Archive for December, 2004

Despair and hope at Christmas

December 23, 2004

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
‘There is no peace on earth,’
I said ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

Then peeled the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

— Henry W. Longfellow

In 1863, Longfellow’s son, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac (Union, American Civil War), was seriously wounded in battle. This event inspired Longfellow to write this poem.

As I had come to loathe Sundays, I had come to loathe Christmas in Chicago UBF, another insane numbers-fest. The lowest point and the highest point must have been Christmas of 2000 after it became known that Sam Lee was even more of a monster than I had come to consider him. The lowest point was realizing conclusively that I had been in a cult for most of my life. The highest point was that Christmas (and my future) became decoupled from UBF. Christmas became meaningful again.

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I won’t be "home" for Christmas

December 11, 2004

There are those who insist that Christmas, at least, should be a time for family unity. I wish it were that simple. But it really isn’t, is it?

I don’t believe in unity for unity’s sake; “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. (Jer 6:14) People need to take a sober look at unity. Who is your unity helping really?

Maybe I should be more direct. Unless absolutely necessary, I will refuse any sort of unity with someone who continues to hold the title of “President of UBF” and who continues in the stubborn defense of the morally indefensible deeds and twisted “legacy” of Samuel Lee. To me, this is a matter of principle.

I won’t be “home” for Christmas.

Jerry King’s advise

December 10, 2004

The following is a post from June that contains what could be considered constructive criticism of UBF from a former member, though the advise is directed toward the CMI (formerly the Reformed UBF). As with any criticism, constructive or otherwise, UBF’s habit is to totally ignore it.

Date Posted: 14:27:58 06/03/04 Thu
Author: Joe Chung
Subject: Jerry King’s advise to the CMI

It looks like the CMI web site is back with a new name, http://www.campusmi.org, and the same look. One thing I found interesting on their free discussion board is advise from Jerry King, who, if you are veteran enough to remember, was a “shepherd” in the Columbus UBF. After Peter Chang’s resignation, I guess he and others left UBF and formed something called the Living Hope Fellowship in Columbus. I believe Jerry is an ordained pastor now.

The following from Jerry does not necessarily reflect my own views of UBF in so many ways, but some of his insights I do find valuable. [It should be noted that Jerry was recruited into a UBF chapter (Columbus) that eventually left UBF after the 1989-1990 events.]

Some Observations on UBF Past. Present and Future

1. For these things that God gave to me through UBF I am very grateful:

• Profound, life-changing Bible study

• Real-life discipleship – “Holiness counts!”

• Wide-open accessibility into your lives/homes

• Seeing and experiencing what hospitality really is

• High hopes/expectations/vision of what’s possible

• Helpful distinguishing of what is essential gospel/what is American Christianity’s forms

• Appreciation of hymns

• 45 min. sermons are ok!

• Regular, sincere intense prayer

• 1 to 1 format

• Perseverance against sometimes overwhelming odds

• Learning how to deal well with authority in my life/that obedience doesn’t kill you

• Overcoming the fear of cold-contact evangelism

• ”Bury-my-bones” commitment to mission

• Appreciation for missions globally and historically

• Demonstration of what sacrifice looks like

• Learned genuine confession and repentance

• The importance of one soul

• Living proof that the Great Commission is not something reserved for Americans/Westerners

• The most potent experience of Christian community I’ve ever tasted (though we never used the term!)

• A solid, wide-angle Genesis to Revelation view of Scripture

• The value of writing testimonies of God’s grace

• Holy days (holidays) warrant a real celebration

• Sense of history – personal, national, spiritual, Biblical

2. The following observations and recommendations do come from my own experience in UBF, but I have endeavored to set aside the purely personal and speak more representatively concerning things that affected many of us.

Humility

– Though your own calling is legitimate, it is not original; God did not first show up on a campus/in a city or country when you arrived to “pioneer”

• Respect His prior presence; investigate and appreciate where and with who He is already working; then search out (together!) why He is bringing you here. Where is your niche? Can you do it with the blessing of other Kingdom servants?

– Your work is not the only show in town, nor. necessarily the “best”: appreciate how else God is at work: model and teach this humility/graciousness in relationships/cooperation without fear of being “infected” with compromise by other Christians. Remember: Jesus Himself said that this is the most potent evidence to a watching world of who He is: how His followers love each other/ or not! (Jn. 13:34,35; 17:20,21). The world expects to see division/ competition/ despising/ ignoring. Let’s show them something better.

– Demonstrate the strength of humility to those learning from you

Apologies – make them quick and generous

• Not lording authority over “the sheep”

o Not a case of “either/or”: “Always be right or they won’t respect you.” Not true. Genuineness can engender respect. Americans can smell posing a mile away; we know it’s fake. We will watch for the inevitable manifesting of your “feet of clay” or – Worse! – Naively think you really .are perfect, only to be disillusioned someday when you do mess up; then we will despair not only of you but also of ourselves

• Be more transparent about your own struggles, questions, and failures – sooner!

• Be willing to hear from (even critically), receive input and even help from growing disciples.

o Younger watching ones are especially valuable in pointing out any disconnect between professed belief and practice; very hard to hear / face this, but necessary for real respect and credibility.

o Dismantle the fierce hierarchy within the organization. We often looked to local leaders with a near absolute respect, only to watch his/her “emasculation” / reduction to child status when in the presence of a top leader. We saw grown men treated like – even acting like – idiots. Did not communicate to us genuine respect but bizarre oppression. From that we received the message that we ourselves would never grow up.

o Waited to see if a “Paul rebuking Peter” kind of collegiality would ever form. (Gal. 2:11-14)

Practical Theology

A) Trust the Spirit of God more to work in a person’s life

1) Widen and simplify your expectations of marks of real transformation (in individuals and in groups); shed more culturally bound expectations.

2) Respect the new disciple’s will; this is the domain where a person and the Spirit of God meet (holy ground).

a) Respect the point of conversion more

b) More importance of chosen marks of identification undertaken by the individual: e.g. baptism & communion

c) Lead disciples into prayerful, advised, Biblically-rooted and real decision making.

d) Be ready for mess, immaturity, false starts; no surprise!

e) God respects human decisions: (see Gen 2:19 “Whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.”)

3) Expect and watch for unique giftings — calling for the individual (one size does not fit all)

a) God’s design for His church: individual diversity in gifts and functioning: wide and varied.

b) A narrow view ruins individuals who don’t fit your scheme/ template resulting in 2 tiers of “members”

c) Dignity and importance of non-ministry vocation/ work. Teach it /show it

4) The Gospel is true in you; this confidence produces real hope, power to lean into new identity; to mature into godly manhood/ womanhood. Not deeply believing this speaks: “You are a contained monster, always a kid, still just a poor sinner.: Consequently, hard to grow up in Christ well.

B) Ecclesiology – have to clean up this understanding – really!

1) No more “halfway hybrid”

2) God’s design: churches: local, committed, diverse, all functioning in service reproducing. Yes, church is slow, messy; but don’t try to clean it up, streamline by “improving” on it.

a) Yes, there are and will be specialized ministry arms, but always connected to church.

(1) E.g. missions, seminaries, campus groups, publishing houses, media etc

b) If you are doing whole picture evangelizing work, then you are either doing church planting or you are doing conversions then tying people into a context of church right away.a) Respect the point of conversion more

(1) Danger: young believers will grow with a warped, partial experience and understanding of church life if this is not resolved.

3) We all need to learn to do life with a range of ages, gift variety, occupations/ministries, educational levels, the poor and needy etc.

C) Issue of time’s passages

1) Don’t fight it by idolizing one stage of life as ideal (e.g. young, single student)

2) Impossible to maintain perpetually anyone phase of life.

3) Resisting this spawned much guilt/frustration / shame – in you and in us!

4) Produced some bad attitudes toward marriage/ family/ aging

5) We need to see peaceful, gracious maturing under God’s sovereignty. Gray hair is to be admired!

D) Gifts of Holy Spirit – be honest, be complete, biblical, courageous

3. Culture

1) Perennial missionary challenge

2) Sanctifying opportunity for missionaries: incarnational presence:

a) “good chance” to be exposed – your culture distinguished from gospel by submersion in another culture

b) No such thing as “culture-free” gospel!

(1) But it’s a brutal process – because culture is not abstract; it is “me”; it is “us”!

c) Most find it too threatening or difficult and back off – don’t really enter a new culture (as if Jesus came to earth but hovered 10 feet above the ground) here, but not really accessible

d) We need to decide to develop this mindset: “I choose to enter fully into this new culture”

e) Learn

(1) Language – continually: goal is not perfect fluency, but persistence in trying; tells us that you really want to be here and are about us.

(2) Search out the “hot button” issues in our culture, then don’t naively run rough-shod over them or act shocked if you get a strong reaction. (e.g. marriage customs, family holidays)

(3) Observe details of life – it’s where we really live!

(4) Let your second- generation kids help you learn in this.

f) Appreciate as much as you can without condemning first

g) Expect the workings of God to be new and different-looking in this new context; Don’t default to the much easier reproducing of forms you have known from before / elsewhere

h) Lose the strong Korean flavor; don’t be so afraid of syncretism and compromise.

3. Offer cultural critiques to us but receive it as well.

a) We can see your blind spots too, better than you can, for example. . .

(1) Moral relativity in some situations

(2) “Face-saving” instead of simpler honesty

(3) Idolatry of education; the ambition of living through your children

(4) Watch for the emergence of the “third culture”, Neither A nor B; not even A & B together, but hints of “C”! a new human / kingdom culture. Though slippery and often fragile, it’s worth the effort, even in foretaste.