Toronto UBF History

On December 10, 1986, God sent Joshua and James Lee to Toronto from Winnipeg to pioneer the University of Toronto UBF chapter. Soon after, their wives, Sarah Lee and Susanna Lee, along with four other missionary families joined them. Based on Genesis 12: 2, “You will be a blessing”, we prayed to be a vessel of God’s blessing to U of T students. Amidst many ups and downs since, God was faithful despite all our weaknesses. We give him all the glory.

1. God’s Initial Encouraging Work (1987-1991)

As lay missionaries, it was no easy task to even find a space to gather as a church. Our first meeting place was a convenient 5-minute walk from the downtown campus but cost $2,400 monthly to rent. Nonetheless, God gave us such passion and zeal to serve him that we willingly sacrificed to work and maintain the church space. Every morning, we met together for devotional time and every evening, we went to the campus to invite students to study the bible. Each Sunday, we stayed at the church after service, and wrote reflections on the passage while eating hamburgers together. God accepted our heart devotion to him and the Spirit worked - U of T students began to come, study God’s word, and grew as disciples of Christ, one-by-one. We were greatly encouraged by God’s work in and through us.

2. God’s Refining Work and Laying the Foundation (1992-2007)

In these years, our families grew which required us to purchase a larger meeting space further away from the downtown campus. We worked hard to remodel and renovate a house into a church. However, after everything was complete, many of our growing disciples left the church. Tired and exhausted after the remodeling work, we became very discouraged. Through the next several years, we saw students come, seem to grow, only to leave suddenly. Our hearts were momentarily crushed but God used all these hardships to remodel and renovate the temple of our hearts, laying a spiritual foundation for a new work among us in 4 ways.

i) The Ministry of the Word of God

With the lack of students, Friday students’ meeting was replaced with a leaders’ Genesis group bible study. During this difficult and humbling time, we studied the entire book of Genesis, making fresh Bible notes, sharing reflections, and praying together. We renewed the promise and spirit of Genesis 12: 2. Personally, these years were the time to grow as an independent servant of the Word of God. I am the last person to become a pastor because of more poor natural ability in writing, speaking, listening, and meditating. But God provided me with the most suitable helper who compensated for my weakness and practiced the patience of love. Through many years of struggles, prayers, and training, God taught me the importance of loving, reading, memorizing, and meditating on the Word. I experienced the pains and joys of preparing the Sunday message each week but it became an important spiritual foundation for the ministry of the Word.

ii) Self-supporting/Lay Mission

By God’s grace, our missionaries began to enter colleges and universities and eventually contributed to society as chemists, engineers, computer-programmers, nurses, accountants, and social workers. My wife, Sarah, started her MBA studies at the age of 40 while raising 2 little children. Despite of her poor health, God not only helped her to complete her studies but promoted her to a senior management position at one of the leading banks in Canada. I also started computer science studies at U of T and though this was far from my area of expertise, and I was busy with message preparation and raising kids. I miraculously graduated after 10 years.

iii) Raising our Kids in the Word

As our missionary families’ kids began to grow, we formed a children’s ministry and eventually a youth ministry. Throughout 2005 to 2009, each Monday at 6am, our youth gathered to share their Sunday reflections. In this way, God rooted them firmly in his words and godly principles.

iv) A Vessel of the Holy Spirit

During our difficult time, God sent some of our families to pioneer other campuses in the GTA and he sent new ones from Korea to join us. In this way, God formed a new vessel of the Spirit among 5 missionary families.

3. Rebuilding the Ministry of One-on-One Bible Study and Discipleship (2008-present)

In 2008, we moved back closer to the downtown campus with a renewed direction focus on campus evangelism and discipleship through one-on-one bible study. We also prayed for each Sunday worship to be spirit-filled. God answered and began to send bible students one after another until we had over 30 one-on-one bible studies each week. We began to be in need of a bigger church and prayed. God answered and we accepted his answering as a sign of God’s anointing on our discipleship ministry. On December 16, 2012, we had Christmas service at our new church with 46 worshippers (36 students and 10 missionaries). God showed us that he is doing a new thing, something we had not seen for the last 25 years!

Since 2011, we have held to the verse Acts 1:8 as our ministry’s key verse: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Amen. We continue to pray be a blessing to U of T students through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Toronto University Bible Fellowship

344 Bloor Street West, #308 Toronto, ON M5S 3A7, Canada
(647) 529-7381

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