I originally posted my text below as a reply to wcanfi's January 6, 2010 posting "My choice of 3 top UBF reforms absolutely necessary-yours?" but decided that it should be its own posting because I don't recall reading that much in RSQUBF about how people were affected by being forced to write sogams and life testimonies. Although I have no disagreements with any of the issues expressed in RSQUBF, I feel that the aftereffects of this kind of forced writing haven't been expressed that much. I hope that my experiences are helpful:
"I understand your desire for current UBF members to have a place where they can freely voice their concerns about people who leave UBF and about "cases of non-Christian, non-Biblical behavior among UBF members". However, I feel you have neglected another offense for which UBF leadership should be held accountable, one I'm not sure has been discussed in much detail.
I'm speaking of the practice of making select members divulge every single detail of their past lives, no matter how sordid or humiliating, ostensibly so God's grace and mercy can be revealed through the person's life testimony.
I experienced this indignity firsthand in 1984 when I was chosen to present my life testimony at the Lake Geneva conference. I was instructed to write everything I could remember from my life before UBF; my first draft was 50 pages long and I was told that I didn't write nearly enough. My 'shepherd' instructed me to write more and to leave nothing out. The final version ended up being over 120 handwritten, single-spaced pages long and I relived all the bullying, abuse, and trauma I had done my best to put behind me and move on from.
The testimony I read at Lake Geneva was less than 15 pages long and did a good job of revealing how my life had changed since I began studying the Bible. Although my audience didn't have to hear all the grim details of my life, I had still had to experience it all over again. Unfortunately, the abuse didn't end here.
All during the remaining years I was in UBF, I had the impression that the leaders of my chapter always viewed me through the lens of my life testimony and the negative details of my past life. No matter how I grew or what I accomplished, it seemed that the leaders felt I would always be the smoking, cussing, drinking, rebellious 18-year-old who had been fished off a local college campus in the summer of 1982. Even when I responded to the challenge to find and keep a full-time job for one year by keeping the same job for 3 years, this accomplishment was unacknowledged; never mind the fact that I attended college full-time at the same time and graduated with a 3.2 GPA. The fact that I graduated from college when I had never thought it possible was barely recognized.
The underlying reason for life testimonies is not to reveal God's grace in someone's life. Rather, they are used to expose everything in an individual's life so UBF leadership can hold their past transgressions over their heads and convince them that they will never be able to outlive their past. Please include this atrocity in your list of offenses for which UBF leaders must be held accountable."