PrefaceDuring the preparation of 2006 Founders Day Mark Vucekovich interviewed many brothers and sisters among us who were involved in planting churches across North America. Based on the interviews and other available documents he wrote the UBF history of North America. He himself was part of the history. He started Bible study with us in 1980 while he attended Northwestern University (NU) majoring in History. Through Bible study his relation with Jesus deepened. Upon graduation he received training as an intern shepherd and later became a full-time staff. With his permission, his entire article is posted in Nov. 2013. Currently Pastor Mark serves the ministry at Lincoln Park UBF as a full-time staff and as the UBF North American coordinator. Over the past 25 years he has served many International UBF Conferences with thousands of attendants and complex operations. He became a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) in 2010 to run such conferences.
1. Early beginnings—sacrificial women nurse missionaries (1971-1981)
2. Establishing a new world mission headquarters in Chicago
3. New husbands in America
4. North American “Lydias” on the mission field
5. North American house church ministry
6. The contribution of Dr. Samuel Lee
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
In the decade of the 1960’s, through UBF Bible study God had been working mightily in Korean students’ hearts to accept his vision for the whole world. But in the early 1960’s, UBF’s world mission emphasis seemed odd to some American missionaries and Korean church leaders. They thought only rich Americans and Canadians should go as missionaries. Many thought poor Koreans should receive help. But God blessed UBF ministry amazingly when giving spirit was planted in poor Korean student’s hearts. As Seoul pioneering began in earnest in 1967, UBF ministry continued to inspire students to pray to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. World mission more and more became the heartbeat of UBF ministry.
UBF ministry reached out to students in Korea, but there did not seem to be many opportunities for them to go abroad as permanent missionaries. The door did seem to open through those who could work in the medical field. Korean UBF nurses began to go to Germany in 1967. To go to Western nations as missionaries was very challenging. Compared with Korea, Western nations were rich and powerful, and Koreans were poor and fatalistic. But Samuel Lee inspired Korean young people with gospel faith. Romans Bible study taught the universality of the gospel and how all people of the world desperately need the Savior Jesus. It also taught God’s great plan and vision to use Rome as the center for world mission. Inspired by Apostle Paul’s missionary strategy to go to Rome, in the late 1960s UBF leaders began to pray to go to the United States, the modern-day Rome.
1. Early beginnings—sacrificial women nurse missionaries (1971-1981)
Korean young people who became doctors and nurses applied for jobs in America. They received missionary training in Korea very briefly, and the first young doctors came to Chicago in 1971. They were Dr. Kangdoo (David) Lee, Dr. H. S. Yang and Dr. Silver Lee. Just to survive and to go through American medical training consumed all their time and energy. They began to have worship services in Dr. David Lee’s apartment, along with his wife Insun. In that same year nurse missionaries arrived in New York City. They were Myung Soon Lee, Jung Sook Kim and Jooim Koh. That same year, Myung-gil Lee, Myung Soon’s husband, arrived in New York as the first UBF director there. Uni Lee and his wife also came and joined the missionaries. After going out to Germany as the first UBF nurse missionary, finishing her work contract and returning to Korea, Mary Song came to New York as a nurse missionary once again. UBF worship services were held in the director’s family’s apartment.
Throughout the modern missionary movement, single women missionaries were most often the pioneers whose sacrifice and dedication laid the foundation for gospel work. The same became true in UBF missionary history. In Korean culture, nurses were not highly regarded. They were looked down upon as those who did menial work. But in God’s sight they were very precious and useful to him. UBF single women missionaries had already been sent to Germany; now they were being sent to America. These single women dedicated themselves to gospel ministry sacrificially. As self-supporting nurses, they had to get jobs and work in hospitals and nursing homes, starting out as nurses’ aides and studying to pass the American RN exam. Often they had to work the night shift. They supported UBF ministry out of their own means, not worrying about finding husbands or their future security. They lived together to share living expenses. They prayed earnestly.
In 1973 Grace Yoon, Bok Soon Kim and Sae Yoon Moon and Humble Yoo arrived in New York. To date, this team of four women nurse missionaries had received missionary training in Seoul the longest, for 11 months, during which time Sarah Barry taught them English, and Samuel Lee taught them the Bible. Soon after they arrived in New York, they faced the daunting task of finding jobs. At that time the local economy in New York City was depressed. One of them got a job at the Long Island Jewish Hospital and a room at the hospital dormitory for nurses. When she told the director of nursing about her three nurse missionary friends and how important it was for them to stay together, the director helped each of them to find jobs also, and allowed them to live together in the dorm at a price ten times cheaper than renting an apartment, even before they were hired by the hospital. Clearly it was God’s hand of blessing and protection.
God began to use all the New York missionaries to reach out to other Korean nurses living and working in New York. Through this ministry God sent Ruth Shin (1973), Rebekah Yoon, Grace Shin and Eun Sook Byung (1974), who went to Korea, received missionary training, married and returned to New York. In 1974 more nurse missionaries arrived in New York: Grace Ju, Gloria Choo, Deborah Kim and Sarah Chang; they would soon move to Chicago and Pittsburgh.
Humble Yoo and Sae Yun went back to Korea and married Isaiah Yoo and Isaac Moon; later they would return to the American mission field. Grace Yoon and Bok Soon Kim, who remained together in New York, were eager to reach out to campus students. They decided to move from Long Island to Manhattan and rented a studio apartment at 7th Avenue and 14th Street, which is right near New York University. They decided to speak only in English, to listen to English-speaking radio at every opportune moment, to eat only American food, and to take classes at the university. They wanted the New York UBF Sunday worship services to change from being in Korean to being in English. This caused some conflict among the other missionaries. What was even more controversial was the news that Samuel Lee appointed Grace Yoon as the new director of New York UBF, passing over the men missionaries. He wanted to follow the principle that those who have a Bible teaching ministry among natives should lead the ministry. During a prayer meeting, one of the men missionaries prayed a rebuking prayer toward the two women nurse missionaries, and Bok Soon Kim was so offended that she disappeared.
Later Grace Yoon discovered that Bok Soon Kim was in Toledo, Ohio. Bok Soon Kim had tried to drive from New York to join the women nurse missionaries in Chicago, but her car broke down in Toledo. She found an old friend in Toledo and stayed with her temporarily. That was how Toledo UBF began. After reporting these things to headquarters in Korea, Grace was told to leave New York and move to Toledo to help Bok Soon Kim. It was painful to leave the possibility of pioneering NYU, but she obeyed. Through her going to live and work with her in Toledo, Bok Soon Kim’s heart was restored by the love of God and she accepted Toledo as her God-given mission field. Grace was then asked to return to Korea to marry. Within the next year, several other women nurse missionaries joined Bok Soon Kim in Toledo: Young Ok Cho, Yong Bok Choi, Hwa Ja Lee and Rebekah H. Kim. These five women missionaries lived together in a one-bedroom apartment and prayed for Toledo campus ministry while waiting for their husbands to come from Korea. Among them, Rebekah H. Kim remained in Toledo and was later joined by her husband, Isaac B. Kim.
Bok Soon and Grace were soon married to promising young graduates from Seoul National University (SNU). Bok Soon married James J. Kim, who eventually came to Toledo as the director, and Grace married Mark Yoon. In Korea there were questions about who should marry these nurse missionaries, many of whom, humanly speaking, were getting past the age of marrying. Samuel Lee found a principle in 1 Samuel 2:30b, “Those who honor me I will honor.” He respected these nurses who had honored God practically by obeying the world mission command and sacrificing themselves for it. So he worked to introduce them to the most promising and honorable husband candidates, even from among recent college graduates from the best schools in Korea. Gloria Choo and Deborah Kim, early nurse missionaries in New York and then in Chicago, married SNU graduates Dr. Joshua Choo and Daniel Kim.
In 1973 four other nurse missionaries arrived in Chicago: Rebekah Chung, Esther Shin, Mary Hong and Deborah Lee. Samuel Lee loved them all like his own daughters. He wrote them letters and prayed earnestly for them to marry well. Soon, Rebekah Chung married Dr. Moses Chung, Esther Shin married Dr. Daniel Shin, Mary Hong married Stephen Hong and Deborah Lee married Dr. John Lee. They gave sacrificially for the sake of Chicago UBF pioneering. Their husbands would follow them to America two to four years after marriage.
Single nurse missionaries continued to be sent to America. In May of 1975 Esther Lee came to Washington, D.C. One month later she was joined by Grace Park and Rebekah Lim. Esther had just been married for two weeks and left her new husband behind in Korea. She was ready to dedicate herself to campus mission, and she had a broken heart for American young people. She began working as a nurse’s aide. The other two women missionaries worked as a waitress and a toilet cleaner until they could find jobs as nurses. These three women shared an apartment together. They didn’t know how to drive a car, so they took the bus and often hired a taxi. They even invited taxi drivers to Bible study. Since they were short on English, they served Bible students with delicious food. In 1977, Esther’s husband Jacob came, and in 1978, Grace’s husband Elijah Park and Rebekah’s husband Dr. Luke Lim came. Through the sacrifice and earnest prayers of these women missionaries, Washington UBF began.
In March of 1975 Chong Ran Park went to Georgia by herself as a missionary. During missionary training in Korea she was full of zeal to do gospel work and she wanted to be a UBF director. So Samuel Lee appointed her as the director of Georgia ministry. She first went to Atlanta but couldn’t find a job there. Then she found a job in a small county hospital in Soperton; the entire county had a population of only 6,000. In August 1975 Sarah Hong, another nurse missionary, arrived in New York after her marriage to Paul Hong and attended the first UBF Summer Bible Conference in Niagara Falls. Afterwards, she went to Soporton, Georgia, to work with Chong Ran Park. Sae Yun Moon, who also recently married, also was sent to Georgia. Initially she went to a small town in Georgia called LaGrange, about a five-hour drive from Atlanta, and about an hour from Soperton. The three of them met together once a month for Bible study and prayer. Then in 1976, the county hospital in Soporton closed, so Chong Ran Park and Sarah Hong moved to Atlanta, and were joined by Sae Yoon Moon. These women missionaries lived together and prayed together for campus ministry in Atlanta. Later that year, Isaac Moon came and was the director. Some time later, Chong Ran Park passed away due to stomach cancer. In 1977, Sarah Hong’s husband Paul Hong finally arrived in Atlanta. They remained there until 1979, when they moved to Bowling Green, Ohio. Thus, the early Bowling Green UBF pioneering ministry began.
In Pittsburgh, Sarah Chang lived and worked as a sacrificial nurse missionary. Her husband Moses Chang would join her later. Together they prayed to reach out to the campuses in Pittsburgh and established a pioneering chapter there.
In the latter part of the 1970’s single women nurse missionaries continued to arrive in Chicago. Some came after living and working in Germany, such as Susanna Min, Hope Lee, Mary Song and Sarah Lim. Others came directly from Korea, such as Sarah Sohn, Joy Baik, Sarah Jun, Naomi Dang, Joan Lee, Vision Hong and Grace Kim Lee. They also returned to Korea at various time to marry promising young men of God.
In late 1977, a group of women nurse missionaries from Seoul National University also moved to Chicago. During their student days in Korea they were very active in UBF, and after graduation, they lived together and received intensive missionary training. When they came to America, they got a one-bedroom apartment in a suburb, Evanston, where they continued to live together. Two of them had married and left their new husbands in Korea; the other three were still single; they were all in their twenties. They were full of spirit. They were ready to dedicate the prime of their lives for campus mission, not worrying about themselves. They became known as “the calves’ team.” They could immediately get jobs as nurses’ aides because they had worked as nurses in Korea. Often they worked the night shift at local nursing homes. They used their paychecks to make large offerings, while they bought their own clothing second-hand from the Salvation Army.
A major goal of the calves’ team was to pass the RN exam. So they joined a class with other UBF nurse missionaries in Chicago every night for two months. They were working full time as humble nurses’ aides, teaching the Bible to students and studying for the RN exam all at the same time. They held onto John 5:8 as their key verse for RN study: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” With the help of the study class and with much prayer support, they all passed and could begin to work as RNs and give their attention to learning how to be Bible teachers for American students. Their prayer spirit and joyfulness were legendary. After working hard day and night in nursing homes and inviting and serving students, they gathered together at night to pray in united prayer. They battled with sleepiness, and once, during prayer, one of them fell over and hit her head on the floor, and they all burst out into laughter. Their joyful spirit was fascinating and attractive to despairing young NU students. Eventually the calves’ team all married and their husbands joined them from Korea. Sweety Rhee married Dr. Noah Rhee; they moved to MSU and then to Kansas City. Sarah B. Choi married David Choi and served HBF ministry as well as being a personal assistant to Samuel Lee and Sarah Barry in Chicago. Mary Park married Augustine Park and went out to pioneer. Ruth Yoon married Peter Yoon and eventually moved to MSU where she became a DO and serves student ministry. Pauline Park married Dr. Henry Park; their family continued to serve Northwestern ministry for many years, then UIC, and most recently, a new pioneering ministry at OSU. Faith Choi married Richard Choi; their family served UIC ministry, and Faith eventually obtained a Pharm.D.
In 1979, another nurse missionary, Sarah Chung, was sent to Atlanta. After being apart from him for two years, she brought her new husband, Paul Chung, to Atlanta. They lived there for two more years, then moved to join Chicago ministry. In 1980, Pauline Hong and Grace Lee, other nurse missionaries, were sent to Columbus while they were still single to help the new pioneering ministry. Often, single women nurse missionaries were a great practical help. They tended to have stable jobs, the hope of bringing a future husband as a practical worker, and they were dedicated prayer servants with pure love for Jesus.
In 1981 21 single women missionaries were sent to Winnipeg, Canada. They were able to get Canadian working visas as sewing machine operators. They gathered together to pray and held onto the Bible verse, “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mk9:23). Through them God opened the door and began a good work in Canada. Eventually they returned to Korea to marry, and later brought their husbands to Canada, some of whom became chapter directors there. Montreal and Toronto UBF have been established because of them.
The UBF women nurse missionaries were like the woman who broke her alabaster jar of perfume to anoint Jesus out of love for him. Jesus said of her, “I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mk14:9). They sacrificed the early years of their marriage. They endured loneliness, worked hard and gave sacrificially to the ministry. Often they were despised at their working places because they were Korean immigrants. They lived for Jesus’ sake. Many of them held onto a Bible verse: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” (Ps126:5,6). Their suffering to be missionaries to America may seem insignificant, but God used it preciously to open the door for gospel ministry. All the UBF ministries throughout North America, directly or indirectly, are greatly indebted to them.
2. Establishing a new world mission headquarters in Chicago
In 1975 Sarah Barry had her regular missionary furlough in America and came to Chicago for several months to live with the new missionaries there and seek ways to help them. She was shocked to discover that women nurse missionaries were living in dangerous areas of Chicago, without any fear. Sarah began to work on registering UBF in America as a not-for-profit organization in the United States.
At that time there were a few more missionary families in Chicago. Notably, God had sent some women medical doctors as missionaries. Dr. Sarah Kim had come in 1974 after marrying Dr. James H. Kim in Korea; he followed her to Chicago in 1975. Dr. Theresa Kim was serving Chicago ministry after marrying her husband Paul Kim in Korea. Dr. Hannah Zun was also in Chicago; she had married her husband Dr. Sam Zun, and he followed her to Chicago several years later. In addition, Dr. Sarah Chang was in Chicago; she would marry Peter Chang who would later pioneer Columbus UBF. These women medical doctors gave very sacrificial offerings and their earnest prayer support.
While visiting Chicago for several months, Sarah Barry helped to locate a new UBF center in Chicago, at 5817 N. Clark Street, in relatively safe Rogers Park. The missionaries gave sacrificially to come up with a down payment for the building, and they began to move into apartments within walking distance. Sarah began to help the missionaries to petition to invite Samuel Lee to America as the general director of UBF. In the summer of 1975, the nurse missionaries prayed hard and traveled to the Niagara Falls region to have the first UBF summer Bible conference in America. Samuel Lee also came, and he and Sarah Barry gave the messages at the conference. 230 Koreans and 81 non-Koreans attended from various places in America.
Three weeks after her marriage, at the beginning of 1976, Grace Yoon was sent to Chicago, with the prayer to bring her new husband Mark Yoon there. He arrived in September of that year, and they initially lived on the UIC campus. In 1976 Dr. Joseph and Esther Chung were also sent to Chicago as the new director family. Dr. Joseph Chung postponed his medical career in order to serve the Chicago pioneering ministry full time. God used this family preciously in the history of Chicago UBF. Dr. Joseph Chung was originally from Kwangju UBF and was a classmate of Dr. John Jun. He and his wife Esther were the first UBF house church. Dr. Joseph Chung is a man who loves Jesus wholeheartedly and he is a man of prayer whom God is still using. When they first came to Chicago, he and his wife served the women missionaries who were either waiting to get married or waiting for their husbands to come to America. Dr. Joseph Chung taught them the Bible one-to-one.
In 1977 Samuel Lee finally received his U.S. visa. He and his wife Grace and their three children, along with Sarah Barry, moved to Chicago to establish the new UBF Headquarters there, in answer to much prayer and with the earnest support of Korean UBF. Dr. Joseph and Esther Chung supported them wholeheartedly with earnest prayer, sacrificial giving and practical serving.
Samuel and Sarah had been praying for the women missionaries’ marriages; now they began to help them to pass their American medical exams and to study English. Every evening at the Chicago Center at 5817 N. Clark Street, Bible study classes, doctors’ classes, nurses’ classes and English classes were being taught. Grace Yoon commuted from UIC and Dr. James H. Kim from Evanston to lead the nursing classes. About 20 women nurse missionaries attended.
In February 1978 Mark and Grace Yoon moved from UIC near to the Clark Street Center so that Mark could work as an intern shepherd with Samuel Lee more closely. On Sundays he translated Samuel Lee’s Korean messages into English the first year; later, Dr. James H. Kim would translate Samuel Lee’s English messages into Korean for the missionaries who could not yet understand English fully. Sarah Barry led regular English Bible classes.
Other well-trained UBF families also began to move from Korea to Chicago: Jimmy and Jane Rhee, Jacob and Jackie Lee, Isaac and Rebekah Choi, Daniel and Deborah Yang, James and Elizabeth Joung. They all lived in humble apartments within walking distance from the Clark Street Center. Jimmy Rhee worked along with Dr. Joseph Chung to teach the Bible to the nurse missionaries. He also prepared special music for the Sunday worship services. Esther Chung, who had worked closely with Dr. Lee in Korea as his secretary, continued to do so. Jacob Lee became the world mission offering steward. He had a strong sense of responsibility and God-fearing faith. He also was in charge of preparing prayer servants for the Sunday worship services every week for many years. He stood at the entry of the Clark Street Center every Sunday as an usher to greet everyone coming and going, and to set up chairs. His humility, joy and love were a great encouragement to many people. His wife Jackie Lee also worked very hard as a secretary to Dr. Lee. She entrusted her six children to God’s care and dedicated herself to be at the Center day and night as a steward and prayer servant. Isaac and Rebekah Choi began to serve a CBF ministry in Chicago, teaching the missionary children every Saturday morning, loving and praying for them. Mark Yoon, as a full-time intern shepherd, worked closely with Samuel Lee to help the missionaries in so many practical ways. He helped Grace A. Lee to learn English and how to drive a car. He also helped with the Lee’s children by picking up their report cards and going to parent/teacher conferences at their schools. He helped new missionaries to find apartments and new jobs. He helped when they had car accidents. He helped when they needed medical care or dental care. He picked up guests from the airport whenever they came to visit Chicago and took care of their lodging, meals and entertainment. He went to do carpentry work at any UBF property whenever needed. Sometimes he would be gone from home for three days or more, coming home only for a change of clothes. God gave these missionaries in Chicago UBF a great love for Jesus and willingness to work hard and do anything for his name’s sake.
By 1980 there were about 90 missionaries in Chicago UBF. Moreover, there was a strong nucleus of prayer and support surrounding Samuel Lee. Because of the prayer, love and trust of the Chicago missionaries, he was able to dedicate himself to Bible study, training and serving the work of God as a whole. This strong base at the Chicago Headquarters became a source of strength and practical support for all the UBF pioneering chapters in North America. Samuel Lee and Sarah Barry would visit local chapters from time to time. Missionaries from local chapters would stay in touch with Chicago, asking prayer support and advice. Sometimes they came to Chicago UBF to find rest, get medical care and to study the Bible. Often they sent their new Bible students to gain a sense of God’s history and to study the Bible in Chicago. Chicago UBF served Easter and Summer conferences every year, inviting all the local chapters to come. Messengers often came to Chicago for several weeks to prepare their messages. Chicago UBF ministry also provided financial support for pioneering ministries when necessary. Chicago missionaries prayed earnestly and faithfully for all the pioneering chapters. In August of 1979, Peter and Dr. Sarah Chang were sent out from Chicago to pioneer Ohio State University in Columbus. In June of 1980, Sam and Dr. Hannah Zun were sent out from Chicago to pioneer the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. God made the Chicago UBF a source of blessing to many North American college students.
3. New husbands in America
The story of the sacrifice of UBF nurse missionaries in America is paralleled by the sacrifice of their husbands who joined them on the mission field. Many of these husbands left high-ranking and promising careers in Korea. At the beginning of their lives in America, they had to live on the bottom of society. Humanly speaking, what they did seemed to be too much sacrifice. But they did it for Jesus’ sake, in obedience to the world mission command, to bring the gospel to American young people. God blessed their obedience and sacrifice.
In 1974 God sent Paul Kim to New York as the new director. He was the husband of an early UBF nurse missionary, Jooim Koh (now Sarah Kim), and he served as the New York UBF director for ten years. At first, he worked as a street vendor in order to survive. Some of the husbands of nurse missionaries were coming to be American doctors. Among them were Dr. Daniel Shin and Dr. John Lee in Chicago and Dr. Luke Lim in Washington. Passing through American medical training was no easy task. Dr. John Lee struggled most with passing the English exam, which he had to retake so many times. Through the prayer of his wife Deborah, eventually he passed and became a successful, board-certified American pediatrician, and a most sacrificial lay missionary, first at the Chicago headquarters, and now at DePaul UBF. He has always invited young people and taken care of them as a good shepherd. After becoming a medical doctor, God has also used Dr. Luke Lim as a pillar for Washington UBF. In 1976 God sent Dr. Abraham and Lydia Koh to New York, and God eventually blessed him with a residency in the ENT Department at Columbia University Hospital.
Other husbands would come and study for a Ph.D. Among them was Dr. Moses Chung who married an early nurse missionary, Rebekah Chung. In Korea Dr. Moses Chung originally had a good job as an accountant in a bank. But when he came to America, he started on the bottom of society working to deliver pizzas, and in a bicycle repair shop. Through the support of his wife, Rebekah, he was eventually able to get his Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Chicago. God blessed him to become a well-known Christian scholar upon his return to Korea. After years of struggle, Dr. David Min received his Ph.D. in pharmacology through the support of his wife Susanna. God has made their family prayer servants and Bible teachers in Chicago, in Iowa, and now in Los Angeles. Dr. Joshua Choo was an SNU Law School graduate with a promising future in Korea. But he left it to come to America as a missionary. He began by working in a restaurant in Chicago, and then, as an office clerk at Northwestern University’s Traffic Institute. After many years of struggle he received his Ph.D through the support of his wife Gloria. God used this family as a source of encouragement in Chicago, in the pioneering of Milwaukee UBF, and now in Arlington, Texas. Dr. Mark Yoon married Grace Yoon. As was mentioned, he graduated from SNU with a degree in ecomonics. But when he first came to Chicago, he got a job at UIC working in their campus cafeteria refrigeration room, cleaning it out, wearing an overcoat. God used him in the pioneering of Northeastern University, Wright College and the University of Chicago. Through the support of his wife, he eventually got his Ph.D. from Loyola University in education. Now God is using him preciously as the International Coordinator for UBF ministry, communicating with missionaries on the mission field and finding out their needs. God also uses him as one of the senior American staff.
Other husbands of nurse missionaries became very graceful and faithful prayer servants and lay missionaries. Daniel Sohn graduated from Kyunghee University. He married Sarah Sohn and came to Chicago. He worked in an assembly factory and as a janitor at the Old Orchard Shopping Center. He dedicated himself to earnest prayer for UIC pioneering, when no one else was doing so. God answered his prayers, along with the prayers of others, to make UIC ministry so fruitful. God used him as a most sacrificial lay missionary in Chicago UBF, even opening his small apartment to share common life with an American student. Daniel Kim graduated from SNU in political science. He wanted to become the president of Korea someday and unite North and South. He married Deborah Kim and came to Chicago. At first he worked on the bottom of society in a factory. Later he got a job as a computer programmer. God has used him as a graceful man of prayer and shepherd for Northeastern Illinois students. Elijah Park married Mary Park, a nurse missionary in Chicago, and lived as a serving servant in Chicago UBF. He did much of the carpentry work in the early days of Chicago UBF and was a helper to Dr. Samuel Lee. He also drove a mother of an American student from a far suburb of Chicago to the Sunday worship service, taking one hour each way, every week for many years. God continues to use him to serve Chicago UBF as a steward for UBF properties. David Choi married Sarah B. Choi. In Korea he graduated from Hanyang University with a degree in industrial engineering. When he first came to Chicago, he worked at a downtown wholesale store counting underwear. He also worked as a housecleaner and at a factory. Finally, he studied to become a math teacher in the Chicago public high schools. He joyfully allowed his wife to dedicate herself to serve the Chicago headquarters ministry, and he took responsibility to pray for and love the high school children of missionaries. God has used him as a father-like shepherd for them and as a good environment-maker. Now God has made him Vice Principal of a magnet high school in Chicago, Lane Tech. Richard Choi graduated from Kunkook University in Seoul, majoring in business, and had a secure job at the Hyundai Corporation. He married Faith Choi and came to Chicago as a missionary. At first he worked as a dishwasher and housekeeper at Dr. Marshall’s house. Despite the discouraging situation, he was happy. He eventually studied to become a math teacher. God has used him preciously as a faithful prayer servant and Bible teacher for UIC students. Paul Chung married Sarah Chung. In Korea he graduated from Chungju University in Chungju, majoring in English literature. He had a dream of becoming a pilot. After marrying, he went to Atlanta in 1981 as a missionary. At first, he worked at shipping factories, at an electronics factory, and at a cat and dog food factory. His daughter Sarah was born premature, and his wife was sick, so he had to take a leave of absence from work for a month. The medical bills were enormous, and his family suffered from poverty. In 1983 he came to Chicago to work very hard as an intern shepherd. He also studied to be a math teacher and work in the public high schools. God has used him as a good steward and a friend and shepherd to American young people in Chicago UBF.
Other husbands of UBF nurse missionaries went to other places in America. Samuel Shin graduated from Chun-Nam University in Kwangju, majoring in engineering. He married Ruth Shin and came to New York as a missionary in 1976. He first worked in a car auto body shop, and would always come home covered in dust and dirt. He tried to open a small fruit store, but it didn’t work out, and worked for a time as a street vendor. In 1981 God granted his wife Ruth a nursing position at St. Luke’s Hospital, which is nearby Columbia University, and their family has prayed for, loved and served Columbia students so gracefully until now and raised a fruitful discipleship ministry there. Wesley Yoon married Rebekah Yoon. He graduated from the prestigious Korea University, majoring in civil engineering. When he came to New York in 1976, he worked at a Korean fruit market, standing on his feet all day until they were swollen. Then he worked in a factory moving boxes from floor to floor. It was so exhausting he would fall asleep in a corner somewhere. He then worked at LaGuardia Airport, cleaning chewing gum off the floors all day. Eventually, he got his master’s degree in civil engineering and a good job with the URS Corporation. God used him as a faithful prayer servant for New York ministry, and now God has given him his own chapter at Stonybrook. Peter Song graduated from Choonbook Univesity in Tae Jun majoring in architecture. He had a dream to become an architect. When he came to New York in 1976 to join his wife Mary, he realized that it would be too much of a strain on his family, so he decided to give up his dream and be a self-supporting missionary. Initially he sold wigs, along with Uni Lee. Then he started a shoe business called “Wonderful Shoes.” Over the years God has blessed it to be very successful. His family has been a great support to New York UBF.
In Washington D.C. there is Elijah Park. He graduated from Chun-Nam University in Kwangju majoring in management and hoped to be a professor someday. When he moved to the Washington D.C. area in 1978 to join his nurse wife, Grace, he worked as a cashier in a drugstore, and then as a housekeeper at a Mariott Hotel. God has used him as a most graceful man of God in the Washington UBF ministry. Moses Chang graduated from the Chun-Buk University in Jeonju, majoring in business administration, and he wanted to be a banker. He married Sarah Chang and came to Pittsburgh in 1975. Initially he worked in a Chinese restaurant as a dishwasher. He also began working as a part-time painter for displays at a Sears Department Store, and later, in the Washington D.C. area also. Finally he studied computer science at the University of Maryland and currently works for their Department of Transportation. God is using his family as key prayer servants in the Washington UBF ministry.
Isaac B. Kim graduated from Sungkyunkwan University majoring in textile engineering. He married Rebekah H. Kim and when he came to America, he served the Toledo ministry for many years. He worked initially at McDonald’s, and then for a long time as a janitor in a hospital in order to help support the campus ministry and his family. God blessed his family and is now using them to pioneer a chapter in Akron, Ohio.
A number of the husbands of the early nurse missionaries would become chapter directors and go on to serve God elsewhere. Mark Hong married Vision Hong. He came to Chicago and worked very hard delivering newspapers and as a fisher of men at UIC. Soon he was sent out to pioneer UW Madison, co-working with Dr. Joseph and Hannah Kim’s family, and God blessed them with a fruitful ministry, which became an inspiration in the pioneering days of American UBF. Now God is using Mark Hong as a pastor in another church. Joshua Lee married Joan Lee and received internship training in Chicago for many years. God enabled him to work very hard for many UBF property construction jobs, and in the afternoons God used him as an inspirational fisher of men at UIC, where he invited Chris Kelly and Damon Londrigan. Later, God sent his family to pioneer a new chapter in Seattle, Washington. Augustine Park went to the top boys’ high school in Korea, then to SNU medical school. He married Mary Park and received training in Chicago, working at Dr. Marshall’s house in Wilmette as a house cleaner. Then he was sent to pioneer Milwaukee UBF as the first director, where he met Jeremiah Cowen, who became a remnant in the ministry, moved to Chicago, then passed away from a brain tumor. Augustine Park then went to pioneer a UBF chapter at UT Austin and to study at seminary. Now God is using him as a pastor in a Korean/American church in Colorado. James J. Kim married Bok Soon Kim. As was mentioned, he was an SNU graduate. But when he first arrived in Toledo, he worked in a Big Boy restaurant while he applied for graduate school. He dedicated himself to the ministry passionately. He was very generous and friendly with students. God blessed his ministry.
Other husbands of the early nurse missionaries would become faithful UBF chapter directors. Paul Dang married Naomi Dang. He graduated from another prestigious university in Korea, Yonsei University, and his major was economics. When he first came to Chicago UBF, he worked for a year as a janitor at the Teletype Company. When he went to help with the pioneering of Milwaukee, he worked at Wendy’s. He studied to be a math teacher, and then, to be a pastor. Now God is using him to serve the Milwaukee I UBF ministry as director. Wesley Jun married Sarah Jun. He graduated from SNU majoring in math and wanted to become a professor. He came to Chicago in January of 1983. He worked humble jobs as a gas station cashier and as a housekeeper at Dr. Marshall’s house in Wilmette, then as a part-time payroll clerk at UIC Hospital. He worked very hard in Chicago UBF as an intern shepherd, and studied to be a math teacher. God used him and his wife preciously to help with the pioneering of Oakton College and UIC. Now God is using his family to serve Lehigh ministry in Pennsylvania. Dr. Henry Park graduated from Yonsei University. He married Pauline Park in September of 1981 and came to Chicago at the end of 1982. In Korea his father was a wealthy businessman, but he left his inheritance for Jesus’ sake. When he first arrived in Chicago he worked at most humble jobs to support his new family. He worked to deliver newspapers in dangerous neighborhoods. He worked in a factory. He worked as a painter. Eventually he studied to become a math teacher and went on to get a Ph.D. from UIC and served a fruitful discipleship ministry there. God sent his family to pioneer a new chapter at OSU in Columbus, Ohio, where God continues to use him as a fruitful gospel worker and as one of the American senior staff. David Baik graduated from Korea University. He married Joy Baik and came to Chicago as a full-time intern shepherd. His family moved into the third floor of the UIC Bible house. He served the UIC ministry wholeheartedly as a steward and environment-maker in the pioneering days. God used his artistic and music abilities to serve Chicago UBF, and his friendliness to help many American young people. In 1994 God sent him to New York to lead the large ministry there. Now God is using David Baik as the Northeast Region director and as one of the senior American staff. Dr. Paul Hong graduated from Yonsei University, majoring in economics. He wanted to be a minister of commerce and worked as a staff accountant in a Korean company. He married Sarah Hong. When he arrived in Atlanta, he first worked as a butcher, a restaurant cook, a vegetable cutter and an ice cream mixer. After serving Bowling Green pioneering ministry for six years, he moved his family and ministry to Toledo, where he eventually received his Ph.D. in business management. He was an instructor at an extension of the University and was willing to teach any kind of course. God blessed his humility and he was eventually made a tenured professor at the main campus. Now God is using Dr. Paul Hong as the Toledo UBF director, as the Great Lakes Region director and as one of the senior American staff. Jacob Lee married Esther Lee. He left behind a high-paying job at Lucky-Gold Star conglomerate in Korea to come to America. When he arrived in Washington, he first worked as a dishwasher, a housekeeper and a doorkeeper while attending George Washington University graduate school, majoring in economics. Once, while working at a Seven/Eleven, he was held up at gunpoint. God eventually granted him a good job at the University of Maryland and used him to as the director of Washington UBF, as well as the Mid-Atlantic Region director and a senior America staff.
There were many other men missionaries who did not marry nurse missionaries but who came to America, leaving behind very promising lives in Korea and starting at the bottom of society to serve American ministry. Among them, Isaac Kim was a high-ranking judge in Korea. But he left his job in the early 1980s and while applying as a UCLA Law School graduate, he became a newspaper delivery man in order to serve American young people as a shepherd and Bible teacher. God blessed his sacrifice and established a beautiful ministry in Los Angeles and made him the director of the West Coast Region and a senior American staff. Joseph Ahn married Maria Ahn. They both were SNU graduates, and their family dedicated themselves most sacrificially for world mission. They lived apart for many years while he served as a Korean diplomat to Latin American countries, to Spain, and at the UN in New York. Eventually, he moved to Chicago, resigning his promising career, in order to serve students and world mission. God used him as a high school teacher for inner city high school students, and now, as a full-time shepherd and senior American staff and overseer of Latin American ministries. Dr. Sam Zun married Dr. Hannah Zun. He studied at SNU’s dental school and left a good and secure job as a dentist in Korea to come to Chicago. At first, he worked in a print shop at Northwestern, then as a janitor for Sears, then as a janitor in a hospital in Evanston, then as a pizza delivery man. When he was sent to pioneer Cincinnati, he worked for the first several years once again as a pizza delivery man. It was a poor life. Often he worried about how much money he would make in tips each evening. Often he delivered pizzas to drunken and half-naked American college students in Cincinnati, in the middle of the night. Through this he learned the incarnation of Jesus and strove to become one in spirit with American young people. God has used him as a fruitful gospel worker as the Cincinnati UBF director. God has blessed him to be a successful lay missionary who makes dental fixtures, and now God is using him as the South/Central Region director and one of the senior American staff.
God blessed the willingness of these men missionaries to leave the comfort, security and promising future life in Korea to serve gospel work in America. God used their sacrifice, humility and hard work behind the scenes as the key impetus to the pioneering ministry of America. God also blessed each of them and their families richly, and he continues to use them as key members of American UBF ministry.
4. North American “Lydias” on the mission field
UBF missionaries came as lay missionaries. So they had to learn how to work and live in North American society. They came with good English skills in terms of reading and writing, but in Korea there was little exposure to spoken English, as there were so few native speakers in Korea. In North America, missionaries had to learn from scratch how to listen to and how to speak in English. At the same time, they had to work full time; many were starting new families and bearing children, so their time was limited. They wanted to witness to their faith and teach the Bible, but often the easiest way for them to do this was to reach out to other Korean immigrants working as nurses or in the medical field. Sometimes they reached out to other immigrants living and working with them. To make inroads into ministry with North Americans, at a variety of places God would send someone like Lydia in Acts chapter 16, who opened her heart to Paul’s message, as well as her home, and who became a bridge to Paul’s Gentile ministry in Philippi. These “Lydias” in North American UBF history would become a bridge and a catalyst for ministry to other North Americans.
In the early 1970s in Chicago, Dr. Theresa Kim invited Elizabeth Farmadico, a Filipina nurse, to UBF Bible study. Soon, she brought her sisters Lydia and Angie. They were faithful in Chicago UBF for several years. In 1976 Dr. Sarah Chang invited the first American girl to the Chicago UBF ministry, Susan Bein, who came for awhile. But there was yet to be a breakthrough in ministry to American students.
What was required in making initial contact was boldness. Many of the nurse missionaries had this essential quality. They were women of simple faith and spirit. When Bok Soon Kim went to Toledo, she was bold to reach out to American students at the University. By the late 1970s she was teaching the Bible to nearly 20 American students. Many of them were steeped in American drug culture. But she prayed and worked hard, and God answered. Many students began to seek God.
Rebekah H. Kim, also in Toledo, is a small Korean nurse. One night in 1977, after receiving some painful news from Korea, she shed tears and then decided to go out to invite students to Bible study. She visited a Christian coffee house. There, she met a large American man, Bob Nolan, who began coming to UBF. He brought several students from the University of Toledo who became faithful UBF members in the early days. Some of them were Tony Chandler, Robb Lasko, Randy Workman, Christy Schetter and Mark Gamber. Bob Nolan was quiet, but he was known as the Abraham of faith of all of USA UBF. Through his good influence, Toledo ministry was the first UBF ministry to make a breakthrough to have regular American members.
Christy Schetter came to Bible study in Toledo UBF in 1978. What impressed her most was the lifestyle of the UBF missionaries. They lived humbly in efficiency apartments with bare essentials for furniture—only a table, some chairs and mats used for sleeping on the floor. They ate simple means of rice, seaweed, kimchee and very little meat. They often wore the same clothes every day. Coming from the materialistic culture in America, Christy was stunned. There was somewhat of a language barrier, but Christy could feel the compassion of Christ through the missionaries’ personal concern for her and for her future. James J. Kim and his wife Rebekah were inspiring persons. They were full of energy, zeal and courage in a culture full of complacency. They were always ready to serve: ready to loan their car to students for days on end, to open their home at any time, day or night, to listen to students talk endlessly. James Kim helped her to come to Jesus through Bible passages from Isaiah and John’s Gospel, so that the wounds and sorrows in her soul could be healed. Through this she was inspired to reciprocate the compassion of Christ for other students living sorrowful and empty lives. James Kim soon asked Christy to manage the chapter’s Sunday offering, to type his Sunday messages and prepare the UBF center for worship services. What she learned from the missionaries molded her to live as a humble and compassionate Bible teacher for students. God called and used Christy Schetter (Toh) as one of the first “Lydias” in UBF USA history.
In Chicago, Grace Yoon began working at Bethany Methodist Hospital in early 1978. There, she met a nursing assistant named Theresa Murray, who was caring very genuinely for the patients. Grace invited her to the UBF Sunday worship service, and she started coming right away. She told Grace that she had been a short-term missionary to Mexico after her graduation from high school. She began Bible study with Grace, and later, with her husband Mark Yoon. At that time there were very few Americans attending Chicago UBF. Through Mark’s Gospel study Theresa accepted the verse, “You give them something to eat,” and she entered Northeastern Illinois University with a sense of mission to serve the students. She brought a student named Elsa and prayed for her for a long time. She began to serve the women missionaries to learn to hear and speak English; she also began to serve the missionaries’ high school children as an HBF (high school Bible fellowship) leader. God used her to inspire the Chicago missionaries that American ministry was possible. Later, she went to Korea and married Dr. Augustine Sohn, a prominent surgeon from the Seoul National University Hospital, and lived there for several years before bringing her family back to Chicago, where they serve as wonderful prayer servants. God called and used Theresa Sohn as Chicago UBF’s first “Lydia.”
At Northwestern, the calves’ team nurse missionaries were bold in inviting students. Many students came and went, but an American young man who made a commitment in early 1978 was Geordan Griggs. In fact, when he was first invited, he had stopped taking classes. He surprised the missionaries because he walked around Evanston barefoot, even in the cold winter. Initially he was invited by Sweety Rhee, but she did not think him a promising Bible student, so she turned him over to Pauline Park. Through Bible study he opened his heart to the love of God in Jesus. He soon became a presider at the Chicago UBF Sunday worship services. He brought his sister Wendy, also an NU student at that time. They shared with the missionaries their painful stories about their broken family. Through them, the Chicago missionaries learned firsthand how American young people were wounded by broken homes. Through Bible study Geordan gained strength and faith to go back to NU and graduate with a degree in math. The missionaries recognized his natural genius. He was very quiet, but just by hanging around missionaries he began to understand the Korean language. He co-worked with the calves’ team nurse missionaries in bringing other NU students. He became a fieldworker, calling, visiting and inviting students. Through his co-working with UBF missionaries, Andrew Griffin and John Bird also came to Bible study and worship services and became faithful student members. In June of 1980 he joined Drs. Sam and Hannah Zun in pioneering a new UBF chapter in Cincinnati, Ohio. God used Geordan Griggs like “Lydia” in UBF USA pioneering.
At NU John Bird followed in the footsteps of Geordan Griggs. In 1978, despite his difficult school studies, he would spend hours in prayer and on campus inviting students to Bible study. God answered his prayers. One of his first Bible students was Alan Wolff, who began in early 1979. Alan was an avowed atheist and would argue with John during nearly every Bible study. But Alan kept coming because often after the meetings or worship services the missionaries would serve delicious food, and they were so happy to see him. After about two years, he opened his heart to Jesus. At the end of 1980 Alan returned to his home in Maryland and participated in the Washington UBF ministry, where he grew as an exemplary lay shepherd; in 1988, he moved back to Chicago and has been a blessing to Chicago UBF and NU ministry. In early pioneering days John Bird would go with the missionaries to visit NU students and bring them to worship services and conferences. In the summer of 1980 he went with Mary Park to pick up Mark Vucekovich in his hometown to attend the Niagara Falls conference. When school started in September, he again went with her to visit Mark in his dorm room to bring him to Bible study and worship service. The following summer, despite his own poverty, he opened his apartment in Evanston for Mark to come and live with him. God used John Bird to co-work with UBF missionaries like another “Lydia” in the early time of pioneering.
In the late 1970s at Northeastern Illinois University, Grace K. (Kim) Lee was an active worker on campus, good at communicating with students. In the summer of 1980 she brought a girl named Carol Krzan. At that time, Carol was living with her sister Carmen in an area of Chicago called “Bucktown,” and they both were looking for a church. They began attending Chicago UBF worship services. Right from the beginning, Carol began inviting others to Bible study. After her original Bible teacher moved to help with the new UBF chapter in Columbus, Ohio, Carol studied the Bible with Dr. Mark Yoon. She met Jesus personally through Romans Bible study. She was calm and quiet in her demeanor, and boys liked her. But she was determined to be a pure influence and like a big sister rather than a girlfriend to them. One of the students she invited at the beginning of 1981 was Dwain Fairweather. He was a punk rocker and an atheist who came from a broken family. At the Easter conference he met Jesus personally and dramatically changed. Carol served Northeastern ministry very prayerfully. Her sister Carmen was also extremely faithful to Bible study with Grace Yoon and began attending UBF worship services. Carmen also dedicated herself to prayer for UBF ministry, and she still does today. God used Carol and Carmen as “Lydias” in Chicago UBF pioneering ministry.
Another “Lydia” in the early American ministry was a student named Susan Carroll (now Grace Martin). In the late summer of 1979 Peter and Dr. Sarah Chang were sent out by Chicago UBF to pioneer OSU at Columbus, Ohio. One of the first students they met was Susan. Dr. Sarah Chang was sitting on the campus, writing Daily Bread and singing hymns. She went and sat down with Susan, who was sitting under a tree. At that time she was a 19-year-old OSU student. She accepted the grace of Jesus during her first Bible study on John chapter 1 with Dr. Sarah, and changed her name to “Grace.” She loved studying the Bible with this Korean couple and eating Korean food with them. Soon she invited her high school friend, Kevin Goddard, to come to Bible study with them. He became the first American shepherd in the new Columbus UBF ministry. Together with Peter Chang, he invited a young man who lived near the UBF center, Bill Rankin, and his wife Carmen. They quickly became key members in the Columbus ministry. In June of 1980, Grace and Bill joined the World Mission Report in Korea as American delegates. Bill, with his long hair and beard, was very popular with Korean students because he looked just like an American rock star. Grace was moved by the grace of Jesus even more while spending time in fellowship with Korean staff. After returning to Columbus in the summer of 1980, she began to receive training. She got a part-time job to help contribute to the ministry. She also began common life together, first with the Changs, then with others. She also went to the campus actively to invite other students. One of them was Dervilla McNulty, who changed her name to Deborah and eventually married Pastor Ron Ward. Another student Grace invited was Teddy Hembekides. When he met UBF co-workers, he played them songs on his guitar about Jesus. At that time he was studying for his master’s degree in agricultural engineering at OSU. He grew up in Lebanon to Greek and Lebanese parents like a prince. Through UBF Bible study he grew in the image of Jesus into a great shepherd. God gave Grace diligence to invite students, and he used her like “Lydia” in the early Columbus UBF pioneering.
On the East Coast there were other American UBF “Lydias.” In New York, Peter Song invited many students to Bible study and was often refused. He got the idea to write Bible testimonies at the library, then ask students to help him correct his English. In this way he met a young man named Bart Solazzo, a freshman at Queens College in 1981. Bart made a Bible study appointment and came on time, which was unusual. He studied the book of Genesis and asked hard and sincere questions. He came faithfully, seeking truth. Soon he began teaching the Bible to other students. God has made him a faithful prayer servant for campus ministry, along with all our New York missionaries, and has given him a strong sense of stewardship for the ministry. Another student from Queens College, Regina Brestolli, also began Bible study in 1981 with Ruth Lim. Ruth met Regina in the school cafeteria. Regina was an English literature major. She had been disappointed in her own church and had been praying for a Bible teacher for several months. Ruth showed her the UBF Genesis Bible study materials, and Regina’s heart opened. She studied the Bible, attended worship services, and soon moved in with Ruth’s family. She took the name “Sarah,” to become like Sarah, the mother of nations in Genesis, so she became known as “Sarah Regina.” She began to pray for UBF ministry and co-work with the New York missionaries. She was known as a gentle, kind and generous person. Bart and Sarah Regina visited Chicago to study the Bible and returned to New York ministry. They had a clear commitment to UBF, and God made them a great encouragement for American student ministry in New York. After them, God began to send other American students from Queens College, Columbia University and New York University who met Jesus personally. God gave them a vision that he will use New York UBF as “a city on a hill” for world mission.
In Washington, Jacob Lee began Bible study with an American young man named David Brogi in 1981. David worked on cars, and his hands and clothing showed it. He was like a typical American soldier, all heart. He was not sure what he could learn from a Korean man. But he loved the word of God and kept coming. He met Jesus personally at the 1981 Summer Bible conference through studying Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ” (Mt16:16). He became a good co-worker and responsible person for the ministry like Lydia. Bruce Hollinger began Bible study with Esther Lee in 1982. His family was Jewish. He was a marathon runner. His nickname was “toast,” because he used to pop up every morning to go running. He had a hard time to sit down to study. Through attending a UBF conference he received Jesus personally when he wrote a one-paragraph testimony on a Bible passage. Since then he became a most diligent fisher of men, co-worker and environment-maker in Washington UBF. Wynelle Gibson was beautiful American young lady studying at the University of Maryland. She was invited to UBF Bible study by Esther Lee in 1983. She was very lively and cheerful. But she grew up like a princess in her family as an only daughter. It caused her to develop an “island” mentality. Through UBF Bible study she met Jesus personally and accepted John 12:24 as her life key verse. She co-worked with the Washington UBF missionaries like Lydia and became a great source of blessing to the ministry. In 1987 she married Walter Nett and moved to Germany as the first American UBF missionary, where she continues to serve like Lydia. After these three persons, God began to send many other American students to participate in Washington UBF ministry along with the missionaries and grow as Bible teachers, shepherds and shepherdesses who love and obey Jesus.
On the West Coast God also began to open the hearts of a few American young people. One of them was Jim Tonne. He was an engineering student at California State University at Long Beach (CSULB). He was handsome enough to look like a U.S. President, with his blonde hair and blue eyes. On campus, a Korean UBF missionary invited him to Bible study. He said, “No.” A few weeks later, another missionary invited him. Still he said, “No.” Then he felt sorry for them, thinking, “These people are trying hard to help me, and Bible study is good. I don’t know why I’ve been saying ‘No.’ If they ask me again, I’ll say ‘Yes.’” A few days later, another missionary met him and he immediately said “Yes.” He met Jesus through UBF ministry and began to co-work with the missionaries as an environment-maker. Another CSULB student was Julie Nugent. She was a very pretty California girl, but through wild living she had lost her own identity. She came to a UBF conference and heard Jesus’ voice in Mark 5:9, “What is your name?” She repented and accepted Jesus personally. Since then she became a great blessing to the Los Angeles ministry, co-working with the missionaries. After Jim and Julie’s change, God began to send many other Americans who grew as Bible teachers and shepherds.
In Canada God has used John Giesbrecht as a “Lydia” for UBF campus ministry. He came through the women missionaries’ ministry in Winnipeg, and moved to Montreal along with the missionaries. Even though many Canadians and even some missionaries left the ministry, John has remained faithful and accepted the missionaries as God’s servants. He also co-works with them in prayer. Another student from Winnipeg, Andrew Christopher, was pursued by a woman missionary for five years. At last he attended the 1990 Summer Bible Conference at DePauw in Greencastle, Indiana, met Jesus and was changed. He, too, moved along with the missionaries to establish the new Montreal UBF chapter, leaving behind his family, secure job and friends. He has been a faithful prayer servant along with our Montreal ministry for Canadian campus ministry. Through John and Andrew’s good influence, David Jumeau also joined the Montreal ministry, and many students began to come to Bible study and grow as disciples of Jesus.
5. North American house church ministry
In the early days of UBF USA ministry, Korean missionaries did everything. Even though they themselves were struggling on the bottom of American society, they scraped together their money and fed students after meetings and worship services. They paid for students’ conference fees. Many of them had very young children in their small apartments, but they opened their homes to students. Missionaries made most generous offerings. Students came and ate a lot and received a lot of love. Many were raised as conference messengers. But so many took and took and took, and then left. Missionaries wondered when American young people would grow as partners in the gospel. It seemed difficult. But God began to work, especially through a few American couples who met and married in UBF. They learned the beautiful shepherd life of our Lord Jesus through UBF missionaries’ sacrificial, giving spirit and their lives of prayer, and they began to imitate Jesus’ lifestyle in their practical lives.
Christy and Ben Toh. In 1980 Dr. John Lee was eating lunch at the Cook County Hospital cafeteria. Before eating, he prayed. Another immigrant resident doctor noticed this and came over to talk with him. He was Dr. Ben Toh. In this way, Dr. Toh invited himself to Bible study. He opened his heart to the word of God and began to grow. At that time he was spiritually very thirsty. He was attending three churches, UBF, a church at the University of Chicago, and a Chinese church. Dr. John Lee asked him to write testimonies after Bible study. Dr. Toh initially argued about this, but when he accepted it, he began to write repentant Bible testimonies every Monday. He also began coming only to UBF, because of the quality of the Bible-based messages and Dr. Samuel Lee’s shepherd’s heart for him. He began to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first (Mt6:33). He never missed any UBF meeting, even though his residency training at Cook County Hospital was very demanding. At that time, as an immigrant doctor he had a U.S. visa problem, and he needed to marry. Dr. Samuel Lee knew about his sincere Bible study and commitment, so by faith he introduced him to Christy Schetter from Toledo UBF. Despite their cultural differences, they accepted each other in Jesus, and in August of 1981 they married.
The new Toh family began to focus on the pioneering of UIC, along with Jimmy and Jane Rhee. They took care of many UIC students with love and prayer as if they were their own children. In 1981 Dr. Ben met a former UBF Bible student, Dindo Basilgo. In 1982 Christy invited Ron Quilaton, and he soon brought his younger sisters Maria and Elena, Susan and Cherry, as well has his father. In 1983 Dindo invited Rhoel Lomahan. In 1984 Ron Quilaton went to the Philippines for medical school and pioneered the UBF ministry there. In 1985 Christy and Ben invited Helen Maheras, Dan Pierce and David Ramos, and in 1986 David invited Sharon Tardrew. In 1987 Rhoel invited Gordon Tajiri, a UIC grad student, who brought his girlfriend Tina, a DePaul grad student. Tina studied with Dr. Ben and met Jesus personally. At the end of 1989 Tina invited Tony Beltran, who invited Angela Fitzpatrick, who in turn invited her sister Jennifer. In 1989 Damon Londrigan came through Joshua Lee, who left for Seattle pioneering and introduced him to Dr. Ben. In 1989, before he left for Japan for a time, Kiyoshi Yoshiba introduced his Bible student Paul Teodori to Rhoel Lomahan. In 1990 Maria Quilaton invited Christine Maguire and asked Sharon to study with her. In helping each of these people, as well as several others who left the ministry, Dr. Ben and Christy Toh co-worked closely with Dr. Samuel Lee, who attended their weekly Wednesday student meetings, beginning in 1986, after Jimmy and Jane Rhee left. God worked greatly in these UIC students’ hearts. They met Jesus personally and changed before everyone’s eyes, inwardly and outwardly. They found life direction to live as shepherds and Bible teachers for campus students. They all became active Bible teachers on campus, and they developed the largest student fellowship in Chicago UBF, without any Korean missionaries. It became an inspiration to all of UBF.
Students learned from the Tohs’ good example, and after graduation they married in UBF and also established influential house churches. In 1988 Maria Quilaton married John Peace, a key UIC student leader discipled by David Baik. Now they serve as missionaries and an exemplary house church in Kiev, Ukraine. In 1989 Helen Maheras married Jim Rarick, a key leader from the UW Milwaukee ministry discipled by Gloria Choo. In 1990 Sharon Tardrew married Dr. Joe Schafer. In 1991 Elena Quilaton married Rhoel Lomahan and continued to serve with the Tohs at UIC as a compassionate house church for American young people. In 1991 Dr. Dan Pierce married Birgit from Heidelberg UBF in Germany. After staying at UIC for several years as a house church, they later went out to Princeton and William Patterson University, where God called Dr. Dan to heaven after suffering from pancreatic cancer. In 1992 Jennifer Fitzpatrick married Dr. Jim Rabchuk and went out to pioneer WIU several years later. In 1993 Christine Maguire married Mark Moran and moved to UC Berkeley. Through these couples God began to give UBF members vision for American house church ministry on all American campuses.
In the midst of this fruitful ministry, Dr. Toh continued to have a U.S. visa problem. At one time it seemed his family might have to leave the country. Dr. Samuel Lee always reminded him of Jesus’ words in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God,” and he encouraged him to pray. Based on this faith and prayer, God solved Dr. Toh’s visa problem in 1988. Throughout the years God has blessed this family to offer very generous financial support to Chicago UBF. God is still using them as earnest prayer servants and as an exemplary American house church.
Joan and Geordan Griggs. Geordan married Joan Sattler from Toledo UBF, also in August of 1981. Joan moved to Cincinnati and became the UBF treasurer and a graceful prayer servant and friend. During the pioneering years Geordan invited and took care of John Martin, an architecture student at the University of Cincinnati. John met Jesus and joined Geordan and Dr. Sam Zun as the Abraham of faith of that ministry. Geordan also invited Art Hasinski, Gary Fensel and John Doty and studied the Bible with them until they met Christ and grew as leaders in the ministry. Geordan intentionally lived a simple life, driving an old car and wearing old clothes. He was always an eager, practical servant in the Cincinnati UBF ministry. God used their house church as a source of blessing in the Cincinnati UBF pioneering. Geordan suffered quietly from stomach cancer, and God took him to heaven in 1996.
Carol and Mark Gamber. In 1977 Mark Gamber began Bible study with Tony Chandler, who had come through Bob Nolan. Mark attended his first UBF Sunday worship service in November of that year. He received God’s calling through Genesis 12:1-3. Through Mark 8:34 he met Christ who called him to follow him as his Savior though self-denial and taking up the cross. When he taught Mark 8:34 to others, the grace of Jesus came alive in him. In 1978 Mark and Tony began praying for Bowling Green State University (BGSU) with Toledo coworkers. In 1979 Mark and Tony moved to Bowling Green to begin the pioneering work. Nam Sook Moon from Han Yang UBF came as a student missionary to support this young ministry. In 1979 Paul Hong came, along with his family to assume the directorship. The fruit of BGSU ministry was Don Kuper, who studied with Tony, and later, Paul Hong. After moving to Toledo Don grew and married Hannah Lee. Now they live in Argentina as a beautiful missionary family.
In December 1981 Mark married Carol Krzan from Chicago UBF. They established a house church and served in Bowling Green ministry. In 1985 the Gambers moved with Dr. Paul Hong’s family to join Toledo UBF. There, God used them as an exemplary American house church. They invited Trent Paul and Marsha Smithers, two UT freshmen students. Through Bible study Trent and Marsha met Jesus and became faithful coworkers and Bible teachers and later established a wonderful house church. Marsha became a medical doctor and Trent an influential teacher and staff member. Trent brought his parents Jim and Sue Paul. Sue Paul studied the Bible with Carol for five years and became a committed prayer mother in Toledo ministry and a Bible teacher. She helped Lauri Copeland to grow as a committed disciple of Jesus. Later, Carol helped Lauri to marry a key Toledo member, Jeff Lewis. Jim Paul became the official UBF photographer at international conferences, as well as a Bible teacher for college students and a prayer servant for the Toledo ministry. Trent’s brother Augustine Wade was also healed through Bible study with Mark and now participates in Toledo music ministry. He brought his friend Barbara Greener, who studied the Bible with Carol and met Jesus. Through Mark and Carol’s help Augustine and Barbara married in Christ. Mark gives the Sunday messages when needed, helps with the young men’s ministry and studies the Bible with guests. Carol helped start the young women’s ministry. God has made Mark and Carol faithful senior leaders, staff members and prayer servants in Toledo UBF, and he is using them as a beautiful American house church until now.
Grace and John Martin. In the Fall of 1982 Grace Carroll married John Martin and left Columbus to join Cincinnati UBF. There, she worked on campus and worked hard to invite University of Cincinnati students. One of them was David Lemmon. Through UBF Bible study with Petrina Hasinki he met Jesus personally and went on to get his Ph.D. Another UC student Grace invited was Nathan Walker. He also met Jesus through Bible study, went on to marry, became a medical doctor, did his residency at NU, and now serves in the University of Illinois pioneering ministry. John Martin, the first committed disciple in Cincinnati UBF ministry, invited David Miller, who invited his girlfriend Morgan McWhorter, and eventually they married in Christ and established another beautiful American house church. David grew in Christ as a scholarly Bible student, and now he is co-leading the Cincinnati UBF graciously. Now God is using John and Grace Martin’s house church to pioneer a new chapter at Raleigh, North Carolina since 1996.
Terese and John Bird. Terese Schafer was invited to UBF Bible study while she was at Northeastern by her friend Joe Calabrese. She invited her younger brother, Joe Schafer, to Bible study while he was still in high school, as well as several of her younger sisters. In 1982 she transferred to UIC and became a very active Bible teacher in the UIC pioneering. She brought Christine Kelly and Tony Gale, among others, and raised them as committed disciples of Jesus. In 1984 she married John Bird. They moved into a UBF property at UIC. Terese worked full time in graphic design and supported John as a UBF intern staff. They both worked hard as fishers of men and Bible teachers at UIC. In the summer of 1986 John met Jim Rabchuk, a UIC physics graduate student and Russian high school teacher. Jim immediately began inviting people to UBF Bible study. Among them, one of high school students, Julia, began Bible study. At that time she was into the gothic youth culture. Through Bible study she met Jesus, went to UIC to study to become a teacher, and later married an exemplary American shepherd, Bob Henkins and started a beautiful American house church ministry at IIT in Chicago. Jim Rabchuk met another young lady, Dayani Pieri, a Montessori teacher, on the train, and invited her to UBF Bible study. She grew to become a most faithful co-worker and prayer servant in the UIC ministry until now. At the end of 1991 Jim invited another UIC student, Samantha, who was in a physics undergraduate class he was teaching. She also met Jesus through UBF Bible study and became an active Bible teacher and steward for UBF conferences. She went on to marry Dr. Harvey Siy from Washington UBF, served God at UIC, and now their beautiful house church is pioneering a new chapter in Omaha, Nebraska. In the Fall of 1992 Jim married Jennifer Fitzpatrick from Dr. Ben Toh’s fellowship, and God has used them as fruitful gospel workers and an exemplary American house church at WIU since 1996. God used John and Terese Bird to love and pray for all these fellowship members, as well as many other students, like spiritual parents. God sent them to Wales as missionaries and a beautiful house church in January, 1998.
Liz and Teddy Hembekides. In late 1982 Liz Larach came to UBF through the invitation of a classmate, Laura Lang, at Kenyon College. Liz grew up in Honduras, born to a Palestinian physician and his American wife. Her family was well-known and wealthy in Honduras, but such life could not satisfy her soul, and she almost became a communist. Through UBF Bible study she met Jesus personally and her soul was satisfied. She participated actively in Columbus UBF ministry, despite family persecution. In January of 1985 she married Teddy, and they moved to Chicago to grow as UBF staff. Initially they lived with Sarah Barry in Evanston. Through their ministry at Oakton College in the late 1980s God sent many committed disciples: Sam Wahbeh, David and Mike Cedeno, Frank Sherwin, John Mike Pitts, Dawn and Donna Rompa, Grace and Yvette Alonzo, and Lori and James Hoffins. Their fruitful ministry became another great inspiration in UBF pioneering.
Especially, God opened the heart of Grace. As the daughter of Filippino immigrants growing up in an American suburb, she struggled a lot. She had had a failed marriage and a son Andrew Hernandez when she was a teenager. Through Bible study with Liz she opened her heart to Jesus and became a source of blessing. She brought her younger sister Yvette, who was in high school at the time, as well as her parents, Rene and Remy Alonzo. Mr. and Mrs. Alonzo studied the Bible eagerly and became very faithful and sacrificial prayer servants for UBF ministry and world mission. Eventually, Grace married a handsome and graceful man of God, Michael Norte. Their family has become one of the pillars of the ministry, and Grace’s first son Andrew has grown as a disciple of Jesus. When she first started Bible study while attending UIC, Dawn was a difficult person. Liz spent many late hours outside the Chicago UBF center while Dawn yelled and cried a lot. Through Bible study Dawn met Jesus personally and dramatically changed. She invited her younger sister Donna. Dawn became a key worker in the Oakton College ministry, and later in the Triton ministries as a treasurer. She married a handsome and graceful American shepherd, John Mike Pitts, who has often been the Sunday messenger in their chapter, and their family serves Triton UBF as a beautiful house church. Over the past 20 years Dawn and John Mike have been most faithful prayer servants and supporters for Pastor Teddy and Liz. Dawn’s sister Donna married Sam Wahbeh and together became pioneers of the Seattle UBF ministry. Mike Cedeno was invited by his brother David. Mike had a life problem because as a little boy, his arm was badly mangled by a garbage truck. With broken hearts Teddy and Liz loved him like their own son, inviting him to live with them. Through their prayer, Bible teaching and compassionate love he met Jesus personally and became an active fisher of men. He married a strong young woman of God Mary. Teddy and Liz started their own independent UBF chapter at Triton College towards the end of 1989. They invited a promising young disciple of Jesus from Canada to join their ministry. Through Bible study God healed Kevin of a serious stuttering problem— the result of many hidden insecurities. Kevin matured as a shepherd and married the ancestress of faith of the LA UBF ministry Julie Nugent, and their beautiful house church now serves a pioneering UBF chapter at Northern Illinois University. God has blessed Pastor Teddy and Liz to live as beautiful prayer servants and shepherds and an exemplary American house church. Now God is using Pastor Teddy as a senior American staff.
Kathy and Mark Vucekovich. Kathy Kreitner was originally invited to UBF Bible study by Susan (Adams) Calabrese while taking summer classes in 1981 at the University of Toledo. She came to the Sunday worship services and was moved by James J. Kim’s powerful and meaningful messages. Once, while she was on campus, he saw her and bought her an orange drink. She was moved by his graceful and friendly spirit, even though she was such a new person in that ministry. In the Fall she transferred to OSU and joined the UBF ministry there. She was moved by the sacrificial lives of Peter and Dr. Sarah Chang, who lived in the small attic area of the UBF building, along with their children. Kathy joined common life with the other shepherdesses and studied the Bible with Carmen Rankin, who was an exemplary person. During common life she learned how to pray. Her inner problems were exposed and began to be healed by the word of God. She met Jesus personally through a study of John 19 and decided to live as a servant of Jesus and support a full-time shepherd. After finishing occupational therapy study in 1983, she went to Chicago to do her clinical training at the NU Hospital, where she joined the NU UBF ministry actively and lived with Sarah Barry. In the Summer of 1985 she got a job in Chicago, where she commuted by bus every day.
In the Fall of 1985 Kathy married Mark Vucekovich, and they lived in the new UBF staff residence along with Ron and Deborah Ward for the next seven years, sharing the same bathroom, kitchen and living room. Mark was working with Dr. Samuel Lee as a full-time intern, as was Ron Ward. Mark had come to UBF at the end of his freshman year at NU in 1980. By Christmas of that year he had made a commitment and began to receive message training from Dr. Lee. His Bible teacher was Mary Park, who prayed for him earnestly and loved him like a mother. Because his own mother had suffered for years from mental illness, Mark enjoyed this love, unaware that it put a strain on Mary’s husband, Augustine Park, who had just come from Korea. In early 1983 Gus and Mary Park went out to pioneer UW Milwaukee. Then Dr. Lee began to care for Mark like his own son. Later that summer Mark repented of his sins and met Jesus through Dr. Lee’s message on Peter’s confession of Christ (Lk9). After graduation Mark received full-time intern staff training under Dr. Lee, along with Dr. Mark Yoon, David Baik and Ron Ward. He taught the Bible at NU. Many students came and went. One who remained was Yvonne Runion. Every summer she decided to stay in Evanston, living with Dr. James and Sarah Kim’s family. In the Fall of 1987 she moved in with Mark and Kathy’s family. It was on the day Kathy came home from the hospital with their new baby boy, Abraham. Yvonne talked a lot, late into the night, unaware that it was a strain on the young family. But in the Spring of 1988, while doing her journalism training in Michigan, commuting to Chicago on the weekends, she opened her heart to God’s grace through Mark 5:33. She grew and became a graceful and faithful Bible teacher and servant in Chicago UBF. In April 1989 she married Nick Timlin and joined UIC ministry and served as a Bible teacher and prayer servant. In 1988 Mark began teaching the Bible at DePaul. God sent Deborah Lee and Grace Kim, a violin grad student, to co-work with him and Kathy. Through their prayer and co-working, God blessed Mark Gatz and Jim Pendowski to grow as disciples of Jesus, who both established beautiful house churches in UBF. In 1992 Mark and Kathy moved, together with Dr. John and Deborah Lee, to a house near campus and started an independent UBF chapter, while Mark continued to serve the headquarters ministry. At DePaul UBF, God has grown Mark Gatz and his wife Monica serve as a beautiful house church family. Now God is using Pastor Mark as one of the senior American staff.
Deborah and Ron Ward. Dervilla McNulty was raised in a good family. But upon entering Ohio State University she developed some bad habits. In 1982 she began Bible study with Grace Martin and continued with Sarah Chang. Through John 1:4, “In him was life…”, she became aware of the eternal God, the source of life, and of spiritual reality. She experienced God’s love and found heavenly joy. God set her free from a distressing relationship. She came to believe in Jesus as Savior. She decided to be a one-to-one Bible teacher and joined in prayer for world campus ministry. She changed her name to Deborah with the hope of serving God fruitfully. She moved to Chicago in 1985 to marry a full-time staff shepherd, Ron Ward. Ron began Bible study with Dr. Abraham Kim in 1980 while attending Oregon State University. Ron was the only son of hardworking and decent parents. He was an honor student, a baseball player, and president of the student body during high school. He had a Catholic background. He was proud and self-righteous. But through a personal moral failure he was humbled and began to cry out to God for mercy. God led him to Dr. Abraham Kim who cared for him like a father. Through one-to-one Bible study with Dr. Kim, Ron met Jesus personally and received the forgiveness of sins. Then God called him to be a campus shepherd. The late Dr. Samuel Lee was moved by Dr. Abraham Kim’s sacrificial love for Ron. When Dr. Kim returned to Korea to fulfill his obligation to teach at the Korea Military Academy, Dr. Lee invited Ron to Chicago for intern staff training in 1983.
In 1985 Ron and Deborah married at the UBF headquarters in Chicago. After marriage, they lived next door to the Chicago center in the staff house with Mark and Kathy Vucekovich. Dr. Lee trained Ron together as a staff shepherd, together with Mark. Dr. Lee planted the hope of God in Ron’s heart and loved him like a son. Gradually Ron gained the spiritual strength to serve God. From 1985-1992, Ron’s fellowship pioneered the UIC campus. Through this fellowship, Joe and Maria Horvath, Dr. Maria Albright, Elena Giesbrecht, and Marcia Lenthang established beautiful house churches. While Ron fully devoted to serve Dr. Lee and campus mission, Deborah worked full time to support the family. In the course of time they have had five children. The children became independent and well-socialized. Ron and Deborah are understanding of one another; they are one in Christ. God has made their family a blessing. After God took Dr. Samuel Lee to heaven, Pastor Ron took the heavy responsibility of leading the Chicago UBF. Now God is using Pastor Ron as the Midwest Region director, North American UBF coordinator and as one of the senior American staff.
Susan and Moody Calabrese. Sam Calabrese was invited by his younger brother Joe in 1981. Initially he studied the Bible with Naomi Dang, one of the Chicago UBF nurse missionaries. Through Bible study Sam met Jesus personally and dramatically changed. Inspired by Dr. Samuel Lee’s encouragement to become like Dwight L. Moody, the famous evangelist, Sam changed his name to “Moody.” In the Fall of 1985 he married Susan Adams from Toledo UBF. Together, they began to teach the Bible at Wright College, along with Dr. Mark and Grace Yoon. Susan got a job on campus and has been a graceful and prayerful coworker in the ministry. Moody loves students with a big shepherd’s heart. Over the years God has made him the mainstay of the Wright UBF pioneering. He often encouraged Dr. Mark Yoon, the original chapter director, to bear with the wounded American young people. God blessed the co-working of these two families and raised many committed disciples of Jesus. Especially, God raised Paul and Donna Ghilardi as another beautiful American house church who lead the Wright UBF ministry gracefully.
Maria and Kevin Albright. In the summer of 1984 Maria Galluzzo was invited to Bible study by Rebecca Choi. At the time she was finishing her premed requirements at UIC. She was lonely and thirsty for God’s word. She didn’t feel joyful attending her old Quaker church, because they did not study the Bible. Maria met God personally through Genesis Bible study with Rebecca Choi and accepted Jesus’ forgiveness through John’s Gospel study. Jesus became her living water and true husband. God also gave her friends in Christ among UIC co-workers. Helen was sometimes her Bible verse memorization partner. Maria Quilaton took her to see “Karate Kid” when she was sorrowful. Samuel Lee encouraged her to go to med school and to share her Bible testimonies at every Friday leaders’ meeting. Maria gladly established a house church with Kevin Albright in the Fall of 1988.
Kevin Albright grew up as a good, moral Catholic boy. His father died of a heart attack at age 47. Kevin was just 18 and one month away from high school graduation. He wrestled with what he should do with his life and decided to stay on course to attend Northwestern University to study engineering. After one month at college, in the Fall of 1983, an Oriental man, Kiyoshi (Daniel) Yoshiba asked him on the street, “Would you like to study Bible?” Kevin accepted his invitation cautiously. At their second Bible study Kiyoshi shared a Bible testimony he had written, in which he said he found the meaning of his life through Bible study. Kevin was amazed, wondering if that were even possible. Through Bible study in UBF, Kevin eventually found the meaning and hope of his life in Jesus Christ. It was almost exactly one year after his father died that he embraced the living hope in Christ, at his first UBF Easter Conference. He broke up with his Mormon girlfriend back home and decided to trust God to provide, at the right time, a godly woman who loves Jesus. That woman was his wife and suitable helper, Maria. Samuel Lee was like a second father to Kevin. Though Kevin was quite proud and self-righteous from his moral, Catholic upbringing, Samuel Lee patiently prayed for him and encouraged him to live for the glory of God. Now Kevin has become an assistant pastor in Chicago UBF and the leader of NU UBF ministry. God is using Pastor Kevin and Maria to graciously serve all the UBF co-workers at NU, as well as many NU students.
Sharon and Joe Schafer. Terese’s brother Joe left Chicago in 1981 to attend MIT, and in 1985 entered graduate school at Harvard. When Joe was first in Boston, he continued UBF Bible study through the ministry of Suzie Hong and the late Dr. Daniel Hong. After the Hongs left Boston for Santa Barbara (later Atlanta and Lehigh), Joe became a blessing to the New York UBF ministry, traveling from Boston to New York every weekend for more than two years to participate in Bible study, Sunday services and as a music team leader. While studying for his Ph.D. in statistics from Harvard, Dr. Joe married Sharon Tardrew from Chicago UBF in the summer of 1990. In 1992 he became an assistant professorship at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania. There, the family became an exemplary American house church. Through their ministry, a Penn State student, Jennifer, accepted Jesus in 1994 and joined them in ministry. Jennifer married Dr. David Lemmon, who came to help with the Penn State UBF pioneering. The Lemmons co-worked with the Schafers, sharing the same house gracefully, without any UBF missionaries to support them. God has given them a spirit of grace to co-work and do their best to help all kinds of needy students. Now Dr. Joe Schafer serves as one of the senior American staff.
Since 1992 many other beautiful American house churches were established, and many of them continue to serve UBF campus ministry, in many cases co-working with Korean missionaries. Dr. Jim and Jennifer Rabchuk have established a fruitful house church ministry at Western Illinois University. Liz Thomas became a medical doctor through the prayer and encouragement of her Bible teacher, Grace Yoon. While at UIC’s medical school, she helped a young woman named Jenny meet Jesus personally through Bible study. Liz married a handsome and intellectual missionary from India UBF, Abraham Longri, who changed his last name to “Lincoln,” admiring the greatness of Abraham Lincoln. Recently they went out to pioneer a new chapter at Yale University. Jenny married a gracious man of God, Jim Cook, a UIC architecture student discipled by David Baik, and their family has served Chicago UBF ministry sacrificially. Dr. Helen and Jim Rarick are a beautiful house church in Chicago UBF serving the UBF orchestra and praying for Loyola University ministry. There are many beautiful American house churches in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Canada and Toledo. God has sent out beautiful house churches through Cincinnati and Triton UBF. In the next issue of UBF history in North America, we would like to go into the details of God’s work in and through those families. House church ministries seem most suitable to help young college students in a loving and personal way. We pray God may raise 10,000 house churches in North America.
God had used Samuel Lee greatly in UBF pioneering work in Kwangju, in Seoul and in Germany. God also would use him greatly in the UBF pioneering work in North America. Samuel Lee had an unusual combination: he was both a highly intelligent man, with a powerful mind and a deep and wide understanding, as well as a man with a big heart and great capacity to love. But he spent his first years in the United States struggling to restore and give his heart to student work. He had left Korea with the fresh pain of losing several senior UBF staff, whom he had loved and trained for years like his own sons. Moreover, leaving Korea itself was hard. He had given his whole heart to loving and helping Korean college students to overcome fatalism and see God’s vision for the world. In America he faced the daunting task of mastering spoken English, beginning in his late forties. In addition, as he got to know American young people he experienced an inevitable cultural shock. Listening to their stories of drug abuse, family dysfunction and immorality challenged his understanding. He would later say that at the time he felt numb, and that he was discovering that the philosophical writings of Sartre and Nietzsche were not fiction but were becoming reality. He knew many things, but he also knew that real success in student work would come if only he could experience a deep love for American young people (1Co13), as he had had for Korean young people.
The impetus for this came in a very personal way at the end of 1982. On the four-day weekend holiday of American Thanksgiving, Samuel Lee’s youngest daughter, Little-Sarah, disappeared. She had been living with Sarah Barry in Evanston and attending Evanston Township High School. That weekend she was supposed to spend time with the rest of her family, who were living in Rogers Park. But she was nowhere to be found. Hours turned into days, and days into weeks. The entire community of Chicago UBF prayed earnestly for her and put up posters on the light posts all over the city of Chicago with her picture, but to no avail. At this time, the ministry typically was gearing up for the large annual event of Christmas worship and celebration. Nightly prayer meetings were going on in preparation. Everyone knew how dearly Samuel loved his lovely youngest daughter, Little-Sarah. People were wondering what he would do. To everyone’s surprise, he attended all the prayer meetings. He wrote a Christmas drama and a Christmas message. He focused on preparing to deliver that message, and he did so with spirit. The Bible passage he spoke on was Zechariah’s Song in Luke chapter 1. He spoke about Jesus, the Horn of Salvation and the Rising Sun. It was a most moving and memorable message. Right after the Christmas worship service, news finally came that Little-Sarah was found in Cleveland, Ohio, working as a babysitter in a Korean-American church. Virtually everyone in Chicago UBF made the long drive to Cleveland in freezing cold temperatures to see her and celebrate her return to her family. Afterwards Samuel Lee told of a vow he had made to God during that difficult time. He prayed that if God would return Little-Sarah to him, he promised to love American young people like his own children. God heard that prayer and began to open his heart and enable him to do so.
A lack of love seems to be a universal human need, and it seemed to resonate particularly in the hearts of young Americans, many of whose parents, due to a variety of reasons, could not connect heart-to-heart with their teens and college-aged children, at the very time in their human development when they seem to need that love most. Samuel Lee’s gift for loving Korean students was well-known, and in American ministry God began to enable him to show that same kind of love toward American young people. But his was not a mere emotional kind of love, or a dysfunctional love that created dependency. As Sarah Barry would often say, true love is love that builds others up, and does not tear them down. Samuel Lee was able to express love on a variety of levels. He was affectionate and welcomed young people, often when they looked burdened and grumpy, and when even when he himself had been dealing with difficult problems. With the poised reserve and patience characteristic of traditional Korean culture, he bore with those whose behavior was rude or downright intolerable. And he was not afraid to train or rebuke those who needed loving discipline.
Of course, not everyone appreciated his love. There was an American young man whose father was a pastor but who left his family to begin a new life with the church secretary. The young man’s heart was broken. At the same time he had a bright mind and was a talented writer. He used his bright mind, however, to be sharply critical of others, and having lost motivation, he would lie around and do not much of anything. Co-workers were quite burdened. But Samuel Lee did his best to help him. He respected his gift in writing and encouraged him. Another young man came from a broken family. He was big and strong, but his heart was broken. Once, during dancing practice in preparation for a summer conference, he became so tired and upset that he became somewhat scary. He laid down in the middle of the floor where others needed to practice and refused to move. People didn’t know what to do with him. When Samuel Lee heard about it, he bought a gallon of milk and several Big Mac sandwiches for him. Then the young man sat up to eat and drink, making a big smile, and resumed the practice. Over the years Samuel Lee treated him like a prince and often appointed him, of all people, to preside at meetings and conferences. A young woman came from a somewhat dysfunctional family, and she herself had gotten involved in an unhealthy relationship. Through UBF ministry she met Jesus and was helped to leave her old life and live a new life. She became bright. But her family became unhappy. Samuel Lee loved her as if she were his own daughter and prayed earnestly for her. He encouraged her to play musical solos at church meetings. He introduced her to a handsome and gentle American young man as her husband and supported her in many ways. There was another American young woman who had been involved in an abusive marriage that had ended in divorce. She was highly intelligent but had become quite depressed. Samuel Lee had a broken heart for her; he prayed for her and did his best to help her. With bold faith he introduced her to a handsome, intelligent and kind Korean missionary as her husband, and they accepted each other in Jesus. On her wedding day she smiled like no one had seen her smile before. There was a handsome and talented young man who had a gifted voice. Samuel Lee encouraged him to sing at church meetings. He also did his best to help the young man lose weight, in the hope to help him marry. There were quite a few stories of people like this whom Samuel Lee personally loved and tried to help in practical ways. Even when reactions to him became treacherous, he kept silent. His compassion became inspirational and contagious and created trust and a beautiful sense of community in the ministry.
The question is, “How?” How is it possible to keep on loving as brothers (Heb13:1), when there is such great demand, and when that love is so often unappreciated and sometimes even betrayed? Samuel Lee’s secret was his relationship with Jesus. In the midst of the business and demands of ministry he vigilantly kept up a personal time of prayer, devotion and meditation on the word of God. In his journals he would write down Bible verses as a way to force himself to meditate on a verse or passage. He would write out prayers for key persons around him or in the ministry. Many of his written prayers were full of requests for God’s mercy and confession of his own personal sins. One verse he particularly struggled to remember was John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” He struggled to focus his thoughts on Jesus. He did his best to imitate the spiritual struggle of Apostle Paul to always remember Jesus’ saving grace and his own sinfulness before God (1Ti1:15). With this struggle he could have a vine and branch relationship with Jesus (Jn15:1-5), and thus, he could renew his heart, his compassion and his love for others.
Another contribution Samuel Lee made to the UBF ministry in America was the training of leaders. His leadership training often focused on inspiring people to work hard and make a great achievement. He trained people to overcome the innate tendency to take it easy or to get engrossed in civilian affairs. He used all kinds of creative means. Often he challenged new husbands to find jobs to support their families by any means. Some people he challenged to get Ph.D.s, some, to go to medical school. Some he challenged to practice music and play amazing musical pieces. The point of these trainings often seemed to be the same: to help people learn overcoming faith.
For staff, Samuel Lee gave a clear model. His goal for each staff was to develop as a shepherd, a servant, a scholar, a soldier and a good administrator. In terms of being a scholar, most often this focus was on learning how to study the Bible deeply and how to write and deliver heart-moving Bible messages. In this, Samuel Lee’s conviction was that the word of God is living and active (Heb4:12). So he encouraged Bible memorization as the best means to understand a passage, rather than depending only on Bible commentaries. He believed that when the messenger gave living Bible messages, ministry at any campus, with any kind of people, would naturally grow. In terms of message content, he strongly encouraged staff to develop Christ-centered messages, both in perspective and in affection, and to depend on the word of God and on prayer.
During a key time of Chicago UBF staff training he focused on helping staff to memorize a list of Bible key verses organized around the basic dogma of the Christian gospel, known in UBF as “the gospel key verses.” These verses expounded the universality of sin and its consequences, and God’s free gift of grace in Jesus, through his death and resurrection, how one takes hold of that grace, and the great hope of the heavenly kingdom that it gives. He developed an especially moving description of the meaning of Christ as the Lamb of God (Jn1:29), his wounds and his shed blood. Staff participated in an all-day workshop for several days to write their own messages along these lines and present them to one another. This study of the gospel would be used repeatedly at UBF Easter conferences, at which many American young people received Christ personally.
In addition to preparing thorough study notes on every Sunday Bible study passage, staff were often given opportunities for message delivery rehearsal and presentation, sometimes utilizing a video camera for review. Staff were sent to UBF Bible classes for a complete study of the books of Genesis and Romans. In the Romans classes, staff were encouraged to memorize the first eight chapters. These books were selected for their foundational nature in relation to the rest of the Bible.
As a supplement to UBF Bible study and gospel training, Samuel Lee invited John Bird to present weekly lectures at the Monday staff meetings, first on Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology in three volumes, then, on John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion in two volumes, and finally, on Philip Schaff’s History of the Christian Religion in eight volumes. Staff were expected to have done assigned weekly readings in advance and to come prepared to take notes and ask questions. In addition, he asked staff to read a book called Secular Humanism by Homer Duncan, and Paul Vitz’s book Psychology as Religion: the Cult of Self-worship, to encourage them to develop a Christian worldview in thinking about the dominant Western culture. And on occasion he would show movies to staff to inspire them on a variety of topics. For example, he often showed visiting UBF staff the movie The Dirty Dozen, to inspire a compassionate shepherd’s heart, and through, it, the possibility of discipleship training. He also often showed the movie Song of Love, based on the story of Clara Schumann, to inspire respect for faithful women.
Samuel Lee focused on helping staff learn servantship, beginning with cleaning UBF buildings and doing menial tasks of many kinds. In this way he wanted staff to learn a servant’s heart and to grow in humility. He also challenged them not to have their hearts stolen away from ministry by other things. He did his best to develop a strong worth ethic in staff, not to work for a salary, or only at assigned, 9 to 5 hours, but with passion, creativity and availability at all times. He created a public environment where those who gave their hearts to ministry and worked hard were recognized. He also monitored staff through carefully reading through weekly work reports they submitted to him about their personal teaching, visiting and counseling ministries, their use of time, and their prayer topics and goals. He made himself available for staff to call or come in person to seek counseling, whether for ministry or for personal concerns. Samuel Lee’s staff training made a tremendous contribution to the development of grounded and well-rounded staff workers who could lead with maturity.
One of the most inspiring ways Samuel Lee developed staff was through his own example and personal struggle to live by faith. And his faith was sorely challenged during the mid-1980’s by a strong attack against UBF ministry in America. At that time, through the activities of an organization known as “CAN” (Cult Awareness Network), young UBF members were suddenly disappearing, never to return, and sometimes in active opposition to the ministry. Many lies, misrepresentations, misunderstandings and much slander against the ministry was spread through this, much of it fear-based and motivated by racism against Koreans. Young people were being kidnapped and “deprogrammed,” and no one knew where or when it would happen next. At this time, Samuel Lee held onto Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God.” He wrote this verse down every day in his journal repeatedly, sometimes, for hours. He challenged himself to overcome fear, and he challenged other staff to overcome their fears as well and to fight a positive battle and not give up doing ministry. During this time, a number of people who felt it too difficult to live a mission-oriented life left the ministry. However, those who remained and lived through it became stronger in their faith, conviction and determination. What became especially remarkable was the spiritual growth of the American leaders, who dedicated themselves to campus ministry even in the face of such attack and slander. One young lady in Canada had left UBF ministry after participating for a time. Upon reading a slanderous article about UBF in a newspaper, she got so upset at the misrepresentation that she came back to the ministry. Several heroic young people escaped plots for their kidnapping or deprogramming. In order to protect one young lady from such a certain plot, Samuel Lee encouraged her to go ahead and leave the ministry and find another church. This intense persecution only served to strengthen the resolve of UBF members to continue to serve Jesus and his gospel and to live before him, not before men. Samuel Lee popularized a slogan during this time: “Let’s turn the time of adversity into God’s deep grace and fruitful victory!” This slogan strengthened so many UBF co-workers. American attendance at Chicago UBF began to grow remarkably. The new UBF center at 6558 N. Artesian Ave. was purchased because those out to demolish UBF ministry made many complaints to Chicago’s Department of Buildings, and the old Clark Street Center had been remodeled with many city code violations. Initially, this new center on Artesian seemed way too big, with only a third of the audience capacity occupied on Sundays. But by 1990 it was filled up with American attendants and growing leaders. This became an inspiration to all the UBF ministries throughout North America.
During the intense heat of this time, Samuel Lee did not just do maintenance mop-up; he prayed and found God’s vision for UBF ministry in North America, in two ways. First, in 1985 he gave the prayer topic for the evangelization of the Soviet Union. It seemed like an impossible prayer topic, not only because of what the ministry was suffering, but also because the Soviet Union was in the midst of the Cold War with the United States and seemed so totally closed to the gospel. In order to inspire people with this prayer topic, Samuel Lee and his wife Grace made an historic trip to the Soviet Union as tourists. They took a picture in the Red Square in front of large flags of pictures of Lenin and other Soviet leaders. This picture was featured on an annual UBF calendar sent to UBF coworkers all over the world. So UBF members around the world began to pray earnestly for the gospel to come to the Soviet Union. In Chicago UBF, at summer conferences and Christmas services, young people prepared Russian folk dances and prayed at every rehearsal for the gospel to come to Russian people. At Friday leaders’ meetings, during the mid-meeting break Russian bread and tea were served as snacks. Jim Rabchuk was invited to sing a popular Russian song, “Moscow Nights,” at a variety of UBF functions. A few American students began to go as short-term missionaries, to study Russian in the Soviet Union or to teach English. Elder missionaries and staff from Chicago began saving money to go on tourist visits to the Soviet Union, prayed fervently during their travel and came back with inspiring reports. Prayer for the Soviet Union was done at every meeting. God answered this prayer by bringing about the collapse of the communist government and opening the door for UBF missionaries in 1990. Large American UBF delegations began to visit summer conferences held in Russia.
The second prayer topic Samuel Lee gave was for God to make America a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, based on Exodus 19:6. This prayer topic inspired all the leaders, as well as students, with a great vision. God began to answer this prayer in sending Americans as missionaries. Wynelle Nett went to Germany. Tony and Susan Tsai went to Europe. John and Terese Bird went to Wales. Don and Hannah Kuper went to Argentina. Many prayed fervently to go to Russia. This prayer topic and vision has remained an important legacy in UBF ministry in North America to this day.
God used Samuel Lee in other ways as well. His sense of humor was famous, as was his brutal honesty, and these made him very popular with young people who tend not to appreciate formalism. Most of all, he was primarily a shepherd, not a businessman, and this drew people both to him and to the ministry.
While he dedicated himself to serving God and God’s people, God blessed Samuel Lee’s family. His son Sam got his Ph.D. from Purdue University and grew as a man of God and disciple-maker and married a beautiful woman of God, Dr. Grace Sun Lee. His daughter Grace grew as a quiet prayer mother and married Paul Koh, who became an American medical doctor and disciple-maker. His youngest daughter Little-Sarah grew as a shepherdess for missionary children as well as for American young people, and she married Dr. Charles Kim and serves a fruitful ministry at UIC. Samuel’s wife Grace was so quiet that it took people new to UBF a long time to even realize that she was there. She was a constant source of prayer, love and strength for the ministry.
First, prayer. God opened the door for this ministry through the many prayers of Korean students and Korean UBF co-workers, who prayed for North American UBF ministry so faithfully throughout the years. At every place where there is a fruitful UBF ministry in North America, the secret of success has been much prayer. God did many miraculous things and worked in so many ways when his humble people cried out to him in prayer.
Second, “all nations.” Since North America seemed to be already evangelized, and in fact, had already sent out the most missionaries to the world, it did not seem to be a place Korean UBF missionaries should go. But the Risen Jesus commanded his disciples, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Mt28:19). “All nations” includes the United States and Canada. Upon arriving, the missionaries found how lost and needy American young people are, and how American campuses are part of the greater mission field of the world to which Jesus wants his servants to go. Moreover, many Korean UBF missionaries remembered God’s grace through American missionaries to Korea, and they worked and ministered to American young people, thinking of the grace of Jesus they had received through American missionaries, and specifically, through Missionary Sarah Barry, who served Korean UBF pioneering for the first 15 years of its history. There are many churches and Christian groups on campuses in North America, and yet there are still so many young people who are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Mt9:36). As our Lord Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Mt9:37). May God continue to send out workers through UBF ministry into the harvest fields of North American college campuses.
Third, practical faith. God blessed Korean missionaries who obeyed the world mission command of Jesus with simple faith, depending only on him. God blessed those who sacrificed themselves—their careers, their families, their homes and privacy—for Jesus’ name’s sake. God blessed those who did not just think about it, but who worked hard. God blessed those who depended on him in prayer and who, more than anything else, prayed earnestly for their Bible students. Especially, God blessed the cross-cultural ministry of our UBF missionaries when they focused their Bible studies and ministries on Jesus. Despite language and cultural barriers, North American young people were moved most by the message of Jesus, as well as by the Christ-like lifestyle of the missionaries, and they too became willing to obey the word of God. God blessed the ministry of the word of God. It was the power of the word of God that worked in North American young people to give them new life, personal faith in Jesus, the power to change, and new life direction. Most of all, God blessed the North American UBF ministry through the struggle of the missionaries to live by faith. Inspired by faith in God, they could overcome discouragement, misunderstanding, persecution and fear, and American young people began to live by faith also. And God has blessed those missionaries and American shepherd families who have sacrificed for the pioneering work, humanly and materially. Many have become successful in their field of study or work, their children have grown so well, in many cases joining them in ministry, and God provides abundantly for all their needs so that they can continue to serve his world mission purpose.
Fourth, make disciples who obey Jesus’ teaching (Mt28:19). When Korean UBF missionaries lived by faith in God, they could see the glory of God to raise North American young people as genuine spiritual leaders and co-workers in the gospel. They did the hard and practical work of challenging young people to obey God’s word. This discipleship ministry helped young people to overcome the materialistic, selfish and immoral culture and become useful servants of Jesus and precious co-workers in Christ. In teaching American young people, Korean UBF missionaries emphasized obedience to the world mission command. Even in the midst of much suffering they prayed for world mission by faith, especially in Russia. God answered that prayer and worked mightily. Now God has raised beautiful American house churches and sent out American UBF missionaries who are obeying the world mission command.
We praise God for everything he has done through his precious people, and we give him all the glory and honor for what he has done, despite all our mistakes, shortcomings and sins. We humbly acknowledge that any fruitfulness has only been the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, who empowers his people to overcome themselves and the world around them to live as Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth (Ac1:8). We praise Jesus who is still with his people always, wherever they are, even to the end of the age (Mt28:20). We also pray that we may imitate the spirit, love and faith of these precious pioneers as we continue to reach out to 561 American campuses and 233 Canadian campuses and pray to make North America a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.