(This was the last sogam shared by Mike L. as a member of the Akron, OH chapter of UBF. See the Update at the end.)
I Must Obey God Rather Than Men
“Peter and the other apostles replied, 'We must obey God rather than men.'”
My name is Mike L. I am sharing this testimony on Friday, September 10, 2004. I was born in Canton, Ohio and currently live in Akron, Ohio. I am a PhD student at the University of Akron, majoring in Public Administration. God has blessed me to receive a Bachelors Degree in Secondary Education and a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Akron. For the previous seven and one-half years I have attended Akron University Bible Fellowship (UBF). I served as a campus Shepherd in Akron UBF. In this testimony, I want to think about God's work, in my past, present, and future. Generally, we write this type of testimony at the beginning of each year. However, God has laid it on my heart to write a special testimony to share this evening.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Thank you for your grace and mercy to die on the cross for my sins and rise from the grave three days later. Through Christ, I am free from living a sinful, worthless life. Instead, I am able to live for Christ everyday. I pray that I may live for Christ each day. Thank you for the opportunity to share this testimony. I pray in Jesus' Name, AMEN.
Part One - God's Work in my Life Through Akron UBF.
In December of 1996, I was involved in a group Bible study with St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Canton, Ohio and another local Methodist church. The group Bible study was for high school and college age young people. Due to lack of interest in the Bible study, it was cancelled. In fact, I was the only person who was still desirous to participate in the Bible study. I realized that I needed Bible study in my life. I wanted to grow spiritually and learn God's word more deeply. At this point, I prayed for God to lead me to a new Bible study. In January 1997, while I was sitting in the University of Akron library, M. Isaac Kim invited me to study the Bible with him one-to-one. M. Isaac Kim and his wife, M. Rebekah, were missionaries from Korea. They had come from Korea to serve in Toledo UBF in 1977. M. Isaac quit his good job in Toledo to move to Akron to establish a church. In August, 1996, they came to Akron to teach the Bible and raise disciples among University of Akron students. I accepted this invitation as an answer to my prayers. One-to-one Bible study with M. Isaac was very good. He provided question sheets to use for each study. Our first study was in Mark 6. We studied the rest of Mark's gospel in 1997. I received God's word through each Bible study.
In April 1997, M. Isaac invited me to attend an Easter Bible Conference with Toledo UBF. I enjoyed this conference. I always enjoy hearing the message of Jesus' death and resurrection. Also, I met M. Isaac's wife, M. Rebekah and their two sons, Paul and Jacob. At that time, they were the only members of Akron UBF. Despite the small numbers, there was a clear desire to preach the gospel to University of Akron student and to raise disciples in Akron UBF. In August of 1997, Art and Rhoda Belcher came to cowork with M. Isaac and M. Rebekah in Akron. They have three children, Peter, Paul, and Becky. S. Art gave up a high paying job in Toledo and incurred much debt to come to Akron. In 1998, M. Mary Kwak came to Akron on a visitors VISA. She stayed for eighteen months and returned to Korea in the Spring of 2000. M. Mary married M. Joshua Min in April of 2001. In July, M. Joshua and Mary Min returned to Akron as M. Mary was blessed with a permanent work VISA. They have one child, Grace, born January 10, 2003 and are expecting another child. Along with these coworkers, God has blessed me to meet and make good friends in Akron UBF. They include: Stephen Childs, Rock Mendenhall, Josh Jacobisin, Mike Wagner, Jung-Sek Seo, and Christina Zhou. I also developed good relationships with many other church members in Toledo, Columbus, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Chicago, Eau Claire, Detroit, Canada, and China.
When I look back over the past seven and one-half years, there are many reasons for which I am thankful to God for using University Bible Fellowship (UBF).
First, through Bible study and conferences, I learned the importance of having a world mission vision. Previously, I at best vaguely prayed for the gospel to be preached throughout the world. There are many countries in this world where the gospel is prohibited and people are persecuted severely for preaching the gospel. I realize the importance of praying for the gospel to be preached throughout the world. Currently, I pray that missionaries may be sent to Iraq. I pray that Iraq may become a Christian nation in the Middle East and be used to send missionaries throughout the Middle East. I pray for the gospel to be preached in all of the Muslim countries throughout the world. (Unfortunately, the world mission vision does not encompass the entire world. The vision is to teach the Bible only to college students. Further, the vision is to raise disciples for UBF. The priority turns out not to be Bible study, but molding people into what UBF believes them to be.)
Second, I learned that preaching the gospel is enhanced through developing a personal relationship with people. Previously, I did not think about the importance of making friends with people when I preach the gospel. Of course, God wants me to be ready to preach the gospel to anyone at anytime, regardless of whether I can be friends or never speak to them again. Nevertheless, to preach the gospel, developing a friendship is important. Jesus developed a friendship with his disciples as he preached the gospel to them, calling them friends in John's gospel. When I have taught the Bible 1:1 to college students, I attempted to make friends with the students when we study the Bible. (Personal relationships are important when preaching the gospel. However, the personal relationship fostered with Bible study in UBF is an unhealthy shepherd-sheep relationship. The shepherd teaches the sheep and is charged with raising the sheep up as a shepherd. The shepherd ranks higher than the sheep and thus the sheep must consider the shepherd to always be correct. The good sheep in UBF obey every direction from the shepherd and do not ask questions. There is no room in the relationship for the shepherd to be wrong in his relationship with the sheep. If the sheep disagrees with the shepherd, the sheep is considered a burden to the shepherd. My relationships with Isaac and Rebekah Kim and Art and Rhoda Belcher were unhealthy throughout my years in UBF. I had to accept that they knew God's will for me in all circumstances. I was told that questioning anything that they said or did was being disobedient to God's servants whom God placed as spiritual leaders for me. I was rebuked for asking them to verify their statements to me with scripture. This was meant with much rebuke.)
Third, coworking. I learned the importance of working together with others in church. The opportunities I received to co-work with fellow Akron UBF members taught me how to better relate to people. Conferences especially provided an important time in which to co-work together. In Akron UBF, our members came together to perform dances, sing in choirs, share testimonies, perform mono-dramas, and deliver messages. I am especially thankful for the opportunities to dance at conferences. The fact that a tall, overweight, unathletic, uncoordinated klutz like myself could dance in front of hundreds of people was encouraging to me. (I learned that working with other people is necessary, but I did not learn what the Kims and Belchers hidden messages were. Coworking in UBF is not defined as a group of people working together on equal terms. True coworking is when everyone contributes ideas respects the ideas of others. Coworking in UBF requires strict adherence to the spiritual order. UBF defines good coworkers as those who obey direction from someone higher on the spiritual order. Isaac and Rebekah never cared about my ideas or contribution to an activity beyond following their direction. If I did what they wanted without question, I was a good coworker. If not, I was a bad coworker.)
Of course, most co-working involves the day-to-day serving within the church. God used my serving in this small, pioneering ministry to struggle with relationships with other church members. I have made many mistakes over the past 7 and ½ years in dealing with people. I have become angry many times. One time I was so angry with other church members that I punched a hole in the wall of one of the Bible study rooms. On two different occasions, I screamed at M. Mary during an argument. I cursed at S. Art during a Bible study in 1999. I slammed my hand against M. Joshua's dashboard when I was angry about the traffic. I also hurt S. Art and demeaned our Bible study by calling him a C- Bible teacher. In addition, I am late to many meetings. I am rarely responsible enough to be on time. I have repented for all of these sins and made Amends in for each of these sins. (I paid for the repair and repainting of the wall. I apologized for each mistake I made.) Further, I learned from each of them how to relate with others without becoming angry, loud, and destructive.
Fourth, I learned about the importance of daily prayer, meditation, and Bible study. In the past, I only prayed when I did something wrong or something great happened. I read the Bible sporadically. God used UBF to provide an example of daily prayer, meditation, and Bible study. M. Isaac prays everyday at 5:30AM. It is important to pray continually (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Currently, I pray to wake up every morning at 5AM to pray. If I over sleep, I still want to wake up and pray to God regarding the coming day. In addition, I pray to read the Bible everyday and to read the entire Bible in one year. Daily Bible reading and meditation reminds me of the gospel (1 Cor 15:1). It is tempting to forget about God and simply spend the day doing what I want. But, I pray that I may spend the day doing what God wants. (In UBF, daily prayer is regimented with requirements to strictly adhere to the prayer topics given by the leader. Prayer should be a time when we can freely seek God. In UBF, prayer was a time to bottle God into the prescribed prayer topics. These topics included one million missionaries sent out from America in the 21st century, 120 flock of sheep in Akron UBF, and America to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These prayer topics seem good on the surface, but there was little or no room for the personal struggles of UBF members. The only prayers UBF members prayed about themselves dealt with how many sheep to fed, fishing, raising disciples, and for how many attendants at the next UBF conference. People live dynamic lives that go beyond their church activities and should be encouraged to pray much deeper than for church numbers and church activity.
Part Two - My UBF Shepherd Life
There were positive aspects of Akron UBF. However, Akron UBF church leaders mistreated me. This is what I learned from the mistreatment made by Akron UBF toward me.
I began teaching the Bible to University of Akron college students in May of 1998. There are a number of people I have taught over the years. Those that I have studied with for more than one year include: Tommy, Mario, Jongman, and Kyuk Hyun. When I began teaching the Bible to college students one-to-one, I thought that I should give direction to students. I wanted to follow the shepherding style that I observed from my shepherds: particularly M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, and S. Art. I thought that as a shepherd, I should encourage sheep to follow my direction. I thought that my idea for the sheep must be the best. One student named Kyuk Hyun Kim studied the Bible with me for about two years. He came from Korea to study Polymer Engineering. He studied the Bible faithfully with me. In addition, he was a committed member of a Korean church. He wanted to serve new Korean students coming to the University of Akron. His church wanted to preach the gospel to Korean students and provide a network of friends to help new students adjust to life in a foreign country. He wanted to study with me to have Christian fellowship and improve his stuttering problem. However, I thought that he had to come to Akron UBF to cowork with me. I thought that if he was going to study the Bible with me he had to eventually come to church with me and serve in my church. Instead of realizing that it was a blessing to study with Kyuk Hyun, I thought that it was a burden. Instead of realizing that we were two Christian brothers coming together to encourage each other in God's word, I thought I had to make him my disciple. This may of thinking was wrong. I should have accepted Kyuk Hyun as a Christian brother from another church who wanted to study the Bible and have fellowship. I repented for this poor attitude and prayed that anyone God allows to study the Bible with me is a blessing. I should study with them as long as God wants to bring them to Bible study, even if they want to serve at another church than mine.
I also learned that I should not impose my ideas on sheep. Rather, a sheep-shepherd relationship requires that as a shepherd, I focus on the forgiveness of Jesus Christ of our sins. My Bible Student [Author's Note: My Bible Student is used to protect the identity of an innocent victim of Akron UBF] studied the Bible with M. Isaac beginning in the summer of 1997. He was in and out of Akron UBF and also studied with S. Art and M. Rebekah. In January of 2002, M. Isaac asked me to study one-to-one with My Bible Student. I had observed that UBF shepherds want to train sheep to help them grow as disciples. I had been specifically trained in 1999 regarding my testimonies and in 2000 I went to Toledo to receive training. At this point, I will not go into details about each training. The point here is that I learned that as a shepherd I should train sheep. Therefore, I wanted to train My Bible Student. M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, S. Art, and S. Rhoda had stated how their hearts were filled with Christ's love to train me to be a campus shepherd (a priestly and holy nation). I prayed that I may train My Bible Student to be a campus shepherd. Because of My Bible Student going in and out of the ministry under extreme circumstances, when he had wanted to come back to Bible study, he had previously been trained by M. Isaac and S. Art that he could not simply return and participate in every activity. Instead, he would have to begin by faithfully studying 1:1. Then, he could come to the worship service. After faithful worship service attendance and Bible study, he could share a testimony. I thought that this would be a good idea when I studied with him. Previously, B., my Bible student had left the ministry numerous times to indulge in sin and then would return and want to be treated as if nothing happened. I wanted to impart upon him the importance of being faithful to Bible study and other church activities. I would begin by teaching the Bible one-to-one to him. I would instruct him that if he was not faithful to Bible study he would be out of the ministry. I developed a plan regarding My Bible Student's training and met with the M. Isaac and M. Rebekah and S. Art and S. Rhoda to discuss it. They approved. My plan was that My Bible Student could study the Bible with me 1:1 on the University of Akron (UA) campus. He could not come to the UBF church. Then, after faithful Bible study, he could begin coming to the worship service. Then, after faithfully coming to the worship service, he could attend the Friday testimony sharing. After faithfully attending the Friday testimony sharing meeting, he could share testimonies. In God's time, My Bible Student would be raised as a campus shepherd. I arrogantly thought that if I loved him enough, prayed for him enough, and served him enough My Bible Student would be moved to turn from his sinful life and live for Christ. My Bible Student could not meet this standard. After about six weeks of Bible study, My Bible Student began to miss Bible study appointments to indulge in sin. (I do not want to discuss his personal sins.) I told him that if he missed one more Bible study, he would be expelled from our church. (The M. Isaac and M. Rebekah and S. Art and S. Rhoda approved that I give My Bible Student this direction. My Bible Student missed a Bible study to indulge in sin. In April of 2002, I called him and told him that he was expelled from UBF. Throughout this time, I was burdened by My Bible Student's mistakes. I thought that I was such a loving, sacrificial shepherd. I thought that I had given him my best and that it was right to expel him.
Part Three - The Worst UBF Abuse
Personally, 2002 was the worst year of my life. On January 20, 2002, four days before my parents' 31st wedding anniversary, my Mom decided to separate from my Dad. Moreover, she did not tell me where she lived for three months after she moved. I barely saw her. Our family only found out where she lived because she wanted to install cable and Time Warner called my Dad's house by mistake. She had been living with another man since the night she left my Dad. This hurt me very deeply. My Mom barely talked to me. Our relationship was terrible. I was developing a hatred for her. I prayed that God might restore our relationship.
In addition, I was discouraged about my shepherd life. Not only did My Bible Student stop studying with me, but the five sheep I had studied with consistently in 2001 stopped studying the Bible with me. Two graduated and moved away, two decided not to accept Christ as their Savior, and the other was the previously mentioned Kyuk Hyun. I could not find anyone who wanted to study the Bible. I was discouraged about my mission life.
In addition, had graduated with an M.A. in Economics and was entering a new PhD program in Public Administration. I was concerned about whether I could succeed.
By the summer of 2002, all of these issues were weighing heavy on my heart. M. Isaac asked me to share a life testimony at the 2002 Great Lakes Summer Bible Conference. I honestly shared all of these unresolved issues in my testimony. I prayed that God might restore my relationship with my Mom, that I may have desire to preach the gospel to college students, and that God may strengthen me to work hard in my PhD studies. Generally, life testimonies end with some type of resolution. However, I could not share about any resolution because I was in the middle of the struggle. Also, M. Luke Hong from Montreal said that my testimony was too long. He asked me to shorten it. I attempted to shorten it, but I could not explain my struggles and prayer topics with any fewer words. I did not share a longer testimony because I had pride in myself. Honestly, I shared my testimony before God as a prayer. After I shared the testimony, numerous people stated that they liked my testimony. S. Art thought that I shared a good testimony. However, M. Isaac and M. Rebekah did not like my testimony. They told me afterwards that they were embarrassed by it. They stated that they were embarrassed because I did not focus my testimony on how sacrificial and loving M. Isaac and M. Rebekah were. I had previously thanked M. Isaac and M. Rebekah many times (in every Friday testimony). I was not struggling with this issue. I wrote in my testimony the issues in which I was struggling and I asked for prayer support.
When we returned from the conference, M. Isaac told me that my testimony revealed that I was proud and that I needed to be trained. He told me to rewrite the testimony. Further, that I should submit to testimony training. I did not understand this training. When I asked M. Isaac to explain why I needed to be trained, he said that I was proud. I asked him why he thought I was proud. He did not give me any reason. Instead, he said that my asking him why he thought I was proud revealed my pride. I did not understand what he thought I had pride in. I do not consider anything I have as a product of my own ability. I give God the credit for everything I do. In every victory, my source of strength and my source of hope is Christ alone. M. Isaac did not listen to me. Instead, he continued to state that I was proud. I wrote my testimonies and submitted them to M. Isaac. I wrote what I received from the scripture. I continued to pray about my Mom, my mission as a campus Shepherd, and my school studies. I thought that he would look at my testimony personally and give me constructive feedback. Instead, he made copies of my testimony and distributed it to S. Art and S. Rhoda and M. Joshua and M. Mary at their group Bible study. They totally disrespected what I received from God. Instead, M. Isaac would meet with me and state that my testimony revealed my pride and that I had to repent of pride. He did not explain why he thought I was proud. I continued to write testimonies based on God's word and on the personal struggles in my life. M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, S. Art, S. Rhoda, M. Joshua, and M. Mary continued to put down my testimony because they expected me to repent of pride that they never explained. By October of 2002, M. Isaac told me that I should not share my testimony on Friday. Yet, they failed to provide any communication. He expected me to repent without explanation of why he thought I had pride. This training did not stop there. M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, S. Art, S. Rhoda, M. Joshua, and M. Mary did not like anything I did. No matter what I said or did, they always found fault. M. Isaac and S. Art said that they no longer wanted me to be in Akron UBF. They said to “Go back to your father's church.”
I refused. I stated that God called me to Akron UBF and that I would not listen to man telling me to leave. M. Isaac and S. Art accepted my desire to remain. They decided that they should give me humbleness training. M. Isaac said that I needed to be disciplined. He asked me to study Hebrews 12 with S. Art and to memorize Hebrews 12. Hebrews 12 focuses on God's discipline. M. Isaac used this scripture to justify his human discipline of me. Then he said that I should write a testimony called What is Your Name based on Mark 5:4 when Jesus asked the man who was possessed by demons 'What is your name?' M. Isaac and S. Art thought that because I asked them to explain why they thought I was proud that I must be demon possessed. I wrote the testimony and concluded that God wants me to be a campus shepherd and that my name is Shepherd Mike L. M. Isaac thought that I needed extensive humbleness training decided to call me Humble Servant Mike. This humbleness training would include setting up chairs at meetings, cleaning the bathroom, greeting everyone by saying hello to everyone at church (M. Isaac said people would purposely ignore my 'hello' as part of my training), and memorizing each Sunday passage to recite on Fridays. In addition, I could not be the last one up from the table during the Friday snack eating time. M. Isaac stated that I was the last one to finish eating all of the time and that it was not good. Regardless of the circumstances, I had to absolutely make sure that I got up before the last person did.
This training was legalistic. M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, S. Art, S. Rhoda, M. Joshua, and M. Mary did not administer training to me based on the gospel. There was no mention of Jesus Christ and his grace, love, compassion, and forgiveness during this time. The light of Jesus was not preached to me. Instead, M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, S. Art, S. Rhoda, M. Joshua, and M. Mary imposed training based on their own human ideas. They did not explain what why I was proud. They only stated that they wanted me to do what they wanted. If I obeyed M. Isaac and M. Rebekah than I would be humble. If not, I was proud. God was not present. They called me proud because I did not want to do what they wanted.
Through this experience, God revealed to me that I had not shown God's love to My Bible Student. Instead, I imposed my own ideas on My Bible Student. I learned this because I was treated by my shepherds the same way I treated My Bible Student. They imposed their human ideas upon me just as I imposed my human ideas upon My Bible Student. In November of 2002, I repented for the way I had treated My Bible Student and the other sheep in which God blessed me. I prayed that if God ever permitted me with the opportunity to teach the Bible to My Bible Student again I would not impose my own human ideas upon him. Instead, I would preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. By God's grace, I invited My Bible Student to the 2002 Christmas worship service. He accepted and then asked me to study the Bible with him. We began Bible study by continuing the study of John that we began previously. I focused on the forgiveness of Christ on the cross. My Bible Student already knew that the punishment for sin is death. In fact, when he sinned, he focused on the punishment and became more discouraged. Therefore, I realized that I should preach the forgiveness of Christ. When you sin, come to Christ, repent, and be forgiven. Do not wallow in sin, but remain in Jesus. I cast aside my ideas and focused on the Bible. This time, I was not burdened by my Bible study with My Bible Student. On the contrary, I consider myself blessed to be able to study with My Bible Student. A terrible sinner like me can be used by God to positively impact someone else's life. Our Bible studies are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. God blessed My Bible Student to receive a life key verse from John 15:4, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” The fact that My Bible Student and I can study the Bible means that God's mercy and grace abounds. Without the unsurpassing grace of Jesus, we could not study the Bible together.
I learned that I should not impose my own ideas on others and claim that they are from God. I imposed my own human-centered training that had no basis in the gospel on My Bible Student. When I experienced human-centered training that had no basis in scripture imposed upon me, I realized how terrible I was. In this way, I can see the training given to me by M. Isaac from God's point of view. Through his imposition of human-centered training, I can see how I had imposed human-centered training on others. Jesus said that we reap what we sow. I sowed human-centered no-gospel training and I reaped it from my shepherds.
One might wonder why I stayed in Akron UBF at this point. I prayed many times to God that I wanted to leave. However, God did not reveal to me that it was time to leave. God wanted me to remain. The training experience was horrible. But, I can say that despite the horrible treatment I received from M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, S. Art, S. Rhoda, M. Joshua, and M. Mary, I learned how not to treat my brothers and sisters in Christ. God revealed that placing human ideas in the place of God is always wrong. I now pray to take great care not to treat others the way I was treated in UBF.
Part Three - My Present Situation in UBF
I could discuss the training for dozens of pages. I will summarize by stating that the training ended in May of 2003. Three months previous, in February, S. Art humbly repented to me in our 1:1 Bible study that the training was wrong. He unconditionally asked for my forgiveness. I accepted. At that point, God began to develop a great relationship between us. His family left UBF in May, 2003. Nevertheless, we continue to have a beautiful friendship for which I am very thankful to God.
The fruit of the training regarding the relationships between M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, M. Joshua, and M. Mary was that I was isolated. During this training, M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, M. Joshua, and M. Mary barely spoke to me. They often gave me dirty looks when I entered the church. M. Isaac only spoke to me when he wanted to criticize me for not getting up from the table fast enough, not saying hello loud enough, not having a smile on my face all of the time, or some other legalistic issue. M. Rebekah and M. Mary barely spoke to me at all. They did not have one encouraging one to say to me unless I mentioned that I lost weight. M. Joshua was the only one who was friendly to me between August 2002-May 2003. They did not allow me to share a testimony. They did not include me as a co-worker by allowing me to come to meetings to discuss the ministry. Thus, I was isolated from the rest of the co-workers. I prayed that we may come together. From May of 2003 through April of 2004, God was bringing us together. M. Isaac and I were restoring our relationship. He apologized to me for the training. He encouraged me to honestly discuss all of the pain I had experienced from himself and M. Rebekah. M. Isaac stated that as the leader he was responsible for the problems. M. Isaac told me that the fact that the training was wrong his fault. Further, M. Isaac stated that my isolation within the ministry was his fault because he was the chapter director. M. Isaac stated that he was a poor director who had failed to understand me. We discussed many issues. He stated that he understood my problems and wanted to hear my disagreements.
Over the years, I have had disagreements with M. Isaac and M. Rebekah on many issues. I was not inhibited by our disagreements. Romans chapter 14 and 15 discuss the disagreements among church members. The church members in Rome disagreed over whether they should eat unclean meat or not. Paul stated that the church should not allow disputable matters to come between church members. I thought that M. Isaac and Rebekah and I had disputable disagreements. I was willing to accept M. Isaac and Rebekah's ideas and they could accept my ideas. One of the disagreements that we have concerns prayer. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah pray for their sheep to commit to UBF and be raised as campus shepherds in UBF. The sheep may or may not have the prayer topic themselves. In fact, rarely has any of the UA sheep ever prayed that they be campus shepherds in UBF. When I pray for sheep, I pray that they may be lead by God to serve where God calls them. I have two past examples.
In the Spring of 2003, Stephen (he studied with M. Isaac for four years) was praying about whether to remain in Akron and serve as a UBF campus shepherd or to go to Lutheran seminary in Indiana to become a Lutheran minister. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah prayed that Stephen decide to live as a campus shepherd in Akron. I prayed that Stephen may go where God leads him. Stephen prayed and accepted that God called him to seminary.
In the Spring of 2004, Rock (he studied with M. Isaac for 4 and ½ years) graduated from the University of Akron. He wanted to stay in the Akron-Cleveland area to be near his parents. However, there were not many opportunities in his field in this area. Therefore, Rock prayed for God's leading regarding his future employment. God opened the door for an opportunity in Georgia. Rock flew down to Georgia for the interview. Rock prayed about whether to take the job in Georgia or continue to pursue employment opportunities in the Akron-Cleveland area. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah only prayed that Rock take a job in Akron and be raised as a campus shepherd. I prayed that Rock may choose the job where God leads. Rock prayed about where to go and accepted that God wanted him to take the job in Georgia.
When M. Isaac and M. Rebekah pray for sheep to come to conferences they pray absolutely that the sheep may come to the conference. I pray that the sheep may go to the conference if it is God's will. One example this summer was Chrissy, M. Mary's sheep. Chrissy had gone on a short mission trip in which she served less fortunate persons this summer. She had sacrificed her time and money to attend. Therefore, Chrissy was reluctant to attend another conference. M. Mary, M. Joshua, M. Isaac, and M. Rebekah prayed that Chrissy make a decision to deny herself and attend the UBF International Summer Bible Conference in order to receive God's world mission vision. I also wanted Chrissy to come with us. But, I prayed that I was thankful that God blessed her to service less fortunate persons with the gospel and that if it was God's will, she may attend the Summer Bible Conference.
This summer M. Isaac and M. Rebekah prayed that Jung Sek (she has studied with M. Rebekah for six months, she is a nurse that works with M. Rebekah at the Cleveland Clinic) may move to Akron serve campus mission. Jung Sek has looked at housing in Akron, but has not accepted any place. She is also interested in a place in Shaker Heights (a suburb of Cleveland), which is closer to her work.
Why do I pray that individual sheep go where God leads rather than specifically pray that they remain in Akron UBF as campus shepherds? It is not because I did not want them to be campus shepherds in Akron. In fact, I wanted Stephen, Rock, Jung-Sek, and Christina to remain in Akron. I think they are good people and good friends. I enjoyed the fellowship and co-working opportunities I had with them. However, I cannot simply pray based on my own human desires that I want my friends to remain in the ministry I serve. At the Summer Bible Conference, the title was Your Kingdom Come from the Lord's Prayer. Jesus said in Matthew 6:9-10, “This, then is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I pray that God's will be done regarding Stephen, Rock, Jung-Sek, Christina, and every other sheep in Akron. If it is God's will that he or she remain in Akron UBF, then that is great. If it is God's will that they go somewhere else, that is great, too. My prayer is that God's will be done. I am not God and I cannot say what God's will is for anyone else. Therefore, when sheep have a decision between two churches, two conferences, or two jobs, I pray that they may seek God's will and choose the church, conference, and job God wants for them.
I was not against UBF and I am certainly not against God with this prayer. I want God's will to be done as Jesus instructed me to pray. However, M. Isaac and M. Rebekah do not accept that my prayer is correct. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah think that my prayer is against Akron UBF. They think that I should only pray for sheep to come to Akron UBF Bible study, worship services, conferences, and only be raised as campus shepherds in Akron UBF.
My prayer is in obedience to God. I love my fellow church members as I love myself. Because I love my friends and I am concerned about their prayer topics. When B. Rock first began to search for a job, he prayed that he may stay in Akron because he wanted to live near his parents. I prayed that if it is God's will, he may stay in Akron. But, later this summer (2004) Rock told me about a job opportunity in Georgia. He asked me to pray for him regarding this job. B. Rock is a sincere man of God. He wants to grow in Christ wherever he is. B. Rock was not against God when he asked me to pray about his job opportunity in Georgia. I could not ignore my friend and reject his prayer request about his job opportunity in Georgia. Stephen also asked me to pray for him regarding whether he should attend Lutheran seminary or remain in Akron UBF. Stephen wanted to do God's work. Therefore, I could not ignore Stephen's prayer request about Lutheran seminary. Rock and Stephen are my friends. I cannot ignore their prayer requests because M. Isaac and M. Rebekah personally want them to stay in Akron.
The fact is that I have prayed for God to work in our ministry for more than 7 years. I desired that Akron UBF be a church that may teach the Bible to many UA students. In M. Isaac's message two weeks previous based on Roman 14, he stated “to develop spiritual unity in the body of Christ we must accept others with a generous heart and not pass judgment on others regarding disputable matters.” M. Isaac also stated that “We do our best to love others in a way that builds them up. Still, misunderstandings arise. At that time, we should not blame others. Instead, we examines (sic) ourselves in the sight of God and finds (sic) our own faults in the matter, regardless of how small it may be.”
As I previously stated, S. Art and I have a great friendship. We do not pass judgment on each other. We accept each other as brothers in Christ. He and I talk every week. We talk honestly and openly about every issue. I discuss every important issue in my life with him. If I ask for his advice, he gives his honest opinion. Contrary to what M. Isaac and M. Rebekah think, S. Art does not just try to make me happy. He speaks honestly. He has made plenty of statements that have not made me happy. S. Art has been a great influence on my life. I am thankful that he is my friend. S. Art was concerned with the fact that I am isolated in Akron UBF and I am not welcomed as a co-worker in the ministry. Therefore, S. Art visited M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, and M. Joshua to discuss the fact that I am isolated. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah made some clear statements about me to S. Art. On Saturday, M. Isaac had a personal discussion with me. The following paragraphs contain what M. Isaac and M. Rebekah have concluded about me.
Last Saturday, M. Isaac invited me over to his house for breakfast after I had finished mowing the church lawn and making copies of the question sheets. During this breakfast, M. Isaac began to discuss with me the fact that I am isolated. He began by discussing the daily bread passage from Psalms 89:38-52. In this passage, the Psalmist cried out to God asking God why the Israelites continued to suffer punishment from God. M. Isaac stated that the Israelites were punished because of their sin. God did not want to harm them, but the Israelites had rejected God and worshipped idols and thus, deserved punishment. God was not the problem. The Israelites were the problem. M. Isaac said that the Israelites had to “solve the problem.” M. Isaac compared the Psalmist to me and he compared God to M. Rebekah and himself. M. Isaac said that he and M. Rebekah did not try to isolate me. The fact that I was isolated is my problem that I have to solve myself. This is in sharp contrast to what M. Isaac had previously told me. As stated, M. Isaac told me that as chapter director it was his responsibility that I was isolated. Now, M. Isaac has decided to reject his responsibility as chapter director and place the responsibility totally upon myself. Over the previous 7 and ½ years M. Isaac has always accepted that any internal conflicts among members, failure to raise disciples, or any problem in Akron UBF was his responsibility. However, M. Isaac appears to have decided to no longer accept his responsibility as the Akron UBF chapter director. M. Rebekah stated that it was my fault that sheep have not remained in Akron. She stated that I was a burden to her and M. Isaac for 7 and ½ years and that because they bore me, sheep left. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah are the founders and directors of Akron UBF. Yet, they impose the responsibility for Akron UBF's lack of members upon myself. I have committed many sins and hurt many people. However, all members should take responsibility for any failings of the ministry, not just one person, especially a person who is not the chapter director. I have repented for any problem I caused any sheep in the past. But, all church members should do the same. (I can name nine persons who have clearly stated that they no longer wanted to remain in Akron UBF because of complaints against M. Isaac, M. Rebekah, M. Joshua, M. Mary, S. Art and/or S. Rhoda.)
Further, M. Isaac is comparing my relationship with him and M. Rebekah to the Psalmists relationship with God. God is perfect in holiness and righteousness. God is the potter and his people are clay. Thus, because God is the perfect creator, I should not disagree with God. I should not question God. I should not conclude that God made a mistake or did something wrong. When I think that God is wrong, I am actually wrong and must repent. For example, if I thought God isolated me, this is false. God is perfect and never would isolate me. I must come to God and repent. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah want me to treat them in the same way I would treat God. When I thought that M. Isaac and M. Rebekah were isolating me, they think that they could not possibly be making any mistake that would isolate me. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah stated that just as I must repent to God if I think God is wrong, I must also repent to M. Isaac and M. Rebekah if I think they are wrong. Thus, M. Isaac and M. Rebekah want me to treat them as if they are God.
Thus, M. Isaac made it abundantly clear how I have to solve the problem of being isolated by M. Isaac and M. Rebekah. M. Isaac said that I have to repent. I have to repent for the different ideas that I have. M. Isaac said that I am “going my own way.” I had to repent for praying that sheep do God's will. I had to repent that I prayed for S. Stephen do God's will regarding whether he goes to seminary or remains in Akron UBF. I have to repent that I prayed for Rock to take the job God wanted. I have to repent that I prayed for Chrissy to go to the Summer Conference if it is God's will. M. Isaac stated that I had to repent for not praying the exact way he and M. Rebekah directed me to pray. M. Isaac said that I could not disagree with M. Isaac and M. Rebekah. The only way I would be unified with them in Akron UBF is to agree with everything they say.
In addition, M. Isaac discussed Romans 14 with me. As previously stated, in M. Isaac's message he stated “to develop spiritual unity in the body of Christ we must accept others with a generous heart and not pass judgment on others regarding disputable matters.” M. Isaac also stated that “We do our best to love others in a way that builds them up. Still, misunderstanding arise. At that time, we should not blame others. Instead, we examines (sic) ourselves in the sight of God and finds (sic) our own faults in the matter, regardless of how small it may be.” God wants people from different backgrounds, cultures, and ideas to come together as one body of Christ. This message stated that we should not condemn each other for our differences. Instead, we should embrace each other. We should bear each others weaknesses the way Christ bore us. I was so happy to hear M. Isaac say this that I said Amen loudly and passionately. (Our church members frequently say Amen. I rarely say Amen, but this time I was inspired by the Holy Spirit). I said Amen because I wanted our ministry to have a welcoming attitude toward each other. I prayed that we may not allow disputable matters to turn us against each other. I especially prayed that M. Isaac and M. Rebekah and I may not use disagreements to hold each other down. I prayed that they may accept my disagreements and that I accept theirs. However, M. Isaac and M. Rebekah stated that I had to repent for saying Amen. They did not like the sound of my voice when I said Amen. I said that I can understand that you did not like the sound of my voice, but I was saying Amen to God and that God accepted it. M. Isaac responded that God did not accept my Amen and that I am ridiculous to think that God would accept my Amen when he and M. Rebekah clearly did not like it.
In fact, M.Isaac summed up why he believes that I have disagreements with he and M. Rebekah. M. Isaac stated that I am worshipping my own Christ. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah are worshipping the true Christ from the Bible, but I am worshipping my own Christ. This is a serious charge. To say that I am worshipping my own Christ means that I am worshipping a false Christ. Christ is God. Therefore, M. Isaac is stating that I am worshipping a false god. Further, those who worship false gods are unbelievers. Thus, M. Isaac stated that I am an unbeliever. After serving in Akron UBF for 7 and ½ years, M. Isaac stated that I am an unbeliever. Again, this is in sharp contrast to M. Isaac's previous statements. Just six days previous in his message on Romans 15:1-13, M. Isaac stated that I was being built up as a coworker in the Akron ministry. To be a built up as a coworker in a church, I must have accepted Christ as my Savior and been born again. I have been saved and born again since I was sixteen. But, M. Isaac stated that I am an unbeliever, worshipping a false Christ. This is contrary to what M. Isaac told me three days before in our one-to-one Bible study. M. Isaac that he understood that when I said Amen that it was to God. He stated that I am a strong Christian who is free to say Amen however I want. M. Isaac said that I should consider that M. Rebekah, M. Joshua, M. Mary, and himself were weak and think that Amen should not be said with any style of voice. M. Isaac told me that as a strong Christian, I must bear with the weak. M. Isaac said that I was a strong Christian who needed to bear with the failings of the weak on Wednesday. Then, on Saturday, he stated that I am a false-Christ worshipping unbeliever.
Why am I an unbeliever? M. Isaac and M. Rebekah think that I am an unbeliever because I prayed for sheep to follow God's will rather than exclusively pray the way he and M. Rebekah want which is that sheep only come to Akron UBF. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah think that I am an unbeliever because I stated that God accepted my Amen of which they did not approve. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah stated that in order to have spiritual unity I must agree with everything they say. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah stated that this is not a disputable matter. Any disagreement about anything and they conclude that I am an unbeliever. That fact that I am praying to God for sheep to follow God's will makes me an unbeliever to M. Isaac and M. Rebekah.
I agree with M. Isaac and M. Rebekah that this is not a disputable matter. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah themselves made the issue undisputable when they concluded that I am worshipping a false Christ because I said Amen too loudly and that I pray for sheep to do God's will. M. Isaac's statement that I worship my own Christ is not disputable. It is reprehensible. Other than when my Mom stated that she was separating from my Dad, this is the most reprehensible statement anyone has ever made to me in my 27 years on this earth.
Part Four - My Future Calling
The basis for my future calling comes from Acts. In Acts 5: 29, when Peter was confronted for preaching the gospel of Christ, he responded, “We must obey God rather than men!” Through the scripture in Matthew 6:9, God commands me to pray that his will be done. 1 Cor. 2:5 says, “God will give to each person according to what he has done.” God gives to me according to what I have done. Not what my church has done. Not whether I obeyed my Bible teacher or church director. God will give to me according to what I have done. Further, we all must face the judgment seat of Christ. (Heb 9:27) I must face Christ's judgment seat. God commands me to pray that his will be done. Therefore, I cannot go before God and say “I know you commanded that I pray that God's will be done, but M. Isaac and M. Rebekah said that I should pray only that sheep come to Akron.” God will rebuke for not obeying him, because I must obey God rather than men. Yet, when I obey God, M. Isaac and M. Rebekah state that I am an unbeliever that needs to repent. Thus, M. Isaac and M. Rebekah are stating that I am sinning against God by obeying God. Clearly, obedience to God's word cannot be sinful.
How does God want me to handle this situation? When my church leaders state that my obedience to God to pray for people to follow God's will is sinful and the Bible states that my prayer and my Amen clearly were not sinful, then there is no reason to continue participating in that ministry. When church leaders place themselves in place of God, expecting me to view them in the same manner the Psalmist viewed God, there is no reason for me to remain in that ministry. Therefore, this will be my last night as a member of Akron UBF. I must obey God rather than men. M. Isaac and M. Rebekah have clearly stated that they want me to obey them rather than God. When church leaders would rather me obey man rather than God, I cannot remain in that ministry. When church leaders state that my obedience to God by obeying the teachings of Christ means that I am worshipping a false Christ, I cannot remain in that ministry.
Part Four - Prayer Topics
My decision to leave Akron UBF does not mean that I do not want to see any of you again. I am not holding any grudges. Jesus said in Matthew 6:12, “forgive our debts as we as we also have forgiven our debtors.” I have forgiven all of you for your sins against me, just as I pray that you have forgiven me my sins. I love each one of you as my brothers and sisters. My Bible Student, our Bible study has been a great blessing to me. Some people think of sheep as a burden in their life, but since the beginning of 2003, I have thought of you as a blessing in my life. God has blessed us to become great friends in Christ. I pray that our friendship may continue. I will always pray for you. I will always love you as a brother in Christ. You have invited me to your house for dinner many times. I want to invite you to my house for dinner. I will call you every week. If you still want to study the Bible with me, I am more than willing, but that decision is between you and God. M. Joshua and M. Mary, you have been good friends to me. I pray that our friendship may continue. I have M. Joshua's email address and I hope we can email and talk to each other. M. Joshua, you are one of the kindest men I have ever met. I have stated previously that I love Grace (daughter) as a member of my own family. This has not changed. The same is true for your new baby to be born next year. If you need a babysitter for a couple of hours, please call me and I will be willing to help you. If you need a car ride anywhere, please call me. If you need anything, I am here for you. M. Isaac, you fished me and raised me as a shepherd. The present situation does not change the fact that God used you to teach the Bible to me. I will continue to pray for you as you lead this ministry. You know how to reach me. If you need any help, please contact me. In the past, when you needed a ride because of car trouble near the University of Akron, you called me and asked me for a ride. Please continue to ask me for help anytime you need it. M. Rebekah, you and I have had many conflicts over the years. I pray that one day you may not look at me as simply some terrible burden but as a brother in Christ. I pray that God may use Akron UBF to preach the gospel of Christ to University of Akron students.
My prayer topics are that God may lead me to the church where he wants me to serve. This Sunday, I am going to attend church with my Dad and at the Chapel. I pray that I may teach the Bible to college students. I pray that God may use me in everything I do. Prayer topics: Wake up at 5AM
Daily Bible study, meditation, and prayer
45 minute morning walk
Prepare well for the Economics class I teach
One Word: I Must Obey God Rather Than Men
Update: April 2005 - Because I wrote this testimony to share in front of Akron UBF leaders, I did not have time to share all of the brutally honest truth about my mistreatment by Isaac and Rebekah Kim and about my assessment of UBF in general. As I reflect on my time in Akron UBF, I have concluded the UBF is a cult and that Isaac and Rebekah Kim are abusive cult leaders. The Kims have an unhealthy, misguided understanding of the Bible and of the Christian life God calls us to live. In fact, Christ is not the center of Akron UBF. Isaac and Rebekah Kim are the center of Akron UBF. The Kims came to Akron not with the goal of raising up disciples of Jesus, but with the goal of raising up disciples of Isaac and Rebekah Kim. The Kims have no respect for anyone, even the other members of Akron UBF. The Kims only want members of Akron UBF to obey them, praise them, and serve them.
Isaac Kim has proven to be not only a terrible leader, but to have questionable morals and little or no concern for people inside and outside of his UBF world. Isaac was one of the people who broke into James Kim and Rebekah Kim's house, cleaned out his house, and locked their possessions into a truck. Isaac admitted this to me during one of our 1:1 Bible studies in the summer of 2004. When I confronted him with a public letter written by Rebekah Kim (James' wife) asking for an apology from all involved, Isaac yelled at me that he did not want to talk about the issue anymore. He further said that James and Rebekah Kim were bitter people. Isaac refused to repent for his terrible sins against James and Rebekah Kim. He further said that if I mentioned it again, I should go to another church.
Isaac and Rebekah Kim decided to accumulate much property when they moved to Akron. They own their personal residence, the Akron UBF center, and three other rental properties. Each time the Kims purchased houses, they claimed that they wanted to uses the houses for “God's mission.” However, the actions of the Kims reveal that profit maximization was the greater motive. One property, located on Julian Ave. in Akron, Ohio was rented to Chinese college students. By September of 2002, only one Chinese student remained in the house. Her name was Zin. Isaac could not find any other individual renters to move into this house. If only one individual renter remained in the house, Isaac would lose money. Therefore, Isaac sought to rent the entire house to one family. During the middle of September, Isaac found a family that was willing to move in. The family wanted to move in as soon as possible. However, Zin paid her September rent and should remain a tenant until the end of September. Zin prepared to move out at the end of September. She signed a lease to rent an apartment beginning in October. Isaac did not want to chance that the family would choose another location. Therefore, Isaac went to Zin on a Saturday in September and said that she had to be out of the house that week-end. Zin asked Isaac to let her remain through September. Isaac responded that if she was not out of the house by Sunday night, he would call the police. Zin had paid rent through September, but she was confused and afraid. She quickly gathered her possessions and loaded them on a truck she rented. Then, she arranged to move into her apartment early. This cost her much money because she had to pay an additional months rent for her new apartment and pay extra for a rental truck. Isaac hoped that his actions would never be brought to light. However, God brought Isaac's sins to light. Zin was a graduate student in the same department as I. One day, I invited her to come to the Sunday worship service with me. Zin is a Christian who attended another church, but was willing to attend the UBF service. When she attended the service, she was shocked to see Isaac delivering the message and to find out that Isaac was the chapter director. Isaac did not even recognize Zin. Immediately after the service, Zin asked me to take her home. On the way back to her home, she told me the entire account of Isaac's cruelty toward her. She was literally sick to her stomach when she saw Isaac delivering the message. She was so sick that she could not stand to be in the center after the service ended. She never wanted to attend another UBF activity again. I confronted Isaac with Zin's account. Isaac admitted everything. However, he made no effort to apologize to Zin. Isaac said he would apologize if Zin would come to his office at the center. The worst part of the story is Isaac total lack of repentance and desire to initiate an apology. Further, Isaac did not repent before Akron UBF members for his horrible treatment of Zin, which prevented her from ever wanting anything to do with UBF. If I ever did anything to upset someone, I was told to repent publicly through my Friday testimony. I told Isaac that he should also repent publicly. He said that he would, but Isaac never publicly repented for his sin against Zin.
In addition, Isaac also has shown no desire to grow spiritually. Throughout 2003-2004, Isaac made no effort to prepare his own Sunday message. He simply downloaded the messages from Chicago UBF. Currently, Isaac delivers the Chicago UBF message five weeks after it is delivered in Chicago UBF. When I left, Isaac often made no changes to the Chicago UBF message. Not one word was different. Isaac does not have a job and depends on Rebekah's nursing job for their family income. Isaac has been blessed with much time to grow spiritually through personal Bible study that would enable him to deliver fresh, powerful messages on the word of God. However, Isaac is content with reading someone else's message. Isaac's main work on the message is to listen to the audio recording of Ron Ward delivering the message. Isaac does this to improve his quality of message delivery.
Further, their English speaking ability did not improve. Because Isaac was one of my 1:1 Bible teachers and the chapter director, I had numerous opportunities to converse with him. Considering that Isaac has lived in the United States for almost thirty years and has a mission to teach the Bible to American college students, his English comprehension and speaking ability is surprisingly poor. He often repeated the same sentence and phrases because of his limited vocabulary. When I said, “I think that you're your expectation that I obey you absolutely is ridiculous.” Isaac would respond, “You are ridiculous. You are ridiculous.” When I asked Isaac, “why do you refuse to turn let anyone else turn on the air conditioning in the church, because you think you are the boss?” Isaac responded, “I am the boss.” Many times during our conversations he would repeat the same phrases I used because he lacked the cognitive ability to construct more than base level sentences and paragraphs. This may seem to be harsh, but it is sadly true. Basically, Isaac knew the key UBF vocabulary needed to impose abuse upon me, enough to get by in public, and nothing more.
One week after I shared this testimony, Isaac and Rebekah met with me. We talked and prayed. Isaac and Rebekah said that they had “no regrets” about how they treated me. This is astounding. They have no regrets regarding anything they said or did to me between 1997-2004. To have no regrets means that they are perfect. Apostle Paul had regrets. He said that want he wanted to do, he did not do and what he did not want to do, he did. Everyone should have regrets because we are imperfect sinners. I have many regrets, which I shared in my testimony. Isaac and Rebekah claim to have no regrets.
In my prayer topics section, I prayed that Akron UBF may preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to college students. I still hold that prayer topic. However, because of the lack of repentance of Isaac and Rebekah Kim, I pray that college students do not become involved with Akron UBF. I do not want other students to be abused as I was. My heart aches every time I see Isaac studying with a student in the library. Isaac and Rebekah Kim and all Akron UBF Bible teachers will only be a detriment to the spiritual life of University of Akron students or anyone else who becomes involved in any way with Akron UBF. I advise any University of Akron student reading this to avoid 1:1 Bible study, church service attendance, conference attendance, and any other Akron UBF activity.
UBF shepherds are taught that they must feed sheep because it is God's calling for their life. At the same time, they are taught to consider sheep a burden in their life. This dichotomy of serving sheep being both God's mission and a burden results in dysfunctional miserable shepherds. Sheep are considered burdens because they do not obey absolutely, they are not immediately committed to UBF, and because shepherds must work hard to raise the sheep from a terrible, selfish person to a UBF shepherd. Jesus' call for the disciples to feed his sheep does not include considering sheep as terrible burdens. It is God's grace that we are saved from our sins and have an opportunity to preach to others about Christ. The problem is that UBF shepherds are taught that they must do some great work to raise disciples. In reality, no one can raise disciples. Jesus said that unless compelled by the Holy Spirit, no one can come to Christ. UBF shepherds are asked to do what only God can do. Thus, when sheep do not respond to the shepherds' efforts, it becomes burdensome. Christ takes the entire burden upon himself. Christ bares all of the sheep. UBF shepherds want to take back the burden from Christ and bare the sheep themselves. Thus, UBF shepherds have transformed themselves from having joy in Christ to preach the gospel to being abusive cult leaders who are constantly miserable and burdened. May God release all miserable and burdened UBF members through the grace of Jesus Christ.