Why We Joined
By Mike Montoya
I recently went to a reunion of ex-members of the Forever Family and the Church of Bible Understanding. I enjoyed seeing people I hadn't seen in 25 years and I also got to meet some brethren for the first time. The reunion was held on Saturday and Sunday and I flew out of New Jersey on Monday.
On my way back home to California, I reflected on some of the things I saw and heard at the reunion: stories we exchanged, testimonies. One of the many things that presented itself to me was the question, "Why did I join COBU?" I know the title of this piece is "Why We Joined," but I believe there is no true "group" answer to the question.
IF you ask any current member why they are still living in the Church of Bible Understanding they will give one of many variations of one answer: "I am here to please Jesus." If you ask any ex-member why they chose to move into COBU, they would answer to "please Jesus" or to "serve God." I believe that the first answer to these questions isn't a lie, but it's not the whole truth. I think that one would also get the same answer from founding members of the Forever Family. I think that those whose only answer was "to please Jesus" probably left the group rather quickly as it is becoming abundantly clear that The Holy Spirit was not working through Stewart. I think every ex-member has a second reason why they joined the FF or COBU. Some may have a third reason. The reasons are as common and unique as the individuals who have them. I think it's best to give my second reason for joining and demonstrate my point.
I grew up with 4 brothers. I was a tremendously insecure child and found my security in belong to the Montoya boys. In school I asked my teachers to refer to me as "Montoya" and not by my first name. When my 3 older brothers one by one graduated from High school, I sensed my one secure thing being dismantled. My oldest brother went to the Naval Academy, Chris moved into fellowship, and Pat continued with his rock band. I moved into COBU in 1980. While there I believe I tried to construct a family and form familial relationships everywhere I lived.
I lived in for 4 years. The family I could not recreate was being verbally and psychologically abused by Stewart. Any hope of marriage was attacked and destroyed. What Stewart fought against and could not overcome was the truth that God did save the people in the Forever Family and He did save the people in the Church of Bible Understanding. Stewart was abusing and trying to control true sons and daughters of God; true because God did put His Spirit inside them. We did have fellowship with one another. We did belong to the True Shepherd despite the words and abuse of the false one.
I left in 1984 and moved back with my family. I went to England, Virginia, Los Angeles, then Davis, CA. I finally got married and moved to New Mexico where my wife and I had our son and daughter. Strangely enough, I was now the head of my own family and my sense of security was turned on its head. I was no longer seeking security but providing it by God's grace.
So to conclude, my 2nd reason for joining COBU was to continue my security in family. My guess is that my two other brothers who joined COBU have reasons different from mine and different from one another's. I would say all ex-members have a unique reason or drive that caused them to make the choice to move in. I think it would be healthy for some, not all, to look inside and identify the true second reason they joined the group. I think it will help them understand better who they are and by God's mercy and grace be able to address this weakness and not succumb to it.