I was in the Church of Bible Understanding from the spring of 1976 as a
teenager to the spring of 1980 when I left the Lamb House.  Mixed
blessings, yes.  I never had to endure the pain and public humiliation
that the spiritually "Older" brothers and sisters were put through.
It's ironic to call them "older" since physically they were only a few
years older than me!

Since I was  young/unmarried and had a small child, I  was fortunate to
be taken "under the wing" of several married couples:  Georgine and
Louis [?last name], JoAnn and John Fontana, Ann and Paul Galante--I'm
certain this shielded me from many things.  I also had the blessing to
share in the understanding and closeness of  fellowship [though I'm
certain it was often on a level of guidance to me] with Ronnie ?Rameriz,
Carol Pozzuto [?sp], Nancy [last name], and others.  There were truly
many brothers and sisters who were wonderful people:  Pam and John
[?last name--it was John who first nicknamed my son "Ant Man" and I
still call him that today!], Grace and Judy Odums, LuWanda Dews, Gerrie,
Steve, Mike Bove [his parents were so kind--I met them at a Big
Meeting], Ron [from Ohio], Chris Blaise [I cared for his children for a
period of time and he was kind to me], Cheryl Wohead, Mark Strohl, Sonya
?Savage, and, although I didn't get to be in close fellowship with Patty
Daniels, she was the most bubbly person I've ever met--always going out
of her way for others.  There are so many faces that  I cannot place a
name with....  That caring and compassion, that openness and
encouragement with one another is a cherished memory to me.   We were
all young together, had a common goal together, and were reaching it
together.  And Yes, the singing and creating songs to sing was another
way to bond .

Like most, I lived in many "fellowships" and cannot remember the
"sequence"-- Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Wooster, NYC's Hell's Kitchen, NJ,
DC/Park Road, DC/Argyle Terrace, MD/Silver Spring, Utica, and Philly's
Lamb House (?there was only one at the time--previously a home for the
visually disabled).  In Wooster, I remember that our other "fellowship"
house which the brothers spent long hours renovating (located just down
the street ) was burned down (arson).  I remember that Mark Strohl spent
most of his time on the printing press.  At our fellowship on LaGrange,
John [Pam's husband] had to work the weekend of the Big Meeting and when
we got back, he stripped the tiled kitchen floor and painted a big, red
"GSGS"  logo on the floor and placed several coats of varnish over the
entire floor.  What great skills these and many of the brothers had.
Artistic talent--the brother who sketched the Witnessing posters...wow.

I remember when I moved to NYC (and I'm sure it must be the same  for
many).  It was my first time there--dirty city, unfriendly streets.
There was  a meeting with ST in the main loft.  Everyone who came to the
MTC had to be voted as to how others saw their spirituality and then
placed into color-coded categories (taped off areas where you're then
assigned for meetings).  I was very shy and tended only to talk to those
I knew.  I was frightened to think that my nervousness really meant it
was  because I'd "sewn to the flesh,"  and too naive to realize
personality differences can't be changed so easily.  Before arriving,
everyone is told that to be Brown means you're less spiritual and not
"striving to be with Jesus."  I was fortunate that others vouched for me
and I could be an upper orange; of course, it was because I was still
relatively a "lamb."   Seeing some of the "older" brothers and sisters
in the Brown section did not motivate me to strive to go higher on that
color-coded system; rather it scared me to think that everyone would
find me out too and if I wasn't outgoing with enough brethren, I could
easily be moved to Brown too.  One psychologically devastating situation
happened to me one night I was on the steam machine cleaning shift--an
"older" sister thought I was at the "older sister level" and was
extremely harsh to me (it was over something I should have known as an
"elder") and told me  I was close to backsliding, etc.  I believed her
(which was the mindset in COBU for most discussions), and  I thought  I
was going to die--that intense panic and gutwrenching feeling inside was
overwhelming.  I wanted to hide and knew I could not.  If she sees this,
what does Jesus see???   I went home and stayed awake most of the night
in psychological torture.  Fortunately, when I spoke to JoAnn Fontana,
she straightened it out for me with that other person who apologized.  I
know many have gone through similar instances, but may not have been as
fortunate as I was to have someone "in my corner."     In COBU sometimes
"harsh" translated to being "honest."

The NYC Hell's Kitchen "experience" was awful--you must know who is in
front of you and who is in back of you at all times.  As mundane as it
seemed to have brothers escorting sisters, I know many of the women must
now look back in appreciation--Hell's Kitchen IS.   We were robbed at my
first (?) apartment... at the second one (the building was practically
filled with brothers and sisters) someone was also  robbed, and at
another apartment I came home late (?12:30 or 1:00am) after cleaning out
steam machines to see a reflection on another building of a fire and
shadow of a man on our own rooftop.  The man escaped, and some of the
brothers ran to the rooftop to put it out.  Another time, we were having
a "sisters meeting"  and someone was out on our fire escape....  In
another building, one of the unsavory characters in the neighborhood was
going through the hallways and into apartments--when he would encounter
someone, he'd say, "Praise God"--everyone thought he was just another
"lamb."    These were only a few of my own encounters and occurrences
around me--it's not hard to imagine multiplying this with as many
brethren as were living there at that time.  No great memories of New
York with the exception of the way JoAnn Fontana ran the nursery--wow.
Someone painted creative murals on the walls, everything was scheduled
like clockwork (children as well as our assigned shifts at the nursery),
field trips were planned (children's museum, zoo, beach, parks),
creative play, etc.  JoAnn was very disciplined but also very down to
earth and was a great asset for COBU.   It's scary to imagine if it was
in the hands of someone who squelched the children's imagination and
thought it was necessary to drill the children only in the ways of COBU.

I don't know how I came to be at the Lamb House (i.e., why it was
ultimately decided), but ST was to help me with my son.  I would meet
with him, and he offered me guidance.  I was really like  "fish out of
water," since the only other children living there were ST's.  Although
the spiritual purpose of everyone being there was to witness, call
lambs, meetings, cook, clean, transcribe tapes, etc., on a human level,
I couldn't relate with many of the brethren and that was sorely
missed...  As I mentioned, I was very fortunate to have been able to be
in the company (most of the time) with couples/children.  As a young
parent, I really needed that.

ST did tell me I had a "broken arm" that healed wrong and needed to be
reset, and on one level I understood that to be my own independence (to
a point where I didn't know when to ask for help in my life or share
myself with others and it affected my potential for spiritual growth).
What prompted me to leave, was that he began comparing 3 of us as being
on various ends of the spectrum:  1 sister was deemed outwardly pushy/
aggressive, I was inwardly pushy "irridessant" [?sp--I seem to be one
place but I'm really in another] and "removed," and the sister in the
"middle" is what we were to strive for.  I understood there were areas
needed for personal growth, but I didn't have a "map" or even a clue of
how to get there.  Adding on the feeling of isolation (no other Moms
around), I left.

For several months, the Fellowship called me.  I went to the Fellowship
nearby, but was determined never to move in again.  It was very
difficult after 4 years of ferverently believing, but as I distanced
myself, I realized that Yes, it's OK to have other interests, etc.  I
haven't gone to Church or Fellowship in years, consider myself as a
spiritual person (?Christian) with tolerance and admiration for others
who hold close their religion (besides Christianity--now that's a far
cry from my COBU  years!).  I eventually went to college, have a job
that feeds by brain  (that's sometimes like a cult with the endless
hours I put in), my son has grown up to be a sensitive and well adjusted
young man.  I've been in 2 serious relationships which I've ended out of
some fear of mine of not finding that right balance (too
devoted-submissive almost symbiotic v. too independent).  I cannot blame
this on the "teachings of the fellowship" because there were also very
positive aspects.  I think a woman should be devoted to her husband,
JUST as he should be to her.  However, I do remember a few instances (so
long ago!) within the fellowship--I mentioned to one sister that I was
attracted to a  brother who escorted me from work... and the next day he
no longer escorted me(!)  When I look back on it, we were all so afraid
of showing affection because it might lead to SIN that many
conversations became stilted, and if a brother or sister found
themselves attracted to the other, it was ONLY because the flesh was
weak and trying to tempt the spirit.  How did some of the brethren
finally marry?  Crazy, wasn't it?   Although it did help the credibility
of the fellowship in many ways....
After having left almost 19 years ago, some who read this will know who
I am and can write me at the Email address I'm using.  If you're
wondering if the initials are mine--No (the initials of one of my
favorite authors).   Please do not take offense, but I'm not as brave
(?perhaps I'm a bit paranoid that the COBU calls will come again).  If
you Email me, I will respond (even if your name is also coded!).

Take care and thanks for the Website.