Short History of USA UBF

 Origin Of UBF USA

A Kingdom Of Priests And A Holy Nation

(The Pioneering Of The United States Of America By UBF) _Short Version

“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.”     Exodus 19:5-61

Compiled and written by  Kevin Jesmer (NIU UBF June 2002) (The information for this report was derived from telephone interviews with Dr. Mark Yoon and Pastor Mark Vusekovich on 6/25/02.  Information from Jun Ki Chung’s  book, “A Short History Of University Bible Fellowship” was also used, as well as consultations with Shpd Teddy and Shpd Liz Hembekedis from Triton UBF.)

    The University Bible Fellowship was founded on September 1, 1961 in the midst of national turmoil following the 4/19 nation-wide demonstration and the 5/16 coup d’etat. At the time, Korean college students who were supposed to be the future leaders of the country fell into deep despair due to the social instability and the deteriorating value system of the times. At that time, Dr. Samuel Lee (1931-2002) was ministering to college students in the Daein Church, in Kwangju after graduating from a Presbyterian seminary. Dr. Lee met Missionary Sarah Barry who volunteered to come to Korea to help this war-devastated country. She was sent by the Board of World Missions of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.-Southern, and is currently working at the Chicago U.B.F. as a world representative.

They shared a common belief that the best way to help Korea and the world was to plant faith and hope for the future in the hearts of college students with a life-giving spirit, that they would grow to be future leaders. To this end, they began to pray with the prayer topic, “Bible Korea, World Mission,” and studied the Bible with college students. This was the beginning of the University Bible Fellowship. 

     The University Bible Fellowship is a non-denominational, evangelistic campus organization focused on raising disciples of Jesus who can live live for Jesus and the gospel and contribute to society and their nation by preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to college students and young people. U.B.F. serves world evangelism by raising self supporting missionaries and sending them throughout the world. For this purpose, U.B.F. teaches the Bible to college students and young people and helps them to live according to the teachings of the Scriptures and to put into practice the world mission command of Jesus (Acts 1:8). The University Bible Fellowship is a missionary organization with an emphasis in self supporting house churches. It is dedicated to the task of  campus evangelism.  

    In the late 1960’s God gave Dr. Samuel Lee vision for this great land of ours, to be established as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation and to serve its “God-given” role to be a shepherd nation to the world. And God began to fulfill this vision by raising up Christian Korean missionaries. It is amazing that God could raise up missionaries who could make decisions of faith, not to blend into the American melting pot, but keep their decisions to live sacrificial lives of faith and mission as campus shepherds. The following is a short history of the pioneering of USA UBF.

    It was in the summer of 1971. UBF had been established for about ten years. Permanent missionaries had already been sent to Germany. At the Sunday worship service, Dr. Lee introduced a new prayer topic to evangelize the United States. He said, “Let’s have a Bible Conference at Niagara Falls by 1981, within ten years, with more than 200 attendants.” The students responded with loud “Amens”. But the fact remained that there were no UBF missionaries in the USA and no one even had a hope to go as a missionary. But God grew this vision in several young Korean hearts.

    The first UBF missionaries to the USA were doctors and nurses, who came in the 1970’s. In 1972 missionaries were first sent to New York. These first missionaries were single women and nurses. (Chicago was mainly pioneered by doctors.) Upon coming to the USA, they immediately began their ministry. Despite of cultural and language barriers, these missionaries had made a deep inner decision to answer God’s call and live as missionaries.  They had a clear vision and decisions of faith. This is the spirit by which they lived their lives each day. And they gave their hearts and God blessed them. Serving God was their first priority.

   In 1977, Dr. Samuel Lee immigrated to the United States to direct the work and Mother Sarah Barry joined him 1978. Dr. Samuel decided right from the beginning to live like poorly and purely like Jesus and influence others to do the same. The prayer was that UBF may maintain a sacrificial “manger ministry” spirit. This has been one of our main prayer topics ever since.

   Dr. Lee’s next step was to set a clear direction for all Korean lay missionaries to engage in cross-cultural evangelism. The early pioneering work was not done in English. They used the Korean language. They used Korean Bibles and Korean hymn books. There was a large language barrier and huge cultural separation. He wanted to establish an atmosphere where Americans could feel welcome and accept the word of God. The missionaries stopped speaking Korean and tried their best to speak only English. They started speaking only English in their Bible studies, in their prayer meetings and even in their homes. They tried to eat American style food and dress as Americans. Even though they were faced with many frustrating cultural and language barriers, they overcame these by faith and were convinced that they could serve American students with the word of God and raise them as disciples. They tried their best to make an environment for American students.  God blessed these efforts. In 1978, Chicago UBF conducted a Sunday service with three Americans from different ethnic backgrounds and now Chicago UBF has over 400 American members and has been used to pioneer several independent chapters.

   Through the persistent prayers and sacrificial lives of faith of God’s servants, in 1978, the prayer topic to have a Bible conference at Niagara Falls was answered. God sent 229 American UBF members from at least 77 ethnic backgrounds. In 1984 there was another Niagara Falls conference with 505 UBF members, which included 309 Americans.

    By 1990, 17 UBF chapters had been established in the United States. Pioneering work was not easy. They prayed a lot and taught the Bible vigorously and worked hard. They were bold and did things by faith and God blessed them. God raised up several American leaders. Right from the beginning of the pioneering of America, the focus was placed on raising up American leaders. And so, early on, Dr. Lee tried to establish intern shepherds. Americans were trained as Bible teachers and raised up as messengers. They were given stewardship of the common tasks. These leaders grew through weekly discipleship meetings, daily Bread, and message training. These leaders could be filled with vision to pioneer dozens of campus’ in their geographical locale.  In time, several American shepherds could grow and mature spiritually to become independent chapter directors, working harmoniously with our Korean missionaries. It is the Korean missionary’s goal and hope that all of the work of God in USA be led by Americans. The prayer topic to raise up Ph.D. shepherds was also important. In American society these Ph.D. shepherds could stand as spiritual models of people who were trained both academically and spiritually. Today there are approximately 70 American chapters, many of which are led by American shepherds.

    The idea of sending out American missionaries was also present since the beginning. There were some early attempts at short term missionary trips in the eighties. But lately there has been a more positive thrust to send out more American short term and full time career missionaries. Full time, American UBF missionaries have been sent out to many countries including Argentina, Ukraine, South Korea, Belgium, Germany, Canada, China and soon to be, Ecuador. Numerous other countries have been served by short term missionaries. In the past 200 years America has sent out one million missionaries. Through them, God has literally changed the world. We pray that God may raise up one million more American missionaries so that he can continue to multiply his work around the world. America UBF has also strove to support the work of missionaries in various ways. We have sent delegates to conferences all over the world. we have given relief support. We have become representatives in other mission organizations. Nowadays, the missionary spirit among American shepherds is growing stronger. We thank God for helping us to remain focused on Jesus and on the Gospel and on Jesus’ world mission command. We pray that Chicago may be a central clearing house for missionaries and that we may support world mission, around the world.

    In 2002, Dr. Lee was taken up to heaven. After his departure, Mother Sarah Barry stepped up to General Directorship. Because of God’s grace and the firm foundation established by Dr Samuel Lee, people knew exactly what they must do. At the Chicago center the number of 1:1 Bible studies and SWS attendants grew. There are new, growing disciples. Missionaries and shepherds co-worked together well under the leadership of Mother Barry. The world mission spirit and the sense of responsibility among leaders has grow even more. In 2006, Mother Barry stepped down and God raised up Dr. John Jun as the UBF General Director. The work God continues to bear fruit. Praise God!

    There are countless stories and accounts of how our missionaries and shepherds sacrificed so much in order to pioneer the USA. It is beyond the scope of this report to mention their names. But it is clear that the very clear vision and hope of Dr. Samuel Lee to establish America as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation was instrumental in the pioneering of this country with the Gospel. It was also his clear life direction, to live like Jesus did, and to raise up Americans as pure, sacrificial shepherds and 1:1 Bible teachers, that inspired our missionaries to give their whole hearts to serve the American campus pioneering work. May the clarion call for this nation to become a Kingdom of Priests And A Holy Nation, resound in the hearts of American students for decades to come.

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