1 Cor 13.11] When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
ďWhen I was in Cobu, I spoke like a Cobot, I thought like a Cobot, I acted like a Cobot. When I joined Living Water I learned to undue the wrong influence of Stewart Traill in my life and learned how to live in peace with God through Jesus Christ.
When I was 21 years old I said the sinnerís prayer and received Godís spirit in December of 1983. I was led to Jesus by Kevin Brown and John Bevilacqua at a Kansas rock concert in the Meadowlands in NJ.
I moved into Cobu after Living at 4040 Walnut with John Kevin and other brothers and sisters for a few months. What little freedom and joy I had in my salvation was quickly gone once I moved into Woodruff avenue. That did not stope me however from buying into Cobu hook, line and sinker. If you ask me why I would say it was a combination of ďwell they were the ones who led me to Jesus so they must know somethingĒ and that I bought into the whole you can be a center leader eventually and be a great man in God type promises that were often made to me when I got saved. These are not of course the only reasons but key ones.
As I believe most if not all of us did
I believed that it was the only place I could be a Christian. I believed that it was Godís one true church
I believed that Stewart Traill had my best interests at heart and his discipline was needed
I believed that only Stewart could interpret the bible and the end times and if I wasnít with him I would suffer harm
I believed that to leave Cobu was to backslide.
There was more to the story than that of course. I think we all on some levels had our doubts or saw things that we didnít like. But that didnít stop me from doing everything in my power to fit in and be part of the group.
It was often said of me that while I had only been saved a short time it felt like I had been around much longer. This was a testimony to how well I fit into the group. Which was the appeal I think of the group. Myself and many others I met hadnít fit in anywhere else before Cobu and I was glad to have many people I could think of as friends who accepted me as part of something/anything.
ON a deeper level however I found myself deeply frustrated. Frustrated that I could never be considered faithful. Frustrated that no one except St and one or two others were considered faithful. Frustrated that no one got married rightly and deeply frustrated because no matter how hard I tried I couldn't see a way out of it. I couldnít see a way of things ever changing and that I would be considered in God.
Was there no way out of the madness my life had become?
Slaving away day and night only to be told I wasnít good enough and that God was angry with me?
I left shortly after the meeting after the Stone Mountain meeting where Stewart had us sit in silence for about 7 hours. I cracked after five I just couldn't take the pain anymore. I lept up and headed for the door. I felt relieved and condemned at the same time if that is possible.
I then did what many of us did. We called it breaking ourselves down. I left about 2 months later and I swore I would never go back until something changed for real in Cobu. I had become weary of the false hopes and false promises that things would get better only to be continually disappointed when things were the same. One pain and disappointment after another.
It was March 1986 when I left and I stayed under the influence of Cobu for 3 years. I worked with other brothers who had left. I lived with other brothers who had left. We all talked about how we knew Cobu was the only place we could be faithful. It was a terrible life of pain and fear of dying and going to hell. I was neither in Cobu or free to move on with my life as we all cloistered together and nurtured our hopes that we could somehow handle going back.
To me this is one of the worst parts. Hating being in so much but not trusting that anything else is an option.
Many other xbooís who had gone to other churches tried to get me to join them but I never believed them. They said that they were different but everything in me thought they were the same. They didnít look lifted up or blessed. Their talk seemed the same as those I ran into from the church. It was always hey come to the next meeting(in) or come with me to this church or that.
I was not going to get dragged into anything unless I SAW it as being good. Perhaps this was the beginning of growth for me as I promised myself over and over I wouldnít just buy someoneís lines anymore
In 1987 I am guessing around June I overheard a conversation between Joe Carilli and another xboo. Joe laid out many of the things I later found out about Living Water and Dave Simmons. I heard that there were prophesies related to Stewart Traill being wrong. Very Wrong
Brethren I was pricked to the heart in a very deep way. Something about his spirit and words got past all of my carefully laid defenses.
I did what I always did though I went to another brother who I worked with and described the conversation I heard and my reaction to it. He gave me the typical lines we give each other to tell ourselves something couldnít possibly be real. However I couldnít lie to myself anymore and I walked away knowing that his words had not changed anything. I was still deeply pricked and troubled by what I had heard.
I was so troubled that a few days later I actually walked into the attic where I was living took out my bible and opened and pointed at a verse. This was all I could handle of the bilble at this point. Amazingly I opened right to something that made me feel that I had gotten an answer.
I turned to a verse that said Go back by the way you came. Which to me meant Cobu and so I tried to forget my reaction to hearing about Living water and the things I overheard Joe say about Stewart being a false teacher and leader. I went the other direction instead choosing to laugh and mock Joe when I saw him which looking back now I can see is exactly what I had been trained by Stewart Traill to do to anyone giving advise who was not Stewart himself.
About 8 or so months later I found myself again pricked in heart. Stewart said the world was going to end and that everyone who had ever been part of Cobu needed to come to the next meeting. I went to that meeting and many things happened. But to keep this testimony reasonably short I am going to cut to the chase.
Stewart admitted he missed grace. I was ecstatic!!! I felt that we could finally be what we had always been promised as a church. But later that weekend and into Monday morning I became convinced nothing had changed. Brethren seemed dazed and only wanted to act like they had always acted. I didnít think they were taking seriously what had just transpired.
I found myself at Woodruff avenue Monday morning on the floor next to another brother between two rows of beds. I was MISERABLE again. I decided that I wasnít just going to float backin into Cobu but that if things really were going to change as Stewart had promised during the grace meeting that I didnít have to be under any compulsion to be in Cobu anymore!!
I had two lengthy conversations with groups of brothers first at Woodruff in the morning and at the carpet shop on 51rst st at night. In between I had decided to make a go of it as a Christian without Cobu!!!!!
What I realized that night in the carpet shop that night was that my heart had changed and was like a stone against everything the brothers including Bob Whipple tried to say to me. The normal moldy lines we had used on each other for years. Didnít these people know what Stewart had just said? That he had missed grace??
I was OUTRAGED. I had lived a lie for so long under his authority and the threat that he could sentence me to hell if he so chose and treated everyone else I knew poorly based on what he taught me and all of a sudden he says OOPS I MISSED GRACE!!!
When you miss GRACE you miss JESUS.
I left the shop that night convinced that I needed to be a Christian elsewhere but I was as scared as I had ever been in my life as I realized I had to start over and had NO IDEA how to do it.
I went back to the carpet shop where I had been living for the last 2 months and I broke down and cried. Cried for joy and cried for fear. I then called one of the brothers who had always told me I should go to church with him. He was completely unable and unwilling to help only offering me to come to church with him on Sunday which was 6 days away.
I broke down and called Joe Carilli who lived down the street. I had to eat some humble pie to do so as I had mocked him. He didnít hold anything against me. On the contrary he was very pleased I called and was willing to have me come over and talk with him more about it right now even though he had worked hard all day cleaning rugs in his business. He invited me over and we talked and prayed and he put a dab of oil on my head and told me that Living water was commissioned to put oil for the hurts from Cobu on heads and to pray for those who had hurts.
Well that described me to a T. I said I would love to check out a meeting and he said the next meeting was Wednesday. I walked out of his apartment that night feeling like a million bucks and totally blessed. I said anything that can give me this reaction is worth checking into. I was totally flying and felt like I hadnít since I first got saved!
I met with Dave and Cynthia and a few others a few nights later.
I learned a good bit that night. It seems that many who had been fellowshipping with them before prophesies started coming had stopped meeting with them after the prophesies came.
There were also many things in my still foggy mind I didnít understand from that first meeting. But two things I did know. They didnít condemn me and welcomed me. And once again when I left I felt like I had the HOLY SPIRIT poured on me.
I started going to meet with them regularly. They took time out of their busy lives for me. They taught me many things that have helped me and they have never cursed me. I found them to be the exact opposite of Cobu and I decided that their love and information was the tonic my heart desperately needed ot get over the effects of Cobu.
What I brought to the equation was my willingness to change which canít be underestimated. I also told myself after a week or two that since they only met with a few people that if I stayed with them I would have to be the test case for their ministry. That I wouldnít be able to lean on others but I would have to go out in faith which was the very thing I promised myself I would do if I saw something real and so despite my fears I decided to be that test case and to really try what they said and to see if it worked. I told myself and promised God that since I had given Cobu 2 years of my life in that I would give them 2 years to see if they really could help me.
I also realized one other very important fact in those early days. I realized I had to undue everything I had learned as a Christian in Cobu since my foundation had been tainted by Stewart Traillís teachings and ways of looking at life. And that I had to make sure not to build on his foundation but instead had to tear it all out and start fresh. Again a very scary but in the long run great decision.
I wish I could tell you that Dave and Cynthia poured oil on my head and prayed for me which happened about 3 weeks after I started meeting with them helped me to see drastic changes. I really didnít. But what I did see was that they were kind to me and patient with me. And that everytime I left their house I felt blessed.
Cynthia was 5 months pregnant when I met them and still they agreed to meet with me almost every time I asked. They put their own needs and desires on the backburner so they could help and bless me. For this I am very grateful.
So for anyone who questions my loyalty this is what it is built on.i Their willingness and kindness over a long period of time.
They have been to me not only brothers and sisters in Christ but they have been my best friends and in many ways to me more of a parent than my real parents who had thrown up their hands at me long ago.
I met with them regularly for two years and saw myself struggling like going up a mountain. It was difficult work. After a while they wouldnít just hand me a blessing but they encouraged me that I needed to learn to pray to God about my pains and hurts as only he could relieve the damage that had been done to my heart in Cobu.
After two years I decided to reup army style for another two years. I had seen major progress but I still felt I needed to get over the crest of the mountain.
Somewhere in those next two years I did feel I had crested the mountain and started to come down the other side in my Christian walk. Not all of my Cobu was behind me but the worst was finally gone and it would be easier going forward.
Another thing I clearly remember about the first two years was that for the first time in my life when I read the bible the hopeful parts started to actually feel hopeful and I felt like a whole new world was opening up to me in God. I also saw how in Cobu I only tended to truly own the negative things and that we fed each other negative thoughts and doubts about ourselves.
I often found it hard in those days to be patient with myself but Dave and Cynthia never tired in reminding me of Godís love and willingness to be patient with me. Talk about a new way of thinking! In Cobu I always felt like I had to be perfect right now this second!!!
When I was in Cobu I was considered a sponge because of my weakness for getting into my feelings and getting down on myself.
Dave and Cynthia comforted me about this and never made me feel bad that I was often storm tossed.
They have taught me so many things that it would take many pages to alone tell those stories.
Dave and Cynthia have the gift of prophesy which is very scary in many ways at first. But something that has always served me well is that if I didnít understand or took something as condemning or negativeI would always ask them about it.
I learned that my hearing had been damaged in Cobu and that I needed to ask whenever I thought I should what Godís intention or point was in the prophesies. A book by David Seamonds called healing for your damaged emotions also helped describe the phenomenon of damaged hearing in more detail and helped me to understand why I found it difficult to hear clearly and not be oppressed.
And why I needed to not just assume I knew everything or that my initial reactions were correct.
I learned to ask questions and consider matters before deciding on them.
When I expressed interest in marrying Joselyn Ramirez around 1993 they were always encouraging. Eventually prophesies started coming giving me advice on how I could accomplish this. I was told to pursue her which wasnít easy as Joselyn clearly enjoyed my friendship but clearly and often demonstrated that she wanted to crush any hope I had of our friendship turning into a relationship.
We were friends on and off for 7 years. I say on and off because she often would get worked over about talking to me and would end our friendship.
After 7 years we had a break through and she wanted to date me. However she was still clearly plagued by the wrong views of Cobu relating to relationships and broke up with me on more than one occasion.
This went on for another 7 years. No matter how angry or frustrated I became I always could always talk to Dave and Cynthia about it and often I was given prophetic guidance which I had now come after so many years to trust implicitly that helped me out of many holes.
Brethren humanly I could not have taken it. And indeed I often became discouraged. But I am happy to say that I did get married. And Dave Simmons was my best man. Any of you who would say that Dave is like Stewart I have to laugh. Not only would Stewart not help us get married he would do everything in his power to stop us and make us feel unworthy to get married.
Dave Simmons helped me every step of the way for almost 15 years to get married to the woman I wanted and then was my best man at the ceremony.
I have seen Dave and Cynthia (now with their little tail Tod Burros tagging along whenever possible) bless everyone who has come in their midst. If someone wants to continue to come they are very glad.
If someone doesnít want to come again they pray for them that God blesses them and helps them.
We say a prayer every day for those who have been oiled and for those who have heard about our ministry but have not come forth for blessing to this point.
While not all that has been promised has come to pass at this point my life has gone from being cursed to being blessed and you canít ask for much more than that.
When I was in Cobu I was constantly cursed, told I wasnít good enough and was made to feel guilty.
In Living Water I have been loved, told I could do it if I only sought the Lord about it and have been made to feel loved and appreciated.
When I was in Cobu I was taught that no matter how much I did it wasnít enough. In Living Water I have been taught to clean my heart and that is the sacrifice that God wants from me. And that when you have a clean heart you can hear God clearly and walk in his will.
Not because someone else told you it was his will but because you know it for yourself.
I may add more to these types of differences as time goes by. But to anyone who feels moved in their heart to come and check out Living Water I say come and be blessed.
To those who think this whole thing is ridiculous and a waste of time I respect your opinion and am thankful that you at least read the testimony and wish you only blessings in your life through God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
For I have learned to be able to disagree with someone and still love them. I believe this is Godly and I am thankful for this ability that I never could have had if I had remained under the influence of Stewart Traill.
The last thing I want to say is this. In Cobu I learned not to trust. Not a very good Christian trait. I was taught not to trust outside Christians, not to trust my brothers and sisters in Cobu and most of all not to trust myself. And to try and tear down anything I didnít understand which it turns out was most things.
It was our little way of testing things. If I can tear it down it must not be from God.
I now know how to trust God first and give others the benefit of any doubt and this allows me to love them and encourage them rather than trying to tear them down and prove them wrong.
1Cor 13. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.