also know that when my heart is touched by the magnanimous mercy and gracious generosity of God toward me, my heart softens toward others. And then I, only through God’s mercy, am able to forgive others. Yet, it is really not I who forgives, but Christ living in and through me.

  76. “But at this time, anyone who has any even remotely positive experience in UBF will avoid making comments “for fear that their positive UBF experiences” would simply be ripped apart and shredded to pieces, because their own personal experiences will be dissected and attempted to be shown to simply not be plausible or possible.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-16219

    Ben, while I believe there is truth in your statement, I think it can be shown that more likely, the problem is that positive UBF experiences are expressed not to give balance to the conversation, but to shut down the criticism and to avoid addressing it directly, honestly and with real contrition. I can remember even the most ardent criticizers softening remarkably when their concerns were taken seriously. People who do not address the real concerns expressed here will not get a free pass. It’s just the way things are.

  77. “…the problem is that positive UBF experiences are expressed not to give balance to the conversation, but to shut down the criticism and to avoid addressing it directly, honestly and with real contrition.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-16227

    I have to agree that this is unfortunately often the case with some older long-standing UBFers. They insist how much God has blessed them through UBF, and use this to negate, ignore and refuse to hear anything negative. Honestly, I do not know when or if this will ever change. (Sorry for my GHE pessimism coming through here!)

    But in my opinion I think that some of the younger non-missionaries who might occasionally comment here do not have such a “shut down the negative talk about UBF” mentality. I think some people truly do have positive experiences in UBF because their particular local chapter might not have much hierarchical domination or politics oozing about. Also, there are some genuinely humble and apolitical missionaries who love and serve their Bible students and who don’t try to play games behind the scenes.

    Perhaps by being gentler and kinder in our comments (look at me almost shamelessly saying this!), we might encourage more commenters who won’t be afraid to share some positive UBF experiences and comments.

  78. The tone and content of the comments is certainly a factor, Ben. But there are many other factors among the younger non-missionaries that make this environment uncomfortable and unappealing. There are many reasons apart from this website why they don’t want to get involved, why they don’t want to rock the boat, I don’t think kinder and gentler commments, especially those that sugarcoat the truth will change these much. There is always a tendency to fall back on language that spiritualizes the issues. I’m glad that some here don’t fall for it.

  79. Sharon, I agree with this: “There are many reasons apart from this website why they don’t want to get involved, why they don’t want to rock the boat…” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/03/why-samuel-lee-was-deified-and-demonized/#comment-16235

    But I will say that some in UBF makes it very very hard for a younger person in UBF to comment on UBFriends and still be fully welcomed. The amount of negativity and discouragement not to read or participate on UBFriends is palpable and evident.

    For a younger person, acceptance by their leaders is a very strong sentiment. So I fully understand that it is very difficult for many to participate.

    As one who hopes, I hope that more and more people will overcome the strong pressure from UBF to not participate and participate, as Forests has, and still remain in UBF.

    He is clearly an absolute minority, since most participants on UBFriends have basically either left UBF or checked out from UBF, even if PTSD reactions from UBF remain.

    • Joe Schafer

      I think it takes a very special set of circumstances to do what forests has done. It requires
      * an independently minded young person who knows what he believes and is willing to stand up for what he thinks and bear the consequences (for example, an understanding that he will never become a leader in the traditional ubf sense; that must be ok with him)
      * a local ministry that is willing to tolerate such a person, not treating him as a pariah and not telling other members to stay away from him

      Those two conditions don’t coincide very often.

    • I’m wondering how many Liam Neeson fans there are, but when you wrote: “it takes a very special set of…” I only thought of Taken 1, 2 and 3!!!

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      A third thing it takes is a very clear idea of what people actually believe. If it had not been for my roommate I would have probably just passed off most issues as mostly inconsequential. Most of the language is double speak. So it says one thing to UBF people and a different thing to non UBF people. For example, the phrase “head knowledge” has a negative connotation in UBF for some reason, but to anyone it has a good connotation. But him and his wife told and showed me exactly what kind of gospel they believed in. My part in UBF is the greater and opposite response of their attitudes and beliefs.

      My pastor for his part sincerely loves Jesus. He really loves and bears with others (including me). I think he has a lot of traditional ideas, but he puts Jesus first. The other day he mentioned that he really needed to stop feeling upset when missionaries don’t come to daily bread. The more I know him the more I feel that in my roommate’s case he was willing to over look and bear with his heretical ideas for a few reasons. First because he was marrying a very important woman in UBF in part, and second that his actions as a one to one bible teacher were seen as more important than his thoughts concerning if we should hate people who speak against UBF, or if we should not have dialog with non believers, or if we should obey our shepherd as God.