From: teresa forcina <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hello All, you may not recognize my name now but this is Terri B., Terri
Bergamini, TB, Tuberculosis, now called Teresa Forcina. Truthfully I have
been scared to write to the onegroup because I was afraid if I opened up to
where I 'am at' I will get trounced and/or misunderstood.
Thanks to Mike Montoya posting Rudy's kind message earlier today, I
safer. I have a confession to make: I'm married to a man born in Rome who
is a believer and we attend Roman Catholic Church! And I've been to Rome
almost 10 times (amazing place). I KNOW there are MANY problems with this
-- I don't believe statues are real or that you can pray for people already
dead or that the Pope is anything more than a gifted human -- but just hear
me out! Sitting quietly for an hour and hearing the Bible HAS HELPED me.
Hearing the BEAUTIFUL hymns HELP as I believe music is a major vehicle Jesus
uses to heal. Going to CONFESSION helped (as I confided in Miriam
McCarthy-now Braylock) since it helped me confront bitterness within me (it
is really like going for counseling behind a screen). Oh, and yes, I know
about Lent -- I am giving up stupid programs on TV for Lent -- if it takes
that, why not -- the fruit is good.
This March it will be 10 years ago that Beth Davies, Stef Brown and
out of Woodruff. We helped form an 'underground railroad' for future
escapees such as Tijuana Cuff, Now Mrs. Lou Prescott and Sue Donatucci-now
Mrs. Phil Nazarro. I moved down to the DC area thanks to Rudy and John
Branzell to be closer to my family. I was 'helped' by reading many
psycological books and even obtained American University Credit for
documenting my experiences (and eventually an undergraduate degree in
liberal arts from AU). My husband was at Sue & Phil's wedding in New York,
in case any of you remember, and has met Beth and Stef and Miriam when they
came down to visit. I was also on a local TV show when the Waco disaster
broke and recently interviewed by a magazine on the subject.
I am not healed. It is hard for me to pray and I know that is
and/or control thing. My mom and I went to a pilgramage together last May
to Israel and Jordan and it was such a blessing; I spoke to Betty
Kirschbaum-now married and living in Israel with a Messianic Jewish church
called Tikkun and I think she has 4 children! It was in Jerusalem that I
went into a bookstore and bought a Bible, which I hadn't picked up in 10
years... I don't know why, but I found that I could not read any other
version than the Revised Standard Version -- I think because I have so much
memorized that I didn't realize, that reading any other version 'did not
compute'. But my tour guide said that actually the RSV is very close to
the Dead Sea Scrolls, which I also saw. Anyway, even though the RSV does
bring back memories of ST (I used to do projects on the computer for him &
Gayle on frequency of words and phrases, etc.), I find I can read RSV, but
even so I don't read it regularly. I have a very difficult time trusting
people, and I almost lost my job last year because my boss reminded me so
much of ST that I really freaked out and was on a major depression...
There was a book that helped me by the American Family Foundation that
talked about how certain people or events can 'trigger' emotional outbreaks,
similar to what vets go through -- well it happened to me and that's partly
why I went to Israel to recuperate... It's true that my husband will never
fully 'understand' all that's happened to me, but God works through his
kindness and sincerity and patience...I also believe in guardian angels...
I can truly say that my experiences were NOT ALL BAD because the FRIENDSHIPS
we bonded endured such fire and endure today! I was one of the ones
homeless, kicked out of 515, having to struggle to pick through my
belongings before dark which were literally thrown on a bus in a lot on 48th
Street in Manhattan, struggled to find someone who would come with me to a
Hotel, and finally Lauren Albrecht (pray for her she is still there) and I
moved to a cheap hotel on 23d street. ANYTHING could have happened to us
(robbery, rape, etc.). I believe ANGELS were working through people at my
job, who amazingly didn't question why my clothes were suddenly very
wrinkled or why I didn't have a 'permanent' home telephone number, etc.
because my work was my only steadying factor! I think I am still so
'numb' from the experience I had buried the memory until it was brought up
recently... but Lauren and I went back to Woodruff unfortunately...
Carol Stutts, I may have been one of the ones during the Donation
who 'condemned' you and said you were not worthy to make donations -- I
don't remember it, but it could've been me and I am sorry for that. There
is so much memories blocked out, good and bad (although our experience Carol
getting robbed of $4K in cash by knifepoint in Camden, New Jersey at night
during the van business trying to earn good 'ST' points -- at least I was --
is still quite vivid)...
On the race thing, one of the first thing I told the magazine was that
GLAD for those experiences because I learned to live with people who had to
'iron' their hair and I still miss Tijuana's home fries and I still believe
black voices are the most beautiful I've ever heard, especially when singing
gospel. Anyone know where Randy is -- black brother from DC area who had a
beautiful voice I'll never forget... On the other hand, I gave my younger
sister a rough time recently when she announced she was marrying a black man
-- showing that I still have prejudice which I need healing for, especially
when issues touch close to family.
So I am not even sure if I am on the curve that Rudy described, maybe
under the curve somewhere, but I am optimistic that healing is possible as
inner peace is something I believe only comes with an honest prayer life,
and anything good comes from above...
Thanks for reading this far and I hope to see you all soon -- by the
DATE is good for me at this point and thanks to Naomi and Bill for helping
organize for us. Bye, Teresa (Terri b)
P.S., as a suggestion, since there are so many out and so few left,
should post the names of ones who are in, to pray for them. Then if we
don't see people on that list, we can assume they are out and start
inquiring about how to find them! For example, I'd love to get in touch
with Debbie Nickerson if anyone has ever seen her.
From: "Carol Stutts" <email@example.com>
When I first came upon Mike's site many months ago I was able to connect
with Pat Seif.
I shared with her that I rarely pray or read the Bible anymore although
still occasionally attend church. She reminded me to come to Jesus just as
I am. It brought tears to my eyes and even though I still don't believe I
pray or read the Bible nearly as I ought, the one thing I am convinced of
God looks at our heart!! None of us can judge....
Yes Terri I haven't forgotten that horrible experience of the person
entering the van flashing the knife. I seldom think of it, but when I do I
realize how close we came to death. They could have driven us somewhere
and killed us. I personally wasn't into it for any points, but I've often
wondered if we were set up. I mean, how did they know to get your pocket
book and then leave? How did they know you had the cash?... We'll never
know I guess, but I hope you feel free to talk to me about that anytime. I
remember when we returned to Philly the big deal was made about the money
being stolen and you felt bad about how you had reacted and all I cared
about was that we weren't killed.
By the way, another very dear friend of mine formerly in COBU faithfully
attends Catholic Church and I've never seen a reason to criticize it. This
person is still very bitter about St and how we gave up everything, while
friends were completing college and building up their lives. There was no
reason for any of us to have given up on our post secondary education in
the name of Jesus. But that was St's false teaching at work, drop
everything, follow Jesus by being obedient to what would benefit the
fellowship.... ultimately St. (Won't elaborate because it would drag this
out) Our salvation is not up to us, nor is it dependent upon what church
we attend.... its a matter of the heart, and very personal. I'm sure
someone may disagree with me on that..
Terri as far as who specifically was there the night of the vote, I
even think I could name anyone in particular. I hold no ill feelings
towards the people there and remember most in a positive way. I hope I
have conveyed that in earlier writings. Another funny thing I just thought
of, I remember one Big Meeting and a certain bro who ran the show alot told
everyone he'd never trust me to drive the COBU vehicles.... its funny,
I've driven cross country, up & down the east coast, etc. many times...
my husband actually likes to let me do a lot of the driving... You know,
I also always wanted to go to Haiti, but I was never high enough in the
totem pole to get that opportunity, thats okay, I'm really not bitter
about any of it, God has blessed me in so many ways and given me other
opportunities to be a vessel for him.
I really am sorry our meeting in DC in Nov didn't work out. I
to be done checking out the Capital dome (have you ever been up there? It
is awesome.)in time.... I do hope to see you again soon.
I don't know if we ever knew each other when in COBU. My name
and I left in 1980 from the Philly lamb house when I was a new 20 and my
son Anthony was a new 4. I can't speak for others, only for myself, so
I hope what I share can be of some help to you-- perhaps to laugh a
little, to relate a little, but most of all to encourage you in your own
I'm sorry to hear about the 515 trauma that happened to you and several
others. To be thrown out on the streets was cruel and violent enough,
then to live with a very real fear of the violence that awaited you.
Ugly. Awful. Shameful. And I bet you probably at some point were
angry not only at those who did this, but turned it inward and was angry
and ashamed at yourself for something you should or should not have
done... How could you have trusted COBU who did this to you? How could
you have somehow turned away from Jesus for this to have happened? You
must be really Bad, eh? I don't really know what you may have been
feeling, I can only wonder. And it's sometimes hard to separate our
relationship with COBU [or any other cult or religion] from our
relationship with God.
Time has a way of helping us look back with a little more understanding
of how and what happened, but healing often takes longer. And for me,
it has often meant reliving the fear, anguish, anger, sadness...
embracing myself no matter how rational or irrational my feelings have
been, and then allowing myself to grieve so I can be healed in the
process. Am I fully healed? Nope... I still have my "fight or flee"
moments, but I'm getting much better at recognizing it when it happens.
What helped me the most after I left COBU was the network of friends and
family who cared about and loved me. That was something as an "x-Boo"
[as a friend recently coined it--don't you just want to laugh!] I
initially had a hard time with... not judging, and not cutting myself
off from life around me and from those who actually cared about me. I
didn't want to trust "the unsaved" or allow myself to be vulnerable
enough to be harmed, and went through an awful ordeal. But I eventually
developed friendships with others again, including "non born agains" as
well as "non christians" and learned to trust others a little more than
I ever realized that I could. And I learned that they too have a great
love for and relationship with God, just different than my own journey.
My mother is a devout catholic, and my father considers himself
spiritual more than religious. I think I am more spiritual than
religious, myself. I don't believe that I must follow the traditions of
catholicism just as I don't have a need to follow traditions of COBU. I
love my mother dearly, and she believes saying the rosary and following
the catholic tradition is God's way, as well as giving herself in her
life as being a wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She
believes in her heart that she is following God's will for her in her
"station in life," and I believe she is, too. I do not have that
strong need or conviction to live as a catholic nor do I have a strong
conviction to live as a COBU-ite [but, alas... I am an x-Boo!].
My "station" in life.
My need and conviction is to follow my heart and love God, and be the
best Me I can be, not someone else. I don't have to hide myself away
and become a "cardboard figure," afraid of my emotions, but to look for
the good in myself and in others, a common bond in which to build and
glorify God. And I make lots of mistakes. But I'm still a "work in
progress." Simple. Realistic for me in my own life. I've learned to
peel away much of the contraints that kept me from freely loving others
and myself, but some of it will just take longer, that's all. I know
some of what I say may offend others' christian sensibilities, and I am
sorry for that but I must live my own conscience for what rings true and
right for me. Holding onto the basics-- that God loves me and sees me
for who I am, and if I've reached out to help someone else in need, and
that's the most important truth when the day is done.
Much of what I learned in COBU never really brought me closer to Jesus,
or to learn in a real way about true love and kindness. This is not to
say that my experience did not help me at all or that this was a
collective experience! Certainly being able to freely fellowship in our
love for God, bible studies, and especially group prayer--what a
beautiful sound as we poured out our hearts as our spirits freely
communed with God-- that was a beautiful gift we all shared together.
So, perhaps it's more accurate to say that I learned that I could have a
personal relationship with God though the fellowship, and I appreciate
But all the rest-- the "unhealthy stuff" harmed me and has taken
to heal. But I can't really blame anyone else ("the Other bad guys"),
because we did the best we could at the time. We were all so young and
loved Jesus with all our hearts, but I think we often blundered along
harming one another with words like "STRIVE to be with Jesus" and SOW to
the spirit and not the flesh" and often completely ignored the more
human side to our lives... which is also a gift from God.
How many of the us were sad or tired or depressed and thought it was
because we weren't close to Jesus? We truly didn't know any better than
what we were taught-- harsh words to push ourselves and one another to
Strive even harder. Certainly, that's not what happened day-in-and-out,
otherwise many of us would have never stayed around. And we tried our
best, most of the time, but beat ourselves up the other times. Many of
us tried our best to be loving and kind, but we didn't have a full
picture of how to do just that... Often, basic human needs were just not
addressed, because we just didn't know HOW to address them in a way that
was consistent with the teachings of the fellowship. How many of us
were so sick but went out witnessing anyway? I know I did, because I
was too unaware that it was important to take care of myself like get
Terry, as usual, I'm off on many tangents. So what is my focus (LOL)?
That God loves you as you are. Allow yourself to grieve at little at a
time so that you can go through the healing process, love your inner
self. As for catholicism, I cannot nor do I have the desire to judge
you and don't think anyone else can, either. God looks at your heart,
and at mine. So what if you go to a catholic church and follow some of
its traditions. In your heart you love God... just as many there around
you do, and come to worship... just in a different way than we did in
COBU. His love is there too, and his outstretched arms are big enough
to embrace us all... in our journeys.
God bless and take care! --Iris.
From: Dee Law-Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hello, again, TB!
I enjoyed your post - I didn't realize you had travelled so much!
We'll have to get together sometime so I can get more details - it
sounds very exciting, though.
I remember having a very hard time reading any version of the Bible
when I first became an "x-Boo". I just couldn't handle it because all
I could hear was St's voice screaming the words at me. Scary! I
thought I was losing my mind! Then I tried out different Bible
versions (Amplified version, New International version, Joe-Schmoe's
kitchen kettle version...LOL!) and finally settled with the New KJV
although I usually quote from the RSV since that's what I had
memorized for 11 years.
I had a hard time in churches, too. I can't say it was because
the churches were so bad - they all had their problems - but I wasn't
the easiest person to help at that time, either - very hurt and very
defensive. Ugh! My present church is non-denominational and I'm
happy there. We're not perfect either but we love Jesus. And I don't
think anyone on earth has perfect doctrine because we see through a
glass darkly...for now!
Here's a blast from the past for you...do you remember when we used
work together at Butcher & Singer in Philadelphia? You always looked
out for me (didn't you help me land that job? I could barely even
type!) I was such a clueless little waif back then! I think I was
about 18 years old? Anyway, we had such fun! And believe it or not,
I STILL have a picture of you and me working hard on our
pre-pre-pre-historic CPT Wordprocessing machines. That's where I
developed an interest in working on "real" computers. So today I am
an official computer geek (not the smartest of geeks, but, a geek
nonetheless). Now about that old picture...if you pay me, maybe I'll
give it to you...or destroy it...your choice! ha! ha! ha!
Please say hello to Stef Brown (Ms. Kibbee Van Zee!) for me. Do
keep in touch with Laura Pavan? If so, please tell her I'd like to
contact her or she can contact me. Thanks!
Take care and I'll talk to you soon!
From: Tom Pierron <tpierron@Op.Net>
I remember being your escort one afternoon.
Other than that, I don't think we ever talked.
It's hard if not impossible to read the RSV
and think of what we were "taught" at that place.
But, like others have said, that's the one I still quote
because that's the one I know.
One KJV verse I happen to like the wording of is
"The fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much"
Since you've been to Rome about ten times
you must've seen the coliseum
What was it like up close?