Testimony of Joe and Kathy C.
(Joe and Kathy C. were for many years members of Chicago UBF. Their testimony, written by Kathy, was published in the year 2000 on the RSQUBF web site.)
Our God is Sovereign
To those it may concern,
Joe and I both believe, like Israel, that the Lord has been our Shepherd all the days of our life. In Him, there are no mistakes and all things work together for good. Therefore, there is forgiveness from Jesus Christ for those who repent of their sins. Likewise, Joe and I have not kept a record of wrongs or lived in bitterness. On the contrary, we feel thankful to know we are saved by grace alone and to be in fellowship with wonderful Christians at Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago. We have a neat opportunity this summer to teach English in Mexico for one week, and we pray the Lord will bless this and help us to know more specifically how to serve Him.
There were three different aspects of our experience with University Bible Fellowship which we will share with you. We believe the leaders had taught us, in the beginning, that we are saved by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ, and that they held firmly to the Trinity and teachings that are in keeping with the Bible. We are thankful that through studying the Word of God both of us became believers. I will outline three stages of our disagreement with the leadership: early conflicts, why we left, and things we have discovered since we left.
First, there were several early conflicts that made us aware that certain things were not biblical. One day Dr. Samuel Lee harshly rebuked me “for not being thankful for our third daughter,” so we should give her to Noah and Sweety Rhee for adoption. I realized that he wanted us to give more money in the thanksgiving offering. Also, when I spent one hour learning Chinese from one sweet missionary from Hong Kong, Dr. Samuel Lee told me, “you didn’t have my permission to meet this missionary.” When we wanted to buy a house in the Northeastern neighborhood [where the UBF center of Joe and Kathy was], he harshly rebuked me that “you have no right to own a house because Northeastern isn’t growing.” His point at that time was that I had to absolutely obey Maria Ahn, even though she was treating me very rudely. There were several occasions when we were blamed for things that happened at Northeastern that in no way were our fault. We felt that it was wrong for him to preach against African-American people and American people, since the gospel is held out to all people of all nations. At times, it was almost as if he were prejudice in favor of Korean people.
Second, why we left. In 1995, Joe’s Bible student Dromrac Wood was teaching the Bible to several people, and one of them was Yolanda. He asked Joe about proposing marriage to her, and we found she is a sincere Christian – but young spiritually. They were going to marry in Mexico, but Dr. Samuel Lee asked them to marry in UBF. He wrote the date September 9 down in his book. Later he said that we made up that date “secretly” while he was in Russia. He yelled and shouted at both of us for 3 hours, and Maria Ahn, and Dr. Joseph Chung. He obviously despised us. It was as if our years of service under his leadership were nothing. We realized he respected himself more than anyone else on earth, rather than having humility to consider others better than himself, as it says in Philippians. That day brought grief and pain to Joe, and he decided firmly that night to leave UBF., but I did not agree. I wanted to at least talk with Dr. Samuel Lee later when he wasn’t upset to see if he would apologize. But no, he did not apologize. Rather, he made us apologize. He accused us of being stingy “like lepers” because we didn’t give $1,000 thanksgiving offering for Dromrac’s wedding. He shouted out at several meetings how horrible we were. When my youngest daughter Elizabeth was born, she was 4 lbs. 4 oz. He said that she “destroyed God’s work at Northeastern” and that we had sinned against the Lord having 5 children. Of course, the Bible says children are a reward from the Lord, and we rest in that promise that we are blessed by God. That summer he forced the fellowship leaders to pay money for “sheep registration” for the summer conference, using the excuse that we have to set the example for other chapters. Unmercilessly, we spent over $1,000 of our own money to register for people who couldn’t even come to the conference. That was the worst conference we ever attended because we realized at that conference that actually Dr. Lee writes each person’s message and testimony and world mission report, giving glory to himself. We believe all the glory should be to God alone, which is one of the 5 tenets of the Reformation. Joe began to cry in the night, and to have stomach aches and headaches. That year Dr. Lee collected a Christmas offering for Russia [to buy a Bible house]. Because we love the Russian people, we offered money to Christ even though we didn’t respect this Bible ministry much any more. But Dr. Lee soon announced that he could not buy that Bible house because there was “political instability in Russia.” There was no accountability about how he spent that money. It was as if he handled the Lord’s offering money as a personal expense account. We believe offerings must be made voluntarily and be handled carefully to give glory to the Lord. Joe stepped down as fellowship leader, but we saw how other fellowship leaders still looked worn out and unhappy. We also felt there were no real friendships in the ministry since everyone was so competitive with one another. I felt that the message of grace alone was being clouded out by righteousness founded in man’s works.
I went to talk to Dr. Lee one Saturday morning, thinking that he would be open-minded to change anything that wasn’t in keeping with the Bible. We had always had a fairly good relationship, and I thought he would value this conversation. He was mad at Joe for not wanting to preside anymore at the Sunday service, which Joe had done faithfully for many years. But Dr. Lee began to attack me saying I was not a believer, that Joe was lazy, that my children are like prostitutes, that our ministry at Northeastern was in vain, that Joe’s parents act strange, that we are stingy, and that he made a mistake when he let us get married. I was shocked that he talked to me so disrespectfully, when I had been faithful in prayer for that ministry for over 12 years. He said that I should “not sleep with Joe” for a long time until “he came to his senses to obey Dr. Samuel Lee” like a school principal or a political leader.
When Dr. Lee asked me if I would obey Joe or him, I had so much pain in my heart. I had wanted to be a peacemaker, but Dr. Lee wanted us to divide into teams. I responded, “The Bible says a wife should submit to her husband.” He looked at me, with a devil in his eye, and responded, “You have spoken blasphemy. Now you will end up in hell.” He looked so ugly at that moment as if the devil was possessing his body. I believe that those who have salvation in Christ have freedom from sin, and that the salvation is eternal and cannot be lost. Gal. 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Therefore, do not be yoked again to a burden of slavery.” I also believe that the Bible does not give the definition of blasphemy as those who disobey their pastor. I thought I would get depressed that day, but as I walked away from the center that morning with joy in my heart, I knew Joe and I were now in agreement about leaving UBF and that we could be free of this horrible burden of serving a ministry based on man-made regulations and a tremendous amount of human effort. We have never stepped foot in the building again.
That afternoon we told Ron Ward [who in Chicago always delivers the messages of Samuel Lee] we would not come anymore. He said he recognized there are many faults with the ministry, and he shared that with us because he knew we were leaving and he would be safe. However, it was announced untruthfully that we had been kicked out of the church and that our marriage was falling apart and that we had too much financial burden because of having so many children. None of those things were true, but they were made to cover up the truth that we disagreed with Dr. Samuel Lee. In our eyes, he is a dictator who is not accountable to anyone.
After leaving the ministry, we also found out that Vinnay Duggal had been forced to give $3,000 on his credit card when his son Joseph was born. He often felt treated badly because he was Indian and his wife was Peruvian. We discovered that one Korean Missionary had been forced to have an abortion by Dr. Lee, and that Jonathan Reese had been beaten with a baseball bat to “help him lose weight.” We disagree about the way Jackie Lee’s daughters were turned against their mother, a widow who had clearly, faithfully served the Lord so many years. We disagree with the way Jerry McNally was accused of proposing to a girl “secretly” when he had deliberately followed Dr. Lee’s direction to ask her to get married. He attends Covenant church now, and looks bright and peaceful, and he is getting married this September to a lovely and pure Christian girl. Surely the Lord has blessed and rewarded him. Dr. Daniel Shin and Jimmy Rhee have become fruitful pastors. I disagree about the way they were thrown out of the ministry with 20 or more other missionaries. I consider it a privilege to ask their prayer support for our family. I did not agree that Amy Orlando was not allowed to talk to her father on her wedding day, and that there was a court order issued against him to try to talk to her. I also have seen the way those who leave UBF are said to “leave a life of mission.” I believe that our mission as Christians is to serve the Lord wherever we are, whether at work, at home, in our marriage, in our neighborhood, in our schools.
At Covenant, we experienced how wonderful it is to give an offering voluntarily and cheerfully, and discovered the children had never felt “loved” by their CBF teachers, as they do now at Sunday school [CBF is the UBF program for the children of members]. We have been able to buy a small, modest house, by the grace of God. Joe’s parents have been able to live with us. We believe in the tenets of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Christi, Sola Gracia, Sola Fide, and Sola Dei Gloria. I have begun home schooling the children, which all of us are thankful about. We have a pastor who counsels us to work through things and to wait on the Lord for direction. We are praying about using our summers for short term missionary work. I thank the Lord every day that I can worship with my children on Sunday morning rather than bringing them to a babysitter. Dr. Lee also at first would not give me the money that he had been keeping for our family in a C.D. at Foster Bank. This was an expense compensation for 6 years of staff shepherd work. It amounted to over $20,000. He said that because we left, we were “too unstable to trust.” We needed to go to a lawyer downtown, who suggested that we use Foster Bank as a “buffer” to insure accountability. Dr. Lee did give us the money under pressure from Foster Bank, but this was costly to hire a lawyer and Dr. Lee said it was a gift, not a debt he owed me. Since Joe is a school teacher, the money was used to refinance our mortgage and pay off some debts. When he gave us the money, Dr. Lee called me, and spoke well of our family and asked us to come back to his ministry. From my point of view, our family was just beginning to learn the power of prayer and the joy of the Lord and the fruits of the Spirit. I would never go back, and my husband Joe feels the same way. We are thankful for our marriage. Joe is faithful in Bible memorization, but he would like to go to seminary someday. He loves the Puritan writers and has a heart for needy people. I ask you to pray for us that the Lord will lead and guide our future in the way we should go, knowing that before birth He had prepared good works which we should do. From what we understand, certain staff shepherds in Korea were tired of Dr. Lee’s way of handling money without financial accountability. They remind me of Martin Luther when he nailed 99 theses on the cathedral door against the Catholic church in the 15th century. Joe and I believe that those who study the Bible with a para-church organization should be a member of a separate local church. We believe a pastor must be held accountable by elders, deacons and a presbytery. We do not think there is any pastor who can manage a large international ministry well unless there is accountability. May the Lord bless your efforts to bring about reform.
Joe & Kathy C.