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  • Writer's pictureEric Navas

Sarah Barry’s secret mission reports prior to UBF’s split from the church– part 9

Dear Friends,

A rainy Tuesday afternoon would be a good time to write a letter if there were not other things to do – but other things to do or not, I want to share with you some of the things that are beginning to happen on the campuses here in Kwangju.

In February, Melicent Huneycutt brought 16 students from the Chunju area down for a three-day leadership training conference in Kwangju. Mr. C.O. Lee, my Co-worker here in Kwangju, directed the conference and John Folta, Melicent and I taught classes. A pastor from Seoul came down to be our inspirational speaker – about 20 students from here attended. I could spend a letter describing this conference in detail. It was much prayed for beforehand and as a result of it, many students have realized the responsibility and opportunity that is theirs to be Christ’s men and women on campus. Several students also came to know the Lord for the first time during this brief three days. This is the first such conference that we’ve had and we learned a lot of things that will help us in planning other conferences.

Since the first of March the new semester has begun. I am teaching four hours in the English department of Chun Nam University (I hope none of my former English teachers see this); two hours of English Conversation to freshmen and two hours of Biblical Literature!! to Juniors. In addition, I have English Bible classes every day here at the Student Center. These classes are for college students and between 40 and 60 attend each day.

Mr. Lee began devoting full time to Student Work in March. He has registered as a graduate student in Chun Nam University and he spends a great deal of time visiting on campus – following up the students who come out for English Bible Classes. He is showing real ability in the art of leading from behind – a skill so necessary in work with students.

God is at work among the students. Perhaps a third (6 or 8) of the present Junior Class of the English Department have made commitments to the Lord and are praying definitely and specifically for their friends. There is a sort of core group (from 10 to 15) that meets each Sunday afternoon (membership by invitation only) for prayer and Bible Study in Korean. Students from the Medical College, Liberal Arts History and English departments, Agricultural College, Normal College and Chosun University. (The above-mentioned colleges are all a part of Chun Nam National University.) The program is pretty heavy – two to three hours of prayer and Bible Study. But the students who come are extremely faithful and dead serious about their personal responsibility to be witnesses on campus. Mr. Lee and I have been praying that an informal prayer group might get started on campus. This seems to us to be the next step in shifting emphasis to the campus and the responsibility for witnessing to Christian students. This has been extremely difficult – even in the English Department where Christian students have gotten used to praying with and for one another. The atmosphere on campus seems to be specifically designed to make people who pray and read the Bible together look like a bunch of fools. The fact that top students, both in grades and in leadership have confessed Christ as Saviour and Lord and have been changed completely from their former ways of living is having a very upsetting affect on this atmosphere, however. We praise God that two weeks ago – after our two and a half hour session of prayer and Bible Study, the students, in talking among themselves, decided to step out on faith and start meeting on campus for prayer. The first meeting in the English Department was harassed by some of the non-Christian students. The next meeting, however, was a very good one and one or two of the harassers joined in the Bible study. Another group has also started in the History Department. Mr. Lee and I feel that at this point we must trust the Holy Spirit to work with the students through the Word, directly. These small group meetings on campus can’t be rushed or pushed. In order for them to be real and lasting they should be started through student initiative.

We are coming to the end of our year’s contract to rent our Student Center and are praying for guidance about what to do next. We don’t know whether we can extend our contract or whether we must buy the building or get out or whether we should seek a way to secure the larger building next door. We must reach a decision very soon.

The general goal in Student Work here which we have in mind at present is an informal cell-type movement on campus – small groups without any denominational or interdenominational label, meeting just for prayer and Bible study – their purpose being to strengthen the Christian life and witness of Christian students on campus and perhaps be a means – as the spirit leads – of introducing non-Christians – one by one – to the Lord through His Word.

We may have to take the formal organizational step someday – then, I hope that the organization can be in the center. This will prevent conflict with the Student Y and will relate the on campus work to the local church. This is not a definite conviction – only our idea at present. This is a step-by-step business and where the Spirit will lead from here, I’m not sure. I feel convinced, however, that God is working to bring into being a strong, Evangelical, alive Christian witness on campus. The label it bears is of secondary importance. I believe, however, that such a movement must have a strong and clear doctrinal basis and a program specifically designed to accomplish the task of bringing students to know Jesus Christ and helping them to grow in Him. While a broader and more general program of Christian service in the community and cultural activity and various kinds of study is good and perhaps has a place in the total campus picture, this is not the kind of program which the Lord is calling Mr. Lee and me to work in and seek to develop at present.

After a year of living off the compound in downtown Kwangju, I am even more convinced that for me, in this particular kind of work, this was a wise move. I am grateful to the Lord for good health and for increased opportunities to witness to Christ to non-Christians in this part of the city. A bicycle and telephone keep me in touch with other missionaries in the station as well as in touch with the high schools and universities in the city.

I would appreciate your prayers for the students who have just become Christians, for those who are close to decision, but are still having a struggle within themselves, and for these small groups who are seeking in prayer to discover how the Lord would use them on campus.

Sincerely, Miss Sara Barry

Commentary: Early on the founder is already being praised as this god-like figure.

"The first meeting in the English Department was harassed by some of the non-Christian students.' This is a lame excuse used in order for UBF to play victim. The students were probably not harassing them but rather inquiring or critiquing the group. Unfortunately the "harassment" label is still being recycled after 50+ years on those who are not pro-UBF.

"The next meeting, however, was a very good one and one or two of the harassers joined in the Bible study." Why only one or two? Why not invite all of the so-called "harassers"? I suspect favoritism has seeped into UBF way back then.

'After a year of living off the compound in downtown Kwangju, I am even more convinced that for me, in this particular kind of work, this was a wise move." As you can see here UBF has been a man-made organization from the beginning

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