Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Joachim D. (Bonn UBF)

Testimony by Joachim D. as of May 11th, 2001

(On May 10th, 2001, Joachim D., like Andreas P. a long time member of UBF Bonn whose wife also was devoted to the chapter director Peter Chang, confirmed to the director of Germany UBF at that time, Abraham Lee, that the testimony given by Andreas P. on April 15th 2001 was in accordance with the facts. Joachim supplemented that testimony with further observations he made in Bonn UBF and gives an impression of the circumstances under which the members of Bonn UBF have to live.)

What I have seen, heard and experienced in Bonn UBF.

One can say that coworkers are required to show absolute obedience in their relationship to M. Peter [the Bonn UBF chapter director].

Here is one of many examples of the absolute obedience facing a direction given by M. Peter:

For this years spring Bible conference, I was to give a message from John chapter 21. All messengers had to write a twenty page testimony and to memorize by heart M. Peter’s message and the Bible text. In addition to this, all the messengers had to meet every day for about six weeks prior to the conference in the prayer house to pray and then to practice out loud from 10pm to 12 midnight. I was supposed to deliver my message once beforehand at the Sunday service. During that week I wrote about a twelve page testimony and could recite the message to some extent by heart. Nevertheless, on Saturday evening M. Sarah [the wife of the chapter director] explained to me that I would not preach tomorrow. Then she said, that I could continue writing my testimony that evening and laughed scornfully. When she left, I asked what was so funny with that. M. Petrus, her son, who also was there, answered immediately: “Mama is always so happy.” Later M. Sarah returned again and apologized for her scorn. That encouraged me to continue writing my testimony; by Tuesday I had 16 pages and by Wednesday 18 pages, and after another personal prayer time with M. Sarah, where she told me to write 20 pages at any means, I wrote the last two pages on Thursday. After that I memorized the Bible text by heart and practiced the message once again. Shortly before midnight I wanted to leave. M. Peter had come back from Leipzig a few minutes before and sat in the living room eating. I said hello to him and goodbye and went home. I had just arrived and the phone rang. M. Sarah told me that I absolutely must come back and practice the message again because I left ten minutes too early. I said it was enough and that I had to work the next day, and also that I had been working on the message for two weeks every evening and that the heart should be important, and not those ten minutes. When she began to insist and force her point of view on me, I hung up. At half past midnight, the phone rang again. M. Sarah said: “I tell you, that with this attitude, with your self-will, and your individualism, you are destroying the holy vessel of prayer and cannot be used as a messenger of God’s word.”

Once he literally said at the announcements at the end of a meeting: “I am God.” He did not say that he was like God, or that he was God’s servant or God’s representative, but he said, he was God. That was not a slip of the tongue or attribute to his poor German, because right after this statement he deliberately paused, after which he let us decide either to accept this or “go out through the open door now”. At that time no one said a word; all was silent and just stared straight ahead, I did too. In my heart I was shocked and at the same time ashamed to be in a fellowship where the leaders magnifies himself so. Apostle Paul’s words came to my mind where he says: “For I am the least of the Apostles, and am not even worthy to be called an Apostle ...” and, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”

M. Peter occasionally even takes up a wooden club to hit disobedient coworkers resp. to lead them to repentance. The bad thing is not that he hits somebody, thereby showing his authoritative training style (at this point, he likes to distract and to refer to humanists who spoil and ruin their children by giving them too much love - which might be correct, however it does not justify his behavior being complacent in his position and to some extent enjoying his power and authority. I could recognize this motive in his heart, when he once, without apparent reason, except for intimidation and as a demonstration of power, put his club down demonstratively on the desk at the beginning of a testimony sharing meeting of some shepherds. Also, his smiling face in doing revealed to me that he had no interest in serious topics, but that he was simply playing with his power and authority.) When I had previously participated in breakfast fellowship, it happened now and then that a coworker was severely rebuked by M. Peter, and on account of this he had to, for example, run several times up to the nearby “cross mountain”. As soon as the person had risen and had gone out to the door, he was often laughed at. This was all so much different than the seriousness M. Peter had just shown. In my opinion, that was no serious heartfelt sympathy for other’s prayer requests, but instead it bordered on being nothing more than playing with people and arrogance.

According to the direction of M. Peter Chang it is a great privilege when one is allowed to serve him. Also, it is considered good and basic training to serve him so that we can grow and become greater servants of God. His giving and pain suffering spiritual servantship for us (as coworkers always stress in their testimonies) consists downright in helping us to deny ourselves and in developing a close relationship with the servant of God, i.e., in serving him. In this way, he daily leaves the cleaning of the prayer house, his home, to others; every day he lets one of the “house churches” [UBF term for a family of coworkers] cook meals for his family and others at their own expense, likes to be massaged by the woman coworkers after the meals and lets others chauffeur him here and there. For a while I was responsible for providing breakfast. Once, when the meal had not tasted good to him, probably because the bread was somewhat dry, he complained and became angry. I only said, that one was to always give thanks to God. Afterwards I was dismissed from him with sharp words about my sins of ingratitude and self-righteousness, and was immediately excluded from the breakfast fellowship and was degraded to being a spiritual problem. M. Peter and M. Stephanus [his closest coworker] also enjoy going to the sauna. I learned this indirectly from S. Elke [my wife], since she had bought M. Stephanus a bath-towel for the sauna as a birthday gift. I also learned from another coworker that women coworkers had participated in this.

The fact that the so-called “cordialness” occasionally turns into inappropriateness is shown by the following example: S. Elke was already in the last stages of pregnancy with Rebekka. M. Stephanus in front of the coat rack in our center and embraces S. Elke from behind, stroking her stomach and thanking God for the new life in it (or words similar to this, I cannot remember the exact wording). S. Elke was naturally frightened, but tried not to show it. Only in the evening while we were at home, did she tell me about it, and she asked me, among other things, whether I myself would start doing such a thing, for example, to a woman missionary.

“To serve guests,” M. Peter undertook “discipleship training trips“ or “missionary trips” into the alps ten times in one single year. After some coworkers had written about such trips in their world mission letters (every Monday evening), M. Peter one day forbid writing about such trips. A discipleship training trip to Spain had been planned for this April. When the time for preparations ran short, the plans were abandoned. M. Peter briefly commentated after the Sunday worship service: “I repented of my vacation spirit.”

Most households are greatly in debt. In order to sacrifice for the acquisition houses on the Minister Martini road, we were challenged to “voluntarily” give five-digit amounts of money. The house church of S. Peter P., for example, offered DM 70,000 [about $32,000] with the help of his father cosigning for a loan (M. Peter praised this as exemplary at one meeting). Other shepherd house churches offered mostly DM 50,000 [$23,000]. Everyone had difficulty getting credit. S. Elke and I offered DM 20,000 [$9,000]. At that time I was unemployed and thus not creditworthy at every bank. [Joachim reports here that he even had been indoctrinated to do certain illegal things “by faith” in order to get money for Bonn UBF as soon as possible. To protect him, this passage has been removed.]

Through a hint of some coworkers, I concluded a building loan contract. In order to obtain the building loan as credit, I made false appraisals about the actual value of the building inherited from my grandfather. In order to get the credit as fast as possible, I forged the missing signatures of my sisters and father, “by faith.”

Officially, thanksgiving offerings are always voluntarily given. But they are actually always arranged and determined from “above.” Several times M. Peter told me how high my monthly offering for world mission had to be. If the thanksgiving offering is not as high as requested, then one will be put under pressure through one of M. Peter’s intimate coworkers. One time during my student days, when I gave an offering somewhat beyond my means at that time (with the reason for the forgiving grace of to God on an enclosed note), the next day M. Sarah investigated me why I gave this thanksgiving offering, and asked if I might not have offered it for another special reason.

The monthly world mission offering should be based on trust to each other. I found that alright. But soon a form was presented to me to sign, with something like the following wording: “I herewith promise to bring monthly DM ... for thanksgiving offering.” I rejected this for the reason that it downright gives the impression of distrust to me, but again and again I was pushed to sign with the reason being that it was quite normal. Only in the first years we heard something like an accounting report at the end of the year, but soon this was discontinued.

When we were expecting guests in the upcoming summer, we were supposed to bring a thanksgiving offering already in December the year before from our Christmas bonus salary. Then when in the summer the guests came, we were supposed to give again a thanksgiving offering. When I pointed out that we had already offered for that purpose last year the only response was: “That offering was used for something else.” I still have no idea what for.

For different events, e.g. the birth of a child, finishing a degree, obtaining a job one applied for, special offerings were requested. Recent examples of such offerings include the new grand piano from S. Xenofon and the new car for M. Peter or M Sarah. For example, some coworkers would need a car because of the children or because of the travel distance to work. S. Peter P. works 50 km from Bonn and his car one day broke down. The train connection to his workplace is difficult, and it takes several hours to get to and from there. He cannot afford a car, because he is highly indebted. Some coworkers again and again had problems paying their rent, getting trouble with the landlords, because they were months behind. From M. Peter’s point of view, this is God’s training for coworkers to become independent of their situation. In addition to this, it was forbidden for coworkers to help each other materially, or in even lending to others. Everything had to be centrally run and controlled.

Everything is owned communally. But M. Peter alone uses everything as he pleases. When my grandfather died, I wanted to drive to the funeral. I asked M. Peter beforehand whether I could take one of our cars. He agreed to this. When I met him, for one hour I had to discuss with him about S. Elke not going with me for being “spiritually unclear”. After discussing this back and forth, I accepted that she should stay. After I told S. Elke about the decision for her to stay, M. Peter told me that I also must not go. After discussing this back and forth for another hour he told me that all the cars were being used (which, as I found out later, was a lie). Finally I stopped the discussion and at the last minute rented a car, in order to arrive on time. In the glaring contrast to this, it later happened that the father of M. Sarah (or M. Abraham?, I don’t remember) was once seriously ill, a special offering was arranged for all in order to pay the flight costs to Korea.
About my married life:

Monday morning is the leaders’ meeting; everyone participates in it. Paul [my son], who is one and a half years old, remains home alone until 11am, sometimes later, then he would be fed. Afterwards, S. Elke [my wife] goes to the prayer house to help out there to prepare the mid-day meal. After that, she shops for and cooks food for the high school children’s evening meal which takes place in the “world mission house”. Often it is 5pm before she gets home to feed Paul again. She must then run off, in order to be ready for the fellowship meeting which takes place at 6pm in the center. After that there is World Mission letter writing. When she comes home again around 10pm, she feeds Paul the third time. Often, she is then so tired that she simply falls asleep wherever she sits down. Finally, she mostly cleans up our apartment far past midnight, because the fellowship breakfast of the leading coworkers takes place in our home the following day. S. Elke participates at the fellowship breakfast from Tuesday to Friday, and lately also several times on Saturday. I have breakfast in the center with M. Sarah and some of the other coworkers. On Tuesday and Friday S. Elke works half-days, because we cannot manage with my wages due to the offerings and debt payments. Most of the time she returns from the fellowship breakfast around 9:30am. Afterwards Paul is fed and S. Elke works until approximately 2:30pm. Paul remains home alone. If ever at all, I have breakfast with S. Elke on Saturday or Sunday, however she most often bakes Saturday mornings to have a cake ready for the Sunday service. In the evening I go most often directly from work to fish sheep and then to the center. Having dinner fellowship with my family is a rare event. Instead, S. Elke often brings something for me to eat at the center.

Presently, in some families, husband and wife live separately (S. Fels, S. Andreas, M. Isaac), some have done this for years. That is M. Peter’s training method, to lead spiritually unclear coworkers to repentance. When I arrived a couple of times too late for “Daily Bread,” also S. Elke (via M. Peter) made the suggestion to me, whether I should not move out and get an apartment by myself.