Testimony of James V.
(James V. was a member of CSUN UBF from 1990 to 2000, a UBF chapter in California which later joined the reform movement. His testimony of October 2002 shows not only the well-known problems of UBF, but also points out that at least parts of “reform” UBF have difficulties to really change, get rid of the wrong teachings and practices, and impartially deal with arising problems.)
I first came into contact with UBF in 1990, I was a sophomore at CSUN [California State University in Northridge, the third-largest university in Los Angeles County]. I was studying for a test when I was approached by a Korean couple. The couple invited me to Bible study and to church. At first I thought they were Moonies [members of the Korean Moon cult], but after testing them, it seemed like their theology about Christ was correct. I agreed to attend the church because I was not going to church at that time and they agreed to drive me to church since I didn’t have a car.
The Korean couple’s name was Paul and Mary. They were missionaries from an organization called UBF (University Bible Fellowship), a Korean laymen organization led by Samuel Lee. The CSUN chapter was composed of ten people, Isaiah who was the head of the chapter and Humble his wife. Peter was Mary’s brother. Darren was the first Non-Korean student at the center (the so-called “Abraham of faith”). Abraham Tak was a Korean student who was studying for a master’s degree and a few first generation Korean students.
The Sunday message wasn’t very good, because it was very dry; however, the people there seem to caring and concern about me. I went there each Sunday. Once a week, I had a one-to-one session with Mary. A one to one meeting is a meeting where someone studies with a shepherd (a native born teacher) or a missionary (usually an immigrant that has arrived from Korea from a Korean UBF chapter or a first generation Korean immigrant who goes back to Korea to get a two week missionary certificate) a questionnaire of around ten questions on a single passage. The church was held in a small apartment, so it was very informal. I stayed there for another year. They tried to encourage me to attend Christmas worship with another chapter in Long Beach and attend a national conference in Chicago. However I didn’t attend. I stopped attending CSUN UBF after the first years. They tried to get me to give messages each Sunday. However, I felt very uncomfortable since I didn’t know what I was doing and had no idea how to deliver public speeches nevertheless messages. When I told one of the shepherds that I felt uncomfortable about delivering message each Sunday (I was doing a pretty crummy job), he sat down and asked me if I was saved because I didn’t want to deliver messages. I was furious and left. Several months later I met Humble Yoo who talked to me and said how much Mary missed me etc., and I decided to go back to UBF after the church that I was going to was having an internal power struggle between the head pastor on one side and assistant pastor and elder on the other.
I returned back to UBF and everyone seemed happy to see me. The church was starting to grow, and they moved out of the apartment into a house. During that time at that house, it was a golden age for CSUN UBF. The church had grown to 30 people from ten. Most of them were college student. 11 students (one of them being my wife, Christine) were being taught by Mary, which was hard because she was also working as a full-time nurse. There were table tennis tournaments and people generally stopped by to see each other. It reached its height of 45 people. Not only that but the center also bought a computer, and I taught Isaiah how to use the computer and taught him pronunciation. (I also learned how to deliver public speeches after attending CSUN public speaking class.) It was generally a friendly atmosphere. During this time, my mother became sick from cancer; several of the members who were registered nurses helped her with shots because of major side effects caused by cancer.
After certain amount of time, Isaiah got a job as a minister at a local Korean church (Montrose Presbyterian Church; later moved and renamed to Burbank Presbyterian Church). (It is very atypical for UBF that Isaiah Yoo was pastor in another church besides being leader of a UBF chapter, and seems strange that Samuel Lee did not oppose against it from the beginning. Normally, cooperating with or even visiting other churches or seminaries was strongly prohibited by Samuel Lee. But actually, Humble Yoo was the indirect leader of CSUN UBF in Northridge (the “hidden spiritual director” as Samuel Lee called such people). She was an ardent cheerleader of Samuel Lee. She also enjoyed some fame in Chicago UBF. She had been in UBF for 35 years and had a “strong character”. She had also overlooked Samuel Lee’s actions during the 1976 and 1989 reform attempts. Samuel Lee may have been willing to overlook her husband’s behavior because of her. I also think that since CSUN UBF was sending money to Chicago and was moderately big by USA UBF standards. It was also far away and overshadowed by Long Beach UBF, Samuel Lee may have been willing to let things slide.)
Isaiah moved us out of the house into an office building. He tried to merge both groups into his church. This caused a lot of friction between the missionaries and Isaiah over the direction of the church. Isaiah also began to implement mandatory “sogam sharing meetings” on Saturday (“sogam” meetings are testimony-sharing meetings based on the Sunday’s message). Many of Isaiah’s church college members initially attended the church but after two years they all left. The CSUN group was also told we should go with his church to their conferences. They had conferences each holiday. This wasn’t bad for them since they were immigrant group that went with their entire family; however, most of us couldn’t see our families. We often had the worse accommodations of the group. It seemed like the only reason why we were there was to take care of his church group children, so the adults could do what they wanted. Mary and Paul decided to leave and moved to Chicago UBF because escalating tension between them and Isaiah and Humble. Humble demanded that Mary come to all of the meetings for “co-working” despite the fact that Mary was working fulltime and teaching 11 people in one-to-one Bible studies. Humble Yoo and other missionary women didn’t work. Mary would complain to me that she couldn’t do all these things. Humble also started to complain about the way Mary dressed, how her hair was too long for a missionary, etc. After all of the berating by Humble, Mary and Paul decided to move to Chicago. A few of the people left the church afterwards, and to be truthful I felt leaving also. During this time, I went to the German and Russian conference, and met several people like Joseph Calabrese who was the presider at Chicago. (A presider was someone who was the announcer for the church worship, reading the Bible etc.; it was supposedly great honor to do this. I was doing this for 8 years at CSUN UBF).
Isaiah called me to have breakfast at a restaurant named Coco’s. He told me how Paul wanted to control the center. He told me how he wanted me to take over their fellowship (a fellowship group was Bible study organized around a family and the people that they taught). I was in shock, but I accepted. The next few years went quickly, I was working long hours at an insurance company. I continued to stay, despite my doubts. Even though we were a college group, most of the people were now getting old. Very few people were coming. Isaiah blamed our lack of prayer, and tried to set up meetings at 5:30 am Sunday; his wife also tried to fine us $25 for not showing up. They tried this and realized no one was going to do this. At this time, I really was starting to get disgusted. Despite the threat of penalty, the same amounts of people were going to the meeting. People who tried to go on date were considered “worldly.” Then one day, Christine told me that Darren was getting married in two weeks. This was completely shocking since no one knew about it. Christine told me that Humble wanted them to get married quickly because she didn’t want Satan to break them up. This news was surprising since Darren hasn’t graduated from college or had a job. They were married within a few days. (This was called a “marriage by faith” which is UBF terminology for marriage arranged by the chapter leader or wife, this could be in a local chapter or a chapter in foreign country usually Korea. The chapter leaders would tell the prospective couple that it is God’s will for them to get married despite the fact that they may not know each other. The chapter leaders would use a misinterpretation of Genesis story of Rebekah’s marriage to Isaac to back up this strange teaching.)
My chapter also engaged in the practices of changing people’s names. If the shepherd had a foreign name, his name was changed to Isaac or even non-foreign name like Linda to Pauline etc., this was one of the ways that leaders tried to change the personality of the people there by saying this is Biblical character that they wanted you to emulate.
In CSUN UBF, I met Christine, a Korean immigrant student (she was not a missionary sent out by Korea UBF). We decided to get married and set a date for June 1997. When Humble found out about it, she was livid. She demanded my wife get married within 2 weeks, or she would force us to leave the church (it was August 1996). Humble relented when she found out my wife’s father was a respected pastor of a Korean church in San Diego. My wife said Isaiah and Humble were afraid of losing face in the Korean community. [Normally UBF members are not allowed to decide to marry on their own; UBF marriages are nearly always arranged and proposed by UBF leaders. But in this case the leaders seemingly could not do too much against it, because they worried their reputation could be damaged when Christine’s father would tell it to the elders of Isaiah’s Korean church and a Korean newspaper he had connections to.] Humble still continued. After I and my bride’s family paid for the church sanctuary etc., about 1½ months before we got married, Humble demanded that we postpone our marriage because I didn’t have 2 sheep (Bible students) (I only had one). My fiancée told me that she couldn’t get married because of Humble. I told her that was it. I left UBF temporarily. Humble and my fiancé realized that they made a mistake. (Besides the trouble from Christine and her father they may also have been afraid to lose me because I was giving the largest tithing amount and the only non-Korean who graduated from a University.) We got married on the day that we wanted to get married, not on Humble’s date.
After getting married, I was very happy. I thought that I could make positive changes at my chapter, which was one of reasons that stayed for another three years. My wife was the second reason. I thought that I could lead by example, so I could make positive changes that people would see and imitate.
My first objective was to get a new center, so it would be a better environment for people. The Northridge earthquake had damaged our current center. There were large cracks to the infrastructure of the building. The center had deteriorated from years of neglect. People never bother to throw away food, old sneakers, and old gym clothes. I talked to everyone at the center; they all agreed that we should get a new center – even Humble agreed. I went with other people to look at other buildings and found some. When we came back, we asked Isaiah. Isaiah refused to spend more money on a new center. He didn’t want to spend money on air-conditioning. He said that we could only afford $800 a month for another center and that the current center was fine. (Isaiah never allowed us to look at how much money the center was receiving in tithing. After looking at the UBF “white book” in 2000, the CSUN UBF chapter in Northridge was pulling in between $35,000 to 52,0000 of tithing per year.) Isaiah wouldn’t allow you to put tithing directly to the building, so I decided to clean the center. Oscar, a CSUN UBF shepherd, and I spend 4 weeks cleaning and painting the center. We did this without cost. We threw away 4 huge waste containers pull of trash. (Isaiah wouldn’t allow us to throw away the bookcase. He went into the trash to retrieve, though it was in bad shape and we received it free.) The missionaries from Korea sat there and supervised. Many people at the center told Oscar and me, why do we bother, no one cares anyway. Eventually, they were right. Within a week, the missionaries at the center began to trash the place. They started to leave coffee cups and food all over the place. They let their children run around making messes. I told them that we should maintain the center for the glory of God. However, the missionaries who were making the mess refused to clean up after themselves. They expected the shepherds to do everything as serving servants including pickup after them. Oscar after a while got disgusted and left.
My second objective was to do a website for the center. I initially asked Roman, a CSUN UBF shepherd, if he could do it, because he was unemployed and said that he had all this experience working for dot-com-companies in designing web pages. He said that he would do it, but did nothing after 5 weeks. I took over the project and did it myself. After telling Isaiah about it, he didn’t have slightest interest. He only became interested when a Korean student arrived 4 months later and asked Isaiah about the web site, then Isaiah thought it was very important.
One year after getting married, I bought a house. I had a New Years day party for the CSUN UBF members at my house for two years. I stopped having it after Isaiah condemn me publicly during a “Martin Luther King Jr. conference” of UBF for owning a house. He said that people who own houses are too materialistic and don’t love God.
The next years became a living hell for me. Humble and Isaiah were giving endless guilt trips to the people at the center. Humble would openly condemn people in loud public prayer for not having enough sheep, not attending the “daily bread” meetings, and writing sogams 7 days a week. Isaiah would make the number of people that were in our fellowship seem like a matter of faith. Humble Yoo would use instant one-to-one (if you talk to someone, it was considered a Bible study) to increase the numbers. [All UBF chapters have to report the number of one-to-one Bible studies to the UBF headquarter, and many leaders try to let the numbers appear higher than they are in reality.] Isaiah would include his entire church as one-to-one Bible studies. (It is interesting that Isaiah has that many because he never stepped on a campus to talk to students unless he was there to direct meetings.) Some of the shepherdesses were in tears because they didn’t have a certain number of people [as their sheep]. When I said that numbers don’t matter, only our heart desire to serve God, they looked at me as if I was insane. Isaiah increased the number of meetings steadily. By end of 1999, we had four 6:30 am meetings, two 8:00 am daily bread sharing meetings, UCLA and other college bible study meetings, Tuesday leaders’ meeting, Friday’s night womens’ meeting, Saturday’s men meeting, Saturday students’ Bible meeting.
It didn’t stop there. Humble Yoo often humiliated fellowship leaders if they didn’t go fishing [i.e. invite students to UBF] at least four times a week. (Many of the people thought this humiliation was a matter of love, but many of them didn’t understand God wants us to encourage each other to do good, not to tear other people down.) Isaiah also increased the number of conferences. Before we had Easter and Christmas, now we had Labor Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Fall, Summer, Martin Luther King Jr. birthday. We also had additional meetings for shepherds at the end of January. Isaiah would have the women attend the men meetings. He said that women needed to attend the brother meeting to encourage the men because they were “weak.” For conference preparation, people were also expect to come to evenings at the center for “daily bread” share meeting, so you would have two meetings sharing the same material [the “daily bread” was already shared in the morning]. It was getting to the point that I would only see my wife for one hour per day. Even that hour Humble Yoo and others would call her on the phone to talk to her. Even if you had the flu or if you were sick, you were expected to come to meetings and conferences. When my wife only had a few hours sleep because she had to study for a exam for work, Humble told me that two hours a sleep was good enough. I told her that two hours of sleep wasn’t enough for a human being. People were put down for not attending worship. People were put down for not attending meetings. When one shepherd went with his wife to attend his grandfather’s funeral in Hawaii, Humble publically said in the leaders meeting that the shepherd was too “family centered.” People were encouraged to call in sick at work to attend conferences. (Often these conferences date were randomly chosen by Isaiah, no one could plan for them.)
Even though UBF put great emphasis on the Bible, the reality is that 80% of the Bible is ignored. During Isaiah messages he would only go over Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts, few passage of Isaiah and Psalms and 1 Corinthian 15. We would go over the same message 4 or 5 times in a year. Isaiah would go over it, give it to the shepherds the next week and have them deliver it for training. During the conference we would get a passage that he had written and go over it again. When I talked about this, I was told that I should look deeper into the passage.
There was also a lot emphasis put on attending the national and international conference. The UBF conference was usually held in Michigan State University (MSU). They usually had people from around the world. People were encouraged to pay for the airfare to attend these conferences. The speakers usually deliver the same message (passage) every two years. They also put great emphasis on mannerism. The messages were incredibly dry. The missionary would usually give testimony on surviving on potatoes in Uganda or struggling through great hardship as lay shepherds. (It is pretty sad that a lot of shepherds and missionaries were donating tens of thousands of dollars to their center. Isaiah told them that it was going to missionaries. However only $2000 ever went to these missionaries the rest was put into money markets and certificates of deposit.) Samuel Lee would usually boast about his spiritual power of curing people of their weight problems. I would like to note that often Chicago UBF would exaggerate the amount of people that attended this conference. A couple months after attending a conference in 98, they sent out calendars and annual reports. Chicago would do badly altered pictures of people by adding additional balconies and orchestra members into pictures. When people brought this up at the center, I threw them all away. (Many of the shepherdess and missionaries were mad at others and me for bringing it up.)
My wife and I were pioneering UCLA [University of California at Los Angeles]. Initially the group on that campus grew quickly. There were fifteen students and professors that were attending. However, Isaiah decided to take over the meeting. He started to implement a “Bible Academy” for people to give “sogams.” However, when Isaiah started his Academy, most of the people left. Isaiah wasn’t happy that I deal with UCLA, he also expected me to give messages at CSUN. I was expected to stay there till 11 pm even though I had to get up at 4:30 am the next morning for work. When I left at 10:30 pm, many people became angry with my wife and me. They said that I didn’t have the “co-working” spirit for leaving early.
In CSUN UBF we had four people from UCLA. There were James and Joon. James was a Christian, and Joon said he wasn’t a Christian. Humble and Isaiah had Joon deliver messages on the Bible to help him become a Christian. (Later both of them left). There were also Wilson and Roman. Isaiah and Humble tried to mold them into UBF material. My wife was told to monitor how much tithing both of them gave to the center. When Roman started to attend all of the meetings, Humble and Isaiah loved him because he was so faithful. Roman also loved to brag constantly about the school he attended and how many sheep that he had, etc. Roman was also a busy body who condemn other people for not having sheep while living off them because he didn’t work (this is contrary to Bible in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). Humble would also have Roman call people at home at 5:30 am, so they could attend the morning prayer meetings.Humble decided that Roman was ready for a “marriage by faith.” For the privilege of doing this, Roman was told that he should take Humble’s children for music lessons, etc. (During this time, Humble and Isaiah had many shepherds driving their children around to lesson. It was considered a privilege of serving them because people consider them to be a great “man and woman of God.” Humble had convinced everyone except me that every good thing came from her. If you got a job, it was because of Humble’s prayer. If you got married, it was because you met them at the center that Humble and Isaiah founded. If you taught many people, it was because Humble was your spiritual grandmother, etc. People would praise Humble and Isaiah, and if you said that they did something bad, it was your problem.) Eventually, they made Roman the presider after I had done this for 8 years.
In the summer of 1999, I was chosen to be one of the speakers for the California UBF Conference. Isaiah instead of telling me that I was a conference speaker told my wife this information and she was told to keep it secret from me for 3 weeks. I asked Isaiah why he didn’t tell me directly. (If something affected me directly, they would go behind my back. When a Jeonju missionary had brain surgery at the USC hospital, she was recuperating at my house. Humble went behind my back and told her and her mother that she couldn’t stay at my house. Everything was in Korean, so I didn’t understand what was going on.) I delivered the message on Joseph and Potiphar’s wife for the summer conference. I made the message myself. When Isaac Kim and Isaiah read it, they proceeded to cut out the parts about personal responsibility to God and told me to tack on a personal testimony. I complied because at this moment I did not really care any more. Despite the editing, people liked it. Many people from Long Beach liked it. However, Humble told me I shouldn’t be proud and I should give a large thanks offering to God. (Thanks offering were another way of getting money from the shepherds. If something good happened to you or your students, you were expected to give money to the center.)
I tried to talk to Isaiah several times about the financials of the center. He said that it would take a few days. I waited a few days and asked him if I could help getting the financials ready, since I had a financial background working for a corporation. He said not to worry about it, since Linda was dealing with the accounting. (Linda was a shepherdess in CSUN UBF, initially she was taught by a missionary who later left to form San Diego UBF because of problems with Isaiah and his church. Later Linda was taught by Humble Yoo. Humble married her to a Korean shepherd in Jeonju UBF in a "marriage by faith". Her name was later changed to “Pauline” at CSUN UBF.) Isaiah gave me a big grin. For the next three months, I never received the financials. Two years after I left and CSUN became a “Reform” chapter, Isaiah admitted that they never kept any financial books. When I told Isaiah that we are required by law (according to IRS regulations) to give out yearly contribution letters for donations over $500 to the members of the congregation, Isaiah didn’t want to be bothered. His response was “we haven’t been caught by the IRS yet”. Seemingly, his idea was that as long as you aren’t caught, you do not have to follow Federal laws.
In November 1999 I did a search for web sites, I found RSQUBF and initially dismissed it.
At the same time around Thanksgiving, I was basically leading all of the morning meetings at 6:20 am since no one else was doing it because my wife insisted that we go. Humble Yoo came in after I delivered the message. She proceeded to pray loudly how I should repent for not writing down the message. [Extemporaneous preaching is almost considered a mortal sin in UBF. Every message has to be written down word for word before it may be delivered.] I was getting a little tired of her using prayer to pray loudly to condemn people to repent. I asked Humble to step outside to talk to her about her behavior. (Humble had prayed like this several times previously during leader meetings etc. with Isaiah praying besides her.) She proceeded to scream at me for asking to talk about her behavior. Humble was supposedly sorry, but she would alway use my wife to say for her, so she wouldn't lose face. This was the last morning meeting that I attended.
As time went by, Isaiah added more and more meetings and conferences because Paul Chen was making inroads at CSUN. (Paul Chen broke off from Long Beach UBF to found his own ministry at UCLA. When he didn’t succeed there, he went to CSUN. By this time the CSUN ministry was in decline and Isaiah had scattered us to pioneer College of the Canyons, Pierce College, UCLA, Valley College, etc., Paul Chen’s ministry grew because he concentrated on one campus and had his worship a few blocks away from CSUN whereas our worship was 20 miles away in Burbank.) Isaiah proceeded to talk about his vision of Northeast LA UBF. He added another meeting during the fall semester before student finals, so we could be in the right spirit. Isaiah’s reason was that West LA UBF is doing it. When somebody didn’t attend this meeting because of finals, Missionary Rebekah considered this person “weak.” (The missionary later recanted and said the individual was weak because he lacked faith; however, it seems like to me she was equating faith as attending conferences.) A couple of weeks later people were expected to attend daily bread sharing meetings three weeks before Christmas Worship at Long Beach. People were expected to attend morning meetings then the evening meetings despite the fact that the meetings were all based on the same passages. Isaiah also told us that we would have to pay $50 per family to subsidize sheep. He said the center could not afford to subsidize their dinner (though there were hardly any new people attending the church). Parents were told not to bring their children along. Some of the members of CSUN UBF were struggling because they had children and were barely surviving economically. The next week, I went with my wife to Jeonju, Korea, to attend a “marriage by faith” that was arranged for Hyun-Ja Lee from Korea and Roman from CSUN. The wedding was an epic disaster. Roman proceeded to show his true nature. He seemingly had lied about everything from his education to his job and financing the wedding, and when he returned home, he basically deserted his wife because he refused to answer her emails and phone calls from Korea concerning these things. The center removed him from the presider position and had him write 100 page testimonies. Humble told Hyun-Ja that Roman was being disciplined by the center and that he was too busy feeding sheep to return phone calls. (I would like to point out though the Bible says a teacher should have high moral character when teaching the Bible, CSUN UBF allowed someone who treated his wife in such a way to teach non-Christians the Bible.) The UBF leaders had Roman pray for an hour a day. When there was no change, Humble told him to pray “loudly.”
In January, Isaiah decided to have another meeting for shepherds. I didn’t want to attend because it was on my birthday, but my wife insisted that I attend. Isaiah was telling us that we should work harder, so the center should grow. Someone brought up the item about Isaiah buying a center next to his church in Burbank. Isaiah said this wasn’t the time to discuss these issues. (There was never any time to discuss these issues.) However, I told him this was important issue that should be talked about it. Isaiah tried to evade the issue. I asked him, why are you trying to buy a center 30 miles away from the nearest campus and church member when he knew it would take them an hour to get there because of the traffic. Isaiah’s reply was that I was selfish. (The house he wanted to buy was next to his Korean church. The houses in Burbank usually go for $350,000.) Isaiah proceeded to tell us that he had been saving money, that he had over $68,000 in the bank. This made me furious, that Isaiah had been hoarding money for years and was unwilling to subsidize his meetings or get a decent center but instead was playing poverty. I told Isaiah that church money should be spent for church purposes not for his church or personal benefits. Most of the shepherds didn’t say a word; a missionary was trying to deflect attention by attacking the shepherd who brought up the issue. I also brought up the issues that they were getting carried away with the endless meetings. The missionary said that I should follow my wife who attended all of them. I left the meeting.
I tried to talk to Isaiah several times about the financials of the center. He said that it would take a few days. I waited a few days and asked him if I could help getting the financials ready, since I had a financial background working for a corporation. He said not to worry about it, since Linda was dealing. He gave me a big grin. For the next three months, I never received the financials. Two years after I left and CSUN became a “Reform” chapter, Isaiah admitted that they never kept any financial books.
At the beginning of the year 2000, I wrote Samuel Lee a letter detailing what was going on in the center. At the same time, I was sending emails to various shepherds about removing the Yoo family for financial mismanagement and abusing their authority and form a church constitution with elders with financial accountability and transparency.
After informing Samuel Lee of Isaiah Yoo’s activities, I received email from anonymous source detailing the problems of Chicago UBF. I looked more closely at the Reform website. It listed the name of Matthew Pyun, one of the top chapter leaders that I had met in Korea, which gave it some credibility and a testimony of Joe Calabrese. It looked like my chapter and the chapters in CSUN, West LA, and Long Beach weren’t the only messed up leaders and chapters, but it was worldwide and a systematic problem.
My wife managed to get a hold of a UBF “white book” that was inside Isaiah’s office. (The “white book” was the summary of the financial statements of the US chapters that Chicago UBF sent out each year to the leaders. In the book, there was a breakdown according to the chapter. I read the section about CSUN UBF. The book also contained testimonies and reports of UBF leaders.) Only UBF chapter leaders were allowed to see it. Other chapter leaders had a better idea of the accounting then the member of their own chapters. I didn’t know about it until my wife brought it to me, and by then I had been at UBF for ten years. From this book, I saw a little bit what was on the minds of chapter leaders. I read the UBF financial from CSUN UBF and saw that the members had contributed $52,000 for year 2000. $5000 was allegedly used for maintenance expense – for a center where everyone did all the maintenance for free. There were also other fishy expenses. The testimonies in the white book were also shocking. Ben Toh, a leading chapter leader in Chicago, was talking about “junk sheep” – sheep that weren’t white. Samuel Lee telling a Philippino woman that she could have children only when she had 5 sheep.
I told Roman that I was thinking of leaving. Roman in the meeting after the Sunday worship proceeded to shout during prayer that I should repent for leaving the ministry in front of my wife and mother.
I emailed this information out to two other shepherds. The shepherds agreed that something had to be done. However, one of the shepherd’s wife was missionary Rebekah who got a hold of the email and notified Isaiah. Isaiah proceeded to deny everything and read my email out loud at the meeting. The missionary Rebekah called me demon possessed for mentioning these things at the center, and she complained that I had no loving heart. The other shepherds’ wife complained that I shouldn’t bother her husband about these matters because he was too busy.
That night I told my wife to call Matthew Pyun from Jeonju UBF who was one of the signers of the Korean Reform document. (Christine and I knew him because we went to two “marriages by faith” conducted by that chapter and my former chapter. Matthew Pyun would also on occasion visit CSUN UBF.) My wife didn’t believe the Reform and RSQUBF websites, so I thought I could permanently dismiss any doubts about the problems of UBF by having her talk to Matthew Pyun personally, a chapter leader that she respected. Matthew Pyun (interpreted by his wife Maria) confirmed that UBF had serious problems, and the details published on the Reform UBF website were correct [the web site was discontinued by the USA reformers in November 2002]. The next day, my wife talked to Humble Yoo. Humble confirmed that all these things were happening in Chicago because of her contacts in Chicago. She also knew about the events in the 1989 reform attempt because she was a good friend of Rebekah Kim, the wife of James Kim who tried to reform UBF and was forced out of UBF by Samuel Lee and his fellow missionaries. She also knew about the incident about Augustine Hope Song who was forced out of Russia UBF (see question 9 of the 15 public questions to Samuel Lee by Korean Reform UBF). One of Isaiah’s Burbank Presybterian church members had diplomatic privileges, she arranged for Augustine Hope Song to come to Chicago because he was suffering from a severe illness. [Samuel Lee exploited this to remove him as leader of Moscow UBF, sent the ill man to Korea and told him to never visit UBF again.] Giyeon Lee, the daughter of that church member and a shepherdess at CSUN UBF later left and denounced Isaiah and Humble at the Burbank Presybterian Church for trying to force her to marry a CSUN UBF member in a “marriage by faith”. Later some reformers have been putting out misinformation that Humble Yoo didn’t know anything about the problems in Chicago, which is obviously not true.
The next worship, Isaiah gave a big message about not condemning other. It was very interesting because he was using my names several times when referring to the person that shouldn’t judge.
The next Monday, Isaiah got a phone call from Samuel Lee rebuking for misusing UBF members for doing things like babysitting for members of his own Korean church and trying to commingle UBF funds with his church. Isaiah was mad because he lost face. My wife wanted to ask Isaiah for forgiveness. This is when Isaiah became interested in reform – before he said that we should reform ourselves first instead of the organization. [This was a typical excuse of UBF reform opponents. They proclaimed that reform had to go slowly and each member had to reform individually instead of reforming the church. According to their idea, as long as you yourself were imperfect in any regard (not even connected with the reform issues), you first had to reform yourself, and only then you might start speaking about reform of the church. But obviously, that meant in consequence that reform of the church could only be done by somebody who was already blameless, perfect and without sin. And who could be so presumptuous claiming to be like that? Quite to the contrary, UBF members are conditioned to always feel guilty for not performing well enough. So instead of answering the reform issues, the leaders only blamed the members again and put off reform forever.]
I met Isaiah at a Denny’s restaurant in Burbank and talked to him. I told him that I was sorry. Isaiah didn’t accept it and didn’t really think that he did anything wrong for the last ten years. Isaiah admitted that he didn’t like UBF and that the only reason that he was there was because of his wife. He said he didn’t like the training of Samuel Lee (though for years he bragged how great a trainer Samuel Lee was.) He also told me that UBF would be better when Samuel Lee was dead. When I told him that all these meeting were causing trouble for my family, he said not to bring your personal problems to the church. This was the last day that I attended UBF; however, my wife continued to attend it. I had enough, and I left. My mother went with me; the other shepherd that brought up the news of the Burbank house and his wife also left.
In the next few weeks, several members tried to get me to come back by trying to take me out to lunch and saying how much they missed me etc., but I didn’t care because I was finally free.
CSUN “Reform” UBF (“ECNI”)
I wrote Joshua Lee of Seattle UBF (now Good Shepherd Bible Study Ministry), one of the signers of USA Reform document. I also knew him personally because I met him when I went to Seattle for business trip.
Joshua was initially very happy to hear from me. He called me and asked me to go the Houston Reform UBF conference. However because of my wife’s opposition, I declined to go but wrote a long letter detailing the issues that should be changed, such as openness in financial matters, elders, personal time with family, etc.
The reformers were very happy to meet with me at the beginning. They wanted me to work with various other leaders in making Bible material etc. However, I begin to notice that the reformers were less than honest about making changes at the chapter level. I mentioned about making changes at the chapter level and I would help them set up financial statements. They said that they would get to it. I talked about setting up church government according to the Bible for the local chapters. Initially, I tried to work with the Reformers, they had a website, so you could have dialog. They said all the right things. They had published documents, etc. But after a while, the reformers began to ignore me. I wondered why, so I called Joshua Lee. Joshua Lee seemed pretty evasive. He asked me if I was working with Isaiah Yoo. I said no, then he said that he was in hurry. The next day CSUN UBF joined the reform movement. The people at the center wrote my name on the document without me knowing about it. The initial reasons that Isaiah joined the reform were because he was afraid of losing the money and the chapter. (The way that UBF works is that supposedly it is a non-profit incorporation. The chapters are more or less branches of Chicago. They are not separate churches. The tithing and property bought by the local chapter is considered to be property of Chicago UBF, since Chicago does not give independent status to these chapters.) After Isaiah had received a phone call from Samuel Lee about mixing UBF and his Korean church, Isaiah told my wife that he would get even by not attending the Summer Conference in Chicago. When Samuel Lee threatened to retaliate, Humble told my wife that she and Isaiah would join the reform to prevent Samuel Lee from taking CSUN UBF treasury (around $68,000). Humble changed her story a few month later and let the forced abortions at Chicago appear as Isaiah’s reason for joining reform. Even though CSUN UBF had become “reform,” little in reality changed. They still were attending numerous meetings and they were still encouraging my wife to remain with them despite the fact that I had left four months earlier.
In May, my wife was constantly receiving email from Hyun-Ja concerning Roman again. We were receiving phone calls at 3 and 4 am from Hyun-Ja, because Roman was not returning the phone calls or emails. I told my wife to have Humble and Isaiah to solve the problem. Humble said that it was okay for Hyun-Ja to suffer, because she only wanted to have a green card to the US. After another late night phone call, I sent an email to Hyun-Ja about the condition of her husband on how he had deceived her about his education and background. My wife was furious. I sent an email to Jacob Kim. He said that I did the right thing.
Rebekah Kim wrote a posting about UBF how they tried to steal men’s wives by using flattery and deceit. Isaiah Yoo had made my wife the head of my fellowship and a so-called “elder of student recruiting” (the title “fellowship leader” was politically incorrect since that dealt with the religious system of Chicago UBF). Humble and the rest of the center sent cards telling my wife what a wonderful shepherdess she was and how difficult the year must have been for her, etc. I sent an email to Jacob Kim about why is it wrong for UBF to set wives against their husband but okay for UBF Reform CSUN to turn my wife against me. Jacob Kim never responded to my email. (I later found out that Jacob Kim was planting lies about me in Chicago by saying that I was "pawn of Samuel Lee".
As far as I can see, the Reform UBF was not really interested in making changes. Though the Reform web site espoused sound Hermeneutics, they were still keep unsound teachings like “marriage by faith” (a UBF euphemism for “marriage by arrangement”). After debating with the Reformers, I saw that they really did not see that these practices were a problem, but thought that the only problem was the application by Samuel Lee. This was true of Peter Kim and Paul Laska who denied that marriage by faith was occurring in Pre-Reform and Reform Chapters.(This fact is not too difficult to verify all you have to do is type in "marriage by faith" and "ubf" and you will get a lot of hits.
In terms of accounting, no reforms chapter has ever accepted their responsibility for giving proper accounting statements for the money that they received.
Many of them still were dictatorial chapters run by a single family that had total control of money.
I talked to Paul Laska of the reform movement who disputed that “marriages by faith” were occurring. When I gave him evidence to the contrary, he shrugged it off. When I told him about the problems at CSUN UBF, he told me that Mark Hong, chapter leader of Madison Reform UBF, said that it was okay because Isaiah changed because he joined the reformed movement. (Fruits of repentance are seemingly not considered part of change in Reform UBF.)
In summer of 2002, Isaiah tried to make cosmetic change to UBF. He said that all the money had to be approved by a committee. However as always, Isaiah did as he please by giving the reform leaders $6000 during the conference without the knowledge of this committee. The reformers praise Isaiah as a great man of God. When I brought up this issue at the forum on campuspraise site, Paul Laska vehemently denied it. When I told him to investigate it, he said that he would but never did. He later shut down the site and replace it with a page that the local chapter will have to tithe more positively to central reform UBF chapter.
After two years, my wife has finally decided to leave CSUN “Reform” UBF (later also called “ECNI”). After listening to various pastors and elders like John MacArthur and reading various books by Charles Spurgeon etc., she began to understand that many of the practices of UBF were wrong. I believe the only way for people to get out of the environment of UBF is through the clear teaching of the Word of God.
In October 2002, Abraham Tak heard that the elders of Isaiah’s Korean church have decided to force Isaiah to make a decision between the churches. Apparently, the elders became angry with Isaiah because he was trying to merge CSUN UBF chapter with their church for several years. Therefore, Abraham tried to force a quorum to talk about a new leader of CSUN UBF. Humble initially said that what Abraham told was wrong. She said it was a “misunderstanding” and that Isaiah would still be leading CSUN UBF. She said that Isaiah would eventually leave, but it would be when he decided to leave. However, within three days the Yoo family admitted it was true, installed Anthony from Columbus Reform UBF as the new leader and left CSUN UBF. (It is kind of ironic that Isaiah didn’t install one person from UBF CSUN where he had tried to raise up spiritual leaders for so many years. Shortly after this, Russell, who had been part of CSUN UBF for 5 years, had been voted as temporary leader of CSUN UBF by the members. Anthony, Isaiah choice, wasn’t accepted as leader by the members.)
Isaiah and Humble also took all the money from the center by closing the bank account and taking the money. They refused to listen to CSUN members' request to return the money by ignoring them by saying that they were too busy. (It is also sad to see that James Kim of second reform effort has rationalize the Yoo behavior by comforting Humble when they lost the chapter. When I ask James Kim about this and how the Yoo family had abuse their authority at CSUN, he told me to forget about it.)
The CSUN UBF chapter changed it name to Mustard Seed fellowship, and they continue to have Anthony as their main speaker. The group has started to fall into heresies such as "health and wealth" movement of Paul Yongii Choi and liberalism by believing the Genesis is a book of myths. They still displayed the patterns of old UBF by confirming "spiritual authority" when I brought up the issue of Isaiah Yoo. After 12 years, Humble and Isaiah founded the ministry and basically destroyed it by their selfishness and self-righteousness.