If you’ve been in UBF for a few years, you likely have heard someone talk about the dreaded “r-group” people. This is the term for people who left the ministry and became vocal about changes. The “r” is often referred to as “reform” since most people up to now wanted to reform UBF practices and undocumented beliefs. I remember attending several conferences where some of these people formed a picket line, holding signs and passing out material. We were told to walk past the “r-group” people and not even look at them. While picketing a UBF conference is rather extreme, I’m not so sure those people had other choices. They passionately believed in freedom of speech and were desperate for facts. They had been silenced and shunned, and were looking for a way to present their opinions, many of which were not mere opinions but fact-based conclusions.
But among senior staff, the “r” does not mean reform. It means “rebels”. As a staff member, I heard the term “rebel” associated numerous times with people who left the ministry. Those who left are considered to have become rebellious toward God’s servants and toward God. Even those who left with a pact to “agree-to-disagree” are spoken of in terms of being rebellious in some way.
I have exchanged emails with many of the “r-group” people during my defense of UBF ministry. I did not admit it at the time, but I did not find them rebellious at all. Some were bitter and angry, indeed, and for good reason from what I could tell. But when I saw through the emotions, I could see facts.
Here is one of my favorite songs from the late ’80s by the Altar Boys, dedicated to all the “rebels” of the world. Our actions shout louder than any words. Yet sometimes we need the guts to speak.
Rebels, attention, can you hear me?
Man, we’ve got to take this message out in the streets
In this wilderness our voices must be heard
With everything we’ve got to be a light in this world
Rebels, attention, do you hear me?
It’s not easy I know, but you’ve got to stand with me
I’ve seen too many people fallen to the lies
The truth has to come from you and I
We’ve got to shout louder! louder!
Louder than the world!
Shout it straight from your hearts
Give it to them all you’ve got, shout it!
Hey rebels, attention! you can hear me
All the fired out brains and kids without names get to me.
I see them lying there in the city morgue
Mom and Dad’s wondering what went wrong?!
Hey rebels, I’m pleading did you hear me!
The way we live the way we love is everything
So what if I memorized every verse
We shout louder than the world by the way we serve!
Shout it! Make actions scream
Shout it! What this world needs
Shout it! Stick to our guns
Cause from our hearts (then) from our lungs.