Your brother Steve's plight was common to many who left the group. In
numerous ways, we remained at the age we joined the group so that when we
left, we were emotionally and psychologically still at that same place. For
some, it was similar to having a "grown up" physical appearance but being a
teenager within. (Similar to a tragic version of the movie"Big" with Tom
Hanks). I work at a drug rehab with recovering addicts and a basic truth
about their condition is the fact that they remain "frozen" at the place
from which they began their addiction both emotionally and psychologically.
So recovery involves quite a bit of maturing. Such is the case with X-cult
members struggling to survive in a world that passed them by while they were
I will never forget how awkward it felt for me the first time I went
grocery shopping after leaving. the group. I strolled down each aisle like
an excited little child grabbing contents off the shelves and reading the
labels! It was my first experience of having done this since prior to
joining the group, I had gone shopping with my parents. The transition from
"Cobu life" to "life without Cobu" was not an easy one, to say the least.
How difficult it was for many to witness the growth of our peers when we
returned to the "real" world of responsibilities. Others our age had
achieved success professionally, having acquired degrees. Many of our peers
were raising families, paying mortgages, investing in the stock market,
traveling, and just plain assuming the demands that involve daily living.
While we were out witnessing, enduring Bible studies into the wee hours of
the morning, and trying to fulfill the latest platitude dished out by
Stewart, they had grown up.
No wonder Steve held on to so many vestiges from his Cobu life. This
was and is quite typical of X-cult members. For years my husband and I
cleaved to tracts, literature, work books, tapes, and any such paraphernalia
linking us to Cobu. We were faced with a quandary, which seemed to us to be
an impasse. Would we return to the security of the fellowship where
decisions regarding jobs, money, housing, etc. could be made by the
hierarchy, freeing us to serve Jesus and our "calling?' Or would we face
this brave, new world to make these decisions on our own? We chose the
latter eventually, but not without hardship. An interim of approximately
six years existed in which we worked through the process of having left
Cobu. We would return to attend meetings, which would result in being
disillusioned when we saw the decrepit condition of the fellowship that had
previously consumed so much of our energies. At this juncture of what I
would describe as "flip flopping," characterized by doubt and irresolution,
we were told by several "church" Christians that we still possessed "cult
baggage." What a hard saying to hear, but in our hearts we knew it was
true. We had to make the plunge, the complete and irreversible choice to
leave once and for all!
For us, the determining factor was the Mountain Manor Meeting in
Hamburg, Pa. The agenda on Stewart's part was to bring back all the "older"
ones who had left. There was a large turn out at that meeting, which was
the beginning of the end for us. Looking back, it resembled the concluding
family re-union, a final "good bye" to those with whom we had been so deeply
connected. We knew this dissolution was necessary in order for us to
survive as Christians. No incentive to live a healthy Christian life
existed in that bastion of depravity, a version of twisted Christianity bent
on decline. While this situation prevailed, it is not meant to slander the
brothers and sisters living within those boundaries. On the contrary, their
devotion to Jesus was tenacious. I am referring to the twisted rule and
reign of Stewart, the despot, drunk under the spell of power.
After severing the ties, I began discarding all visible connections to
Cobu. Trash bags were loaded with any literature which bore the name of The
Church of Bible Understanding. This was not an easy task. I felt I was
making all those years of involvement null and void, as though little
significance could be derived from such deep commitment. It takes years of
healing from the wounds and becoming re-acquainted with Jesus and the Bible
all over again to realize that our service to God in that environment was
I didn't intend to be so lengthy in my response to you. However, I
hope this sheds more light on your continuing search to understand and put
together the missing pieces of your dear brother's life and the predicament
in which he suffered.
May God bless you in all your endeavors.