It's that time of year again, so below is something from a 2015 Joe S open letter to the President of UBF
. These observations from a former defender of UBF jibe with the testimonies that have been spoken and written about the abusive and totalitarian behavior of UBF's co-founder. It's reported that these inconvenient details were missing from the glossy and completely revisionist history videos produced for the recent UBF international conference in Kentucky.
The excerpt is below:When I first became involved in UBF more than thirty years ago, I experienced the leadership of the late Samuel Lee, the organization’s founder and General Secretary. Lee was described as an exemplary disciplemaker, a role model for others to follow, and his influence on organizational culture was profound. Here are some of Lee’s activities that I observed firsthand or heard about through the testimony of credible witnesses.
Augustine, you and many UBF elders lived under Lee’s leadership; you had ample opportunity to witness his activities and hear about what he was doing. If these statements are true, I believe UBF’s credibility as a disciplemaking ministry is deeply tarnished and will remain so until (a) the organization acknowledges that they happened and (b) takes a stand on whether these activities are appropriate.
- Lee reserved the right to change the name of anyone at any time. He reserved the right to name your children.
- Lee reserved the right to tell you to quit your job at a moment’s notice.
- Lee reserved the right to tell you at any time to change your clothing or hairstyle.
- No one could marry without his specific approval. He chose whom you could marry, and the wedding would be at a time and place of his choosing.
- In some cases, the length of time between when Lee introduced people to each other and the actual wedding was less than one week.
- When Lee married couples, he made up the wedding vows himself, frequently inserting promises that had nothing to do with marriage (e.g. promises by the couple that they would to go as missionaries to Russia). These vows were not agreed upon by the couple ahead of time.
- If you turned down a marriage candidate that Lee chose for you, you could be severely rebuked and trained for it.
- No one could miss a Monday night meeting or a Friday night meeting or Sunday worship service. If you missed a meeting without what Lee considered to be a valid excuse, you would get rebuked and trained.
- Lee would impose quotas on fellowship leaders to bring a certain number of people to weekly services and to conferences. Those who failed to do so would be shamed or punished in various ways.
- If Lee thought you did not offer enough money at the annual Christmas worship service, he might rebuke you in front of everyone.
- Sometimes Lee told missionaries and shepherds whose families were well off to ask their parents to give large sums of money to the organization.
- When Lee denounced or rebuked people, he often did so harshly, without warning, standing before the congregation. During these denunciations, some of the things that Lee said had little or no basis in fact.
- No one in Chicago who was considered a shepherd or missionary could travel outside the Chicago area for any reason without Lee’s approval. If you did travel, it was understood that you needed to be back in town for the next Sunday worship service, otherwise you could be rebuked and trained.
- If you lived outside of Chicago and you were selected to go on a “journey team” to Korea or elsewhere, you were told to buy an airline ticket to Chicago with an open return date, which could be very expensive. The reason for the open return date was that, once you were in Chicago, Lee reserved the right to keep you there indefinitely for training activities of his own choosing.
- Lee prescribe unorthodox diets and medical treatments and, in some cases, surgical procedures, and the doctors and nurses in Chicago would carry them out.
- If you objected to any of Lee’s practices, missionaries and shepherds would immediately counsel you to obey Lee because he was God’s servant. Failure to obey even in a small matter could result in training, monetary fines, public shaming and shunning.
- Lee sometimes urged missionaries to send their infant children back to Korea to be cared for by relatives so that the missionaries could focus on their ministry activities. In at least one case, he told a missionary couple to give one of their children to another couple who were childless.