More C.O.B.U. cult abuse….from another former member…

JEFF ALGE’S STORY

Here is a little more of my story . Use it on your site if you like.

I became convinced that C.O.B.U. was a cult in 96. In fact the then members themselves had been calling it a cult as did Stewart (very shrewd) .

Before then I believed it was the only place I could be truly faithful . I had lived in “Fellowship ” from 76 to about 84 and had been on my own without any contact with C.O.B.U. for 12 years .

During those 12 years I worked with my two brothers as a recording engineer in New York and LA making records in the music business. I worked with a lot of big stars and made Grammy Awarded and Platinum Records .

I always thought one day I would return to C.O.B.U and the Church would be flourishing and members would welcome me back. I had an idealized idea of how things would be if I returned . I finally got enough courage to call. No one seemed to care .

I sent faxes everyday for a month or so begging a brother to call me or write or anything. I was expecting them to be happy to hear from me and to reach out . Finally Stewart got a hold of a fax I had written and told Kevin Brown to call me . I went to NY from LA to visit my family .

While I was there I spent a couple weeks working with Kevin Brown at Olde Good Things while it was in its infancy. I had hoped that ” maybe I could help rebuild the Church and get it back on track.

Kevin had me set up a website for Olde Good Things and Stewart seemed interested in having me work with him in a Nagra rental business because after I left I became a very well known recording engineer in NY and LA ( Nagras are a special tape recorded used in film production that Stewart collects). After a couple of weeks I was asked to attend a meeting with Stewart and a group of brothers at the first ” Christian Fellowship Meeting” about rebuilding the Church and escaping the cult.

After I spoke to Stewart on the phone about some things that went on between myself and Kevin Brown . Kevin had said he didnt trust me . I told him ” what was there not to trust “?. I came on my own ticket and worked for nothing . I used my own money to pay for my needs and drove a truck for the business for about 2 weeks . I also did a ton of manual labor ( about 16 hours a day for 2 weeks ) . All the usual C.O.B.U. stuff. It was a gift to him and the rest .

I viewed Kevin as being ungrateful and manipulative . He never acted kindly toward me . The rest of the members were like zombies. Painfully unkind to one another . After that I returned home to LA. I had had enough .

I received what seemed like a hundred phone calls from the brothers who had been chosen to be in “The Christian Fellowship” badgering me to move in or return to Jesus once I got home. I just stopped answering them. I had been talking to my family the whole time.

My mom is a believer and she knew I needed to go through this . I just couldnt handle the unkindness and unrealness anymore. I did suffer a lot of guilt about not “Helping rebuild the Church” as Stewart had put it .

I began drinking and using drugs and fell into a deep depression which lasted a couple of years during which I gave up my career and moved to Jackson Hole Wyoming to live with my sister. I began to be a hopeless alchoholic and one morning decided I didnt want to continue living. I got a phone call from my sister and told her I was going to kill myself. She introduced me to a friend who got me into A.A.

I have been clean and sober for seven and a half years now . During that time I have studied Stewart and C.O.B.U. looking for answers to what happen to me. I found out about Stewart and his half wife relationships . I found I.R.S. statements that contradicted what I know to be fact .

I found a very troubling court document about an auto accident Gayle had in the islands and some insurance scam . I found a lot of solicitations for donations of aircraft mechanics time and services. I found the stories of Jim Enright who I lived with for a while , and much of the other info available on the web.

It all has lead me to believe what I already knew but didn’t want to except. The group is a naively deluded bunch of followers of a sick and deluded man .

Living in the Jackson Hole area I have a unique insight into this type of group. I live in an area that until recently was almost entirely Mormon.

While investigating C.O.B.U. I found a lot out about this group . Many of my neighbors are members. It is the largest cult in america . It is scary how they naively follow the “prophet Joseph Smith ” without even a shred of evidence to support his claims of having been delivered another testament to Jesus . I understand though. They believe they are the only true Church with a restored gospel . It all is strangely familiiar to me .

All of this said , I have found it very helpful to speak openly about my experience with C. O.B.U. If you think it would be helpful please use this e-mail on your website or forward it to others who you think might find it usefull.

You can also use and distribute my e-mail address .

I only hope you and I can get past all our anger at what has happened to us as a result of C.O.B.U. and invest our God given talents wisely and fruitfully. As for Stewart , He is going to get exactly what he deserves very soon

I do not think much can be done for current members until each member gets sick and tired of being sick and tired and used by Stewart . But once they leave having some resources available like a site with the stories of ex members is very valuable .

My hope for all ex and current COBUs is that we can find true peace and be free of the oppressive and unnecessary guilt and shame .

I believe Jesus is quoted as having said something like ” I did not come to condemn the world , but to save it ”

Love to all , Jeff Alge
jta@tetontel.com

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “More C.O.B.U. cult abuse….from another former member…

  1. I had a nervous breakdown after leaving COBU at age 16 in 1977.Most of my hair fell out,I had temporary memory loss,I became severely depressed,with little will to live….For years afterwards I felt condemned and on my way to Hell.I had the idea(from COBU)that salvation had to be earned,and kept through works. Even now,I am tormented by frightening thoughts about being damned,committing the unpardonable sin,etc,and I truly believe it all started with the brainwashing I recieved in the cult!I came from a home where there was no religious beliefs,so I was a “blank Slate” when the COBU got ahold of me.I was spiritually starved,and ended up being fed all kinds of false doctrines and heresy! I would love to hear from former memebers,especially if they remember me(and even if they dont!) My E mail is Galgonedaft@aol.com My name back then was Alease Davis,I was a really shy ,thin girl,with long blonde hair.God Bless,Alease

  2. The worst thing that resulted from COBU involvement,was that it made me TERRIFIED to read the Bible.Every time I would try to read it,those verses that Stewart used to control us would “jump out at me!”Trying to read the Scriptures made me feel CONDEMNED.With my kids going back to high school and college this week,I have decided to really commit myself to studying God’s word.I will have time alone now,and I want to make up for lost years of avoiding the Word,out of irrational fears. It took me many years to really figure out that Stewart had taken Scriptures out of context,and twisted their meaning to serve his purposes.When I hear a minister quoting a verse,especially a frightening one,I check out the context.Many times they also read their own meanings into verses.Always remember,CONTEX IS SO IMPORTANT,when studying the Bible.Say a prayer for me,friends,that I can really learn Jesus Word.Thank you,Alease

  3. Rom 8:1 ¶ [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
    I hopw that helps you Alease. Jesus does love you and He’s not waiting to replace you. If they told you that in the COBU they LIED. God Bless!~

  4. Thank you,Sunshine.After I had children of my own,I began to realize how I loved them unconditioally.They are each so precious and irreplaceable to me.Then,I began to ask myself…am I able to love more than Jesus can.Can I somehow love my children MORE than Jesus loves us?It seemed like e ridiculous question.For so many years,I had believed that we were just “throw away children” to God.Now I knew that it wasnt adding up anymore.Read the beautiful story of the Prodigal Son.The father stood outside,watching afar off,hoping for the son’s return.When the father saw him in the distance,he ran to him,and rejoiced.I have had a “prodigal son” and nothing could change my love for him,even when his heart is far from me.How much greater must God’s love be for us,his children?Please pray for Jonathan,my son.

  5. Hi !
    I just happened to google COBU and was surprised to find anything, no less so much history ! I was a non-resident for a few months @ 1976/77 in New Brunswick/Highland Park, NJ.
    I met some very nice people during that time and am disheartened at what a negative turn COBU took. I drove some old vans to Phiadelphia and NYC and remember when they started the carpet cleaning. I was at the BIG MEETING when it was announced that they were going to Haiti. I am saddened that something that seemed so positive would become so negative !!!

    Jeff
    Rochester, NY

  6. Hi Jeff~
    It is a shame that it changed so much. I remember New Brunswick! I was in Staten Island from 4/75- 9/75 before moving to the Phili Center.
    I had a good time during the earlier days, before Stewart gained total control.
    The bible studies on Sat Nites in New Brunswick were cool. Remember the old JW that we all sat around witnessing back and forth to and he finally tossed his roll of paper with scratched verses down and quit and then got saved?
    Witnessing in 75 was awesome…I loved it. I recall back in 75 in NB was Dave Rizetto center leader , Vinny DiPaola a skinny kid that dressed like Stewart, lol [many bros thought it cool to wear work uniforms and carry a mini Z in a belt pouch, lol .. and there was , hmmm…. I see faces, but names.. one kid in particular was a blonde curley haire kid that …ahah – Roger Norman…started Bayonne~ then John Bevilaqua ran Staten Island, Barbara Walden’s brother Bob, ran Jersey City…Jay Edelman was on SI.. I remember a Jeff Bernstein…beard mustache dirty blonde I think….Sharon Sullivan, Karen Stahara, Sue Kyle, Charlie Walsh, Charlie Edelman, DaveChestnut, Chico, Lee, Mary Dunn, …some stayed in for a few more years and after they started the Carpet Cleaning which intially seemed a good idea, greed kicked in and cutting expenses took away Stewart’s humanity [ if he ever had any] and then he surrounded himself with minions and had them run interference and cull out the easy to handle from those who had brains enough to stand up to them.. so they got rid of anyone that didnt provide gain for them…

    I was lucky . I got out before it went Borg…Many nice people were there and many of them have left and still serve Jesus in other fields , even as pastors and evangelists!

    You are welcome to join any of the online former member groups.There are several . I have xcobu4Jesus on yahoo groups. Theres also xcobuon yahoo too. and more..

    Keep in touch~
    GBU~!
    Ave

  7. My older Brother, Dave Craig, is still in the COBU, and has been in and out of it since the late 70’s. The typical member, he has given up a good job, a wife, a child, etc. to be part of the COBU. As for myself, I attended some meetings of the COBU back in 1975 in Pittsburgh. When I got out of the Army back in 1980, I actually moved into a COBU Fellowship in Pittsburgh (Squirrel Hill). I saw many people from colleges in Pittsburgh give up their education to join. Most of them eventually quit the COBU at some point and went on with their lives. I quit after my last stint with the COBU in Baltimore, MD back in 1983. They had a fellowship house on Maryland Ave. I guess those of us who quit, most of us, left because we wanted to grow up and move out of never never land. Yes, terrible, we wanted to have a career and family. Marriage, of course, in the COBU was impossible. Nobody met Stewart’s standards for marriage. Those who did get married left the church, got married, then returned.

    If you would like to find out more about my experiences in the COBU you can email me at ga_craig@yahoo.com or by phone at 717-203-1849.

    God Bless, (Get Smart Get Saved…LOL) Gary

    • Getting a therapist that is a good fit and has a Phd. works wonders. He/she will see right through ST’s B.S. It’ll cost some money, though, but well worth it.

  8. @Jeff,
    When I was in COBU, from time to time, we’d have brothers where gone for many years return. They were always in for a big surprise and they did not stay long. Many of them hadn’t been able to get on with their lives since leaving, because they thought that they had to be in COBU to be serving Jesus. They, like, you came back expecting something other than what they encountered. You describe it very well.

  9. Hi James L,
    I do remember your name, but ran in different circles. Funny how it was all so many years ago yet was so life altering for everyone who ever was enchanted by the illusion of what it represented surfacely~ All who joined either were newly saved wanting to serve Jesus, those seeking more meaningful ways of serving Him, those who were disenchanted with the current religious institutions, those who didnt want to remain in the love, sex, rock n roll culture ~ young impressionable, idealistic people that for the most part, ones like me who were already saved before joining saw it as a way to get a ‘free’ bible education, could learn to doeffective street evangelization and for those who went to Haiti to work in the orphanage~ a way to be missionaries… There were alot of good intentions in regards to being part of the COBU. Stewart just had his way of being able to use it and us as tools to create an empire for himself and become rich on the sacrifices of others.

    While members worked harder and harder to earn money, they were brainwashed into not wanting any more than their basic human needs met, not unlike living in a prison or concentration camp~!! Yet the illusion was there and the alienation brain washing that went on effectively prevented many from leaving until they were totally emotionally, spiritually, phyisically and financially drained dry.

    The grip COBU had on its members lives, made them feel that the only way they could serve Jesus was to persevere the abuse and remain in COBU and to leave it would be backsliding and leaving Jesus and a surety that they would go to hell and never be able to fit into the world or the religious systems.

    To leave COBU was like being cast out of the Garden of Eden [ some Eden, when you think about it , it was more a living hell for most] but nonetheless, when anyone left, they felt shame, regret, humiliated, alienated from society, backslidden and condemned.

    With such strong mental, spiritual havoc going on in their minds, each person went through and some still go through the tormentuous feelings of condemnation that follow everyone who has ever been in COBU.

    Those who have recovered have done well and are serving Jesus today in their lives.Hopefully most have recovered BUT for those who have not recovered and attempted to restore their lives, of them many have married and had children but the haunting of COBU mindset has followed them and as a result some marriages ended up in domestic violence, alcohol & drug abuse and some have committed suicide or died from stress related illnesses.

    Some have gone through deprogramming and others have continuing mental health concerns.

    Stewart and his true followers are subjected to the leading of familiar seductive religious spirits and allow those spirits to control them in exchange for feelings of superiority, self righteousness and elitism. They think they are the only ones rightly serving Jesus and feel the more self sacrifice they make, the more accepted they will be by the Lord.

    Currrent long term members are thoroughly deluded and misguided by Stewart and since they have been “IN” for decades wont even consider being set free and remain in a mental prison of their own making.

    Newer members are deceived by the surface appearance of ‘good works’ being done in the orphange in Haiti, which is actually a business and justification for the CONU’s existence~ a smoke screen ~ a front, not unlike the soup kitchens in Al Capone’s day!!

    Stewart has managed to keep his name legally off many of the enterprises born from the blood sweat and tears slave labor force he created.He has cleverly expanded his initially refurb vac flea market sales into a cleaning service where brothers were taught to use rug cleaning machines and sent out to do office cleaning and then turn their paychecks over to the ‘church’ end of the COBU enterprises.

    Out of the cleaning services, known as Christian Brothers Carpet Cleaning Services, which began over 25 yrs ago in NYC and then expanded to other major cities~another enterprise was born.

    They began to do demolition and recovery work on old NYC buildings were they were able to collect antiquities and architectural cosmetic decor such as fancy moldings and old lighting fixtures, door nobs and other antique items that renovators want in doing Victorian restorations. Gleaning this items through granting tax receipts, they began to accept anything tangible as legal donations to support the Haiti orphanage. They began to sell these antiquities on Ebay and are known as “Olde Good Things” and have established some stores across the nation.

    It was reported that they also have some real estate holdings and some chain stores that are leased out but that too is under a separate corporate name and banking.

    Stewart needed to establish his own support that could justify his wealth by creating S&G Photographics in which he employed sisters in COBU who then became his virtual harem and turned their paychecks over to the church part of COBU as well under the guise of beating the IRS.

    Sisters lived in the same COBU housing and their needs met while they increased Stewarts wealth and power base.

    Over the years after the initial start with harsh brainwashing leading members to think it was all being done to serve Jesus~ COBU became strong enough to sustain unsaved homeless people who were willing to work for them and other people who may have been seeking to escape society and a criminal element was introduced into the fellowship.

    While control was maintained, as long as members did what they were told, worked and turned over their paychecks and attended the nightly brainwashing meetings in which the bible was used as a tool to control the masses, all sorts of people passed through the doors of COBU Controls and the blending has led many believers to leave but enabled COBU to begin to actually hire outsiders to work in some of the business enterprises, so the the transformation took place as COBU’s enterprises are now well established.

    Many of the original members resent the many years they sacrificed in building Stewarts empire but few can regret helping the Haiti orphanage, even though most of the wealth is funneled away from actually helping the orphans.There were times when sisters who were being sent down as replacements were told to conceal up to $15,000 each under their clothing when coming from the US and entering into Haiti. What ever that money was for or where it went is unknown, as it was ‘off the books”.

    While Al Capone was finally sent to prison for income tax evasion when the Feds couldnt tangibly charge him with the crimes he is notorious for, Stewart learned by the mistakes of others and has kept paper trails from leading to him and has hand picked those who are closest and trusted as he has them equally brainwashed and obedient to his will.

    With the Bush initative for faith based ministries to help the poor, the COBU has managed to capitalize on that as well so now Stewart is reported to have 4 planes and obtains Federal funding to keep the orphange going, so between the donations and funding the orphanage has become a very lucritive business venture indeed.

    The only consolation for know it is a farce is for any of the orphans that actually get help, but financially speaking there is no reason why COBU couldnt have put up a huge orphanage there and helped many more 1000’s than they do. Gods knows the difference and while Stewart may have it covered on earth concerning his empire, he will have hell to pay later on if he doesnt repent and set his captives free.

    Last estimate was that there are about 40 diehards left in the core of the COBU and then the transients that they work with and through.

    I thank God I got out when I did and I pray for those recovering from the abuse they suffered there.

    GBU~!
    Ave

  10. Ave,
    What you wrote above is a very good overview COBU, especially the business aspects of it and how it was, and is, all done. I was living there when the “criminal element” was introduced, though I think these people might all be gone now, and as you said, businesses are run by the remaining 40 or so long term members and people that they have hired to work for them. I was there when they took over one of the church buildings at 810 North Broad Street in Philadelphia, which ended in a dramatic closing as it was shut down. People easily could have been killed. Thankfully nobody was.

    I want to attach here a short passage from my autobiography, which talks about how the new people we had swept up off the streets took over a meeting and how it was handled. I doubt that meetings like this happen anymore there. It was a rough period in COBU. The link that I have put above goes to my autobiography, which I am working on, but not finished with.

    Here is the part about the scene at the meeting:

    The new people were often unruly, and in many cases it was our fault. There was a meeting when they took over and it looked like a riot might take place. There were several men walking around with boards. It must be noted that Stewart was not a coward in all this. He did not flee the room. No one did. We tried to contain things. Stewart had great knowledge of human behavior, as manipulative people do, since it is not by accident but by design that people are controlled. Although many feared this crowd that was about to go in to a rage, Stewart probably realized that in any crowd there are only a handful of people who are stirring up the rest and that most of these people, as rough as some of them might appear, were just regular people who would not want to fight or hurt anyone. He realized who the trouble makers were, usually the ones with something in their hands and directed the biggest and strongest older brothers to “talk to them,” which mean surrounding them. If these brothers had pushed or tackled any of these guys, the others might have been incited to riot. But through the careful use of talking about “helping people” he was able to manage the crowd. The rest of the people really had legitimate gripes about their treatment, but were not violent people either. Their part in this whole scenario had been mostly that of shouting.

    It was also good that we had Christian beliefs. If this had been a prison scene and we acted like guards, it would have gone down very badly.

    Stewart was also careful to play both sides of the crowd and let the new people vent about which Older Brothers had been mean and who always mistreated them. These brothers were mostly the leaders who carried out Stewart’s orders and policies on the new people. It was more convenient to have them seen as oppressors for the moment, in contrast to Stewart who appeared to care about them and let them voice their dissatisfaction – and was wisely playing the crowd in order to let them vent safely.

  11. Oh My, I just saw his name (John Bevilaqua). He ran the house in Staten Island. I want to say his GF’s first name was Sue, but not too sure. Such bad flash backs of being on my knees in the park or in the house, face covered and chanting, (Praise God) over and over. At the time I lived in Eltingville and my girlfriends sister was also a member (Lisa O). Oh God, I remember all the rooms upstairs. I attended a convention once, (wish I can remember where it was) I alomst want to say PA. and Stewart was there preaching his BS. Wow, bad memories, such very sad sad memories of my life stolen from me. My heart goes out to all of you who have survived.

    • Yes I see you found his name! Yes she was called Sue but her real name was Marie.Shame how many were harmed by it. I suppose if you were in Eltingville, you may hay joined after they got the house on Rockland Ave off Richmond Ave out by the mall. I was there til the end of Aug 1975 and then moved to Wilmington Delaware. Most of the meetings back then were in Pennsylvania. Part of joining was going to the conventions, called ” Big Meetings” and I kind of liked those as I liked traveling to Pennsylvania and seeing the countryside. If you can remember the month and year I can probably figure out the location.I left as of July 76, so would have to check with other former members to find out later locations.Many have actually gone on to do well in the end. Some went on to college and into ministries or professions such as counseling, that have helped other former members to get their lives back. Others still struggle. While I was in only about 14 months, there are some that were in for years and its been harder for them to adapt back into the mainstream. We have as few online groups where people can go and sound off and ask questions and try to arrive at the right answers for one another. Others have helped one another to get out of there and back to families and friends to go on with their lives. Others like me just got out and gradually picked ourselves back up and have gone on to live somewhat normal lives. For those who remained, they live a sheltered live together and still attend little meetings and work jobs that keep them supported although the majority of the money earned still funnels back to Stewart. We still pray for those that are ‘in’ and that they see t hese forums [if they get to get online] so they know that help is available and they can be set free.

      GBU~!
      Ave

  12. I remember sitting up front during a meeting and hearing ST say “suckers” into his tape recorder. His mood was euphoric, as though he just took a hit of cocaine. He is a true sociopath. Do you ever wonder what motivates a serial killer–when they get over on people they feel they are above mere mortals–a god. Then ask yourself, what were you doing there? Looking for some “cocaine?” I wager the assets of COBU are being paid out in salaries and it will declare bankruptcy after he dies.

  13. Blessins

    I left COBU shortly after it changed its name from The Forever Family. I had actually gotten saved through the Children if God but then I was in the FF.
    Having seen what Moe Berg did in the Cogs I begn to see Stewart Traille going the same way ; a man who began right but became evil due to religious pride and not so secret sexual immorality that ultimately went from heavy shepherding and financial explitation an impropriety into apostasy and heretical doctrine. Stewart Traille had insight but lacked a knowlege of things like the original languages of scripture, but he became too arrogant to be teachable by anyone.

    Stewart Traille is a backslidden , doctrinal apostate narcissistic Sociopath who is probably to some degree demonized. Satan used him to help destroy families, marriages, and the faith if many if The Lord’s sheep. May God remove me from ministry if I should ever mislead His people.
    .

    Although I am based out of the USA (my family are Israeli and our ministry operates in about 10 countries where we have branches and missions) I am still in fellowship with a number if Ex COBU brethren such as Dave & Jo Anne Rizzetto, Jerry Di Mateo, Gary Jones and various others.

    God Bless all of those who by God’s grace have escaped the clutches of that diabolical freak cum religious con man Stewart Traille yet have remained faithful to The Lord Jesus. I invite any former COBU brethren to visit our website http://www.moriel.org

    God Bless You In Jesus,
    James Jacob Prasch

    Philippians 1:6

    • God bless you Jacob & may your efforts for our Lord continue top flourish~!! I fondly remember Dave & Jo Anne Rizzeto .I have heaerd of your work and theirs going out and still purposefully street witnessing~!! So amazing in this day and age as things have gotten so much more wicked than in the 70s although the 70s were wicked enough for themselves~!
      I think I also remember Jerry & Gary.
      I have been in contact with a number of xboos over the years and am, good friends with Dave Pindell. He is hosting a picnic for xboos on Labor Day Sunday down near York~ I have a website too actually 2 but 1 is more for archives now. http://www.xcobu4Jesus.ning.com that has more info on the picnic~ Ed Gastor and Cathy are among the 10-23 expected to come.

      GBU~!
      Ave

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s