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A strange thank-you to UBF :D 
24th-Oct-2006 08:38 am
As a member of UBF for 10 years, I had a wide array of experiences, the best of which were the two different "conference journeys" to Russia, first in 1997 and then in 2000. The journey team went to a lot of places, mostly within St. Petersburg. We visited lots of Russian Orthodox cathedrals, like St. Isaac's and Smolny Cathedral. Of course, there were lots of Chicago UBF folks parroting the usual UBF jargon like "shepherd heart" and "life-giving spirit", ad nauseum, regarding the suffering Russian people and the role of the Church in the old times.

Between last year and this, I converted to Eastern Orthodoxy (Russian, Greek, Serbian, Romanian, et al.) with the OCA (Orthodox Church in America). I guess in part I have UBF to thank for that! Had I not seen the mysticism and splendor of the most ancient and original Christianity through those two trips to Russia, I might have never been so impressed with it and thus converted!

Thanks, UBF, for helping me to find a better church!

David Barro

p.s. You know, I'm kinda tired of the whole secrecy of being a "defector" from UBF. From now on I'm going to use my full name and I really don't care who knows it.
Comments 
25th-Oct-2006 04:00 am (UTC)
I thought UBF practiced mysticism at its extreme. UBF marriage by faith is one good example. UBF leaders claim that they know God's will for each UBF couple through prayer and deep meditation. UBF also enforces very strict life style that one has to cut all the family ties to participate only in UBF practices. The best example I think is Dr. Samuel Lee's horror stories. Maybe I should say that UBF practices mysticism in unhealthy way.
27th-Oct-2006 05:03 pm (UTC) - trip to Russia
Hi David,

How's it going? Nice to hear from you. Please write often.

When you went to Russia, what did they expect from you in terms of paying for airfare, making an offering, giving a testimony, demanding that you feed many sheep, etc? Many of us never had the (dis)pleasure to go to Russia with ubf.
28th-Oct-2006 03:10 am (UTC) - Re: trip to Russia
Hello Nick,

I was hoping that there'd be more activity on this forum than there has been lately. I guess I shouldn't talk; I could've been here but haven't been. I suppose part of it might be that people feel a sense of urgency to simply move on with their lives rather than be here and commiserate about the past. I do know that that concept has come up in therapy. Maybe a part of it is that people are actually afraid of what UBF would do in knowing their activity here. I'd have thought that would've been much worse when Sammy Lee was still alive, and even then, for the people in Chicago and surrounding areas.

Anyway, as for Russia: I was not pressed to pay for the airfare when I went back in 1997. We left so that we would arrive in Moscow airport Thursday afternoon and go pretty much straight to the conference. The usual routine until Sunday: wake up early, run yourself ragged for like 18 hours at the conference, report with the journey team twice a day about who you talked to that day (and what are their prayer topics), try to sleep while the miserable "Chicago Vocal Team" assaults your ears with their divinely-commissioned (read: Sammy-Lee-ordered) song from the other room, pack up all your stuff on Sunday and leave. On the last day, however, we were all accosted by Helen Rarick to cough up 100 dollars each or else we weren't allowed to go to St. Petersburg. This money was supposedly to go for the St. Petersburg ministry because of all the money they spent in order for us to be there. This was understandable, because we were treated VERY well once we were there. We stayed in the mother of all hotels, second-to-none, except for Hotel Astoria perhaps.

Aside from that, there was no money left over for gifts. At least not for me. Sharon Schafer and Jennifer Lemmon came up with 60 bucks for me to get some souvenirs, but this didn't last past the Sunday offering. Then, the 100 bucks (a guy from Toledo just GAVE it to me), and THEN the gifts. I honestly don't know how I did it.

When I went in 2000, it was different. I had the airfare covered, but I was asked to prepare 200 dollars as an offering to the Moscow ministries, which turned into 400 the day before the flight. I was rebuked when I said I didn't have it. :) I was secretly saving some money for souvenirs, hee hee. On the Sunday, the last day of this conference, I was told to prepare a 200 dollar offering for the St. Petersburg ministry. Oh, hey, get this: I knew I was losing my job at the University only one month later, and I didn't have another job lined up. Yet, I was expressly told "DO NOT WORRY". You know the song-and-dance. Well, I was unemployed for 6 weeks after losing my job. I was hired halfway through November by none other than Dr. Joe Schafer at the University. This was the job from which I was let go ONE year after my suicide attempt, minus one week.
(cont.)
28th-Oct-2006 03:11 am (UTC) - Re: trip to Russia
(cont'd from last)
There was also the Germany trip in 2000, two weeks before the Russia trip. I absolutely HATED it there. My sleeping was completely out of whack and again with the wretched Chicago Vocal Team. This trip was the one where I learned about what "Skokie training" was. It was David Green telling me about it because his "shepherd", Kevin Albright, was given Skokie training because of him. I was intrigued and sickened by it, really, similar to how someone marvels at a car crash. On the last day of this trip, I was seriously contemplating faking a broken leg so I would get out of the next trip a little over a week later. I somehow endured without the broken-leg scheme. I'm glad I did, because the trip to Russia was definitely worth it, especially the two days in St. Petersburg.

I'm not sure if I've shared this bit yet, so for now, I'll just say that I had harbored a little secret about my experience in Russia. Two whole years after I left UBF for good, and on a very severe (and perhaps dangerous) impulse, I rented a car and went to the MSU conference in 2004 for ONE day. It was very interesting to see how people would react to my being there. Everyone pretty much regarded me as someone who had already left UBF. Just as well, I would say. But I went there specifically to get some information on the Russian ministries. I came back empty-handed and it was a complete waste of time. When all was said and done, I was afraid that Dr. Joe would have looked at my presence there as some sort of sign that I wanted to come back. Well, SURE. Doing something like that WOULD give someone that impression. I think I did it also because my relationship with the Schafers/Lemmons and UBF was at the very least a co-dependent one, just like how a battered housewife has a hard time leaving the abusive husband.

I hope my story was at least entertaining :)

David Barro
28th-Oct-2006 03:39 pm (UTC) - Re: trip to Russia
But I went there specifically to get some information on the Russian ministries.

David, the Russian-area UBFs were largely a mystery to me up until this year. But the stories of abuse and the exits of long-time Russian UBF members have started to leak out.

I went to a UBF "Russian journey" also in 1993 to attend a conference. The Soviet Union was dissolved, but there was a UBF "iron curtain" that I couldn't see past at that time. And behind that curtain young Russians were being abused in ways that would have been all too familiar to me. Sam Lee was giving the post-totalitarian Russian recruits a taste of UBF totalitarian "training," assisted by the UBF Korean "missionaries."
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