Holy Smoke Adventures
When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [Worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His love commandments, for this is the whole of man, the full original purpose of His creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun and the whole duty of every man.
—Eccl. 12:13 Amp
In 1985 we were just a young ministry, a seven-member band for Jesus. We found, in the Word that in Isaiah 6:4, that it speaks of the temple being “filled with smoke.” So we decided we
wanted to be that very smoke that cloaked His presence—so we named our ministry “Holy Smoke.”
Holy Smoke ministered in church services, park outreaches, and concert venues so that we could deliver the good message that “God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were lovers of man and not punitive judges ready to punish mans sinfulness,” We were always hopeful that our worship and messages stirred the lost and the indifferent to ask questions about this Jesus—the very Jesus who knew and understood the burden of being human and the Jesus who turned his hostility in the temple toward empty religion and yet His mercy always turned to the outcasts and sinner.
God has always desired to live in His people. He is Love, and He never desired to live in temples made with human hands. He wanted to dwell in our hearts. Now, because of Jesus, He has finally found a home in which to live–a home made of living stones.
In essence, our vision for Holy Smoke was to bring His
presence and glory to be seen in the world when we come together with the singular purpose of praising and worshiping Him as one people.
And, that then His Glory will fill the earth—His own
promise to us is that “if He be lifted up, He will draw all men unto Himself.
Man was created to be a worshiper. It is in our DNA. Man’s choice is not whether or not he will worship, it is only whom or what he will worship Our purpose as His people is to flood the atmosphere with His manifest glory and presence. The world groans for the revelation of the son’s of God. It has been said that the chief principle of worship is this: “Whatever we worship, we will end up serving. The more we worship something, the more we become like the thing we worship.”
In 2001 we were called to pastor and build Worldwide
Worship Center, a place where we can all come together to
worship in unrestrained, full-out love and praise for Him 24/7. A place for continual worship just as it was in David’s day.
For thirty some years, God’s glory was seen over Jerusalem. During that time, there was no sickness, no wars, but great
prosperity and the visible glory that even unbelievers recognized the dwelling presence of God.
Though our services are still small, those that come are
faithful and anointed ministers—disciples, not just church
members. We have never given up hope that we will someday build our own building to house this big vision that He has placed in our hearts. Through the years we have ministered the Word and Worship in churches of all denominations throughout the United States, Eastern Europe, the West Indies, South America, and Cuba. I could fill volumes of all the incredible stories that we have witnessed but here are just a few to hopefully pique your curiosity.
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all peoples unto Myself.” —John 12:32
We get teased when people hear that we have ministered in Jamaica. They say things like, “Oh you were suffering for Jesus, right?” These are the very people who have never been to the inner-cities filled with poverty close to third-world status. Most indigenous people don’t frolic on the sunny beaches of Jamaica. They may have jobs in some of the beach front hotels for the lucky, but most live their entire lives within their poverty-stricken boundaries.
We landed at the airport Friday afternoon and were
immediately asked to do a concert that evening for the inner city youth. We were escorted on to a vacant lot where the people started building a stage for us out of the wood pallets that they could find. Very impressed with their ingenuity, I noticed the neighborhood families starting to gather around the make-shift stage to listen to this “Holy Smoke “ from America. About 300 ft. away we noticed two angry men with very red eyes, smoking these huge rolls of ganja, trying to stare us down as if to tell us, “oh, we’ll show you holy smoke!”
We always started with worship, and then came the message from my husband that they were deeply loved, cherished people with purpose and God given destinies. He told them that
worshiping God would change the spiritual landscape of their city as they continued to invite the presence of the Holy Spirit. When we finished, we invited all who would come to the front so we could pray with them.
The two angry men stood up and started coming towards the front, dropped to their knees, and asked for prayer. As we prayed with them their eyes started to clear from red to runny with tears of jubilation that they had met with God.
Back in the states a few months later, we got a letter from one of those two men telling us that they were now both ministers of Jesus Christ, ministering to the same people about the glory and the presence of God that was changing the atmosphere of their little town.
Another move of God came when we were scheduled to preach at a very religious and very strict denominational church in the inner-city early Sunday morning. We were kindly greeted by the Pastor but not so much by the four elders of the church who looked at us with icy skepticism and sat back in their row of fancy chairs.
Worship was glorious and the message that my husband was led to share was called, “Religion Stinks!” Expecting to be quickly escorted out of the church I was not prepared for what happened next. My husband spoke a Word over the Pastor about the strong presence of the Holy Spirit wanting to move in this church:
It started with the pastor falling to his knees in sobbing sweet surrender to whatever the Holy Spirit would lead. Then all the women of the church stood and started waving their kerchiefs in solidarity, singing and dancing until all the pews in there rigid rows were pushed helter skelter to make room for now the men and children to partake of this holy gala affair.
There came a sound of soft singing that soon exploded like the Philharmonic Orchestra into heavenly songs that resonated the rafters that continued for what seemed like hours.
No one cared, as we were all swept up in a heavenly
quantum, lost in His presence except for a still rigid conspicuous row of four angry elders with their arms folded in their
Hours later in happy, holy exhaustion we started to pack up when we noticed a low rumble of voices slowly rising in
frustration and volume.
It was the pastor trying to explain to the elders that what had just happened was answer to his desperate prayer to God for more of His presence.
They just couldn’t see it so they fired the pastor that day. Still filled with great joy and the Holy Spirit, he quickly called a friend pastor across town to borrow his friends church so they could have services next week over there. It had been told to us that they had glorious Holy Spirit church the very next Sunday with his entire congregation attending. Sadly, the only ones who didn’t show were the four elders that didn’t have a congregation to preach to, not even one.
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another… —1 Thessalonians 3:12
Our first trip to Timisoara, Romania was an eye-opener to the world of evil, controlling despots that rule God’s people with dark deceit and malice. One year earlier, Nicolae Ceausescu was the communist leader of Romania, considered one of the most repressive in all Eastern Europe. Tried and found guilty of mass genocide and economic sabotage, he, with his wife, were executed by firing squad on December 25th, 1989.
Christians were among the many whose human rights suffered severe abuse. Bibles were confiscated and turned into toilet paper. His secret police, the Securitate, would arrest Christians who hid pages of Scripture in the drywall or hems of curtains in their homes. Ceausescu, was brutal to his own people causing severe repression, and the harshest methods of punishment in
After settling in our hotel, we were escorted to the first
scheduled prison visit since Ceausescu, there in Timisoara.
Walking up to the huge iron gates that loomed before us was quite intimidating. Each of us carried music equipment in as the huge iron gates shut tight behind us with a resounding clang shutting us in. We were led to a small room with a rustic green door and told to sit as they summoned the warden. He entered the small room with his big stature of a man, six foot and probably 275 pounds. With our translator and the warden in
Romanian discourse, he turned to explain the do’s and the don’ts.
Again we were escorted to another much bigger but dark and dingy room with bunches of dilapidated chairs and told to set up towards the front of the windowless, barn-like room. The wretched smell in the room was so pungent and disgusting that I had to talk myself into not spewing the contents of my stomach.
Not prepared at all to witness the sight I next beheld, I stood with eyes huge and a gaping mouth at the rows of men led into the room by the guards. Men bent over with the burden of heavy chains and iron balls that rolled and clanged with each step.
Prison uniforms that mostly were just filthy rags that imitated the black and white stripes that you would see at costume parties or some old cartoons. Unkempt, unshowered, unshaven, underfed, and unhealthy eyes stared back at us through what seemed a veil of hopelessness that saturated the dark, dank room along with an even more intense, wretched stench.
It was so hard to look back at these men thinking that most of them were just political prisoners, still stuck in the red tape of the previous administration; bold and courageous men that led revolts against the tyranny to protect their families and those they loved; thieves that were caught stealing bread, cheese or fruit only to feed their starving babies.
We started singing our worshipful songs to invite the Holy Spirit to flood this room with His presence. All the songs were in English, so we had to rely on the anointing to translate the heart message we were trying to convey. One of our songs had a “Hallelujah” chorus that quickly became one of the most beautiful and anointed Christian songs that I had ever heard. Every one of the prisoners knew that universal word, “Hallelujah.”
Seemingly, now unencumbered by their chains, they stood with raised hands and hearts joining in one voice that welcomed in the Holy Spirit. A holy light bathed the room removing any trace of that wretched stench and the gloom of hopelessness that earlier had filled that room. Still standing, still singing, every man shone from their face a brightness that must have come from somewhere deep within them, melding with the holy aurora that was transforming every man in that room.
Even the guards seemed to want to be a part but
nervously looked toward the warden who now had closed his eyes and bowed his head. “Hallelujah” after “Hallelujah,” we continued on as there was no tick of the clock or time-zone that could interrupt this open-heaven.
Suddenly, it seemed like a whole other hosts of voices joined in with ours reaching decibels too high for humans to reach. Now united together, heaven and earth, we continued singing
“Hallelujah” to bring glory and honor to the One True Living God. Suddenly, there fell a holy hush. As if someone turned the volume button to “off.” There was no sound to be heard. Only a feeling of cleansing breath that seemed to wash over everyone in the room.
Now the warden signaled to the guards to ready their prisoners to return to their cells but graciously allowed us to individually shake hands and love on these men who had just been saturated in the Holy Spirit. Gently kissing our hands and mouthing goodbye they exited through the iron doors. Now back in the small room with the green door, we asked the warden, through our translator, if we could leave Bibles written in Romanian to leave for the prisoners. Unexpectedly fast he replied yes and asked if he could have some to give away to the families in the neighborhood. We had plenty so we left him with a healthy stash. On our way out of the prison after piling up the van with equipment and team passengers, We drove by a house with the warden, brimming with Bibles, passing each one out just as he had promised. Only God!
We witnessed so many other moves of God’s Glory in Cluj Napoka, Tigru Mures, Timisoara, orphanages, public schools, churches, another national prison, and ministry outreaches to the hungry and needy throughout most all of Romania that I will someday write about in another book.
The people of Romania are heroes to me. A courageous people, who in the face of gunfire, turned an entire national army over to the side of human decency and righteousness. A people with the Securitate threat of imprisonment and torture never ceased to be faithful to God and share his unchanging Love to those who would hear.
Forging so many lasting friendships throughout Romania, we returned several times and hope to one day return again. My husband penned this song in honor of the brave and persistent peoples that brought about such enormous change to their country. This song was translated by a dear Romanian friend and we sung it as an anthem many times in Romania.
Words and music by Stacy McDermott, BMI
There is a light that shining through the darkness of Romania.
There is a hand that’s guiding all the lion-hearted saints of God
Who’ve risked their lives to live His Word assured He will prevail
To fight the unrelenting foe and cry “we shall not fail.”
There is a light.
There is a Truth that’s living, it’s growing stronger in Romania.
There is a hand that’s giving of His Grace a never ending flow.
That hope and truth and love may grow all sheltered
‘neath His name.
And should the darkness come again the saints will cry, “we fight again.”
There is a light, there is a light that’s shining brighter than the day
There is a Truth, there is a truth that Christ is coming back someday
There is a trust and we will put our trust in Jesus as the way for us to
Overcome the darkness in Romania
There are a people hungering for a spiritual awakening.
They are a people praying for revival in their broken land
And strengthened by the Masters’ hand their shout is “victory”
Foul Satan is defeated, we’ll preach Christ triumphantly!
There is a light
There is a freedom rising through the blood of those who’ve laid down their lives
They are the saints whose dying has lit the fire that is not quenched
And burns away the evil stench of man’s prideful regime
Their hope remains their call is strong, “come live the Master’s dream!”
There is a light
Victory! Though the battle rages Victory! Till the war is won
Victory Hail the Rock of Ages, Victory through the risen son
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son… —John 3:16
On our second trip to Guyana, we arrived at the airport to find out that because of some recent civil unrest, the President of Guyana sent his personal car and driver to pick us up and take us to our hotel. As the flags of Guyana fluttered on each side of the front engine, it was surreal that we were riding in the President’s car, even though it was 2 o’clock in the morning with zero fanfare. It was still a great privilege to be invited by the President to minister the Good News of Jesus to his people here in his country.
We had an invitation to minister at the evening festival/market that they had every week. There were vendors of all kinds: food, trinkets, treasures, and even local folk art.
The atmosphere was festive with live musicians and spots of dancing. Always praying that our worship and then message in the Word never became “usual to us but remain usable by the Holy Spirit,” we again asked the people to come up if they wanted prayer.
Somewhere from the middle of the huge crowd, they parted to let through this very skinny man, clothed only in a black trash bag covering his loins. He made his way to the front and my
husband asked him what we could pray for him about.
The man told us how the doctors said that he had
fourth-stage cancer and that there was no more that they could do. He wore the garbage bag because he no longer was able to control his bowels and it was easier to change bags than clothes.
With no hope and only days to live, he made his way to pray. My husband hugged him with a holy hug and in his ear told him how greatly cherished he was by God. He told him that God said that healing was His children’s bread and asked him if he would trust God to heal him.
Then with bowed heads, my husband prayed a simple faith prayer, hugged him again then shook his hand. He hurried off into the same crowd from where he came.
Next evening, when we were setting up again to minister in the same market, a man rushed with excitement over to us. He was wearing a crisp ironed shirt and pants, shined shoes and socks, was freshly showered and with a smile that matched his countenance.
It was hard to tell that he was the same man that just last night had asked for prayer wearing a garbage bag. He testified that when he prayed with us last night to this unfamiliar and unseen God, with child-like faith, he believed that because God loved him, God would heal him. He didn’t slip away last night because of a still aboding hopelessness, but he sensed a surge of healing love that totally washed over him.
His doctors, that morning, were perplexed yet confirmed that they could no longer find any trace of cancer. He was transformed into a new man, body soul and spirit.
Still in Guyana but deep in the jungle forest, in a little tiny village, Holy Smoke was ministering and sharing Jesus’ love
When we had packed up and started the car, I noticed a little boy scurry down a ladder that was attached to his hut on stilts. He ran next to the car, racing to wave goodbye to us. His little
tummy extended, wearing a dirty loin cloth, he smiled so big at me that I said out loud that I wanted to steal him, take him home and raise him as a strong Christian young man. Just then, I heard a strong but gentle rebuke from God. He said that the little boy didn’t need my pity filled with prejudices and judgments. He said that the little boy was right where He wanted him and that he was very happy and that He would watch over him.
Duh! A hard lesson to learn but one that unfortunately my pride would allow me to repeat twice more on my pilgrimage through life.
THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. —Romans 8:16
Never before had we witnessed a move of God so strong like we did in the streets of Santa Domingo. Holy Smoke, ever ready to sow the Word of God in every nation and land, we were pleasantly surprised that this time we would be the reapers. ‘One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.’ John 4: 37, 38. It was just like we had gone on a swanky vacation and landed on heavenly shores because when we asked if they wanted to know Jesus, their swift and sure answer was “yes” and “could you pray for me now?”
As we are setting up at the outdoor Market/Festival, we
noticed two very young prostitutes walking on the other side of the street. Embolden by His strong presence, we asked the girls if they knew Jesus and if they wanted prayer. They both
swiftly agreed but one of them slipped to her knees, eyes
filling with tears, she said that her father was a preacher and that she needed Jesus in her life. Right there we started praying for her and encouraged her that her sins had been forgiven and that right now, she was a cherished work of art to God. As we continued encouraging them, a john drove up looking to hire them for the evening but they were locked into the Divine Love that was
bathing them— so they waved him off.
Now under the influence of unconditional Love, they
followed us over to the Festival. Still setting up, two local police men came up to me and asked me if we had a license to play music here. Caught of guard, I said “No, but do you know Jesus?”
He said, “I do but he doesn’t,” pointing to his partner.
So after sharing with them both about God’s goodness and what we were doing there, they ignored their own statute and proceeded to hand out flyers and bibles to the passing crowds
A sad young woman who was meandering at the fountain had no shoes. A friend on our team removed her own shoes and gave them to her. They were perfect fit! Still having a sad face, I asked what was the matter.
She looked at me teary-eyed and said that my God couldn’t love her. I asked why she believed that and she said, “Because I am gay and He won’t accept me.”
I told her that for sure He would accept her and shower her in His Love for He knows very well the fragile constitution of the human spirit. I told her how much He wants to bathe us in His perfect and Divine Love accepting all who would come to Him. She remained with us all night enjoying His Holy Presence.
Every single person that I spoke with the entire time on the
Island either already knew Him or wanted to know Him and joined in the reveling of His Glory supernaturally saturating the Island.
Late that night as we went back to our hotel for food and rest the maitre d’, not knowing who we were or what we did, asked if he could sing us a song that he remembered from his childhood. We enthusiastically replied “Yes!”
He began to sing with certitude about the God that he knew and loved as a child. After singing his song, he disappeared into the kitchen returning with every waiter and cook and employee there, having them each give testimony or song to the glory of God. I hated leaving Santa Domingo because I didn’t want to miss what God was doing on His beloved Island.
Weeks later, He gave me an incredible dream about Santa
Domingo that I will share at another time.
There are still so many places like Ireland, Germany, and Cuba that I have been witness to the Divine Passion that God has for His people worldwide.
This faith journey that has spanned the decades of my life is not yet over. I am still walking this love road following its curves and straightways. Learning to love everyone I meet. I could tell more but this will suffice to say that God still moves today in
visions, dreams and supernatural manifestations.
Do not “seek” a vision or holy manifestation, but instead seek the face of God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit and He will light up your life with His Divine Presence to overflowing!