(Originally published in The Manitoban, the student newspaper of the University of Manitoba, Canada.)

“THE MANITOBAN”
VOL. LXXVIII, No.12, PAGE 5
24 October, 1990.

“Mother of UBF recruit speaks”

By L.F.Ferris

“This year a small group of religious enthusiasts has been unceremoniously banished from campus. They have effectively been silenced”, states Law II student R. Brandt in his letter responding to articles on the University Bible Fellowship (UBF) by Greg Reage.

It is my opinion that a campus ban will not silence this group. Their insidious activity, which takes place under the guise of the teachings of Christ, has ominous and far-reaching results for some university students.

I am a concerned parent of a second-year student from rural Manitoba who was recruited by the UBF in the cafeteria of his residence in Sept 1989, just weeks after arriving at U of M. My son met the initial requirements for this group (ie. over 18, away from home for the first time and vulnerable).

In recent months my concerns have reached a level of alarm. Involvement with this group has dramatically changed my son’s outlook and beliefs. He’s being trained for discipleship in a one-to-one Bible study, and is so busy he is home less and less. As Reage stated, “social contact with friends and family outside UBF is discouraged”.

My son’s summer job was here, so he lived at home. His UBF discipleship trainer maintained regular, and at times persistent contact by mail, telephone and in person for Bible study. My son stated that this trainer was his friend, so I accepted him into my home. Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have let him in the door.

Shepherdess Esther Kim, in telephone discussions with me, stated that I should appreciate the time UBF was giving my son-helping him in Bible study, living according to Christ’s teachings, and getting good marks. She also stated that UBF does not tell anyone what to do. Members are adults who make their own choices about what they do and how they live.

In a 50 minute conversation with a concerned and anxious mother(me), she did not ask even one question about me. Kim should remember that Jesus Christ had a mother, and parents are not inconsequential, to saints or sinners.

UBF activities on campus, including `fishing’ for new members, are now banned. My son states he accepts if he is caught `fishing’ he will be subject to disciplinary action. I feel UBF has given him half-truths on this issue, since my son was aware that penalties could result, but not aware that he could be kicked out of residence or expelled.

He states the UBF see such action as persecution, and Christians have been persecuted throughout the ages. If he is persecuted, its God’s will and he will accept it. Any opposition or argument from me is also regarded as persecution.

I am a divorced woman. Divorce is contrary to UBF’s interpretation of Bible teaching, and as a sinner I “deserve the judgment and wrath of God.”

My son states he intends to be a missionary for UBF. Their literature gives details of self-support missionaries and plans for UBF members who are “eager to be used by God” for work in the Third World, the Middle East, Latin countries etc. If my son is `called’ before graduation he will work at a `low-job” (eg. chicken killer, cook, chauffeur etc.) and God will take care of him because his `calling’ is God’s will.

My deepest concerns stem from the dramatic changes in this young man in one year. He started a part-time job at 15 to save for university. He worked hard in High School and received academic and citizenship awards. He was an active member of our church and did his share of chores around the house and yard. And yes, we had our share of disagreements and family fights. Is he a “wandering student for whom Esther Kim has a broken shepherd heart?”

I recognize and respect his decision to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour, and I care about what happens to him. However, I have grave concerns about the application of his faith and beliefs as a member of UBF.

Society today is conscious of many freedoms and rights. For me, many of these hard won rights carry inherent responsibilities. In this case, faced with freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and basic human rights, I have very limited ways to exercise my parental rights to try and protect my son from UBF’s cult personality.

By stating my concerns publically I risk further criticism and ridicule. If one young person reads this and thinks twice before associating with UBF, then my risk will be worthwhile.

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