Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Andrey P. (former Russian UBF)

(in response to a UBF supporter)

Dr. Armstrong,

Some ex-members already asked you several good questions. I will ask you no more questions. I will tell you my story.

I spent in UBF 12 years. Last 8 years I was the right-hand-man of the Director of Moscow UBF, Russia. I was considered as native leader, read many messages in Moscow, at Bible conferences in various CIS UBF centers, such as Minsk, Kiev, Astana and so on. I read several messages on international UBF conferences in US. I did a lot of other things in UBF. You may see my picture on the 2006 UBF wall calendar somewhere in the top left corner.

I am saying all this to show that I was not sitting in the last row all this time. I know the life of UBF from within.

I left UBF in the summer of 2006. I had only one reason – my conscience did not allow me to stay in the organization with the history, teachings and methods of UBF.

I was na├»ve for many years. I also thought that in UBF there is only one goal – to preach the Gospel. I could endure and overlooked many strange things for years (for example, Samuel Lee called my shepherd and *allowed*?! me to continue my Ph.D. studies). When I had too many questions I had to look into the Bible more carefully, compare critical stories with official history and read all UBF messages and reports I could find. It took about a year to realize that UBF has some systematic problems. (One more example: The letter written by 7 Korean leaders in 1976, one year after I was born, describes almost the same abuses I endured in Moscow UBF more than 20 years later. But UBF calls the authors of the letter rebels to the very present day.) I know that there are individuals mistakes. But I saw the very same problems in different UBF chapters from Minsk to Mongolia.

At first I hoped to change anything in Moscow UBF. I saw that UBF missionaries are hurt by their shepherds in Korea, but they continue to hurt their Russian sheep in the same way they were hurt.

Very soon I've found that nobody wants to change anything that really matters. I was talking with several UBF leaders at that time. Here what they said me about UBF problems:

"In Chicago UBF everything was more than good".

"You are very important person. Keep silent [about UBF problems] to make good spiritual influence".

But I could not be silent anymore. I saw the big difference between how Jesus or Apostle Paul treated people and how people are treated in UBF. My conscience did not allow me to be the part of the organization that values itself more than the Gospel, rewrites its own history, never repents while not stopping call himself "Kingdom of priest and a holy nation". I've spent my last six months in UBF to protect two sisters (my wife's "sheep") from UBF attempts to mold them into the system.

I forgave UBF people for any harm. I remember good things they did for me. I especially thankful to God that he used UBF as the platform to teach me what manipulation and mind control is and how to confront against it. But can a normal church be such a platform? But I see that they continue to deceive, harm and destroy themselves. Not much hypocrisy is needed to corrupt the soul. Most importantly, I see they continue to harm young students thinking that they are "raising Jesus disciples". Should I be silent?

I did not know what mistakes UBF leaders had admitted before you. But I do see what "spiritual directions" they give to ordinary members these days:

"So we must have faith in God and challenge as Dr. Lee did". Does it include forcing abortions or breaking the family in the name of training or "special love"?

"Double the number through disciple training ministry by 2010". Is it official acknowledgment that numbers in UBF are more important than anything else?

Direction like these does not seem even to approach any of UBF system problems.

Now, after 12 years in UBF and a half a year in a normal church, I came to the conclusion that if UBF had no spiritual abuses and misappropriations of money, it would be better to leave it only for what they teach about God and relationship with him. But add abuses, add sexual scandals with UBF leaders that is covered with a silence or UBF (i.e. members) money, add Moon-like "business mission" what one will get?

I doubt that the sum can be called "the hope of America".

I am very sorry for people who stays in UBF. They do not know what they are doing.

Posted by: AndreyP | February 03, 2007

Saturday, April 26, 2008


(This was a comment posted in response to the Johns Hopkins Newsletter article.)

posted 7/26/02 @ 8:20 AM EST

Thanks for your article. I was in the UBF from the fall 2001 semester until yesterday. I'm so disappointed to know all these things. The UBF was something that I believed in. I'll survive, definitely; I'm just sorry that I had to get pulled into this and become a little attached and then discover these things. I didn't assimilate totally because I've always had a freespirited individualist streak. Recently I started to feel alienated partly because of that and partly because several missionaries were trying to control my life and I couldn't reason with them. I'm thankful to God for everyone who led me to this knowledge. I'm really sad to know this, but I'm glad that I found out before getting extremely entangled. Well, I go to another church as well. It's probably time to get more involved there.


Tim M. (former Los Angeles UBF)

(This was a comment posted in response to the Johns Hopkins Newsletter article.)

posted 5/07/02 @ 5:48 PM EST

I'm thankful to the JHU newsletter for this article. I was involved with UBF in Los Angeles, and reading this article and speaking with Mr. Timlin opened my eyes about the organization. I'm pulling out, and getting my life back. There are better places to worship God than groups like UBF. Thank you, Lindsay Saxe, for your article.

Tim, Student
Los Angeles

Friday, April 25, 2008

PSUIrishDave (former Penn State UBF)

This is a story for those with a bleeding heart for romance and who love a good cry.

As I go through Holy Week in my church, I am overtaken with sadness, not only for images of Christ's passion-suffering, but for another life that I will never have.

I am reminded of late-August 1997 and 2000, when I visited Russia for church conferences, when I was in a different church, University Bible Fellowship (UBF). While there with the group, we got to visit some of the most extraordinary places ever to see. There was the Smolny Cathedral...

and St. Isaac's Cathedral...

both in St. Petersburg, Russia.

There's the spectacular St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow, the nation's Capital...

But then there was the most beloved sight my eyes ever beheld. Her name is Elena. This is a roughly-scanned picture of her, compliments of one of the "co-workers", such as they are, in her chapter of the UBF, located in Novosibirsk, deep in the heart of Siberia... [picture omitted]

I'm positively heartbroken to recall the tale of how I met her and fell in love with her. I believe in my heart that she felt the same way, at least at one point in time. The circumstances of our meetings shout it out loudly. There we would be, standing, facing each other, not knowing what we could say to each other, because we spoke different languages. You see, in this wretched UBF church, they practice a modified form of *arranged marriages*.

I am not kidding you. They expressly discourage dating of ANY kind in the church. I know--I'd gotten in trouble for this kind of thing in the past. If you are a "growing shepherd" in the church, they will bring up the idea of possible marriage with the higher-ups in the church, who are in Chicago, Illinois.

If they like the idea and think you're ready, they will allow the local "leaders" to talk to you about it. Then they would SUGGEST someone to you. ONLY THEN are you allowed to ask the other person out on a date. [Since dating is forbidden, some sort of modified courtship. A great majority of UBF married couple don't even "date".] If the chemistry's there, then you will be married. [Or even if the chemistry's not there, you will encouraged to "overcome your emotions" and get married anyway.] If not, you can "put up a fuss" and your marriage will be postponed.

Well, back to Elena. As you can now gather, my thought was to NEVER bring up to my "leaders" about my secret love for Elena. As it is in the UBF code, AMERICAN MEN SIMPLY DO NOT MARRY RUSSIAN WOMEN. [Actually, they did on at least one occasion, because UBF leadership arranged it so.] If I were to reveal my secret love, my hopes would be dashed and I would never be allowed to travel with the journey team to Russia ever again. Yet, if I kept silent... what then? Nothing. I would die with my secret. It pains me even to type these words...

I was so heartbroken over the matter, and convinced in my inner being that there was no reasonable solution, that in 2001, I attempted suicide. I loved Elena more than anything in the world, but couldn't live in a world where this wretched apostate and heretical church would stand in the way of any such thing. Obviously, I didn't go through with it, but it DID force me to quit the church once and for all. What now? Would I now be able to finally state my plea? I thought of writing her a letter, telling her how I felt. This was difficult because, of all things, I was afraid that my move would've been interpreted as a brash advancement against the church and an attempt to pull away a sister from Christ. For you see, by leaving UBF, I was overtaken by the devil in THEIR eyes.

Instead, I simply wrote to her and her Siberian chapter, hoping that word hadn't spread out there that I left the church here in the US. All I wanted was something, written by her, her chapter or ANYTHING, telling me that things were as I remembered them. I received a three-line e-mail message, with a group photograph as an attachment. I clipped out Elena and threw away the rest.

Now in 2006, I have no idea what is going on, whether she is now "married by faith" or what have you. She probably is, and I will never know. In 2004 I made a bold attempt to find out the latest news, but the local "leaders" put a stop to my inquiry... those seething scoundrels, wretched evil-doers. Curse UBF and its sinister cult-like practices!

There is one kind of happy ending though.. For in visiting those cathedrals, I was introduced to the Russian Orthodox Church, which I later joined and have since been much more fulfilled in my faith.

Here I am, getting more depressed, fatter, lonlier. For I vowed in my heart that if I would not marry Elena, I would not marry. Call me foolish if you will, that's okay. I've thought out my battle, and I lost. End of story. I now only have a broken heart never to be mended.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

sogum_sam (former Chicago UBF)

(Posted at http://community.livejournal.com/rsqubf)

Comment by sogum_sam on 2005-09-03
Subject: face saving by any means

My chapter director was not Korean, but he sure picked up the buisness of saving face. I think he perfected it! He would say whatever he needed to in order to clear himself of any advice or direction he had given that didn't work out. He did this even when it didn't matter or when it was blatantly obvious. I believe this has had a negative impact on the ministry- it did on me. He was too concerned with it, as if the ministry would fall apart if he lost face and actually had to apologies or sit down and work things out with us apart from some planned Bible study or message. He would put the problem back on us. It was if the ministry was held together half by Jesus and half by his untainted image. He was trying to remain as pristine as possible despite all that happened right under his nose.

(In response to http://www.livejournal.com/users/rsqubf/31105.html)

Comment by sogum_sam on 2005-10-14


... this article mentions self- reflection and personal examination an examination of the groups theology compared to their practices. Yes, doing all these things has helped me to move on with some understanding of why things went down the way they did. I have been able to honestly asses myself and what made me so vulnerable and impressionable. God is Sovereign.

One example of how UBf's practices overrode it's stated theology is in it's teaching of the Holy Spirit. They teach you to depend on the Holy Spirit to fish and feed sheep,that it is actually the work of the Holy Spirit leading you and convicting them- not your efforts. However, there is so much emphasis and expectation placed on feeding sheep and raising disciples that you easily let go of this this truth and resort to your own strength and efforts to bring sheep and study with them faithfully. This is when we can become too pushy and even coercive or manipulative to one degree or another. Then we repackage all of our human efforts and call it "by any means" faith which is just about the same as "the end justifies the means". "It is OK to be pushy and manipulative if we are doing it in obedience to the word of God." This is how people get hurt and end up bitter about their experiences in UBF (ie. the guestbook post by Michelle Williams)

Really depending on the Holy Spirit to be a witness and to help others does not lead us to be so proud or to be so possessive of God's sheep. We are still concerned and compelled to help them, but without the controlling.

As far as talking and voicing our experiences, I thank God for this web site, which has allowed me to read the experiences of others which bore witness to my own. When there was no one to talk to about my issues with UBF leadership, rsqubf and the other sites became a kind of support group for me. I thank God for the boldness of those who have come forward without fear of the ridicule that UBF responds with. I have not done that yet.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


(Posted at http://community.livejournal.com/rsqubf)

"I just wonder how many people in UBF really understand the Gospel?"

That is a really good question. I wonder the same thing; in fact I was just thinking about that this weekend after talking to my pastor about my husband and I in ubf. I was saved before UBF - though my experience in UBF adversely affected my faith. In fact, knowing what I know now about ubf, explains why the ubf koreans did not understand when I told them what I experienced as a born-again Christian. They taught the gospel, but practiced something different. So many conflicting messages. My husband learned the bible only through UBF and though I wanted to leave, he was determined never to leave ubf. This went on for years until we saw the info. on the web and learned the truth about ubf. He is only now learning the true gospel and realizing it is not by works. Some great books: "The Cross-Centered Life" by C.J. Mahaney; "Transforming Grace" by Jerry Bridges and "The Discipline of Grace" by Jerry Bridges.


"It's just selective overly self-centered history. Everything UBF = God's Work. Everything not UBF = Satan's work."

This is not just referring to a country, but individuals as well. A good example of this is my own life testimony. When I first came to ubf and wrote my life testimony (which, of course, goes through many edits), just before giving mine at a spring conference, it was cut down some more. What was cut out was when and how I came to receive Christ, a year before actually studying at ubf. I didn't even have time to think as it was handed back to me just before I read it. Afterwards I just cried that the one single most important event, how and when I received Christ and was saved, the POINT of my testimony, had been removed from my testimony. (They obviously just wanted me to go directly from my old life to UBF, so UBF gets the glory, not Jesus) I complained enough that two years later, I was given another opportunity to give my testimony. But, it was an appeasement.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


(Posted at http://www.xanga.com/parkhjoy/45292398/item.html )

Sunday, November 23, 2003

church is a place where people gather together to help each other to worship and serve God. But church can be also a place full of gossip and disappointments and scars. Going to church is a right attitude to have in God. However, when one is hurt so badly because of the people in the church, the church becomes the reason why one doesn't want to follow God anymore, because he/she sees the church and the people, "Christians," as harmful and unwelcoming.

I have been to many different churches in the past. I am a protetant, but I don't mind going to catholic services. I am currently going to a church called UBF (University Bible Fellowship). many koreans whom I have met recently seem to think that UBF isn't a real church, but just a Christian organization where people are trained to become missionaries. I guess I never thought about that aspect of UBF, but it is true that UBF people are trained to become good bible teachers/shepherds, and also to become missionaries who work for God in foreign countries. UBF is also a church to me, because I go there every Sunday to worship God.

I feel that there is a strong traiditionism in UBF. Not in every UBF, but in some UBFs many traditions are emphasized like writing and sharing testimonies on Fridays, having one-to-one Bible studies, going fishing (which means you go out to campus to ask students to study the Bible or to ask them to come to one of the church meetings/worship services), and if one is musician, which I consider myslef to be one, practicing/playing in an orchestra to prepare music for the Sunday worship services and some special events. I think that all these are very good things to do. When they are done in the right spirit before God, they can allow one to grow more spiritually. But when people become so focused on the actual traidtion and not on God problems arise. When people are concerned with the number of their sheep (refer to bible students), the number of the people they invite to the worship services, and etc., they forget the true meaning of worshipping God and obeying His words.

I truly admire UBF missionaries/shepherds because many of them work ardously to participate in God's salvation work. I am glad that I am involved in UBF and to even have some people whom I can study the Bible with. But I see that some times people in UBF are so close-minded, and they do not learn from other Christians. Some people are so used to UBF traditions that they forget why one wouldn't want to write testimonies each week. Some people have never gone to other Christian meetings, like the Navigator and Campus Crusade for Christ, and they only know what it is like to be in UBF.

I have never met Dr. Samuel Lee personally. But I do know that he was used by God to establish UBF, and he did a great work in God because UBF has become one of God's instruments to preach the Gospel. It was through UBF missionaries that I have come to know Christ personally, so I am grateful for UBF. However, when I see people who think of Dr. Samuel Lee as God's servant whom they should ALWAYS obey (just because he is God's servant), I wonder whether they are putting God first or a human being first. It's not that I am against obeying church leaders. Of course, I should obey God's servants, because that's the right spirit before God. However, when the servant has done something wrong, when the servant has brought down people's spiritual lives because of his/her own actions/thoughts/words (which do not come from God, but from the human nature), people should be able to discern whether the servant is really doing what God inteded him/her to do. There must have been a reason why so many people left UBF. And I personally don't think that those people left UBF just to rebel against God's servants. But some people think that the people who left UBF were being rebellious to God's servant, Dr. Samuel Lee, and that they weren't following God. (I strongly disagree with this kind of opinions.) If people think that objecting to Dr. Lee's certain behaviours, which did not come from God's own but from human calculations and expectations, is wrong thing to do, that's okay with me. But if they are so blinded to the extent that they can't see ANYTHING wrong in a human being, I think that that's a problem.

It seems like I am being so against UBF, but I am not trying to do that. Then why do I say all these bad things about UBF? well, I didn't say bad things about UBF, but I said some things about the people who seem to be close-minded. UBF is a good place to be, but some people who claim that they want to live by faith and yet have human calculations, seem to cause many others ( who need spiritual help) to turn away from God and from His people.

A friend of mine has told me that UBF is a cult. He/she has been in UBF for a long time, but apparently his/her family were hurt a lot because of UBF. I don't know the details, but it probably has to do with a UBF's director, because that's usually where the problem comes from. When a church leader forgets to fix his/her eyes on Jesus, he/she begins to act like a dictator, thus scarring many people's heart. My friend was mad at him/her when I was telling him/her that maybe he/she shouldn't generalize so much and that he/she should let go of the hatred which he/she has toward UBF. But I have to admit that I had no right telling him/her things like that. I have never been in a situation where I was so hurt to the extent that I wanted to leave UBF. My family isn't in UBF, so I haven't experienced my whole family being the victim of the "dictatorship." But I see that some people in UBF lack shepherd heart for people around them. Instead of trying to understand, some UBF people tend to make their "sheep" feel guilty by asking them "why can't you come?" Asking part is okay, but if they do not desire to UNDERSTAND the reason for not coming to worship services or to Friday meetings or to Bible studies, how can the "sheep" actually tell them the reason without feeling guilty?? I actually think that they don't even have to ask "why" because they do not really need to know the reason. Don't they believe that God knows why their "sheep" is not coming to the services/bible studies? If they have that faith, they might as well just pray for the "sheep" so that God may move the "sheep"'s hearts to come to the worship services/Bible studies. Trying to know everything about one's life is sometimes too burndening. I feel like some people in UBF try to dictate one's life instead of trying to let God control. Having expectations from the "sheep" is okay, but I wish that they didn't push their own thoughts so much on their "sheep." They might think that certain things are the best for their "sheep," but sometimes what they think of the best isn't always the best for the "sheep."

ok.. I guess I had lot to say today..God knows my heart, and I pray that I may always be willing to change myself/my attitude when God wants me to.. so that I may be more understanding and discerning rather than being more critical and close-minded. God can work in so many different ways, and if my heart/mind is closed, I cannot see the work of God in other people's lives. Lord, give me a humble heart, and Lord, give me the strength bear all the things you have entrusted to me. thank you!:)
Posted 11/23/2003 9:16 AM