In a recent comment, Joe asked me “What is springboarding?“. And Ben challenged all of us to think about “How to improve our UBF messages“. Because I feel that I didn’t adequately answer Joe’s question and because I have had many thoughts on how to improve UBF messages, I would like to share my thoughts in reponse, using a message delivered by one of my friends in Toledo UBF just a couple weeks ago. There are two other reasons I share these thoughts. I was a UBF messanger for over 20 years. The most eye-opening experience I had as a UBF messenger was to read the public criticism of my message from former UBF messengers.
IMHO UBFriends gets a pretty bad rep from UBF. Discussions among some leaders invariably involve shutting down UBFriends or controlling it. It is also almost unanimously perceived to be nothing but negative, discouraging “UBF bashing”—carried out by a few bitter, ungrateful, unforgiving people who are clamoring for some attention which they are unable to otherwise get. As a result, many UBFers think that from its outset UBFriends was created with the intent of being divisive, and to disrupt and disturb the peace of UBF. But I found recent comments by Joe and Brian to be fascinating. So let me gently correct you about some misconceptions.
As I conitnue my journey of recovery from over two decades as a UBF leader, I sometimes go back and read what I said or wrote in the past. I came across a letter I sent in 2011 just after officially resigning in protest. I had already had numerous conversations before this, which were rather mild comparatively speaking, but I was still looking for a way to be “in UBF”. I received silence in response to this email. So I post it here publicly in hopes that some may respond. Go ahead and react any way you feel prompted to react, no matter how messy it might seem to you. Any kind of response is better than maddening silence.
Recently I was inspired by the discussion about David’s lament and praise of Saul. I really appreciated Terry’s input to try to stimulate discussion. I also wanted to revisit the theme for love and forgiveness for our Bible teachers. Unfortunately, (but necessary), examining the heritage and what that means causes some HOT and SHOT dialogues. Some may be offended by what has been said, but we must look past the facade and accept the various stories and experiences no matter what language is being used. We need to discuss the array of accounts and details so we may be clear on the UBF narrative as had been stated in Joe’s article. As always I will leave this somewhat unfinished in hopes that the readers can develop the body.
Joe’s last article has brought me an unexpected amount of resolution and healing on my journey of recovery from University Bible Fellowship. If a senior leader in UBF like Joe understands such things, what more is there to say? Joe began his article with these words: “UBF is in a crisis. Many will disagree with me.” Today I’d like to remind everyone of at least one person in UBF who agrees with Joe’s thesis, but presents a very different picture of that crisis and how to respond.
Many will disagree with me. “Stop exaggerating,” they’ll say. “Don’t worry, have faith! Focus on the positive. Remember what God has done. Great things happened at the ISBC. Many people accepted Christ. If even one lost sheep repents, there is great rejoicing in heaven.”
But for those who are willing to look, the situation looks grim. One major piece of evidence is that the attendance at the recent ISBC dropped by about 20% from Purdue ’08. UBF leaders have always assumed that their numbers would go up. They believed that if they just worked hard enough and prayed enough times and kept going and stayed with the program, then God would bless their faithfulness and the ministry would grow. But this time, the numbers went down, and they did so dramatically.
After reading Joe’s article about CMI and some private conversations, I am compelled to share and document the following declaration of reform. This declaration was the primary document expressing the concerns of more than 50 long-time UBF leaders. All of this group was labeld the “R-Group” and were kicked out of UBF by official termination of their UBF membership in 2000 and 2001. Now 12 years have passed by. Samuel Lee has passed away. Has UBF been reformed? Did UBF leaders listen to these issues? Do the same issues remain today? Does UBF need reform? Is reform possible? Will you join in reforming UBF to be a healthy Christian organization?
Thus beginneth the first sentence of the official report from the 2013 International Summer Bible Conference.
Except for one tiny detail. Between the year “2013” and the word “International,” I omitted three letters.
This past week my wife Christy and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. Our older UBF missionaries have been married much longer than we have. But I think that my marriage is the longest standing native indigenous non-missionary UBF marriage. We married by faith in 1981. The singular word to describe my marriage is HAPPY. This is nothing but the love of God and the sheer grace of Jesus, because the two of us are unlike in virtually all ways, except our faith.