In many places in this web site we express that COBU practiced "forbidding marriage" by preventing many from having relationships or even starting one, by openly discouraging them or crushing relationships between any brother or sister who had the audacity to even try to begin one in the first place.
Stewart Traill was known to openly mock at meetings, brothers who were thinking of approaching a sister to begin a relationship. He was instrumental in breaking down the confidence of brothers and sisters, sometimes resorting to openly making faces at those who might be thinking of having a relationship. This type of badgering often resulted in quitting relationships rather than have to experience open humiliation. This also prevented some from even attempting to begin a relationship in the first place.
At the same time that he would be actively discouraging relationships, he would also mock us for not having relationships and for not being married. He once said he "repented of preventing marriage" and yet how many in COBU today have had this opportunity?
I actually have a hand written document of one of the conversations between myself and two older sisters that really shows the type of experience I went through at the beginning of my relationship with Dave Simmons that's dated July 27, 1981, only 15 days after our relationship began on July 12, 1981.
Just a side note about my name. I got saved in COBU in 1975 when I was 17 years old and most knew me as: Cindy Beckmann. After our relationship began and Dave met my family, he noticed they called me by my given name: Cynthia, as I have a step-sister named: Cindy Jane. So, Dave also began to use my given name Cynthia, which I prefer, and everyone in my life today uses, as opposed to the conversation below, where the sisters used "Cindy".
On the date of this transcript I was 23 years old and Dave was about to turn 25. Neither of us had a relationship since before we were in COBU, which for me was six years, so we were pretty green in the area of having a romantic relationship.
Starting a relationship in any circumstance can be difficult. Starting a relationship in a community where no one your age is having one, where the leader of the group insults anyone who attempts to start one, or has you moved to another State, or openly mocks you or your partner and enlists others to disrupt, discourage or makes ending the relationship easier to do than continuing in it, it's no wonder that so many felt that they had to "leave the group" to have a relationship or get married.
When Dave and I began our relationship there were only two other couples who had long standing relationships, but hadn't married yet, in the entire group, that we can remember. Some brothers and sisters were actually thrilled that we were breaking the Cobu tradition of "no relationships allowed" and seemed to congratulate us, at least in private. Publicly, it was more popular to sneer or put us down or mock or make comments like: "Why are you "in the dark?" The practice of putting others down for doing anything that was not "approved" was the standard in Cobu. The accusation of "being in the dark" seemed the most absurd to me, since I let everyone know about it the day our relationship began, Dave and I openly held hands, and if we weren't so "out in the open" than how was it that we were such obvious targets for everyones glares, stares, and openly rude remarks?
Dave and I remained as a couple in COBU from July 12th, 1981 through February 1st 1984, when I moved out of COBU and got an apartment by myself.
Dave was finishing his BS degree in college to become a teacher; a blessing most in COBU weren't free to pursue because Stewart Traill frowned on anyone obtaining a higher education. After Dave's graduation, we were married on June 29th, 1985. I consider that the relationship Dave and I invested in back in COBU was the biggest act of faith we walked in then, especially going against the status quo at the time, in this group especially.
I remember one older brother [CR] told Dave and I that we'd be lucky if our relationship lasted a year, yet our relationship survived COBU for 4 years and this June we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, having been together for 34 years: [1981-2015].
And although Stewart Traill and those who listened to his counsel: to do everything in their power: to discourage our relationship, to try to pit us against each other, to try to dissuade the choice that we made to be together as a couple ~ I am very happy to say that all of their "scripturally unsound postulations" that they chose in order to: hinder what we as adults chose to do and what the Lord our God gave us the green light to pursue, failed, because we listened to our own hearts and our own minds, and the counsel of God's word.
Lam 3:36 to subvert a man in his cause, the Lord does not approve.
Mk 10:9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
1Co 7:36 If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry -- it is no sin.
In Cobu people weren't allowed to even date, forget becoming "betrothed!"
Dave revealed his heart to me on July 12th, 1981 in Central Park where we went to meet a lamb. It was the first day of our relationship. This conversation occurred only 15 days after our relationship began on July 27th, 1981. I will use initials to indicate who was speaking, which is how my written copy is: I am represented by the letter: [C] and in brown text, the two older sisters who were speaking to me are indicated by the letters: [LH] and [NW]. Names that they referred to I've indicated by initials instead.
[LH] How'd it go with "the older sister"[PD]?
[NW] Not good, she wouldn't really listen, she's not broken. Cindy, you should learn a real lesson from her.
[LH] Why'd she say that to you?
[C] I think because she's comparing Dave and I to "the older sister" and what "she's" doing, but I don't think it's the same thing.
[NW] I'd take warning from what "the older sister" [PD] is doing, but you don't seem to want to accept it, you don't accept warning, you push it away, just like you did the night all the sisters talked to you.
(This talking to that she was referring to was when I stopped by my own apartment on my way out with Dave and my whole apartment was filled with sisters, when they were all ganging up on the sister they were referring to above, and I said I needed to get my things because Dave was waiting for me ~ I include that brief conversation below.)
[C] I do take warning from what "the older sister" [PD] is doing, but it seems like you're coming from a preconceived idea that I'm doing what "she's doing" and I don't agree.
(I actually didn't know what they were referring to, I wasn't at the meeting where they were dealing with the older sister [PD] and no one took the time to fill me in on her misdemeanor. It seemed everyone was always in trouble for something in the safe-land we lived in and it got old after our years of commitment to the "wonder church" or "Stewart Traill's personal slaves.")
[NW] You don't seem to be accepting any warning. All the sisters told you and you're still continuing your fantasy.
[C] What fantasy are you referring to?
[NW] The fantasy of someone loves you and you being in control and you're going to live happily ever after.
[LH] I don't even know what happened between you and the other sisters, but from the way you're acting now you're not yourself and it seems like you're getting pretty far out there. You remind me of me when all the sisters talked to me, but I wasn't really listening. I don't understand why the younger sisters don't be patient. It's understandable you desire to be loved and taken care of, but you have every opportunity to do it right, but when I see the relationships that are starting today I just wonder what's going on over there, they all seem dark. Did Dave fellowship with anyone about this?
[C] Yes, he fellowshipped with the brothers he lives with and wrote Stewart about it.
[LH] Cindy, why do you settle for fooling yourself? You know who Dave lives with: Doug Davis and Stephan. Doug can't help Dave, neither one of them can. What's Doug coming from heavy instruction from his relationship with Sharon Horton? And so he wrote Stewart a letter, that's supposed to mean he's in fellowship?
[C] Who are you referring to when you say he should be in fellowship?
[NW] For one thing, if Dave saw the way you are with the sisters he wouldn't come 10 feet near you. Look, why don't you at least take heed from those who have traveled the roads? I was in the same situation that almost led to sin without all the warnings that you've had. Back then everyone just let me go on my way and said, "Good Luck, we hope for the best" is that what you want to hear Cindy, just the good things? OK, yes, Dave cares about you, is that what you want to hear?
[C] No, but I don't want to hear your preconceived ideas.
[NW] You want to grasp at straws, sure, you're going to have an interesting life, right?
[C] I think Dave is very interesting.
[NW] I'm not talking about Dave.
[C] Well, I'm not supposed to be interesting.
[LH] You're not supposed to be dull either. You act like you don't know what's going on.
[C] What's going on is: Dave told me that he loves me and wants to take care of me and I accepted that he does. I know when he asked me, my relationship with Jesus wasn't good and I know I have a problem now not being snotty with the sisters, but I don't want to be this way and I've been praying to Jesus about it.
[NW] Do you think your relationship with Jesus is better now than it was?
[C] I think it's getting better.
[NW] How can you tell it's getting better?
[C] I'm praying to Jesus about the things that bother me.
[NW] Have any sisters noticed any change and told you your spirit's getting better?
[C] I haven't been around many sisters.
[NW] You didn't answer my question.
[C] No, no one said my spirit's getting better.
[NW] Well, spirit has to do with attitude and Jesus can give you right attitudes anytime.
[LH] I remember when your spirit was better, before that whole "older brother" thing.
[NW] Yeah, you weren't into you, you were into caring about young girls and caring about your other sisters. Have you been into loving your other sisters?
[C] No, cause I don't think they trust me.
[NW] Are you going to love them anyway?
[NW] Is that a promise?
[C] Nancy, it doesn't make sense, you trying to beat me into making a promise, if I was going to make a promise I'd make one to Jesus and I wouldn't need to be beaten into it.
[NW] I'm not beating you into anything, I don't dent you one bit, but if Pat Wippel or Nancy were here you wouldn't be acting so confident.
[C] You told me that night that Nancy was there, that I was acting confident.
[NW] OK, Cindy, you win.
[LH] I often wonder what husband Jesus would have chosen for Audrey had she been patient, but now she's got a mess.
[NW] Cindy, say this does go on with you and Dave, what's going to say you're going to be devoted?
[C] Faith in Jesus is the only way I'll be devoted to Jesus and Dave.
[NW] Yes, faith in Jesus.
[LH] Yes, but when I went to Stewart for counseling he asked me how I'm going to overcome in my situation and I said, "Faith in Jesus" but he held up a stack of my letters and every one of them said, "Faith in Jesus" in them, but that the real thing is repenting, that there's no way your spirit is going to change unless you repent and you have no attitude of really spilling the beans.
[C] I don't think you know what it's like between me and Dave.
[NW] and you're doing no good job of giving us a clear picture.
[C] Well, I think you're just coming from a preconceived idea.
[LH] Cindy, do you think we're jealous?
[NW] You don't seem very proud of your relationship. You seem ashamed of it, in fact, you remind me of Fortune, but even if we'd have a preconceived idea, why don't you even try to change it? You're acting the same way you did that night the sisters talked to you: playing with your hair and laughing to yourself about things we say.
[C] That's 'cause I don't believe a lot of the things you're saying.
[NW] "The older sister" didn't believe what we said either. You and Patty have in common your agreement not to listen to the sisters, but to go off your own way, following your own Jesus. You don't even speak of the things you do think are true. What's it going to be like in one year?
[C] I'll be with Dave.
[LH] You might not have been maneuvering him in the beginning, but it' obvious to us right now because of your spirit that you're maneuvering him all over the place.
[NW] It's obvious that you're not going to listen to us, but I suggest you really pray to Jesus about all this and spill the beans to Dave about what you've been doing - you know what's going to happen to him? What happens to a brother who gets maneuvered?
[LH] He should for your sake at least agree with what the sisters have been saying.
[NW] Since you're not into getting help I'll wait and I'm willing to help you anytime. This might not be what you want to hear, but I'm determined to warn you and be loving toward you. I see the warnings through the way you're acting and I'm a lot older than you. When you want help, come to me any time. We gave "the older sister" warnings all the time, but she wouldn't listen, she threw away 10 years of investing in Jesus. [LH] and even if you didn't get any warnings, you know what you've been doing 'cause Jesus shows you inside. I'll pray for you.
[C] God Bless you.
[LH] (laughed) God Bless you.
[NW] You don't even have a desire to be tested.
[LH] You're not coming from how this is right from the Bible.
[NW] I think a good verse for you is, "Ask those who have traveled the roads". This whole thing makes me sick. Have you talked to any sisters who are for this? Who are they? Maybe they'll give me a straight story. Maybe there's something you're not telling me that they know about. Look the devil's out to get all of us.
That's all I wrote from that conversation, but it was typical of many of the conversations that I weathered while dating Dave from July 12, 1981 through February 1, 1984, when I finally said I'd had enough and moved into an apartment on my own across the Hudson River in NJ. I got talked to like that every single day for three and a half years.
One brother, who drove me and a few other sisters from 51st St all the way downtown to work five days a week once confided in Dave and told him, 'Ya know Dave, I feel really sorry for Cindy, because everyday when I take the sisters in to work, it's the same thing every day. The whole van full of sisters gang up together against Cindy every single morning and I don't see how she takes it. I would love to say something, but I know they would just turn on me and hand me my head. I admire how she maintains her peace in the midst of all their dealing with her about your relationship with her, but it's not for the weak. One morning there was a near blizzard out, the snow was deep and coming down hard and five blocks before her stop she asked me if I didn't mind just pulling over right there and then because she had had enough. And she didn't slam the door or say anything angry, she actually turned around and said she hoped all of them enjoyed the rest of their ride, but that she was going to enjoy the nice, snowy, morning and I couldn't believe after the way they talked to her, she just wished them all a pleasant day, and I hoped she got safely to her job."
Many years later, when one of these sisters [NW] had left COBU, she told us that she had to apologize to many brothers and sisters after she left, but though she was talking to me it didn't even occur to her that she owed me one too.
We held hands openly everywhere and yet were told that our relationship was "in the dark". What does this mean: in the dark? This always baffled me. This term: "being in the dark" was used very frequently. It was thrown around at any one who wasn't towing the current COBU expected behavior.Before the conversation that I detailed above between myself and the two older sisters [NW & LH] Dave had a conversation with one of the two older sisters prior to the conversation I had with them, which was less than 15 days after our relationship began.
When I consider what the actual phrase is referring to linguistically, to me it has to do with hiding, or not being open about something, or sneaking around, or being deceptive in some way and to this charge that was made to me openly in this transcript and in many other dialogues I had during the three and a half years that Dave and I had our relationship in COBU, I say: NOT GUILTY!
COBU was all about working each other over about every thing, for no other reason except to be oppressive to ourselves and every one else around us. I remember a conversation I had with Jeff S. when he attended one of our Living Water Meetings in 1987 at Bill Willis' house. Jeff told me candidly that after he left COBU he remembered a time that he actually did sin and said it was refreshing to actually "feel guilty" for something he actually regretted doing and sought forgiveness and received it. COBU life was clouded daily with being made to feel guilty when you had done nothing to feel guilty about. Seems the "safe land" Stewart always seemed to tout as "God's Best" and "the only place to really please Jesus" or "know Jesus" or "be the most righteous Christians in the world" was actually a harsh place where every one felt compelled to point out to you how you weren't doing enough, being enough, and were constantly guilty, guilty, guilty ~ NOT!
Here are the actual facts, not that I have any reason to justify myself, as I didn't then and scripturally am under no expectation to now, by he who knows my heart. In fact, this dialogue I'm entering after the fact and wasn't even included when we first put up this Website. Just to clear the air, so to speak, I want to express how not "in the dark" my relationship with Dave Simmons was, for any who weren't living in Manhattan at the time or didn't know us and you read the accusations above that I got to hear on day 15 of our relationship, and almost every day while I lived in. I'll just make a list of some facts here and you can judge for yourself if this is the way someone acts when they are into hiding a relationship:
The very day that Dave told me that he cared about me, and actually, he told me that he loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me ~ I told the sisters in my apartment: including Joanne H, Mary Jane, Meg C and Margie L. that very day. In fact, when I told Dave the next evening he was shocked. He remembers very clearly that he hoped he would have had some time and he hoped he'd have at least a couple of weeks for us to get to know each other as a couple before, as he puts it: "all the craziness started" ~ but when he found out that I had wanted to be open about it, he said he understood and said that he would have wanted to spare me the stress he knew was eminent, but he hoped that we could discuss anything that came our way. This open discussion we had to have daily for all the negative comments, glares, stares, and overall non-helpful behaviors of our safe-land friends: Not.
Dave and I openly held hands together where ever we went from July 12, 1981 until I left COBU February 1st, 1984.
Jn 7:4 For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly.
It was a hot summer. There was a free out door public swimming pool within walking distance of our apartments. Dave had invited me to go swimming with him. Doug D, Dave's roommate also invited Kathy T. When I got to my apartment to get my bathing suit, my whole apartment was filled with sisters who were talking to Patty D, but when I got to my own door it seemed that all the focus suddenly went on me. It seemed like there were over 25 sisters filling up every available space in the room.Someone said, "Oh, hi Cindy, we were just talking to Patty about her fantasy." They told Patty that she could be so much help to me because we both have a fantasy." I guess that was the "new topic". They jumped right on me, "So Cindy, why don't you just spill the beans and tell everyone here that you maneuvered this whole thing with Dave." I said, "I don't know what you're talking about. Dave told me that he loves me and cares about me and I believe him." Then Kathy Tully came to the door in her bathing suit, shorts and towel and asked if I was ready. And I said, "Yeah", then I turned back to the sisters and said, "I'd love to continue this, but Dave invited me to go swimming tonight and I don't want to keep him waiting for me", so I got my things and said "God Bless you" to the sisters and Kathy, Doug, Dave and I walked over to the public pool.
So, our relationship was in the dark according to COBU, but from our perspective it couldn't have been more out in the open; which was why we were targets.
Before our relationship I had been working in the situation office of 515 doing most of the requests Stewart called in to Kay to do daily. Harry Weinbaum had asked me if I could iron his shirts for him and it was a service I did faithfully for quite a long time. After July 12th I told Harry that I didn't feel comfortable ironing his shirts anymore and Joanne H resumed the chore. So, we not only walked openly in our relationship, but we spoke openly also, on a daily basis.
One hot summer day someone had opened the fire hydrant in front of 515 and then closed it off, but some water was still coming out slowly and there was a bit of a flow of water going down the gutter. Dave and I sat on the curb talking with our legs stretched over the little water flowing down the street and Tim McAndrews, whose fellowship I had moved into when I was 18 or 19 years old when I first moved away from my home town and lived in for at least a year, came by and commented to us: "Ah, how quaint, a lovely evening sitting by the babbling brook." Let the brotherly love continue. Just a thought, I don't remember one person ever being openly supportive, smiling, or hopeful about our relationship or even talking to us and asking how we were as a couple. Daily pot shots, cuts, slights, and what any normal person would consider unfriendly behavior. But once again, were we hiding out? No. Were we ashamed? No. Did we act ashamed of our relationship? No. Did we care that no one else, especially the already married before COBU brothers and sisters thought? No.
I remember at one Big Meeting Dave and I happened to sit under the statistic charts posted on a side wall. I never remembered these charts being referred to at any of the previous meetings and they were up for anyone to read between sessions, yet at the session that we happened to sit underneath them, suddenly Stewart decided to point them out to everyone and made comments regarding them. It was like being on a hot seat and Dave whispered in my ear, I guess we're being put in the lime light again. In the dark, not a chance.
Joe Carilli's dad came to that Big Meeting and wanted to take some photo's. It was Joe, his dad, Dave and I against a hedge near the entrance of the meeting hall. Stewart and Gayle usually took off away from the meetings during the breaks, but this particular day they decided to stare at us taking our photo's. Their van was parked next to the entrance and they just stood there staring at us while Joe's dad asked someone to take photo's of us. You could just feel the pressure of their gaze. Dave had his arm around me and I said to him that in this case his low vision was a plus. The constant consensus always seemed to be: You better cut that out ~ but in the dark? I don't think so.
Dave and I were always very comfortable together before our relationship and always found it easy to talk together about any subject and even when we disagreed, we enjoyed debating what our perspective was. This continued during the 'courtship' part of our relationship and after we actually 'became a couple': July 12, 1981. One thing that we added to our daily conversations was what we experienced each day, living in a group where no one else was dating, even though most were over 23 years old, hadn't had a relationship since before entering the group, and seemed to have no hope in sight of having one any time soon, and probably saw and contributed to the daily stress we got from everyone each day. This was truly a society that was heading for extinction.
Did they think that a society that had no romantic relationships was attractive to the people they were hoping to bring into the group? The normal, young people in the world thought our group was weird.
At one point a bunch of younger ones from Woodruff Ave fellowship in Brooklyn moved in and slept in sleeping bags on the floor in our rooms because that fellowship area wasn't safe. The ones who were in my room liked me and thought it was great that I had a relationship. They came in and talked to me and one of them said that the older sisters had told them to stay away from me because I was: "In the dark", but the younger sisters said, "Those older sisters are mean and grouchy all the time and we like talking to you. At least you are friendly and having a love relationship. They just seem to be old and irritable." Did those who had no relationship not realize how each time they openly condemned us, that they were making it harder for themselves to have relationships too?
One of the foundations of our relationship was praying together daily. This on its own was one of the keys that blessed us then and continued after we got married. Praying together about our daily concerns, fears, and stresses was a strength that never got old. God knows our hearts because we bring our hearts to him.
Another non-COBU, yet Biblical expression that Dave and I were committed to during our courtship was being honest when we hurt one another and willingly forgiving each other from the heart. The "trip-apartment" was a prime example of how COBU practiced non-forgiveness. Yet, there was always a double standard, for instance, Stewart Traill, Bob Whipple, Jim Griener, and some others received blanket forgiveness for any and all wrong behaviors. In fact, among the ranks it wasn't even considered wrong for them to sneer, scoff, insult, pressure, oppress, or put undo stress on everyone whenever they wanted to. Ours was not an equal opportunity group. So long as you were doing the status quo, then you were OK. Yet, in this society that called itself "the best of God's work" oppression was the daily food ~ or putting pressure on people to work hard, turn in money, don't date, go to meetings that continued to inflict these non-Biblical teachings, and bring in as many who weren't in, to keep the money coming. In COBU there were "official reprovers" or those who could be as obnoxious as they possibly could in their effort to push others to do their bidding. COBU was filled with bullies who were considered "the respected elders" those who were "above all reproach".
Then there were the punching bags, like Dave and I, who were free game for any and all to take daily pot shots at for no other reason than the fact that we decided as adults above the age of 23, to be a couple in a group where relationships were taboo.
This was our entire crime ~ when in reality it was our greatest act of faith in God's love for us and our love for each other.
Our practice of forgiving each other was profoundly opposite of the practice of COBU and profoundly strengthening to our relationship. If we hurt each other, even unintentionally, it became a comfort that we could speak easily about what bothered us and know that forgiveness was easily extended and appreciated. It helped us to feel that our hurts mattered, even if only in the small realm of our relationship.
We also had other pressures that were unique to our relationship. Dave is albino and has no skin pigment, so his skin color is lighter than mine even though I'm of the white race and he's African American and most in his family are black. Dave also had two brothers and four cousins who are albino also. So, another stress on our relationship was being an inter-racial couple. This was something we had to deal with regarding our families, our co-workers, Dave's college teachers and friends, people on the sub-ways, and even our own opinions and feelings on the subject. Another foundational commitment that blessed Dave and I and continues to bless us now, is that we read the Bible together almost daily and enjoyed researching things in the Bible that interested us. It was a glorious day when we stumbled on Numbers Chapter 12, where we read the account of how the Lord God was angry when Aaron and Miriam spoke against Moses choice in marrying a Cushite woman, and in punishment turned Miriam leprous for seven days. To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord does not approve. (Lam 3:36) When we researched what a Cushite was, we found that a Cushite is an Ethiopian, and that she was of the black race. So, in reading this chapter, it not only was a comfort to read that speaking against a man's choice in a mate is something God does not approve of, but also the fact that Moses had an inter-racial marriage and God punished his sibling who spoke ill of it.
Num 12:1 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman;
Num 12:2 and they said, "Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?" And the LORD heard it.
Num 12:3 Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth.
Num 12:4 And suddenly the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting." And the three of them came out.
Num 12:5 And the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the door of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward.
Num 12:6 And he said, "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream.
Num 12:7 Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house.
Num 12:8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"
Num 12:9 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and he departed;
Num 12:10 and when the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam, and behold, she was leprous.
Num 12:11 And Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned.
Num 12:12 Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother's womb."
Num 12:13 And Moses cried to the LORD, "Heal her, O God, I beseech thee."
Num 12:14 But the LORD said to Moses, "If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut up outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again."
Num 12:15 So Miriam was shut up outside the camp seven days; and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again.
That chapter was very enlightening to us. When you live in a group that's daily bread is to put false guilt on everyone, it's such a blessing when you can find in scripture an actual example that helps to cast off that false guilt and gain another perspective to be able to hold up our head and walk without fear. To gain confidence that we are precious to God and that our happiness is his concern. To know that he wants to bless us and give us every reason to walk with him in peace. This chapter showed us that the supposed "Bible Understanding COBU" was actually more like the wrongdoing siblings of Moses ~ speaking against his choice in a mate, of this the Lord God does not approve. It seemed as though everyone in our COBU fellowship was working hard to put pressure on Dave and I to break up and our biggest sin was not obliging them, yet the scripture shows in Numbers 12 that the true sin is speaking against a man's choice, especially a man who God has chosen to speak to directly. It also reminds me of this chapter:
Rom 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand.
Rom 14:5 One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind.
Rom 14:6 He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Rom 14:7 None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.
Rom 14:8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.
Rom 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Rom 14:10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God;
Rom 14:11 for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God."
Rom 14:12 So each of us shall give account of himself to God.
Rom 14:13 Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
Rom 14:14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean.
Rom 14:15 If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died.
Rom 14:16 So do not let your good be spoken of as evil.
Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit;
Rom 14:18 he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
Rom 14:19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Rom 14:20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats;
Rom 14:21 it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble.
Rom 14:22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves.
COBU was not into pursuing what makes for peace, COBU seemed to pursue what made for stress. COBU was not into caring about what mattered to the individual. Another thing I remember, that I experienced solely because it was acceptable to stress Dave and I was that one of the sisters I lived with decided she wanted to keep our bedroom light on all through the night, even though I couldn't sleep with it on. So, for a long period of time Meg Clark, took it in her heart to not care if her keeping the light on all night was unkind to me. She considered that she could do whatever she wanted, no matter how offensive it was to me. Night after night I'd get up from bed and turn off the light and she'd turn around and put it back on: over and over and over, when we had to get up to work the next day. Her excuse: "You're in the dark and I want the light on." I told her that keeping me up all night did not equal being "in the light", and yet she continued in this behavior because it had become acceptable to speak against or afflict us.
For years and years no one in COBU had a television. While we were dating, Dave bought one and took it up to his room because he needed to watch the news for one of his college classes. So he got a pair of head phones and would listen to the news each night. I think that was the first year anyone in COBU actually listened to the Presidential debates because of that TV Dave got. Bob Stein, Bill Willis, Dave and I, and a few of us enjoyed watching it in the evenings. In 1983 this mini-series: Herman Wouk's 'The Winds of War' came out and it was a big hit with a bunch of us. Ours was a public relationship: seen daily, spoken about daily. Some brothers came to Dave and said, "Man, if you can do it than I can do it too." They were referring to having the audacity to also have a relationship with a sister in COBU, because up to that point not many dared to travel this road. Our relationship seemed to have a spring board effect.
Dave was in his apartment and was asked to go to Lolly's to fix the lock on her door. Dave went over and began to fix her lock. When he was finishing up she said to him:
[LH]"Dave, why didn't you tell me?"
Dave responded, "Why didn't I tell you what?"
She said, "You know Dave."
This was a very well used phrase in COBU, everyone always insinuated that all of us "knew" whatever workover they happened to be considering, yet Dave had no idea what she was talking about. It was something Dave shared with me, he said, "Don't let everyone work you over with the non-descript accusations. If someone makes a verbal comment that they expect you know what they're referring to, but you don't, then ask them to explain what they are talking about, instead of swallowing every inuendo that comes your way. This was excellant counsel from my betrothed.
Then she said, "OK Dave, I'm gonna put it to you plain, I thought you trusted me. Why didn't you get counsel from me before you started your relationship with Cindy Beckmann? I am a sister-woman, I could have given you some really good counsel and advice, but it looks like Dave, you've made a dumb-Adam move."
Dave began to feel very nervous and uncomfortable and put on the spot. She seemed angry at him.
Then she proceeded by saying, "You just went off on your own and did your own thing. Did you talk to Stewart about this?"
And Dave responded: "I didn't call him, but I did write him a lengthy letter asking him his opinion about starting a relationship with Cynthia."
And Lolly said, "So, you changed her name now?"
He said, "Well, that's what her real name is and I prefer Cynthia, but I did write Stewart a letter and he did respond to my letter because I demanded a response."
Then she said, "Have you talked to the older married brothers about this? The ones who could help you, and I'm not talking about Doug and Stephen in your apartment."
He replied, "I spoke to Dave and Karen P, that was the only couple I felt comfortable talking with."
She said, "Dave, I think you're making a big mistake. Do you know Cindy?"
[Dave had been escorting me to dentist appointments when I had braces and to regular chiropractic appointments for a long period of time.]
Dave replied, "I'm getting to know her and she's getting to know me."
She said, "Above all, I'm disappointed that you didn't trust me and come to me."
She seemed close to getting emotional. The conversation was quite long, and she seemed negative about his choice in having a relationship with me. She seemed to think I wasn't a good choice for him, my personality and overall.
She said, "Dave I think you need to rethink this and get out before you get into a mess."
So, basically, she was upset:
That Dave didn't seek out her counsel.
That she didn't think we should be a couple.
In COBU it was OK for others to criticize your own choice in who you wanted to be with.
This theme was something we found throughout our courtship.
As if we weren't reliable enough to know our own hearts and minds in the matter of choosing a mate.
How audacious of our peers.
It was OK to speak ill to you of the person you wanted to be with.
It was OK to speak ill to you of the person you wanted to get to know.
It was OK to speak ill to you of the person you wanted to have a relationship with.
It was OK to say to a man: "The woman you've chosen is not right for you."
It was OK to say that Dave's choice, namely me, wasn't good enough for him.
It was OK to say to Dave: "You should have chosen someone else!
This was wrong on more levels than I can even think of!
I had joined the group at 17 3/4 while I was still in High School and I was now 23, having been an active contributor to COBU for six years and Dave was just about to turn 25 years old, and had been an active contributor for more than 4 years ~ this type of controlling attitude was completely wrong on so many levels.
We liked each other and as consenting adults chose to be a couple and weren't ashamed of it, but everyone else in our cloistered society wanted us to be, and pushed our buttons every day with verbal slights, open stares, glares and overall negative behaviors ~ yet we were the ones considered to be out of line?!
It reminds me of the way Living Water is treated ~ who has really departed from their COBU ways?!
One brother that Dave was very close to and who heard the things that we experienced every day in COBU, especially regarding the treatment we received from those who we thought were our friends and Christian family decided that he didn't want to get the same treatment, but that he wanted to get married and have a family before he was too old to do anything about it, so he left COBU and married someone who had nothing to do with the church of our youth.
When our relationship was established Dave saved up and decided to pick out a set of wedding rings. A brother Mike J worked in the jewelry district and he took Dave to a dealer who gave him a very reasonable rate on a set of 3 matching rings: 2 wedding rings and one engagement ring. Dave gave me the engagement ring and it was a blessing to me.
I remember walking into the 515 dining area when Jimmy was talking to a group at one of the tables and he called out to me across the room, "Do I see something sparkling on your finger?" and I said, "Yes, Dave gave me an engagement ring!" And I held it so he could see it.
Yeah, really, our relationship was "in the dark" ~ NOT! or We were ashamed?! No!
On the day before our wedding Dave was in Port Authority Bus Terminal on his way to catch a bus to come to my apartment to finalize the last minute wedding plans of family and friends we were expecting etc. In Port Authority he happened to run into a COBU sister Cynthia Krym, she said, "Hi brother, greetings in Jesus, we're going witnessing, would you like to go with us?"
Dave said, "No, I have to do some things to prepare for my wedding tomorrow."
She said, "So, you don't want to go witnessing?"
Dave said, "I'm excited about getting married tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it."
Then it seemed that instead of being happy, as she seemed when she first saw me, her face seemed to get serious and she said,
"Well Dave, I wish I could be happy for you. I wish that I could say that this is Jesus' will for you. Marriage is a serious matter and it shouldn't be entered into lightly. I wish I could be behind this."
Then Dave said, "I don't care what you think. I don't care what you feel. I don't care what you believe. No matter what you say I'm going to get married tomorrow. I have waited a long time for this day and nothing is going to change that."
Then she said, "Well, I was married too and it ended in a mess. What are you gonna do when it happens to you?"
Dave said, "I'm not concerned about what's gonna happen to me, I can only live my life a day at a time and I'm very excited about tomorrow. I don't know what the future is going to be, but from what I see Cynthia, our marriage is going to be good, because our relationship has always been honest from day one." Dave continued, "You know Cynthia, I wish you could wish me well, but God Bless you anyway." and then they went their separate ways.
This was a typical expression from our so-called COBU brethren, always a negative about our relationship and even our desire to make the legal commitment to each other in marriage, still pulled the same dour words:
I can't support what you've decided to do with your life.
You're making a mistake.
You've chosen the wrong sister.
You're relationship is in the dark.
These sentiments seemed like a continuous mantra, to the point that you just have to go ahead in faith and do what God has put in your heart, or be swallowed up by all the negative rhetoric.
Shortly after our wedding Dave went to visit Roger Gonzalez, a elderly gentleman hired by Stewart as a bookkeeper who worked in the Hoboken Situation office with Harry W and Barb M. Roger was someone Dave had befriended in 515. He had a foot injury and had to stay off his feet for a period of time and seeing Roger in the 515 kitchen asked him, "So, what do you think of this place?" And Roger said, "Ya know, you're the first one to ask me that." And they continued to have regular conversations from that time on. We had Roger to our home and he came to all the Living Water meetings throughout 1987 and said the Christmas he had with us was his best ever.
At the Hoboken COBU situation office Dave saw Barb and she said,
"Dave, I don't trust what you're up to. You got married in the dark and you're trying to sneak back into the fellowship."
Dave said, "I'm not interested in sneaking anywhere. I came to visit Roger, where is he?"
Roger came out and said, "Come to my office kid." and to Barb he said, "It's ok Barb, he's alright."
As Dave was talking with Roger,
Harry barged into Roger's office and said,"Dave, what are you up to."
Dave said, "I'm not up to anything."
Then Harry said, "I don't trust you."
Then Roger said, "Excuse me Harry, I am on my lunch break. I'm entitled to spend my lunch break any way I desire."
Harry said, "I'm sorry Roger."
Then Dave said, "Harry, what do you want from me? Oh, Harry, I get this, you want me to leave don't ya Harry?"
and he said, "Yes"
So Dave got up and said, "Ok Roger, we'll have to talk later."
Later Roger told Dave that after he left Harry said to him, "Don't you know that Dave got married in the dark?"
and Roger replied, "It wasn't in the dark, it was a bright and beautiful day. The sun was shining. Dave and Cynthia were beaming. Dave's mom was there and I had a joyous time because I was there!"
Then Roger said to Harry, "Don't you ever, ever, interrupt my lunch break again."
I had worked with Harry in the situation office for a very long time and ironed his shirts for a very long time, also ~ yet he did nothing to bless my wedding day and did nothing to congratulate us.
COBU was filled with a spirit of suspicious doubting ~ treating others as if they didn't know their own hearts and minds ~ nay sayers and mud slingers ~ Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding and in Song of Solomon it counsels that if a woman isn't that well endowed to build her up to her intended:
[Son 8:8 We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister, on the day when she is spoken for?
Son 8:9 If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver; but if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.]
but in COBU all they did was make a sister feel like she wasn't ever good enough, but it was all done to keep everyone in the state of service to king Stewart, keep the machine of making money going and try to prevent marriage, because the married ones aren't as interested in being slaves to the COBU cause.
Very soon after our relationship was established many more gained courage and began relationships and left the unsupportive COBU to get married on their own.
Another factor was, how do you leave COBU when you only receive a pittance of money each week and turn in 90% of your pay and 100% of your IRS tax refund money?
In my case, I had been working for an accountant for 3 days a week for quite a long time and in the situation office on my days off. It had been posted in our hallway that anyone who turned in less than $150.00 per week was not approved or living in fellowship acceptably or something to that affect.
The accountant I worked for liked to quit early, so most of the time we got in at 9 am and quit by noon or 1 pm and he gave me a check for $150 after taxes for what amounted to about 12 hours of work. My boss was happy with the work that I did, and I usually was able to get everything that he brought in for me to do finished pretty quickly.
So, I went to an employment agency and told them that I had part time hours available to do any kind of secretarial or bookkeeping work.
I got hired right away by a mid-town law firm who was looking for someone just to do their legal billing. They saw what I was being paid and they started me at $11.00/hour and after I was trained said that I could do the work in their office or at home. It was a pretty good salary in 1981. The work was a bit tedious, yet easy enough for me to do and I could pick up the work when ever I wanted to. In the downtown accounting office it was just myself and my boss and we both had keys to the office, so he said I could work on the other lawfirms stuff whenever I wanted to and it was good for me to be at his office to cover the phone when he wasn't in.
With the extra income I also had money to buy a typewriter so I could do some of the billing where I lived.
At one point, with the extra money I made, I bought matching 12 speed bicycles that Dave and I enjoyed riding from 515 to Central Park. One day, we were getting ready to go for a ride and my chain was stuck, so I fixed it and went in to use the sink in the 515 office. Jimmy G was back there and it happened to be on the day of a sisters meeting in Princeton and Jim asked if I was going and I said, "No, Dave and I are bike riding in Central Park."
He said, "Well, it isn't a mandatory meeting."
And my thoughts were: 'Who wants to go out to Stewart Traill's house and sit in silence all day, while he makes you feel like you'll never be good enough.' I looked at Jim and said, "Spending my day with Dave bike riding is a lot more fun than sitting around at Princeton getting worked over and made to feel miserable, yup, I'm out."
It wasn't long after that when I had enough extra money saved to start looking for an apartment away from COBU.
Due to my second part-time job, Dave and I had the funds to go see a movie from time to time, something else no one in COBU usually did. The opportunity to go out to eat, something only Stewart seemed to have the funds to do, other than the local diner some frequented for soup or sandwiches.
From my perspective Dave and I were very open about our relationship and there was nothing "in the dark" about it.
Did we do things that the average brother and sister had the freedom to do? Probably not. I think because Dave and I prayed together and had a confidence about trusting God's love for us, it afforded us liberties that most who lived in didn't take and having the sense to have a way to keep funds earned without feeling guilty about it, gave us additional opportunities that the average brother and sister did not have, but we did not use this freedom as an opportunity to hide, on the contrary, we were very open about the things that God entrusted to us.
We lived in peace and maintained our integrity within the framework of our own conscience.
Our courtship was four years [July 1981 to our Wedding June 1985] and we didn't know each other in the Biblical sense until our wedding night, although we saw each other almost every day. That seems to be pretty uncommon in todays society and even among some of our respected brethren, yet we had every reason to rejoice at our accomplishment, without the support of our brethren, but with the loving support of our Lord Jesus and our heavenly Father.
I had my own apartment in Union City NJ, just on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel from most of the fellowship in NYC. I wrote a letter to Stewart once about the unfairness of the way brothers and sisters treated those who wanted to have a relationship.
I quoted the Song of Solomon verse above, that in the Bible if a woman wasn't well endowed that her family should build her up in the sight of her intended spouse.
The fellowship did everything they could to speak ill of me to Dave.
They not only spoke ill of me, but they even had the audacity to site someone else that he should try and pursue, when he was completely happy with the choice he made in me.
There were so many false ideas of what a good relationship consisted of that many brothers and sisters who did leave the group and got married have had difficult times staying married, or happily married.
COBU put too much stress on people and these stresses got carried into life outside the group.
In my letter to Stewart I told him that it was sad that in COBU unless something had his "stamp of approval" it was rejected among the ranks.
So, apparently he enjoyed my letter and wrote me a note back that instead of writing to me personally, as I had written him, he sent his usual cryptic note to the office and this huge throng of sisters came to my apartment in Union City NJ to deliver it.
His note said he liked my letter and to keep writing to him.
He didn't address any of the concerns I raised, because in my opinion he was the one encouraging others to try to break up couples and even admitted it.
So, here I was in my little apartment, I lived on the third floor of a two family house and about 15 sisters came stomping up the steps.
They gave me Stewart's note and to get everyone out I suggested we all do what? "Let's go witnessing." The only acceptable COBU activity!
So, we all filed out and eventually they took the bus back to NY. That was the only visit I ever received.
There was a period of time that I did start to visit the sisters and the fellowship myself and it was just before my grandmother came to see me. Every time she called and I wasn't home I said I was at my old church.
All through my COBU years, most of the times that I'd go to Big Meetings I'd get sick, usually with bronchitis. It happened again during this time and I left the Big Meeting burning up with a fever.
That week my grandmother flew from California to visit me and I was terribly sick and she nursed me back to health. Just before she left, she gave me a hug and said, "Cynthia, in all the time I've been here how come no one from your church has called or come to visit you when the last time you saw them you told them that you were so sick you had to leave their meeting?"
That was it for me, my grandmother helped me to see them through her eyes, that they didn't care about me at all. This was very eye opening for me and I never went back, except to hear Harolon Popov speak at The Boys and Girls Club of Hoboken at the July 4th, 1987 Big Meeting, the last time he came before he passed away. A brother and I had picked him up from the airport, one of the times he came to speak, when I still lived in and he was so kind to me, he said I was like an angel and even though I was done with COBU, I looked forward to hearing him speak that last time.
At that meeting, Dave and I had been married for a couple of years and we came with our own folding chairs, knowing that most would still be hunkering down on the floor. We were right. The only ones other than Dave and I on chairs were Harolon Popov, Stewart Traill and Bob Whipple. Dave and I sat off to the side, near the wall, but this didn't prevent Stewart from making mocking gestures toward us. He put his thumbs in his ears and flapped his fingers back and forth while looking at us. We both ignored his immature and very unwelcoming behavior. At this meeting, not having been to a COBU meeting in quite some time, it was all the more evident how ungodly COBU really is. Stewart, even while Rev. Popov was there, was harsh, and abusive to those at the meeting. He always seemed to have a need to slander, cut, and put down the brothers and sisters. This is nothing like the way the Apostle Paul spoke about the brothers and sisters he lived and worked among. The Apostle Paul always commended those who he ministered with. I have no idea how we could have been so blind as to think that Stewart and COBU in any way reflected a right church or even a godly man. The comparison is so completely obvious having left the fellowship. After this meeting I felt sick to my stomach. I didn't have any interest in going back the following day. Dave and Joe Carilli went back, and Joe stood up and challenged Stewart saying, "You don't even know my name!" Joe had been in COBU since the early Forever Family days and had contributed funds that Stewart spent any way he wanted to for years, and yet he didn't even know his name. Joe continued by saying that even the little children in COBU know his name, but Stewart didn't. It was after this meeting that Dave and I began a 12 day water and juice fast and committed ourselves to prayer about COBU and Stewart and our prayers were heard. James (Jacob) Prasch came to the U.S. from Israel that summer and Living Water began with any who wanted to meet to pray together, but that is another topic.
Dave and I have been happily married since June 29th, 1985. We are about to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. In November 1987, at a Living Water Bible study given by James (Jacob) Prasch on "The Gifts of the Spirit", the Lord began speaking to us through prophetic gifts we received after the laying on of hands and prayers. One of the many things the Lord spoke to us was that he was pleased that we stood up to all the oppressive spirits in COBU that were determined to cause us to deny the love that God gave us for each other.