Area Fellowship News
Our fellowship was asked to put together the history of how we evolved into what we are today. Sounded simple enough, but what difficulty we have had putting it together. Each of us has come into the fellow-ship at different points along the road with a personal history and unique reasons for staying. So we decided that rather than a "text-bookish" history lesson, several of us would take at turn at telling you from our own experience and in our own words why and how we got here.
Some of us in the Northeast Fellowship have been meeting together since 1981. However, the roots of our present day group really began in the summer of 1984. We had become acquainted with the writings of Norman Grubb through our pastor, and in 1985 Norman graciously accepted an invitation to come to our fellowship and share his message of our spirit union with Jesus Christ and how He lives His life through us. My close friend and now brother in Christ, Russ Smith, remembers coming to our house to hear Norman speak, and to this day tells of the lasting impression Norman made on him. Twelve years later, Russ received Christ as his personal savior.
As I started thinking about that meeting, I remembered clearly a particular point that Norman had emphasized. He said that you could not say that you were Christ in your form unless you could also say that you had been Satan in your form. He then quoted John 8:44 and Eph. 2:2 from the Scriptures, which Norman always insisted had to be our final authority.
Our fellowship meetings have changed much from the early days when we mostly listened to one or two people teach or share. Of course we still spend plenty of time studying and searching the Scriptures. In recent times we have been spending more time together, talking about what is happening in our lives, and helping each other to live from the truth.
My fellowship experience has been life-giving and life-changing. I received a lifeline from God last summer when Tommy Prewitt suggested a new business direction that would give me the opportunity to take a leap of faith to trust God in this new venture and to draw upon Christ’s life within me. It was a chance to break out of the Satanic complacency that I was in. The new venture has begun, and God is blessing it already. Brett, Colette, Fowler, Kathy and others have spent a lot of time encouraging me to believe rightly about myself. I am thankful to be on this new course.
When I first came to the New York fellowship, it was in the days before it was known as the "New York Fellowship." I became a Christian in 1981 and became part of a fellowship which, through one of the pastors, introduced me to the teachings of Norman Grubb. Quite honestly, my participation at that time was not the number one thing in my life. My all-consuming passion was not God and His people but my boyfriend, who later became my husband. So when the fellowship invited Norman to speak and arranged for others to join us in a conference, I was on the periphery of things (although I never would have admitted it then).
It wasn’t until I began having difficulty in my marriage and reached a point of desperation that Norman’s words, and the help and insight of those who knew him well, touched me beyond the skin’s surface. So I can’t give you much detail about the fellow-ship up until this point because I really don’t remember. However, in 1988 at the point where I thought I was losing "my grip" on life, I tentatively reached out and talked with Sanda Cooper (I should say that she reached out to me!) about my troubles.
She didn’t say one thing that I hadn’t already heard. It was just that the soil had been tilled and I was ready to listen. Realizing my absolute inability to change my life made me hang on to what I heard. Really, I know that it was God not letting go of me.
From there I had some serious battles to fight within myself mostly and also in my home as I watched my husband slip further and further from God. I clung especially to Norman’s words from The Law of Faith. God was dealing with my attachment to a person who occupied the "citadel of my heart" where God alone deserves to live.
During this time and in the three years since my husband divorced me, I have grown so much closer to the folks in the local fellowship and in the larger Zerubbabel fellowship. They have nursed me through sleepless nights, disciplined me as I never had been as a child, encouraged me, and basically "grown me up." They have also been a mainstay as I have faced the responsibilities of raising my son.
Our fellowship has undergone a lot of transitions as different folks have come and gone, but the ones who have "stuck" have seen their lives transformed by the sharpening of iron against iron. I know that God is serious about His business and I am grateful to be a part of it.
I began meeting with Colette Burger in 1988. As a brand new Christian, I had asked God to provide someone to help me understand how to have a relationship with Him. Colette was the answer to my prayer. I feel privileged and grateful to have received the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the biblical truth of no independent self so early in my Christian walk. It has been life-changing to my family and me.
I participated in some home Bible studies and local conferences with Colette’s fellowship intermittently throughout the next few years, but never really made a commitment to become involved in the fellowship for two main reasons: unbelief and sin on my part, and fear of the possible reaction of my resistant, non-believing husband. This changed in 1993, after the near death of our son (age three at the time) from a serious illness.
This was a turning point in my faith. I could not have gotten through that ordeal without the steadfast support, encouragement, and prayers of the folks in the fellowship. Furthermore, God was not going to allow me to sit on the fence any longer. Despite my fear of my husband, I decided to fellowship regularly regardless of what he thought of me.
It would take two more years to make the choice to expand my involvement in the fellowship by going to summer camp in North Carolina in 1995. Consequently, my husband began to take notice because he knew that I was serious. I am also so glad that I went to camp that year, and the ones since. These times helped me see and deal with my sin. I also received spiritual and practical help in raising our children, and I was and still am in awe of the wisdom and compassion that permeates this body.
What really keeps me here is the honesty, and the biblical upholding of God’s standards, not man’s. If we are ultimately created to contain Jesus Christ so that He can be light to this lost world and sin is the only block to His light, then I’d rather go through some uncomfortable confession of sin among brothers than to forfeit Jesus Christ reaching a lost soul and my freedom from the sin He died for!
What I like about this fellowship is the honesty–Christians living from Bible-based standards of what God calls us to. If the ultimate is abiding in Christ, then what I want is to be really clean and free from sin so that I am abiding in Christ. This is the only fellowship with which I’ve been associated that will put themselves on the fine to be honest and help people realize the sin in their lives and repent of it so that they can truly live in the freedom of Christ. What’s sad to me is that so many of our fellow brothers in Christ don’t know the truth that it’s either Christ or Satan.
Despite, and probably in reaction to, my Catholic upbringing and education, I basically turned away from my chosen religion (except for prayer several times a week) for many years. I knew that my friend Joe was attending fellowship meetings and conferences for many years. I appreciated his Christian discussions with me during lunch on a consistent basis for several years. I also attended a conference (around 1987) at Joe’s house with Norman speaking, and was very favorably impressed. But I still resisted getting involved in the fellowship for several more years.
Finally, after going back to Catholic mass for about a year, I decided to attend the fellowship conference (Nov. 1997 at Joe’s house), realizing that I needed more in my life. I had difficulty that day with my son’s behavior, and Page came over to provide valuable support for little Russell. I reacted negatively and pridefully resisted and questioned her support. How could she help little Russell? She didn’t know him. Then I angrily left in frustration and headed home.
On the drive home, I felt I was radically wrong. I called up Joe that night and discussed how he thought others perceived my actions, and I felt I was wrong and sinful. The next morning I came over to Joe’s to admit that I was wrong and to apologize for my actions. It was then, with the help of those present, I accepted Christ. There was a lot of God’s light showing in Joe’s house that day, and I was finally brought to the point of accepting Him. I professed my belief in Jesus Christ and my desire to have Him live through me and with me in my life.
I first read one of Norman Grubb’s books, The Spontaneous You, back in 1980. I knew that he understood God’s Word more deeply than anyone else I had ever read, but I couldn’t quite grasp what he was saying. Perhaps it was too wonderful for me to believe that what he was saying about Christ living His life through us was true.
In 1982 I moved to Poughkeepsie, New York to attend Vassar College, and in February, 1983, a friend invited me to his fellowship where one of the pastors was teaching from some of Norman’s books. I was surprised, first of all, to find that anyone had heard of Norman Grubb, let one was teaching from his books. So I began attending this fellowship and soon met Joe Laffin and Colette Burger. I attended this fellowship for the next several years until I graduated from Vassar in 1986. Because there was some disagreement over the biblical basis of Norman’s teaching, I decided to attend Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary near Boston so that I could figure out for myself what God’s Word said. During that I time I struggled a great deal with this and was not sure what I believed. During part of this time I was involved with the Boston area fellowship.
By 1991, even though I was now satisfied with the biblical basis of Norman’s teachings, I still found myself spiraling down into depression. I began looking not simply for an intellectual understanding of the Bible but for an answer that satisfied my heart as well as my head. At this time a member of the Boston fellow-ship sent me a notice of a conference they were having at Singing Hills in New Hampshire and invited me to attend. I had started reading The Intercessor again so I was open to coming.
Having reached a point of desperation, I began talking about my insides with other people and began to open myself up. So I started attending the Boston Fellowship again. By 1997 others had moved down to our center in North Carolina and I was the only one left in the Boston fellowship, so I moved down to Joe Laffin’s home in Poughkeepsie. Since that time I have again been a part of the New York fellowship.
This fellowship, in New York, Boston, and the larger Zerubbabel fellowship, has taught me what it means to be a person, to be vulnerable in sharing what is inside me, and to accept the feedback others give me even when it feels unpleasant. Having been isolated at times in the past from others who believe as we do, I have found that regular fellowship with them is essential to my remaining clear and free from Satan’s lies.
It was late August of 1995 when my wife Kathy asked me if I would like to go to a Bible fellowship conference. She explained that it would be held at Joe and Sherryl Laffin’s home and that she would love for me to come, even if it was just for half a day. I can’t say I was surprised. After all, Kathy had just returned from a week long summer camp with this same fellowship held 700 miles from my home, somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. No, I can’t say I was surprised; I was just hoping she wouldn’t ask. You see, I felt like I was a pretty happy guy–you leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone. I thought,"Hey Kathy, if you like the fellowship and the meetings, great. Fine by me." I figured I could think of a lot of other things that I would rather be doing. I think at this point, I felt like I was losing control of something.
Two years earlier that same feeling had become a reality. My son, Matthew, became critically ill and spent five weeks in ICU. For most of that time, we did not know when we woke up each day whether it would be Matthew’s last. At the height of our desperation and heartache, Kathy said to me that she had given Matthew up completely into God’s hands. I felt completely helpless, powerless, and out of control.
I’m sure on that day when Kathy invited me to the conference Matthew was bouncing around with as much life and energy as you can imagine in a five year old boy. And although she had been part of this fellowship since 1988, Kathy was making me sit up and take notice. She seemed to be changed and more serious about what she was believing, With reluctance, I said I would go to the conference.
On November 11, 1995, I sat in the Laffin’s home and heard the gospel (truly) for the first time. What struck me was the clarity of everything that was presented to me. It just made sense to me, but it was certainly much greater than that. There was a spiritual connection that my wife and this roomful of people had that I wanted. I learned that I could have a personal relationship with the Creator of all things, through His Son Jesus Christ, and that His Son bore my sin for me on the cross (although at the time I did not understand why He would do such a thing).
I was eager to attain this, and I was saved, and became part of the fellowship at the same time. It was quite apparent that this had been a burning desire for the people in the fellowship, most notably Kathy, her dear friend Colette, Brett, Joe and Sherryl, and many more. Every time I think about my path to salvation, I am in awe of God’s grand design of drawing His creation back to Himself. I am amazed at how many people in this body of Christ stood in faith for me so that I could have eternal life with Jesus Christ. I am blessed to be a part of a body of Christ who uncompromisingly seeks the truth of that great mystery of Christ in you, the hope of glory.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 15 No 1
- The Purpose of the Negative
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- A Look at a Book
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- New York Fall Conference
- The Story of the Ten
- Faith Action
- Tape Talk
- Life of a D.C.D.
- To Think About
- Questions & Answers
- Bible Study: Nehemiah
- From Jollity to Joy
- The Mailbox
- One Honest Moment That Changed My Life
- Area Fellowship News
- The Key to Everything
- Zerubbabel Focus: Zerubbabel Tape Ministry
- The truth is…
- Words to Live By…