If Not For UBF I Would Not Be Married

I am a rockWhat I am sharing in this post is my happiest story. I have shared it uncountable times over the last 30 years ever since I “married by faith” in Chicago UBF in 1981. My most recent telling of it was in my sermon last Sun as I tried to explain Jesus’ promise that “your grief will turn to joy” (Jn 16:20). It is at the 35 min point of the sermon. In short, my grief was that I knew I would never be able to marry because of my shyness and my complete inability to talk to any attractive girl. I literally had no guts to ask any girl out for a date, because I could not handle the rejection. I felt doomed and condemned to a life of singleness and solitude that is not of my own choosing. My favorite song was “I am a Rock. I am an Island. If I never loved I never would have cried” by Simon and Garfunkel. This was compounded by the fact that my aunt once made an innocent remark when I was young that “no pretty girl will ever marry a cross-eyed boy.” This cut to the depth of my heart, because I was and still am “cross-eyed.”

Then I wound up in UBF, not because I was “fished,” but because in 1980 I asked a doctor at Cook County Hospital where I worked as an intern if he would help me to be a missionary. (To this day, I have no idea why I asked him that!) He was a UBF missionary. After a few weeks of attending Chicago UBF, Samuel Lee, the founder of UBF, took the initiative to get me married. He introduced me to Christy Scheter of Toledo UBF at an Easter conference in 1981. When I met her I broke out into a cold sweat because she looked domineering. I was terrified. Four months later we were married on Aug 15, 1981, even though I did not propose to her. We both just assumed that we would marry. Today, after 30 years of marriage, we are even happier now than when we first married. Next to knowing Jesus as my Lord and Lover, this is my best and happiest personal story that testifies to the love and goodness of God.

I regard this as a remarkable providence of God upon my life. God led me half way around the world from Malaysia to Chicago to attend a church that took it upon herself to provide a wife for me. To some this might seem odd. But to me, it was nothing but marvelous providential grace because I could not have gotten married on my own, and I knew it.

Do you have a happy story to share?

292 comments

  1. Hi Ben, thanks for sharing your happy story. Unfortunately, I think your happy story has been eclipsed by all the activity that’s been happening on the other postings since you posted this article. But because you bring up a meaty issue, I’d like to share some of my thoughts.

    First, “Do you have a happy story to share?” Yes, I do. I too would not be married to my wonderful wife if it were not for UBF. God used the prayers, help, and love of many people–especially my pastor, my wife’s pastor, and their wives–to bring my wife and I together. I believe as you do that it is the amazing grace of God, and it is the second greatest grace I’ve received, and I am so thankful! And then–grace upon grace–children? Amazing!

    Second, is my “happy story” a happy story for all involved? Not by a long shot. The ones caught in the middle of a UBF-style “marriage by faith” are the non-UBF-member parents. While I suppose every person’s experience varies, in my case, my parents felt that they were treated unfairly throughout the whole process. They were given essentially no input on the selection of a spouse, the timing of the marriage, and whether or not they had any objections to the marriage. They felt that their role and input as parents had been completely usurped by the UBF leaders. They felt that only the UBF leaders’ opinions mattered, that I was essentially telling them (my parents), “Bless what I’m doing because I’m going to do it anyway whether you like it or not, because it is for God’s mission.” People around me called their reluctance to bless a marriage between near-strangers (my wife and I had met only a few times before our wedding) a “test of my faith” and I was asked, “Who are you going to obey, men or God?” (Acts 5:29) My father fasted for a week before the wedding and implored me the night before to not push my mom and him into such a corner as I was doing. My mom sat sullenly through the whole ceremony, and cried for much of it. It damaged our relationship for the past 6 years in ways that I am still discovering.

    My marriage is one of the strange things that God has done for me. It is bitter-sweet. In one sense, I cannot deny the amazing grace and providence of God who led me to marry my wonderful wife through the very-active participation of His people (UBF leaders). On the other hand, I cannot deny what deep wounds occurred when so much emphasis was placed on “establishing a family of mission” that respect and consideration for parents was sacrificed. I was made to think that really considering the reservations and concerns of godly Christian parents is an act of disobedience against God’s will to establish “a house church for world campus mission by faith”.

    Perhaps how I feel is best represented by the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a56FnhtuGI

    • Thanks for the morning humor Joshua! I’m still “LOL”ing over the movie you mentioned, and making the comparisons. (sorry if you didn’t intend this to be funny.) It is troubling and sad to also recall a time in history when interracial marriage was condemned by Christians using the bible. Such poor theology is unfortunately still alive today related to other hot button topics.

      In regard to ubfmbf, you nailed it! Hardline ubfers will point to the “happy story” as justification for the ubf heritage methods. They find solice in such stories and feel approved for having created such stories (and gotten the photos). Such “happy stories” then get spun in to nostalgic hagiographies and become folklore for the community to encourage other young people to partake in mbf.

      Parts of my mbf experience matches yours quite well. Our mbf however was a double-mbf. We were convinced to do our mbf on the same day as our two friends because we were constantly told to “get the best blessing”. If we didn’t have our mbf on that day, we wouldn’t be “so blessed” and “you want the best blessing don’t you?”

      I wouldn’t say our mbf is my “happiest story”. For me, mbf was a 3 week blur filled with my ubf shepherd slamming his fist on his desk at one point, and a flurry of activity in which we spent more money than we had because things happened so quickly. I love my wife and would marry her all over again, but I would never go through the hellish nightmare of mbf.

      Our honeymoon however, would be in my top 5 list of “happiest stories” :)

      Like you, we count our marriage as valid. There are some mbf couples who don’t fare so well however. Divorce has happened to mbf couples more than people realize. I won’t go into details, but an ugly divorce just happened sometime in the past year or so to a well-known mbf couple.

  2. jaemanpark1231

    Thank you for the heartfelt testimony about your marriage. May God richly bless you more and more through your blessed marriage this year and beyond!

    Probably everyone in UBF has a lot of things to say about marriage by faith, especially those who have grown-up children who are ready to get married. Although I am not old enough, since I love marriage in UBF and am also the beneficiary of this marriage,

    First, I would like to share my small opinion of marriage by faith in UBF.
    Second, I also like to challenge UBF staff leaders to research the Scripture for more accurate, deeper meaning of marriage.
    Third, my limited understanding of biblical foundation of marriage.

    First, My small opinion of Marriage by faith in UBF.
    UBF marriage is wonderful and awesome to the faithful believers which I love about UBF marriage and it is definitely challenge to the adulterous generations. UBF marriage is blessing from God who shows his providence upon believers in UBF. I believe God has been using ‘Marriage by faith in UBF’ for His Kingdom purpose.

    Second, I also like to challenge UBF staff leaders to research the Scripture for more accurate, deeper meaning of marriage.
    Although we need practical helps about marriage in general, although we will get benefit from practical approach, psychological approach about the marriage, we also need deep and accurate biblical foundations of the marriage by faith.

    Would you/staff leaders study the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation with one purpose; Marriage? And give us biblical answers why God created marriage from the beginning and why God will finish the Salvation History with the marriage? These answers might give us better understanding about our marriage on earth.

    Lastly, my limited understanding of biblical foundation of marriage.
    Bible starts with the marriage [Genesis 1-2] and Bible finishes with the marriage [Revelation 19-22] In OT, God used the metaphor of marriage to explain the relationship between God and Israel. (Hosea)
    In NT, Christ was described as husband and believers are his bride. (Eph 5)

    Marriage on earth is not the goal. Marriage on earth is the shadow of the real marriage in heaven. While we live in our earthly marriage [imperfect], we come to know real husband Christ more and more and practice the love relationship so that we can have perfect marriage relationship with Christ in heaven. Everyday marriage life is a daily practice for the real marriage [with Christ].

    Successful or painful personal experiences in UBF marriage are just experiences, just opinions, not the truth. Of course it is very helpful, resourceful to everybody. But personal experiences do not necessarily mean the truth about the marriage. The truth about the marriage by faith should go deeper and be rooted in the Scripture because we should be rooted in the Scripture, the Scripture only; not tradition. Therefore, we must understand the biblical meaning and definition of marriage [by faith in UBF]

    • Hi jaemanpark1231! and welcome. Your thoughts are “spot on” and dearly need to be discussed openly and frankly.

      You mentioned that “Marriage on earth is not the goal.” This sparked my memory of a comment a non-ubf pastor mentioned to me sometime last year. He observed something odd: “Why are all ubf shepherds and shepherdesses required to have the goal of mbf? Why are no single missionaries raised up? This seems very odd given the fact that one of the founders chose not to marry. Why is mbf such an important goal for ubf missionaries?” (that is my paraphrase of his comments).

      If anyone has answers, I’d love to hear them. I was stumped, because I never thought of that before.

    • The short answer may be the fear that a single missionary may fall into sexual sin. I’m not saying I buy that answer. For sure many churches lack any clear articulation to celebrate singleness as a Christian, and instead implicitly regard it as suboptimal.

    • I would add (more than a year later) that the purest reason would be the shepherd feels deeply committed to a person, even to helping that person establish a beautiful godly family and expand God’s kingdom on earth. The corrupted reasons would be to promote his own ministry and receive recognition from others. There have been too many ugly cases and it seems at least in America that we are moving away from this practice.

  3. Joe Schafer

    Dear jaemanpark1231,

    Welcome to UBFriends, and thank you for your comment. You’ve made an important point, and I wholeheartedly agree with it. Your point, if I understand it correctly, is that our Christian practices regarding marriage should be rooted in a gospel theology and the big-picture themes of the Bible. (I believe it should also be rooted in the Christian understanding of God as Trinity.)

    “Marriage by faith” can mean different things to different people. But when people speak of this as a UBF practice, I believe they are referring to the ways that UBF leaders take it upon themselves to select potential mates for their disciples and direct/control the process by which they get married. The biblical justification for this usually comes from certain passages in the Old Testament, especially Genesis chapter 2 (where God arranged the marriage of Adam and Eve) and Genesis chapter 24 (where God and Abraham’s servant arranged the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah).

    Although the Old Testament is important, we are now living in New Testament times, and the OT must now be viewed in light of the good news of Jesus Christ as recorded in the four gospels, Acts, and the Epistles (and Revelation too).

    My question to you, or to anyone else who wants to chime in, is this.

    Is there any evidence whatsoever that Jesus, the apostles, or any leaders in the early Church took it upon themselves to select mates for Christian disciples and take control of the process, making decisions about when, where, how and whom the disciples will marry?

    If the answer is yes, then please show me where the evidence is.

    If the answer is no, then please explain whether or not this undermines the claim that UBF marriage by faith is a biblically supported Christian practice.

    • bekamartin

      The UBF answer is Abraham’s servant who picked out Rebekah for Isaac. But I don’t see any other examples in the Bible. Of course, older people with wisdom can have their say, and even state disagreement, and even match make for young people, but in the end it needs to be the decision of the couple. When I was introduced to my potential husband just 2 years after I joined UBF, I prayed and I believed that it was God’s will for us to marry. But I also believed that I had a choice in the matter. But then we only knew each other for a couple of hours when we agreed to marry, and only one week before we married. I believe now that if I had got to know my potential husband and introduced him to my parents and brother, that I may have not married him. Not that I regret marrying by faith in God (not by faith in my shepherds). I regret mistakes my ex-husband and I made, and I regret not going to counseling earlier, but living by faith through that tough situation grew my faith, not to mention that our marriage produced 5 of the most wonderful human beings on this earth! I grew to love my husband, like I have never loved anyone else, so I believe that I learned the point of marriage by faith. I do not regret marrying by faith.

  4. Hi Jaemanpark, welcome to UBFriends and thanks for your thoughtful, insightful and reflective comments.

    I may have addressed some of the issues you raised in a previous post: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/10/05/marriage-is-covenant-keeping/

    In the article I concurred with Joe that we should not use Gen 2:18-25 and Gen 24:1-67 as “proof texts” to justify the way UBF has helped people to marry.

    I also stated that mission is not the point of marriage. Rather our marriage with our spouse is only a glimpse and a foretaste our our ultimate marriage with the Lamb, and that at present our “imperfect” Christian marriages must reflect the perfect love of the Trinity.

  5. Thanks Joshua for sharing your joy and sorrow regarding your “marriage by faith.”

    I decided to share my happy story in an attempt to somewhat divert attention from the intense exchanges happening elsewhere.

    Your painful and unfortunate story about “not including” non-UBF member parents, family and friends is well noted, and should definitely be seriously addressed and corrected going forward.

  6. I would like to make some broad, general responses to this post and the comments that have followed.

    First, I grew up in a typically Western context where dating and romance preceded proposal and marriage. My parents, however, learned of my choice from me and “gave approval.” With my wife’s dad I “asked permission” for his daughter’s hand in marriage (an older custom now rarely done). We also went to our pastors and had some counsel and help before the wedding day. There were many things not done that I later added to my pastoral approach when I served two churches for a period of 20 years. Now, 21 years after being in an international ministry of teaching the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church in a myriad of contexts and cultures, I have seen many ways that Christians select (or have chosen) their mate. In some cases there is dating, in others little or none. In some the parents are deeply involved while in others not at all. Traditions such as these are beautiful but very often they are just that – “traditions.” I have even officiated weddings and funerals in many places and countries. One ceremony was entirely legal, and in my study, after the couple had been married as believers in a church in Germany. Another ceremony was in India. I have watched and learned a lot from Latin American and Asian cultures and people about marriage and Christian responses to it by spending long periods of time among them. The bottom line is that I see no “single” way to say that couples should come together and get married. The church is rightly concerned about sexual fidelity but it has no place in setting parameters that are not clearly warranted by the Bible.

    I’ve found many Christian churches and groups have their “own” way of doing this and then looking for “proof texts” to support it. I believe now that it is much, much better to admit we have chosen a way to “normally” do this and admit this is a human choice that respects diversity, not our perfect uniformity. If the Scripture does not clearly speak to a matter we should be careful making our tangential interpretations equal to the authority of Scripture. So should marriages ever be arranged by leaders other than the biological family? I would say, “Yes, for sure.” Why? Many leave mother, father, brother and sister to become believers and the church becomes their “new family.” When this happens the church leaders are often best equipped to help such young believers. But, and here it the rub, these church leaders have no ultimate authority to tell couples what they must/should finally do in the matter. Why? Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, made before God and witnesses, not a decision made by someone for someone. Even if a marriage is arranged there must be great respect for the persons and some freedom to say, “No, this person/marriage is not for me.” )This is why most ceremonies include a statement/question about the willingness of the two to freely marry each other.) But here is where problems come in every culture. We go from one extreme to the other, controlled by someone else or to total personal autonomy with no regard for the church of God. “Blessed are the balanced . . . ” (My additional life proverb!)

    Ben shares a truly happy and beautiful story. I am thankful for it. It is fine to question how some have been brought to marriage within UBF. It is also right, profoundly right it seems to me, to say that in some cases too much control was involved in the arrangement. But we must not confuse the issue. Marriage, as Ben adds, is the Bible’s perfect metaphor of the love of Christ and of the trinity. When the doctrine of the trinity is not deeply rooted in the life and practice of the church, as is true of many independent movements, then the results can be tragically imbalanced. The issue might not be introducing couples and encouraging them to marry but a lack of balance in deep theological understanding of the trinity and of what a marriage really is before God and man.

    My friend Joe asks where we see apostles or early church leaders arranging (my word, not his) marriages? I think we can assume, given the Jewish culture of these leaders, that many knew “arranged” marriage in a form we cannot understand if we do not know Jewish custom and family life. But then Jesus created a radically new family made up of his disciples, thus the several “come after me . . . leave father and mother” texts which are not taken seriously among Western Christians in most cases. This does not mean the church chooses your mate, makes the plans, tells you who, what and when you marry. It does suggest a new “family dynamic” that both sides in this debate might easily miss. Ben’s story captures the “best” of this new family at work while others mentioned will likely capture the “worst” elements, at least from what I’ve seen.

    Look, marriage (after the wedding part) is near impossible in most cases. Take two very different people and try to blend their hearts and wills and see how that works when you are married for life. I say, “Without grace, it is near impossible.” Ben and I both married strong and capable women. I thought I was marrying someone who would make my life easier and my walk with God a powerful new blessing. I never bargained on pain and tears and brokenness. But out of this union God brought life in Christ. Isn’t this the major issue, regardless of how we got married?

    So I conclude – diversity in practice seems fine, with strong respect for the wills of the two people and for the family of Christ, not simply shepherds alone. And as much as humanly possible, love and respect for our earthly parents should be the norm. (The exception is when our parents are truly unbelievers who hate our faith but even there they can, and if possible, be consulted and wisely listened to. They know more about you than you can see in yourself at some points.) I thus think “arranging” marriages will, and is, making a comeback in some Christian settings and for good reason. Our romance based ideas have failed us. But, having said this, respect for conscience and personal freedom must be contextually respected by all shepherds and churches.

    I think, in all my years as a pastor, I helped to “arrange” two marriages. Both were a lot like Ben’s happy story. Both involved socially shy people who were over 30 years of age and who wanted to marry and sought my help. Both were glorious weddings and made for happy marriages. But even as a Christian parent I did not arrange my two children’s weddings. I did give input and I was deeply involved. Once married, I gave them my total support and still do. No second guessing.

    It seems to me, as a friend of UBF, these practices can easily be misused but they could also be corrected and used, wisely and carefully, in the right way. To do this will require a healthy discussion and much input from the catholic church globally and locally. If you shut yourself off from the larger church then you tend to create your own practices and then look for Bible verses to support them. This is never a healthy practice in most cases, even though many could read my words and testify to having a single shepherd arrange their marriage and to ow it has (ultimately) been a wonderful blessing. Exceptions, in all such cases, do not prove a rule, one way or the other. If we refuse to gain wisdom from the breadth of the church, both historically and theologically, we will always invite human opinions about verses, and these often misused, to determine outcomes. Wisdom seeks for truth and help in the variety of expressions, not just in one tradition that claims to be “the only right way.”

    • Hi John, and welcome! Your balanced thoughts are much appreciated.

      This statement sums up what you’re saying (if I’m hearing you correctly): “The bottom line is that I see no “single” way to say that couples should come together and get married.” That cuts to the heart of almost all the issues we’ve been discussing here: are there alternative ways to marry, to do mission, to do discipleship, etc? The answer is a resounding yes. And furthermore I am discovering the joy of following Christ on my own journey, and recognizing that others around me are also on a journey. Learning to listen for God’s voice in everyday events and trying to discern what God is “up to” has been remarkably exciting!

      In regard to marriage, I’ve observed the following. As I venture out into Christendom, I find a significantly high number of Christian pastors and authors who elevate marriage and sex to an extremely high level, upholding some sort of ideal union. I find this unrealistic and perhaps to be a source of such high divorce rates and troubled marriages. So Christendom in the West could certainly benefit from the marriage practices of the East, from which ubfmbf (marriage by faith) originates.

      So ubf has great potential to share what they’ve learned about marriage. One of the best examples of this in my opinion is the ubf teaching that marriage is not primarily about sex but about being and finding a suitable helper. I found that aspect to be most healthy and solidly rooted in Scripture.

      At the same time, the flaws in the ubfmbf process, must certainly not be promoted in any way, shape or form. One of the worst examples of this are the “director deals” that go one. I witnessed so many of these deal discussions, where one director promises to send a certain person to another chapter in exchange for someone to come to their chapter. Manipulating marriages is bad enough for the families and those involved. The problem in ubf is much deeper than that because marriages almost always are manipulated to be network alliances, almost akin to war alliances.

    • Joe Schafer

      John, thanks for your detailed and helpful input.

      As you probably guessed, my question about New Testament/early church practice was not motivated by a desire to simply imitate what the early Christians did. We cannot ignore or erase 2,000 years of history, and I think that in many ways our understanding of what marriage is about is different from (and perhaps more highly developed than) how it was viewed in the first century. But it might shed some additional light on what we do, because the witness of the early church is part of the healthy input and critique that we need from the whole Body of Christ. The ancient witness is especially important today as we experience the ongoing shift to a post-Christendom culture.

      I would like to expand on the point that Brian made near the end of his comment above. His point was that, in ubf, marriages have sometimes been arranged by leaders as bargaining chips. More generally, I see potential for serious conflict of interest in the marriage-by-faith system. UBF chapter directors have an agenda, and part of that agenda is to increase the size of their ministries by establishing highly committed, permanent members. To that end, there is often a perceived and/or real tendency to use the sacred institution (some would say sacrament) of marriage as a tool for ministry building.

      Here is a hypothetical scenario that is not uncommon at all. Two single people show a desire to marry. But a chapter director says no. The reason? Because one or both of them are “not ready yet.” Because one or both of them are “not spiritual enough.” The evidence cited for them not being ready is that they do not faithfully attend daily bread meetings, prayer meetings, Bible studies, worship service, etc. Or because they do not yet go fishing on a regular basis or haven’t yet raised disciples. Someone may be told, “You will be ready to marry when you have five sheep.” The young person desperately wants to get married, and so he or she decides to go ahead and demonstrate readiness by jumping through any and all hoops that the leader requires, no matter how arbitrary.

      When leaders believe they have the right or responsibility to make those decisions, it leaves young people who want to get married very vulnerable. The time of marriage preparation is seen by leaders as the most opportune to train them, the most opportune time to extract greater levels of obedience and commitment to the ministry, because that is precisely when the young person is most pliable.

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable for a pastor to require certain things from a couple that he marries. But those things, in my opinion, should be explicitly geared toward marriage itself. Resources like the Prepare-Enrich curriculum, which I have used, are a wonderful tool to build the foundation for a healthy relationship between husband and wife. Other requirements to attend ministry meetings and events, go fishing and raise disciples, etc. should not be required as prerequisites for marriage.

    • John, thanks for your reply. Your point of view has been greatly enriched by the myriad experiences God has brought you through, and I look forward to continuing to hear your voice in these conversations.

      Further to my comment above, I feel that the marriage practices in UBF are, as a whole, laudable and have deeply benefited me and my wife. The larger—nay, the supreme issue—the issue that in my mind undergirds every facet of what is done in UBF, is this: what is the primary reason for human existence? If we exist primarily to be servants of God’s mission, then it makes sense for the church to exert as much control as possible in order to frame a person’s life in a manner that is conducive to the perpetuation of the mission. I think that the wrong (or at least incomplete) idea that people exist solely for the perpetuation of God’s mission on earth has given license to all sorts of attempts to control people’s lives in various ways to “help them” live a more “mission-centered” life. Certainly such a teaching is never vocalized, and perhaps its not ever really confronted, but nonetheless, I believe that it undergirds many of the practices of the ministry.

  7. In regard to marriage, I think we should be careful about what we learn from the bible passages. If we don’t approach the bible with the lens of grace and love and don’t look for the redemptive narratives about Jesus, we really are left with something like the infamous video “Betty Bowers Explains Traditional Marriage”.

    • Joe Schafer

      Brain, just to clarify your intentions, because users of this website might be confused.

      This video presents a humorous, ironic, sarcastic, and highly exaggerated (and a little bit obscene) caricature of what may happen if someone naively uses the Bible — more specifically, the Old Testament — to define what lifestyles should be considered normal and correct.

      You are not saying that polygamy, rape, etc. are biblically correct. You are posting this as a warning against naive and irresponsible uses of the Bible.

      Correct?

    • That’s correct Joe. This is a caricature. But it is an example of what “bible only” theology tends to lead. We are seeing such things in the laws being proposed in Arizona in the U.S.

      For example, someone proposed we mandate into law the killing of disobedient children. And there are laughable rape laws being proposed in the U.S. as well. That is the same thinking as the “woman” in the video above presents about marriage.

      But seriously, if we are to study the whole bible in search of marriage, as jaeman suggests, I think we should address the issues that Betty Bowers brings up. So for example, why shouldn’t we promote polygamy? Why not allow rape? Why not support slavery? Why not condemn interracial marriages?

      If we apply the typical “bible only” thought process, we find little answers, except that “Yes we should, kind of.”

    • Joe Schafer

      Brian, thanks for the clarification.

      I hope you won’t paint with too broad a brush. There are many conservative Bible-believing evangelicals who, if they watched this video, would feel mocked. No one wants to become the butt of criticism or sarcastic joking. There are countless conservative evangelicals who see themselves as “Bible-only” Christians who, because they have intelligence and good sense and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives, wouldn’t be led to the outrageous and foolish extremes shown in this video, nor would they support the African anti-gay laws you cited in your comment below.

      You posted this to make a point, a point with which I largely agree: The Scriptures are complex, and we need to approach them in a wise and careful manner.

      But this video can be interpreted as mocking the Bible. In fact, it’s likely that those who made it, and the audience that they are targeting, likes the video precisely because at the surface level it mocks Christianity and the Bible.

      I won’t ask you to take this video down. But I fear that some readers of this website might have been unnecessarily offended, making it hard for them to listen to the point you are trying to convey.

    • I went ahead and removed the actual video, so that no one will think we are promoting heretical teaching here :)

      I replaced the video with the Google search term to find the video.

    • Joe Schafer

      Thanks, Brian.

    • Please keep the following in mind:

      Many UBF members are trying to reduce a website like this one to a single bad person, or to a group of persons who have all the same bad spirit, instead of recognizing that it’s a platform where very different people communicate, with very different opinions and very different ways of expressing themselves. In UBF, you learn this black and white thinking, either something is spiritual or it is from the devil. So if there is anything strange on this website, surely the whole website is from the devil. I remember how one UBF member ten years ago told me how he visited a discussion forum on reform UBF, found a posting written in a mocking tone, and decided to never visit the forum any more. That’s sad.

      You can see this tendency to single out the “one person” very well in Sarah Barry’s interview at http://www.bonnubf.org/press0/ where she claims “One member who left UBF wrote a slandering letter to NAE. So they rang me to see if it’s true. However I said nothing—because I didn’t want to say evil words.”

      This is completely untrue. It was not one member who left UBF, but it was a petition signed by far more than hundred people (mostly ex members), and it was not slandering, but a list of verifiable facts about UBF. The rest of what Barry writes about this incidence is just as wrong and ridiculous, but my point here is how UBF always tries to reduce a forum like this one to a single “troublemaker” or to a single issue of “slandering” and/or “mocking”. I guess they will now to claim that people on this website are a bunch of people who have all become heretics promoting homosexuality and polygamy…

    • Chris, you make some very valid points. Your example of re-writing of history in unfortunately all too common. I just expect it now.

      Anyway in regard to what people think about me or this website, I really no longer care. I find that the number of people who hated me when I was “Mr. UBF” is roughly equivalent to the number of people who hate me now. So I no longer give a rat’s patuky what people think; I’m just being me and following Christ.

      In regard to this blog however, I will gladly step back and stop my poisonous, tripe-smelling teaching. In fact I plan to do so for a while. Hopefully others will not be afraid to comment in an environment where differences are accepted.

    • Joe Schafer

      Brian, I don’t think you will step back for long. You love this website. Despite all of its faults, you think that UBFriends is awesome, and you are (pre-?)destined to keep coming back here to revel in its awesomeness.

    • You’re probably correct, Joe! My last “long break” lasted 3 days… and besides, I Must Complete My Plan of Taking Over This Website With My Liberal Theology.

  8. So I’m tying in this conversation about marriage with our prior “bible only” conversation, which also ties into the recent actions by Christian missionaries in Africa who are enacting anti-gay laws that require the death penalty. Such laws aren’t working in the U.S. (thankfully) so some Christians are porting the Conservative Agenda to Africa. Really sad and troubling to me.

  9. Joe Schafer

    Brian, have you seen this book yet?

    http://www.amazon.com/Torn-Rescuing-Gospel-Gays-vs-Christians-ebook/dp/B0076DFG5S

    It shows some promise of helping Christians — at least those of us who are willing to dialogue rather than just proclaim our positions — to think about and discuss these issues.

    Scot McKnight has promised to begin reviewing the book this Friday on his Jesus Creed blog.

    • I have heard people talking about it, but haven’t read it yet. It seems worth checking out. I’m continually amazed at how MUCH discussion has to take place just to convince some Christians to begin to start to realize we shouldn’t be killing or condemning gay people, and that accepting them isn’t a slippery slope.

      I really like what Timothy Kurek is doing to “rescue” the gospel. Until you walk in the shoes of an LGBT person, you probably won’t understand. God has actually prepared a significant number of gospel-centered Chrsitians among the LGBT community– Christians who have been and continue to teach love and grace to the world.

  10. I met a ubf top leader recently and had a talk with him. I am going to share some things in different articles. In this one I’d like to add a few words on marriage by faith. You know that there was a fact when a missionary sister in Chicago married by faith twice and both husbands “ran away” or something and to marry for the second time she aborted a child from the previous marriage by faith. (The top leader confirmed the facts). It was really a very bad and unchristian ubf case. I think that everyone would agree that marriage by faith is about trusting and entrusting and even absolutely obeying your director with choosing your future spouse and the date and place of marriage and everything in your life as if you were trusting God. This case showed that SL (and any other director and anyone) couldn’t be trusted with such things. And we should think about the message which comes out of such things: your God makes mistakes, marriage is not a blessing for you, it was God’s will for you to be wounded so much,… does your God love you? does He care? is He good?, etc. And the case is not the only one. So is it right to make such statements like “If not for ubf I would not be married” as if marriage by faith is something so good and godly and is about christian faith? What if someone say, “If not for ubf I would be happily married” or “If not for ubf we would not be wounded so much and God would not lose his glory”? Personally I would say that the article shows how SL hooked young Ben Toh by this marriage by faith and made him forever loyal and thankful…

  11. Sharon Schafer

    Please pray for UBF, for we are only bunch of flesh and blood, flawed sinners, but whose sins ultimately reveal the overwhelming grace of God. God’s grace is greater than all our sin. I understand your righteous anger and I sincerely pray that these stories will someday be put to rest…though I fear it will be impossible under the present circumstances. What will finally put them to rest? Perhaps only a public apology will do. For the sake of your brothers and sisters in Christ would you please pray for this and ask God to use you to make it possible? I’m not sure expressing this anger this way, wiping away all the good, helps the situation. Maybe you must…but please understand, I get it. And I think many of us do. We just don’t agree yet on what to do about it.

    • Sharon Schafer

      “Hope is never a form of wistful daydreaming about the future; the “dream” referred to here is of different cloth: it requires the dreamer to be wide awake and looking squarely at reality, and yet able to imagine – to dream – what God might have in mind. It requires both hardheaded realism and creative imagination. Realism demands that we acknowledge that things are not perfect….Yet we trust fiercely in God’s faithfulness as we commit ourselves to working for God’s justice, God’ vision, and God’s reign or kingdom….It cannot be done without deep commitment and vibrant, enduring hope, because there will be times when we simply want to give up. But hope is a pledge, a kind of gamble.”
      Anthony Gittins, Called to Be Sent

    • Just want to chime in on a few comments in this thread that struck me:

      “What will finally put them to rest? Perhaps only a public apology will do.”

      For me, an apology will do nothing. I have already received many apologies from all kinds of ubf leaders, including ATK himself. Apologies, pity, changes and sympathy mean nothing to me. It doesn’t make any difference to me what changes ubf makes. None of those things are reconciliation. They are at best, an appeasement.

      So what would put these things to rest? For the past 2 years I’ve continually come back to two things:

      1) admit the reality of abuse, which we all know exists, and stop calling such abuse “God’s work by God’s anointed”

      2) remove the lifelong authority of shepherds over sheep. Having mentors is fine and indeed Christian. But lifelong, self-appointed control over another believe is simply not Christ-like.

      Until now, I see zero evidence that ubf directors understand such things. I see much evidence that former ubf members understand both things extremely well. Most former members share something related to one or both of these reasons as their reason for leaving.

      I am also glad to see some in ubf starting to put an end to such things. We need more people to do so. Is there good work in ubf? Yes! But any good work is tainted and clouded by the disconnect from reality (denial) and the insistence on shepherds having lifelong control over sheep (authoritarianism).

      Until I see strong evidence that ubf is addressing these 2 issues, my attitude won’t change.

  12. Thanks, Vitaly, I like and perhaps may even agree with your last statement: “Personally I would say that the article shows how SL hooked young Ben Toh by this marriage by faith and made him forever loyal and thankful…”

    The only thing I might add is that God in his sovereign Wisdom and Mystery allowed that to happen to me out of his perfect inscrutable love for me.

    Also, because of my contribution, comments and active involvement on UBFriends, some/many UBF loyalists do not think that I am “forever loyal and thankful…” but “bitter and wounded!”

  13. There is no anger in my words. I just want to say that to the thesis there is an antithesis. We should learn from the stories before they may be put to rest. I don’t know about the US, but in Russia if you wipe away all ubf problems but one – the marriage by faith, then anyone, christain and non-christian will say that ubf is a cult. It is unhealthy whatever good it might produce in anyone’s life. So maybe it would be better for Dr.Ben to write “If not for God I would not be so happily married, especialy in ubf, inspite of unhealthy marriage by faith methods”. The top leader I talked to said that there was time of fighting against cults in the US and that ubf was accidentially put into the list of cults along with others. But I want to say that it is now and it is former ubf members who know what ubf is about say that ubf is a cult. I understand why Brian wrote on his site that ubf is a cult. If I had a site I would also write that ubf is a cult. It is not an old story, it is a 2013 story as well. When are these new stories will be put to rest? (btw I can say that I changed some of my mind about ubf after the talk. I saw with my eyes that the ubf leader was sincere, even very sincere. I understood that there were and there are some leader with “good intentions” in ubf as Dr.Ben often writes. And I saw that at least these sincere leaders sincerely can’t understand some things especially why others think they act cult-like. And the leaders think that people like me should have such a life-long mission of living together with them with the hope that some day they will understand their problems. I don’t think I have such a mission from God. I don’t want to be with them. I can pray about them but my prayer will inavitably include words that korean missionaries and ubf teaching and practices may not be hindrances for God’s work in my life and in my country any more. I will pray that they will leave us alone, leave us with Jesus, and may korean healthy pastors help these korean unhealthy “sheep”. I agreed to come and to talk with the leader just to clear up some things and to make it some Omega talk with ubf. And I’m going to stop coming to this site as well one day. so there will be less “anger” here.)

    • Thanks for sharing honestly Vitaly. I agree with the essence of your words.

      I just want to point something out to our readers, which I am sure you already know Vitaly:

      You said: “The top leader I talked to said that there was time of fighting against cults in the US and that ubf was accidentally put into the list of cults along with others.”

      ubf was NOT accidentally put on the list of cults. There are 8 organizations around the world, especially in Taiwan and China, who are keeping files on ubf. Some of them have been doing this for several decades.

      Why do such groups do this? Well it has nothing to do with “persecuting God’s anointed”. They keep files on ubf because of the reports of denial of abuse and the extreme control and subtle yet forceful coercion over people’s lives.

      And they also keep files because ubf’s actions often don’t match their statement of belief and give ubf a non-Christian appearance to the outside world. This is just how Jim Jones, and others, started. One or two wrong decisions and such a hotbed of inconsistency could explode, as it has in other fringe groups. So several organizations have been watching, and also hoping and praying that ubf never explodes like other control groups have.

  14. Sharon Schafer

    Vitaly, I respect and honor your decision, your prayer, your convictions. I hope you continue to come to this website. I sincerely do.

  15. This is from USA Today 9/7/2011:

    “A 9/11 love story

    Nick Marson of England and Diane Kirschke of Houston are married. The couple, who are in their 60s, met a year ago while stranded for several days in Newfoundland when U.S. airspace was closed because of the terror attacks. Flights from Europe were diverted to Gander International Airport, and thousands of passengers were put up in schools, churches and halls. Nick and Diane met in a shelter; he first spotted her sitting on an Army cot. After visiting Diane several times, Nick — an oil company engineer — got a transfer to Houston. The couple will honeymoon where they met.”

    Nick could think that “If Not For 9/11 I Would Not Be Married”. But it would casue a difficult antagonism if someone asked him “do you whish 9/11 never happened”?

    I also think of Moonie mass weddings. Probably Sun Myung Moon founded much more happy marriages than Samuel Lee, at least in absolute numbers. I’m not sure about their failure rates in relative numbers. All I know is that the UBF failure rate is not neglectable.

    It’s good if we are thankful for our happy marriages, but I would not want to tie it in any way with UBF. I’d rather say, our marriage was lucky despite of UBF.

    • Btw, there just has been another Moonie mass wedding again, the first one after the death of their founder: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1254762/1/.html

      These weddings show very well the idea of “unity through uniformity”, contrary to “unity through diversity” – all the couples have to wear the same clothes and white gloves. Their individuality does not count, they are married even if they don’t understand each others’ language. But, just like in UBF, they think of this as something done “by faith”. Quote from the article:

      “We struggle a little to communicate right now, as I speak no Japanese at all, and she only speaks a little English, but we see it as an exciting challenge and proof of our faith,” he said.

      Some may see it as insulting, but if you look carefully you will see that the practices of UBF MbF and Moon Mass weddings and the ideas behind them are not so far from each other. And as I said above, I guess many of these couples could also say “If Not For Moon I Would Not Be Married”.

  16. Thanks, Chris. I do like the story of Nick, Diane and 9/11.

    I am not disputing with you that UBF has issues. I have probably raised more UBF issues privately and publicly, in person and in cyberspace, one on one or in small groups, in my own family or with friends, with other church leaders in UBF or in other churches (who are willing to listen) than perhaps all who comment on UBFriends.

    This is simply my story of God’s unfathomable love for me. God probably had to use some church to get me married off to a Christian. It is His own sovereignty and wisdom and mystery, why he chose UBF to get me married. If God had consulted me before he married me off, I would likely not have chosen UBF :[) But I guess God didn’t ask me! ^_^

  17. Joe Schafer

    Chris, I also like your story about 9/11. It raises questions about God’s sovereignty that are difficult to answer.

    In your last comment,you said:

    “It’s good if we are thankful for our happy marriages, but I would not want to tie it in any way with UBF. I’d rather say, our marriage was lucky despite of UBF.”

    Can’t we say that about anything good that happens in any church whatsoever?

    Like Ben, I’ve raised lots of issues about UBF, both publicly and privately, and I’ve been paying the price for it. In my estimation, the organization has serious problems. Yet, at present, I still have to say that God called me into UBF. I believe he did so for some reasons that I understand, and for many other reasons that I do not yet understand. Many other people whom I know who have left UBF and have negative opinions of it say the same thing: God called them into UBF. (Perhaps God called them to leave as well.)

    The old saying, “God moves in mysterious ways,” is very true,

    • Joe, when I wrote “I’d rather say, our marriage was lucky despite of UBF.” You answered, “Can’t we say that about anything good that happens in any church whatsoever?”

      Well, what happened to me was that the “church” leader tried to cancel our marriage, he even kind of kidnapped my fiance to another UBF chapter through a Korean coworker, while telling her I had become “unspiritual”, and lying to me about where my fiance was, and he was on the edge of kicking me out of UBF. Luckily, he did not succeed, somehow in the end we married anyway, but at least he succeeeded in completely ruining our wedding experience, and I think it’s fair enough to say that it happened despite of UBF. I do not think that such things happen in any other church. In the same year, he also prohibited the marriage of another couple in our chapter, and expelled the man and told us to pray for the woman. Luckily, the woman left UBF and they married in another church, and as far as I know are still happily married. That’s another thing that would not have happened in any other church. In another case, a marriage had been arranged between two people who obviously did not fit together, and when the woman left UBF, the man was told to divorce her and remarried to another girl in short time. That would not have happened in any other church either. And I also remember another case where a Korean missionary was married to another Korean missionary who had never met before and then they were divorced after a few weeks or months already. Even after we left, and all the bad experiences, he continued to arrange marriages between Germans and Koreans who never met before. Please keep in mind all the damage that has been done through arranged marriage. Regarding the practice of marriage, and the interference of leaders into the marriage, as Vitaliy alread said, UBF is definitely a cult, not a church. You may say that in many chapters it is not so extreme, but the original practice that was introduced by the UBF founder and tolerated, supported and imitated for decades by many leaders including Sarah Barry, is that extreme, and it has never been recalled by any of the top leaders.

    • Joe Schafer

      Chris, I’m sorry if my words sounded dismissive. And I’m sorry if they sounded as though I was defending any of the truly bad things that have gone on in UBF. That was not at all my intention.

      What happened to you was very wrong. And the continued refusal by many to address those wrong practices or even to speak about them is very wrong. I’ve said that before, both privately and publicly, and I will continue to do so.

      It seems you took my words as a defense of such things. Or trying to say that those practices are not so bad after all. Or that other churches do bad things as well, so we shouldn’t worry so much about it. That is not what I meant.

    • Actually I did not expect that you defend such practices. They are undefendable. That’s probably also the reason why UBF leaders don’t want to discuss these things. They know very well that they are undefendable, that they are not in line with the Bible, not in line with any orthodox Christian practice, and not in line with common sense, sanity and reason.

      We must continue to address these things again and again until they are fully solved. We must not forget what was going on since decades just because for us, it somehow worked out in we have happy marriages. There are many unhappy, sad and tragic stories, most of them untold, caused by the UBF marriage practice. The readers of this website should know about this and should challenge their chapter leaders to either dissociate clearly and explicitly from such practices, or just leave their chapters and join a healthy church instead.

  18. Lot’s of good thoughts everyone, but I see that we are cycling again here… going in circles with the same discussions. We former members are prone to this just as much as current members.

    One of the prayers I’ve prayed the most since January 2011 is this: Lord, break the cycle.

    We all desperately need outside input, new articles to challenge us to continue on our journey and a wider array of friends to aid in the work of reconciliation. I’ve started inviting some of my friends to submit articles or share thoughts here… hopefully some will soon.

    Until we break the ying/yang co-dependency cycle, I see little chance for the message of reconciliation to sink in and take affect.

  19. And does anyone have a book or movie review they’d like to share? :)

  20. I’ve recommended this book to quite a few people over the past week: http://www.amazon.com/Falling-Upward-Spirituality-Halves-Life/dp/0470907754 I am presently still devouring it. If you prefer a review before buying or reading it, here it is: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-falling-upward-by-richard/

    I think most people who read UBFriends will appreciate it. It talks about the two “halves” of our own life, that I think most people can relate too.

    It reminded me about “the wall,” which Emotionally Healthy Spirituality addresses, which we need to confront and cross, if we are to experience liberation, and be able to then proceed to the “second half of our life,” especially as Christians.

    Most if not all of the unpleasantries we experience in the church can be explained as coming from Christians, including Christian leaders who are still operating out of the “first half” of their life, which invariably causes legalism, traditionalism, imposition, oppression, manipulation, rigidity, inflexibility, and the like over others in the church.

    • Thanks for pointing out that book, Ben. I may add it to my reading list. It would be awesome if someone would share a review of this book here…

      I personally need another “break” from talking about ubf ad nausea. ubf is ignoring us anyway, as they always have and always will. They will just keep plowing forward as always. They will just keep marrying people to ubf, making ubf the “transcendent third”.

      I think we need to be here and be ready to welcome the next wave of leaders who leave in a few years. In the meantime, I hope we can move on to vibrant theological discussions :)

    • Joe Schafer

      Brian, I’m working on a review of another book that (I hope) will spark reflection and discussion beyond the issues of ubf. But if some of the discussion heads back to ubf again, I’ll continue to listen to them. As I know you will.

  21. btw Chris, I think you know that I am not telling my marriage by faith (mbf) story to justify mbf that is manipulative, politically motivated, controlling, demeaning, humiliating, etc.

    For sure, the mbf you spoke about is unjustifiable and indefensible, and very painful to hear no matter how often it is told. The clearly unacceptable and unbiblical justification for mbf done in ways you described is “God blessed you anyway!”

    An entire blog can be written to address anyone who justifies evil church practices by saying, “God blessed you anyway! Be thankful for your happy marriage and for your ubf leader who introduced you, don’t complain (and don’t leave UBF, because we now own you).”

    Would you write this blog? You can title it “Bibleman, part II.”

    • Well, Chris did start such a blog (more like a news website). ubf took legal action to shut it down.

      I already started articles for such a blog :)

      A review of some UBF doctrines and teachings

    • Thanks for clarification Ben.

      Still, I want to emphasize that “the mbf I spoke about” is not my personal, unlucky experience, but the very mbf that Samuel Lee has invented and practiced. Samuel Lee himself was the one who demanded the divorce and arranged the remarriage in one of the failed marriages I mentioned (it was a marriage arranged between a Chicago girl and a man from my German chapter). I know he also ordered several other divorces in Chicago UBF when the partner left UBF, he arranged and cancelled marriages as a means to reward and punish, and did any of the bad stuff I experienced in my own chapter. My chapter leader only copied what he learned from Samuel Lee. How Samuel Lee did things was and still is the prototype of doing things in UBF. What I experienced was in no way exceptional. I heard many similar stories from other chapters in Germany and all around the world.

      What I actually want to hear from UBF leaders is not that “the things I experienced” are wrong, and they are sorry for that, but that very fundamentally the practice and teaching about MbF as established by Samuel Lee is completely wrong and has harmed many people in the past.

      Yes, there were also cases with a happy end, but as you say, this dis not justify how things have been done and are still handled in many parts of UBF. That’s why, whenever somebody posts a story that shows how God made a crooked way straight, I’m not getting tired of pointing out that it was a crooked way nevertheless and that we should not follow such crooked paths and not support them in any way, or even make straight things crooked (Mi 3:9).

    • bekamartin

      Ben, I often felt, as I went through my marriage struggles, that marriage by faith tied me (imprisoned?) to UBF so that was the reason for marriage by faith. If I wasn’t married with children, I may have left UBF sooner. But maybe not, as I didn’t hold UBF at fault for my marriage problems, except that I felt that my chapter didn’t take my marriage problems seriously and didn’t help us. But my marriage struggles were mine and my husband’s responsibility; even though he claims that it was all UBF’s fault and my fault :(

  22. This explanation by Fr. Barron of the “transcendent third” of Aristotle perhaps explains all marriages that work well and are happy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2fcNFHDzAE&feature=endscreen&NR=1

    In a sense UBF helped me to marry in 1981 with a Transcendent Third at the very core and foundation of my marriage.

    • Thanks for the youtube link, Ben. These explanations about the “transcendent third” are very helpful. What I missed a bit is that there is also a personal aspect in love. I love my wife not only because she loves God, but because I really love herself, her personality. It’s a very personal thing. Otherwise my wife would be exchangable against any other woman who loves God, and if she starts doubting God I would just drop her and start loving any other “woman of faith” (TM by UBF). No, I wouldn’t do so. Anyway, the “transcendent third” is indeed what makes our marriage very strong.

      However, the “transcendent third” explains very well my disappointment about my former UBF firends and why I can’t be friend with many of them any more. I always believed that we shared the same transcendent third, the same picture of God, the same virtues which I consider attributes of God such as justice, honesty, etc. There was always this “value system” that I believed we all shared that was hovering over us like a glittering soap bubble. Until during the reform movement of 2001 I found out that it was an illusion and the bubble burst. I painfully learned that many of them have a quite different image of God than I had and don’t seemed to care about justice, honesty etc. that they were indifferent about all the evil things that came to light. It seemed that they loved a very different God than the one I had in mind. That was my big disappointment. I can still somehow love these people, but it is difficult to stay friends. Luckily not all UBF people are like that, as I see from you and many others who are writing here.

    • A very tough question to you, Ben: What would have happened if in 1981 after your marriage, your wife had started to see problems in UBF and would have left UBF, and if Samuel Lee told you to divorce from her (in the case I know he issued an ultimatum telling here husband to divorce if she doesn’t come back to UBF by then). Would you have followed Samuel Lee or your wife? How much was the “transcendent third” that you shared really the God you now have, or how much was it the distorted picture of God that Samuel Lee was promoting? How much was the “transcendent third” that you shared actually the UBF ideal of a life for world campus misison, and how much was it God himself? Actually in UBF you marry a “coworker”, so how much was the transcendent third the UBF concept of “work”?

    • Joe Schafer

      Chris, you raise some very difficult and pertinent questions. In my case, the ideals of world campus mission never really functioned as a transcendent third. I loved my wife from the start (although my love was, and still is, immature). Before we married, I told her that I was committing myself not to a mission plan, but to her, and that commitment would always go beyond anything that was happening in ubf. If someone told me to divorce her, I would have said, “Hell no.” I believe that we always did have a transcendent third in our relationship, and that transcendent third was not world campus mission, but God himself. That was my experience; I don’t know how common or uncommon my experience is.

  23. Ok if we are going to discuss ubf mbf, let’s at least get to the “good” part and talk about some things that have not been discussed publicly, if at all. Mainly, what happens after mbf?

    As we’ve sort of pointed out already, mbf is a kind of “holy grail” in ubf. After mbf, you will typically experience a period of relief– the intrusive daily pressure is gone! But the coercion to conform is not gone, simply changed. And looking back now, I see another reason the pressure was relieved after mbf is that your shepherds and chapter director begin focusing on “new sheep”. Eventually you will likely be forgotten unless you make extraordinary “decisions of faith” to put yourself back in the mix of things again.

    • And the fact that you will be slowly forgotten after mbf is related to the assumption that you are now “ok”. Any non-conformance will be shocking because you are assumed to have already learned obedience. Some people, I’m sure, are still shocked that my family is gone, and has been gone for almost 2 years now.

  24. After mbf, here are some questions you have to find answers to: How spiritual will you make your honeymoon? How many meetings will you be willing to miss for your honeymoon? How will you deal with people snickering the next year or so and constantly telling you and your wife have “honeymoon spirit” and that such spirit is hindering you from doing God’s work?

    How will you react to purity training? What if your chapter director now demands you to sleep at the center along with the single brothers in order to demonstrate your purity and desire to be a good influence on single brothers?

    How will you deal with people pushing your pregnant wife to keep attending meetings and conferences even though she is having a hard time with the pregnancy? How spiritual will you name your children? How are you going to deal with your chapter director wanting to name your children, rejecting your wife’s names?

    How will you handle the requirement to show your children’s grade cards to your chapter director? How will you deal with the pressure of always hearing how wonderful some Korean children are compared to your lazy, disobedient American children?

    How are you going to react when you find out your 6 year old daughter is already expected to marry into your chapter director’s family? Are you going to let your children go through mbf? Do you want your children and grandchildren to conform to the ubf heritage as well, just like you did?

  25. And here are some more questions: How will you deal with the pressure to keep attending meetings after having children? Will you leave your newborn baby with an unknown babysitter in a bad part of town just because your normal babysitter canceled?

    How will you feel when you realize you are not supposed to sit with your wife during worship service? How will you feel when you are told you are too family-centered in your chapter director’s announcements, and that people should pray for you to be more mission-centered?

    Where will you live? Are you going to conform to living in the same neighborhood as all the other ubf people? What kind of car will you drive? Will you be like others and drive a junk car on purpose so that you won’t be rebuked for being too materialistic?

    What school system will you send your children too? What if you feel that Catholic schools are best for your children? Will you force your children to play violin and be part of the ubf orchestra?

  26. And suppose 20 years from now, you feel burned out and start to question the decisions you’ve made? How will you react when a Korean family requests to take your children all summer so that you can be “recharged”?

    Will you give in to the pressure of sending your children to Korea for “training”? Will you let your children be trained by ubf people?

    • bekamartin

      No wonder I was so looked at so strangely, because I didn’t do any of this, except the Bible names, which I and my husband chose ourselves. And when I asked my husband to leave our house because my daughter felt he was a danger to her (HE WAS!!) then our Director told my husband that I had lost my mind. I think I never really followed the UBF way fully, so I was always a trouble maker. Even my best friend shunned me, except for the Daily Bread that she suddenly started sending me by email.

  27. Sharon Schafer

    I would and did feel terrible….and finally God heard my cries for help, released me from bondage and brought me into the freedom of His grace.

    • Amen to that Sharon. All the things I mentioned became reality checks for me. Such reality checks are so desperately needed in ubf.

  28. I remember how I received an early morning phone call from the director the NEXT day after the wedding. He rebuked me and said that we must live in a campus dormitory to be “in the same neighborhood”. At first I could not understand what was going on. btw I didn’t like my wedding at all. It was after a directors conference. Our parents and relatives were like the least guests and many koreans ruled and laughed and told everyone what to do. It seemed that it was their wediing. No native could understand my wedding, it looked very and very strange for Russia. We were the first “house church” in our region. Our names became Abraham and Sarah (also very strange for Russian). The wedding videotape was taken by the missionaries and we were not even allowed to watch it in order not to become family-centered. (I have never watched it). We were also told that they will tell us when we could have children. We have two children though wanted more but we were told to quit good jobs, to stop PhD study, not to have more children in order to devote ourselves to the mission and sheep. Yes, it were not we but the director who gave name to our son inspite that we wanted to give him a different name. Etc. It is very difficult to imagine if an apology from the director or ubf would change anything. That’s why I don’t want any apologies (though nobody tried to make an apology). I am just sure that ubf is a cult and I don’t want others to suffer from it the same way.
    And yes I remember that at a CIS conference we were told to come to SL and express our thankfulness. Everybody seemed to be theater actors who play before the general director, and we were also given a short role. He didn’t seem to understand who we were. He said something like “ok”. I wrote a letter to him after the wedding about our great vision as the first house church. He read the letter as an examplary one at Chicago meetings several times (it was very heritageful as was me). How good Jesus is to save us from this ubf horror film! I am sure that our family was “established” for the sake of statistics, ubf figures (our chapter director tried to compete against the Kiev chapter ubf director). But thank God who graciously was good to us and blessed our family. It reminds me of the story about David and Saul’s daughter. Saul had his plans through his daughter but she loved David ))

    • Now these are the stories that must be told. Thank you for sharing Vitaly. You raise some more questions: After mbf, how do you deal with your real family members? Thankfully my family and my wife’s family were more than gracious and understanding. But there were many awkward moments. And others didn’t fare so well, having to deal with angry mothers who were excluded from the wedding preparation for example.

      And how do you deal with becoming Korean? Just as your wedding was not Russian, but Korean, our wedding was Korean style as well. But maybe because we are rebellious Americans, we started pushing for more American type customs, as did each successive family after us. I think the weddings in American ubf chapters might be more and more Americanized (perhaps?). In fact I even heard reports that courtship is happening now. Still, it is all for appeasement to Americans.

      These words struck me, Vitaly: “I remember how I received an early morning phone call from the director the NEXT day after the wedding.” The phone call. Yes that is how all ubf activity was done in the past, and maybe still. Why phone calls? Because phone calls can be a chance for control of the situation, as are in-person meetings. But praise God we now have new media! No one can control the internet. No one can rule the situation in email. How I wish we had the internet back in the ’80s…

    • Here’s a comical story that happened to me while planning my own wedding: My wife and I insisted on having an opportunity to “kiss the bride” in the wedding, which is traditional in Canada. The UBF pastor was uncomfortable initially, but finally relented, saying (with a total dead-pan expression), “Ok, but not professional.”

      The comedy of the whole situation combined with such a funny way of describing a kiss made me laugh hysterically, and I still do whenever I think about it. Except that having such a domineering influence on a couple’s own wedding is really not funny.

    • Yes Joshua, kissing the bride is very problematic in ubf weddings. You gotta fight for your right to kiss your bride!

      Pause and consider this for a moment: How much anguish, pain, angst, arguing and fighting had to take place around the world just to get to the point where couples can begin to share their country’s traditions in marriage instead of Korean traditions?

    • Hey joshua, what is a “professional kiss”? Or what did that mean? I don’t understand.

      And you mentioned something that stood out to me: “…traditional in Canada”. mbf is perhaps the best example of ignoring culture to the detriment of the ministry. mbf highlights the shortcomings of the ubf system, which by the way, ends with mbf. There really is nothing much after that except keep doing the same thing.

      Missionaries of any type will be more effective when they become sensitive to the cultures of the country they are in. For example, to be in Canada is not the same as being in the USA. And being in the Ukraine is not the same as being in Russia.

  29. In the light of all these things it was very difficult to explain to the top ubf leader that “to reconcile and to serve God together with the missionaries as one church, loving each other” can not be an option for those who left ubf. The things were awful but we couldn’t see them because we were too busy every day. And the ubf methods are really very manipulative, no time to think. After I left the rest natives in my chapter stopped doing some ubf activities. That’s all, they started to think, they started to see, and as the result they all left, themselves. It couldn’t be otherwise.

    • Exactly. And that is why I say that the only chance for reconciliation between ex-ubf and ubf is redemption, that is, God’s rescue and intervention and not our change or agreement. Eating kimchee together won’t cut it.

  30. Joe Schafer

    Brian and Vitaly, thank you for taking the time to share what you have experienced. I agree with Brian. These stories need to be told and they need to be heard. They have been suppressed and buried and minimized and dismissed and dodged and spinned and rationalized away in so many ways by longtime members of the community, including me. I will no longer do that.

    • Exactly, Joe. The only reason I and others went to the internet is because all of our conversation attempts by other means were suppressed, ignored, or outright rebuked.

      Some may not believe this, but I did indeed “fight for change” for many years in ubf before leaving. I fought for changing the mbf process, for changing the pioneering process, for improving women’s ministry, etc. Not many know the flack I took for certain things because I sought to resolve and appease as quickly as possible. And not many realized I was seeking change because I was all bound up with supporting ubf fully.

      My decision to leave ubf began with a decision to “stop and see what happens.” When I stopped giving and receiving flattery and pity, and stopped propagating the heritage and enabling the abusers, and just started being my self, then I saw my KOPHN worldview fall apart.

      I’m not saying this will happen to everyone. But I am saying everyone in ubf should start paying attention to reality checks and check themselves also.

  31. I think I changed my mind… Before our articles about fluffy kittens and cute bunnies, let’s pursue this line mbf line of thought. I vote for an article about “What happens after mbf?”

    The world should know how most of us were demanded to live like single people many years after mbf, or face the threat of being kicked out. People should know how children’s ministries are typically dismissed or used for indoctrination.

  32. Thanks Vitaly, Brian, Chris, Joshua for sharing. My heart still aches to read your stories, even though I have already heard many such painful stories before.

    Yet as recently as 7 years ago, I would have responded by saying: “Be thankful! Stop complaining. God sovereignly blessed your marriages and your children abundantly. Yet all you speak about is negative things. God will deal with you for not giving thanks to God and to God’s servants in all circumstances.”

    Of course, I now realize how horrible my unconditional defense of UBF was for almost a quarter of a century. I am sorry that many may still not want to hear your stories, because “That was in the past. We are now changing. We will move forward.”

  33. In this post, I had intended to reminisce about happy UBF stories, which I am sure there are many. But perhaps they have been buried because of painful hurtful unresolved issues that some ubf leaders may perhaps be “unable” (or unwilling) to meaningfully address, discuss and resolve in a healthy, humble, mature manner.

    Is such a conversation even remotely possible?

    • Ben, I appreciate your heart. But if you want happy stories, “marriage by faith” is not really a good place to start. I witnessed firsthand about 7 or 8 mbf processes after my own. Yes the couples worked things out (except for one that ended quickly in divorce), but there weren’t many genuinely happy stories. Much flattery and pretend happiness is told by couples but the facts are that happy mbf stories are rather rare, at least in my part of the ubf world.

  34. I am still sure that there are many happy stories that UBF people have to share. But unfortunately, some may be too scared to share, because they imagine that they will be “attacked” if they dare to share something positive or enlightening about UBF.

    • I could share many positive things that happened in UBF for 10 years. Probably, 95% of the things were positive, and in God’s divine grace, all things will end up being 100% positive. But in grieving, I find that the mind and heart focuses on the hurt and the difficulty, perhaps magnifying it or at least making it clearer and bringing it into the forefront. I’ve been told that this is normal and healthy for someone who has suffered a major upheaval in life. The emotional hurt needs to be healed before the experience can be looked at rationally with a balanced viewpoint. One could say, “Don’t be so negative. See the positive things that God did. Be thankful. See God’s grace in your situation.” Those may all be correct statements, the right answer, but they contradict the reality of human grieving process. One of the things that I’ve learned with wounded people is that the right answer is often the wrong response.

    • I concur Joshua. Since we are talking about marriage here, I think it is appropriate to mention divorce. Let’s face it: the mbf process marries you to ubf. After leaving, multiple people mentioned how leaving ubf was what divorce must feel like. So just as ex-wives and ex-husbands often are not stories filled with sunshine and lollipops, the ex-ubf and ubf relationship is also commonly sad and even bitter. Such stories will keep rolling until enough ubf leader wake up and smell the coffee.

  35. Ben, you raise a valid point. I wish more ubf people would have courage to share positive stories and even discuss issues honestly. Why are there so many cowards in ubf who are afraid of public discussion? I thought ubf people were “marines” of Christianity?

    It is only a mind-trick taught by certain ubf directors that people like me, Vitaly and Chris are “so evil” or “so poisonous”.

  36. Ben, if you want happy stories, you probably want to talk about things that happen before mbf. My fondest memories of ubf will always be in the brother’s house! We laughed so hard, shared so many struggles together. It was really a wonderful time of bonding as Christian brothers.

    My funniest story is when we used to call up radio show hosts who broadcast Christian programs, like Harold Camping. One time I called up and rebuked him on air! I guess maybe I was a “troublemaker” even back in 1988.

    • Btw, Harold rebuked me back and said, “And shall we take our next caller?” :)

    • I concur, Brian. Perhaps one of my fondest memories of the time in UBF is also when I stayed for a month in the brothers house in Toledo in 2003. I loved the fellowship, fun, the jokes, and the joy of praying and sharing life with brothers. We’d wrestle, Greg L. would take all of us at once, and we called it “brotherly love”.

    • Cool! Yes, back in the day (80’s/90’s) we had one brother who used to pick people and spin people around like a helicopter… we even had numchuck fights.

      One brother had a stereo system with speakers about 4 feet tall. We used to blast Christian music (Larry Norman, Petra, D&K, etc). We invited James Kim over once because he wanted to see how loud it was. He ran out of the house!

  37. And who can forget driving to my first Easter conference in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with my two best friends and with signs on our windows like “Repent!” and “Jesus loves you!”

    I used to deliver pizzas with “EL SHADDAI” spelled out on my windshield with 8″ high white letters…

  38. Thanks for the happy stories, Brian, Joshua.

    UBF (old) is so much in my blood that I would have responded 7 years ago, “Then why aren’t you thankful? Why did you still leave and become complainers?” BTW thanks Joshua and Brian for the excellent explanation of “grieving” and it being like a “divorce” when one leaves UBF. I hope that UBF hard-liners understand this.

    • Those are valid questions Ben, even today. Are we former members just unthankful? Are we just complaining instead of working toward solutions? Indeed, we all could use a healthy dose of introspection.

      And most of us former members have done just that: introspection. Over. and Over. and Over again.

      When I was “Tom Cruise”, I thought that former members were calling God’s work to be evil. I learned later that this was not an accurate reflection of what they were saying. It was my perception of them, and the only way I could justify my KOPHN worldview.

      I learned that the problem wasn’t that former members were calling God’s work as evil. The problem was that I was calling evil as God’s work. I knew about various abuses, but still I denied reality and called them “God’s work” done by “God’s anointed” for “God’s glory”. That, in a nutshell, is a good definition of spiritual abuse.

      Human rights violations, lack of accountability and breaches in trust and integrity are universal human evils. To call such things as “God’s work” is simply not acceptable.

      Some of this thinking comes across to us former members, Ben, from your article. Yes we know there are good times in ubf, and we would LOVE to rejoice together and remember them. But we cannot do so when we have been divorced from ubf.

      We all tried to be thankful, and were thankful for many years. But where did such thankfulness get us? For me, it got me a hallowed out, empty shell life where I was disconnected from reality, disconnected from my parents and disconnected from my own wife and children. I am not thankful for such things. Nor will I call such things “God’s glorious work” any longer, because disconnecting from reality is not how God works. God does not call us to escape the world, but to be in the world. We can live in the world because Christ can live in us.

      For me, several verses cut me to pieces with conviction during my process of leaving (which was actually my process of attempting to stay, from my viewpoint), such as 1 Timothy 5:8 and 1 Timothy 5:17-21, and many others.

    • Joe Schafer

      Brian, your words remind me of a quote I recently heard. Actually, it’s not a quote, but a paraphrase of something written by a Russian Orthodox Christian named Sergei Fudel:

      “A sin within the church is not a sin of the church, but a sin against the church.”

      If people understood this, they might be more willing to address the wrongs of the past and present.

  39. I wanted to ask all of you: what was your age at the mbf moment? Thanks.

    • Joe Schafer

      27

    • I was 25, my wife was 24.

      That seems to be the average age of the people I know who went through mbf, plus or minus 3 years or so.

    • Our was a double wedding. The couple who got married with us was 26/27 maybe.

    • I think we should point out an interesting statistic, and try to verify this: What is the percentage of mbf couples who remain in ubf?

      Yes, the divorce rate is low (not as low as some may think however). Perhaps the divorce rate is 5%? But the leaving rate must be high by now. Almost no mbf couple from around my time is still in ubf. I’m guessing the “leave rate” for mbf couples must be closer to 75%.

    • bekamartin

      I was 25 years old, 2 years into being in UBF; my husband was 30 (OLD!!!), 10 years after joining UBF.

    • I was 26, my wife younger than I.

  40. Hi Vitaly, I was 25/26 years old in 1981 when I married by faith.

    Hi Joe, You do what you are used to doing. Those who write testimonies for 40 years may continue to do so week by week as their unfailing duty before God and man.

    So I think that since UBF has not responded to critiques and critics for 50 years, it is just not in our DNA and our framework to do so. I think that we just do not know how to respond to critiques without being defensive, or justifying oneself, or without ad hominem arguments.

    There are also “proof texts” used by some to support not responding to critiques because of the “superior status” of the “servant of God”:

    * God punished Ham for not respecting Noah,
    * God punished Miriam for complaining against Moses,
    * David did not touch Saul twice because he was the Lord’s anointed.
    * Abraham’s servant “absolutely” obeyed Abraham as though he is God.
    * Peter absolutely obeyed Jesus command to cast out the nets into the deep.

    I’m not at all saying that these biblical texts support the justification of some to not respond to critics.

    Also, some regard all critiques of UBF as criticism and complaints by bitter people, as you might already know.

  41. I am thinking about my mbf. Now I think that it was quite manipulative. Really if not for ubf I would not have got married at that time. I was 19. But God’s grace is great. I am very thankful to the Lord for my marriage, but of course not to ubf)).

    • Wow, 19? That is unheard of, at least to me. Those who wanted to marry before age 24/25 were usually rebuked severely and accused of not being able to control themselves. Those who didn’t want to marry, and were getting closer to 30, were also rebuked and told they must marry, and quickly. Those closer to 30 often heard “old maid” stories from the missionaries, especially the women.

    • Hi Vitaly, I was married by faith when I was 21. I was a senior in university (or as we prefer to say in Canada, entering my fourth year). I had worked as a co-op student for 13 months prior to our marriage to pay for supporting my wife, who had to immigrate to Canada from the USA and so couldn’t work for the first several years. I think that I was young, and accordingly some things were more difficult than they needed to be, but it was the right time for me. Now I’m very glad that it happened at that time. My wife and I have our kids while still in our twenties and we still have some energy left. Or at least I do :)

    • bekamartin

      I was introduced to my potential husband after I confessed to my shepherdess that I liked a man not in UBF. Prior to this, I had liked a fellow college student, not in UBF, and she told me to make him my Bible student so that I would not have those feelings for him. I thought it was good advice at the time, but now I think it was a manipulation.

      I still really believe that God wanted me and my husband to marry, but that we messed it up and didn’t get counseling early in the marriage, so it went too far and we hurt each other and our children too much. I felt like I didn’t know how to have a good marriage and that no one was helping us.

  42. Hi Vitaly, I am wondering if you were able to support yourself and your wive when you married at age 19?

    As you said, God’s grace is great, and God has to use imperfect people and imperfect churches or even cult-like churches to bless people like you and I.

    God used my sinful and imperfect parents to love me. God used flawed and sinful imperfect UBF leaders to also love and serve me.

    I am not at all condoning manipulation, control, politics, ego trips by some UBF leaders. But God, in his wisdom, sovereignty and mystery chose to bless you and I through them.

    Even if some UBF leaders have glaring blind spots that they might never see before Jesus comes again, they are also made in the image of God and transformed (imperfectly) in the image of Christ.

    Even if their unbearable evil manipulation is totally inexcusable and unjustifiable and indefensible, many of them, as I have said before, truly do want to please and glorify God.

    You and I cannot open their eyes to see their authoritarianism, imperialism, nationalism, racism, condescension, etc. You still need to forgive and even love them, so that what you write also communicates that you love them.

    Imagine me saying that when so many UBF hardliners are upset with what I have written! I guess that must be one of my own blind spots amongst many.

  43. I find an interesting article in Chicago Tribune yesterday. The article says in America in 1950’s and 1960’s, flight attendants were not permitted to be married or have children and were told they could not work past age 32. If you look at 1960 from the eyes of 2013, this sounds most horrible, unreasonable and absurd. This teaches me a lesson that the time factor is very important to understand some of the events in the past. (UBF began 1961) If we look at some of the marriage happenings that happened in UBF many years ago from the eyes of 2013, yes I admit it looked strange. Another reason was that we followed/copied the same way of wedding we did in Korea. (Time factor and cultural factor were involved)

    • James, sure, we should regard for time and culture.

      But the examples I have given happened in Germany, not in Korea, and only 10 years ago, not 50 years ago.

      Also, we have the open letter written in 1976 by the seven Korean senior shepherds in which they addressed these issues in a section titled “forced arranged marriage” (정략적인 결혼 강요). Did you ever read this section? It contained many concrete examples, similar to the ones I have given. Shall I quote it for you?

      Again: This letter was written by Koreans who lived 40 years ago. This is definitely not an issue of time or culture. Why do you always bring up the same lame excuse instead of admitting that the practices of arranged marriage and discipleship training as introduced by Samuel Lee are simply wrong and abusive? Koreans in 1976 could see it just as cleary as Americans and Germans of today. UBF cannot make any progress until this is clearly understood and admitted by people like you.

    • Another point I want to emphasize is that UBF MbF™ is not just a minor cultural difference in how marriages are conducted. Rather, MbF is a whole buch of rules together with an underlying belief system that is not in line with the Bible. The concept of MbF includes the value and purpose of marriage (revealed by the use of the synonymous use of the term “house church” for marriage and “coworker” for spouse), the concept of who is the head in the marriage (my wife’s chapter director told her that not her husband, but the chapter leader is the head, and she should obey him more than her husband), the practice of divorce (when one spouse leaves UBF the marriage has lost its meaning and divorce is the solution). The problem is not mainly that marriages are arranged (by church leaders) which can sometimes be helpful, but that you are not allowed to marry any other way, i.e. you are not allowed to date somebody your like or make a proposal of marriage on your own. Then there is the problem that leaders take the right to cancel a marriage at will, even if you have been already engaged for a year and the wedding date has already been set (as I personally experienced). MbF is a whole bunch of strange and aberrant teachings and practices which are not in line with any culture or time I know, and not in line with the Bible.

      Even thousands of years ago, God said “They may marry anyone they please” (Number 36:6). It is only UBF who started to tell people whom they have to marry and intervenes into marriage in such a way. Once again, I believe the practice of MbF by UBF is not in line with any concept of marriage in thousands of years of history in whatever human culture. Yes, there are parent-arranged marriages in some cultures, but this is way different from church-leader-arranged marriages and it does not include all the other aspects of MbF.

      And then there is the other issue that characterizes MbF as a cult teaching, namely that it is a bunch of unspoken rules. All of the aspects of MbF I mentioned above are not explained clearly to new members, they are not written down in any by-laws or other documents. The members only learn this very subtly by reading between the lines and by seeing how others are treated who are violating these rules. (I remember a young member with the pseudonym “ubfsoul” in a discussion forum years ago who always defended UBF and vehemently denied what we told him about MbF. Until one day he experienced leaders doing this with himself, after which he left UBF.) “Unspoken rules” are one of the hallmarks of spiritual abuse (as explained very well in the book “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” by David Johnson and Jeff Vanvonderen).

  44. Hi Chris,

    Everything that you described in your last two points are normal and should indeed be expected to occur IF IN FACT our sole purpose in life is to serve God in His ministry. I think that everything that you described (and lots of other things) stem from the unspoken and yet very present idea that human beings exist solely for the accomplishment of God’s ministry on earth. If my existence is truly only for God’s ministry, it is acceptable for those who hold power in such a ministry to hold sway in my life in a manner that best serves the interests of the ministry. Such an idea–that we exist for God’s work and God’s work alone–seems very spiritual and lofty. It may help get us “pumped up” to serve God. But it contains just enough truth to become very dangerous. Needless to say, I’m in agreement with you that the difficulties that we’ve both encountered are not primarily due to clashes in culture.

    • Joshua, I would agree with you, but it not only requires the belief that our sole purpose in life is to serve God in His ministry, you also need to have a very limited and distorted view of His ministry, namely that it is equal to “people doing UBF activities”, together with the replication of that ministry by inviting and training new members to do the same activities.

      And then it’s still not very logical, since as I said nearly all aspects of MbF contradict the Bible (e.g. divorce allowed, man not head in marriage, no free choice *) which they believe to be God’s word. So how can you serve God’s ministry by violating His word? Maybe it works if you believe that even God has an “end justifies the means” mindset, or that the replication of the ministry is more important than the values of the ministry itself.

      * In the Bible, marriage and the covenant of marriage is seen as an image of God’s love to us, His convenant with the people of Israel, and then also Jesus’ love to the church. And the Bible does not get tired to mention that God has chosen His people. God not only loves us, but he even chose us! See for instance 1 Thes 1:4: “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.” If we take away the aspect of choice in marriage, then the marriage stops reflecting this important part of God’s love to us, and husband and wife can not be sure that they have been chosen by their partner, which is an important pillar in any healthy marriage. To take this aspect away from marriage is not a little thing. We then reduce marriage into a strategic alliance for campus mission instead of living it as an image of God’s love on this earth.

      Actually, the whole believe that marriage is something that you do to serve God in His ministry, particularly world mission, is completely alien to the Bible. Quite to the contrary, in the Bible, marriage is seen rather as something that hinders world mission – not in the sense that it is forbidden or not good, but rather in the sense that if you really want to fully devote your life to mission, and it is possible for you, then it would be better or ideal to not marry and have children (Mt 19:12, 1 Cor 7:9, 38, 1 Cor 9:5). There is no indication in the Bible that marriage is good for world mission and that spouses should be considered “coworkers in world mission”, and also not the slightest indication that church leaders should arrange marriages. It has all been invented by UBF just because it helps them controlling people and bindinging then closer to UBF.

    • Concerning what I said about marriage and choice, you may point to Gen 24 (the standard reference about marriage in UBF) and claim that the marriage of Rebekkah was arranged and not a free choice. But please look carefully: The Bible emphasizes that 1) it was an extraordinary situation (Gen 24:3), 2) the actual arrangement was not made by a spiritual leader like Melchisedek, not even by the father of Isaac, or his servant, but by God through a sign (Gen 24:14-15) and 3) Rebekka still had to make up her own mind (Gen 24:58-59). Quite contrary to the way how UBF leaders arrange marriages, Abraham did not have control about the situation and pick somebody on his own. In an extraordinary situation, they relied on God showing them who was the right partner. But the whole story silently assumes that the reader knows that this is not the normal way to marry, neither should it become the normal from then on. You don’t find any of the forefathers of faith marrying that way after Isaac.

  45. Chris, Joshua, thanks for articulating my thoughts!

    James, I think you (perhaps unknowingly?) expressed one of the ubf strategies to deal with their problems. Basically the strategy is: let the abused die off, and keep starting all over with new freshmen students. One senior director expressed that exact strategy to some of my friends as they were leaving (trying to find a reason to stay).

    For example, the 50th Anniversary planning leaders discussed the possibility of including the reformers in their historical celebration, or at least to document the reformers events and actions. But it was decided to leave such things out of the 50th.

    So yes, James, time is a factor in ubf and MbF (I like the TM Chris!) But time is merely another tool that ubf views themselves in charge of, like a frog boiling in water with the temperature turned up one degree at a time…

  46. Chris, you have mentioned 1976 event. You do not know them personally. But I know them personally most of them. Since 1976, I have met many of them in Korea. Some went to the seminary school and became a president of seminary school. Some went out to start his own church. But now we have no hostility or ill feelings each other. We love and respect each other in different ministry. Yes, understanding each other is not easy. I find this very very difficult. It takes time and a lot of effort and prayer. And of course the work of the Holy Spirit. But we must do our best to understand each other and make a positive step for reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18,19)

    • James, that is called pacification, not reconciliation. That is not the Christian idea of being reconciled to God and to each other. It sounds more like “maintaining chi”.

      You say you know what happened to some of them and that you have no hostility toward each other. But has friendship been restored? Can you work with their ministries? Has anyone addressed their concerns? Or do you just expect them to be “so thankful” to you in Heaven, like ATK does? Would some unbeliever read about your relationship with the reformers who were kicked out of ubf and see the glory of Christ? Or would they see a godfather-like payoff to keep people quiet?

      That is another ubf strategy: pacify individuals so that the community problems do not have to be addressed. ubf uses guilt pressure even in trying to pacify people. ubf claims: “You are a Christian, right? Well then do something greater than ubf! At least act like a Christian and stop criticizing us!”

      And furthermore, usually some of the reformers ideas are stolen and used so that ubf can then say “See, we don’t do such and such. We changed. The reformers are crazy.” As long as the idea doesn’t affect the ubf heritage, ubf is willing to become more and more reformed and more Christianized.

      I’ve already written extensively about how 2011 ubf has several of the same problems as 1976 ubf.

      Also, I was contacted by a Korean man not long ago who was in ubf “1 to 1” in 1958 or so. He is still very bitter after all these years about the abuses he experienced and saw in Korea even before ubf was founded in 1961. And guess what? His concerns from 1958 match some of my concerns from 2013. We had a good chat via email.

      But there is a good thing about reformers: After 50 years of reform, I heard that MbF now allows you to “kiss your bride” during the ceremony. Thank God for 50 years of reform…

    • James, thanks for making a statement about the 1976 reformers. Usually this event is hushed up by UBF leaders, or they say these people where slanderous, poisonous etc. If you say that you love and respect them, then I assume you’re not believing that they were just slandering Samuel Lee, but their complaints were real and legitimate. Yes, I don’t know them personally, but I know some of the reformers of 1984 and 2001 personally, and I believe the events were somewhat similar. Both ignited about similar grievances caused by Samuel Lee. At least for these more recent reform attempts, it is not true that they went out, but they were pushed out and very officially expelled. I assume this is also more accurate for the reformers of 1976. Their letter says they wanted to “restore the ministry of UBF”, so I believe they actually wanted to stay and not to solve the problem by just leaving. They only left because they were denounced as rebels and probably actively pushed us just as in the later reforms. So I think it is misleading to say “they went out” as I often heard from the side of UBF regarding the reformers.

      However, my question was actually not about your standing with the 1976 reformers today, but my point was that if your claim is true that UBF marriage issues are mostly about different cultural and time, then the senior shepherds of 1976 would have had no reason to complain about the UBF style of marriage, since they lived in the same culture and in the same time. They were not even the junior shepherds, but senior shepherds who had been rooted in the culture even more. Doesn’t this vitiate your claim that the issues we have with UBF style marriage can be explained away by our living in a different culture and time?

      Also, I agree with Brian, even if there is now a “pactum de non petendo” between the 1976 reformers (ESF) and the 2001 reformers (CMI) and UBF, this does not solve the problem at all. We need an official statement of the UBF leadership, first of all, whether the claims of the reformers were legitimate or whether they were unfounded slandering. In the first case, there should be an official rehabilitation of the reformers. If what they wrote is true (e.g. misappropriation of money), there should be consequences. Either they were liars and slanderers (in which case they should not be respected) or their claims were substantial, then UBF should repent and rehabilitate them, and mention them in their official history. Don’t you think so?

  47. Dear Dr James, I love and respect you for participating in dicussion like this. But since you have not elaborated on your “positive step to reconciliation”, I assume it to be nothing more than a hi-and-bye-shake-hand relationship with the reformers of 1976. As Brian has nailed it, putting a ubf-is-perfect posture while some of its wrong practices/principles are quite obvious to anyone and ignoring and denying such wounds does not amount to reconciliation. At best it can be called public relationship.

    For example, I have no problem shaking hands with ubf leaders or even giving them a hug. That may be good but, that is not reconciliation as long as what I call unacceptable and unspiritual practices are addressed, publicly admitted (if they are true) and permanent changes are made.

    I think some leaders in ubf do not really understand what reconciliation means. For example, when ATK visited me last year, his way of convincing me to return to ubf was that God’s grace and calling are irrevocable. I surely do not consider such sending-to-guilt-trip method to be “positive step toward reconciliation.” I felt he was not fully aware of what happened in India ubf (I still am not sure whether he knows) or he was already given so much of wrong information about me.

    Later on I also welcomed a ubf leader from the USA who wanted to meet me during his visit to India. Just because of this brief hi-and-bye meeting, on his return he reported that “India ubf was wonderfully reconciled.” Really? This is the very reason I refused to meet Sarah Barry because like most other ubf leaders she refuses to admit there is any problem and “leaves all judgment into God’s hand” ending possibilities for any real reform. I was deeply saddened but not so surprised to see her “historic report” after her India visit. At least let us not misunderstand and misuse the word “reconciliation”.

    • Good to hear from you Mr. Nial :)

      You said, “Later on I also welcomed a ubf leader from the USA who wanted to meet me during his visit to India. Just because of this brief hi-and-bye meeting, on his return he reported that “India ubf was wonderfully reconciled.”

      That same ubf leader said the same thing about Russia ubf…and his own chapter…such people need a lesson in the difference between “peace treaty” and “Christian reconciliation”.

      And if you all will pardon my arrogance for a moment… after over 3,000 worldwide conversations that I was involved in from 2011 to 2012, via email and blogs and in-person and phone, regarding ubf, it is clear to me that 2012 was the last year for ubf directors to “come clean” without God’s rebuke.

      I believe Scripture teaches us to bear up under authority until such authority causes too much injustice. As of 2012, the injustice caused by ubf directors has become insufferable. The outcry has reached our Lord in Heaven. Sometime soon, even if ubf directors do begin the true reconciliation process, a major event will shake ubf like never before. But such a shattering event will open the door to reconciliation and justice. I have no idea what this will look like, but something will happen soon.

      Call me a lunatic if you will, but I have become convinced of such things after discernment and prayer after so many conversations and after 50 years of chances to repent. I don’t know what this judgment will look like, but I have become convinced that “time is up”. I now freely and openly refer to ubf as a cult, and will continue to do so.

  48. Thank you for your comments, Chris, Brian, Abraham.
    Sometimes truths are communicated harshly just to prove a point. As the result, many relationships can be broken (have been broken), not necessarily because of the truth that was shared, but because of the way in which it was delivered. For example,when you say such words “you are a cult, you are not Christian, you are an evil man”, these are harsh words. To communicate truth in the right spirit among us, we must package it with brotherly love and self refrain as Jesus commanded us.

    As I said before, understanding each other is not easy. It is very very difficult. This is the first step of reconciliation. It requires tremendous patience, prayer and brotherly love. We must keep open minded and listen to each other continuously and of course be led by the Holy Spirit. Misunderstanding brings hostility and murder (spiritual). I am not so intellectual like you guys. I don’t even know what it means “pectum denon petendo” I have to keep listening and trying to understand you better.

    • Good point James: “We must keep open minded and listen to each other continuously.”

      We are all listening… but what do we hear from ubf directors? Silence. Or words far harsher than any on this blog.

      That’s another ubf tactic by the way: Spend all your time “trying to understand” or in other words “orientation”. Most of my time in ubf was “orientation”. All newcomers had to be “oriented”. The 50th anniversary blue book spent about 22% of the time “introducing and orienting“.

      We understand ubf heritage. We get it. We now need to start living and growing and following Jesus. No amount of “understanding” will bring about reconciliation.

      It’s not hard to understand: stop calling abuse as God’s work and remove the permanent shepherd/sheep authority. There are numerous questions on this blog, and over 5,000 comments. A ubf director could easily pick one comment and share some thoughts?

    • Thank you again for commenting here, James. We appretiate it a lot as, as most other leaders would never comment or respond publicly. And here we have already the first problem, which is not the lack of willingness to communicate, but the lack of willingness to answer and respond. The legitimate questions of the reformers have never been answered by the UBF leadership. The existence of cult-like practices in combination with the unwillingness to speak about these and a stance of unaccountability is what make many people call UBF a cult.

      I’m sorry for sounding too intellectual (but actually what do you expect if you go fishing at elite universities ;-). Anyway, I’m just a simple man, I don’t have a PhD as you seem to have, and I don’t think my questions are too hard to understand. A “pactum de non petendo” is an agreement to be quiet about things that happened in the past and not sue each other. It is the preferred way of UBF to solve problems. The problems are not solved, not even admitted, the parties just stop talking about them after they separated. I saw this even inside UBF many times. A chapter (a large one or a small one consisting of only two Korean couples) is split in two because of internal divisions, and then it is officialy claimed that they just wanted to pioneer another university. The very serious issues are never addressed and downplayed as misunderstandings, and then the same things happen again another time another place, because it has never officially been clarified that a certain teaching or practice is bad and should not be repeated. I think the problems have been address in all thinkable kinds of ways, but there was never a real answer, or only behind closed door where they had the opportunity to apologize to the offended person or “pacify” him, but in UBF still claim they never did anything wrong and the offended person is the bad guy.

    • James, again, I do not think that the problems have only been communicated using harsh words. The attempts to communicate always started using very soft words, by several generations of people. The words only became harsher when there was no serious response. Also, I do not believe that people should be ignored just because they use harsh words, and I believe that there are situations where harsh words are even necessary. See for instance the words Jesus used for the Pharisees in Mt 23. Sometimes evil needs to be called evil. I understand why Brian wrote that he thinks the time for using sweet words has run out. How long do you think people should have patience? In my chapter, I know at least two girls who were kicked out because after three years they did not “bring fruit” (did not commit to become UBF shepherdesses), and we were given Luke 13:6-9 as reason why they were kicked out. Several people already died without seeing UBF respond to the allegations.

      When I read how Bill Gates offered an “ask me anything” session (http://techland.time.com/2013/02/11/ask-him-anything-bill-gates-takes-questions-via-reddit/), I wondered if any high-ranking UBF leader would be willing to do something similar and offer a AMA session on this website? We could guarantee to not resort to name calling or using the word “cult” in that cult and just ask serious questions. That would be an opportunity to clarify all misunderstandings and take a clear stance. Good idea?

      Maybe at least you can try to give some honest answers? Unfortunately, you left the questions in my last comments unanswered, and started to talk about patience, prayer and brotherly love instead, and that we should listen. Well, I listen!

      To repeat my questions: 1) Can the problems really be explained away as cultural or time related misunderstandings, when even senior members living in the same Korean culture and time of the 1970s found the practices of Samuel Lee abusive? 2) Were the questions and issues addressed by the reformers of 1976, 1984 and 2001 legitimate or was it just unfounded slandering? Was it ok to solve the problem by denouncing these people as rebels, ignoring what they had to say, and expelling them?

  49. James, would you answer Chris’s questions about MbF and reformers. Is ubf biblical or cultish in these things? What do you think?

  50. A ubf leader from the USA told me that there have been three cases of reconciliation in ubf, when people “embraced each other”. I suppose India ubf is one of them. In my former chapter about 20 people have left ubf last year and only missionaries are in the ubf chapter. But it is also not included in ubf history or news. From the leader I heard some other “strange” things. 1. He openly spoke about that we should/must allow the director to go somewhere in an honour way. Otherwise he will be in shame and it is not good and not a variant for him. 2. The leader very sincerely spoke about SLee and his “fatherly love” toward ubf members. I am sure that such ubf people will never address the “parenting” ubf issue. The leader explained the situation with the abortion in Chicago but he couldn’t explain the double MbF made by SLee for the sister before the abortion. And,Brian, yes it is difficult to name something “reconciliation” when the sister left “the church” after the double MbF failures and an abortion. Is there friendship between the sister and ubf?

  51. btw, Dr.Ben, I think that my former director would commit a “murder (spiritual)” if he saw a picture like yours above. ))

  52. And, Brian, you mentioned about the SL letter to missionary candidates. Is it normal for a church leader to demand abortion in order to become missionaries? So, James, I think that people call ubf a cult not to slander Christian brothers but to say that ubf is really a cult and to help Christian brothers not to associate with ubf.

    • Yes, that’s correct Vitaly. I know the Korean woman missionary who saw the letter way back in the ’70s, demanding the couple to have an abortion if they wanted to be sent out. I used to think, well that happened in the ’70s in Korea, what does that mean to me? So I went on a rampage defending ubf mindlessly like Tom Cruise. But now I view this event differently.

      The attitude in that letter was “sacrifice everything, even your life and your children for the sake of God’s work in ubf and because God’s servant told you to do it”. Of course, now in the USA in 2013 or in other places, you would think no one could get away with ordering an abortion. Probably no one could do that now. But the same attitude exists, and in just as destructive ways.

      Is there any other way to “understand” such things? I agree with you Vitaly, I say “call ubf a cult not to slander Christian brothers but to say that ubf is really a cult and to help Christian brothers not to associate with ubf.”

  53. Perhaps we could contact Dr. Chung and ask about reconciliation…

    Is reconciliation with UBF possible?

    His blog post is from 2006. But his 9 points are still valid in 2013, just as they were in 1958, 1976, 1989 and 2001.

  54. Thanks, James, for being willing to dialogue and comment, despite numerous “painful” rebuttals. It is unfortunate that most older missionaries your age would NEVER EVER comment and receive questions and rebuttals. Personally I am so very glad, and do respect you for doing so, though it is surely not easy.

    I know that most older missionaries in many different countries, including the U.S. would never consider making an apology, even if they know that things that were done in the past are clearly a violation of the Bible.

    My personal hope is that someday, someone, anyone who represents the “UBF governing body” may find it in themselves to apologize. As a 33 year member of UBF, I really wonder if this is a bad thing or an unbiblical thing to apologize?

    The many decades of refusal to apologize when something clearly wrong has been done in the past is quite baffling and troubling for any Christian. The longer UBF does not apologize, the more we will lose our credibility and integrity.

    An apology requires only one attribute, which may perhaps be the greatest attribute of Almighty God: humility. Does UBF lack humility so that an apology for abuses and violations is not possible?

    Again, thank you, for taking the time and the “beating” for commenting. Though “harsh” words may have been communicated and/or perceived, perhaps there is much truth to what has been stated. Though this has become a trite cliche, yet, as painful as the truth may be, we Christians know that the truth will set us free (Jn 8:32). Acknowledging the truth of some bad UBF practices which is already ALL OVER THE INTERNET WHICH ANYONE CAN FIND can only help UBF going forward.

    We live 40 min apart from each other. If you wish to meet in person to discuss this further, please let me know.

    • Excellent points Ben. I too am thankful that at least James has the guts to comment here from time to time. Now that is soldier spirit, and in a good way!

      I hope you two can meet. I look forward to my visit soon as well, provided you can still tolerate a poisonous, mocking, wounded, bitter person like me!

    • Joe Schafer

      don’t forget heretical

    • I actually do not mind mocking, wounded, bitter, as I would boring, predictable, defensive, or evasive. But that’s just me.

    • Joe, I didn’t think I needed to state the obvious :)

      Ben, I can’t wait to hear your boring, predictable, defensive, and evasive ideas.

    • I forgot about heretics. Still, challenging heretics are a whole lot more fun than boring orthodoxy.

  55. Oh yeah, Vitaly, probably just 6 or 7 years ago, I would NEVER EVER post my honeymoon picture for anybody to see, because I would then be regarded as a “soft wife-centered man” and not be regarded as an “absolute,” “do or die,” “by any means,” “top class” Navy Seal UBF soldier of Christ, who is never involved in civilian wife affairs!!!!

    Very strangely, today I am so happy to be no longer regarded as any of the above, and to be just regarded as a man who is only crazy about his wife. Oh, oh, oh, oh, how far have I fallen….

    • Perhaps I should state that I am crazy about two people–Jesus and my wife–and, by the grace of God and by God’s help, necessarily in that order.

    • Ben, I thought Vitaly was referring to the picture of some lyrics from the Simon and Garfunkel song? Listening to such music is seen as evil and sinful by a lot of ubf folk. I remember a ubf shepherd smashing my friend’s cassette tape with a hammer while living in the brother’s house, because the music was too unspiritual.

  56. Hi Gajanan! It’s so good to hear from you again, my friend. I think that what you encountered and experienced is not uncommon. So when such unpleasant and unfulfilling encounters happen, the heart feels uneasy, disturbed and troubled.

    Many UBF people feel that UBFriends has become the site of “bashing” UBF. But I think I can say that those who “bash” UBF are simply trying to address wrongs and abuses that for many decades now, UBF leaders have not been willing to seriously address, not to mention, apologize for.

    I ask myself, “Why is this?” Probably, my answer is shallow, superficial and inadequate. But historically it has always been hard for leaders–be they political leaders or even Christian leaders–to humbly acknowledge that they did wrong and apologize. This does not excuse them. But not acknowledging wrongdoing, whether in the world of politics or in Christiandom, is and has been the “norm,” as wrong as this might be.

    So, please keep seeking justice and righteousness (which is why I liked Django). Just don’t kill anyone in the process of seeking justice and righteousness.

  57. I think we should add a new slant to this article: “If not for UBF I would be married….”
    This perspective is more applicable to me to a point. For a long time I only wanted to marry someone in UBF, and that perspective works for some. But UBF does not hold the monopoly on eligible bachelors, just as they don’t hold the monopoly on sound theology because the world is so much bigger than that. Praise God.

    • Hi MJ! Glad to “hear” you comment again. Indeed, praise God that ubf does not have the monopoly on a lot of things, such as “world class leaders”.

      I always viewed me and my friends as potential “world class leaders”… but when I attended an American church in 2011, I just cried through the first part. Why did I cry? The pastor was speaking American! I realized I had been using Konglish, and that I had slowed down my listening and speaking abilities. I literally had to struggle to understand this American pastor!

      So now I speak and write freely as an American, at American speed. I realized I’m no where close to a world class leader because such a leader would at least be able to speak their own native language properly!

      By the way, HUGE kudos to Vitaly and Chris who are interacting here in superb English!

    • Hey Brian,

      I just wanted to add that although I believe that UBF does not hold the monopoly on sound theology. I still believe that there are some things to be learned in UBF. That’s why I’m still in UBF. I have huge respect for my parents and many many others I have met in this ministry. I’ve met more people I like and respect than those I utterly disagree with. I think this is where my opinion clashes with some people on this site…Some consider UBF irredeemable, but I don’t agree. That’s my personal opinion.

      And admitting that you don’t hold the monopoly on sound theology is not “shameful,” it is actually freeing. Jesus did not come for the healthy but the sick. I was facebooking and saw Einstein’s formula for ego and it goes like this: Ego = 1/knowledge. Meaning, more the knowledge lesser the ego, lesser the knowledge more the ego. As one grows in knowledge, their ego decreases because he/she realizes how little he/she knows. As we grow in knowledge we should naturally in turn be ready to admit, “I don’t have the monopoly on sound theology.” Everyone believer should be able to say that, I think.

    • MJ:

      “I just wanted to add that although I believe that UBF does not hold the monopoly on sound theology. I still believe that there are some things to be learned in UBF. That’s why I’m still in UBF.”

      > Yes indeed, there are some things to be learned in ubf. I can see that ubf could contribute to the body of Christ in a significant way as well. And I’m glad to hear that you have confidence to make your own decision.

      “…I think this is where my opinion clashes with some people on this site…Some consider UBF irredeemable, but I don’t agree. That’s my personal opinion.”

      > Just to clarify my opinion: I think ubf is redeemable, but not changeable. This stems from my deeper understanding of the gospel these days. So can ubf people change ubf or themselves to resolve their problem? I say no. In fact, none of us can really change ourselves or other people (just ask Ben’s wife :). Over the past 50 years, ubf has changed many, many things. Yet the same problems exists as in 1958.

      > But can ubf be redeemed? I’m not so sure anymore. To be redeemed means to be rescued or set free by being bought back. Redemption in the Christians sense, as I understand it, is something God did on the cross. The ongoing work is perhaps not redemption but reconciliation. Tim Keller and D.A. Carson articulate this far better than I can: Should we redeem culture?

      > Can ubf be reconciled with ex-ubf? I say yes. The ministry of reconciliation is clearly a biblical mandate for Christ-followers. ubf claims to be Christian. ex-ubf claims to be Christian. If both are indeed Christian, then reconciliation is not only possible, it is our mandate. I will continue to rest in the grace and peace of Jesus, expressing my thoughts and reactions publicly and striving for helpful in-person meetings, working through this messy, mucky process until we can rejoice over the reconciliation work, which I believe is deeply rooted in the redemptive work on the cross.

      “And admitting that you don’t hold the monopoly on sound theology is not “shameful,” it is actually freeing. Jesus did not come for the healthy but the sick.”

      > Yes! I see much evidence in your words, MJ, that you understand the gospel is not “change yourself” but “surrender to grace”. We surrender by facing the facts of our real situation and the facts around us, not by holding to our wish-dream or lingering in past glory.

      “I was facebooking and saw Einstein’s formula for ego and it goes like this: Ego = 1/knowledge. Meaning, more the knowledge lesser the ego, lesser the knowledge more the ego. As one grows in knowledge, their ego decreases because he/she realizes how little he/she knows.”

      > Awesome. One of my favorite theological musings these days is this profound statement uttered by so many great men and women: I don’t know.

    • Just thinking about your formula, MJ. I really like this:

      Ego = 1/knowledge

      What happens when “knowledge = 0”? In other words, when we live in denial and pretend to have no knowledge of the facts of our situation? We get this, because we cannot divide by zero, which is an error condition:

      Ego = ERROR!

      So what happens when “knowledge = 1”? The formula becomes:

      Ego = knowledge

      So maybe we can say when we “know the One and find unity in Jesus, our ego is in proper equality with knowledge”. Or maybe I’m just over-thinking your example =)

    • Thank you MJ… your first statement made me laugh out loud.
      But that’s prob b/c I’m a bitter single person :P

  58. “I don’t have a PhD as you seem to have, and I don’t think my questions are too hard to understand. A “pactum de non petendo” is an agreement to be quiet about things that happened in the past and not sue each other. It is the preferred way of UBF to solve problems.” Thank you Chris for explaining the meaning of above phrase. BTW, I am not Ph D, but M D.
    Ben, I hope we can get together sometime soon. I want to hear from you and find common ground.

  59. Just for the record, these comments have given me a good summary of the ubf idea of what they think reconciliation is. James, I know this sounds like more bashing to you, but such things need to be pointed out.

    As I said before, I am seeking reconciliation (not change in ubf) between ex-ubf and ubf. But this cannot be done by any of us. It would take divine intervention. One reason for this is we have a completely different idea of reconciliation.

    Here is the ubf mindset, which you displayed exactly James:

    1. Wait until people forget or die off
    2. Pacify individual people
    3. Focus people’s attention on orientation
    4. Create a treaty or pact of silence

    None of these will work with me. Here is my idea of reconciliation. Please correct or challenge anyone:

    1. Identify the gospel messages of Jesus.
    2. Examine facts in light of these messages of justice, freedom, fulfillment, forgiveness, etc.
    3. Listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as to what action to take.

    Since January 2011, that is the path of reconciliation I’ve been taking. And the people I’ve reconciled with have been occasions of tremendous joy and peace!

    • And in case no one noticed, Ben and I are an example of reconciliation, as are Joe and I. Ben and Joe are both ubf directors (well ok not your typical directors, but still). And I am an ex-ubf sinner. And we’ve reconciled! I would gladly attend WL ubf (and have and will again). And I would gladly attend Penn State ubf (I hope to sometime).

      This happened by engaging our minds, but more importantly, by engaging our hearts.

      I think it is the same for MbF. As MJ pointed out, the pool of candidates should not be limited to ubf only. Why? Because people have emotions. We need to engage our hearts, our feelings, our desires far more than we do. If there was anything “bad” that happened to me in ubf, it was to cut out my feelings, making me less than human at times.

      Perhaps MbF is the best place to start injecting emotions back into ubf people.

  60. Sharon Schafer

    A friend reminded me this morning of the fact that there are stories of abuse of authority throughout the evangelical world. Another friend just left a pentecostal church because of its abusiveness. We know that many leave the Catholic church for similar reasons. I don’t say this to minimize anything. Just to say that God’s spirit seems to be busy refining all of us.
    I’m so glad we are addressing these issues in this discussion, rather than burying them. I agree that the only way to answer these challenges to authority and abuse is with humility, publicly taking the blame wherever and whenever necessary. There are so many people out there who need to see this kind of humility in Christ’s church.

    • Sharon, this matches what I’ve observed in the new “virtual” and in-person friends I’ve made over the past 2 years. Any church or organization that is elitist or legalistic or authoritarian just isn’t going to make it in this generation. And many generations are now throwing off such things.

      I believe what we are witnessing is the beginnings of a wave of the Spirit sweeping though churches around the world.

      UBF people probably don’t believe this, but I am not singling out UBF only. In fact, such things as you mention are why I consider myself outside the gates of Christendom. And why I believe God has called me to go outside the city, according to texts such as Hebrews 13.

      The abuses you mention are some of the reasons why I cringe to call myself Christian and use the term Christ-follower or unfundamentalist or outlaw preacher instead.

  61. Joe Schafer

    I’m very thankful to everyone on all sides who is participating in this discussion. At times it will seem messy, ugly, harsh, hurtful, unloving, etc. But please don’t be fooled into thinking that because it’s uncomfortable it should stop. These longstanding conflicts have been buried for too long. I sense that some small progress is being made here and I hope and pray that these discussions will continue.

    Some are still claiming that these discussions shouldn’t be happening on a public website, but should take place only in private meetings. But over the years, countless people who invested their lives in this ministry have raised questions and concerns about unChristlike behavior on the part of ubf leaders. In every case that I know of, they went directly to leaders and raised those concerns in private. They did so over and over, and in every case, they were rebuffed.

    That was the story of my sister and brother-in-law. Over ten years ago, they raised these same questions and were rebuked for it. They were told, “Stop being so legalistic.” “Stop being so critical.” “Don’t complain; be thankful.” And so on. At their own expense, they traveled from the UK to Chicago specifically to discuss these things, and the General Director wouldn’t even meet with them. In effect, they were told to just keep quiet and conform or go away. They had absolutely no choice but to leave the ministry. To my knowledge, no one has ever apologized to them or even seriously listened to them. That is simply indefensible.

  62. Yeah, Joe, this is certainly healthy, even if messy, harsh, etc. I don’t think I ever knew about the event with your sister and brother-in-law, or that I had forgotten.

    When accused of “UBF bashing,” I think that it is often just simply trying to tell the truth of what exactly happened without spin or evasion.

    Another unfortunate attribute that is not uncommon in UBF is that we should ONLY report “positive and encouraging” things, and NEVER express anything that is “negative and discouraging.”

    If this is so, I think that we should stop reading the Bible, because the Bible reports so many “negative and discouraging” things from Genesis to Revelation.

    In my awkward attempt to articulate modern lingo, can I say, “Can we get real!?”

    • Good points Joe/Ben.

      For me the “messy” part started when I decided to share my honest reflection of the ubf easter conference my family attended in 2011. That got me a phone call within 2 hours of emailing my report. The call started with “Don’t talk. Just listen.” I was told the concerns in my report were “none of my business”.

      My problem was that the main message at that conference bothered me, because we were all demanded to shout “glorify me!“.

      That one page report then exploded into my call to ubf directors and members to face the facts and to be honest with each other. But ubf continues to this day to just claim everything is wonderful and completely misses the point of the gospel and my intentions.

      But many people in ubf liked me, so I got an honorable mention. But why was I any different from others who left? Why should I get “honorably discharged”?

      Public comments about ubf confirm the thinking of ubf people. And to this day, my questions remain unanswered. Yes I was invited to a closed door session right away to discuss 3 of my issues. But that would have been a terrible mistake on my part, so I refused.

    • Phil 2 Five

      Brian, about what you said…

      “My problem was that the main message at that conference bothered me, because we were all demanded to shout ‘glorify me!’.”

      >> I have noticed similar scenarios. It is preposterous to ‘demand’ to say such a thing. Just like you I do not feel comfortable saying such a thing for I know that glory belongs to God and God alone. All of the disciples and 1st Century Christians including Apostle Paul continually gave glory to God. Never did they pray ‘glorify me’. All glory belongs to the Lamb who is worthy (Revelation 4:11 ; Revelation 5:12)

    • “Never did they pray ‘glorify me’. All glory belongs to the Lamb who is worthy.”

      Amen, Phil2Five! This is an example of the typical ubf Bible study method, which I call “role play fantasy”. The idea is that you substitute your name into the bible passages. So the conference messenger instructed all of us to replace “Jesus” in the High Priestly prayer (John 17:1-26) with “me” and then with “your name”. So I was supposed to say “glorify Brian so that Brian may glorify you”. This might not be such a bad thing to the Confucian mind. But to the Christian mind, this is preposterous as you pointed out.

      At that moment I realized that the gospel proclaimed by most in ubf is an upside-down gospel, a message of works-based justification and self-glorification. And at that moment I decided to write my honest reactions in my conference report, knowing that it would certainly spell the end of 24 years in a ministry I loved with all my heart and strength.

      This example is also an example of an American (who was the messenger) submitting to his Korean missionary messenger trainer. When I talked with that American afterward, he admitted he didn’t really believe that we should replace Jesus with our names, but he wanted to be obedient to his director trainer.

    • Phil 2 Five

      (John 17:1-26)

      >> Jesus was OBVIOUSLY talking about Himself! It’s ridiculous to think otherwise!

      Here’s a quote from John P. from his book Don’t Waste Your Life, “It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about himself.” I believe the quote gets the point across really well!

    • Yes, yes, and yes…

      Interesting title, “Don’t Waste Your life”.

      When my friends in Toledo would share with me their pains and struggles the past 9 years or so, one theme (as I look back now) was that they felt they were wasting their time in ubf. That sense is often a prompting of the Holy Spirit to seek out the reason you feel that way.

    • And by the way, please note the date this “glorify me” event happened… 2011! And in America! ubf’s problems go WAY beyond culture and past events.

    • Phil 2 Five

      “That sense is often a prompting of the Holy Spirit to seek out the reason you feel that way.”

      >> Yes, I believe so…However, often legitimate concerns are taken as a sign of immaturity. That is often one of the main reasons, I believe, why people leave UBF. It does not take a PhD to figure out the problems. It does however take humility to sit around the table and discuss, honestly and openly, what is going on!

      Your quote, “For me the “messy” part started when I decided to share my honest reflection of the ubf easter conference my family attended in 2011. That got me a phone call within 2 hours of emailing my report. The call started with “Don’t talk. Just listen.” I was told the concerns in my report were “none of my business”.” This frustrates me! I can’t imagine how much that frustrated you!! “Don’t Talk; just listen” – that doesn’t sound honest and open to me! It doesn’t even resemble or sound-like a Christ-like character!

    • “This frustrates me!”

      > Indeed. And people wonder why I blog the way I do :)

    • And yes, ubf will sometimes (often?) drive you to rant from time to time.

      I freely get angry, upset, and emotional these days! Sometimes you just need to sing BORN FREE

    • Phil 2 Five

      You, along with a few others, have taken initiative to help UBF and it’s leaders understand the error in their ways, teachings, etc… and I, for one, am grateful! :)

    • Glad to hear it Phil2Five. In case anyone is wondering, yes I do think of myself as Kid Rock when I blog :) And I often have those kinds of songs playing when I blog…

      “And I don’t want no one to cry, but tell em’ if I don’t survive… I was Born Free! You can knock me down and watch me bleed But you can’t keep no chains on me.” –Kid Rock

    • For what it’s worth, the process of trying to find a reason to stay in ubf after being mistreated by a Korean missionary feels like Jackson Mississippi

    • You feel torn.

      But then the the wind of change comes.

      And you realize you were Truman living in the Village.

      Suddenly you are wide awake.

      Then amazing grace comes and you sing this is the part of me you’ll never take away.

    • In the end, you find rest in shouting Blessed be YOUR Name!

  63. Joe Schafer

    Ben, your point about getting real sounds very much like this recent article titled, “Are Churches Any Better Than Nightclubs?”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/02/are-churches-any-better-than-nightclubs-hint-if-the-obvious-choice-were-the-right-answer-i-wouldnt-have-written-this/

  64. When I read the link, it sounds “exactly” like UBF (pretending, defending, acting, not being transparent, trying to control), except that it is speaking about an American church!

    So it is strangely comforting to me, because “We (UBF) are not that bad!”

    Any church, including UBF, can and will change ONLY when we begin to admit that we did some bad and wrong things, and take responsibility for it. Now my mantra is that an official apology is a good place to start. But since this idea of apology did not “come from the top,” it must be disregarded.

    If we don’t come clean, then I think that “unfortunately for some,” UBFriends will just continue to thrive.

    Sorry if this comment comes across as messy, harsh, and brutal…

  65. Thanks, MJ, for sharing. I am looking forward to attending your wedding some day, believing that it is likely the will of God for you. In the meantime, celebrate your singleness in Christ, which I believe you are.

    As you know, UBF is “deathly afraid” of dating, partly because some older folks think that this will just result in people sleeping together before marriage. Does this happen? Sadly, of course. But should we then operate on the basis of fear and control by forbidding dating? Or should we operate on the basis of trust and faith, and with fear and trembling in our hearts?

    But perhaps more fundamentally, if you date someone outside UBF, then you might end up in your fiance’s church, instead of UBF.

    In my opinion, UBF in some/many places is quite insular and exclusive, tribal and sectarian, legalistic and traditionalistic. So we don’t know how to truly praise and thank God and rejoice by faith if and when some UBF person joins another church.

    Of course, no one likes a church friend going to another church. But I think that this is something that UBF should “officially” embrace so that we are free and happy when our people join other churches, or date Christians from other churches. Otherwise, those who leave UBF often leave with some “bad blood,” which is surely not pleasing to God.

    Because my daughter married a good man from another church, I got to meet so many godly Christians from my son-in-law’s church, who are just as lovely as the UBF Christians that I know. What a truly happy emotional exhilarating experience that was and is!

    • So, these are just some thoughts/responses I guess to… marriage by faith considering the reason it has been practiced so heavily in UBF is b/c it’s “bible based” or how some people did it in the Old Testament. I’m not disagreeing or agreeing with it… I’ve just looked at some of the marriages again in the OT and also found other observations. I guess I’m just finding that there are also other practices (good or bad) or other commonalities that aren’t placed as important in UBF as the “find me a spouse” one.

      So anyways here are some random observations:

      God creates Eve from Adam:
      Adam sees her… he doesn’t ask her what her mission is… he looks at her and pretty much says she is mine… she’ll be called ‘from man’ (basically that he thinks she’s pretty cool and good-looking from my Mere translation) and then they get married.

      Also, it doesn’t seem like Adam was in the best place at the time when God made Eve… actually the man wasn’t doing so well being alone and needed a helper… that doesn’t sound like a fully-trained, confident, perfect man who is so effective single and has no emotional neediness or issues…

      Abraham:
      – was Abraham “ready” for marriage before he and Sarah got together? We don’t know…
      – but he ended up allowing her to be pimped out to Pharaoh and put aside to bring Hagar into the marriage
      – why did Abraham marry Sarah? We don’t know… but we do know that she was very beautiful and probably conveniently around since she’s the half-sister

      Isaac:
      – Isaac was probably close to his mom … he was 40 and still single. And conveniently only after his mom died did Abraham think he should get married… it says that Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death through meeting Rebekah…. so he was not in comfort before that? Perhaps he was a bit depressed? Sad? Having some issues?? Doesn’t sound like the typical “readiness” that I would expect…
      – what do we know about Rebekah? Well she was a hard-working, noble woman… and Isaac loved her when he met her.

      Jacob:
      – He meets Rachel… we know from the Bible that she was lovely in form and beautiful. After a month, Jacob wants to marry her.
      – Somehow he ends up marrying Leah (weak eyes) and then Rachel

      David (the man after God’s own heart):
      – So King Saul tried to give his daughter Merab to David. But David refused to marry her…
      – We learn that Michal, Saul’s other daughter, was in love with David. It says this twice. It never actually says David loved her back, which is interesting… and as we all know Michal had some jealousy/emotional issues and mocked David when he was dancing for the Lord and I believe she was barren. Oh and she re-married.

      Abigail – So David met this intelligent and beautiful woman named Abigail one time… she was convincing him not to kill her husband and his workers… then her husband has a heart attack and David picks Abigail up… and Ahinoam of Jezreel for good measure.

      Bathsheeba – David saw her bathing… she conceives… and he marries her.
      – we know she was beautiful

      To me – our ancestors of faith were also emotional… loving and marrying not merely based on “mission” but on hmmm… attractiveness & likability should I say??

    • Good observations Mere. I think we could learn some ideas about marriage and preparing for marriage from the bible. However, I would strongly caution using the bible to strictly. We need to look outside the bible in order to form a more healthy view of marriage. There are so many good books and pastors out there who can help.

      For example, marriage in the bible is a messy mix of prostitution, incest, polygamy, concubines and weird rapist laws. Use caution when defining “marriage” with the bible.

      I think we also need to remember that there will be NO marriage in heaven, and remember that celibacy is actually a higher calling than marriage. Has any shepherd in UBF considered that some might be wanting to remain celibate like Sarah Barry?

      Anyway, Ben’s article and MJ/Mere’s comments here have sparked an idea. Perhaps we who have had successful MbF stories could share tips and tricks on how to survive and do MbF successfully? This would be a great article for ubfriends.

      Here is my start:

      How to Survive Marriage by Faith

  66. Some days ago, I posed a question which offended some older UBF friends. I asked, “Wouldn’t it be true that you (as long standing Christians) are less likely to commit the sin of adultery, and more likely to commit the sin of hating an adulterer?”

    I thought and felt that it was a legitimate question that perhaps tries to contrast younger brother sins (committing adultery) and older brother sins (hating adulterers).

    My contention is that after becoming Christians, we are all, myself included, far more likely to become Pharisees than prostitutes.

    Perhaps what offended my brothers was that my choice of words and illustration was simply quite offensive to their ears.

    • How is it you are still alive Ben?

    • I committed the sin of laughing when some people got angry because of my question. My laughter was not because I was laughing at them, but it was my failed attempt to alleviate the tension.

  67. Maybe I should have phrased the question: “Aren’t we older “mature” Christians far less likely to commit the sin of heresy, and far more likely to commit the sin of despising heretics?”

  68. Hi Brian,

    Being ego-centric of sorts, I love your comment about “just as Ben’s wife.” If you want to know what she calls me with deep love and affection and acceptance, which I love and appreciate, watch the first 10 minutes of The Social Network, which is one of my favorite movies.

    My only recommendation is that no other wife in the universe better ever dare refer to her husband in that way. Only my wife can do it with love, and I love it, and love her for it.

    She even says that I might be one of the few men in the world who would take such a statement as a compliment.

  69. Here is yet another misuse of marriage by ubf. I thought this particular problem was not practiced anymore. But I was wrong :(

    Just this month an unmarried woman in ubf was not so sure if she wanted to stay or not. So a senior leader from “headquarters” called a “loyal shepherd” to see if he would re-consider marrying her in order to keep her in the ministry. I hope she reads this and says “no”.

    Another commandment, Ben: Thou shall not misuse marriage as a tool of manipulation to make people stay in ubf.

  70. @Vitaly: “…the Moscow ubf director told me something like this, ‘We had a stratigic plan to marry your wife to a Moscow shepherd, unfortunately you have married her.’ I felt very strange.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/06/11/jesus-is-lord/#comment-8475

    The recent sad comments about marriage in UBF highlight a major misuse of marriage by some (not all) UBF directors. Perhaps, without realizing it, they use marriage as a manipulative tool to:

    * keep people in UBF.
    * keep control over married couples in UBF.
    * build up their own UBF chapter.
    * support another UBF chapter (and hopefully to be “repaid” in the future).

    The sad result of all such political maneuvering is that young people in UBF may misunderstand the glory and blessing of marriage in the Bible:

    * It is ordained by God, not the UBF leader.
    * It is for the glory of God, not the glory of the UBF chapter.
    * It reveals the freedom of the Trinity, not the control of the UBF director.
    * It reveals the unconditional love of God for unworthy sinners, not the evaluation of UBF leaders who communicate who is worthy and deserving to be blessed by them to marry.

  71. Ben,

    I think it is clear that you have created a “safe space” in ubf for many years now. I think some things need to be clarified, which make sense for your perspective and in Westloop, but are simply not fully true outside of that safe space:

    “Perhaps, without realizing it, they use marriage as a manipulative tool”

    No, the ubf chapter directors know EXACTLY what they are doing. No one should be deceived into thinking that the directors are just naively arranging and manipulating marriage. MbF in ubf is the “holy grail” of the system. There is no more “system” after MbF. So that creates the hamster wheel effect that ubf directors have already diagramed well and posted publicly.

    “The recent sad comments about marriage in UBF highlight a major misuse of marriage by some (not all) UBF directors”

    But Ben, this is misleading. Of course not 100% of ubf chapter directors do this. But how many preach marriage by faith? That number is surely something like 98%. A very high majority of ubf chapter directors manipulate marriage and intrude on people’s boundaries, jumping over their personal space like theives, to this day. So sure not ALL directors are to blame, but the true statement is that MOST directors do teach MbF and do not understand or preach the bible correctly or in a healthy way in regard to marriage.

    “The sad result of all such political maneuvering is that young people in UBF may misunderstand the glory and blessing of marriage in the Bible.”

    No, this is not a misunderstanding. This is the explicit ubf teaching. Now sure it is indeed a distortion of marriage, but it is presented rather clearly, even if it is not usually documented. Such things are not just misunderstandings but the ideological fabric of ubf that we all know exists. No need to coddle such ideology. Let’s expose it for what it is.

  72. @Brian, you are likely right.

    Still I would say that UBF missionaries are generally sincere and earnest people. If they manipulate their sheep through marriage, they might honestly think that it is right, even if it is not.

    To somewhat defend UBF, UBF never denies Christ and does honor and emphasize that the Bible is the Word of God, which is really UBF’s strength. It has sadly just become dogmatic, gnostic and Docetic-like one-dimentional teaching where “Only UBF is right, and every other Christian or church teaching is wrong or inferior.”

    It is really just childish, shallow and immature simply because of our 50 year history of isolation and insulation from the rest of Christiandom.

    • “It has sadly just become dogmatic, gnostic and Docetic-like one-dimentional teaching”

      Correct. And for me, that is the “whole ball of wax”. It might be said that all sins can be forgiven, but how do you forgive the taking of authority and lording it over others?

    • “does honor and emphasize that the Bible is the Word of God”

      Yes, but only with their lips. In reality, how could Samuel Lee order divorces, re-marriages, abortions, faking photographs in newsletters, call himself “commander” etc. He has read the Bible often enough (and he bragged about this and always held a Bible in his hand) to know that all these things he was doing were directly opposed to Biblical teaching. He knew that. The reality is that he did not honor the Bible. The Bible was only an instrument for him to wield power. His own idea of God and the church and the role of a leader was always higher for him than what was written in the Bible. That’s why I am so upset about UBF. They claim to have the Bible as highest authority, but in reality their man-made system and “spiritual” heritage is held higher.

  73. A simple theologically grounded and rich teaching on marriage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=lxsZ7jm0GUE

    I highly recommend anyone/everyone (UBF leaders and singles) to watch this 45 min presentation to have a healthy robust Christian view of marriage.

  74. @Chris. Without in any way condoning what SL did, in my opinion, he did those things perhaps because of his own (wrong) understanding of the Bible — that the ends justified the means — and also that he himself was dysfunctional in that he suffered much from the horrible physical and emotional abuse of his step-mother, and may not have been entirely healed by grace, and definitely not perfected, which no Christian is.

    Again, it does not justify some of the things he said and did. It simply reveals that Christians are flawed sinners. I for one know how true it is in regards to myself. If you happen to be a leader, like SL was, then your flaws were magnified and multiplied.

    • Any person is forgiven for having flaws, but it is difficult to forgive one who claims to have no flaws, and to forgive those who claim that even though he had flaws, it’s ok to follow his example in every last detail. It is also difficult to forgive those who admit they have flaws, but won’t admit to any specific flaws in particular, and definitely not to a “lowly junior”.

    • @Ben, all I said is that he did not honor the Bible and that he abused it to increase his own power. There may be reasons for that, but it still is the truth. And he did not “happen to be a leader”, but he made himself a leader, and not only a leader, but a “commander” and a top authority who could to be questioned neither by people in UBF nor outside. He assumed that authority for himself and he needs to be measured against this. The more authority people claim to have, the stricter our measurement and judgement about them must be. Not the other way around.

    • I also want to say that how SL behaved is a know anti-pattern of leadership that really happens in the church. This kind of leaders do exist, and SL is not the only one. Edin Lovas wrote a very helpful book about this issue called “Maktmennesket i menighten” in Norwegian which unfortunately. The book has been translated to many languages, like German, Spanish, and Swedish, Dutch and Russian language, but unfortunately I know of no English translation so far. The title can be translated as “people of power in the church” or “power mongers in the church”. He described this phenomenon and this type of personality so well. I immedaitely recognized SL when I read this book. It was the single most helpful book for me when I tried to understand what was going on in UBF.

    • Correction: There are actually two books which I threw together because they have the same title in German. One is written by Edin Lovas (actually the name is spelled Løvås), the other one by Volker Kessler (not to be confused with the first German UBF shepherd who has a similar name). Both are actually only small booklets, but extremely helpful. The one written by Edin Lovas is really profound and highly recommended, the other one more superficial, but still a helpful reading.

      Unfortunately, both are not available in English so far. But you can read the whole book by Lovas in Russian on the Internet. Maybe the Google translated version will be somewhat readable. I really wished there was a proper English version, because this book is such an appropriate and helpful reading for any UBFer.

    • Thanks, Chris. I read the book in Russian a year ago, thanks to your recomendation. I searched for it and found (you didn’t give a link at the time). I also shared the book with other Russian shepherds in our chapter (they were in ubf at the time). The reaction was such “This book is exactly about our ubf director!”. Then the shepherds gave the book to the director to read. (He refused because he learnt that the source was me, but then he read). After reading he began to nervously deny that he was a power monger and to say to the two main brothers that they would be directors of the chapter. He didn’t get the point that there must not be a director in the church. Jesus is the head of the church. And ubf has never been a church. And the director is a power monger in his nature (making another person a nominal director doesn’t change a thing). Later everybody left because the director couldn’t understand anything and nobody wanted to be in one community with him and his wife.

    • And, Chris, thanks that you didn’t keep “shooting” doing ubf activities and started to think as normal German )) You helped many to start thinking and making decisions. The Holy Spirit works through thinking and using our minds, not through blind obedience to stupid human orders.

  75. Great comments, Joshua. You are quite right. To state again that this is not to defend or justify or condone horrible things that were done by SL or any UBF leader. And I will continue to speak out against them. This is simply a plausible explanation to understand why and how.

    Sinner’s flaws might very well include claiming to have no major flaws, or following bad flawed examples, and (the most infuriating of all) refusing to admit flaws. I think that all of this can be explained on the basis of overweening pride, blind spots and cultural influences.

    It does not in any way excuse them. That’s why I think it is very very good to continue to press them prayerfully and humbly until the Holy Spirit works to change and transform people (beginning with me!).

  76. big bear

    I think for couples who get married in UBF..they should spend time knowing the family of those you marry…get to know the mom and dad,,you will know who you are marrying…it does not matter how long you study the Bible…a wife is very much like her mother…and a father like their dad…not meeting the families and just marrying by faith is simply wrong and distorted and it belittles the family and the whole plan of God…

  77. big bear

    I also warn people who marry in UBF…do not think you are marrying a saint or a women who loves God…many women in UBF and men only are superficial…in fact, many are worst than worldly woman, judgmental, legalistic, lazy, and unspiritual and are lost in religion..be careful…get to know the family and take time to see if you get along and pray much and even then be careful…you will be trapped in a loveless marriage and you will be trapped in UBF and if you want out..you will pay dearly…if you are desperate…go to matchmaker.com or a christian dating site…you can get to know many potential christian mates and not all the guilt and the abuse…I met my wife on a Christian dating site in Romania after being kicked out of UBF…I have not been ever so happy…she is the full package and loves God and not superficial or religious or infected with the UBF mentality…

    • bekamartin

      It was not a loveless marriage on my part……I truly loved and still love you. Maybe the love was not there for you, but it was there for me.

      And I do too love God, more than I love you, so I continue to stand on the truth of God.

      With respect and love,
      Rebekah Martin

  78. Hi Chris, Your statement perhaps sums up a BIG MAJOR REASON WITH WHAT IS WRONG WITH “MARRIAGE BY FAITH,” for this is totally unbiblical and arrogant: “DH needed to make an example of them. If he allowed people one time to marry on their own decision, everybody would want do that.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/06/11/jesus-is-lord/#comment-8507

  79. @Chris, I am not disputing the book: “The title can be translated as “people of power in the church” or “power mongers in the church.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/01/23/if-not-for-ubf-i-would-not-be-married/#comment-8509 I am also not disputing that SL and many UBF chapter directors after him communicate this power mongering and centralization of power to themselves as an autocracy and oligarchy.

    Yes, it does make UBF cult-like. Yes, it is a sin, and a GAPING BLIND SPOT among some older UBF leaders, because in their mind they already programed themselves (and others) to believe that they have the absolute right as a chapter director to command and demand obedience from all their members and sheep.

    Yes, they need to repent and they need to be called out, which perhaps UBFriends is doing. Hopefully, members of each UBF chapter may begin to also humbly and prayerfully call out such a horrible authoritarian practices (including controlling MBF practices) that denies that Christ is the head of the church.

  80. big bear

    eDR ben Toh…Happy Father day to you and all on this site…the problem with marriage by faith is in Ubf you are prohibited from dating or meeting someone in another church….this is wrong….it is not allow to force comiitment to commitment to Ubf…..the idea sounds great but not biblical…once you marry by faith then your freedoms are taken from you……to support ubf are family got into major debt…..often I was so tired that I called my wife and children different names….the pressure is unreal…I feel I just woke up from a 29 year nightmare….

    • big bear, thanks for posting your true feelings here. It confirms to me again that the problems of UBF are prevalent in all of UBF, and many who are praising UBF now will surely one day also come out just like you and tell the truth.

      You mentioned that you once wrote a book about your life in which you praised UBF for changing your life and making it meaningful. I remember that this was discussed in our old web forum and UBF defenders used it as proof that everything is fine with UBF in America. I think the book even had a preface by UBF celebrities, and it made you somewhat famous and respected in UBF.

      What I can see here is a typical phenomenon I noticed very often: While in UBF, people pretend to be everything is well, they are happy, they are thankful, their whole life changed and is so meaningful now. But then, when after leaving UBF, they open their hearts and share how their life was a farce and how much abuse they actually experienced.

      I don’t want to blame you. I know some of the psychological reasons for such a seemingly strange behavior and extreme change of mind. Like you, I also once defended UBF in public.

      This is a phenomenon that can be often seen in cults. There are many books written by ex cult members who once were fervent advocates of a cult and then became fervent opponents. This can be seen as another evidence that UBF is more like a cult than a church. Members of ordinary churches or organizationes do not go through such extreme changes of mind.

      Still, maybe you can explain a bit more what has held you “captive” in UBF for so long and why you even praised it and pretended that everything was fine, though in retrospect you surely admit that not everything was fine and you surely noticed a lot of abuse done to your family and others. We need to really understand the mechanism that produce such unfortunate situations. Would you also write a book about your drop out from UBF?

  81. big bear

    CHRIS…thanks…I was so brainwashed with the ubf system that I was blinded to the abuse…Yes my book will included my dropout and why….I plan to write many books….want to first help my family….the title is…..”The year the world ended” need your prayer

    • big bear, I am saying this if the need should be there. Should you need aid in financing any of those books just make use of modern internet sponsorship sites like (kickstarter) or anything else that may be around. I for one, would be willing to contribute what I can and I am sure others would also be willing.

    • Big bear, I would also apply the term “brainwashed” as a summary of my mental state in UBF; so I understand what you mean. It is the popular term for what cult experts call “mind control”. To me, it is absolutely clear that UBF employs mind control – to some extend delibaretly and knowingly, and to some extend as a effect of the special combination of practices and teachings of their “spiritual heritage”. Things like mandatory weekly 1:1 Bible study with a person who is considered your personal shepherd, mandatory weekly testimony sharing in the group etc. are in the form as they are conducted all part of the system that controls the minds of the group members.

      I urge everyone to read at least one of the classic book about mind control (those written by Singer, Lalich/Tobias, or Hassan), plus at least one book with experiences of cult dropouts from classic cults such as Jehovahs Witnesses, Moonies, Children of God. You will see so many parallels to what you experienced in UBF. It was really an eye-opener for me.

    • big bear

      Thanks for offer…could use endorsements and a few chapters written by others and design…..want to look at good bad and ugly every chapter…national attention attention will create change….to protect families students and children

  82. Thanks, guys. The comments here are surely very uncomfortable and unwelcomed for some in the UBF hierarchy, who regard such unnecessary comments as discouraging, disturbing and distracting from the “work of God.”

    But I would have to say that because of your comments, changes are happening, even if they are very slow, will take a long long time, and are for the most part incognito.

    Partly this is because UBF as a 50 year hierarchical authoritarian top down organization wants to implement changes top down–never bottom up due to pressure from dissenters, so as to not give the bottom feeders any credit. Even when some leaders implement change they still would like to be in control. I think that some leaders have NO IDEA how to let go of their control over people and over UBF, which they might regard as their sacred God-given right!

    @Big Bear, I would be highly honored to write a chapter in your new book! I am sure others also would not mind doing so.

  83. Chris, maybe you could post a couple of articles here on ubfriends about the books on cults and mind control? I think it would be very helpful for everyone to understand what ubf is and whether they experienced such things as mind control in ubf and decide for themselves what to do about all these things.

    For me I am sure that I was under the control through weekly sogams and 1:1 and through conferences/academies preparations and through DAILY bread in the morning and DAILY meetings and ALL these mandatory.

    • “Chris, maybe you could post a couple of articles here on ubfriends about the books on cults and mind control?”

      I read several of these books already 8-10 years ago, so I do not have fresh enough memories to be able to write a review. Maybe it’s a challenge for somebody who has not yet read these books: Read them and write a review and/or short summary.

      “For me I am sure that I was under the control through weekly sogams and 1:1 and through conferences/academies preparations and through DAILY bread in the morning and DAILY meetings and ALL these mandatory.”

      Yes, it’s all this daily and weekly repetitve meetings and the repetitive use of certain words and phrases that is very manipulative and burns itself in our heads, like when you show the same picture on a computer monitor for a long time and the image is still visible when you switch the monitor off.

      Joseph Goebbels allegedly said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Even if he may not really have said that, this is how the Nazi propaganda worked, and propaganda generally works. “Repetition repetition repetition is the key to good manipulation.”

      But there are also other components to mind control. For instance, the wife of my Korean chapter director once told me in Bible study how a certain woman missionary left UBF to marry a doctor and “enjoy the world”. She claimed her son suddenly disappeared during a skiing vacation and was never found again. Samuel Lee also told such horror stories several times. They were not repeated so often, but I am sure they left a lasting impression and superstition in many members.

      There is also all this group pressure and group dynamics at work. All these things work together and create the effect on our minds that we experienced.

    • David Bychkov

      Hi Vitaly, Chris and others. I’ve found this article about control in ICOC to be really helpful. Though in UBF things are some different, and some ICOC practices and core doctrines are very different from UBF (In my opinion UBF is healthier then ICOC mainly b/c of reformed roots),but I think many parallels are obvious (especially in section – control with scripture). Anyways I/ve found the article very insightful.

    • David Bychkov

      sorry, I forgot to include link: http://www.reveal.org/library/psych/stumpk.html

    • Great link, David. thanks. I find many parallels to ubf control. In regard to the marriage by faith practice (still in force today), I find this thinking from the article to be relevant. ubf chapter directors are masters of “elimination of options”. They love to say “the choice is yours” and “you can leave any time you want”. But in reality they persuade you that only one option is valid. This is not true however. In life there are almost always many valid options. Rarely, if ever, is there only one valid choice.

      “9. Elimination of Options

      Another means of instilling acceptance of control is to eliminate options. The member will be left with one choice, which is really no choice. The ICC does this by telling the member what needs to be done and presenting “reasons” why all other options are not valid.

      The member who has qualms will be made to suppress them. He or she may be told to “study it out” or “pray about that” should reservations be expressed. This tactic subtly introduces the assumption that the member is in error and needs to get right with God about the correctness of the directive. The leader will check whether the member has chosen to comply and may even bring others into the situation to persuade the member that it is the leader who is correct. Sometimes, the member will be told that he or she needs “to trust God on this” and that God will make it work out because the member’s heart will be in the right place by complying. The leader may also point out how the member has made some decision in the past that is deemed to have gone badly and that God could not bless that decision because the member was being “prideful and independent”. The member will be told, again, to “trust God on this.”

      After doing this, the leader will tell the member that “the choice is up to you, though”. However, in reality, no choice is given.”

    • David Bychkov

      yeah, I’ve looked through it again briefly and again found it to describe many things in UBF pretty well. What I think current UBFers should especcially consider in point 8. The Illusion of Change. The 1 paragraph:
      “By the term “illusion of change”, I reference two related scenarios. The first is the fostering of a belief that a situation is in the past when it is not. The second is the use of superficial adjustments to a problem, which focuses the attention toward trivial, surface issues and away from the problem itself. Both scenarios have the effect of making those affected think that problem no longer exists. The ICC uses both of these. This element of the ICC subculture promotes control by the leadership by causing the ordinary members not to acknowledge or address serious problems.”

    • Thanks David, this article is really relevant.

      UBF members may have the impression that ICC is stranger or more aberrant than UBF is, but I believe this is not the case. They are just a bit different und use different jargon, which UBFers may perceive as strange, but it is not weirder than UBF jargon and behavior. They use different words (e.g. they say “discipler” where a UBFer would say “shepherd”), they may emphasize different Bible passages or twist them a bit differently. They allow dating, with some control mechanisms, but less weird and controlling than in UBF. Instead of sharing the great life testimony, they have a baptism ceremony as the turning point when people become committed to the group. But if you abstract from the details and translate between the different jargons, you will see that both groups are very similar. Nearly every article that has been written about ICOC also applies to UBF.

    • David Bychkov

      Hi Chris. I’m not sure about all UBF chapters but I believe that the Gospel in UBF preached much more clearly then in ICOC. I’ve never questioned my salvation while in UBF, I’ve never daubt that I’m saved only by grace and only through faith. So I’ve never was afraid of hell after my salvation, like ICOC members according to what I read of them (especcially b/c of their view on baptism). I’ve never viewed UBF as only true church either.

    • David Bychkov

      Here is the conclusion of the article writer:
      “The crux of the matter, that element of the ICC that empowers the control mechanisms, is the doctrine that one must be totally committed in order to be saved. As I have already demonstrated, this doctrine is not merely being well-committed nor fully devoted. In practice, the doctrine becomes a matter of being committed BEYOND the capacity of a human being WHILE it is SIMULTANEOUSLY maintained the such a level is the minimum level necessary for salvation. As long as this doctrine remains intact, no amount of leadership change nor other reforms will stop the abuse of the ICC.”
      I’ve never had such belief but always believed in the Blood of Christ. I’m not sure if it was UBF who clearly taught me this, but I think even if the Gospel teaching in UBF is not that clear or central as it should, I still believe UBF (at least my UBF world) is preaching the Gospel. And I beleive this is what makes UBF different from ICOC. But I would agree that mechanisms of control are very similiar.

    • David, this may be true for you, because your situation was a bit atypical, but I think many in UBF are not sure of their salvation if they would leave UBF or if leaders would accuse them of having fallen into sin. Their salvation is too tightly coupled with their working as shepherds in UBF and being obedient and the assessment of their leaders. One Korean missionary couple from my chapter had to struggle for over a year after leaving UBF with the thought that God would condemn them. The idea that UBF is “the only true church” may not be so prevalent in UBF because UBF does not really emphasize much the concept of “church”. They would rather say that UBF is “the only true campus mission movement”, they would consider everybody else lukewarm and “nominal Christians”. The terminology when UBF says that they “pioneered” a certain city as if all other Christians already living there do not count, or when they only talk about what’s happening in UBF when talking about “God’s work” in conferences, and their general equalization of the term “God’s work” with UBF also reveals that they very much think that UBF is the only true church. Of course nobody would speak such a sentence openly, but they all have it in their minds more or less strongly. I think it was similar in the ICOC. They did also not really teach or admit openly that they had this idea to be the only true church. I really don’t think UBF is much better than UBF in their teachings. Even if some elements may be better, others such as “spiritual order” and all the Confucian mindset and adamant unwillingness or inability to repent make UBF look much worse than ICOC.

    • David, neither in UBF nor in ICOC it was an official “doctrine” that you are only saved if your are totally committed. But I still think this is the subliminal message and belief that has been burned into the minds of most members of these groups, even if usually only taught “between the lines”. By the way, the UBF equivalent of “totally committed” is “absolute obedient”. My chapter director and shepherdess clearly and literally demanded “absolute obedience” of me (where they left it open whether this referred to God or the director/shepherd, because in their view the director/shepherd always represented the will and opinion of God anyway) and they made it clear enough that if I was not absolute obedient, I had little hope of being saved. Not only that, I already quoted from official SL sermons where he claims that you will experience bad luck, illness or death if you do not obey him, the “commander”. I think that goes even beyond ICOCs heresies. Honestly, I do not think it makes sense to argue who is worse or whether UBF was slightly better than ICOC. To me, both are groups of the same ilk, namely shepherding/discipling, both founded by authoritarian, charismatic leaders, and they are suffering from pretty much the same problems. (I mean “charismatic” not in an objective sense, but in the sense that they somehow magically attracted people and were able to influence and control them.)

  84. Chris, I want to share a little about control. We are now in a Baptist church. The pastor leads a group Bible study on sundays. Now he went with his family to his parents-in-law for several weeks. In the church there are several teachers and leaders and deacons. But the pastor didn’t say that our group (actually the group of newcomers in this church) Bible study will be led by another leader. He just trusted all of us and gave us some topics and told us to study the Bible on our own. We feel absolutely no control and it is a completely new feeling for us. We see the priesthood of all believers in practice in the church.

    And this summer we are going to have rest as a family! No conferences! No preparations! My wife is going to see the sea for the first time in her life! (For me it will be the second time at sea). And my wife made friends with the pastor’s wife. She shared about our plans to go to the Crimea. If the pastor’s wife was a ubf director’s wife it is easy to predict the reaction. It was unthinkable for us in ubf to have rest for more than 2 days, not to mention going to Crimea. The director’s wife would absolutely control and never let us go, never! We would be cursed unto hell by her. Well the reaction of the pastor’s wife was, “Great! I am sure you will like the sea and the Crimea!”. No control, no attempt to control. Brothers, we are in a church now!

  85. btw, I saw a sea for the first time when I was in ubf. I went to Korea in 2003 for a local confrence and a small variant of “the world mission report”. After the events a local chapter director (he is now the director at Harvard) took me and some guests from Guatemala to a ubf chapter which is at the seashore. Well we went there by car and it took about 3-4 hours from Seul. We came to hotel called “Paradise”! It was a sunny noon and the sea was 50 meters from the hotel. Oh, yes! Unbelievable! But we were not allowed to go through those 50 meters! The director told me and some others to prepare a sogam which we prepared and rehearsed until evening in order to share in the evening at the chapter! The next early morning we had to leave and go back to Seul! Oh, no! By a special request of my chapter director a local shepherd took me to the sea from the chapter at 6 a.m. in the morning. I swam there alone. It was cold but I am Rusian you know. My impressions were some I am not able to describe!!! It was great! I had my allowed half an hour in the sea even while in ubf! But what I can say now is that I am not sure I was in a church. Too much control. Every step is under the control. And this control is one of the things that makes ubf a typical cult.

  86. big bear

    Brian,,,,good point….I like your analogy about the fact that no choice is really given..but they pressure you to believe that the only option they give you is from God…they play God much with the lives of their members…and if you are trained under them..you will behave the same way even in leadership…your conscience will be destroyed and their excuse for everything is that it is done in faith…my chapter director taught me to never ask why…this is dangerous…this is why I never could explain anything I did because it was under this spell of if you don’t do it that you are under sin…UBF does not trust in God’s grace but control and manipulation and mind games…after awhile you begin to believe that UBF is the best church and all other churches are sinful and unhealthy…I think I was vulnerable and they got me there and there was no way out…

    • big bear

      yes….James Kim..I do hold the leadership of UBF responsible for teaching me how to be abusive and live by faith not with prayer and by the god given conscience God gave me that simply said what they taught me and I did was wrong for my family for Bible students and before God…Do the leaders live before God or before the principles laid by a dead man? Jesus is the only mediator between God and man…the chapter director sent me to pioneer another chapter in Kentucky but left me with mountains of debt…never even visited or even supported us…when family fell apart he kicked me out when his teaching contributed much to our break up and his indifference…he did not even bother to visit us and his counsel was horrible for a man of God…telling us all he knows how to do is pray and smile…not an ounce of support…I spent 20 plus years with God’s help to build his little empire in Cincinnati…maybe I should ask him for every penny I gave to offering over the years and give it to a healthy church…it must be over 50,000 or more…I was mislead…the Bible study was good but it is all the other stuff…gospel plus that made UBF troubling to me…

    • Good points, big bear.

      You asked “Do the leaders live before God or before the principles laid by a dead man?”

      Clearly ubf directors are clinging to the principles of a dead man. With reports like that being written continually by ubf directors, the fantasy lives on– ready to enslave new young people.

    • @ big bear, maybe I should ask him for every penny I gave to offering over the years and give it to a healthy church…it must be over 50,000 or more…

      I had and still have the same feeling. I was deceited by people who claim to be Christians. ubf is a corporation of swindlers in the issue of money. I also tithed all those years while in ubf. I wouldn’t regret if I felt that I gave my money to a church. But I regret. I would also like to have our money back.

      In our chapter when a Korean missionaries family left the director used to say, “I have not taken an ass from them” (1Sm 12:3). But in our case I feel exactly that the director have taken several asses of mine.

      When I read that Dr.Ben gave more than a million to ubf I want to ask, “Do you have a “godly sorrow” for that?” Do you know how your money was used? Was it used for the many abuses in ubf worldwide and for sending the abusive ubf missionaries?

      I listened to several lectures of a Harvard lecturer on ethics. He asks a question whether people’s lives could be expressed in money. He gives some examples (e.g. an automobile company knows its cars have a deffect. The company may fix all the cars or just pay compensations to those who tragically die in the car crashes because of the defects. And the copmensations are much less. Economically it would be better to pay the compensations, but ethically it is absolutely necessary to fix all the cars and avoid people’s deaths). I read about ubf’s trying to sue Chris for 100000 euro. And I asked myself a question, “What sum of money should ubf pay to me personally so that I have a feeling close to “justice”?” I remembered Jesus’ words “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”. And I agree that ubf’s measure of 100000 euro is close to the measure that would create in me the feeling of justice. So if ubf is one day going to obey Jesus’ words “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” then they know where to find me :)

      But, big bear, will you believe that ubf is going to do anything about reconciliation in this sense? James appeared on this site with beautiful quotes which hopefully have helped you and your family and your daughter, but when you spoke about some money help and when Brian said about a relief fund James dissappeared )) Nothing except some quotes – that’s all ubf is about :(

  87. @Brian, the report you linked is not from a UBF chapter director, but from a former president of UBF (before James Kim) and long time elder in Chicago.

    Personally, I am sorry about the way he wrote his report, framing it according to SL’s “spiritual legacies.” But after knowing him for over 30 years, I can confidently say that he is really the most gentle, gracious and loving man in Christ. He is not at all political nor controlling nor manipulative.

    Yet, he has likely spent his entire Christian life of 50 years in UBF. So that is all he has experienced. And he reports the “goodness” and the “good side” of UBF, having not likely investigated the “bad side.”

    Again, I am not defending him or “UBF spiritual legacies.” I am simply explaining why there are many wonderful men in UBF like him who have focused entirely on and devoted themselves entirely to the goodness of God through UBF. It’s almost like he does not know “good and evil,” but only the good and goodness of UBF–which are the work of the Holy Spirit (even) in UBF.

    • Thanks for the clarification, Ben. But I thought he went out as a retired missionary to pioneer (or support) a chapter in Uganda? So yes he lived in Chicago, but I thought he was a “silver missionary” who went out to pioneer in Uganda.

      I’m glad he is so good and ubf is so good. If so, there shouldn’t be any problems then at all. M.Chung is the kind of person who would likely just ignore someone like me or big bear. We would just be “complainers” who don’t glorify God in his mind.

      In any case, I am wrapping up my time here on ubfriends. I’ll post Davi’s new article and my part 3 of Spurgeon’s sermons this week, then I won’t be posting or reading here any longer (cheers and much clapping). I’ll continue my technical admin role, but won’t be publishing articles or commenting. I’ve said everything I wanted to say.

      I have to leave ubf behind now. I’m glad ubfers are getting back to the bible. Hopefully they will read it this time. I have to get back to my family.

    • Ben, I wonder what do you think about Joseph’s son’s testimony? Is he really so good and not manipulative? How about breaking down your own son to make him obey SL absolutely (even doing surgery)?

    • Brian, I hope I understand your last comments correctly. Do you mean, “There is no hope for ubf. It has been a cult and will be a cult until receives God’s wrath. Nothing is gonna change. I’ve said what I wanted and ‘I am pure from the blood of all men’ who decides to stay in ubf”? I fully agree.

    • @Vitaly, “I hope I understand your last comments correctly”

      Yes you understand correctly.

      It is so easy to understand.

      Perhaps one day the women in ubf will speak up…I don’t want to be around when that happens. This entire website is only the tip of the iceburg.

      Jesus’ words in Luke 16:19-31 are true. Even if some former member rose from the dead, the “good and loyal” ubf directors would not repent, for they insist that they are God’s anointed. So be it. I don’t want to be around when that “anointing” happens…

      The intentions of ubf directors mean nothing. It is the impact they have had that says everything so clearly every casual observer of ubf people can see the abusive control and manipulation, all done with big smiles, flattering words, sob stories and good kimchee.

      I heard about an experiment today. Some people persuaded total strangers to do the most ridiculous things, all because the manipulators were either angry or sad. Approach a young college student with a sad sob story and you can get them to do just about anything (like even giving you their credit card and bank information). I thought to myself: That is the ubf ideology in a nutshell.

  88. You’re right Brian. He and his wife are silver missionaries to Uganda. He is presently back in Chicago. On a personal note, he is also a physician who worked for me for a few years before he went to Uganda.

    Thanks, Brian, for all of your contribution, and especially your friendship. I can’t speak for others, but I for certain will miss your comments and contribution. Let’s continue to keep in touch (outside of ubfriends!).

    • Indeed, friendship transcends all boundaries Ben! I will certainly visit WestLoop again, many times if the Lord willing, with my wife. And I’ll be on Facebook for sure :)

  89. Sibboleth

    If not for UBF I would not have married someone I hardly knew. Doubt, trouble and anguish were pretty much guaranteed afterward.

    There was a period of time in which I tried to rationalize my “decision” to “marry by faith,” in which I tried to convince myself that I had done a good thing. It is true that though you hardly know each other before the marriage, you do get to know each other. You are pretty much forced to, right? But knowing someone isn’t the same as being compatible.

    Some level of love and affection may even result. And children. The children may serve as “justification” for such marriages for some time. But the 800 lb gorilla in the room is still there: I married someone I hardly knew. And worse, if I had known this person adequately prior to the marriage, in a religious cult environment that was not hyper-controlling, I would not have married this person.

    Note, I’m not saying this person I married is a bad person (though I can’t say the same for this person’s mother). For all I know, my spouse is suffering through this marriage as much as I am, maybe more. We may continue this way for the rest of our lives.

    Also note, even if we had very luckily turned out to be totally compatible and discovered that we had been “introduced” to our life-long soul mates, I still would not be able to ignore that 800 lb gorilla.

    • Sibboleth


      “And worse, if I had known this person adequately prior to the marriage, in a religious cult environment that was not hyper-controlling, I would not have married this person.”

      I should have written, “…outside of a religious cult environment that was not hyper-controlling…”

  90. Thanks for sharing, Sibboleth. I fully empathize with anyone “stuck” in an unhappy marriage, since marriage in the Bible represents the perfect love of the Trinity.

    As I and others have expressed, MBF has been used by some UBF leaders in totally reprehensible, unjustifiable, inexcusable, and clearly unbiblical and unChrist-like ways.

    Despite this, God is sovereign, God, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, knows all, including all things about you and your marriage.

    Though you would not have married your spouse had you known the way UBF MBF is, yet God “allowed” it to happen.

    If you are a Christian (though I do not know who you are), I pray that you love your spouse, as God has loved you through Jesus Christ.

    God’s love is truly remarkable that it originates entirely from Him, and it has NOTHING to do with the recipient of His love. In God’s eyes of perfection and holiness, we are hideous, yet He loves us.

    Pray that you remember His great love for you, and then love your spouse as you have been loved by God.

    If and when God enables you to love your spouse, your spouse will become more and more lovely in your eyes.

  91. @Sibboleth: I’m very sorry to hear your difficulties in your marriage. At the same time, thank you so much for sharing your honest heart. My family received counseling upon leaving UBF, and it was absolutely instrumental in preserving our faith and our marriage following the great upheaval of leaving the ministry. There is a good chance that we may have walked away from each other and God if it were not for the godly counsel of a Christian counselor.

    I also didn’t know my wife before marriage–I remember on our honeymoon asking what her middle name was. We met only 3 times before our wedding day. Upon leaving UBF we wondered what was keeping us together? We concluded that behind everything, it was God who brought us together, and He would give us the resources to stay together. I hope that your love and faith are strengthened through this trial. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 Jn 4:16)

  92. @Sibboleth, @Joshua, Counseling will certainly be prudent and should be actively sought if things between the couple remain less than optimal. To state what I think should be obvious:

    A good marriage (such as mine and others in UBF) resulting from a bad practice (MBF by the experience of those who comment) does not make the bad practice (of MBF) OK.

    Conversely, a “bad” or suboptimal marriage (as expressed by some) should not deny the sovereignty and providence of God who ordained the marriage (albeit through a bad MBF experience).

    • David Bychkov

      +1

    • Sibboleth

      —-
      To state what I think should be obvious:
      ….
      Conversely, a “bad” or suboptimal marriage (as expressed by some) should not deny the sovereignty and providence of God who ordained the marriage (albeit through a bad MBF experience).
      —-

      Sorry, but it’s not that obvious. I can buy that God ordained and defined marriage. But does anyone believe that God “ordains” any and all marriages? A man ordained my marriage. That can sometimes be grounds for annulment.

  93. Joshua, I also literally knew nothing about my wife when I married her. For instance, I had no idea that she had red hair and blue eyes until she told me 4 months AFTER we married!

  94. Sorry, Vitaly, I do not understand what you mean by “Joseph’s son’s testimony.” Also, I don’t understand what you mean by “breaking down your own son to make him obey SL absolutely (even doing surgery).” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/01/23/if-not-for-ubf-i-would-not-be-married/#comment-8561

    • Joseph Chung has a son who left ubf and published an open testimony about SL’s sins and ubf abuses. Among other things SL ordered Joseph’s son to make a surgery on his eyes to look more like an American. The son (also Joseph) didn’t want to obey SL but his father made him obey. And I think it is awful that SL orders and the “heritage” is more important than your own son.

  95. Dr.Ben, I think that if you simply agree and write that “ubf is a typical cult” based even on Siboleth’s comments and without “I am not defending ubf and …” it would be more helpful and just.

    The teaching of God’s sovereignty in a cult brings the “cognitive dissonance” to me again. Your advice to love the spouse is good. But there should be also an advice to believe that the Sovereign God will judge and condemn and throw to hell all the cult leaders in his time. And as you have a position in ubf you must WARN the cult leaders according to the Bible. (I doubt they will listen for according to Confucius they have a high authority position on earth and believe they will have the same in “heaven”). But you personally would be “pure from the blood”. And if you don’t warn you will have to be responsible for all the consequences of ubf’s sins and abuses.

  96. @Vitally, I basically agree with you saying this: “if you don’t warn you will have to be responsible for all the consequences of ubf’s sins and abuses.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/01/23/if-not-for-ubf-i-would-not-be-married/#comment-8565

    Of course, no one can take responsibility for all the evils in the world, or in just one church, or even in one’s own family.

    But yes, I want to be responsible to call out what I regard as un-Christ-like in UBF. My own personal struggle is that I may do so with fear and trembling and with humility and tears (which is like dying to me), rather than to do so with deadly self-righteousness and arrongance (which is SO EASY TO DO that I can do it in my sleep!).

    I believe that many of my articles and comments on UBFriends are a direct calling out to some (not all) authoritarian and abusive UBF leaders to repent of such wounding and unacceptable behavior by one who claims to be a Christian leader in UBF. If I have failed to do this appropriately or adequately, then please call me to account.

    I still do not understand what you mean by your last comment: “breaking down your own son to make him obey SL absolutely (even doing surgery).” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/01/23/if-not-for-ubf-i-would-not-be-married/#comment-8561 – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/01/23/if-not-for-ubf-i-would-not-be-married/#comment-8565

  97. I suppose that my words are just a bad translation of my thought in Russian into English. I’ll try to explain. … I see! I mean: to break the will and the character of the son not the son himself )) even though the SL’s order was really stupid and anti-son.

  98. Vitaly, are you saying that SL broke the will and character of the son of Joseph, or something like that? I am not sure that I am familiar with this story or account that you are referring to.

    Are you saying that Joseph made his son obey SL by forcing him to have surgery? If so, where did you hear this story? Is there a link to this account?

  99. This is his testimony in Russian http://vera.mipt.ru/sekti/ubf/chang.html
    it is a translation so surely there is an English version (I read it in English but don’t remember where)

    Here is his blog
    http://drchungj.blogspot.ru/

    one of the interesting posts which reveals some of the relationship between the father and the son
    http://rsqubf.livejournal.com/123416.html

  100. btw, SB,RW, and of course SL appear not so “gentle” and “Christian” in the testimony of Joseph Chung Jr.

  101. Vitaly, you touch a sore spot and a blind spot of some longstanding UBF people: Anyone who leaves UBF or has some complaint about a loyal UBF leader becomes a “bad person” in UBF’s eyes.

    It is a blind spot that has 50 years of loyalty and honor being UBF’s highest value in the hierarchy of values. Sadly, sometimes it seems that even Jesus and the Gospel is ranked BELOW loyalty and honor to UBF, as you likely know.

    • Dr.Ben, I think this is an English version of Joseph Jr’s testimony about “good and loyal” ubf leaders. It is near the testimony of Donna A. given by Sibboleth.

  102. Hi Sibboleth,

    I am truly sorry if your marriage is unhappy and unfulfiling to you–sexually, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Do you think that professional Christian counseling is in order for you and your spouse?

    For sure, annulment can perhaps be justifiable as in the link you included. I am somewhat familiar with that situation, which I will not comment on, since it does involve people I know.

    UBF’s “sin,” though well-intentioned (complicated by human ambition for spiritual greatness and fruitfulness in their own chapter/fellowship), is that some UBF leaders really think that they have the God given authority over the marriages of their sheep, including when they can date and with whom. Though it may have started out more prayerfully and gracefully (as in my marriage, I believe), yet I am personally praying that such a horrible practice–as reported by many–will be addressed and corrected by God’s help in God’s time.

    • Sibboleth

      @Ben, marriage counseling, Christian or otherwise, would be an option, if my spouse were open to anything other than counseling in UBF. The LAST thing I would want to go through is UBF marriage counseling.

      I’m not seriously considering seeking an annulment. It’s too late for that. Though, if the grounds for annulment include a marriage illegally entered into, our marriage would qualify. So, here’s another “If not for UBF…” statement: If not for UBF, I would not have blatantly broken US immigration laws by lying to the INS about our UBF marriage, as we were instructed to by UBF elders. Fines, jail time and deportation could have resulted. Fun times.

      Getting back to my original “If not for UBF…” statement, most of us can trade sometimes humorous stories about the many things we didn’t know about the strangers that we married. Some in UBF probably wear these stories like a MBF badge of honor. But, unfortunately, I think the reality of getting married to people we hardly knew is a ticking time bomb that awaits any couple who married in UBF like I did. The bomb will explode. It may not totally destroy the marriage, but at the very least, a lingering bitterness of regret will always be there.

  103. And Dr.Ben I would be happy to hear your personal opinion: are these some problems of sincere Christians in a non-perfect church or just typical characteristic of a typical cult?

    btw I don’t think that Stott spoke about such things as ubf has. He spoke about churches.

  104. @Big Bear, @Vitaly, regarding your tithes to UBF over the years, my thoughts are that in my heart of hearts, I offered my money to God FIRST and foremost, because the money I offered belonged to God, not me. This is the 1st point of my recent sermon at West Loop: http://westloop-church.org/index.php/messages/36-2-corinthians-messages/315-faith-finances-and-freedom-2-corinthians-89 I believe that both of you also tithed your money to God 1st and UBF 2nd.

    So if the money I offered was in anyway “misused” or “wasted” or not used prayerfully by UBF, then I believe that God will call them to account, because they just misused and wasted God’s money not mine.

    Financial reward is just one of God’s manifold countless blessings, perhaps among the least important ones, which sadly we humans often place too highly, especially in wealthier nations. Nonetheless the OT does promise financial blessings to those who please and obey God. Is “displeasing God” perhaps one reason why UBF’s tithes and offerings have been decreasing over the past decade or so?

  105. big bear

    DR ben Toh…I believe what you said about offerings is true. The director always told us if we left Ubf he would give back our offerings. Yes I gave to God but sometimes money and drastic measures must be made to wake up people who abuse. I lost everything but it woke me up to finally see what Ubf taught me the gospel plus Ubf saves. All I want is for the abuse of families to stop and God sheep……maybe everything should be taken away then maybe the abuse will stop.

  106. @Big Bear, A man or woman must be a man of his word.

    So if your director REALLY said to you that he would give you back your tithes and offerings if you left UBF, then please remind him that he said so. Then ask him if he meant what he said, and if he is a man of his word.

  107. big bear

    Dr Ben Toh…the leaders never kept their word….when I was a young bible student my shepherd promised me he would buy me brand new truck when I graduated…after I graduated I reminded him and he and director taked their way out of it…..I never asked for anything but it was a promise broken and many others….I learned that they were not men of their word….leaders should not make promises they intent not to keep…I learned that Ubf leaders are not truthful but manipulative (the ones I knew )

    • big bear

      Dr Sam asked me to write books….now he will get the book that will tell the the full story…..I was always treated with contempt by Cinti coworkers like a second class shepherd and always told that nobody will marry me….this brain washing made me to marry the first woman I was introduced to by faith in chicago….God used us despite the abuse…..but I suffered much in our marriage and felt unloved by my wife and mistreated by ubf……my wife and ubf kicked me out…..GOD WILL COMPLETE wHAT HE started in all of us for sure. 29 years and finally the truth will prevail. My advice to families and students…stay clear of ubf until they they make good to those who have left and show some compensation for the demage they heaped on us….true repentance….God led us to a healthy church

  108. I have been thinking through why there is frustration and disgruntlement of those who have experienced UBF for decades:

    * There is no equality between shepherd and sheep, between chapter director and member. The “higher” is ALWAYS more equal, as per Animal Farm.

    * Because there is no clear equality practiced in many/most UBF chapters started by missionaries (who come across as more equal than the rest), it invariably leads to a sense of unfairness, injustice, oppression, and exploitation by the leader, even if the leader meant well.

    * Because the leader is “more equal than you,” then you feel pressured to do what the leader wants and expects you to do, including marrying a person introduced to you, even if you may never agree to this outside of a UBF environment.

    * All of the above leads to the UBF non-leader feeling that they never had any freedom while in UBF, because they had to “keep spiritual order” and “just obey.”

    This has be going on and ongoing for 50 years and counting. Only the Holy Spirit can change this vicious cycle of injustice and inequality, because some “top senior” UBF leaders want to continue to maintain this oppressive status quo where they will always be in control and come out on top above you and over you, acting as though they are the head of the church, when Christ is the head of the church.

    If you have, please do provide an alternate angle or another explicit explanation to this confounding convoluted complexity called UBF.

    • Ben, I think you described one of the main issues very well. But as you already indicated, it’s in reality a bit more complicated, because in addition to these general hierarchies of directors > missionaries > shepherd > sheep and Korean > NonKorean, there are the shepherd-sheep 1:1 BS relationships, which add another personal component of dependency, hierarchy and authority. The “chapter director” combines both elements, he his higher in the hierarchy and sometimes also seen as an additional personal shepherd, who always tops the 1:1 BS shepherd. He is usually also the one who arranges your marriage, for which you are expected to be eternally thankful. But all these elements have one in common: The inequality of believers, so you are right with that.

  109. Yeah, Chris, it’s worth quoting George Orwell again: “All animals are created equal but some (animals) are more equal than others.”

    As long as there is no clear embrace of equality (like the Trinity), there will always be a subtle sense of oppression and control by the one who is more equal.

    Perhaps, this might be the “pecking order” or “power ranking” with the 1st ALWAYS being more equal than the 2nd:

    * Missionary > Native
    * Shepherd > Sheep
    * Fellowship Leader > Fellowship Member
    * Chapter Director > Fellowship Leader (and everyone else)
    * Older/Senior > Younger/Junior
    * Senior Staff > Elders

    Any other inequalities?

    • big bear

      AGREED…the problem lies in not following Jesus example….love and serving…..I confess I use to go to prayer meetings drinking mix drinks….had pop can and mixed whiskey in it….the meetings were so superficial and the director was so controling….I would invite students but once they met the director they headed for the hills…..he always treated those who were there longer and cussed so much……..he came off as mean to new comers…I was happy because of Jesus not the fellowship….I wanted so bad to get out of there for years…I could see it was all fake and no joy but depressed people……..I ran away once but they put they came after me and put a guilt trip on me….I feel like I am 21 again…yes I accomplished much by God grace but so did Sadam disciples as followers of adolf hitler….I was taught to ignore my emotions and just obey….I began to hate all churches and even my own family…God is love not abuse and rules….leaders get away with bullshit by hiding behind behind loyal followers who just as sick…you cant speak up….now I will…the comumunist party must be stopped

    • A few more:

      general director > continental director > national director > chapter director
      mother Barry > all female members
      members with Ph.D. > members without
      loyal, uncritical members > “difficult” members
      university students > “other” sheep
      white > colored

      And of course the infamous:

      ends (more followers of UBF) > means (ethical and Biblical behavior)

    • “All animals are created equal but some (animals) are more equal than others.”

      I remember how I watched “Animal Farm” (the 1999 version) with my wife shortly after leaving UBF and we both were so reminded of our UBF experience and so happy to be finally free from it. The similarities were not only in the supression and exploitation of the normal farm animals through the pigs who claimed to be like them but where always higher, but also in the clever propaganda, manipulation and twisting of words. Of course this allegory is a bit unflattering for our Korean directors because they would be the pigs and SL would be Napoleon. But then again, why are so many droupouts reminded of UBF when they see “Animal Farm”?

  110. Confucius > Jesus
    Confucianism > Christianity

    If you don’t obey Confucian teachings of your ubf chapter director you will reap worse consequences than if don’t obey Jesus and your own conscience.

  111. Joe Schafer

    Another inequality:

    a few decades’ worth of methods, principles, teachings of a tiny sect from postwar Korea

    >

    two millenia of understanding based on the Great Tradition of the one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church

  112. It seems that sometimes the ubf MbF production line produces “unique” house churches, especially the “Amazing Grace” is “very unique”. And what is more important “The spirit (not the Spirit) of God was there” likely also in an unique way…

    http://www.ubf.org/node/1769
    http://www.ubf.org/content/pierrine-angelo-noganas-new-house-church-paris-ubf

    • Do you think it is ok to have absolutely the same word in word “news” about two couples (after the first passage)? It looks like sending Chrismas cards with the same “unique” content and just putting in different names.

      For me it seems strange that even the same “spirit” was there at the two weddings.

      And of course it is not pleasant to hear that two more “clone” house churches were made, not families.

    • Vitaly, I am not sure if anyone actually looked at your links. It is true. The first paragraph is distinct, but the remainder is a simple copy and paste. It is a shame that the contributor to the news updates did not write a completely new report. How is that for sincerity…

    • I didn’t realize the copy and paste of the 2 reports after the 1st paragraph. My thought is that the 2 weddings happened one after another with the same music program. They could have really had just 1 report of the 2 weddings.

    • I’m surprised that don’t just use numbers. I can see the report already:

      Shepherd THX1138 and shepherdess LUH1439 established house church #645 in Paris chapter. Stop. Unique grace of God established unique family. Stop. Couples look forward to spending gracious time sitting on opposite sides of meeting tables. Full stop.

  113. This weekend I attended a marriage of a good friend of mine with whom I read the Bible in UBF. I was amazed to see the key verse they chose for their marriage: “My love belongs to me, and I belong to him.” (small quiz: where can you find this verse in the Bible?) The whole marriage was so nice and so different from UBF marriages. The couple was really in the center of everything. In UBF, people would rather pick verses that somehow express “We both belong to UBF” and the marriage pledge would resemble more a pledge to work together for UBF.

    • Nice, Song of Songs 6:3. Yes, ubf ought to study this book. Try to find the “world mission command” :)

    • Waterloo UBF studied that book a year or two ago. I read some the lectures. The passages were more spiritualized than I would interpret, but edifying nonetheless.

  114. UBF marriages are the way they are because of the “distortion” in teaching that marriage is for mission. Until recently I did not realize that there is hardly any Christian literature that teaches that marriage is for mission.

    When I married I even thought like this: “If I don’t like my wife after marriage, it’s OK because we can sleep in separate bedrooms at night and do our campus mission together when we wake up in the morning!” It is only the grace of God that after 33 years of marriage we have never slept in separate bedrooms.

  115. big bear

    yes the distortion of marriage…….I thought like this too…I frankly did not care who I married as long as they would live for mission….I married by faith in one week..I was shocked however when my new wife was not crazy about UBF and she often told me that why did you marry me if all you want to do feed sheep….I only saw her as a means to do ministry work…this was so ingrained in me from UBF and is wrong…I even went so far as telling her that we got married for mission and that it was most important…I hid in my mission and isolated myself from all things that challenged me to love…my ministry became more important than my wife and children…this is screwed up…but this is what my director taught me and I was so dense that I fell into this bad theology..don’t let it happen to you…I repented but it was too late to save our marriage or break up of our family…God blessed me with a loving wife who I love more than anything and a new son…there is hope but sometimes you have to lose everything in UBF to find love….

    • bekamartin

      Painful to hear

    • Beka, thanks for the courage to read it and responding with grace and brokenness. I cannot even begin to imagine what you are experiencing emotionally.

  116. Re-reading John Armstrong’s excellent balanced comment, this comment stood out to me: “If you shut yourself off from the larger church then you tend to create your own practices and then look for Bible verses to support them.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/01/23/if-not-for-ubf-i-would-not-be-married/#comment-5204

    I know that I do this, probably far more than I realize, since I think I’m trying my best to be biblical. The only way this blind spot ever gets uncovered is if someone points it out to me, and I am willing to hear them say something that corrects me and exposes my blindness.

  117. After rereading parts of this thread and coming across my comments from last year, I was struck by my comment in response to Vitaly and the story of real abuse he shared. I remember the moment I made the comment well. I was trying so hard to do what was right by remaining balanced and loving. I remember also the hours after I made the comment. I felt like I had betrayed Vitaly and several others that day. I was filled with shame because of how I had treated them. It was a major turning point for me.

  118. Beka, I’m very very sorry about this: “Ben, I often felt, as I went through my marriage struggles, that marriage by faith tied me (imprisoned?) to UBF so that was the reason for marriage by faith.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/01/23/if-not-for-ubf-i-would-not-be-married/#comment-14162

  119. bekamartin

    Yes, I think mbf can create unloving “coworkingships” rather than marriages. But most probably fall in love anyway. I fell in love and love still my ex but such is not always the case. Please get to know your potential spouse and only marry if you know God wants it.

    • Thanks for sharing here Beka. This whole conversation has been cathartic for me. I just want to add that you are not alone. All 7 leader families who left Toledo ubf in 2011-2012 expressed similar struggles regarding marriage. One of my friends said leaving ubf made her feel like she was divorcing ubf.

      It is true… “mbf” marries people to ubf ideology and many of us have felt that “third partner” in our marriages, where there is a ubf person deeply involved in the couple’s business.

      As a side note, looking back at my litany of questions in my comments above show me how much I’ve been healed since July 2013.

    • Also Beka, I hope that you can take some time to read what happened in Toledo ubf in 2011-2012. I hope all readers here and ubf top leadership, would take some time to process those events, reflect on the facts of what happened and see if God might be prodding someone somewhere to do something.

      And when I say “something” I do NOT mean flattering and promoting the “excellent reconcilers” or “exemplary church model” people.

      Maybe someone should re-think the idea of promoting Toledo ubf as the “model of church governance for ubf” as the GD did in an all-director email last year…

    • Slight correction, “All 7 leader families who left Toledo ubf in 2011-2012”

      I should have written “All 8 leader families plus at least one unmarried leader…”

  120. bekamartin

    BK, this whole conversation has been an eye-opener to me. I now realize the manipulation that got me married to someone who didn’t love me and only served UBF. I married to serve God and to love my husband and children, but now I know that he never loved nor intended to love me and our children. WOW!!

    • In the midst of how broken we (and our shepherds!) may be, God still loves us beyond measure. This NEVER excuses bad theology, wrongdoing or injustice. But it does reveal how great and loving our God truly is.

  121. bekamartin

    BK, wow! I didn’t know this about Toledo. I have so much to learn about UBF!

    • Beka, someone commented here (maybe Ben?) that they learned more about ubf from me, Chris and Vitaly (and all of us ex ubf leaders) than they did from decades of listening to ubf leaders. People like me who resigned from ubf are now able to speak freely.

    • And btw, I use “BK” as my display name, but I’m the same “BrianK” and “Brian Karcher” commenting in these earlier posts. –Brian

  122. bekamartin

    BK, I am reading your book, Rest Unleashed. Andrew lent it to me. I am just at the point of your testimony, will start reading that tonight. Thank you for writing it!

  123. bekamartin

    When I started telling everyone I knew in UBF about our family problems, my marriage and my daughter, I started hearing all these scandalous issues from other chapters that I had never heard. I told bigwigs in UBF that we need to tell our problems so that people can pray for us and help us. So much sickness and so little healing!! I am so glad I am out!! Sobbing!!

  124. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    Another thing that has vastly effected the marriage by faith practice is us immigration policy. A normal situation would involve meeting someone and then consulting with them, deciding you want to marry and applying for the k1 visa, meeting the income requirement and living happily every after. First of all, most college/graduate students in America won’t meet the income requirements easily to be eligible for this visa. This means marriage by faith to a Korean (that’s usually what it is) involves bring the person to the us on a tourist visa (to a isbc perhaps) and marrying on that visa. Interestingly since the two people did not know each other previously and the fiancé did not come with the pretense to marry (but the shepherd did…) this is totally ok. Applying for the change of status requires the income I mentioned earlier but these two factors combined explain why marriage by faith between foreigners and us citizens is sudden and usually with graduates.

    • Interesting! But it is not that easy to follow unless you are personally involved.

    • oh, I have been wondering why ubf koreans only marriage with an us citizen, is what I have seen

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      uepsand my personal explanation is that first there are many fewer native people but a lot of korean. Now I think it has been publicly stated by Sarah Berry at the Ezra conference that second gens are better off marrying korean nationals (no word yet on why that makes any sense), but in my opinion it that it is three fold. First, the korean national becomes a “missionary” and they get to increase that number. Second older Korean missionaries have strong ties and friendships to Koreans and so it is easy to arrange. Third, native Koreans are culturally conditioned to obey.

      I know I started getting pretty heavy indications that I was going to be arranged to a korean. I had one missionary ask at dinner with others “Would you marry foreigner? Korean is obedient.” Another missionary said “One day you will eat this everyday.” (in reference to a korean dish).

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      forests, I was at that conference and heard Sarah Barry’s message on Ezra and believe she was implying the opposite. As I recall, the message didn’t use the term 2nd gens, and the point was that references to not marrying foreigners in Ezra should not be applied today literally as Ezra was instructing the Jews at that time, and that was it. The implication being that (Korean descended) 2nd gens shouldn’t be married only to Koreans as a matter of spiritual consequence.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      Thanks for the correction Charles. :)

  125. “I started getting pretty heavy indications that I was going to be arranged to a korean. I had one missionary ask at dinner with others “Would you marry foreigner? Korean is obedient.” Another missionary said “One day you will eat this everyday.” (in reference to a korean dish). – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/01/23/if-not-for-ubf-i-would-not-be-married/#sthash.Jog0bINJ.dpuf

    Forests, I believe you know this. Though this might not come across so well to those who are not of Korean descent, I believe that most of them who think and speak in such (perhaps somewhat culturally insensitive) ways are good-hearted, good-natured and well intentioned.

    Such cultural insensitivies, I believe, are happening less and less often, though they obviously still happen, since ubf is a diverse community with all sorts of people with vastly different levels of adaptation.

  126. Hi uepsand,

    “oh, I have been wondering why ubf koreans only marriage with an us citizen, is what I have seen – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/01/23/if-not-for-ubf-i-would-not-be-married/#comment-14617

    Would you share more of what you’ve seen? Your perspective would be helpful, whether you’ve seen good, bad or ugly. Thanks for sharing and welcome.

  127. A friend shared this with me: 25 lessons from 25 years of marriage (http://stevemizel.blogspot.com/2014/08/25-lessons-for-young-men-from-25-years.html).

    I had shared 12 things I learned after 32 years of marriage: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/08/18/married-for-32-years/