It is healthy, sometimes, to hear what others say about us. I’m not saying we should let other people’s words define who we are or what we are doing. However, we gain helpful insight into such things about ourselves when we face what others say about us.
It is rare to find external comments about UBF. Usually we read only the self-published reports by UBF or the bitter rants of former members. Here are some comments that should be seen as a mirror, reflecting back to UBF people.
First, the viewpoint of a student being fished on campus:
“I was walking back from the library toward my dorm room this afternoon when a young lady started talking to me about the Bible. It was one of those high-pressure sells, and this girl had a stack of flyers with “Bible Study Appointment’ sign-up on it so that she could take down people’s names, phone #’s, cell phone #’s, emails, and time commitments (!).
Although I believe in reserving judgment till enough information is in, there was no doubt that this was a very bad start. This young lady basically wanted to take complete strangers and sign them up for one-on-one ‘Bible Study Sessions’ without giving almost any information about her group at all. Although I don’t know exactly what this church teaches, its public behavior shows all the signs of being a manipulative group. Someone who is trying to spread ideas openly will follow a method of giving out information about his cause openly. Someone who is trying to bring people under their control will give little or no information about himself or his organization, but will seek, as quickly as possible, time commitments and personal information from intended targets.
That’s not to say the young lady passing out flyers is predatory by nature. More likely she’s part of a group that operates in a manner that is at least somewhat predatory, aggressively indoctrinating new members to do the same. So let’s review the red flags. But there is no doubt that trying to take something from strangers, whether money, time, or information; is always a swindle of some sort unless something like information or a genuine service is given in return.”
Second, the viewpoint of a non-UBF church member:
If you’ve known no other church besides Gracepoint Fellowship Church, you probably don’t even notice the oddity of it.
Why does Gracepoint give out these titles? After I’ve given much thought to it, and from my own experience from having served as “staff,” I’ve come to the conclusion that again, it’s for the sake of Pastor Ed Kang and his wife Kelly having control over the whole church. As I’ve mentioned before, they idolize Excellence, Efficiency, and Efficacy.
To be fair, first of all, this staff thing started from Becky, who appeared to have adopted it from her affiliation with University Bible Fellowship [UBF], which practiced the “Shepherding Movement”.
Third, the viewpoint of a Korean sociology professor:
Since 2008, I have conducted an in-depth case study of the University Bible Fellowship (UBF), supported by the Louisville Institute. It has more than 1,400 missionaries, making it the second-largest missionary-sending organization in South Korea — and about 42 percent of them are working in the United States.
These missionaries are here not just to seek converts in the Korean community. Their primary target: white American college students.
My overriding research question was this: How do Korean missionaries convince Americans, especially young white Americans, to hear the gospel through them and to build diverse congregations with them?
Here’s how one Korean missionary answered that:
“In my effort to not cause cultural alienation to Americans, … I curled my hair, I changed my glasses, practiced my tongue (to make it more amendable to speaking English), wore American-style clothing, … didn’t eat kimchi (a traditional Korean vegetable dish that has a pungent garlic smell), … didn’t teach my children Korean, didn’t speak Korean, … stopped all relationships with Koreans.”
That answer — reflective of the Korean missionaries in the United States evangelizing white Americans — is fascinating because it’s such a sociological aberration.
Fourth, the viewpoint of a former UBF Bible student:
I just heard a seminar on the faults of the organization. They talked about Confucianism’s influence on them, which I haven’t noticed, but more importantly, they reminded me of things that slipped by me without me even noticing.
When I joined the organization, I went meekly along with the flow, so I never experienced the physical abuse I’ve heard about coming from the UBF. I guess abuse was part of the “training” to be UBF “shepherds.” Also, being socially maladroit, I also missed out on their “arranged marriages.”