The following is an insightful post about how a person's independent decision making, even if led by the Holy Spirit, is anathema in UBF. Notice during the narrative how a human leader subtly takes the place of God.
Date Posted: 21:11:16 10/14/04 Thu
Subject: Systematic Obedience Training
Systematic Obedience Training
I am a member of UBF who left this year. I have read much of the posting and testimonies on this site. This is my first post on the rsqubf forum. I was not certain whether this post should be a new thread or a reply. I decided to post as a new thread because I want to discuss a point that I do not recall reading on any recent or archived posts. Please forgive the length, but I wanted to be as clear as possible in discussing systematic obedience training.
I believe that UBF engages in what I call systematic obedience training towards growing sheep and young shepherds. If a growing sheep or young shepherd had some personal decision regarding their life, even if it would be acceptable to UBF, their shepherd woud automatically respond that this was 'your own idea' or 'human thinking'. The shepherd would respond this way because the shepherd does not want the sheep to think that he or she came make personal decisions by simply praying to God and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If the shepherd encourages the sheep that their personal decision is correct, then the sheep would develop a habit of personally praying/struggling with God rather than obeying the direction of their shepherd, fellowship leader, and chapter director. Thus, UBF shepherds would not be able to manipulate the sheep to absolutely obey their direction. One of the UBF heritages from Samuel Lee is spiritual order. The shepherd, fellowship director,and/or chapter director must give the direction and the sheep follows.
Therefore, I am arguing that in order to foster an environment in which sheep learn to absolutely obey their shepherds or follow the spiritual order, the shepherd will systematically rebuff any desire that sheep have regarding their life be it mission, family, career, or otherwise. The shepherd will then give their own direction and tell the sheep to deny his or her personal conviction as his or her 'own idea.' The next step is to follow this direction as God's will by making a decision of faith.
Let me clarify this point with an example:
Let's say there is a shepherd named Peter and a sheep named Bill. Also assume Shepherd Peter is the chapter director.
Bill begins Bible study with a Christian background. Bill tells Shepherd Peter that he wants to be an English teacher in China to serve as a short-term missionary after he leaves college, then come back to the USA to get a PhD and and then pray about whether he should be a long-term missionary. Bill would like to devote his life to mission, so he does not plan to marry. When Bill begins to share testimonies every week, Bill talks a lot about his prayer to be an English teacher in China and desire to get a PhD that God will use for long-term mission.
UBF wants to raise missionaries and PhD shepherds so Shepherd Peter, should be overjoyed about Bill's future vision. However, there is one problem. As Bill continues to grow in UBF, he needs to be trained to absolutely obey his shepherds and follow spiritual order. The spiritual order dictates that Bill follow the direction of his shepherd. If Bill would follow this path, Bill would think that he can make decisions through the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer without following the direction of Peter. Bill might think that he can personal pray about whom to marry or where to live when he returns from China. Bill might pray and through the Holy Spirit decide to serve in another ministry.
In order to be raised as a good UBF shepherd, Bill cannot be allowed to follow through with his own personal decisions regarding his life. Therefore, Shepherd Peter will give a new direction for Bill. Instead of China, Peter will direct Bill to spend one year in Korea UBF to receive mission training. Peter will tell Bill that going to China was his own idea. To be a fruitful or great man of God, he must deny his own ideas and obey God through Peter's direction. Bill accepts the direction and spends one year in Korea. Bill stills intends to come back to the USA to earn a PhD. However, when Bill returns from his one year mission training, Shepherd Peter directs Bill to deny his human ambition to acquire a PhD and marry by faith one of the Korean missionaries he met in Korea and then establish a house church. Bill would be directed to serve the thirsty harvest field at which he is located by coworking with Peter. Shepherd Peter will direct Bill to find a job to support his new family of mission rather than selfishly seeking a PhD. Bill repents of his 'human idea' of getting a PhD and not thinking of the thirsty sheep at his own university. Perhaps, Shepherd Peter reminds Bill of how Peter and other coworkers bore with his long self-centered testimonies about his own idea of going to China and then receiving a PhD.
Now, Bill is conditioned to obey Shepherd Peter's direction for his life. When through personal prayer, Bill receives a direction regarding his life, Bill will reject it as 'his own himan idea.' Bill will only follow the direction of Shepherd Peter. Further, when Bill thinks that maybe Shepherd Peter's direction is wrong, Bill will dismiss that as his own idea.
To me, UBF leaders make a conscience effort in the manner described above to manipulate sheep into obeying their shepherd. UBF leaders do this intentionally and engrain the disciples they raise to particpate in systematic obedience training as well. Any desires sheep display will be dismissed as 'their own idea' to foster an absolute obedience toward their shepherd. It does not matter what the sheep thinks, desires, prays about, or has as a future vision. The shepherd will manipulate the sheep by rebuffing them and providing a new direction.
Does anyone have an example of systematic obedience training such as this from their UBF experience or not?
Thank you for the opportunity to post about UBF on this forum.
Here's part of my response:
Date Posted: 22:05:53 10/14/04 Thu
Subject: Re: Systematic Obedience Training
In reply to: PECAS 's message, "Systematic Obedience Training" on 21:11:16 10/14/04 Thu
In my case, as a 2ndgen, the main factors that kept me in the systematic obedience training (SOT) program had to do with my parents, my innate desire to have at least a "harmonious" relationship with them.
I don't think I was ever fully conditioned. Many formative years of observing what kinds of behaviors and directions and desires were acceptable in UBF gave me an ability to steer clear of any potential conflicts with my parents and shepherds. I knew how to act like a good and obedient UBF member. So I guess I was able to avoid most of the "electric shocks" of the SOT program that the willing fresh recruit would be given to bring about compliance. But the effect on my life was the same as if I had gone through the SOT program; I was obedient to a fault, I "bore with" abuses, certain personal ambitions and goals were off limits, the thought of living and working anywhere but in Chicago was off limits, the thought of being in any other church was off limits, even expressing certain emotions in the performance of music was off limits.