Cause, course and perspective of the reform movement in UBF Germany
M. Stephan Choe (Bochum), December 2000
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
We call our efforts a “reform”, indeed a “reformation” of the UBF, because we are not striving for a superficial improvement, but rather to return to the Bible and Jesus Christ correctly. That is why it has become necessary to bring the true causes of this movement into the light and to enter the right path to reform. We ask God, through His Holy Spirit, to direct and bless our further reform work on the right path and in the right direction.
I would mention two biblical words that should characterize our reform movement: truth and grace. Jesus is full of grace and truth. His truth and his grace may determine this work of reform.
- Cause and course
The UBF Germany was born in 1969 when God’s three Korean nurses, missionary In-Kyung Seo (now M. Mary Song in NY), Dong-Ran Seol and Hwasa Lee, who had come to the faith in the UBF Daejeon, as lay missionaries to Germany sent out. They were the first missionaries of the UBF at all. God sent many more nurse missionaries to Germany. In the course of time Hwasa Lee (as Hirtin), Ju-In Park (Hirtin), Sukcheol Kim (director), Sarah Ki-Hyang Lee (Hirtin) and You-Kang Cho (director, successor of Skucheol Kim) acted as well Head of the UBF mission in Germany. They worked very well together without hierarchical conditions. M. Samuel Lee often came as a preacher for the Summer Bible Festival and announced to them a gracious message. And all the nurses’ missionaries were happy with the gospel with all their heart. All the faithful of the UBF Korea prayed for them persistently and encouraged them through letters. The highlight of this missionary work by the nurses’ missionaries was 1974-75. At that time about 250 participated in the summer conference and many learned the wonderful grace of the rebirth. That was the wonderful grace of God. We can safely say that no one can claim the honor of having played a decisive role in this work alone. God has done this. He should be honored and praised. Amen.
In the spring of 1976, a reform movement took place at UBF Korea through 7 senior citizens. They asked Samuel Lee to make and make decisions together with his own leadership. They also asked him to give the staff the clear victim report. In the face of this reform movement in Korea, the 10 leading missionaries of UBF Germany, in their letter of the end of May 76, asked M. Samuel Lee to give them a factual explanation of the criticisms of the reformists of Korea. They also asked him to respect the work of the Holy Spirit through the cooperation of missionaries in Germany and to give their independent leadership. The fact that the response was satisfactory was, unfortunately, unsuccessful; there was a conflict between M. Samuel Lee and some missionaries, especially M. Hwasa Lee, with regard to the management of UBF Germany. This left the UBF. Peter Chang (Korean: Man-suk Chang, later worked in Columbus, USA) came to Germany in 1977 to help the missionaries through the Roman letters, so that they overcame inner injuries.
In 1978, God sent two male missionaries, in January Stephan Choe and in March Abraham Lee, to Germany. God used Pastor M. Abraham Lee as head of UBF Germany well. God then sent many other male missionaries, M. Isaak Youk, Andreas Ahn, Peter Chang, etc., to Germany. M. Andreas Ahn was the first student missionary in Germany, M. Paula Kim the second. God used the student missionaries for the German and world campus mission. God blessed his work of the UBF in Germany abundantly. We can write a fat book about the beautiful, gracious ministry of God. This can be used to reflect the happy moments of the reborn students, and we can remember the dedication of many employees. Above all, we can recognize God’s goodness and His glory and praise Him.
As the number of employees and the UBF centers in Germany grew steadily, it became more and more clear that not only a single management but a joint and coordinating management was necessary. From the early 1990s, the five so-called “senior leaders”, ie, P. Abraham Lee, Peter Chang, Kaleb Hong, Stephan Choe and Isaac Lee, met regularly. Pastor Abraham Lee, however, left the impression that he had a great deal of fellowship at this meeting, and that he shared opinions, but did not decide together.
In 1991, M. Peter Chang from Columbus USA sent a circular letter to all the leaders of the UBF in the world. In his letter he named the reform needs of the UBF: 1. M. Samuel Lee should not claim absolute authority, for God alone can claim this. 2. Samuel Lee’s sole leading position is to be overcome and a joint leadership before God is necessary. 3. A transparent victim report must be made.
- Abraham Lee asked the four seniors in their opinion about the circular.Isaac Lee and Stephan Choe were of the opinion that the criticism of Peter Chang from Columbus was essentially justified.On the other hand, P. Abraham Lee expressed the opinion that M. Peter Chang of Columbus had written such a letter from M. Samuel Lee, out of arrogance and ingratitude.
In February 1994 a circular letter from M. James Kim (Korean: Jeong-Jin Kim) from Toledo USA circulated. In 1989, he had asked M. Samuel Lee to repent because of his sole unbiblical guidance. He was dismissed because of his criticism of M. Samuel Lee as head of the UBF Toledo. In his circular, he explained his concerns for the repentance of M. Samuel Lee and for the reform of the UBF. P. Abraham Lee, in turn, asked the senior leaders for their opinion. Isaac Lee and Stephan Choe were of the opinion that M. Samuel Lee was wrong with James Kim. P. Abraham Lee, however, thought M. James Kim had rebelled against M. Samuel Lee, because he had become arrogant and ungrateful to M. Samuel Lee by the bad influence of M. Peter Chang of Columbus. The behavior of P. Abraham Lee against the two circular letters showed the hidden reform needs of the leadership of UBF Germany.
In August 1994 the European Summer Conference took place in De Bron. UBF Germany was the organizer. The five senior leaders arranged early enough the preachers and preaching texts together. But a few days before the conference, P. Abraham Lee of M. Samuel Lee received modified preaching texts. M. Samuel Lee also conducted the course of the summer conference, as he just meant well. That was too much.
In the autumn of 1995, Stephan asked Choe to make a sacrifice report at a meeting of the five senior leaders, P. Abraham Lee. P. Abraham Lee replied that he should not be asked to report, but to trust him. (Two years later M. Maria Kwon asked M. Sarah K. Lee to give a report of the sacrifice and M. Sarah Lee promised to do so, but P. Abraham Lee later blamed M. Paulus Kwon and said To him: to be trusted.) The four senior leaders suggested to P. Abraham Lee to talk about important issues of UBF Germany together, to make decisions together and to take responsibility together. P. Abraham Lee, however, did not agree. On the urge to make a joint decision, he said that he would have to decide whether to make a decision alone or together, depending on the issue. Once the five leaders agreed to draft the statutes of UBF Germany. M. Kaleb Hong was to write the bill. But P. Abraham Lee later changed his mind, and no statutes arose. After this failure, Stephan Choe and Kaleb Hong were in the personal discussion, for example at the youth conference at the end of Dec. 1999 in Winterberg agreed that one should move P. Abraham Lee to the constitution of the statutes.
In 1996 there were conflicts between the employees of UBF Cologne and P. Abraham. The report in Germany showed that the leadership of the UBF Korea would invite P. Abraham Lee to spend some time training in Korea. There was also the announcement that the highest management of UBF would replace P. Abraham Lee by M. Peter Chang as head of UBF Germany. In the face of this situation, all the leaders gathered during an executive conference in the autumn without P. Abraham Lee “unofficially”. At this meeting, they agreed to send a letter through Kaleb Hong to shepherd John Jun in the name of all the leaders of UBF Germany. In the letter, they said that all heads of the UBF Germany were opposed to P. Abraham Lee being replaced by another, or in Korea a long time training. The letter was also an indirect expression that the highest management of the UBF should respect the independent, cooperative management of UBF Germany. Thus, P. Abraham Lee continued as a leader.
When the reform movement began in Korea in April 2000, we recognized the reformist leaders of Germany, the need to exchange information and opinions in order to properly understand the reform movement in Korea and to reform UBF Germany. P. Abraham Lee directly or indirectly prohibited any open exchange of information and opinions. From history, however, we knew that the obstacle to the free exchange of information and opinion only promotes corruption and sovereignty.
On May 27, 2000 the 5 senior managers met in Cologne. They exchanged views on the reform movement in Korea. P. Abraham Lee, M. Kaleb Hong (Heidelberg UBF), and Peter Chang (Bonn UBF) maintained that the faults or sins of the highest “servant of God” should be given into the hands of God and not criticized, but absolutely obeyed his leadership. M. Peter Chang even claimed that the Reformed Churches, especially H. Caleb Chung and John Kim (Myungryun UBF), had rebelled to M. Samuel Lee because of their bad love relationship. Isaac Lee and Stephan Choe said something like this: “The Bible teaches that the doctrine of the Bible must apply to all” small “people as well as” great “persons, regardless of person. It is true that M. Samuel Lee is also exhorted to repentance if he has done something important wrong. One should not emphasize, first of all, the love relationship to a person, but the love relationship to God, for only this relationship is absolute. The relationship of love between men, however, must rest on the ground of truth. ”
At this meeting she also determined the preaching texts and the theme of the summer conference. At the edge of the conversation, however, P. Abraham Lee said that if M. Samuel Lee were to change the conference program, he could not help it. His remarks showed once more the necessity for us to exchange honestly and frank opinions on the conduct of the summer conference and also the leadership of UBF Germany, so that we could prepare a reform proposal and be able to present this reform proposal to P. Abraham Lee. We wanted to work out a proposal on how the European Summer Conference in 2000 might please God, and God’s Word would be a good thing for German Bible students.
There was of course an objection to this “unofficial” assembly. But the Bible teaches us that it is not decisive whether a gathering is an “official” assembly or an “unofficial” one. It is decisive whether you do something bad at your meeting or do something good.
The first Christians believed that they belonged to the people of God. That is why they wanted to remain one with all the Jews and lead them to believe in Jesus. For this reason, Jesus and the first Christians did not separate from Jews, but visited worship in the temple or in the synagogues. They often gathered themselves “unofficially”, like 120 disciples in an attic briefly on Whitsun. The upper classes of Judaism, however, regarded the Christians as a threat to their authority and their heresy. The Christians were expelled from the temple, synagogues, and Jerusalem (Agp. 9). This created the independent Christian community.
In the Old Testament there are many books of prophets. God always sent his prophets to ask the Church or His people to repent and to reform. The Church or God’s people must at an early stage recognize sin as sin, repent, and be actively reformed. This is the only biblical solution to overcome the crisis. But the superiors of the church hung in their power and missed the opportunity of repentance.
When Luther called for abuses of the Church and called for the Church to reform, the Church did not accept its constructive criticism and proposals for reform, but instead designated him as a heretic and banished him from the Church. Therefore, the church was divided. The counter-reform was a late repair.
God’s work of the UBF also began with the “unofficial” assemblies. For Samuel Lee and Sarah Barry were actually members of the Presbyterian Church, and the UBF began without the “official” blessing of the Presbyterian Church.
About two years ago the leaders, who lived in the area of Frankfurt, occasionally gathered together to study the Bible together to strengthen each other. This unofficial meeting was, however, unwanted by P. Abraham Lee, and this Bible study was stopped.
The biblical story and the non-biblical show us that the faithful have the right to free assembly, exchange of opinions and suggestions for improvement. This is also the basic right for the people in this society. The church leadership must not take the basic right to the faithful and do not restrict it. It does not need to consider the free exchange of opinions or unofficial assembly as a threat. Rather, it should promote the exchange of opinions, actively accept good proposals and improve or reform them.
Back to the concerns of the UBF Germany: We saw by the result of the discussion of the 5 senior managers in Cologne the need to meet and exchange opinions and work out reform proposals. We met in Wuppertal on 3 June 2000 and agreed that we should ask Pastor Abraham Lee to the Directorate-General in Cologne on 5 June to exchange openly opinions on the reform needs and in particular on the planning and implementation of the forthcoming European Summer Conference should. P. Abraham Lee indignantly allowed the discussion, but he did not like the idea of reform, but tried to persuade him vigorously with his “official” attitude, ie the reform movement in Korea and Germany.
Through the partisan leadership of P. Abraham Lee, it became impossible for us to speak openly and honestly at a leadership gathering, and to make a reformation together. That is why we gathered in Gießen on June 23, 2000 and drafted reform proposals. At the same time, we tried to mention as simple as possible a good start to the reform of the UBF Germany, without any negative previous events: the summer conference is to be independently planned and carried out by the leading missionaries of Germany. Guests are invited to invite both Samuel Lee and others from the USA as well as senior citizens and other shepherds from Korea. P. Abraham Lee may submit financial reports from tithes from all over Germany. An 8-member body is to be formed as a decision-making body for important matters.
With this written proposal, Isaac Lee, Paulus Kwon, and Stephan Choe, together with Fr. Abraham Lee, Peter Chang, and Kaleb Hong, met in the center of Cologne on June 26th, as representatives of the reform movement. Father Abraham Lee stated that he accepted all the demands of the reform leaders. That is why all six leaders had agreed to prepare for the summer conference together, and to implement these proposals after the conference, such as the formation of the body and the victim’s report. We have prepared the conference together. Unfortunately, however, P. Abraham Lee, without consulting with us, deleted the Korean senior and junior shepherds from the guest list to be invited. We protested. We had said several times that the preaching style and content should fit the Germans, so that the faith beginners would not have any unnecessary difficulties, because the Germans are very allergic to the Hitler style. This was ignored at the summer conference; Some cried out loudly and used hard phrases. And M. Esther Bae was to sing praise at the sacrifice. That is why she practiced diligently. But it was announced to her 5 minutes before the beginning of the worship that she did not need to sing because the American Vocal team sings. Musicians are rich in emotion and can be easily injured. The summer conference was ended despite some problems caused by God’s blessing. We thank God for it.
We expected our reform proposals to be put into practice after the summer conference at the Dee Conferencing Conference on Sept. 6, as Father Abraham Lee had promised. To our surprise, however, he sent an e-mail to each leader a few days ago at the scheduled leadership conference in which he wrote that he forbids Stephan Choe and Isaac Lee from attending the leadership conference and the leadership gathering because of the non-compliance of the “spiritual order” Until they send repayments to him. We immediately sent him a protest with the signature of all the reform leaders, saying that his action was not right, and that we, including the two leaders, would all participate in the leadership assembly and speak there. P. Abraham Lee set up three non-conductors in front of the entrance of the conference hall to prevent the entrance of the two ladders. But the two leaders entered the hall. P. Abraham Lee kept saying that as long as the two remained in the hall, he did not want to begin the leadership gathering. In the evening, at about 9 o’clock, P. Abraham Lee came back in and demanded in a more determined tone that the two would have to leave the assembly without delay. Because of his unjust demands, all the reformed leaders came out of the hall and wrote a letter to him. In this, we urged him to immediately rescind the punitive measures against the two and to implement his promise of reform, so that we can again have the leadership together with him.
Meanwhile we tried to persuade P. Abraham Lee, by M. Paulus Kwon and Andreas, to withdraw the unjust punishment, but so far in vain. We therefore gathered ourselves at the regular monthly meeting of the executive committee in Kassel or Frankfurt. In doing so, we learned God’s word, prayed together, and listened to lectures on Luther and Calvin.
- Objective and perspective
1.We are committed first and foremost that Jesus is our Lord and Christ.First of all, we want to pray for Jesus to be a Lord and Christ for every man, in our church and in this society. That is why we want to promote personal communion with Jesus as the most important, and this personal communion with Jesus is to be the basis for everything.
- We affirm that we are children, so are Christians first and foremost God.That is, we are members of the universal Christian community. It is important that we recognize and acknowledge our identity as God’s children and members of the universal Christian community. As God’s children, let us listen to God’s voice and glorify him. As members of the universal Christian community, we want to make sure that we better honor God and build the universal Christian community. According to this identity, we want to reform and build the municipality of UBF.
Every organization and every church is not absolute, nor is it eternal. But the universal Christian community is eternal and absolute. In the Old Testament, this universal church of God is called the “God’s people,” in the New Testament as “the called saints,” in other words, the universal Christian community. The biblical expression “the survivors” means precisely the faithful believers in the universal Christian community or the people of God. We therefore belong first to the universal Christian community and then to the church of UBF. We represent the universal Christian community first and then the UBF. We love our church, but we want to strive first and foremost to help build the universal Christian community. That is why we want to be the salt of the earth and light of the world and be good disciples of Jesus, so that the universal Christian community is well established. Each of us should be a good Christian, and a good member of the UBF. For this reason, we should strive that through our faith, life-changing and word, the Christians in the universal Christian community have a good reputation among the disbelievers and the gospel should be credibly and powerfully attested. We do not want to regard another Christian organization or church as competition or even as enemies, but as other members of a single body. Therefore, the construction of the UBF community is to be thought of as the UBF serving as a link of the universal Christian community to other churches and churches. We want
- We want our faith and our church on the rock that build on Christ and the Word of God, so that we and our community is rock solid and well built.To this end, we want to test our faith and our church in the light of the entire Bible and according to sound reason, and to lay the foundation and build well.
God has so far required our church UBF. But a thorough study of teaching and practice in the light of the entire Bible and on the basis of healthy theology has not yet been done. This resulted in mistakes and misuse.
As an example, we take the word “vocation”. The term “vocation” has often emphasized the commitment to the mission. Of course, in the Bible, the word “vocation” is sometimes used for the election for the particular mission, and the faithful attitude towards this mission is also correct and important. In the New Testament, however, the word “vocation” is mostly used in the sense of the “divine election” of the saints. Look at Rom 1,7 or 1 Cor 1: 2. Here, Christians are called “called saints”. With the word “vocation”, the Bible emphasizes again and again that Christians have been called by God from the darkness to the wonderful light of God and become children of God (1 Peter 2: 9). We should therefore emphasize the one-sided grace of the election of God as His children with the word “vocation”, and give our hope for the kingdom of heaven. We should emphasize this grace and hold on to this grace.
Another example: one has emphasized the importance of a person. It is true that a creative divine is important. But the emphasis on the importance of a person can be a simple simplification of the work of God. For example, some have portrayed the history of UBF Germany as contributions by one or a few persons. But we have seen above that God used a great many people for his life-giving work through the UBF in Germany. That is why no one can claim that he alone has made the decisive contribution to the work of God. There were several factors and contributions from different people. God, however, used all these factors and contributions from them to do His work. This is why the Bible encourages us to appreciate one another, to plan together with prayer, and to work together well. We should not forget that God. Or Jesus is the Lord and the true leader of our assembly. A simplified representation as a work of a person or a few persons can impress the people who do not know the story well, or such representation can be easily understandable. And the emphasis on the importance of a person could motivate listeners to devote themselves to becoming an important historical person. But one can easily be led to overlook the devotion and contribution of many apparently unimportant employees and not work well together, but try to determine a lot by themselves. You are also tempted to not rely on God, but on one person. Or one does not give God honor and thanks, but one person. The leader could be unconscious and authoritarian, many could suffer from his authoritarian leadership. The Bible teaches us, however, that God alone is the only important person, and all are employees.
Many have harshly decided whether UBF should remain as a missionary society (Korean: “Seon-Gyo-Hö”) or a church or community (Korean “Gyo-Hö”). But the term was denied without proper definition of the two terms “Seon-Gyo-Hö” and “Gyo-Hö”. Therefore, despite their violent disputes, one could not come to the realization. This comes from the fact that you do not really know the definition of such important terms. In classical terms, a missionary society sees its mission as sending missionaries and supporting them in financial and spiritual terms. The task of the missionaries is, in the classical sense, to convert people, found the church, and then leave the church to the native Christians. What is the task of the UBF? What should we do as missionaries? So we need to learn from experiences of others and from history and develop smart, good strategy. An example of the mis-development with us: It has been emphasized that we operate the world mission through the lay missionaries. The missionaries are to finance their missionary work independently. But why should the UBF centers have so many sacrificial collections, while most lay missionaries suffer from poverty? This example shows that thorough rational processing is required in different areas. We need thorough biblical and theological treatment. It is no coincidence that Calvin wrote the book “Teaching in the Christian Faith” during the Reformation. Without such work, the Reformation would have been a one-day business.
We want to start with the thorough biblical theological treatment. Of course, we are on the ground of the reformers of Luther, Calvin, Puritans, and those who are biblical. There are among us some who are well acquainted with the Bible and who are prepared by intensive study at the good theological college.
- We want to pray that it is in our community full of grace and truth.Jesus is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). We pray that the knowledge of the Lord is full in us, in our church, in Germany and in the world. Truth first means the knowledge of God and the truth of God. We want to better recognize and properly proclaim God and Jesus Christ.
“To be full of truth” also means that it is not the untruth or the lie, but the truth and the honesty.
We also pray that grace, in our church, in Germany, and in the world, prevails. Grace can defeat law, sin, the devil, hatred, and give us love, kindness, peace, and unity. The grace of God can heal and build up all hurt, despaired people. Grace can help us overcome all difficulties or despair or problems and experience the rule of God.
- We want to advance through the good disciple making the universal mission in the long term and successful.In the Bible, the word “disciple” actually means “Christians” (Acts 13:26). That is to say, disciples who believe in Jesus and belong to him and are similar to him. This is the basic meaning. Added to this is the importance of being missionary. Good disciples are then those who truly believe in Jesus, belong to him and are similar to him, gladly pass on the gospel out of gratitude. When we become such disciples and educate such disciples, we can operate the world mission very effectively and successfully in the long term. Through our personal love affair to Jesus and through our testimony of word and change, we want to win young people and all people, such as family members, relatives, friends, neighbors and Christians in another community as employees for the world mission. We want to preach the gospel dynamically as well as to testify and convincingly demonstrate to Jesus Christ through the word and deeds.
- We want to use “Nevius method” and actively promote German employees who are chosen by God as a conductor.We pray that German employees will be active in the foreground as head of the UBF in the foreseeable future. To this end, we will pray a great deal, give them the best possible education and training as the Lord’s Head and Servant. They will therefore make the sheep fit and powerful in the power of the spirit. The Korean missionaries will support the German leaders well. We have confidence that God needed good German leader as his servants, so that God many young people, students and other people through them to faith and good educates his disciples and expanding God’s kingdom. God will use precious and Korean missionaries. Of course, further many Korean missionaries should come to Germany.
- We will actively promote appropriate, the best possible education and training as a Christian, Bible teacher, conductor and as a lay Bible teachers.For this we want to design low-cost models.
- We will develop biblical and effective collaborative model of community.For this we need God’s help and many suggestions and ideas and research.
- Above all, we want to draw the strength to reveal the glory of God and give glory to God from the original power source, namely prayer, God’s Word, Holy Spirit, cooperation. Amen!