To All the Bretheren,
Subject: Fw: open letter Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 21:32:02 -0400 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dave and Vilma(Morano) Paradis)
To All the Bretheren,
Hello, my name is David Paradis. Obviously, some of you remember me and some don't. For those who aren't sure I'll give a BRIEF history. I met up with COBU in April '76 through my older brother Alan who had just met, got saved with, and moved in with the Forever Family in Patterson NJ a few months earlier, just before they changed the name (Jan. 1 '76). After graduating high school I moved into Providence, RI fellowship (Hello Chris Hirtler, remember me?) for 2 months (summer '76) before moving back out to go to the University of Connecticut. (It was purely the grace of God that I got away with THAT) I spent Christmas vacations ( a month) in fellowship: '77-Hartford (Rosemont Av.), '78-MTC, '79-Boston (180 Pond St)
At the Jan 1,1980 Big meeting, I moved into Worcester, where I did NOT work in the print shop except to help out at rush times, like before Big Meetings. Jan 1, '82 I Moved to the D.C. Center for the second go-round of the "retard program". I never passed the program, so I guess I was a vegetable. I was involved in the group food distribution for a good deal of the time in D.C.
During the middle/retard meetings in the Philly lamb house which we used to travel up to I got my first look at a beautiful Puerto Rican middle sister named Vilma Moreno, who is now my wife. I'm sure she will want to write her own open letter later. While in D.C. I also got my first job as an optician which I am still doing to this day.
Oct. '84 I moved to Woodruff during the "Proposition" period. If I was known for anything there it was either doing flea markets, taking sisters out to dinner on their birthdays, or escorting a troop of them home from proposition meeting every Tuesday because all the other brothers went to the brother/business meeting.
I moved out over Labor Day weekend '88. I won't go into what got me hurt, offended, and fed up, but my attitude was,"Either this place is hopelessly sick or I am. Either way, I can't stay here. I'm the biggest fool on earth: I'm giving up all kinds of stuff, and I still don't have a sense of getting close to Jesus or becoming an effective Christian. I'm not even sure I'm going to heaven. I'm going out where I can get the things I want and at least get the 'fleeting pleasures' in return for not being saved. Or just maybe I'll look at those things and decide I want Jesus more. Then at least it will be a real decision from my heart and I'll know I'm really returning to Jesus. Then maybe I'll be able to see if it was me or this place and go wherever from there."
The rest of what has happened since then is an amazing testimony, which I hope to post at another time. Let it suffice to say that my Lord and Lover of my soul redeemed me from the pit and graciously brought me back to Himself. Maybe I should get my own website for the rest and not use up Mike's RAM on it, but after reading everybody's open letters there are a few important things that are burning in my heart to say.
I am not speaking as one who is perfected in these things, or in anything else for that matter. I dare say that if one of our brothers or sisters still in COBU called or ran into me and started with the things they do to try to talk you back in there, there's a distinct chance that they could get my goat and I would end up in a heated argument with them against my better judgement. This I have proven many, though not all, of the times that such encounters have occurred.
But I can say that COBU is no longer an issue in my life, no more so than many other experiences that the Lord has placed in my life to shape me. I am free. I have moved on to the real issues of obedience to Jesus and intimacy with Him, of surrendering the idols, cherished sins, and unconquered areas of my heart to Him and moving on to the ministry and destiny that He created me, and continues to shape me for.
Again, I am not boasting that I have already obtained this, but to the degree that I have obeyed and applied what He has told me, I am free. I am not living in hurt and confusion over COBU, or anything else for that matter. My thoughts, behavior, and relationship with Jesus are not held prisoner to it. I have too many of my own failings to conquer for that.
The first thing is Eph. 6:12- For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but... against the principalities... against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
There is a spirit of abuse that was (and still is) at work in COBU. Abuse of power, verbal and emotional abuse. Some would say that it took over at a certain point, around 1977 give or take, others that it was there from the beginning and just became more evident then. It really does not matter.
Some would say that Stewart was (is) a willing accomplice, even a user of it, that he set out to do so for money, power, or some kind of revenge. Others would say that he is a sincere Christian who merely failed somehow to keep it from coming in. I just erased a statement of, and argument for, my opinion of that question that I was rather proud of. The Holy Spirit convicted me that putting it in this letter contradicted the point: it does not matter.
Our enemy is not flesh and blood. Not Stewart or anybody else. Abuse is one of Satan's principalities, and he is the enemy here. His scheme is to inflict wounds on us, by whatever means or agent he can, and thereby control our actions. If he can get us to curl up and lick our wounds, he can get our eyes off of our True and Gentle Shepherd who is leading us on to something beautiful beyond our wildest inaginations. He can get us into defensive position to protect the wounds so that we can't open up to each other, or to true and gentle shepherds who he has appointed for our building up and not our destruction.
So what do we do? Tough it out and deny that the wounds are there? Heavens no! On this website there was a transcript of a conversation some ex-COBU bretheren had with a close associate of Watchman Nee who said that we were forced to be so super-spiritual that we lost our humanity, and the first thing to do is just allow ourselves to be human again and not try to be too spiritual. Amen to that. You have been hurt. You have been wounded. Jesus wept at every harsh word that was spoken to you. He will not mind if you join Him.
Because of that, I hesitate to say what comes next, because it may be seen by some as too hard and spiritual a thing to do. It might then contribute to the feeling of unworthiness that most, if not all, of us lived in. If that is the case for you, Jesus understands. Lay your head in His lap and weep until you know how unconditionally He loves you, how precious you are to Him. Sit at the foot of the Cross, where all wounds can be healed, because He was wounded for us. But file this away for later, because it is the way to freedom.
As our warfare is not against flesh and blood, so our weapons are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of strongholds (2 Cor 10:4). The weapon our Lord has given us against these wounds is forgiveness.
Max Lucado said: "Unforgiveness is like keeping the one who wronged you in debtor's prison, demanding of them that they pay you back something, whether an apology or just that they see that they wronged you. When you take the key of forgiveness and open the prison door, you find that you are the one who was in prison, and you are the one who goes free."
You may say "he doesn't deserve to be forgiven". True. Neither do I. Forgiveness is never deserved, it is given as a gift, to the forgiven one and to the ultimate Forgiver. It isn't given on the basis of deserving, but on the basis that I have been forgiven. When I consider the parable of the master and the 2 servants (The master forgave millions to the one who then wouldn't forgive the other a little) and how much Jesus forgave me, how can I do otherwise?
Is it too hard? Yes. It is impossible. I do not have the ability. But all things are possible at the Cross where all debts were cancelled and all wounds healed for all eternity. Remember Corrie Ten Boom, who, faced with a man who had been her torturer years before, told the Lord, "I cannot forgive him." He told her "I know, just let Me forgive him in you." Choose forgiveness. Admit that you cannot. Ask Him to do it. He can. He will.
The enemy's chief plan is to get us to refuse to forgive, to hold unforgiveness in our hearts. Then he can impede the flow of God's blessings in and through us, and derail the process of our being made over in Christ's image. By forgiveness, we can disarm the principality and strike him a deadly blow instead of him striking us one.
This can be taken even further, but the way to that has been said so much better than I can in a very short, very powerful book called "(Healing for those who have been...) Crucified by Christians" written by Gene Edwards. I think it is essential reading for us. It will take you and your experience with COBU to places you never immagined. It did me. If you can't get it through your Christian bookstore, contact me and I will get you a copy.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
-- Baptist Hymnal
God bless you all, and I hope to hear more from you. I will write again. (Is that a threat or what?)
Dave (& Vilma) Paradis 24 Warner St, Groton, CT 06340 (860) 445-4843 email@example.com______________________________________________________