Hello Everyone. You all may have heard stories from ex-members about malice and atrocities that happened at Chicago UBF. In this article I will share with you a forgotten survivor story.
But first you must be wondering about CHicago UBF’s front that I mentioned in the title. Here is the origins of that front:
Subject: Re: New Name
From the 1976 open letter:
“In December 1975, you wanted to change your ownership of the building of the Kwan-Ak chapter (25,000,000 won – $25,000) to the organization because of its high property tax. You changed the name of UBF to City Evangelism and appointed Joseph Lee, Nathaniel Ahn, Moses Kim and Mary Joo as committee members to obtain the alternation permission of ownership from local court.” Source: http://www.voy.com/63135/3/86.html
Now for the forgotten survivor story. This story comes from a lost newspaper clipping. It was made in Sept 14, 1986 in the Daily Press/The Times-Herald Newspaper.
Here’s the transcript for those who are unable to read small print:
Collegian escapes grasp of ‘beguiling’ cult
by Patrick Peterson
VIRGINIA BEACH — A Bible study group study group him, befriended him and treated him well — until they wanted to control him.
As a lonely student in Chicago, Jon Berryman was an easy target for a religious cult.
“Because they were able to answer a lot of my needs, I just accepted them. They seemed like really nice people. It’s as if you’ve known them forever.”
Berryman, 22, transferred a year ago from Old Dominion University in Norfolk to the University of Illinois at Chicago to study computer science and Russian.
One day on campus, he met a friendly member of the University Bible Fellowship. He attended the group’s Bible study meetings and members asked him to share their apartment.
UBF was begun in Korea by an American Presbyterian missionary, Sarah Barry, and Korean Presbyterian pastor Samuel Lee, says Berryman. It was formally established in 1961 and has since become separate from the Presbyterian church.
Mark Buckotich, a member of UBF in Chicago, confirmed Berryman was a member. He added those he was with did not know what happened to Berryman.
UBF does a lot of recruiting on campuses in the Chicago area, Berryman notes. “They call it fishing.”
The cult uses what is known as “shepherding” to gain control of its new members, says Berryman. He was assigned a “shepherd” to look after him.
“Love-bombing” is a another technique the group uses to win a recruit. Members constantly compliment the new member and foster “a beguiling sense of acceptance,” says Berryman.
The group has several forms of “training,” says Berryman, where members are subjected to abuse and humiliation. “They try to break down your self-image and replace it with an image that will serve them.”
Members are made to dance, sometimes for hours, in front of the group and are then ridiculed, for example. Some are forced to wear their hair a certain way. And members write down very personal aspects of their lives, which are later used to humiliate them, says Berryman.
“There was another guy who was constantly soaking his head in ice water to become more spiritual,” he adds.
“They have a loose interpretation of God’s will. You somehow believe this is God telling you what to do when it’s Samuel Lee.”
Eventually, Berryman’s parents became concerned when they noticed he had lost weight, had dropped out of school and was undergoing personality changes.
“I was really beginning to change my mode of dress ans speaking,” says Berryman. “And I was becoming a frantic prayer fiend. I probably would have snapped by now.”
Members “snap” when they surrender their will to the purposes of the cult. It is a process the members do not recognize, says Berryman. “When you’re constantly around them, you tend not to question. I just couldn’t look at it rationally.”
But his parents saw it rationally. They contacted the Cult Awareness Network of the Citizens Freedom Foundation in Suffolk, which identified UBF as a cult.
The Suffolk organization provided information on UBF and helped the Berrymans contact ex-members of the cult, who could tell them how to help their son.
Hiring a de-programmer was one way the Berrymans could have snatched their son away from UBF, but that could have cost up to $20,000.
Fortunately, Berryman was not so immersed in UBF that he would ignore his parents. When they asked him to visit during the spring semester break of last year, he did.
And once away from the influence of the cult, Berryman’s parents were able to give him information about UBF in a form of deprogramming called “exit-counseling.”
“I was removed form the environment (of UBF) and given information. I realized it was destroying my life, and I had to leave it,” he says.
“I consider myself lucky. A lot of people are stuck there. And they don’t realize what control they are under.
“I had come to see them as sincere Christian people. As soon as I left, they did a total turnaround. Their behavior seemed almost psychotic.”
Raised in a Southern Baptist Church, Berryman now attends services in a mainstream church in the Chicago area. “I’m still a Christian,” he says.
“But with all these groups running around, you’ve got to be wary. You have to shop for religion these days.”