Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Mike E. (former Los Angeles UBF)

[From the reformubf discussion board, ca. 2001]

Mike E.:

I left UBF in September because I felt it was not a good environment to be in and I was losing my spiritual desire quickly. However, I do pray for reform, but more so I feel that since the whole foundation of UBF is built upon shepherding, the foundation is wrong and therefore you can't reform anything unless you get rid of the foundation. Therefore I am in favor of abolishing UBF and having the people move into healthy churches built upon JEsus Christ. If they want to stay involved in campus ministry they should get connected with CAmpus Crusade, Youth WIth A Mission and maybe Navigators (though I heard they are a bit controlling because they practice shepherding). I firmly believe Christians don't need shepherds, the Lord is their shepherd. Mentors or elders are good to learn from, but ultimately one's direction in life must be sought out from God through prayer otherwise one can never say they are following JEsus. That person who does not have God as their shepherd will never grow into a deep relationship with GOd. Rather, they will be legalistic, follow man and never experience the depth of a personal fellowship and guidance of Jesus Christ.

I really don't have hope in reform. I came from the Downey chapter and I know that Isaac Kim and the others who are senior shepherds will never think they are doing anything wrong because they are so set in their ways. This may seem fatalistic, but I call it realism. We must help those stuff in that cult to get into healthy churches so they can have a true relationship with God, not just drissles of fellowship with him here and there and from time to time.

A Brother in the fight for the Lord, Mike.



We don't hear much about the LA chapter. What is their attitude towards reform? Are their any American shepherds that acknowledge some of the problems and are sympathetic to reform? Thanks.

Mike E.:

Jeff and other curious readers,

Like most UBF chapters, reform is not spoken of openly. I was fearful to share my opinions with even my common life brothers. If anyone is sympathetic to reform they have not spoken because of fear. I know that one person was sympathetic towards reform, however, both he and I left the same week without even knowing the one was leaving. Now we fellowship at the same church and our lives are being led by God. I see a couple of my old common life brothers on campus and about three missionaries and they are not sympathetic towards reform. But I hang out with them and show them what it is like to have freedom to worship God and praise him through our life. I hope they all leave UBF and find healthy churches. I pray that when many leave LA UBF, Missionary Isaac and other senior missionaries and shepherds might open their eyes to see GOd is not blessing the work of UBF and they may learn to live in the freedom of Christ and serve God.

Joe Chung:

I'm sorry to be nosy, and you don't have to answer this, but are you the American Shepherd who posted the following messages? [Old postings with justifications of UBF]

If you are the same American Shepherd, what happened between August and September that made you want to leave UBF?

Mike E.:

Yes, Joe I was the American Shepherd who posted those posts. What probably happened was I was trying really hard to justify UBF because it was the first church I went to and I was there almost four years. But obviously there was a problem in my heart concerning the ministry if I was visiting this site and try to justify the ministry. Probably not that much changed in my attitude between August and September, but since I have been out for about six months my eyes have been opened up a lot and I see things way differently.

Joe Chung:

Mike, were there any particular incidents in the LA chapter that made you decide to leave? I know you wrote that it was just not a good environment. I know personally about trying hard in vain to justify UBF practices.

Mike E.:

Joe, there were several incidents that prompted me to leave and the main reason that I wrote the environment was not good was because it would be lengthy to explain the incidents. However, since you asked, I feel the time is right to examine things and share what happened exactly.

I came to UBF in the spring of 98 and was born again at the Easter Conference that year. I delievered my first message that Fall and I stayed at the Bible center over winter break for intensive Genesis common life training. Then I moved into common life permanently. I was zealous for GOd, I had two sheep who came to the service and were both born again at the Easter Conference in 99. UBF was the first church I attended besides going to Catholic church a few times, so this was how I defined Christianity and I truly felt so thankful GOd had lead me to a ministry where the people were all totally committed to JEsus (I thought other Christians were weak and worldly because they didn't teach the Bible all the time). In Spring of 2000 both the sheep that I was raising up ran away. This made me lose a lot of desire and it was hard because one of them went back to the world. I generally lost a lot of zeal at this point. I was also struggling a lot with lust and so I was very depressed as a Christian, but again UBF was all I knew and I felt that I would never leave UBF. In the summer of 2000 I went to Russia with the American journey team, and this allowed me to gain some spiritual strength because I was all excited for a while, but again I was living an unsatisfied Christian life and I was continually defeated by my sin and depressed. As you know in 2000 there was the world wide reform movement and internet sites like this one and RSQUBF went up. At the end of the year 2000 and 2001 I found out about these sites, and in curiousity I visited them. But it was hard to admit UBF was wrong and for some reason I really didn't want to admit UBF was wrong.

So now back to the original story. After that brief (or not so brief) introduction it is easier to understand that there must have been some problem in UBF land at this point. I had lost a lot of desire to do anything but out of fear I could not say that, so I went through the motions. This made me very frustrated and I was constantly wondering about UBF and my relationship with others, especially my shepherd, was very strained. I became difficult (that _expression cracks me up so I had to put it in here). My shepherd tried to train me to make me easy to guide, for he said I was heavy and stone faced all the time. I stayed at the center for training because I was sick of getting up legalistically for daily bread even though I only got four or five hours of sleep (and I slept the most of all the brothers)! During message training I was rebuked for playing basketball instead of practicing my message - that was a wise rebuke - crush the spirit of the messenger an hour before he delivers the message. This was one incident. Mostly messsage training was the time when I would have the hardest time because I would have to deal with my shepherd and he would always try to figure out what my problem was and rebuke me. Another time we had a bbq at the new house we moved into and the church was invited after the service, so we needed people to stay behund and cook, but one brother's shepherd told him he had to come to the first service, and I was mad because I knew this was not right -it was pure legalism. At the Spring Conference 2001, a new sheep came. He was Christian, and he was saying "Amen" (which is okay to say in UBF), but he was also saying "Preach on brother" and "That's right" and stuff like that. If I was delivering a message that would encourage me, but my shepherd got up and told him to be quiet three times and I almost got off the stage (I was presider) and told my shepherd that this person was a child of GOd praising GOd and he was like a Pharisee or the disciples when they stopped the little children coming to JEsus. I wanted to tell him it is better to have a millstone tied around his neck than be doing what he was doing. SO this showed me how controlling the environment was and not flexible to the worship of GOd. Everything is so set and this creates legalism and a controlling spirit. The last incident was the summer of 2001. We had a summer WEdnesday night program and the messenger was in my team of four brothers who had Bible study with my shepherd. We were the mature young brothers and we received way too honor for being as young in spirit as we were. This caused all of us to struggle with pride and competition among one another but that is just a side note to this story. The messenger didn't call my shepherd when he was preparing the message, so my shepherd's wife helped this brother finish the message at the last second. After the service two of the brothers in our four brother group bible study team had singing practice, but right after the service my shepherd pulled all of us to the back room and started to rebuke the messenger for not preparing properly and calling him. Now this guy who prepared the message worked so hard and didn't sleep much for three days, yet he was rebuked for sleeping too much and not working hard enough. So knowing this I was pretty pissed off, but I was also mad at the fact the whole choir was waiting for us because we had to be there while he was rebuking someone else. SO I asked if we could go to singing practice. He said "no" and I said "why not?" (obviously I responded with attitude because I was angered). SO since I talked back he asked what was in my mind, and I said "The word of God" and he said "no, a demon". And then he rebuked me and like always eventually I had to apologize to him (I had spoken against him when I thought he was wrong a few times, but to no avail, each time he humiliated me and made me apologize to him while not even recognizing that he was wrong in the least bit). This great and humble shepherd of mine said he never wanted to lord over anybody, but regardless of his desire that's what he did and that's what he is continuing to do. So these few events helped trigger my decision to leave along with a lot of stuff I read on this page and rsqubf. The real problem was that when I frustrated by these things, instead of coming to God I hardened my heart, and I really don't know if I should blame myself or the spiritual abuse because I was beat up pretty bad mentally and going through a lot of psychological turmoil. But I started drinking in my depression instead of going to meeting and I knew that if I didn't leave soon my Christian faith would be destroyed because I was gaining more and more desire to go back to the world and live a carefree life. SO I left UBF and it took a while before I recovered but GOd is so good. He has blessed me now. Also no one should say you have to be in top spiritual condition before you leave UBF so that you can pray and make the right decision, because that will never happen, that is just a thought of the devil to keep you in his hold and under the bondage of man in UBF. Anyhow, GOd is good, he has restored my spiritual desire and first love and I pray deeply, drink the word and want to live for JEsus. I still am quite a sinner, but GOd is helping me to overcome myself by his power not my own futile struggle the UBF way. There is so much freedom in Christ. GOd wants to give us life to full. He wants to guide our lives and bless us abundantly, but UBF does not allow GOd's Spirit to guide us and live life to the full in Christ and experience his freedom. Freedom to worship GOd. Thank GOd he lead me out of that terrible environment into a healthy pasture where I can feed on the word and drink deep of the freedom and love of JEsus. Praise GOd. This is my story of why I left UBF, Joe.