My First Few Days in Chicago

cLast Friday Chicago held a campus mission night. I traveled from St. Louis to Chicago for the event. My pastor had the missionary meeting so he was not present. To be truthful I was not entirely sure why I went. It is prohibitively expensive to travel there, since I currently only make $100 dollars a week as a graduate student. I found that I could take a bus there for only $20 and my spring break started the following week so there was no homework to worry about. I left Thursday around 2pm and arrived late. I will try to be protracted in parts I think readers will want to hear, and brief in other parts. I encourage any reader to leave any questions in the comments, a lot can happen in three days after all.
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The Power of Now

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.40.00 AMWhat if we figured out and did good and right things now? What if we had already done them years, even decades ago? On the other hand, what if we don’t do them for more decades?

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Prayers for the Church

prayerThe Bride of Christ could use some prayer right now. Here are some excerpts from The Book of Common Prayer. Will you agree with me on these?

For the Church

Gracious Father, we pray for the holy Catholic Church. Fill it with with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it.; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it, for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

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An Open Letter to the President of UBF

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The following is an open letter to Dr. Augustine Sohn, President of University Bible Fellowship, from Joseph L. Schafer, dated March 2, 2015.

Dear Augustine:

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.

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Telling it to the Church, Part 3

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.

wonkaAnd 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.

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Excerpts from the Penguin Narratives

unexpectedchristianity[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.

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Turning Pressure into Beauty

pPressure. 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.

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And as I slept, I dreamed a dream…

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.

desert

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.

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UBF and Dialogue: What Joe, Charles and Pope Francis Say

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:

JoeSchafer“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.”

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The Pain of Leaving UBF

p(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 →