Letter from Peter C. (Columbus) to some UBF leaders 1991
(In this letter written in the year 1991 Peter C. (Columbus UBF) defends himself against some UBF leaders when Samuel Lee tried to push him out of UBF after he pointed out some grievances starting with his letter to Samuel Lee written in the year 1990.)
July 15, 1991Dear coworkers in Christ our Lord,
Praise God who sent his one and only Son Jesus Christ to the cross for our sins, raised him in glory from the dead, seated him at his right hand as the glorious Lord and King and will send this victorious Jesus Christ as the Judge over the living and the dead. How wonderful it is to have such a great Redeemer as he! How glorious it is that we should be called into the service of the Lord! Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
As you know, I am notorious for not writing letters. But the present circumstances which around me force me to write one. Candidly, I write this letter to defend my faith, which has recently been so distorted and misrepresented. I know full well how history prove that truth and political decision-making too often have nothing to do with each other. In fact, when I made up my mind to act according to my conviction, I already anticipated possible conflict with the traditional mind set of UBF, and with it, all kinds of misinformation and slander about me. Therefore, I feel that I should at least share what I believe and have been doing in accordance with the grace of God which has been with me all these years. Even if some of these remarks offend you, please, bear with me.
1. God alone is entitled to man’s absolute obedienceThe Book of Acts clearly says, “We must obey God rather than men” (Ac 5:29). The apostles spoke these words to the Sanhedrin and to the high priest, who had absolute authority over religious matters. My point is simply is this: that obeying religious authority is not necessarily always obeying God. When it contradicts God’s will and word, we have every reason to refuse to obey men in order to give our obedience to God.
Only the word of God is absolutely true. It alone is absolutely true, without any falsehood, and so it alone is trustworthy. But man, no matter how capable or bright he may be, is still a sinner, corrupted from the core of his heart. This is man as Jesus (Mk 7:21-23), king David (Ps 51:4), and Paul (Ro 3:10-20) described him. So, wherever man is given absolutely obedience, he gets corrupted. I have yet to see a man humble enough not to be corrupted by too much power. This is the tragic truth behind every dictatorship we have seen in human history, whether in the political realm or the religious realm. Simply, no man is qualified to receive another’s absolute obedience. And no man should expect it, since every man is simple. Only God the Creator above deserves men’s absolute obedience. In the spiritual realm, there is a proper place for God and a proper place for man. Man can not take God’s place.
2. The grace of God produces freedom in human relationshipsI am known these days as one who has forgotten the grace of missionary Samuel Lee. I know what he means when he says that: because of him I came to know Jesus Christ; and because of his training, I grew; and because of him I could get married; and so the list goes. According to his logic, I must be eternally grateful to him for all these things, and I must express that gratitude by giving him my absolute obedience, and by sending tithes and sending people to Chicago.
However, I never dreamed that Christianity could work this way: A man shepherds his sheep. Then, after a certain point, the sheep becomes a slave to his shepherd, having no freedom. This is a suffocating relationship. Furthermore, it is not biblical. Rather, that philosophy comes from the world of business: A man helps another man financially until he becomes successful. Then the first man tries to squeeze out of him not only the principal money but also the interest.
But when I think about the grace of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ so beautifully manifested on the cross, I see another kind of grace (Ro 5:8). It touches me. It makes me cry. I am willing to lay down my life for a Lord with this kind of grace. There is great freedom in this Lord (2Cor 3:17). As far as grace is concerned, it is not to any man but to the Lord Jesus Christ alone that I am eternally indebted, although I love those who God put in my life.
3. The stability of an organization does not necessarily constitute truthWe are very happy that UBF has grown to be a stable and well-organized organization. However, in many ways I miss the spirit of the early days. Back then, we only had the Bible and a shepherd heart. Having no credentials, being a minority, we were often persecuted and misrepresented. But through this, we learned about Jesus’ suffering, humility and courage.
However, UBF has now become a large organization by God’s blessing. We have a lot money, manpower, honor and credibility. However, because of this success, we now also have a problem. We have developed a very dangerous mentality of measuring truth and spirituality of the organization. And we have grown nervous about just keeping the stability of our beloved organization. I have detected this nervousness very clearly in every staff member I have talk to recently: Each one has told me that he understand what is going on and even agrees on what is right and what is wrong. And yet each of them would only go as far as the stability of the organization dictates what is right and what is wrong, and what is spiritual. If we go this way, the truth of God which is always new wine, which is dynamic and heavenly, will eventually destroy and abandon the old wineskin, which is nothing but men’s traditions and earthly ideas.
I do have some grievances against you. You knew the truth about what was really going on during the event involving Missionary James Kim. Yes, his letter did contain some sarcasm and bitterness, and his method of dealing with the problem was not the best. And yet I believe that the issues he raised are serious ones. Nevertheless, you didn’t want any trouble for the organization. So you tried to keep everything as peaceful and quiet as you could. Then when Missionary Joseph Chung delivered that message during his visit to Korea last year, containing some things about Missionary James Kim and Missionary Samuel Lee that were not true at all, you could not do anything about it. You simply published it without making any corrections. By avoiding the issues, yes, you spread yourselves some immediate problems, but the truth was buried. You misled all the missionaries and sheep who would read that article into believing that what was written was true. In an effort to try to preserve the organization, we sacrificed the Christian virtue of honesty and our consciences as well.
If spiritual order has to be maintained this way, using coercion and deception, then it is not spiritual order at all; it is political order. Such a counterfeit sickens me. What a miserable way to keep so called “spiritual order” through condoning lies. Thinking one thing and yet doing another does not make me feel truthful. I have done it for 20 years. And the result has been moral suicide. And I was appalled at the numbness and insensitivity of our conscience before certain things. So, I realized that I must act according to what is right. And this is the way I must be accountable to God and his truth – being faithful to the conviction from within and from above. Any arguments like “maintaining spiritual order” or “for the sake of the whole ministry” no longer persuade me.
I know that some leaders, including Missionary Samuel Lee, are thinking about eliminating me for the stability of UBF. And, as usual, they are carefully manipulating the public opinion, by labeling me as liberal, humanistic, and Judaistic, and accusing me that I have given up one-to-one Bible studies and disciple-making. Allegations such as these will convince everyone that eliminating me is the best course of action. Then, of course, the sheep will be told that the “bad fruit” has been removed, and “Satan’s work” is defeated, however painfully and, now that the ministry has been refined, God will bless it. Whew! Thanks to God, the organization is saved once again! Is this truly a spiritual way to deal with a coworker with whom you have shared over twenty years of your life?
4. It is a shame to label me a “humanist”We all know that in UBF, when we try to discredit someone for his bad influence on the organization, we try to find a dangerous and threatening label for him. We call him that name to alarm the people and then safely cast him out. Now I am being labeled a “humanist.” But if a humanist is a man who will not do evil, justifying anything and everything by saying that it is “for the glory of God,” then yes, I am a humanist. If a humanist is a man who can not threaten or beat up a so called coworker who, at the moment, is being a bad influence or rebellious, then I definitely am a humanist. If a humanist is a man who can not endorse abortion, a man who can not make promises of expedience just to get out of immediate difficulties, a man who can not solve conflicts through bribery, then yes, I am a humanist. I think what you call “humanism” is not humanism at all, it is “Machiavellianism.” But Machiavellianism is totally non-biblical, for the Bible says clearly, “Hate what is evil and cling to what is good” (Ro 12:9). Jesus told us that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed (Mt 5:6). Have we become crooked business people instead of the saintly light of the world and salt of the earth that we were called to be?
5. It is an unfounded charge that I have given up this one-to-one ministryI firmly believe that the one-to-one method was given to us out of God’s wisdom – so that we could minister effectively to this mass-media generation. I admit that our one-to-one work here in Columbus has been going slowly. The reason is this; I am tired of working just to gain greater numbers. I feel miserable when, while sitting on the stage, I have to count the heads of the Sunday Worship attendants. I know that the number of people involved is one of many indications of the quality of God’s work. The Book of Acts proves it. But there are many other much more significant biblical ways to validate God’s work. In fact, it speaks much more about individuals who are beautifully changed through Christ. Numbers do not tell the whole story. When I heard about the kamikaze one-to-one technique (in which even talking to a person for a few minutes or calling him on the phone and throwing out one Bible verse is considered to be a legitimate one-to-one Bible study), I tried it. I then reported our dramatically increased numbers, but, boy, was I disgusted. What hypocrisy! So, I got sick of that kind of method. So, I prayerfully decided to nurture the willing hearts of coworkers, by helping them to have personal faith in God. Gradually, more and more are willingly participating in one-to-one teaching. So what does it really mean that I have “given up one-to-one studies”? Do you want me to count all those so called kamikaze one-to-one’s and report big empty numbers? Then will you say that we have a real one-to-one ministry?
6. It is a false accusation that I have given up disciple-makingI don’t even know where this one came from. I am deeply saddened that I should even have to tell you these things. But without having complete and accurate information, you again have indiscriminately accepted whatever missionary Samuel Lee has said on this count.
What is the goal of Christian disciple-making? The key verses for our ministry are Matthew 28:18-20. And there are many who are growing with strong zeal and spiritual fervor. There are a dozen young men and women who have devoted themselves to being missionaries. Every Monday I am training five young men, then 10 men and women on Tuesday; and then 7 others on Wednesday. I try to help each group according to their gifts and abilities to grow and to positively serve God. Also, Bill Rankin, Jerry King, Joseph Lee, Samuel S. Lee, Mark Reed, Brian Wilford, Tom Parker, and Bill Miller have their own Bible study and training groups.
7. I have been re-examining the concept and the honest purpose of trainingAs we know, Hebrews 12 clearly tells us about the importance of training. But the training mentioned there does not seem to be the kind of man-made training that we are so proud of. There the author speaks of the trials, sicknesses, misfortunes, and persecutions which we go through in real life. So this does not seem to be the proper passage by which our kind of training can be justified. [Hebrews 12 also says clearly the Lord is chastening us and God disciplines us, and it does not mention man-made training at all.]
Our training, I believe is derived from our deep sense of the urgent need for the healing of the characters of people, that they may be like Christ. It is a process of sanctification. Although people come to Christ, they still suffer from past bad habits and from the power of sin which still hang over them from their past lives of sin. American students who grew up with very little discipline, with all kinds of troubles, especially need this healing. So, I do train them to overcome their inner problems, sinfulness, weaknesses, bad habits or temptations.
But the purpose of our training as a whole has often been ambiguous. Very frankly, as a shepherd, I must admit that often a sheep’s obedience to me was the goal of my training, although I told him that he should obey God. Once a sheep becomes obedient to me, it is a lot easier to handle him. And my authority as a shepherd is established. However, what troubles me about this is that training a sheep to obey a shepherd does not necessarily lead him to obey God in freedom. It is all too likely that sheep can become “believers” only before the shepherd, while their lives before God are virtually non-Christian. Their personal lives with God are shallow or often almost non-existent. So, I have been training people to obey the word of God. Of course, it does take much wisdom, love, prayer and example. As a result, people are now more conscious of their personal obedience to God’s word rather than just confirming to the shepherd and his demands. In this way the shepherd is no longer a hindrance to the sheep’s spiritual growth, but a great help.
If I have to make people walk many miles to eliminate their passion, make them carry heavy things to break their rebellious spirits [as Samuel Lee did], then, indeed I do not train anymore, at least not in that sense. But what do you think it is for selfish young men to live together, learning to love God’s word, and to have personal devotion, trying to love each other and be shepherds in obedience to the word of God? Is that not training? God has been producing sincere young men and women whose hearts are committed to God. I am not saying that I am an expert in this, but I have found the right purpose for training and am now seeing the beautiful fruit of it.
8. Calling me a “liberal” only proves the ignorance of the one who says itIf you mean by the word “liberal” having ideas different from traditional ideas, then in that broad sense I am a “liberal,” and a radical. Yes, I do have some different understandings about certain things. But don’t you also have some different ideas about certain things? Do we all have to think the same on every point? Do I have to deliver only Missionary Samuel Lee’s message? Is that what you mean by liberal? But you know what a liberal is. Liberals don’t even believe the Bible. Yet, quite to the contrary, I believe the Bible to be God’s supreme standard for human beings. It is in fact in this reason that I even refuse to give absolute obedience to man. How then can you call me a liberal?
9. It is ridiculous to label me as a “Judaist”Ever since I refused to send more women to Chicago, I have been called “Judaistic” which, as you know, means “narrow-minded” or “exclusive.” We, in the local chapters, work hard. Yet, even when good possibilities open up to advance God’s work significantly, for some reason, Missionary Samuel Lee never sends missionaries there. Is it because of fear? Jealousy? Competitiveness? Then, when promising sheep do begin to grow a little bit as leaders, he immediately snatches them away to Chicago to fatten the chapter there. The flow runs only toward the Chicago chapter, not out from it. Everyone knows this is true. When we try to help someone’s marriage in a local chapter, and tells Missionary Samuel Lee about it, he refuses give them his permission. Then the very next week he will tell us to send the woman to Chicago to marry someone there. After having sent half a dozen women to Chicago, I have to tell him, “Thank you for receiving them.” And if he sends anyone to me, then I must remember his “grace” to me all my life. This whole situation makes me laugh, as does the label “Judaistic.”
Are we really so narrow-minded as we are characterized? We now have 25 African sheep waiting for Abraham and Marilee Crofts to come as their Bible teacher in Ivory Coast. Brian will go back to Russia to help Anatoli, Igor, and Andrej. And Kimberley is working well in Romania. She is teaching over three dozen one-to-one students and a group study of about one hundred people. She sleeps only 4 or 5 hours a night. She is handicapped and yet she is willing to lay down her life for the Lord. I ask you, are these the lives of those who should be called “Judaistic”? Chicago chapter must overcome this Judaistic attitude. To them Chicago is the best chapter; and others are second or third class Christians. There they talk about loving each other, and working together in love – with second or third class Christians? That’s a big joke.
10. It is time we look again at our history and correct ourselvesIn the conflict of 1976, I fought vehemently against the Senior Shepherds. As a loyalist, I threatened them, cussed at them over the phone, and considered them to be rebellious, evil and wicked. But now I can only be saddened by or laugh at my immature and childish view of things in those days. It was totally wrong to say that the problem was the Senior Shepherd’s alone. We were told that they were lazy, bitter, rebellious and the like. I agree that their approach was not the best. They acted a little too much out of bitterness. [Every reform minded coworker up to this day has always been blamed for being bitter. But in view of the underlying events it is only too understandable that they are bitter, and it does not change anything with regard to the justification of the reform issues.]
But I deeply regret that I was totally misinformed about the whole truth. Missionary Samuel Lee’s problem was also serious. As a spiritual leader, he should have bravely taken the blame and responsibility and found a Christ-like solution. By heightening the emphasis on world mission actively (especially the pioneering of America) he did cover up the ugliness for a while, but it was only a covering; his problem is never touched. Ever since then, it has continued to come out, off and on. Gus Park’s event is one example. But since he was young at the time, it was easy to label him as “lazy,” “paralyzed,” “ungrateful,” “fearful,” and, of course, “rebellious,” our favorite word in dealing with any human problem. But in actuality, Gus Park was deeply disappointed in Missionary Samuel Lee’s double standards.
Another sad event that comes to mind is Missionary Jimmy Rhee being forced to leave UBF. Yes, he, too, made some mistakes. But he is a man of great integrity. When he went to a charismatic church, we became alarmed, myself included. Then with the label “Hallelujah Christian,” he was expelled. But later, in talking to Jimmy Rhee, I realized that again his side of the story was totally ignored. There had been tension building between Jimmy Rhee and Missionary Samuel Lee for many years. But that one event served its purpose for Missionary Samuel Lee; then it was over, Jimmy Rhee was gone. Of course, to all appearances, Missionary Samuel Lee was completely innocent in the matter; everything was Jimmy Rhee’s problem, as usual.
Then came an event surrounding Missionary James Kim’s letter. I don’t need to elaborate on that here, other than to note that once again James Kim was the problem; he was the ungrateful, rebellious one, while Missionary Samuel Lee was held up as a saint like pastor Yang Won Son. Aren’t you ashamed to say anything like this?
And now it is my turn. Again, of course, I am in the wrong, and he is in the right. Who will be the next? Then you will be the next one.
It seems very clear to me that Missionary Samuel Lee has a serious problem to deal with as a leader. I feel that he is not honest or brave. That is why he never takes responsibility for events such as these. Instead, he frantically defends himself and will do anything to keep his reputation unscathed, even not hesitating to make others scapegoats, usually Missionary Sarah Barry, or some close people who are more than happy to throw down themselves in order to cover for him. How ignoble – hiding behind the followers in an effort to save his face!
At any rate, I hope we can think about this repeated pattern of our history and stop its repetition. There is no guarantee that this will not happen again. Even if I am removed, and the imminent problem is solved, you can never be sure; history is something you can never take lightly. I feel confident that the next “event” will come from American leaders. It is almost bound to happen, because the basic American mind-frame is individualistic. They can not be suppressed like this for too long. When it happens, it will be a major disaster.
11. Please, do not fabricate history and twist the factsSometimes I feel that we are under the spell of a spirit of lying. Our leader has lied outright. And people know it, but ignore it, saying, “Well, that’s him.” Even he brags about his lies as wisdom. This is not healthy. I almost see that he believes his own lies. In the case of Missionary James Kim, Missionary Samuel Lee sent him an letter, with the official seal of UBF, promising to send five coworkers to Houston before the Summer Conference. Yet, he has instead been trying to prevent anyone – even those who want to join Houston chapter – from going there; he blames Paul Hong and Paul Hong blames him. UBF history is full of distortion and lies like this. When a man rewrites history according to his own purpose – that is dangerous. When a man’s interpretation becomes more important than the facts themselves, we have gone too far. The result can only be the manipulation of the people’s minds. Think about this: there are clear objective facts which a man experiences, sees, hears, and knows, which all men clearly understand their meaning and importance. But then another man comes along who interprets the facts his own way. With his authority he imposes his view on people. Then they no longer see what is there to be seen; instead, they “see” only what someone else interprets for them, and what he wants them to see. This weakens a man’s discernment. When this happens in the moral arena where one has to decide what is good and what is evil, there will be big problems. People will not know what is right or what is wrong. Only the leader dictates what is right and what is wrong. Eventually, even when one knows what is evil, he will choose to do evil without guilt; with the permission of the interpreter, he will do or condone or allow anything – abortion, beating someone up, or bribing someone. And they will even feel happy, not because they have done what is right in God’s eyes, but because the leader approves of them. This is a tragedy. This is moral suicide. It is against the Scriptures (1Tim 1:5; Ac 24:16).
Well, I have shared with you quite a bit. Maybe this will compensate for all the years of silence during which I never wrote to you. Anyway, I know that there is some movement to eliminate me from UBF. I am not sure whether that is right before God. However, God is my Shepherd. Whichever way he guides me, I am willing to go; I am his servant, I am at his service. And I firmly believe that God is good in all things (Ro 8:28), and that he is in control. No matter what happens, I know that he loves me, because he has taken hold of me through the eternal, inseparable love of his son (Ro 8:35-39). May the truth in love prevail (Eph 4:15): No man but Christ is King.
Your Fellow Soldier in Christ,
Peter C. (Columbus)
Peter C. (Columbus)
Apology to Jim B.
(Originally posted at the old RsqUBF discussion forum ca. 2000, and later archived at http://www.voy.com/63135/3/)
Author: Peter C.
Subject: apology to Jim B.
Hi, Jim, it's been a while. A friend told me about your writing on this site. I read your writing and I have nothing but to say, "I am deeply sorry to cause such pain to you." I am truly sorry to deeply disappoint you, when you came to me for friendship and trust. Some things you mentioned I don't remember well. But Joseph Lee can tell you that I have often wondered about you. Last time I heard about you was several years ago. I heard that you were somewhere in Michigan working in a state park or something. It took a while for me to understand many things I had done was wrong. It was not that easy to realize the fundamental cultural structure and philosophical differences between Korea and America. Looking back, i feel that i jumped into the ministry too quickly before i had spent much more time to learn about this society. I am sure that I have hurt not only you but also quite a few others, including Tom Parker, Bill Rankin, Perry Montgomery, and others. I recognize that and from the bottom of my heart I ask your and their forgiveness. Over the years my Christian life has changed dramatically. There is a Reformed pastor who has worked around Ohio State campus for near three decades. He can testify how i struggled to understand what i was doing wrong, because he helped me a lot. We had many hours of talks. He is a very gentle pastor whom I respect much as my teacher. A few years after you left, we got into trouble with the deprogrammers. This event really made me think about what i was doing. I began to think that I might be doing something that were totally against basic American values. That was when I met this pastor, his name is Bill Lewis. If anyone has any question, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
He advised to go to seminary. About that time, James Kim and I attempted to reform UBF, challenging Samuel Lee. But due to Paul Hong's (James Kim's assistant missionary at the time) secret cooperation with Samuel Lee, James Kim was dispelled from the Toledo chapter and went down to in and despair about UBF. I remained quite defiant for several years against entire UBF. But I too did not find hope about the future of UBF and decided to go to seminary. So, I attended a Lutheran Seminary in Columbus and afterward finished my doctorate in the Old Testament at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA. That is where I am now.
Jim, I again apologize the pain I have caused for you. Forgive me. Also, to tell you the truth, i do not remember my attitude toward the Native Americans and African Americans. But if indeed I said that, it was a terrible, terrible thing to say. I repent for such an unethical remark. At this point, I feel that it is such a foreign idea to me. The reason is the most important biblical text to me these days is Eph 2-3, which deals with the power of the cross that tears down the walls of hostility among different ethnic groups and makes them one new person. That is my present conviction about the future of the church. Not only so, my own experience in Virginia has made think seriously about the sufferings of the African and Native Americans. A Japanese man called Ronald Takaki wrote a book called A Different Mirror which deals with the sufferings of the minority people. This book made me also rethink about American history.
Jim, I do not deserve to ask your friendship again. But I am always willing to communicate with you.
Also, I want to let you know that I am watching the reform movement in UBF right now. I have occasionally been contacted by some UBF reform members who know our attempt to reform UBF ten years ago.
Jim, I am not going to tell you that I am a changed man, since I have no way of proving it to you. But I can say this much: that I do not look at the world the same way I used to do. My world has changed tremendously. My God, my Christ, My Holy Spirit, has changed beyond my own wildest dream.
Jim, I am very happy to hear from you, although the format isn't what I would like to have. But I guess I deserve it. I am also very glad to hear about your successful life, your doctorate. I know how hard it is to get there, since I just finished my own.
Jim, I am right now taking care of a small Korean church as an interim pastor. It is a very nice one. You may be surprised that I don't even ask them to feed sheep. I simply love them and they love me.
You know I have learned a few lessons about human life. One of them is my inability to change the past. What i did to you is not something i can change now. I will have to live with it with much shame and pain. There are quite a few things like that in my life. One of them is my failure to stand up for the truth, when some of the earlier reformers in UBF in '76 tried to reform it. I helped Samuel Lee at the time. I can say, as some tried to come to my defense, that i was too young and had no power to go against Samuel Lee. But I do not want to say that. I think it was my fault not to stand against the untruth. For that reason, in 1989 when James kim and I challenged Samuel Lee, I decided not to repeat 76 again. I stuck with James Kim. It was in a sense restoration of my own honor that I felt I lost in 76. I am sure how God will lead me from here on. But I will be very very careful not to make the same mistake I did with you. Pray for me and occasionally remind me of my sins. What you have written about me I will take it as a Christmas gift that will keep me from forgetting my sins of the past. Jim, I am not saying in sarcasm. I mean it from my heart. Some of Korean reform members asked me what they should do, since they destroyed the myth of Samuel Lee and have no alternative that could fill the void. I told them to fill it with the truth that all human beings are sinners and they all have blind spots, or dark underside. I really believe this. And I believe it not about Samuel Lee but about me first. I do not trust myself any more. If I do not learn a lesson from the past, how could I be sure that I wouldn't do it again? Even if I learn the lesson, could I still be sure that my dark side wouldn't surface unexpectedly and inflict sufferings upon some one else? For this reason, although it is painful to read your writing, I will take it as God-sent.
Jim, take care and God bless. May God abundantly bless your life with many good friends and many successes. If you are teaching, may God bless your teaching, too. If you are doing research, God bless that.