Dear Mike and Onelist Family:
     John and I were having a discussion the other day in reference to the early days of the Forever Family, the changes in COBU and ST's spiritual condition then till now.  Big topic, eh?  We have become aware that there are diverse opinions.  I suggested to John that he write his own analysis on the history of COBU.  I believe he has some rather pertinent and enlightening observations to contribute.  I would like to write an evaluation from my perspective as well.  After all, John was with the "message" (a ministry), where it all began even prior to the F.F. and witnessed the formation of the Forever Family.  Having this experience is very beneficial to a proper overview and understanding of the events which occurred.
     There is a commercial which says, "The next best thing to being there."  This would seem to imply that the "best" thing is to be there.  To involve one's senses affords the opportunity to experience with the greatest potential.  In the first verse of the first letter of John it reads:"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-"  In this case, the apostle thought it a great privilege to have witnessed our Lord's coming in person.  On a much lesser degree, I think the brethren who have had the actual experience of  "being there" during the F.F.'s conception, are able to add a certain dimension to the group's history.
     On a personal note, I worked as an Activity Director with the elderly for quite some time.  I always valued their lifes'  experiences from the Depression and WWll.  They were able to add a special meaning to these historical events which all my studying was unable to do.  Having several different bases of reference can improve one's understanding.  I would hope this could be the outcome of  "coming to terms" with our cult experience.
     Please feel free to respond.  We value your opinions.  May God richly bless you in your desire to serve Him.
With One Voice,
Brother John G. & Sister Darlene
     First off, I would just like to introduce myself since I'm not sure if we ever met in COBU.  I was in the group from the end of 1973 till spring of 1979.  I lived first in the Cleveland fellowship, then moved to Allentown (137 Church St.).  Soon after, I moved to Scranton where I met John and married after a brief courtship.  We started the Binghamton, NY fellowship that same year.  In 1976 we started the Buffalo fellowship.  Then we were "sent" to Toledo because of  a "lack of success" and eventually ended up in Gross Point Woods, Mich.  From there my husband was made to hitchhike with Bob Stein to NYC.  They were both seen as spritually disastrous cases in dire need of training.  Soon after, I left in the heat of summer with a small toddler, a few suitcases and a van-load of fellow inmates (just a note of humor ).  We suffered the injustices of the NYTC for three LONG years.  After my husband and I left we came back to several of the "Big" meetings, but never moved in again.  I would go with John mainly to appease him.  At that time I had already become fully aware of the wickedness which resided there and had no intentions of ever subjecting myself or our children to that environment.  I would say the meeting where my husband most likely became "disconnected" was the Mountain Manor meeting in Hamburg, Pa in 1985.  I prefaced with this just to give you some background and briefly familiarize you with my plight in COBU.
     I have been reading your comments to the brethren on the onelist and until now, have not been persuaded to interject.  I do not intend to debate the evidences for Christianity at this time.  I do think there are others who are quite able and proficient at this, far more than myself.  Rather, I would like to venture to a more personal level of communication with you.  A question has arisen in my mind regarding your spiritual experience and I must ask it.  Did you ever recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life and a miraculous change in your character and demeanor after you prayed for salvation?  Was there a transformation and re-generation which took place that can only be attributed to some force outside yourself?  You see, Fred, this is what has happened and continues to happen to all those who confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.  I experienced such a sudden change in my heart, my mind, my desires, my entire being, which I could not credit to myself or my own sheer will power.  I knew I had to reckon with someone or something far greater than myself.  I asked for God to prove to me if He existed, and He did in an undeniable way.  Since then, He has proven Himself to me over and over again.  Now I realize this is all subjective proof, but it is one of the many ways God reveals Himself to His children.
     I do believe that as COBU digressed, even the manner in which the gospel was presented became distorted.  Love for Jesus became translated into working for the fellowship and ultimately Stewart T's goals for out lives.  It was a joyless, humiliating and often times cruel existance.  How could anyone have been aware of the love of God at that time while living under a harsh taskmaster?
     Please feel free to respond.  I would welcome your reply.
A sister in Christ,
Darlene Griffith