The following is an open letter to Dr. Augustine Sohn, President of University Bible Fellowship, from Joseph L. Schafer, dated March 2, 2015.
Thank you for contacting me yesterday about my status in University Bible Fellowship.
For approximately two years now, the only messages I have received from your organization were requests to attend various meetings and reminders to submit annual chapter reports. I decided to ignore those requests because, for more than five years now, leaders of UBF have been unresponsive to my repeated pleas for dialogue about important matters that affect the health of the organization and the credibility of its gospel witness. My nonresponse was not retaliation. It was an indication that I had no clue how to proceed in our relationship, because my pleas went unheeded and sometimes were not even acknowledged. Perhaps you have heard the humorous saying: “Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot that I only exist when you need something.” I am sorry to say this, but that line accurately conveys my feelings toward UBF and its leaders right now.
Yes, the time has finally arrived. The moment that handfuls of you have been waiting for. After a two-year hiatus, we pick up the story that began with Telling it to the Church (Part 1) and Telling it to the Church, Part 2.
Oh, my, how the times have changed; so much has happened since then.
Be forewarned: this installment will be different.
And rejoice, for today is your lucky day! You are the winner of Wonka’s Golden Ticket. Reach out your hand. With this V.I.P. pass, we’ll descend into belly of the beast, to the inner sanctum, that secretive world of UBF leadership that has never before seen the light of day.
And this time, I will be naming names. Yes, today you will hear things that I have not yet shared with anyone, except for my wife and perhaps our dog.
[Drawing of penguins by my daughter, Anna] At one point in my life, I thought I had Christianity all figured out. I felt the twinge of pride as I “kept the faith” while people around me seemed to abandon their mission from God. I did everything I could to “present myself to God as one approved”. I went to Russia as a short-term missionary. I amassed over fifteen thousand hours of bible reading. I missed only three Sunday services in twenty four years. And then it all fell apart. The fabric of my faith unraveled. The spirit of my mission decomposed. And the walls of our community collapsed.
Pressure. It builds, it mounts and then it explodes. And it is the one reason my fellow outlaw preacher, John O’Keefe, claims as the primary reason people are leaving church. His recent article is excellent: The One Reason People are Leaving Church. I think that pressure is also at the heart of why people (even leaders) have been leaving ubf and continue to contact me for help. Can the church turn that pressure into something beautiful? For many local churches as well as the ubf organization, the answer may determine whether they survive this generation.
Admin note: This is a short story titled The Pilgrims. It was contributed by Ryan Prins, a former student at Penn State, and originally published in 2009. We reprint it now because — let the reader understand.
Before me lay a vast desert. How long it had been since that wilderness had last seen rain, I could not say. Three years perhaps, or four. Long fissures reached like fingers across the clay-baked expanse. A few sun-scorched crags were the jealous residents of that wasteland. Allowing no creatures, no living things to share their kingdom, they were disturbed only by a light sand, swept by a fiery wind.
Admin Note: Having a genuine meaningful dialogue in UBF is a very important issue that absolutely needs to be seriously addressed and practiced. I say this based on comments expressed by Joe and Charles on Facebook and UBFriends here and here. Joe and Charles make life easy for me because they state things with much clarity and with far less words than my rambunctious repetitive rowdy rambling ruminating grandstanding pontificating verbosity! Here’s what Joe posted:
“In my experience, leaders have refused to participate in discussions where they cannot control the rules of engagement, the range of allowable topics, or manage the ultimate outcome. They are willing to meet with you one on one, but I have found that counterproductive because in private they say things to pacify you but nothing comes of it, and when you leave the room they change their tune entirely. There needs to be witnesses present and some kind of accountability. Basically, I’ve found that they refuse to participate in discussions where they might lose face. Dialogue requires letting go of control and being willing to lose face, if necessary, for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of love. It feels scary and dangerous. I understand their predicament. But it is a risk that they must take.”
(Admin note: I, Bento, did not ask permission from Joe to post this. I’m making an assumption that he would be OK with me doing so since he posted it on Facebook here. I’m posting it because what he wrote touched my heart deeply. It was real, honest, raw and gut-wrenching (and the way everyone in UBF should write a testimony). I viscerally and palpably felt his pain of moving on from UBF.) Continue reading →
There was once a man flying from New York to Omaha. In the airport garage he was attacked by a gang. They took his laptop, his wallet and his cell phone, beat him up, and ran away, leaving him bleeding out and near death.
When I was 4 I asked my mother how I didn’t know I was living in a dream. She stood confused, contemplating the question herself. I don’t remember what her answer was, unfortunately. But this question has been asked several times throughout the ages. For me my eventual answer was “Dreaming feels different.” I want to use this to springboard to a related topic. How do you know you are brainwashed?
Continue reading →
When we received the “Utmost Respect” letter at ubfriends, a good discussion about making apologies followed. Joe asked a great question in this discussion, “Apologize for what?” As several people pointed out, if we don’t know the “for what”, we are not really moving forward in a healthy manner. Recently I was involved in some discussions that highlight the “for what” better than anything I’ve experienced so far. I ask your prayers and thoughts for this matter.