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Holly Lord 
22nd-Jan-2007 11:27 am
Last week I accidentally ran across several discussions about myself on the web, regarding University Bible Fellowship (UBF). That is how I eventually came to this forum. People in UBF would have known me as Holly Lord.

Here are the posts I saw from 2002:

and from 2004:

and from October of 2006:

I have to admit, I was surprised to see that I was not only remembered but also being discussed more than ten years after I had left the organization. I had been involved with UBF for about five and a half years, from 1988 until 1993.

I began to think about my experience in UBF. I read a number of posts by former members, such as those posted at http://www.ubf-net.de/int/rep/index.en.htm and posts on the boards listed above. Many things came back to me which I had forgotten, and I learned things about UBF's abuses that I did not know before. I have posted a testimony about my experience in UBF at http://www.geocities.com/holly.lord/ubf.html.

22nd-Jan-2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
Dear Holly, great to read something from you personally. It was me who posted the passage from Samuel Lee's "Bible message" which mentioned you. I was pretty outraged about how Samuel Lee twisted the truth and invented his own story. It was completely clear to me that the story was fabricated, since Samuel Lee used to twist facts or even fabricate stories on his own. In UBF it was not important what was real, but what Samuel Lee told was real. It's good to have your testimony here. It's also good to hear that your story happened luckily, that you are married, haven't lost your faith in God, and that you don't seem to be bitter (something that we ex UBFers are often accused of). Thanks God for all of that.

You wrote "Joe did not just read Samuel Lee's message; he wrote his own every week." A question about that: How independent was Joe in style and content from Lee? Was it just a rewrite or did he write really different?

Another question: I am planning to revamp ubf-info.de one day. Would you allow me to post your testimony with a German translation there? I will abbreviate the names of the sheep as I did in all of the other testimonies.
23rd-Jan-2007 03:56 am (UTC)
Hi, Chris,

I have to admit, I'm curious: when did Samuel Lee actually give that message? Since it mentions Jennifer Lemmon rather than Jennifer Webber, it must have been after their wedding.

Yes, Joe wrote his own message every week, and we were usually out of sync with Chicago. I remember back when I was in UBF being a little surprised when I found out that other chapters simply read SL's sermons verbatim. I guess Joe's content was typical UBF content, but the style was his own. There was some jargon, of course, but he didn't write or speak in Konglish (a mutation of Korean and English speech). I recall Joe as a pretty good writer.

Yes, you may post my testimony to ubf-info.de. I'm still trying to be sure I got all the typos out, so if you want to copy-paste it into one file rather than link to it, you may want to wait a bit.

23rd-Jan-2007 04:22 am (UTC)
I found that it was in the 1995 Christmas circular. Lee used to write a long letter on Christmas that was xeroxed and sent to every UBFer in the world personally in order to bring everybody in line and pass his version of UBF history to everybody. It was in that letter.

So Joe seems to be one of the very few "intellectuals" in UBF. Can you understand why he did not see through the phony and evil Lee and still does not? Was it because he was always in a distance from Lee and Chicago and/or treated a bit differently by Lee because he was one of his precious model UBFins? As we know Lee was obsessed with having PhD titles etc. Maybe Joe never experienced what UBF is really like for an ordinary member and how corrupt the leaders are? But at least he should have noticed the twisted, shallow and onesided UBF "theology" then. Hard for me to understand.
24th-Jan-2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
I've been trying to remember the details about Joe. It has been over 13 years since I left UBF. I remember when he prepared his Sunday messages, he used commentaries he had purchased (I'm sorry, I don't remember which ones). He didn't only use Lee's messages and material. Yes, he's an intellectual guy. I thought his material was superior to Lee's. My best guess is he was treated well. I cannot say why Joe doesn't "see through the phony and evil Lee," except to say that I never really "saw through him" myself, in terms of understanding all that was going on with some members. If nothing else, Joe was hundreds of miles away from Chicago and had been for a long time.

I actually know relatively little about Joe's background or how he came to UBF. He and his sister (Terese Bird) were raised Catholic. He got his undergraduate degree at MIT and I think he worked on his degree from Harvard immediately afterward, so he must have started in UBF in high school. It's funny to think that I knew Joe for several years and never asked him how he came to UBF. He was already the director at Boston UBF when I went there.

As you mention, UBF was (is?) highly interested in having people with doctorates and other educated people in the organization. I specifically remember this as the case, and I remember thinking it was a good idea. Coming from a family where Christianity was largely criticized as being a religion of the stupid/uneducated/gullible, I personally felt that it was important to be an educated Christian--a person no one could accuse of ignorance. UBF's push for doctorates made perfect sense to me as something that would bring glory to God.

People with credentials are more difficult to disregard.
24th-Jan-2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
Do you know what happened with Terese Bird? All I know is the Birds had flown to "pioneer" Wales, but I'm not sure whether they are still in UBF.

Concerning titles, the problem is that UBF does not give people time to learn and study. They are only interested in the title, not in the scientific work behind. So you get trained in the art of getting phony/non-deserved titles. Samuel Lee's two titles were bought (one from a Korean college which got money from him (UBF offering money) and one from a US degree mill). UBF makes people feel very guilty if they spend a lot of time for their study instead of writing sogams, inviting students and making Bible study with them. Only few who are privileged by the leaders or who can not so easily be guilt-tripped manage to do both, UBF and study. And if they show some success, the leaders sometimes give them extra priviledges because they are of value for UBF as role models (see we UBF have such great PhD people, so we cannot be a cult). So they need not play UBF so much, or can decide on their own. Obviously Joe was one of them. It seem they gave him a lot of freedom. Therefore these people may sometimes not know how UBF life for a rank-and-file member looks like.
28th-Jan-2007 03:31 am (UTC)
No, I didn't even know the Birds had gone to Wales until recently.

The people who I knew well who got doctorates were Jim Rabchuk (physics) and Joe Schafer (statistics). I also knew Helen Rarick fairly well, as Jim Rarick was my Bible teacher for a while. (I think she was getting her doctorate in biology, as I believe she told me she was studying cows' eyeballs). All three got their PhD degrees from reputable universities. It was well known that Samuel Lee got his first "doctorate" as an honorary degree. I think that was the only "doctorate" he had when I left.

My best guess from my experience in UBF is that they wanted people to get doctorates 1) as you mentioned, to create role models, 2) to make UBF look more reputable to outsiders and 3) for those people earning doctorates to make more money and give more money to the organization. These are the same reasons they pushed technical and scientific degrees.
28th-Jan-2007 09:16 am (UTC)
In Bonn UBF, it was even more perfiduous. Peter Chang pushed some to get a PhD, but as soon as they got serious about it, he hindered them by e.g. inventing an obligatory sogam meeting just at the time when they had their important meetings at the universities. Then he looked whether they obeyed and made their PhD "by faith" (i.e. without really working and learning for it). Probably he did not really want anybody to get a PhD so he can be the only one in his chapter with this title where he is called "Missionary doctor Peter Chang" though the "doctor" has nothing to do with mission. He got his one in Pharmacy, which is a field where you can get the PhD with the least possible effort in Germany. I heard a similar thing about Samuel Lee's PhD. Originally, he registered some more members to the theological degree mill from which he got his PhD, but in the end he made sure that he was the only one who finished, so that he at least was the only one with a PhD in theology. In any way, the actual science (natural science or theology) is of little to no interest to these people. It is only about getting the title. They just love titles amd hierarchies. Even "shepherd" and "missionary" are used as titles in UBF.
31st-Jan-2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
Another question: I am planning to revamp ubf-info.de one day. Would you allow me to post your testimony with a German translation there? I will abbreviate the names of the sheep as I did in all of the other testimonies.


I would appreciate it if you put a link back to the original if/when you post this on the ubf-info.de site.

31st-Jan-2007 07:26 pm (UTC)
Surely. If things are available online, I always put the link to the original on my site.
22nd-Jan-2007 10:50 pm (UTC) - Hi Holly

I remember you well when you were in Chicago. It was so rare back then that they could recruit an American girl still in HS. Glad to hear that you are doing so well and are so happy. Good for you. Your testimony is very simple, nice to read.

Do you ever have any contact from the people who considered themselves your good friends back in the ubf? Did they ever give you the parting condemnations, like you were not a child of God or going to heaven, or that you were demon-possessed, etc?

I wish you and yours the best always.

23rd-Jan-2007 04:39 am (UTC) - Re: Hi Holly
Hi, Nick, and thanks. I tried to keep it simple. There were so many things I remembered, and I could have gone on and on with details, but I didn't want to wander down too many bunny trails.

After I left, as I mentioned, I spoke with John Bird on the phone once. Jim Rabchuk left a message on my answering machine, but I never called him, of course. I saw Joe a few times on campus, just walking by, and it was awkward. I think one time he just nodded a little and other times he said hi. I don't think I ever saw Sharon again, but the Schafers moved to a different neighborhood at some point, so there was less opportunity to run into them than when they lived down the street from me.

Dave Barro was the only person I remember talking with a few times. He knew both me and Matthew and was always nice to us. I remember having a "catching up" type conversation with him, like you'd have with anyone you met who you had not seen in a while. I think he had gone back to UBF at that point. If he invited me back to UBF, I don't remember it.

Jim Rabchuk and Sarah Barry tried to visit me when they came in town for the Lemmon wedding. I think they left a message on my answering machine then, too.

Offhand, I can't remember any other contact with UBF members after I left. If anyone had any parting condemnations, they did not share them with me. I was actually a little surprised when I read Chris' post that Samuel Lee didn't have anything all that harsh to say about my leaving. I guess my uncommunicativeness with UBF members after I left and my distance from Chicago didn't give him a lot of material to work with. "Ran away" was probably the mildest condemnation he gave in this sort of case. If memory serves, his description when people left was usually something along the lines of "became a mental patient" or "was demon possessed," but I was categorized simply as "ran away." It's kind of gratifying to know that I stood so highly in his opinion!   ROFL

23rd-Jan-2007 05:05 am (UTC)

Thank you so much for your testimony. I praise God that he has blessed you so much outside UBF. It is very clear to me that God took you away from UBF when UBF started to become a stumbling block to your walk with God. God sent you Steve and Matthew to help your walk with God. As we all know, UBF does not help sheep to walk with God but walk in UBF system.

We recently discovered that Dr. Joe Schafer is not a good Christian. He criticizes other majority of God's servants because they prefer topical Bible study. But he blindly praises Dr. Samuel Lee and his Bible study methodology. He is a man who is not rigorously well trained in theology.</a>

I was so astonised when I read that Dr. Joe Schafer tried to make you stop studying Bible with Steve and Matthew and finally gave you ultimatum to leave UBF or to study the Bible only with him. How can a Bible teacher tell anyone to study the Bible only with him or else just to leave him? What kind of Bible study is this? This clearly is not Bible study but organizational indoctrination.

I also remember that my shepherd ordered me not to read any other commentaries or Bible messages outside UBF. But when I kept on doing it, he condemned me saying that I was too humanistic and proud. When I asked him to give me any theological reason to stop other commentaries and messages, he didn't give me any. He just said that was how things were done in UBF. But no theology behind it.

When Dr. Joe Schafer told you to stop studying the Bible with Steve and Matthew, did he explain to you based on the Bible why you should study the Bible only with him but not with them? I mean, he is after all an MIT-educated professor. So I am hoping that he might know something that we all do not know and need to know about the reason why studying the Bible outside UBF is such a bad idea.
28th-Jan-2007 01:25 am (UTC)
As for Joe giving me an ultimatum, I don't think to him that it had all that much to do with the Bible study itself. Joe had never previously had a problem with me reading whatever Christian books I wanted to read--he and Sharon had a collection of Christian books themselves. I had always maintained the superiority of UBF and the supriority of UBF study methodologies, even when I had visted other ministries' studies (which I had not been forbidden to do). I think it was an issue of me having close friends outside of UBF--particularly male friends.

God was opening my spritual eyes though my study with Steve and Matthew, and I was growing through it, which is why I was continuing. Joe claimed my study with them had to do with my "marriage problem."

(The term "marriage problem" is UBF-speak for a person's interest in the opposite sex and hope to one day get married. This was said to be a cursed obsession based on the woman's curse Genesis 3:16, "...your desire shall be for your husband..." In UBF, the idea is that a woman cannot decide on a husband, because she is blinded by her cursed desire to get married. As a side note, the "marriage problem" in UBF was also extended to men.)

I knew I was not studying with Steve and Matthew in order to catch a husband, but that assumption was one of the reasons Joe told me not to study with them anymore. I guess that eventually mutated into Samuel Lee's version, where I "ran away with one of the promising shepherd candidates."
28th-Jan-2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
I should probably elaborate on this topic a little more, since it was somewhat more complicated than I described yesterday, and the Bible study WAS an issue, just not the only one. And, yes, the "marriage problem" was a major factor, at least in the justification of trying to get me to stay with UBF.

I think I'd have to back up to the beginning. In my family, my parents considered it my job to get good grades, that is, mostly A's, but nothing below a B. I was a fairly serious student, and I liked school a lot.

When I came to UBF, I liked the verse-by-verse, question-and-answer approach. I quite literally knew almost nothing about the Bible, and I found it fascinating. I didn't want to miss a thing, which is why verse-by-verse study appealed to me. I liked the question-and-answer methodology, because it was a familiar format, from my schoolwork. I was entirely comfortable with the idea that there were "correct" answers that Jim Rabchuck (later Terese Bird, John Bird, Jim Rarick, and Joe Schafer) provided. Through such close study, I awoke spiritually. I drank in the Bible and read it from cover to cover. My UBF "shepherds" helped me to make sense of what I read.

I was allowed to go to other churches/meetings/youth groups, if I wanted. I used to go to two local churches, and the sermons seemed insipid. When I attended their adult Bible studies, it seemed like little more than a social meeting with a few watered down scripture verses thrown in. The one youth group I tried was even worse, mostly centering around things like "movie night," with no Bible study aspect at all. Through my limited experience, I judged all churches and decided that other churches' worship and study opportunities were weak, at best. It seemed to me that no one but UBF was serious about the Bible.

My attitude towards UBF became (in a sense) like that of Peter towards Jesus in John 6:68: "Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life...'" I really thought that UBF had a corner on the market when it came to Bible study.

When I met Steve, I knew he was different. He was scholarly and informed and serious when it came to Bible study. He wanted to go to seminary. Matthew had gone to a good Christian school for elementary/middle/high school, where he had learned theology. Additionally, the pastor of the church where he grew up taught the Bible verse-by-verse in his sermons along with doctrine.

I began to bring up some of the things with Joe Schafer that I'd learned by studying with Steve and Matthew--particularly eternal security (once you are saved, you are always saved). I know Joe didn't appreciate my input. Because I'd always been in UBF so willingly, for a long time I had not been able to clearly see how much pressure there was to attend everything. I had made excuses, such as, "They want me to be with God!" when it was really pressure to obey the group without question. When I became less interested, I saw firsthand the pressure, then other problems, such as their wrong attitude toward marriage, their wrong teachings regarding eternal security, and so forth. It became clear to me that UBF was a cult. I think I was progressing towards leaving anyway, but Joe's ultimatum, meant to pull me back in line, sped up the process.
30th-Jan-2007 06:39 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for your thoughtful writing about Dr. Joe Schafer and his ultimatum. It is very interesting to me that Dr. Schafer didn't want to teach you the Bible any more because he thought there was a marriage problem.

It is hard to believe that Dr. Schafer who claims to be a Bible teacher told you to leave him because he believed that there was a marriage problem. If he is a Bible teacher, he should bless his sheep when he "thinks" that his sheep met a nice person and continue to teach the Bible to the sheep so that they can develop a godly relationship.

According to this mission report, a UBF missionary in Turkey rebuked his sheep because the sheep was not willing to break up her relationship with her boyfriend. This UBF missionary thinks that he acted according to the truth of God. This kind of UBF theology is very unbiblical. One option that the UBF missionary could have taken was that he could have helped his sheep to develop a godly relationship with her boyfriend until she came to the conclusion that the relationship was not from God. Is breaking up any relationship is the only way from God?

Dr. Schafer and other UBF leaders have very business-minded attitude toward marriage and other relationship includign family. UBF marriage by faith is a way to keep UBF members committed to UBF organization. They think that making a couple marry inside UBF is a good way to make the couple settle down in UBF. In this way, they increase the number of committed members. But the Bible says that the responsibility of any Bible teacher is to honor any human relationship and help sheep develop godly relationship through teaching the Bible deeply to follow God's leading in the relationship. But Dr. Schafer failed to do it. He was only acting as a selfish businessman and did not lay down his business-mindedness to serve his sheep to the end.
30th-Jan-2007 08:36 pm (UTC)
It is very interesting to me that Dr. Schafer didn't want to teach you the Bible any more because he thought there was a marriage problem. -human12

I don't think he expected me to leave.
10th-Feb-2007 04:58 am (UTC) - Question about your fears during your UBF exit
Holly, I was wondering if you could comment on the following from your testimony:

"I had made arrangements to stay with a friend for a while, to be sure I was not at home if any UBF members came to try to talk me into coming back, that is to say, to guilt me into coming back. I had a strong conviction that I should not allow myself to be alone with them. I had some fear that they might kidnap me and try to force me to come back."

Most of us know about the kind of guilt and pressure that UBF people knowingly or unknowingly exert, but do you remember what factored into your fear that they might try to kidnap you?
11th-Feb-2007 12:21 am (UTC) - Re: Question about your fears during your UBF exit
Back then, I took the whole "deprogrammer" thing pretty seriously, that someone could take you against your will and try to convince you to leave UBF. One of the big examples for me was what had "happened" to Chris Kelly's wife, that is, that she had been dragged away and "deprogrammed." Please note, I never knew Donna, and I had heard about her and other "sad" cases in SL's sermons--yes, the "vegetable woman" story was part of SL's sermons on several occasions. There was ALWAYS a negative connotation to leaving UBF, and it was always the case that a person either turned from God and "ran away" or was taken by force by deprogrammers.

To my way of thinking at the time, it made sense that UBF would try to force me to return, sort of a deprogramming in reverse. Maybe "convince" is a better word. I may actually edit the testimony to say convince, since I think that would have been more along the lines of what would have happened.

They had a strong pull on me at that time. There were layers of obligation I'm sure would have been included in the arguments--that they needed me; that I was following God by being part of UBF; that God had put me at Penn state in UBF so that was where he wanted me; that I would not find the same depth of Bible study or the same sense of mission outside of UBF; that I needed to be thankful to Joe and Sharon for taking me in and and helping me to lose weight; that I should be thankful for everything they had done for me in Chicago; that I was called to lead by being a "shepherdess;" that I was called to be a future missionary to Russia (since I spoke a little Russian). Besides, didn't I care about other students? Didn't I care about the future of America? Didn't I care about other countries, such as Russia, where people may never have heard the gospel at all? It's likely they would have said that I was leaving only because of my "marriage problem," that is, for the purpose of catching Steve or Matthew as a husband. They probably would have called me selfish and thankless, and would have encouraged me to repent and "follow God."

I was afraid that the arguments would have persuaded me, but I knew that I needed to go. It was only my knowledge that God himself was leading me out that made me persist in leaving.

Deep in my gut, I felt that something bad would happen to me if I met with them. Obviously, I never met with them and nothing happened, so I'll never know what might have happened if I had met with them.

Would anyone have harmed me physically? I don't know. I think it is possible, but in retrospect I have a tendency to doubt it, because that wasn't the tack they had ever taken with me, nor do I see that as being a persuasive way to convince someone to stay who wants to leave. I did find the phone calls distressing, and I particularly felt threatened by John Bird's offer to drive from Chicago to Pennsylvania. It seemed logical to me that they would come after me.

I thought it was plausible when I first left that they might try to kidnap me, which is why I left my apartment for a while. They knew where I lived, of course, and I was afraid they would come after me while I was alone there, to convince me to stay, or to convince me to go somewhere with them to talk. I knew that from the UBF point of view it was not ok--it was NEVER ok--to leave UBF, for any reason. The idea that God would lead a faithful person out of the organization just isn't part of the UBF way of thinking. Later on, when nothing happened besides phone calls, it was clear that no one was going to kidnap me. Maybe it was silly to think that it could happen, but it seemed like a plausible possibility at the beginning, and I was honestly afraid.

I do know this: if I had allowed myself for whatever reason to be convinced to stay in UBF, I would have turned from God's will for my life, at least for a time, and I would have missed out on the growth and freedom and blessings that I experienced. So yes, in that sense, my gut was correct that something bad would have happened to me. I think one of the things (and by no means the only thing) that makes many ex-UBF people angry/bitter is the feeling that they wasted years of their lives.
12th-Feb-2007 10:45 am (UTC) - Re: Question about your fears during your UBF exit
I am pretty sure that they would not have "kidnapped" you since as you said that would not have worked. How they behave towards dropouts depends on the situation. If you make critical remarks to other recruits, they will try to frighten you away and tell the other people bad things about you. If you are quiet, they may try to win you back by a combination of love-bombing, guilt-tripping and obstinate persuasion.

However, there were also cases when UBF more or less kidnapped dropouts. They would do this to people who have no one to talk to and complain, or do not speak the language of the country etc. There is a testimony of a Korean UBF missionary in Germany who was kidnapped and held in a room against her will. Also, my wife was "kidnapped" shortly before our marriage in order to prevent the marriage, because I was "disobedient." At that time, she had no person to complain to in Germany except me (but they did not tell me where they had brought her) and she did not speak German.

With other words: UBF knows very well how far they can go in each situation, and when they have the power over somebody, they will exploit it. They have no scruples or respect of human rights and dignity.
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