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Canada UBF (Winnipeg UBF) Cult Recruits on Campus Part Two: Breaking Away

Updated: May 8, 2018

Cult Recruits on Campus Part Two: Breaking Away By Kim Van BruggenThe Projector: Student’s JournalDate: October 10, 1989 In the first part of this two part series, Cult on Campus, the University Bible Fellowship was attempting to recruit new members from RRCC.Once approached by a “missionary” of the University Bible Fellowship (UBF) the chances of ending up at their “church” in Fort Garry are very good. That is where Theresa wound up spending almost three years of her life.“There was a- groupof us that all started around the same time, so they trained us as a group. It became like a military boot camp for us,” Theresa said. The punishment for wrongdoing was different for males than for females.“If they (the men) disobeyed them, or had an attitude problem, or just did something that wasn’t right—in full suit they would make them run a one and a half mile route around the U of W ten times.”For the women, the punishment was more emotional in nature. When Theresa was first recruited by the UBF she moved into the communal house and soon after her sister Lisa followed.“I was really close to my sister, but they got between us by telling her things that I said that I never actually said.”Eventually, they split the two up by having them move into separate apartments. “She had to move in with her bible teacher and I had to move in with the three others—and we had to move that night.”“We had to obey right away. I kept feeling that if I didn’t obey they’d ban me from the center. They had already kicked me out for seven months.”The house on 3 Emory in Fort Garry was bought outright by the UBF in the spring of 1988. The registered owner, David Jung, had immigrated from Korea six months earlier.“Everybody pitches in money at Christmas to buy a bible house each year in different countries— it’s called World Mission Offering.”The ultimate goal is to set up UBF ministries in every country possible.Don is a former UBF member. “They didn’t care where— anywhere. They’d pray to start up a UBF in every college and university in Canada.”“They just wanted to raise up a shepherd for Russia—to pioneer Moscow University.” Don said.“The plan is to send all the Canadian students to Russia. Canada is the easiest country to get into Russia because it’s a friendly country,” Theresa said.Audrey was also involved with the UBF and knew of their attempt to pioneer Russia.“Several members of the group decided to take Russian so they could go to Russia—so they could go ‘fishing’ so to speak,” Audrey said. One man still heavily involved with the UBF is enrolled in the Russian language program at the U of M. It is said that he is being groomed for the job.His mother, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear her son might break off all communication with her, spoke of her fear for her son.“I don’t know what these people did to him. It seems to me they’ve got him so dependent on them that he can’t get away,” she said. “These people come and just shower you with love. Within a month they had him moved in with them.“I think he was a bit insecure. He’s the type of person that wants everybody to like him.“I will not accept the fact that they’re not a cult. It’s only cults that make people move in together and control their whole lives.“In their church they start blessing Samuel Lee before they do Christ. Normally, you pray to the Lord.“He really believes he’s doing the right thing. He feels you can lie as long as you’re doing it for the Lord.“They sent hime to Korea. I called for him and the Korean people told me he’s gone to Korea. I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. They went on some type of mission of theirs. They spoke to about 10,000 people there. They’re making him feel very important.“He’ll go against us before he’ll go against them.”The family has thought about trying to get their son out of the group.“You have to have at least $30,000 to de-program them. You have no guarantee that they’re not going to go right back.“I’d have to rent a house and have security posted at the front door. I could get charged for kidnapping.“We’d have to equip the house for a bunch of people to sleep their.“My son is a big man and he has Tai Kwan Do. You’d pretty well have to tie him down. The only de-programmer I could find is in the States. I’d have to pay for his flight to Winnipeg and expenses. It could cost as much as $50,000.“If we tried to kidnap our son he would lay charges and sue us. “A bunch of his friends tried to kidnap him in 1987. They had everything arranged. They went there at night, but he fought them all off.“These are the kinds of things that you see on T.V. You don’t think they’ll happen to you.” For the members who managed to get out of UBF, the break from the cult was difficult.“The more I tried to get away, the harder they tried to get me back in,” Don said.“She (his “shepherdess”) would come to my apartment; she’d phone me at work. She even phoned me at a restaurant once.”Don became wary of the UBF  after a lengthy article about the group appeared in the Free Press.“The newspaper story came out on a Saturday when we were having a bible study. Nobody (out of the leaders of the group) said anything about i t even though they knew about the story.”Don found out about the article that evening after bible study.“The next day at the Sunday service the message was made to counteract everything in the article. I began to get suspicious when Esther Kim, the leader of the group, wouldn’t speak to the paper.“What’s she got to hide if everything’s legitimate.”For Audrey, her involvement was gradual, but no less intensive.“I kind of became more inolved without realizing it. At first when I got there everyone was really friendly and I felt good about it. The only thing I didn’t like was that they gave people titles.”The bible study teachers are known as ‘missionaries’ and `shepherds.’ The young students are called ‘sheep’ and are also known as `the Young Bisons.‘”All three former members agree that the basic strategy used to keep them involved with the group was guilt.Audrey experienced feelings of guilt after repeated gifts of food and free lunches.“I began to feel guilty because they were constantly being nice to me. The guilt kind of stuck at me. When I started going to service they’d start asking me to do things like write letters to other missionaries.“They wanted me to go to a conference which cost about $500. When I told them I didn’t have the money they found a job for me,”For Don it was much the same feeling.“My shepherdess would always buy me lunch and sometimes dinner. They’d always take people out for lunch,” Don said.“It was like their sacrifice to you. Instead of spending money on themselves they’d spend it on their “sheep.” They’d tell you this at the service.”There is also another very ominous tool that makes these young students vulnerable to the UBF—once involved they are asked to write what are known as “sogams.”These are pages of written testimony of the student’s life history, including all of their shortcomings or negative feelings about people or things.With Theresa, the “sogam” proved to be her ultimate reason for obedience–always living with the fear that they would release her “sogam” for everybody to read.“They would continually put you down. They would pull things up from your past, which you had provided for them through the “sogam.” At the same time they would convince you that this is the only place to know God,” Theresa said.Don was one member that refused to write a “sogam.” Students would be expected to read what they wrote to the group and often it would be very negative.“They were reading their “sogams” putting themselves down and talking negatively— they were putting a guilt complex on themselves. Then they’d say `thanks to UBF I’m becoming more worthy.”“I went once to one more meeting and it was really awful, so I never went back. I just saw it in a different way and I saw how ridiculous it all was,” Don said.“I wrote three to five of them (sogams),” Audrey said.“As a Christian myself it keeps you in touch with the direction your walk is taking. But what I didn’t like was they were constantly dwelling on the bad and the criticisms. It’s as if that was the only thing that mattered.“It ends up plaguing you more than helping you,” she said. In reflection, Audrey gives this final comment about her involvement with the University Bible Fellowship.“If you really don’t have a good head on your shoulders, you can really get lost in that group.” Note: Some names have been changed to protect their identity.


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