Today I want to focus on the first 20 years of UBF history from its beginning, with the title, “UBF ancestors’ gospel faith and missionary spirit.” The continuing and growing world mission activity after this first 20 will be covered by a brief list, including names, dates and places. Since the UBF faith and spirit, which was formed during these early 20 years has continued and is maintained to this day, this lecture may be considered as covering the entire history of UBF.
During the last two years, some members left UBF and formed another group. Because of this, we have had to reconsider seriously who we are, what we are doing, and what we ought to do. Forty years have passed since UBF began. The times have changed a lot. We are challenged to rethink our mission and methods as we seek to serve the students in this present generation. As we face this challenge, we need to find a clear direction for our ministry. We must maintain our identity and remember what God has done and is doing in our midst. We can find the identity of our ministry and have a sense of history if we prayerfully review what God has done in our midst.
For this reason we want to look back at how God used the UBF founders?Dr. Samuel Lee and Mother Barry and at innumerable UBF ancestors of faith and find out what “UBF faith and spirit” is, and how God has been leading our ministry so far. Through this, we want to renew our identity, form a strong unity, and serve God’s mission powerfully as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation in this new generation. What then, is the faith and missionary spirit of the UBF ancestors?
The UBF movement began in Sep. 1, 1961 on the second floor of a building located at 176-1 Daein-dong, Kwangju, Korea. While CCC, Navigator and IVF began in foreign countries and came to Korea, UBF began in Korea and spread to the whole world.
Korea in 1961, when the UBF movement began, had many political, economical and social problems. Korea was liberated from Japan. The Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950 and 2.5 million people were killed. Still, Korean people did not know why Koreans should kill each other. After that, there was the revolution of April 19 and the military revolution of May 16. During this period, Korea was in total chaos and college students wandered about. The Korean government could decide its annual budget only after the American Congress approved of the amount of aid to Korea. The people were in deep distress and college students could not find jobs even after graduation.
At this time God gave Dr. Samuel Lee a sense of problem and original insight concerning the times. He saw that the real problem was neither political nor economical. He saw that the real problem was the lack of true leaders. He realized that only when true spiritual leaders are raised up, Korea has hope. So he thought that raising up college students as leaders based on Christian gospel faith was a matter of first importance.
At the beginning, Dr. Lee thought that it was important for college students to establish a clear philosophy in their hearts. As a result, he gave them many lectures on philosophy. The themes of his lectures were to break a dependent spirit on foreign countries, foster an independent spirit and overcome a fatalistic Korean way of thinking. His original understanding of the problem of the country and passionate lectures fascinated the students, who had been oppressed and wandering about in that dark situation. They were moved by his broken shepherds heart towards them. They began to have a burning zeal to overcome their own fatalistic problems and start a new life. They gained a sense of pride and mission that “a man is destined to agonize over life; it is much better to agonize over others’ souls, his own country and pray for them.”
Meanwhile, Mother Barry was born as the only daughter of a rich father in Mississippi, USA. She could have enjoyed worldly glory and live comfortably. But during her college days, she accepted Jesus as her Savior and decided to live as a missionary. She heard about Korean people who were poor and hungry after the Korean War. She had a broken shepherd heart for them and came to Korea as a missionary in 1955. At first, she belonged to the American Southern Presbyterian Church and engaged in missionary activities around Kwangju, supporting rural churches, helping out orphanages, and teaching English. Then she met Dr. Samuel Lee and began to cowork with him, realizing the importance of raising future spiritual leaders through campus evangelism. After she committed herself to campus evangelism, she became a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. At that time, most American missionaries lived in a white house built on the hill of a beautiful green park in Yanglim-dong, furnished with air-conditioners and refrigerators. They had a Korean security guard, cooks and secretaries. But Mother Barry lived together with Korean college students in a rented room heated by coal and served them, eating a soy sediment soup and kimchi. Moreover, in order to shepherd Korean and American students as a spiritual mother, she did not marry yet. Often other America missionaries hated her because her poor and sacrificial life of faith was contrasted with their own way of living.
As I mentioned earlier about the background of campus evangelism, the goal of our ministry in helping college students is well described in the UBF statements of oath.
1. We are soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. By correctly handling the word of God, we want to establish a Christian view of life.
1. We are soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the sake of Bible Korea and World Mission, we participate in the sufferings of Christ voluntarily.
Therefore, the goals of our ministry were first to help students to establish a Christian view of life and grow as workmen who do not need to be ashamed before God, that is, spiritual leaders; second, to raise up global leaders who will dedicate their lives for the world mission. At that time, Korean society was poor and under tyranny where young people could not have vision. They could not think more than to get a job eat three meals a day and survive. They could not have any vision for their country, their fellow countrymen or the world. But Dr. Lee helped the UBF people to have a worldwide vision as well as a sense of problem and history about the times. He also wanted to raise them up as spiritual leaders who have a shepherd heart, and a sense of mission. He wanted them to be men of certain possibility who challenges impossibility based on their five loaves and two fish with creativity and faith. At that time college students were considered as nuisances at local churches because they didn’t offer even a penny but wanted to argue about this and that, criticizing the church for having many internal problems. But Dr. Lee began a new movement that gave clear direction to these young college students.
In this way God gave our ministry the specific mission of raising students as spiritual leaders. A broken shepherd heart and a burning love towards students became the spirit of our ministry. Because of this we had to see ourselves as permanent students. Those who graduated from college and got a job did not think of themselves as salary men but took pride in being shepherds of students. Whether others recognized us or not, we loved students more than the president or the chancellor or professors. We believed that we owned the campus. With this sense of mission and pride of being shepherds, we dedicated our youth and possessions to God. Especially, married women spent their time more on campus than at home, more in taking care of student sheep than their own children. Those who could not graduate from college came to our ministry and accepted campus mission. Though they were older than average students, they entered the college in order to shepherd college students. Moreover, even though the rent around the university was more expensive than other places, we wanted to live near the campus and feed student sheep with the word of God.
Maintaining the status of a permanent college student and campus shepherd is a peculiar way of life and required constant struggle. When old people kept on coming and going through the campus, they became the objects of suspicion and investigation. Some was accused of being a kind of criminal. To make matters worse, some missionaries were even put into prison, including Dr. Joseph Chung of Chicago UBF, who was imprisoned for a few days. In spite of all these hardships, we did not abandon campus mission because it was God who gave us the specific mission of campus evangelism, and this mission became our reason to live and the purpose of our lives
God did not call us to be ordinary people who does ordinary work. Among all peoples of all nations, God called us to be shepherds for students. Our mission does not end in gathering students. God called us to be disciple-makers who raise up spiritual leaders and shepherds. May God help us to keep this spiritual heritage of God’s specific calling to us as disciple-makers among college students to the end.
When I was in a high school, I used to pass by the UBF center in Daein-dong and saw a white signboard on which was written in black letters, “University Bible Research Society.” At that time, I thought that when I entered a college, I would go to the center and do some ‘research’ on the Bible. “University Bible Research Society” was the first name of UBF. But after a while we realized that the Bible is the absolute word of God, not the object of research. Therefore, instead of doing research, we need to read the Bible, accept it and obey it. So we changed the name into “University Bible Reading Society.” In 1976, a few shepherds caused a division and left our ministry. The next year Dr. Lee was sent to America as a missionary. We had time to reconsider the identity of our ministry and changed the name of our ministry into “University Bible Fellowship.” Even though we changed the name of our ministry several times, in all of our names, “The Bible” was always included. The Bible is the alpha and omega of our ministry. If we say that we have an ideology in our ministry, the Bible is our ideology.
At the beginning of our UBF ministry, our Bible study consisted of just reading the Bible and praying. Then we adopted ‘inductive Bible study.’ We did not have questions as we do now. Several people sat around the table, and as the leader questioned, the members answered. They observed the words of God together, interpreting them, and finding something to repent of or put in to practice. Usually seven to eight people sat in a circle in empty lecture rooms or on the lawns on campus and studied the Bible. These kind of group Bible studies spread like wild fire until in 1966 there were more than 100 group Bible studies at Chonnam University and Chosen University.
During vacations, in order to concentrate on Bible study, we had conferences. At that time, we invited well-known speakers such as Drs. Wonsul Lee, Sangkeun Lee, Hyungsuk Kim, Sahun Shin and Pastor Doosup Um. But from 1967 we trained students and raised them up as messengers. Through this training, student leaders grew to be independent Bible teachers. Even after graduation, they continued to study the Bible and struggled to live according to the word of God and later grew to be pillar-like shepherds in each UBF center.
In the mean time, students became more and more individualistic and since 1968 our group Bible study changed to one-to-one Bible studies in order to help each student personally. One-to-one Bible studies became the most important method of Bible study and discipleship ministry.
In studying the Bible, testimony writing became another unique spiritual heritage to us. Testimony writing began in 1974 with writing “my life symposium” based on our study of John chapter 1. John 1:4 says, “In him was life and that life was the light of men.” Through this word, we learned that Jesus is the owner of our lives; we cannot be responsible for our lives or the lives of others. But Jesus keeps them in his hand and takes care of them. When we accepted this truth, light shone into our hearts and we gained confidence that we could have life and have it to the full.
Among those who were moved by the word of God, several people wrote the grace of God they had received and shared it in front of people. This is called, “my life symposium.” They confessed that after being born into this world, their lives were so full of sorrows, heavy burdens and agonies that they committed all kinds of sins. But they accepted Jesus as the owner of their lives. When they accepted Jesus as the owner of their lives, they were so joyful and wanted to solve the heavy burdens in their lives. Often their testimony sharing was interrupted because tears of joy streamed down from their eyes endlessly. This “my life symposium” continued the next week, and the week after that, and throughout the semester until the summer Bible conference. At the summer Bible conference, we held “my life symposium” at a national scale. Everybody wrote their own life testimonies, listened to the life testimonies of others, and accepted Jesus into their widely open hearts.
This fervor flamed into fire at the 1974 German Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland. Korean nurses went to work in Germany in order to support their parents, and earn tuitions for their younger siblings so that they could attend schools. They were full of hatred and sorrow, and committed sins in order to forget their troubles. But they confessed all these things and accepted Jesus as the owner of their lives and shared their life testimonies. The conference was full of tears, excitement, and life. Among those who attended this conference, many became missionaries: Deborah You (Freiburg), Grace Park (Dusseldorf), Mark Park (Bonn), Maria Hong (Koln), Anna Keum (Koln), Volker & Petra Keller (Koln). These are the fruit of “my life symposium” and became the ancestors of faith in Germany and Europe along with Sarah Lee (Koln), Sarah Chang (Bonn) and Sarah Hong (Heidelberg) who directed the conference.
Since then, life testimony became an essential part of the summer Bible conference programs. Not only based on John 1:4, but also on any word of God they had received, people began to write their life testimonies deeply, confessing their life problems in them. We know very well what a great role testimony writing played in campus evangelism.
The most important goal of our ministry is world mission. We came to hold onto this goal as the fruit of our Bible study. Whenever we finished the study of the gospels, towards the end of each gospel we find Jesus’ world mission commands: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19,20); “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mk 16:15); “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Lk 24:47); “Take care of my sheep” (Jn 21:16). In Acts 1 we also heard Jesus’ command, “…Be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Ac 1:8). The UBF ancestors of faith had an absolute attitude towards of the word of God that after studying the Bible, they must obey it; they must obey every word of God, even the word of God that they did not like or which was difficult to obey. Especially, they believed that they must obey the world mission command that appears at the end of each gospel as Jesus’ last will.
Initially the goal of our ministry was not world mission. Rather, we just wanted to study the Bible and obey the word of God absolutely. In order to obey the word of God, we came to hold onto the world mission as the goal of our ministry. In other words, God blessed our ministry because it was not oriented towards establishing ideologies or businesses, but it was a pure and spiritual ministry totally centered on the Bible.
I mentioned earlier that because students became more and more individualistic since 1968 our group Bible study changed into one-to-one Bible studies in order to help each student personally. Here we see another important spirit of UBF ministry, “spirit of considering one person as precious.” God raised up one person, Abraham, as the ancestor of faith, helped him to the end, and established His work of redemption through him. Christ Jesus also considered one soul as precious as the whole world. The UBF pioneers learned God’s own heart and way of working and considered one person as precious and was willing to go through the pain of childbirth until he or she was born again as a man or woman of God. Once when I was receiving training at Chongno UBF, two students came to study the Bible with me at the same time. So I studied with them. When Dr. Lee saw this, he gave me severe discipline because I had a one-to-two Bible study, not a one-to-one Bible study. That was our one-to-one spirit: that we must study the Bible one-to-one, not one-to-two.
The spirit of considering one person as precious was reflected not just in one-to-one Bible studies. In order to help one person, the UBF ancestors suffered loss, spending lots of time and money, which appeared to be impractical. Because of the spirit of considering one person as precious, bills at the student leaders’ meetings must be passed unanimously. Even if just one person objected, the bill could not be passed. So in order to persuade one person who objected, they engaged in heated discussions. Sometimes while one member took the person outside and try to persuade that person, others just waited inside.
That was not all. Whenever the pioneers prayed for a campus, they prayed to raised ‘one ancestor of faith.’ Whatever they did, they took great pride in becoming an ancestor or laying the foundation of work. God heard their prayers and raised up several men as ancestors of faith: Changsun Jun (Dr. John Jun) and Kyuhae Chung (Dr. Joseph Chung) at Chonnam University Medical School, Namkyoon Lee (Joshua Lee), Nakseung Rhee (Daniel Rhee) at Chonnam Unviersity, Kwanok Kim at Chosun University. Among women, God raised up Sunji Kim (Sunji Jun, the wife of Dr. John Jun), Chunghan Choi (Esther Chung, the wife of Dr. Joseph Chung), Dukryae Moon (Rebecca Choi, the wife of Missionary Isaac Choi, Chicago). Next God raised up Hyunjung Lee (Samuel Lee, Hanyang) from Jeonju, Choosun Yang (Mark Yang, Anam), Jinhee Lee (Paul Lee, Kwanak), Kilsoo Kim (David Kim, Yeonhee), Chungsook Choo (Maria Ahn, Chicago), Sungduk Ahn (Joseph Ahn, Chicago) from Seoul as the ancestors of faith. Through them, the pioneering work of each chapter was done.
Even now whenever missionaries and shepherds share their prayer topics, they don’t fail to mention about raising So-and-So as an ancestor of a campus. The UBF pioneers felt great comfort if the ancestor remained though everyone else left the ministry. On the other hand, they wept bitterly if the ancestor left the ministry though hundreds of other people remained. I pray that even though the number of our membership and mission field increase, we may treasure the spirit of helping one ancestor of faith to the end and the spirit of one-to-one as our spiritual heritage.
Though Jesus is the Creator God, he became flesh and was born in a manger of a stable in order to save all the people of the world from their sins. Jesus gave up the glory of the heavenly kingdom, humbled himself and gave even his life as a ransom for sinners. The UBF ancestors struggled hard to imitate this Jesus and to dedicate their possessions and youth without reservation for Jesus and his gospel. Wherever they went, they were noticed as UBF people. Especially, women did not put any make-up on their faces, wearing low-hill shoes and carried large handbags. In their large handbags, they carried their Bible, Bible study notes and cookies. What distinguished them from worldly people was not just their outward appearances but also their noble inner characters, which came from a manger spirit.
As the fruit of manger spirit, our ministry was inclined to raising up self-supporting lay shepherds and missionaries who had no religious position and power. Dr. Lee was called a shepherd as the first person in world history. The title, “shepherd” meant nothing to worldly people, and had no authority or power. Because of this title, we suffered a lot. After introducing ourselves as shepherds, we had to explain what a shepherd meant for a long time. Because of this unfamiliar title, people misunderstood us as strange people who belonged to a strange group. Some criticized us sharply, saying, “You did not graduate from a seminary. How can you dare to teach the Bible to others?” Others gave us friendly advice, saying, “Since you are eager to study the Bible and serve the work of God, why don’t you enter a seminary and be a pastor? We are willing to help you to do that.” In spite of all these difficulties, we took great pride in being called shepherds.
Jesus gave up his heavenly glory and was born in a manger of a stable. He had no religious title or position such as the Pharisees or the Sadducees or a Rabbi. Apostle Paul also considered all positions and whatever was to his profit as rubbish, and served the work of God as a self-supporting tentmaker missionary. This is the spirit of self-supporting lay mission, which the UBF ancestors wanted to have.
Now we know that there are countries that do not allow a pastor to enter as a missionary, but open their doors to self-supporting lay missionaries. Thus most theologians kept insisting that world mission must be done through lay movements. God gave this direction to our ancestors, and our self-supporting lay missionary work became an exemplary movement among the Christian world. In spite of these kinds of fruit and recognition, we, as lay people, will have to bear all kinds of pains and temptations. But I pray that we may treasure manger spirit and self-supporting lay missionary spirit rather than worldly positions, power or glory.
At the beginning of UBF ministry, Koreans were accustomed to receiving something from others. After the American G.I.s came to Korea, the first English expression they learned was, “Hello, give me chocolate, give me gum.” The Korean government could decide its annual budget only after the American Congress approved of the amount of aid to Korea. In addition, Korea received aid of a large amount of food and goods. Soon we began to think that we could not survive without receiving aid from others. In this atmosphere, the UBF ancestors struggled furiously to overcome Korean fatalism, to learn the spirit of giving and to live the life of giving.
Then a remarkable and historical event in UBF history happened. In 1963, one day when we needed to print something, Mother Barry suggested that we collect the expenses from students. Then Dr. Samuel Lee rebuked her, saying, “How do you expect poor students to pay for it? Since you are rich, you pay for everything.” But Mother Barry insisted, “We must collect it for the sake of education.” Their argument continued until Mother Barry broke into tears.
That night Dr. Samuel Lee could not sleep because he made a woman cry. He began to read the Bible. He realized a great lesson that the Bible teaches. God gave his One and Only Son for sinners. Jesus also came to this world and gave everything for sinners and finally gave his own life for us. Jesus taught his disciple a giving spirit, saying, “You give them something to eat.” Apostle Paul accepted Jesus’ word, “It is more blessed to give then to receive,” and practiced a giving life and became a self-supporting missionary.
Upon reading these things, Dr. Samuel Lee realized that including himself, all Korean church members were full of a receiving spirit. We received the gospel, received missionaries, received all kinds of aid, received love and comfort, and were full of a beggar’s mentality. Our hands shrank towards us like that of a leper, and knew only how to receive, but did not know how to give. Therefore, the tide of God’s blessings was flowing all towards America. In the middle of the night Dr. Samuel Lee went up to Mt. Mudeung, pulled the grass from its roots all night and repented with tears. Upon descending from the mountain, he preached the words of God that he had read the night before and shouted, “Let’s us stretch out our leper-like, shrunken hands and give to others, so that the tide of God’s blessing may turn to Korea.” From that day on, the movement of giving began. When one ate a cookie, he gave it to others and let them eat first, instead of eating it all by himself. “Let’s be a giving person. It is more blessed to give than to receive” became the daily greeting.
Beginning from that historical night, the UBF members began to offer world mission offering in order to be self-supporting financially. In order to teach students Biblical view of money, we encouraged even newcomers to participate in the world mission offering. Students were so poor that some saved their bus fare. One person gave his watch to a pawnshop, others worked part-time and still another person sold his blood, got money and offered.
In May 1966, the world mission offering work had enrolled 162 members. With this offering we could procure centers at Jeonju, Daejun, Daegu and Seoul and send out shepherds. There is a legendary event at the time of pioneering Daejun. One day Dr. Samuel Lee visited the Daejun UBF center and took out the door of the Kwangju UBF center and loaded it to a truck in order to give it to Daejun UBF. One man who saw this got angry at Dr. Samuel Lee that Dr. Lee took out the door without discussing with him.
We did not just give that door. Dr. Samuel Lee also gave his organ to Daejun UBF. At that time, an organ was very rare and expensive. This organ was his No. 1 property along with his bookcase. To Dr. Samuel Lee and Missionary Grace A. Lee who liked music, playing the organ and singing hymns was their favorite pastime. But Dr. Samuel Lee gave this precious organ away to Daejun UBF. Missionary Grace A. Lee did not know this for she was out. Later she felt so sorry for losing the organ. But Missionary Grace A. Lee bore this kind of pain for the last 40 years as the ancestor of all UBF women.
The door and the organ are preserved well at Daejun UBF. Anyway, we wanted to help other centers even by giving them our own center door and our most precious properties. Today each chapter became independent financially and serves the world mission work. This was possible because the giving spirit and faith of the UBF pioneers became the foundation of each chapter.
We also practiced a giving spirit in the relief work. Every Christmas we visited nursing homes and orphanages, and made contribution to them. At that time, there were many homeless people. We prepared dinner and invited them to eat and have a party. Later we collected relief money for Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mexico, Somalia and North Korea. Especially our joy was truly great when we sent out missionaries to America from whom we only received aid, and even made an offering to purchase a center for American students.
This became a turning point in our history: from an aid-receiving country to a giving country, and from a Korean ministry into an international ministry, which prays for the whole world. This became the beginning point of the great work that turned the tide of God’s blessings to Korea. God blessed us abundantly, accepting our time, heart devotion and sending missionaries as our five loaves and two fish. God blessed our ancestors’ giving spirit, enabled us to send out missionaries to 90 nations and now is using us as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation towards the world
When we mention the UBF spirit, we cannot omit solider spirit. In the UBF statements of oath, the phrase, “I am a soldier of the Lord Christ Jesus” appear twice. From the beginning, our ministry had a clear identity as the army of the cross of Jesus and spiritual military academy. We received painful trainings with joy in order to be a good soldier of Christ Jesus. We also used military terms such as ‘training,’ ‘battle,’ and ‘conquering’ frequently. There were many kinds of training: Daily Bread training, message training, testimony writing training, common life training; there were also many kinds of battles: battle with the word, prayer battle, testimony writing battle and one-to-one battle. It was impossible to describe what we were doing without using these military terminologies. Our ministry was a spiritual ‘fight’ against Satan, a ‘struggle’ against the power of sin in us, and a ‘challenge’ of faith against impossibilities. In one word, it was a succession of battles. People of this generation value fun and ease as important things. Because of this kind of value system, their souls get sick, and their minds become weak. They don’t like to be absolute because it requires struggle. Rather, they choose to be relativistic because it does not require any struggle. In place of struggle, compromise became a virtue; rationalization in place of repentance. As a result, they are perishing, not being able to overcome the temptations of sin and physical desires. In this generation, God gave us solider spirit and fighting spirit as our spiritual heritage. I pray that we may treasure these spirits well so that we may remain alive and make young students of this generation alive in Christ.
As I mentioned earlier, whenever we finished the study of the gospel, we came to study Jesus’ world mission command. We wanted to obey other words of God; we also wanted to obey this command. Therefore, world mission became the goal of our ministry. We accepted that the world mission command, which Jesus gave as his last will, was the most important and absolute word of God. So each chapter dedicated their most important people–the indispensable, pillar-like people?to world mission. Moreover, each person gave up their dreams and possessions and went out to the frontline of world mission.
At the beginning of UBF ministry it was almost impossible for Koreans to go abroad. So we could not pray for world mission; we prayed to send out missionaries to nearby Southeast Asian countries. We believed that God would receive this prayer as our five loaves and two fish and in the future enable us to serve world mission. After praying for Southeast Asian countries for nine years, there was no sign of the work of God. We sent one person to Singapore but he went away. Nevertheless, we did not despair, but continued to pray. At last in 1970 God answered our prayer and opened the door of world mission in Germany and America.
One of the most remarkable events in UBF world mission was the 1975 USA Niagara Falls Summer Bible Conference. This historical event had its roots in one Sunday worship service in April 1970. On that day, it was very hot. What was worse, we held the worship service at 3 pm. When Dr. Samuel Lee stood to deliver the message, he found that many students were dosing. In order to wake them up from their sleep, he shouted, “Ten years from now, in 1981, let us have an American summer Bible conference at Niagara Falls with 200 attendants!” At that time, there were two or three missionaries in America. So it was impossible to have this kind of conference in America. Then an unexpected thing happened. The students woke up, shouted with joy and began to pray for it earnestly. They knelt down, touching the floor with their faces and lifting their buttocks high, prayed three by three or five by five. They continued to pray with this prayer topics for several weeks. Dr. Samuel Lee began to worry that this prayer topic might not be answered. He tried to help them understand that there is a difference between ideal and reality. But the students were filled with vision and prayed earnestly. This fire of prayer spread to the 1971 Korean Summer Bible Conference held in Soongsil University. Then a miracle happened. After five years, in 1975 we could have the first Niagara Summer Bible Conference with more than 200 attendants. Through this event, we believed that though world mission looks impossible, if we pray persistently, God himself will carry out the work for us. In 1985 we held the world mission report in Seoul. At this meeting, Dr. Samuel Lee gave us the prayer topic that by 1995 we might have an international Bible conference in Moscow. At that time, the door of the iron curtain of Russia and Eastern European countries was closed. But by faith we prayed with this prayer topic earnestly. Then God opened the doors to Russia through Gorbachev and in 1991 we could have the first Moscow Summer Bible Conference with 100 attendants. We also could send out many missionaries to Eastern European countries. Through this, we learned that when we obey the world mission command, God himself works things out for us. We also learned how urgently God wants to accomplish his world salvation plan.
In this way, through the gospel we preached, God raised up shepherds among young students in America, Canada and Europe. This may be called the third spiritual awakening. Many Russian young people, who have been crying out of their wounds and fatalism because of their parents’ divorce, are growing as disciples of Jesus and shepherds. Indian students accepted the gospel and were converted from Hinduism to Christianity. African students overcame poverty and began to live a powerful life of faith as Jesus’ disciples.
When we survey the evangelistic student movements in history, we find that they all began with a prayer meeting for that generation. At the beginning of UBF ministry, the student leaders’ meeting was a legistrative branch, but the students mainly engaged in prayer rather than discussion. So later we changed the name of the meeting to: the student leaders’ prayer meeting. At that time, there was no two-by-two prayer. Whenever we prayed, we had an altogether united prayer no matter how many people had attended. The meeting used to continue to 10 pm because of the heated discussion. Then the presider declared, “Let’s finish the meeting with prayer.” Then about 30 people who sat around the table began to pray one by one. Prayer continued into the curfew and we could not go home and had to stay at the center until 4 am, when the curfew was over. Sometimes the meeting was over by 12 pm. Then we thought that it was better that way and prayed until 4 am. Since we prayed in the middle of the night, some of them fell asleep, even snoring while others were praying. But when their turn came to pray, they woke up by themselves, got up and prayed with a loud voice. After praying, some went back to sleep.
Not only during the student leaders’ meeting, but we also prayed when we went out for visiting. One day we suggested that since there was no time, we just go visiting without prayer. Then Mother Barry said, “The busier we are, the more earnestly we must pray.” So we began to pray. But our prayers were so earnest that it lasted for several hours. As a result, we could not go visiting because of the lack of time. For the last 40 years, we spent more time with our eyes closed to pray than with our eyes opened to do something else. In one sense, our meeting was not practical. But because of our prayer, God made everything work out. Since we were poor students, all we could do was to pray, crying out to God. Then God blessed this prayer and accomplished a great work of God through us for the last 40 years. Praise God.
Month day |
|1969||The first missionaries to Germany: Inkyung Seo, Hwaja Lee, Dongran Sul|
|1969||Jul. 17||Köln, Germany|
|1972||May||The first missionary candidate team: Sarah Chang (Washington), Grace Yoon (Wright), Humble You (Kyungsoon Suh, LA), Rebekah Kim (Boksoon Kim, Akron), Saeyun Moon (Atlanta), Okhee Lee (Hanyang), Taeok Kang (Sae Daejun), Sarah Lee (Kihyang Lee: Köln), Sarah Chang (Bonn), Sookchul Huh, Moonhaeng Park, Wolsin Lee|
|1974||Sep. 20-25||The First World Mission Report in Switzerland with 169 attendants.|
|Mar. 10||New York, USA|
|1975||Jun. 30||Chicago, USA|
|1976||Apr. 29||Georgia, USA|
|1977||May 2||Toledo, USA|
|Jun. 13||Sent out Dr. Samuel Lee and his family to Chicago, USA|
|Jun. 28||Washington, USA|
|Dec. 31||Dortmund, Germany|
|1978||Oct. 3||Columbus, USA|
|Nov. 1||Pittsburgh, USA|
|1980||Jan. 3||Bonn, Germany|
|Sep. 8||Winnipeg, Canada|
|Apr. 10||Indiana, USA|
|Aug. 6||LA, USA|
|Sep. 14||MSU, USA|
|1983||Apr. 15||Milwaukee, USA|
|Sep. 1||Madison, USA|
|Jun. 29||Paris, France|
|Jun. 30||The Philippines|
|1985||Jan. 1||Hong Kong, China|
|Jan. 18||Saudi Arabia|
|Apr. 1||Heidelberg, Germany|
|Apr. 15||Triton, USA|
|Aug. 3||Arizona, USA|
|Dec. 10||Toronto, Canada|
|Dec. 30||Hamilton, Canada|
|1987||Feb. 11||Tokyo, Japan|
|Aug. 1||Kansas, USA|
|Sep. 1||Bochum, Germany|
|Sep. 6||Wright, USA|
|Sep. 20||Mainz, Germany|
|Nov. 1||Aachen, Germany|
|Jul. 1||Lehigh, USA|
|Sep. 28||CSUN, USA|
|Sep. 5||Great Britain|
|1990||Jan. 5||Lyon, France|
|Apr. 3||Dominican Republic|
|Jun. 20||Peking, China|
|Aug. 27-30||The Second CIS International Conference at Moscow with 328 attendants.|
|Aug. 5-8||The International Conference at MSU, USA with 1,320 attendants.|
|Aug. 1||Arlington, USA|
|Dec. 20||Trinidad Tobago|
|Aug. 25-28||The Fourth CIS Summer Bible Conference at a site near Moscow with 218 attendants.|
|Aug. 3-6||The International Conference at MSU, USA with directors and representatives from 50 nations and 1700 American attendants.|
|May 7||Vladivostok, Russia|
|Jul. 7||United Arab Emirates|
Conclusion: Should we be the same or be different?
God led our UBF ministry for the last 40 years based on Ex 19:5,6a, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Looking back, we realized that God led us to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for the last 40 years.
Then what is the meaning of ‘a holy nation’? Even though we can explain the meaning of ‘a holy nation’ in many ways, Mother Barry explained it as “people whom God is with.” Last night Shepherd Andreas Krawinkle explained it as “those whose hands and hearts are clean.” Here the word, “holy,” means “separated or different.” Therefore, “a holy nation” means, in one word, “different people.” When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, God intended them to be different people from peoples of other nations. God wanted them not to serve man-made idols but to serve God, not to follow their sinful desires but to live according to God’s laws, not to worry about what to eat, what to wear but to carry out God’s mission as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. But to our disappointment, as soon as they went into the land of Canaan, they became identical with the Canaanites. Like worldly people, they served idols, only enjoyed flowing milk and honey, and abandoned God’s mission. Finally they invited God’s wrath upon themselves.
When God established our ministry, God intended us to become “different people.” God raised us up to be different from worldly people, gave us a specific mission different from that of other ministries, and led us to carry out our mission in different ways. Now it has been 40 years since our ministry began. Forty years reminds us of the forty years of the Israelites’ wilderness training. Since the forty years are over, shall we go to the land of Canaan and enjoy flowing milk and honey? Sometimes it may be good to enjoy milk and honey. But one thing is clear: whether we enjoy milk and honey or not, in any and every circumstances, God’s will for us is that we become different people, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
For the last two years our ministry experienced a painful division. Someone said, “Well, the time is changed. We have been persecuted a lot. Now let us change our ministry as one which serves the same common functions of the church.” Others said, “We must maintain our specific mission, spirit and way of working in UBF to the end.” To be the same or to be different: that is the question. But we know the conclusion very well. Until now, God led us to live different lives from that of the world. Because of this confidence that we are different people, we were willing to dedicate our youth to God and endure all kinds of hardships. If the UBF ancestors and we wanted to be the same with worldly people, why did we rejoice in all kinds of sufferings? The spiritual heritage God had given to the UBF ministry is, in one word, “different lives.” No matter how difficult it may have been and how many persecutions we had to endure, we must maintain this spiritual heritage God had given to us through the UBF ancestors of faith.
Therefore, we must go back to a Bible-centered ministry. In order to serve the word of God, we must encourage one-to-one Bible studies, Daily Bread and testimony writing. We must study the Bible and write messages based on the Bible passages. We must continue to raise up spiritual leaders through campus evangelism and carry out the world mission work through self-supporting lay missionaries. We must treasure the UBF ancestors’ gospel faith and missionary spirit such as manger spirit, soldier spirit, giving spirit, self-supporting spirit, and pioneering spirit, and maintain them to the end.