PrefaceShe is the founder of UBF together with Samuel C. Lee. Mark Vucekovich and Yvonne Timlin wrote the biography of Sarah Barry with the title: My Grace is Sufficient for You, which was published In 2006. This autobiography was prepared for celebrating the 50th anniversary of UBF held in 2011. Her bible study materials reflect her life as well.
ContentsPart 1. My Life before Starting UBF
Part 2. The University Bible Fellowship Begins in Kwangju
Part 3. Seoul pioneering - Enlarge the Place of Your Tent
Part 1. My Life before Starting UBF
By God’s grace, I was born in Benoit, Bolivar County, Mississippi on January 22, 1930. My mom and dad loved each other, but my grandmother did not approve of the match between her only son and the red-headed first grade school teacher, so they decided to break up. Then, something happened and I was on the way. So they changed their minds and married. By God’s grace and sovereignty, I was born. I was named Sarah for my great grandmother, Sarah Boone Barry. My brother Tom was born in November of that same year. We entered the first grade at the same time. Once in the second grade, during recess, my boyfriend, Jack, and I had a mock wedding. I was too bossy, so our parents and teachers let me skip the third grade. My brother became a leader and top student after I left. (He later went to the Naval Academy where he met Jesus.) I was a little sorry to leave my boyfriend Jack and all of the girls and boys I had bossed around. I landed in the fourth grade and struggled to make friends and overcome school studies. I played practical jokes and got into fights.
I was fat and didn’t like shopping for clothes. To please my mother, I made my debut when I was 17. George and Gavin were my escorts. I didn’t date, but my brother and I made all the dances and parties. My mother encouraged me to study piano. I hated to practice, so I didn’t. She taught me to drive. She was always there for me. She didn’t try to stop me from going to Korea. Perhaps she gave me to God. She cried the most when I left for the mission field.
Our family lived in my grandmother’s home. My father was the only son of a widowed mother. I slept with my grandmother, Bamma, until I went to college. She read me the Bible every night. I was her chauffeur. She didn’t mind it that I was only 13 and had no drivers’ license. She gave me a car when I finished college. When I visited her at Christmas, 1975, she was 103 years old and bed-ridden. She asked me, “When are you going to get married?” I laughed and hugged her. She died in January ‘76, after I returned to Korea.
My mother loved music and played the piano for church. She wrote poetry and fairy tales. I was rebellious and hard to handle. I wanted to play with my brother and his friends and ride my horse whose name was Rebel.
People say that I am like my father. He enjoyed good food. He liked to party and was a good dancer. He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. He was peacemaker in the church, in the community and in the family. He and my mother attended the UBF Summer Bible Conference at Stella, Niagara in 1975, and again in 1981 at Brock University. In 1984, just before our Easter Conference in Chicago, a gang of young black men invaded my parents’ home in Mississippi and mistreated them. They could have killed them and burned the house, but they didn’t. My Cousin Sonny, a surgeon, took care of them in the hospital and they recovered. I went and prayed about what to do to protect them. God gave me wisdom and I bought a big, gentle pit bull dog and fixed a place for him in the back yard. No one ever bothered them again. After my father’s death in 1989, God graciously allowed my mother to live in Chicago with me. For the last few years, my cousin Sonny, (Dr. E.H. Winn of Greenville) has graciously provided for my personal support. He went to be with the Lord in 2008, and I miss him. He was like my older brother. I visited him in Mississippi at least once a year. My brother Tom, finished the Naval Academy and married Anna Stout, who grew up with us in the Benoit school and church. They married right after I left for Korea, on my birthday in January. They have 4 sons and 27 grandchildren. They live in North Carolina. I was happy to have their oldest granddaughter come and stay with me for a month. She has calling to serve God. Tom and 4 of his grand daughters and his 3rdson, John, joined us when we visited Benoit in November, 2010. It was good to meet our Benoit cousins, Jimmy and Joyce Powell.
I finished Benoit High School in 1947. There were 12 people in my class. I grew up in the Presbyterian Church; but the Benoit church was and is a Union Church. The Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians use the same church building. Our family went every Sunday. Our three churches and three pastors have worked together well, without division, for 100 years.
I graduated from MSCW in the class of ‘51. Mississippi State College for Women is in Columbus, MS, about 200 miles from Benoit. It was where my mother and grandmother had graduated. I lived in the dorm. I had been restless and unhappy and somewhat of a trouble maker in high school, so I decided change my character and make friends in college. I learned the names of the 400 girls in my freshman class and was elected to the student council. But I couldn’t change my heart or my inner person, and I had no inner peace. During my college days I was active many things. I was on the staff of the college newspaper and on the Student Government council. I majored in Chemistry because my seventh grade science teacher made science interesting. I minored in speech and was on the college debate team. I was an officer in the campus-wide Student Christian Association and president of the SCA in my senior year. During my sophomore year I was doing poorly in school and could find no meaning in life. I was flunking Chemistry. I saw no reason to study. I wondered if the Bible and the faith I had been taught as a child were true. I wanted to follow the truth.
One night I opened my Bible to James 1:5. I found that God promised wisdom to anyone who asked him for wisdom. So I got down on my knees and asked God if – there is a God–to give me wisdom. A few days later I joined a Romans Bible study group. God worked in my heart. I got a glimpse of my selfish, proud sinful heart and life. And I learned that through the blood of Jesus my sins were forgiven. I met Jesus, my Savior. I accepted the Bible as God’s word. I accepted the sovereignty of God. Soon afterward, I attended a revival in the First Baptist Church in Columbus. When the invitation was given, the congregation sang, “Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me...” I went forward and made a public profession of faith. I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. My darkness turned to light. I wanted to give my life to Jesus. I made a small decision not to study school work or shop on Sunday. I realized that as a student, I should study for the glory of God. My grades improved so much that I made the honor societies my sophomore, junior and senior years. I taught Sunday School in the First Presbyterian Church. During the summer, I worked with Vacation Bible Schools. I was a counselor in a girl’s camp in Montreat, NC. I also was a counselor at our Presbytery Camp. I spent two summers as a home missionary in White Lake, an isolated community located near the Tallahatchie River, in the Delta. Every week I came to town (Sumner) and took a bath in the home of Mrs. Michener. The people farmed a little, fished and hunted and made moonshine for a living. I visited them in their homes and on Friday nights taught Bible and folk dancing to the young people. I learned that money and material things don’t determine a person’s value.
After 60 years, in November, 2010 I visited Mississippi Delta with Mark and Anna Yang and Yvonne Timlin. We visited the Sumner Presbyterian Church. Pastor Ann Laird Jones and several members of the Sumner Church took us about 20 miles to the place where the chapel had been. The Chapel was gone. One former member of our youth group was there, David Cotton. He had turned the old chapel building into his home. He told me a lot about the people I remembered. He and his wife have 28 grandchildren. I was sad to see that the ministry was gone, but grateful to God for one remnant. On November 14, 2010, I spoke at the Sunday worship service in the Benoit Union Church, my home church. They had a special World Mission emphasis day and they called it “Sarah Barry Day” They have faithfully prayed for me for 50 years. The house in which I grew up in Benoit had burned. I realized that with Moses that “The Lord is my dwelling place.” (Ps 90) Houses and buildings perish, but our God is from everlasting to everlasting.
I was born during the great depression and was in high school when WWII ended. In the Mississippi Delta, the society in which I grew up, segregation and racial discrimination were taken for granted. African Americans worked for my father. Many were my friends. We had a cook who I loved and hung around a lot. She taught me how to cook. While I was growing up, I was not aware of tension between races, but it seemed to me that something was not right. When I studied the Bible I realized that all people are the same before God. The Civil War ended slavery, but it could not change hearts. The South began to change after Brownvs. the Board of Education(1954)(school desegregation), and the Civil Rights movement. Butlaws cannot change hearts or he almis trust or keep people from despising and taking advantage ofone an other. The Bible teaches us that the reis only one race, the human race. Only the gospel can change the heart. Onlyi n Jesus can people from different race sand culture sand different backgrounds be one. Only the Bible can change our view of people and make us realizeth at the Creator God made all people ofone blood and one flesh, and we are all of equal value in God’ssight.(Ac17:26)
After I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I found peace that I had never known. God who saved me surely has a purpose for my life. He promised that if I choose to do his will I find out if it truly God’s leading. (Jn 7:17). I wanted to quit college and go to seminary, but I accepted advice from Miss Hudson, who sponsored the SCA, and finished college. I found some things God wanted me to do as a college student. I found that God opens doors and closes doors. I also found that sometimes he asks me to do things I am not qualified to do or don’t like to do. But he always gives strength when I try to obey. After I graduated from MSCW, I went to the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia. (Now, Union Presbyterian Seminary) I knew that the Bible was the infallible, authoritative word of God, so liberal teachers didn’t bother me. There were several teachers there who taught the Bible using the inductive method of Bible study. They were graduates of the Biblical Seminary of New York. I later transferred to Biblical and graduated with an MRE degree. After my first year at PSCE, I was offered a job as a student worker with Presbyterian students at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). It was an open door and I stopped school and accepted. I had a burden for students, for I had come to know Jesus as a student.
When the Korean War began June 25, 1950, I was a junior at Mississippi State College for Women. I had found peace in Jesus. I thought about war and peace. It seemed that it would be better to send missionaries to troubled people than to send guns and soldiers. I promised the Lord that I would go anywhere as a missionary if he wanted me to. I remembered this promise while I was working as a Presbyterian student worker at Ole Miss. So I volunteered to the Presbyterian Board of World Missions. I went to Nashville for an interview. I passed everything, but the Board psychiatrist flunked me because I didn’t have a boyfriend. So I decided to look for a boyfriend. I went from Nashville to attend a Student Workers’ conference at George Williams College in Lake Geneva, WI. I met one preacher who liked me and wanted to visit me in Mississippi. But when I told him that I was committed to go as a missionary, he didn’t write me any more. Anyway, the Board of World Missions appointed me as a missionary and assigned me to serve with the Korea mission of the Presbyterian Church, US. This was God’s grace in my life. I accepted Jesus command, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and claimed Jesus promise, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Before going to Korea I wanted to finish my Master’s degree. I decided to go to the Biblical Seminary in New York because I wanted to learn how to study and teach the Bible. I did not want to export American Culture. While at Ole Miss, I questioned our Church’s stand on segregation. I was convinced that racial discrimination was not Biblical. Several Ole Miss students and I had worked with African American children in a summer program. I also invited an African American speaker for one of our student conferences. I was criticized for this in the Synod, but Dr. Johnson and Dr. Bryant of the Oxford Presbyterian Church were very supportive. I felt that the church was missing a great opportunity to raise Christian leaders among the African American young people. I was convinced that the Church must be the Church. I wrote my master’s thesis on the “The Effect of Segregation on the Southern Presbyterian Church.” My father tore it up. After finishing Biblical in 1955, I went to Korea.
The Korean War ended in 1953. Much progress had been made to restore life to normalcy in Korea, but many evidences of the war were still there. There were orphans and widows and broken homes and wounded people. Tuberculosis was at epidemic proportions.
I accepted John 12:24 as my key verse for missionary life: “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies it produces much fruit.” Based on this verse, I decided to study the language with all my heart and try to understand and love and learn from the Korean people. I wanted to plant a seed.
Three other single Presbyterian missionaries and I sailed for Korea on an ocean freighter, the “Philippine Bear.” Captain Norby was our ship’s captain. Our ship unloaded freight in several places before arriving in the Inchon port, our destination. When we docked in Masan, there was no one to stop us, so we got off the ship and went sightseeing with some Americans working with the Becktel Corporation who were building a factory there. We tried kemchi there. After a month on the ocean freighter, we arrived in Inchon harbor in early September. We brought 4 pigeons in a cage in our cabin. Dr. Codington of Kwangju was frustrated about communication in rural Korea, so he wanted to train the pigeons as homing pigeons. It didn’t work, but after a few years Kwangju was full of pigeons. I had been appointed as an evangelistic missionary and assigned to Kwangju Station. I plunged into language study with a tutor. I designed my own study program. I lived on the mission compound in a large, old American-style house with a senior missionary named Mrs. Florence Paisley.
The senior missionary in Kwangju station was Miss Florence Root. She gave me my Korean name, Bae Sa Ra, supervised my language study and introduced me to country evangelism. I itinerated in the Hwa Soon, Tam Yang, Young Kwang, Chang Sung areas, and visited islands by boat. I learned a lot about grass roots culture, and faith that sustains even in the devastation of war and poverty. I learned about the “Nevius Plan” from the early Korean Church history. Its core was Bible study. The emphasis was on training the laity to be evangelists. The goal was to build a self-supporting, self-governing, self-propagating mission-minded church. I believe that God has blessed the Korean Church because of this.
While in language school, I wrote one sermon that focused on Jesus and went from Genesis to Revelation. My language teacher corrected it and I memorized it. I could go to country churches and deliver one message. Later my repertoire of messages increased to 5 and I could stay in one village longer. While visiting country churches I frequently encountered people who were very sick. When possible, I would bring someone with me to the Kwangju Christian Hospital. Dr. Herbert Codington never turned down anyone. In 2004, when I visited Kwangju to participate in the new center dedication, one pastor, Rev. Kim Chung Joong, pastor of the Young Kwang Presbyterian Church, and president of a seminary board, came to see me. He told me that he was one of the young men whom I had picked up and brought to the hospital. He told me that he had been a criminal and had been sent home from prison in Seoul to die. He did not die, but recovered in the hospital and gave his life to God. He went to seminary and became a fruitful pastor. I thank God who uses us when we don’t even know what we are doing.
In Kwangju I began attending early morning prayer meetings--the church bell in Yang Nim Church rang at 4:30 a.m. I went to pray and to listen to Korean. After 3 months in Kwangju, I was sent to the language school in Seoul. In Seoul, I received permission to move off of the Mission Compound into a Korean home. (Jn 1:14) I lived in the home of Mrs. Bok Kyun Oh and her family. This was an important turning point in my missionary life. While I was in language school I dated a visiting evangelist who was conducting meetings in Seoul. He was very nice. He was not called to serve God in Korea, however, and I was. My first furlough was in 1959. Mrs Oh went with me to America. As a North Korean who grew up in a non-Christian family, she had a heart-moving testimony. She travelled with me in the US and shared her testimony in Korean. I translated. My Korean improved while I was on furlough. I studied at the Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond.
Part 2. The University Bible Fellowship Begins in Kwangju
While I was in the USA, on April 19, 1960, the students overthrew the Syngman Rhee government. When I returned to Korea in the summer of 1960, anarchy was taking over. Many students wanted march north, join the Communists and unite Korea. Then on May 16, 1961, General Chung Hee Park staged a bloodless military coup d'état. This brought stability, but the students were confused and without direction.
In the spring of 1961, I moved off of the mission compound to a two story building that had been used as a billiard hall in downtown Kwangju,176 Tae In Dong. It became the Christian Student Center. It was here, while working together with Dr. Samuel Lee and Dr. John Jun (then a student), that UBF was born. We did not intend to start an organization.
Samuel Lee and I were very different. It seems unlikely that we could work together for 40 years in the pioneering of UBF. This was not what we planned; it was what God planned. It was God’s grace to me. Samuel Lee was a shepherd. He loved those around him with a shepherd’s love. He also loved me and cared for me with a shepherd’s love. I gave my heart to God first, then to Samuel Lee and to Korea. I decided to trust God’s work in Samuel Lee, because it became evident that God was using him.
Kwangju students were eager to learn English, so, many came to our afternoon English Bible class. I taught John’s Gospel. I learned first-hand that God works through his word. Jesus commanded us to “make disciples.” So we decided not to have a “come and go” student center, but to train disciples of Jesus by teaching them to obey God’s word.
God worked through the students to begin UBF. Samuel Lee and I didn’t do it. It was a grass-roots student movement. By the end of the school year there were over 80 student-led group Bible studies meeting each week on campus. God sent his Spirit to bless his word. The students named themselves, “Bible Research Society” (Tae Hak Sang Sung Kyung Yun Gu Whe) in Korean and University Bible Fellowship in English.
We needed to deal with the beggar mentality that had infected every level of society. After the Korean war, relief goods poured into Korea. This was both a blessing and a curse. Needy people, widows and orphans were fed and clothed. But also, a beggar mentality developed. The young men and women who should be tomorrow's leaders were poor, fatalistic, and without hope. We prayed for world mission because Jesus commanded it. Students had no money. But in 1964, by faith, we offered our five loaves and two fish; we sent one of our first graduates, Miss Han Ok Kim, as a missionary to Cheju University. God taught us a giving spirit and blessed us to become a self-supporting movement.
I continued to teach the Bible every morning and every afternoon. But English Bible was no longer our main focus. We were studying the Bible in Korean. As the ministry grew, my role became less and less important. Samuel Lee and the student leaders were doing everything. I had worked myself out of a job. I struggled about this. Was my work in UBF finished? Later, in Seoul, I faced this same time of decision. UBF was born in Korea. Its roots are Korean. Perhaps I was a hindrance in maintaining our Korean identity. Then I realized that God, not people, had called me. He would use me in his own way. I would serve him in UBF until he moved me to another place.
In 1964, on my second furlough, I went to Nashville, TN, to study for my second MA in education at the George Peabody College. I had been there 3 days and was on my way to church, when a young black man jumped me from behind and tried to rape me. I yelled--the Bible says to yell in such circumstances.(Dt 22:24) He beat me severely in the face, but I kept on yelling. What I could not do for love, I would not do for hate. A passerby heard me and called the police. I was in the hospital for a month. After this, I had to struggle to repent of my fear. God healed me and took my fear and I learned the reality of God’s protection. Later, I visited the young man who had attacked me. He was in jail. I went with his mother. He had repented and become a Christian. I accepted Romans 8:28. “All things work together for good...”
When I left for America, Samuel Lee took full charge of the UBF ministry. The missionaries in Kwangju station tried to take over student work, but national leadership, student initiative and ownership were the principles that God taught us. We prayed for Seoul pioneering.
Part 3. Seoul pioneering - Enlarge the Place of Your Tent
In Isaiah 54, God told his people, who were like a barren and desolate woman, to enlarge the place of their tent and spread out to the right and to the left. I completed my M.A., experienced God’s healing, and returned to Korea in 1965. I realized that God had spared my life because he still had something for me to do. When I requested the Presbyterian Mission in Korea to assign me to Seoul, they agreed. Samuel Lee’s friend, Dr. Won Sul Lee strongly advised us not to try to pioneer Seoul. He said that the students in Seoul were too intellectual to be interested in Bible study. Anyway, I made plans to go to Seoul and students in Kwangju prayed for Seoul.
In the meantime, a situation arose in Taejon. UBF there needed help, so I spent 6 months in Taejon. I got a room in the Mok Chuk Inn– near the student center, taught English Bible and ate Wojok tang. Samuel Lee and the Kwangju students supported the Taejon project wholeheartedly. They even sent the inside doors of the Kwangju center to Taejon. After a UBF staff shepherd came to Taejon, I went to Seoul.
In Seoul, I rented the “Yellow House” at Hyo Jae Dong 25. It was located near the main campus of Seoul National University (SNU). It was a small second-floor meeting place with a warm floor room in the back where I lived. On my first Sunday in Seoul a classmate from Peabody invited me to speak to in her church. I spoke on Matthew 2, the visit of the Magi. I talked about the importance of seeking truth during one’s student days. One young SNU freshman asked me for my address. The next day he came to study English Bible. He was Paul (Chin Hee) Rhee, who later became a staff shepherd of the Kwan Ak UBF chapter. He brought his friend, Mark Yang, who was studying to take the SNU entrance exam. These days, Mark and Anna Yang and I share a missionary apartment in Chicago.
In the summer of 1967, Samuel Lee was invited to speak in an IFES conference in the Philippines. He asked John Jun, Sunji and Kum Ja to come up from Kwangju to Seoul to help me. Sunji gave John Jun a hard time and he got mad at her. But anyway, we prayed together to pioneer SNU. They visited the campus, gave out flyers and advertised English Bible classes. God worked among students and we could take some Seoul students to the national conference in Chunju. A few years later John Jun and Sun Ji married and established a house church. Romance and history go together.
There were many students in SNU who were seeking truth and meaning. Many came to study the Bible in English. At first, they came for English, but later, they stayed to study the Bible. We moved to a larger house in the alley behind our Yellow House. It was 37 Hyo Jae Dong. It was a typical Korean house. We knocked down the walls between rooms, put in a floor and a ceiling and made a big meeting room. I lived in a small room in the back of the center. God did a great work in all of our lives in this humble building.
In Kwangju we had focused on group Bible study. In Seoul, we focused on personal Bible study. Later, in America, we would focus on one-to-one Bible study. Samuel Lee wrote Daily Bread notes, going through the whole Bible twice. Everyone wrote his personal reflections and prayer topics from the Daily Bread passage and shared at the weekly fellowship meeting. These meetings were student led. Students were the fellowship leaders. Students were the owners and stewards of UBF in Kwangju and in Seoul.
The Seoul pioneering period was characterized by demonstrations. The students demonstrated against the government. They did not like the relations with Japan. They did not like the constitution. They did not like the president. Each time there was a demonstration, the university closed. And UBF had a Bible school.
We continued to pray for world mission, because this was Jesus’ command. God opened the way to send missionaries to Germany. It was about 1968.
In 1970, Samuel Lee had been thinking about turning UBF ministry over to someone else and do something for himself and his own family. Then, a terrible accident occurred. His house caught on fire. Samuel Lee had found the fire and put it out with his hands. I took him to the SNU hospital emergency room. SNU hospital doctors were merciless. They tied his hands up above his head and scrubbed them with silver nitrate solution. They were concerned about infection. We thought that he would not be able to use his hands again. While his hands were tied above his head he surrendered to God. Miraculously, his hands and face healed completely. It was an answer to prayer.
In 1970, a door opened for lay missionary doctors and nurses to go to America. In 1975, I returned to the USA on my regular furlough. I went to Chicago. A small UBF missionary community had settled there and were praying for America. After 20 years, I resigned from the Presbyterian Mission. My resignation was accepted, but I was asked to continue as an affiliate missionary with the Presbyterian mission. I did this until 1977, when I realized that I would not be living in Korea again. I returned to Korea in January, 1976.
In the spring of 1976, we were preparing for Easter. At our regular Monday staff meeting, everyone was supposed to memorize and recite 1 Corinthians 15. Three top staff did not show up. All of us felt that something was wrong. And, indeed, something was wrong. Instead of memorizing 1 Corinthians 15, three senior staff members had gathered for a complaining session. They looked at the spiritual training which they had received with human eyes, complained and organized a rebellion. Samuel Lee and I prayed about what to do. He could have fought them, refuted their charges and written some damaging facts about each of them. But he decided not to fight them humanly; instead, he studied Mark’s Gospel and wrote profound study materials which fed us on the word of God for many years. This was a time of soul searching for all of us, and we came close to God in prayer.
While in Chicago in 1975, I wrote Genesis study materials for one-to-one Bible study and began to write Daily Bread in English. I prayed about how to register UBF as a tax-exempt organization in the USA, and how to bring Samuel Lee from Korea as a missionary to be the UBF director. This was something that we had talked and prayed about a lot in Korea. I went to Mississippi and got help from my father and from Jack, a lawyer my boyfriend – in the first grade. We wrote a charter and by-laws and registered UBF as a Mississippi corporation, with headquarters in Chicago. The small UBF chapter in Chicago gave sacrificially and purchased a store-front building, 5817 N. Clark, to use as a meeting place. Then, they petitioned Samuel Lee to come to America as the director of the University Bible Fellowship. Dr. Joseph and Esther Chung came in 1976 to serve as the interim director. He delayed his preparation to be an American doctor for a year. Dr. Chung retired last year (2009) and he and Esther have gone to Uganda as “silver missionaries.”
The real pioneering of UBF USA began the year Dr. Lee came in 1977. Several graduates of the SNU College of Nursing came with a clear commitment to campus evangelism, so they got a one bed room apartment in Evanston and started fishing Northwestern students. They reminded us that we were a student ministry. Later, we bought the Evanston Prayer house. We had a common life there. I lived in the Prayer house from 1979-1987. I shared common life there at various times with Monica, Yvonne, Henry and Pauline, Alan, Teddy and Liz, Mary C, Mary B, Little-Sarah, Sarah B, Mary Min, Sweety, Christine and several others.
Dr. Lee gave Little-Sarah to me and she lived with us in the Prayer House and went to Evanston Towns High School. She did very well her freshman and sophomore years. But in her Junior year, she took too many AP courses and about 2 weeks into the semester, she discovered that she might get a B. She despaired. She started cutting classes, and finally, on Thanksgiving week-end, she came to Chicago to her father's house and ran away from home. She was gone for a month. We had Christmas worship service. Dr. Lee preached on the horn of salvation. We prayed and searched and prayed more. Dr. Lee promised God that if he brought Little Sarah back he would devote his life to helping teenagers and college students. God heard our prayer. He led me to go to Cleveland, OH on a bus. Sarah B. went with me. Out of the phone book we randomly picked a Korean Pastor and called him. He came to the bus station. We prayed with him, and left some flyers with Little-Sarah’s picture. After about 10 days he found her. God answered the prayers of people all over the world. I realized that God was raising her as a shepherd and Bible teacher for young teenagers. She understands them so well. She married Dr. Charles Kim, to whom she had been engaged for 10 years and a new chapter in our history began. These days God is working in the hearts of third generation missionaries Abraham, Sarah-– Little and Charlie Kim.
In 1989, after my father passed away, my mother came to Chicago to live with me. For 7 years, until my mother went to be with the Lord, we lived in a first floor apartment we rented from Isaac and Rebecca Choi. After my mother left us, I moved into a staff apartment next to the UBF Church. In 2008, I was very happy when Dr. Mark and Msn Anna Yang came to share our house. They left behind a fruitful and exemplary ministry in AnAm UBF and came as missionaries to the USA. They are warriors of prayer and diligent Bible teachers and our house became a house church. Last year, M. Monica Barry, a friend and fellow missionary in UBF for more than 30 years, joined our house church.
In 1985, Dr. Lee and M. Grace Lee went to Russia as tourists. After this, we began praying for Russia, which was tightly bound behind the iron curtain. In 1990, I also went with several missionaries on a prayer journey to Russia. In September of that year the door opened and student missionaries went to Moscow State University.
After we left Korea, God used Dr. John Jun and the Korean UBF to send more than 1500 missionaries to the campuses of 87 countries of the world. The number changes every day.
In January, 2002, God called Dr. Lee to heaven. Even though he had been sick for a long time, it had never occurred to me that he would leave us. The Korean Elders and the USA Elders prayed together and asked me to take over as General Director, even though I had never had any position on UBF staff. Who could follow Dr Lee? He was a great shepherd of God’s flock. It was the time for all of us to work and pray together. I accepted the directorship as God’s calling. With a consensus of our elders, I appointed Pastor Ron Ward, whom Samuel Lee had trained for 20 years, as the Chicago Pastor. He has continued to grow as a Bible scholar and pastor. We asked Dr. Mark Yoon to serve as international coordinator. It was a privilege to co-work with him. Missionary Grace A Lee has co-worked faithfully with me and with our missionaries around the world, especially through her letter-writing ministry. Our elders have met weekly to pray together for the work of God through UBF. God works in answer to prayer.
After becoming the General Director, I started visiting the mission fields to pray and study the Bible with our missionaries. I could see that God is raising national leadership in Mexico, England, Germany. I realized again the importance of raising national leadership. I visited North Korea and stopped briefly in Beijing to pray with missionaries there. I saw the possibilities of China becoming a missionary sending country. In the 2002 world mission report meeting in Seoul, I trembled at the prospect of delivering a message on “Kingdom of Priests” in Korean. God gave us a prayer topic to pray for the Muslim world and North Korea. And to pray to send out 100,000 missionaries to 233 countries of the world by 2041. God has been working to answer our prayer. Doors in the Muslim world have been opening.
I resigned in 2006 and Dr. John Jun, the UBF pioneer from Kwangju and Seoul, became the General Director. It was God’s great grace to me and to UBF. While I was serving as General Director and since my retirement, God has given me opportunities to teach the Bible one to one in Chicago and given me opportunities to visit many UBF chapters in the USA and around the world. Missionary Anna Yang opened her heart and her family to live and travel with me and share in the task of teaching the Bible to anyone who is open to study God’s word. Dr. Mark Yang continues to help Dr. John Jun and Chicago staff and missionaries around the world with Bible study.
With God’s help, while I was serving as General Director, and after retirement, I could visit and pray and study Bible with sacrificial missionaries and shepherds around the world, through whom God is working greatly. And I could visit and plant prayer in North Korea and Syria, two countries closed to the gospel. It was a great privilege to accompany senior staff and visit Israel and walk where Jesus walked.
May God bless UBF missionaries and shepherds in every place to be a kingdom of priests missionaries to the – unbelieving world–and a Holy nation–those who love God and who love one another.
As we look toward the 50th anniversary of UBF, it is my prayer that UBF as a church, apart of the body of Christ, may continue its commitment to reach out to student sand camp uses of the world with the word of God. Our focus on Bible study is even more needed in today’s world. However, our ministry has become broader and deeper and we must rise to meet the challenge. We must minister with God’s word not only to students, but as they grow up, to their families, to their children and to their neighbors. We pray that God may establish house churches that are Jesus-centered and mission oriented.
We must be salt and light in society, shining Jesus’ light into the dark places of our world. We must be students, teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, factory workers, business men, laborers, etc for the glory of God and for the greater good of humanity. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth... you are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (A lamp on a stand cannot be hidden)...it gives light to everyone... In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” We must study and obey God’s word until our lives reflect Jesus’ presence in us; until the influence of the gospel changes our relationships with the people closest to us as well as our relations with business associates and acquaintances; until the gospel permeates and influences our culture, our art and music; until nations beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. May the Holy Spirit work in all of our Bible studies to mold us more and more into Jesus’ image, so that we may be ready to meet him when he comes. And while we wait, may we study and teach the Bible until our nation becomes a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.