by Shirley Cuda
"Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land."
On this day, at 5:31 in the early morning hours, a half century ago --- yes, 50 years! --- a tiny baby boy was born.
Weighing in at 7 lbs. 8 oz. and 21 inches long, his given name was Joseph Michael Cuda, who would one day become an anointed worship leader taking people "behind the veil into the Holy of Holies" and now the founder of Love and Fire Ministries.
But let's go back a bit, because this was truly a "miracle child". His parents, Charlie and Alberta, had just become newborn Christians a few years earlier. At that time, they had 2 children, Rick and Sandy, and their family was complete -- as far as they figured. But after their salvation, God put a desire in their heart to have more children and dedicate them (along with the other two) to the Kingdom of God.
When Alberta was 4 months pregnant with baby #4, she got up one morning and was preparing to drive to town, but Charlie said he didn't think she should go because he'd had a dream the night before that she'd been in a car crash. However being a young Christian, she didn't really take the warning too seriously -- not realizing it was from God.
Later that day, as she was driving with 2 of their children, a truck pulled out in her lane and was fast approaching for a head-on collision. There was traffic on her left and a yard full of people on her right side and she knew if she swerved to get out of the truck's path, she would hit that family. So the lives of her and her children were in God's hand.
The oldest daughter was in the back seat holding and singing to her younger sister when the truck hit. The steering wheel was jammed into Alberta's stomach and the doctor feared for several days that she would miscarry. But even way back then, Alberta knew the power of prayer of prayer. She totally recovered, ad by the grace of God nobody else was seriously injured in the car crash. Five months later, a healthy baby boy, Joseph (Michael) was born. Praise God!
Joseph was (according to his mother) as close to a "perfect" child as any could get. (As his wife I'm inclined to agree that had to be the case because he's so absolutely close to "perfect" now!)
At a very young age -- 2 years or younger -- Joe showed great delight in music and his mother remembers from that time on he was always drumming on something! He took drum and guitar lessons at age 11.
When Joe was about 11 years old, God got hold of his heart through the life and teaching of the Apostle Paul. He began to carry his Bible to school and I believe that is when God began to develop the heart of evangelism in him.
By the time he was 15 years old, Joe and 2 of his sisters, Debbie (16) and Maria (13), were traveling to various churches in the Northeast region and singing as "The True Happiness Trio". The name of the trio came from the first song Joe wrote called "True Happiness" and it speaks of the love of Jesus being the only "true happiness" in this world. With the backing of their parents, the sibling trio were able to record their first album with that title song at a studio in Virginia Beach, VA. I thank God for those foundational years and all the training and prayers of his parents, and I know that carried him through some rough years ahead.
As the enemy of our soul will always attempt, satan began laying a trap for this "would-be warrior" for God's Kingdom. Joe's revelation of "true happiness" began to grow dim in the light and lure of a bright future in the music arena. He'd met up with a few other guys, long-time friend Tim Chamberlain being one of them, and formed a secular band and began to play first at school events which then led to other gigs. He and the others began to dream of a music studio and writing and recording their own music -- hopefully a major contract with a major record label.
In the meantime, his course was set -- set on college..... first to Berklee College of Music in Boston for 4 years, after which he emerged with a Bachelor Degree in Music Composition. From there he was offered a teaching associate position at the University of Massachusettes in the jazz department. There he pursued his Master's Degree while teaching undergrads to help fund his tuition.
The cost was great not only to his Dad's pocketbook, but to his future as well. Many precious years were lost -- although I won't say wasted, because God is able to redeem lost time. More about that later.....
CHECK FOR PART 2 TO READ SOME MORE OF JOE'S STORY.