Archive for February, 2004

"America a KOP and a HN!"

February 18, 2004

Something I posted elsewhere today:

Date Posted: 12:28:54 02/18/04 Wed

Author: Joe

Subject: Re: Wacky twisting of 1 Pe 2:9

In reply to: Anonymous ‘s message, “Wacky numbers prayer topic” on 03:31:49 02/18/04 Wed

>(By the way, are you all familiar with UBF’s wacky

>twisting of Ex 19:6 and 1 Pe 2:9? That was a popular

>theme in UBF in the last couple years. But I’m

>guessing it’s probably nothing new and everyone is

>familiar with it.)

I’ve wanted to write something about this for a while, and I’ll write in more detail later elsewhere. This “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” “prayer topic” is something that Samuel Lee started, and it dominated UBF worldwide in the 1990s, and the signs are that it still does. What UBF members fail to see is that the whole prayer topic is a twisted misapplication of Ex 19:6 and 1 Pe 2:9. Whereas 1 Pe 2:9 actually applies to the Body of Christ, the Church, Lee applied it to “America,” what he called the “new Rome.” He got everybody to start reading books about the Christian roots of “America.” Week after week from the pulpit, he made it sound like UBF was about the only group that really cared about America, that had a “great vision” for America.

Basically, Lee tried to adapt the Korean nationalism that drove Korean UBF for many years (“Bible Korea, world mission!”), and transfer it to America, trying to exploit American nationalism (“America a KOP and a HN!”), even if he had to twist and misapply Scripture to do it. By all measures, it’s been a dismal failure.

Origins of UBF’s obsession with numeric goals

February 14, 2004

Samuel Lee’s admiration for certain communist leaders is well known. He particularly admired Ho Chi Minh. It should be no surprise that Lee was influenced by the communist penchant for setting numeric goals in their 5 year and 10 year plans. It’s also no surprise that Lee adopted certain communist methods for enforcing his numeric goals which led to unbelievable levels of oppression, oppression reminiscent of that in certain communist states (but of course, to a much lesser degree). This is an excerpt from a summary of Stalin’s 5 year plans:

The first Five Year Plan introduced in 1928, concentrated on the development of iron and steel, machine-tools, electric power and transport. Joseph Stalin set the workers high targets. He demanded a 111% increase in coal production, 200% increase in iron production and 335% increase in electric power. He justified these demands by claiming that if rapid industrialization did not take place, the Soviet Union would not be able to defend itself against an invasion from capitalist countries in the west.

Every factory had large display boards erected that showed the output of workers. Those that failed to reach the required targets were publically criticized and humiliated. Some workers could not cope with this pressure and absenteeism increased. This led to even more repressive measures being introduced. Records were kept of workers’ lateness, absenteeism and bad workmanship. If the worker’s record was poor, he was accused of trying to sabotage the Five Year Plan and if found guilty could be shot or sent to work as forced labour on the Baltic Sea Canal or the Siberian Railway.

A survivor of these 5 year plans who saw Lee’s methods in action would immediately recognize the influence of Stalin’s methods. Ho Chi Minh also had his 5 year plans.

Here’s a very recent post by a UIC UBF recruit about the continuing numbers obsession in Chicago UBF:

Date Posted: 17:00:07 02/11/04 Wed
Subject: Re: obsession with numbers
In reply to: Joe ‘s message, “Re: obsession with numbers” on 10:36:31 02/07/04 Sat


numbers are still a very big part of ubf. in the 2003 Christmas worship service prayer meetings, ron ward continually streesed regestrations to be at least one, but preferably five per person. i participated in the dances for the service, and i as well as all of those who were going to perform in any way were told that if we did not have at least one person regestered by a deadline then we would not be able to perform and possibly not attend the service at all. I know that fellowship leaders are praised for having many members and are called “A” list fellowships and the fellowships that have few members are scowlded and called “C” list fellowships or lower. This idea of always thinking about the numbers more than spiritual well being is being perpetuated to the younger members of UBF. one case was of a secondgen discussing with another secondgen the fact that one of his “sheep” wanted to go to their own churche’s Christmas service instead of ubf’s in an angry tone. He said that this particular person should be fully in ubf or not at all, that he should choose where his responsibility and loyalties are, as if recruiting to ubf was the point of Bible study. Numbers are very much a part of ubf and one’s place and prestige within it. I think it probably will not change. in ubf, numbers, for some reason, seems to represent one’s level of commitment to Christ and spititual maturity. I think we all know how ridiculous this is.

Hm, it all sounds so familiar. And it sounds familiar to people who left UBF 20 years ago and 30 years ago, too. In UBF they’re living the fetid “spiritual” legacy of Samuel Lee to this day. Well actually, no. They’re living the fetid legacy of Stalin and Minh to this day.

Selective recognition of leadership cults

February 10, 2004

For two consecutive years, 1999-2000, Samuel Lee ordered all Chicago-area UBF chapters to gather at the World Buffet restaurant in Niles, Illinois to throw a big birthday bash for Sarah Barry. Thousands of dollars were spent for Barry at these events, and she was lavished with gifts, but more disturbing to me was all the unbridled praise, not praise for God, but praise for Lee and Barry. On the World Buffet karaoke stage were featured song and dance numbers and skits(!) dedicated to Barry. In 1999, I had to be part of one these dance numbers. A Wright College “performance” included incredibly syrupy praise for Barry as an “angel from above.”

Cut to 2002. Barry makes a 5-figure contribution to a North Korean relief organization in the name of the now deceased Samuel Lee. The contribution opens the way for Barry to take a guided tour of North Korea. She goes there and comes back with a report that says something to the effect that she witnessed a leadership cult in North Korea.

Cut to later in 2002. Barry declares in a letter that the leadership cult in Bonn is an “exemplary” UBF chapter that many other chapters should emulate.

Incidentally, Lee ordered a similar birthday bash for my father at the World Buffet in 1998.

What would Jesus have thought of these World Buffet bashes where leaders were lavished with gifts and praised to the heavens?

In UBF terms, such idolatrous veneration and “hero” worship is called “thankfulness”, thankfulness which is supposed to silence any and all criticisms, valid or not, in the name of “spiritual order.”

Numbers don’t matter?

February 7, 2004

I’ve written before about Samuel Lee’s obsession with performance-oriented numbers and the effect that this obsession had on members and especially fellowship leaders. From communicating with recently exited members from Chicago and other UBF chapters, it would seem that UBF is determined to preserve Lee’s “spiritual legacy” of numbers obsession.

The only “biblical” justification that I ever heard Lee give for his obsession with numbers was “Well, you know, there is a book in the Bible called Numbers.” There is no biblical justification for UBF’s obsession with numbers. There is no justification at all.

A common UBF defense of the numbers obsession when a young recruit gets bothered by it is “Numbers don’t matter, blah, blah.” Numbers don’t matter? Then why obsess with numbers, keep track of numbers, think of ministerial progress only in terms of numbers, have “prayer topics” that consist only of numbers, threaten punishments if a numbers goal is not reached and judge members’ spiritual health by their performance numbers. In other words, if “numbers don’t matter,” then why act as if numbers are everything?!

The proudest parents in UBF are those whose children “feed [insert number here] sheep.”

The thing is, I think most UBF members hate this ministry of numbers and know that it is wrong, counter-productive and self-defeating, but for various dysfunctional reasons they and especially their leaders work to preserve this “spiritual legacy” of Lee. Henry Kriete, who seems to have touched off much soul searching and reform within the International Church of Christ wrote in his now famous February 2003 letter:

In my experience many of you, if not most, will agree with what I am saying. Perhaps every last one of you. But why have we not stopped this madness? Why does it go on and on when most of us hate it so? And in our hearts feel guilt, if not shame? Because ‘that’s just the way it is’? No – but because it’s another systemic evil, another pillar in our belief system that must be smashed.

Kriete also wrote extensively about the ICC’s own brand of obsession with numbers.