Vol 74 Issue 21
November 23, 1987
Cult goes fishing on campus
Banned at U of W, renamed group meeting at U of M
By Doug Nairne
A rather non-descript young man walked into the Manitoban on Friday.
He could have been any one of the thousands who pass through University Centre every day. He placed a pile of yellowed newspaper articles on a desk and declared, “They’re fishing again; I’ve seen them on campus,”
This person was once a member of the University Bible Fellowship (UBF) the cult which made the news in 1984 when it was banned from the University of Winnipeg for using “mind-altering techniques and psychological abuse to gain covets.
Since that time, the UBF has changed its name to the Campus Bible Fellowship (CBF) and begun meeting at the University of Manitoba.
The CBF came to Canada in 1981 from Korea and has several dozen chapters in the United States and a dozen chapters around the world. The Winnipeg’s Free Press’s October 24, 1984 issue reported the goal of the organization is to “have its members commit their lives to the UBF under total and absolute obedience to Samuel Lee and his teachings.”
Lee, whose real name is Chang Woo Lee, is the founder and spiritual head of UBF, CBF, and runs his North American operations out of Chicago.
“The group came to Canada to work in a sewing factory, and set up the cult in Winnipeg with a small number of Korean women,” said David, the young man who had come into the office. His real name has not been used at his request.
David left the cult almost two years ago, when he found himself being taken over by the will of the organization.
“I originally went to them because of my interest in becoming closer to God… I go to a lot of Bible studies, and that’s what they told me they did. Their Bible studies were very “in-depth”. They mad it attractive for us to go there because they were so nice to you and provided elaborate meals… they feed you every time you go, and for students that’s a big deal,” said David.
David soon discovered his involvement being controlled by the cult itself.
“On the surface it always seemed great, but once I got more involved with them they asked me choices in my life… my family or God, school or God, with God being the group.
“It always seemed like they were making us do things by laying a guilt trip on us and saying if you want to be closer to God you had to do what they said. For me, before I knew it I was being controlled. They were able to manipulate the scripture,” David said.
The CBF presents itself as a Christian group “studying the Bible on a one-to-one basis (and) sometimes having a group bible study on campus,” but David and others who have been associated with the group see it as much more than that. According to the Free Press a personality cult surrounds Samuel Lee, the group’s leader. He reportedly promotes himself to the group as a Christ figure and wields incredible power over the personal lives of members of the group, to the point of arranging marriages between members.
“When I first started going, I found it really scary, it was Samuel Lee this and Samuel Lee that,” said David.
“I think it’s a big ego thing for him, because money never seems to be an issue for them; It all revolves around personal commitment to the cause.”
When questioned about the group’s function as a bible study group, David responded that it was only a front for the broader goals of the CBF.
“That’s not all their doing; the bible study is just a fish hook and once you show in interest in learning about Christ, they ask you to become more and more involved. They start you out studying Genesis, and as you work your way through it, they begin to ask you to go out and find more sheep… they call it fishing,” David said.
The CBF calls its members “shepherds” and asks them to go “fishing” for new members whom they call sheep. Once sheep have been in the group long enough, they are sent out to gather more sheep, and so on.
“All the missionary shepherds are women, and as soon as the group gets your phone number or address, you might as well kiss your private life goodbye,” said David.
“They kept calling me and calling me until I finally gave in and went to their meetings… that’s how it started… I thought that when I left it was all over, but then I bumped into them Wednesday evening and they invited me to join them and their group on campus.
“Now they’re fishing again”