This article will be a bit different from the previous articles in the series. For this one won’t be so much how to leave for 2nd gens but rather why you (2nd gens) should leave.
But before that there are several important notes I would like to address about Korean Culture. (I will go into depth on Korean Culture in a future article).
- Patriarchal obedience, cooperation, respect for elders, and familial piety are imbued into early childhood
- Communication can be complicated… due to an inherent dislike of saying ‘no’ as it is considered poor etiquette
- Discussions can be prolonged due to the avoidance of declining or refusing
- Korean culture is profoundly influenced by Confucian principles and this pervades not only personal lives, but also business.
- Kibun (equivalent to face, or honour) is highly significant to Koreans and they will always attempt to maintain their Kibun, or personal dignity.
- Avoid using an outright ‘No’ in response to questions
- Korean business and personal lives are based upon strict hierarchical structures
**Keep the points mentioned above in mind throughout this article for they will be addressed later.**
I have noticed that you don’t hear 2nd gen victims stories often if at all. Mainly you hear stories from non-2nd gen and non-Korean UBF members. So in this artilce I will share that lesser known voice.
“Committed Christians–including more and more 2nd gens–leaving UBF is a reality that some leaders do not wish to face, acknowledge, address or discuss.“– former admin of ubfriends.org
As the admin pointed out those are the stories that UBF chapter directors definitely don’t want you to hear thus they never share those kind of stories. Here is one such story from a 2nd gen from Germany:
“I am an ex-2nd gen from Germany, and I thought about the same thing, too. But, I must admit, before I got out of UBF and realized how they had manipulated me and others, I defended UBF the same way the other 2nd gens do at the moment. No clear arguments and no open mind. It’s like there is a big wall or something that the leaders of UBF build around you and right before your eyes.
I remember talking to some of my non-Christian friends when I was a kid. They were wondering if the methods of UBF weren’t strange and asked me questions that I could not answer properly but still I thought that there must be an answer, defended my position and did not let any doubts get into my heart. The older I got and by the time I got into puberty I had a sudden change of mind: I did not accept the methods of UBF anymore as long as they couldn’t explain them to me properly. And they never could. So the doubts grew and grew.
Well, all I wanted to say is, all my childhood, the people from UBF told me how to live my life and what good and evil is. UBF has been my life. And the longer you stay in, the more you get infected. I mean, it is so hard to see that all your life has been a sort of fake. I think the people like Elia Lee (I know him) just get upset once they hear something against UBF, or better, something against their belief, their life, because deep inside they know it is true. And as they know it is true, they get scared deep within their heart. They are scared because they don’t want their life to have been wasted by the people they had trusted in and, of course, by themselves. So they don’t want it to be true and deliver arguments which are not very convincible, they also want to convince themselves, because they do have doubts about the whole thing, but these doubts are being erased constantly by the leaders of UBF and their “shepherds”.
I once wrote an email to all of the 2nd gens in Germany (It was the time shortly after the beginning of the separation). Actually, it was a response to an email from a guy who told all the 2nd gens to pray for Samuel Lee who recently had died. By that time, so many things had been discovered about the things going on in UBF. I wrote something like “How can you celebrate a man who does such things?”. And some more, of course. I got a few answers like “Yes, I agree” from the separated 2nd gens, and one answer from a girl from Cologne, which means a “classic” 2nd gen. She told me that a Christian must learn to forgive!!! I concluded two things from that statement: She knew that there were huge problems and that the people from UBF were not right. But still she accepted the problems and did nothing against it but to forgive. Does that mean that whatever happens, she will forgive all the people and let them continue? Is that a sign of resignation? I don’t know. And… don’t you usually forgive someone when he is sorry for his fault? How can God forgive us and send us to heaven when we do not ask him to forgive us? Well, the people from UBF are neither sorry nor do they admit their faults. So the word “forgive” is used at the wrong place, I think.”
I hope this example helps you understanding the thinking of some 2nd gens. I do not claim to be right, but this is my experience. And besides, I think the example with the communism fits well. It is a sort of propaganda.” Source: http://www.voy.com/60734/10158.html
This experience from this second gen shows the patriarchal obedience implemented on 2nd gens in their household. Here is another story excerpt from an anonymous 2nd gen:
“Growing up, every Sunday I went to CBF at the “center.” Even as I child, I always felt like there was something off about UBF people. I never quite felt like I was at home, or that this was my family.
Upon leaving UBF at age 8 with my family, we went to an unnamed evangelical church in the area. It was there that I entered life and finally learned to be a normal human being. For the first time in my young life, I felt like I could fit in with the other boys, the other children, and I learned about God, who Jesus was, and accepted him into my heart as my Lord and savior.
When I went home and told my Dad about how I had accepted Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior, I remember him telling me that they were watering down the truth of God and that what I had experienced and been taught by the nice people at this church wasn’t true. That all I needed to do was believe that Jesus died on the cross of my sins. He told me that I was already more spiritually mature than the other kids at this church because of my time in UBF.
As a little boy, I was crushed, because I felt like I had experienced something good at this new church, and yet my Dad rebuked me for it. Apparently, you can take the shepherd out of UBF, but you can’t take the UBF out of the shepherd.
When I was 12, my Father convinced our family to go back to UBF, because it had “changed.” Looking back now, if what I experience during my teen years was a redeemed version of UBF, I am frightened about what went on before it was reformed. I was prohibited to date, or to even so much as look at a girl. My entire sexual and romantic being was squashed and treated as something to be despised, something evil. Along with this went my self-esteem and sense of self. I am emotionally scarred from this sole experience and to this day am not comfortable with anything relating to romantic relationships or sexuality in general.
We were taught lies. It was demanding of us by our parents and youth leaders that we write and share testimonies every week and there would be guilt and shame delivered unto us if we did not participate. I was made to feel as if the gospel were all about doing random specific things like writing testimonies, studying the bible in a weird specific way, and doing daily bread, etc. When in reality, the gospel is not about what we have to do, but about what Jesus has done for us already on the cross of Calvary” Source: http://ubfriends.net/archive2015/2015/03/21/a-2nd-gen-story/index.html
There are 2nd gens, children of chapter directors, whom also witnessed and/or experienced horrors, abuse (physical, psychological, spiritual), and indoctrination not just the “other” members of UBF. One main reason why chapter directors don’t share these horror stories is that they don’t want to be a disgrace to themselves or UBF. UBF leaders want to portray and maintain the picture that there is nothing wrong with them and that is it the member’s own fault or individual issue when in fact that there are serious cases of child abuse in a UBF chapter director’s household. In order to conceal what truly goes on they attempt to remove stories of 2nd gens such as the following:
The story of Esther Ku, daughter of the chapter director of Triton UBF
“I had every reason to believe that I was extremely lucky to be a part of the best church in the world. It takes most people years of soul-searching and discovering until they find the right church. But me? They had me from the beginning. How could they not? I had been indoctrinated since birth. Sure, kids at school mocked and accused me of being in a cult. It didn’t faze me. Our Bible teachers told us we would face persecution. The book of Revelations told horror stories on the extremity of persecution we would face. I felt lucky that at this point, persecution was limited to name-calling. But I was prepared to be ostracized from the community and with these kinds of expectations, life didn’t seem so bad when once in a while some punk would yell, “Hey! Going to your cult to burn another goat?” from across the street on the way home from school.
I am a Missionary Kid. As a missionary kid, it is almost as if I am expected to praise Jesus the moment I come popping out of my mother’s womb. Arms in the air flailing, “Hallelujah! Jesus loves you!”
University Bible Fellowship, a.k.a. UBF, preys on American students at college campuses throughout the world through a manipulative process called love-bombing. New recruits, a.k.a. sheep, are showered with companionship, unremitting attention, and pretty much any activity that involves food. The shepherds have another agenda behind all this love. The goal of investing all this time and energy upfront is to win the heart of the sheep. This process usually takes anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on how plump the sheep wants to get until he himself takes on the responsibilities of being a shepherd.
As a missionary kid, I see shepherds and shepherdesses take sheep out for free dinners all the time. This is the source of much bitterness many missionary kids will harbor secretly. “No one appreciates me. I rehearse with the orchestra for hours on end, I baby-sit my siblings while my parents are feeding their sheep, and I am expected to bring my own sheep?” This is a valid frustration I shared with the other missionary kids, especially since we were constantly being watched by everyone to set a good example for the sheep. Not only do we have to make ourselves good little missionaries but we could never let our guard down even at home since it was not uncommon for a shepherd, shepherdess, or even an entire missionary family to be living with us in our basement.
When love was not being used to manipulate, it was guilt. Even as a child attending Children’s Bible Fellowship, a.k.a. CBF, I was made aware by our CBF leaders of the empty folding chairs around me that should be filled with my friends from school who I should be fishing, a.k.a. recruiting. So every Saturday morning at 8 AM I would call my classmate Audrey to invite her to CBF. After repeated refusals to join me in learning about the Bible, I asked to speak with her mother. I was only in fourth grade, but I was confident in speaking to an adult on these matters since I had seen my mother do the same. Her mother answered. “Hi Audrey’s mom. I am worried that your daughter doesn’t want to come to CBF because she should really study the Bible or else she is going to go to hell.” She assured me her daughter would not be sent to hell and asked me to stop calling. Stop calling, I thought? It’s not like I was a telemarketer. I was only trying to help. I was really disappointed she didn’t want to come since it is encouraged to bring white North American sheep – the typical blonde hair blue-eyed types. It was engrained in our heads that it is easier to catch minorities but we are in America so we should feed American sheep. There seemed to be this unspoken notion that the more attractive your sheep were, the more credibility you got for recruiting the toughest members of your target market. Years later while fishing in high school, I decided to be adventurous and go after the homecoming queen’s little sister. Wow. I am being really bold. Even if I fail at getting her phone number to study Bible, I will have a good story to share in a testimony, I thought. I followed her down the street and into an alley after I got off at her bus stop. As I anticipated rejection, I almost turned around when suddenly I mustered up enough nervous energy to get out, “Excuse me, um, I was wondering if you would like to study the Bible… or not?” I never did lose the “or not” tagline from my evangelical sales pitch.
Every week at CBF, each member is expected to prepare a one to two page testimony, a.k.a. sogam (Korean translation of testimony), on what we learned from the previous week’s message. In this sogam, we are also expected to share what sins we need to repent of. I would later learn that this is one way UBF has a stronghold on its members – by pressuring them to publicly announce their inner most clandestine sins. Wanting recognition for my personal achievements as a musician was a common sin I would write about. I played the oboe for 7 years after which I taught myself piano. (The pianist at my chapter, Triton UBF, got married and moved to a different chapter of the Greater Chicago land area.) Although it was well masked as a sacrifice I took, playing the piano was an extremely selfish endeavor and secret indulgence of mine. It was extremely empowering for me to be able to play the piano well without having taken any lessons. And I enjoyed the extra leg-room. In fact, I would hide out in my own corner of the Bible House – one of many houses converted into churches – kick my shoes off and relax. I was beginning to get a taste of freedom from the masses. During Sunday Worship Service, I would look over at the drones of shepherds and their sheep cramped onto folding chairs in the living-room-renovated-into-worship-room and think, “They have no idea how nice I have it in my little musical cave.” It’s a good thing my feet don’t smell, I thought.
Viewing UBF from a behind-the-scenes perspective wasn’t limited to my participation in the UBF orchestra. As a missionary kid, I was also witness to the process by which one is set up for an arranged marriage. According to UBF, these marriages happen through God’s will. Dating is strictly prohibited as everyone is expected to focus all their time and energy to serving God, all the while leaving the issue of whom they will marry up to God. Those who do not put their faith in God to choose the perfect marriage partner are said to have a marriage problem. Of course everyone has a marriage problem because being in UBF has made them so sexually repressed, one stops being anxious of who he will be set up with and agrees to accept anyone resembling a creature of the opposite sex. I am guessing there are hundreds of shepherds who have failed at dating in the outside world and were drawn to UBF due to the ease of obtaining a wife, especially those with Asian fetishes. UBF claims that these matches are matches made in heaven. That God handpicked each husband and wife for his glory. What most people don’t know is that these arranged marriages were actually based on looks. I was shocked the day I overheard my mom on a long distance phone call to her counterparts in Korea, “Yeah. He really ugly. Ha. He has a huge pot belly, bald head, very unkempt, nails dirty…” Basically she told them to send someone not too attractive who deserved to be stuck in a hellish marriage with this sloppy American. I don’t know that all marriages were set up this way but it seemed as though the first criteria UBF looks to match is race and then looks. I could be completely wrong on this matter because I left UBF when I was 17 years old, probably missing an engagement to my future husband by a sliver of a couple years. I later learned that my second-generation counterparts at the UBF headquarters in Chicago were married on paper since 12 years old as a way to promise a marriage partner if they didn’t run away. Samuel Lee liked to marry the missionary kids at a young age before they were tempted by their lustful desires and lost their innocence. Sex was the bait and he knew it.
For fun, my siblings and I would write the names of all the members of our chapter on little pieces of paper and pull them out of a hat to see who we could possibly be paired up with. We would laugh hysterically at each other’s matches as we pulled the names out. Some people got stuck with the most ugly or annoying person. Although it was only a game, we swore never to tell anyone that we trivialized the concept of marriage by faith. My family was also a safe haven for making fun of the real couples that were recently married. My favorite couple to poke fun of was Gideon and Ruth Sherwin (formerly known as Frank Sherwin and Lorrie Hoffman). Gideon, a petite ex-military shepherd, was the least liked shepherd known for his annoying methods of motivating younger shepherds. Ruth, a homely pear-shaped community college drop-out needlessly worried about tempting men with the blouse that was missing a button. She would cling onto the collar of her blouse every time we bent our heads to pray. I made the joke that when the pastor announced that Gideon would marry Ruth to the men’s Daily Bread meeting, all the shepherds sighed a huge sigh of relief it wasn’t them getting stuck with Ruth. At the women’s Daily Bread meeting, I joked that all the women were overly joyed when they heard the good news of this match made in heaven. “Phew! Thank you God!” They would exclaim, “I can now put my faith in you to find any suitable marriage partner!” My mother could not help but laugh while giving me a look of warning to never repeat this outside of our home.
UBF made constant demands for purity. Paying too much attention to one’s hygiene and outward appearance was a sin one could be easily rebuked for. “Why are you carrying a hairbrush in your book bag? Are you trying to cook men by doing your hair all fancy? Repent of yourself!” your shepherd would say. I received one of these rebukes before I started one-to-one Bible Study. So it was Sarah Dallal (formerly known as Maribel Magno, and then Maria) a girl two years my elder who grew up with me in CBF who took it upon herself to rebuke me as my spiritual elder. One night when I was 14 years old, I painted my little sister’s fingernails. When Maribel saw this, she immediately questioned my sister as to who introduced her to nail polish. My sister brightly retorted, “My sister. She painted my toenails too! Aren’t they pretty?” I immediately knew from the look Maribel gave me that a rebuke was on its way. I felt like crawling into a hole and never coming out. How could I be so stupid as to paint her fingernails? I should have stopped at her toes! The next day, twenty minutes before Sunday Worship Service began, Maribel approached me and asked to speak with me in the Upper Room – the garage converted into prayer room that never passed the town fire code inspection. She pulled me into a small 4 foot by 5-foot one-to-one Bible study room, opened her Bible to the book of John and had me read a passage. Her voice was void of the friendly tone I was used to hearing her speak to me in. “Why would you work on the devil’s side to introduce your sister to these worldly influences? You are supposed to be a good example for her. How can you call yourself a servant of God?” And the rebuke went on for what seemed like an eternity. I came out of the Upper Room in tears after I had repented and asked for God’s forgiveness. She had me believe that painting my sister’s nails would eventually turn her into a man-hungry material girl.
New sheep are given more leeway to dress as they please since they are still in the process of being seduced to fully commit. If a sheep is dressed inappropriately, drastic measures might be taken to keep the sexual distraction to a minimum. During Sunday Worship Service for instance, if a young female walked in with a low-cut blouse on, shepherdesses across the room cued each other to find her a shawl or jacket. After a series of nudges, whispers, and nods, a jacket would be handed to her letting her know that it is cold in the room. There was once a sheep that had a very voluptuous body a la Jennifer Lopez. One day, she was wearing a skirt so tight, all the shepherdesses took turns being on butt patrol by following her every move to ensure the shepherds would not be tempted to gaze.
Samuel Lee was the mastermind behind the enormous organization of UBF. I had been brainwashed to believe that one of the happiest moments of my childhood was when Samuel Lee gave me personal attention at an airport. While talking to my dad, he mimicked the way I was dancing at that year’s CBF Christmas Worship Service. Every Christmas and Easter, ethnic dances are prepared as a way to pray for world evangelization. I was so elated and embarrassed that he would even acknowledge my existence let alone make fun of me. By placing Samuel Lee on such a high pedestal, people stopped worshipping God, dropped all moral standards and common sense, and blindly followed his directions. The leader of my chapter Shepherd Teddy Hembekides made attempts to mimic Samuel Lee’s enigmatic character by taking on a quirky personality yet remaining aloof and mysterious to his own congregation. It was once discovered that he wrote his Sunday manuscripts in a font called bookman old style. After finding this out, I remember I shared this insider insight with my brother and we started writing our own testimonies in bookman old style.
My relationship with my family was purely functional. I often wondered if the reason my parents had so many kids was because they were lazy. Why recruit when you could create? My parents were so busy being missionaries that our diet stooped into quite the deplorable state. I don’t ever recall a time when everyone sat at our table and ate a family meal. My mom would often come home at eleven or twelve at night with a bag of ten Big Macs or crunchy tacos. We would call her while she was on an extravagant meal with one of her sheep and request a certain brand of fast food. To this day, when I get hungry, I cannot help but crave a McDonald’s hamburger or a Whopper. And when she wasn’t around, we took ourselves to the Wonder Hostess Thrift store that was across the street from the Bible House to feast on discounted Twinkies and cherry pies. Of course we thought it was pretty cool for us to be eating fast food and junk food all the time. Heck, I’ve heard of some of my classmates whose moms only allowed them one snack a day – and probably a healthy one at that! What nonsense!
Many people who work as secretaries or gym teachers during the day and are considered to be nobodies in this world, come into UBF and get a psychological satisfaction off disciplining those who are spiritually younger than them. This authoritative structure is one reason why people might stay in UBF although they do not fully agree with its practices. Once a shepherd brings in several sheep who in turn bring in more sheep, this shepherd is highly praised to be a model shepherd. On the walls of the Bible House are big charts with all the shepherds’ names posted for everyone to see. For every sheep they bring to Bible Study that week, the shepherds or shepherdesses receive a star next to their name. Hence there is incredible pressure to bring in more and bigger numbers each week, similar to a pyramid sales organization. Except that failure to do so in UBF results in those lost sheep burning in hell.
My father once revealed to me that the reason he decided to pioneer a new chapter of UBF in the suburbs of Chicago was to avoid this authoritative structure Samuel Lee had created. The turning point came when Samuel Lee tried to get my father to walk barefoot from Skokie to Chicago as discipline for showing up late to a meeting. My father’s typical docile demeanor prevented him from reacting in too radical a fashion. So in October of 1986, with Samuel Lee’s consent and full blessing, my family left the Chicago headquarters to be the first missionaries to pioneer a junior college, Triton. My siblings and I could not help but joke that our parents were the lazy missionaries whose claim to fame in UBF history was to evangelize a tiny vocational school whose enrollment and intellect was but a fraction of a percent of Northwestern’s entering class of freshmen. “Let’s not forget these folks! They need Jesus too!”
In UBF, having strong family values is frowned upon. UBF enforces this rule and keeps everyone busy to ensure all thoughts and actions were directed to the purpose of the organization. One is supposed to love God and nothing else. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized what a psychologically warped adolescence I’ve had. No one ever spoke of the concept of romantic love. The reason why a husband and wife should ‘love’ each other is so they can serve God. Missionaries and shepherds with kids have no other choice but to neglect their children while at Sunday Worship Service, Friday Testimony Meeting, Saturday Group Bible Study, each morning’s Daily Bread, numerous one-to-one Bible Studies, and overseas journey trips. My earliest recollection of the city of Chicago is of crossing the busy 6-lane street called Peterson with my brothers when we were 7, 5, and 4 years old. Not having been taught to look both ways before crossing, cars would often slam on their brakes, honk, and come to an abrupt halt as they allowed three little Korean kids to run along. I can just imagine that they wondered why we pointed and laughed at whoever came closest to getting hit.
We were oblivious to the way the world worked, including the most basic common knowledge on how to obey traffic laws. How could we not? Our parents left it up to UBF and the public school system to teach us everything there is to know about life. For example, since UBF evangelized college campuses, shepherds and missionaries would often buy a bumper sticker from the University they were praying for. I never knew that the real purpose of these bumper stickers was to indicate where the driver went to school. I’m sure people wondered why someone who went to Princeton, John Hopkins and the University of Chicago would be driving a dilapidated 1986 Toyota Corolla and circling the parking lots of a junior college.
How I left a fanatical Korean evangelical religious organization that I was born into still continues to amaze me. Although UBF raised me, the American public school system taught me how to think. So although I am Korean by blood, I consider myself American. Koreans learn that to question any authority figure is a sign of disrespect to an elder. This is why Koreans will be so quick to blindly follow someone’s words even if this obedience manifests itself in completely irrational behavior. Luckily, UBF overlooked the choice of school system missionary kids attend. It is at school that I learned how to discern right from wrong. The academic approach in the western system begs its students to look for the gray areas of life and to back theories up with evidence. Learning to think like this during the day compared to what my shepherds were telling me to do by evening when I went to the Bible House created a huge clash in my mind on what to follow. So by my junior year of high school, I had started to question the veracity of my Bible teachers’ words. Of course these doubts were met with much prayer on my part – this was the never-ending cycle that kept doubtful members from leaving. As soon as you doubt the word of God, one must repent of this foolish behavior and just have faith! The day I decided to no longer blindly follow what my shepherds were telling me to do was the day I knew I would leave UBF.
It was a Friday afternoon at my high school in a working class suburb of Chicago. Our entire chemistry class finished making tie-dyed t-shirts. Not having a lot of options in terms of my wardrobe since my parents didn’t buy new clothes, I was happy to add a t-shirt to my collection of obscure clothing. So I naturally wore this shirt all day at school and walked into Friday testimony sharing meeting at Gideon Sherwin’s apartment with it still on. Growing up in UBF, I was oblivious to the implications of tie-dyed shirts to a hippie/drugs/sex culture of the 60’s. I remember the shocked reactions of Gideon and Ruth Sherwin when I pranced into their home with what they believed to be an article of clothing inspired by Satan. It was doubly surprising for them to see a sweet, obedient missionary kid like me wear such a “worldly” shirt than to witness a brand new sheep commit such a faux pas. Although there were less than six people at this Friday meeting (we had broken up into fellowships), I was quickly scurried into their tiny bathroom where I would sit for the next fifteen minutes while Ruth frantically searched for a proper blouse to dress me in. What is wrong with them, I thought for the first time in my life. It was a school project! How evil can it be if a teacher – an authority figure in my life, not only taught us but also encouraged us to be proud of creating such a magnificent t-shirt? I don’t get it. What is wrong with making a t-shirt? I couldn’t recall a single passage in the Bible where disciples were rebuked for making their own clothing. Why was I being treated like a prisoner of war?
My revolutionary thought process was interrupted by a rude knock on the door. It was Ruth. She begrudgingly handed me a pastel orange blouse to change into. I quickly put the blouse on so we could begin the meeting that I delayed which I felt guilty about. I came out of the bathroom only to be met with another look of horror on Ruth’s face! She literally pushed me back into the bathroom where I would sit again until she found a proper undershirt for me to wear since according to her, the blouse she gave me was too sheer. I sat on the closed toilet and thought to myself – this is ridiculous! What am I doing here? What am I doing on this planet – in this bathroom – in UBF!? This shirt is anything but see-through! (Anyone who knows Ruth Sherwin would back me up that she would be the last shepherdess to own a slightly ‘worldly’ shirt.) I could hear Gideon and Ruth quarrel in their bedroom over the unusual predicament. Ruth flings open the door to tell me she cannot find a clean undershirt of hers for me to borrow. Meanwhile I am thinking – yeah right. She is too selfish to let me borrow an intimate piece of underwear from her. So another ten minutes go by and Gideon appears at the door of the bathroom, this time holding an undershirt of his. “Wear this,” he says. “Ruth can’t find any of hers.” I take it and return to the closed toilet seat. The shirt is wrinkled, tattered, and is soaked in yellow stains on the armpits from what looks like heavy usage by Gideon when he was in the army. My mind is racing with doubts as to whether it is wrong for me to refuse to wear this as my undergarment. I am already wearing a bra. This blouse has ruffles on the front that cover even the outline of my bra on the front. I cringe at the thought of sitting through the entire meeting in a shirt of Gideon’s that is unclear to me whether it has been recently washed or picked up from the hamper. I have to wear it. Although I have thoughts of rebellion running through my head, I do not know how to act on them yet. I reluctantly put the shirt on, the blouse over it, and sit uncomfortably throughout the testimony-sharing meeting as I read my three pages of sins I need to repent of this week.
This was the last ridiculous order I took from any of my shepherds. I slowly fazed myself out of UBF by ditching a new meeting each week. Seeing as I stopped attending even music rehearsals and started showing up to Sunday Service in jeans, I was asked to step down from my position as pianist. And not having the opportunity to play music at services, I no longer had any reason to show up at all. I left for college the following year, only to be disappointed by what appeared to be masses of students desperately hoping to be socially accepted into fraternities and sororities at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. My freedom has been taken away from me for 17 years of my life and these kids were paying to have theirs taken away? I was baffled.
On a rare occasion when we went to the beach, my parents found a baby crab. They immediately grabbed this crab, took it out of its natural surroundings of Lake Michigan and brought it home. They placed it in an old fish tank and proceeded to feed it. I found it strange that we had a newfound pet in the house since up till now we only had goldfish. A few months after the crab grew a bit from my parents feeding it, they killed and ate it. My siblings and I were shocked and appalled as I’m sure the crab was. But the crab had no say. As far as the crab knew, my parents were doing it a favor by placing it in a new “safe” fish tank away from the dangers of a natural body of water. Similarly, my parents unwittingly brought this baby crab into an even more dangerous environment – a bubble of an existence in a man-made aquarium. This is perhaps the greatest metaphor of my life as a missionary kid. Except this crab escaped before anyone could kill it. [cue violins] Entering the sea of the real world after having been sheltered since birth has been difficult and exciting. There is so much I do not know in this world. I am essentially a blank slate. Everything is new to me. However, my upbringing urges me to examine people’s motives. As a skeptic, it is not difficult for me to discern when someone is placed in an unjust situation. The worst scenario possible has already occurred in the bulk of my life through the cult called UBF.
Too many members of UBF have come and gone in silence, which is why I chose to share my brief account. Although I cannot speak on anyone else’s behalf but my own, I cannot deny that every absurd and ridiculous account on here fits in with all that is characteristically UBF. You might be asking, how could so many people be so blind? It has happened in history before when a leader is idolized and people stop thinking independently.” Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20070503051810/http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jsku/ubf.html
As Esther mentioned in her powerful story one part of Korean culture culture is the expectation to basically “shut up and do as your told”. As human beings we are all given reason and thinking for a purpose. That shows us that we are actually humans not slaves, clones, or robots. For that reason its advised to leave UBF both figuratively and literally. When you stay there UBF destroys and takes away what makes us human. Unfortunately there are not just psychological and spiritual abuse horror stories of 2nd gens but physical abuse horror stories like the following:
Story excerpt of Joe Chung, the son of Joseph Chung, whom is a chapter director in Uganda
“Between 1993-2000, I served both as a fellowship (small group) leader and assistant fellowship leader. Samuel Lee, as he often openly stated, wanted to have the most numerous chapter in UBF since Chicago is the world headquarters. Therefore, he exerted constant pressure on the fellowship leaders to keep up with his demand for greater numbers at the Chicago UBF Sunday worship services. During the weeks prior to UBF international conferences held in the USA, this pressure would be even greater because Mr. Lee demanded that the largest contingent at these conferences be from the Chicago headquarters. To keep up the pressure on the fellowship leaders and their assistant leaders, Mr. Lee would force them to promise to bring a certain number of people from their fellowships to every Sunday worship service or to register a certain number of people per day from their fellowships for conferences. If these leaders were found not to have kept their “promises,” they would be given what became known notoriously as “Skokie training” as punishment. This punishment consisted of these “promise breaking” fellowship leaders being driven to Skokie, a suburb of Chicago, and being dropped off to walk back to the UBF building. At a brisk pace, the walk would take close to 2 hours. I was punished in this way twice. In winter months, Mr. Lee would sometimes order fellowship leaders to undergo this punishment in their bare feet, so they would make the walk back home in freezing temperatures in their bare feet. A current Chicago UBF fellowship leader by the name of Abraham Lincoln (formerly Longhri) might be willing to testify that he had to walk back home barefoot. If he is not willing to testify, these former Chicago UBF fellowship leaders or assistant leaders might be willing: Dacian M. ([email address withheld]), Jacob K. ([email address withheld]), Joshua L. ([email address withheld]). Mr. Lee was never reprimanded or disciplined by anyone in UBF for his behavior.
Fellowship leaders and their assistants were not the only ones that Samuel Lee would pressure for increased numbers. It happened very frequently that Mr. Lee would pass out “pledge” sheets to the whole congregation at the regular Friday night meeting. On the sheets was stated something to the effect: “I promise before God to bring the following two people to the Sunday worship service.” Each member would then have to list two people that they “promised” to bring to the Sunday worship service and then sign their name on the sheet and turn the sheet in before they left the Friday meeting. The following week, Mr. Lee would assail from the pulpit those who had failed to keep their “promise,” sometimes naming them publicly. On at least two occasions that I can recall, the names of all the members who had failed to keep their “promise” the previous week were displayed prominently on the large blackboard in the meeting hall the next week by order of Mr. Lee. Mr. Lee was never reprimanded or disciplined by anyone in UBF for this abusive behavior.
Around 1992, during the early part of preparations for the annual Chicago UBF Christmas worship service, I was told that the fellowship that I belonged to was holding an emergency meeting “just for me.” After I was pulled into the meeting, I was told that Samuel Lee had ordered that meeting and had ordered that I and another member of the fellowship be physically struck because we had not “registered” anyone as yet to come to that Christmas service. “Registering” someone meant having them sign an invitation form and pay a fee to attend the Christmas service. The person who had been ordered to hit me could only do so half-heartedly, so an older member [Mark Vucekovich] of the fellowship proceeded to hit me harder. The other person who was supposed to be struck at that meeting was a former member named Rebecca C., the daughter of current Chicago UBF elder, Isaac C.” Source: https://exubfjc.wordpress.com/2003/12/02/finally-my-personal-story/
This is evident with Joe Chung’s story that all kinds of abuse was carried to 2nd gens as well as the other members not just the latter. Esther’s, Joe’s, and the rest of the 2nd gen stories show without a doubt why you (2nd gens) should leave UBF.
- One great advantage that you 2nd gens have is that UBF will never carryout legal actions against you. As noted earlier in the article they don’t want their pride to be scarred in addition to maintaining a good public image. Also the UBF leaders are business “buddies” with chapter directors so they don’t want to bother them (as was the case of Joe Chung).
- Your family may disown you
- Consider saving up financially to move out in case should you get kicked out of your home
- Getting a career to financially support yourself
- Explore the world (mainline churches, colleges, or travel)
Here is encouragement excerpt from a 2nd gen:
Paul Lee, son of Abraham Lee, former member of Toledo UBF
“A MESSAGE TO THOSE IN PAIN
To all those reading this I want to let you know that finally it’s time to receive some closure. To those that were hurt by the UBF, I will be your ambassador and voice to heal your broken hearts and bring back justice. I recommend all those to create profiles on here and contribute to the community while I continue my efforts on Operation #exposeUBF.
If you question whether you should help or what you can do I dare you to read this famous Speech…
“To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. …..
Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!” Source: http://ubfriends.net/archive2015/2015/09/25/part-1-operation-exposeubf/index.html
2nd gens that read through this article know that you are never alone and are always welcome to share your story or help other second gens here at ubfriends.net. You can remain anonymous