(A serious allegation against the former UBF leader Samuel Lee, was his ordering some women missionaries to abort their children. This sounds unbelievable, but one should consider that the Korean cultural background and the UBF environment of spiritual abuse produce a perfect breeding ground for such malpractices. Samuel Lee constantly interfered in the private decisions of families, beginning with the choice of the marriage partner, and often deciding when a couple was allowed to have children, how many children they should have, and what their children’s names would be. If one partner in a marriage became critical of UBF or Samuel Lee, he would order divorces and re-marriages. To Samuel Lee and like-minded UBF leaders, if the responsibility to raise a child would interfere in a UBF family’s “mission,” it is then only a small step to order that child to be aborted. Add to that the fact that in South Korea abortions are widely tolerated and carried out secretly to “keep face.” Approximately two million children are aborted in South Korea every year (according to the DSW newsletter 6/2000), which is even more than are aborted in the United States. Christian ethics seem to be almost non-existent in UBF, since "the end (world mission) justifies the means" is the ruling motto. If there is any ethics in UBF, then it is closer to Confucianism than Christianity. Recently, a long-standing member of a Korean UBF chapter left UBF after learning that his chapter director’s wife had misused her authority to coerce his wife into having two abortions without his knowledge. After he had left the ministry because of this, he was also slandered by his former chapter leader in front of the assembly, as is the custom in UBF. Here is the translation of his open letter which was posted on the Internet on June 29th, 2002.)
This posting is addressed to S. Daniel Lee from the Nam-San UBF center [in Seoul, Korea].
Dear S. Daniel Lee and S. Mi-So Lee!
I am S. Ki-Chul O. I can attest with a good conscience to the fact that I served God wholeheartedly as a lay shepherd for the last 19 years, sacrificing all my material and my time. The reason why I left the Nam-San UBF center was because of my disappointment over you.
In the last Sunday message on John 8, titled “And the Truth Will Set You Free”, you wrote the following about me: “And the others cannot remain in the word of Jesus because they are rooted in worldly desire. One lay shepherd [in UBF messages they like to give such seemingly anonymous examples, although, of course, everybody knows and should know who is meant, in this case Ki-Chul O.] followed Jesus for 18 years and left Jesus last week. It is not important how long you follow Jesus but where you are rooted and where you are standing. Sooner or later you have to leave Jesus if you want to keep your desire and ambition for glory no matter how long you had already followed Jesus.” Now I ask you the following questions:
1. Does my leaving the ministry mean that I have left Jesus? Does the UBF center stand for Jesus? It is a fact that I am following Jesus whether I am attending the Nan-Sam center or not. I will continue to believe in Jesus. I have never heard of such a distorted theology in which a ministry is equated with Jesus. Please give me a good theological reason why you think that somebody has left Jesus if he leaves the ministry.
2. You say in your message that I have not remained in the word of Jesus because I was strongly rooted in addiction to glory and worldly blessing. How could I then have remained 19 years in UBF which requires more offerings and faithfulness than other ministries?
We had to move into a rented apartment so that the UBF center building could be financed. [Translator’s comment: Most Koreans live in an owner-occupied apartment or rented apartment for a one-time deposit which corresponds to two thirds of the selling price. This deposit is used as a retirement fund since there is not any proper pension system in Korea. Only the poor live in bad rented apartments where you have to pay monthly rent. Ki-Chul O. had to move into such a rented apartment to raise the deposit money for the center building.] As a result my wife got an allergic nasal cavity inflammation, and my children had to constantly go to the doctor because they often became ill because our apartment was very cold. I gladly bore these disadvantages which arose because I worked more eagerly for the center than for my job. We sacrificed more than 1.6 Million Won [about $1300] per month up to the year 2000 for the world mission. My salary amounted to about 3.5 Million Won [$2900], and last year we actually could not give more than 1.3 Million Won [$1100] per month even if we wanted to. So how can you condemn us as people who are rooted in worldly desire when we have sacrificed so much? I was set up as a fellowship leader and important tasks were entrusted to us. Was this not a sign that you had appreciated our dedication? Who could actually dare to exalt himself in our ministry against your will?
We once purchased a small office. [Translator’s comment: It was a tiny room in a so called “Officetel”, which Koreans like to purchase as a financial investment.] However, my wife had such a guilty conscience after doing this that she told shepherdess Mi-So [the wife of Daniel Lee] about it, and she [Mi-So Lee] told her to sell the office immediately. I knew nothing about this for a long time. I ask you, what kind of ministry teaches something like that, that the woman shall listen to the wife of the leader more than to her own husband? Why is an elderly man with 2 children not allowed to buy a house or save a little money? How could you accuse such a person of worldly desires? [Translator’s comment: Purchasing a house is almost the only possibility of having savings for retirement in Korea.] Why then do you have a car and a house of your own? [Translator’s comment: Though he is a vice-manager of a well-known worldwide American insurance company, Ki-Chul O. does not own a car like Daniel Lee.]
In your opinion, all shepherds, except the leaders, have to sacrifice their whole life to the ministry. It is time that UBF members deal with the bringing up of children, problems of housing and provisions for old age. How do you want to solve these problems? [Translator’s comment: Meanwhile, many older UBF coworkers are confronted with such problems after they had never thought about themselves in their younger years as UBF taught them. Now the leaders, who always brushed practical life problems aside, refuse to take responsibility for this and to help in solving these problems.] Make a clear statement about how you want to bear the responsibility for the coworkers! I fear, however, that you will merely say that Jesus will surely bless them.
You have been appointed as shepherds for the sheep. What is a shepherd? Is he not a guardian of the sheep? Is it not his task to wipe away their tears and ease their pains? However, have you not made use of their deep confessions of sin coming from their hearts, only to rebuke and condemn them? Is it the task of a shepherd to slander his sheep in front of uninformed coworkers after they have left him? Is it not the task of a sincere shepherd to think first about the pain of the deserted sheep, bearing their pain and repenting first?
Not even worldly people would slander somebody that way, who had worked together with them for 19 years.
I believe that Jesus is the Lord over this ministry. Please explain to me whether it is biblical that you make the people treat your words like the words of Jesus and, therefore, accept your directions as divine? You have the absolute authority and require the absolute obedience!
I know that you [being the chapter director] manage the offering money, and it is at your disposal. Is it not biblical that others care for the administration of the money?
Why do the coworkers have to obey the leaders absolutely when all are sinners in front of God? You are not God!
The most important task of a leader is proclaiming the word. Why do you interfere in private family matters? Why do you teach the women that they shall be more obedient to you than to their husbands so that marital problems constantly arise, caused by your teaching? Is this biblical?
Your most excellent wife gave my wife the direction [a “direction” or “orientation” is the same as an absolute command in UBF] to abort our third child since it was an obstacle for the evangelization ministry because she is already more than 37 years old. In this way, she had our children aborted twice. I was so shocked when I learned about that. My wife had concealed that from me [the fact of the abortions due to the direction given by the wife of the leader] and confessed it recently in front of me after she had so painfully kept this to herself for 4-5 years. I want you to make a clear and public statement, whether this action [ordering abortions] is criminal or biblical.
We have left the church after ministering for 19 years because the atmosphere was poisoned with authority and legalism and, therefore, was suffocating. But we have not left Jesus at all. By no means! Rather, we pray for wisdom to serve the evangelization ministry in the best way. We still pray for the coworkers and Bible students in the Nam-San center. Acts 5:29 says: “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’” You cannot obey someone blindly instead of God. It is wrong and distorted if the leader blames a coworker for not having understood or having forgotten the grace of God, because the coworker does not obey him. I believe that we should obey only God who alone is worthy of our adoration and our praise.
Shepherd Ki-Chul O.