ADAM O AND THE SANTA ANA SAINTS

adamSurely the Lord is in the place and I knew it not.” (Gen. 28:16).

I was invited by Rev. Adam Ortiz who was Youth Pastor at Templo Calvario to come and preach at a youth revival in Santa Ana, California in the early 90’s. Pastor Adam and his staff was doing a phenomenal job and wanted to have what he called a Youth Explo. I felt that I should fast for these meetings because I was not going to do this in my own strength. God prepared me for what I should be preaching but He was also about to surprise me with the most thrilling experiences of my life.

Adam and these kids scrimped and saved as much money as they could to get me a flight there. I was fascinated with West Coast people they were totally different than what I was used to. I liked them. The first Thursday night I was to preach, I met both young people who had grown up in the church and former gang members. Adam was a former gang member himself and God had given him a great burden to reach his area.

The next day I watched as these beautiful kids mostly Mexican in nationality boarding the buses and the Lord began burning a word in my heart for them. Adam and I traveled in his old Mercedes (which broke down on the way back) carrying all kinds of sound equipment. We went up to a Christian camp and settled in our cabins for the evening. The kids were rowdy all night but they finally went to sleep, they would be exhausted by the next evening. Thank God I could finally sleep uninterrupted.

After a day of activities, Saturday night came and we gathered in an A Frame building used as a sanctuary. It was packed with over 125 people. I just studied and prayed that day and I felt confident that I had a message for them. The worship was wonderful and there was a great liberty in the Holy Spirit. The topic on which I preached was Entering Into the Door of the Spirit from Revelation chapter 4. I encouraged them to cross the threshold of the natural to the supernatural. The presence of God came in to that meeting like a high pressure frontal system and I was aware of the atmosphere intensifying with a sense of God’s holiness.

At the end of the message I asked them to move the chairs back against the wall so that we would have room to pray for people to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They formed a semi-circle around the front. I felt liberty to instruct them that they who desired the Holy Spirit would receive it by a simple act of asking and believing. I told them that no one would be manipulated by someone whispering “tongues” in their ear, or teaching them to say gibberish, cheer-leading and stirring up a dervish of emotions. I loathe showmanship. They would not have to wait long for God to move.

After this I began to pray and just as I said, “Amen.” immediately people started speaking in tongues. I began to lay hands on on them and simply say, “Receive the Holy Ghost!” and they would begin to speak in tongues. This was not wild emotions dear reader, the only way I could describe it was sacred. The sense of God’s presence was overwhelming. I began to actually be afraid to be in God’s presence. There was almost a glow of glory in that room. I had no fear of harm or injury it was just a deep sensitivity that God was at work. As the kids were worshiping God in their new heavenly language I looked in the back and I saw a young man whose name was Jesse. I am not given to visions but there appeared to be two radiating angelic beings with their wings touching above and around this young man.  I pointed at him and said, “Why is it that you need such angelic protection?” Adam was astounded. He brought Jesse up and he told me that he worked in ministry with the gangs. His life had been spared numerous times by the Lord. Glory to God! I asked who received the baptism in the Holy Spirit for the first time that night and it was nineteen people.

We had a devotional service on Sunday morning and and returned to Santa Ana for the Sunday evening service. Weadam 2 almost did not make it because the Mercedes broke down. We found out it was a small spring that would not let the vehicle accelerate. We made it just in time. That night the altar call was tremendous. People coming to the Lord, backsliders being reclaimed and baptisms in the Holy Spirit. It was like the old time revivals I had read about.

Adam O decided to extend the services for another week so we met for prayer everyday. I remember one brother who was struggling to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He felt despair and I told him that he could not receive any of God’s gifts in that frame of mind. I kept praying and encouraging him to just be at peace and receive the, “peace of God which transcends all understanding.” and just believe the Lord loves him. I saw him in one service and I looked at him and said, “Wayne let go of the control stick!” I do not know why I said it like that but right there he began to speak in tongues. God answers prayer! I remember in the last service, I pointed to another young man and said, “You have the spirit of David!” And this young man received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with just a sentence. It was incredible.

I remember that during that week of services there were season where the kids would intensely seek the Lord. One night, I felt so much energy I wanted to pray for everyone but there were too many, so the kids started to grab on to my suit jacket. I felt like a conduit of Christ’s power and he honored their hunger for God and filled them to overflowing. In one service, I started running around the church worshiping God. It seemed everyone had a childlike exultation in the Lord.  Thirty kids received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I am deeply grateful for love I received from these kids. It was worth more than gold.

adam 8Two years later I returned for another three day retreat. if I recall correctly the youth group had grown for 200 to 5oo kids on Thursday night meetings. Many of the youth were still serving the Lord from the last time I was there and they were serving in ministry. The young man who worked with the gangs was now working for the police with the gangs-unbelievable! That is what the Bible calls good and lasting fruit to the gospel!

They had the Adam O show done in an Arsenio Hall format and used it to interview a missionary. It was a blast-we thought that this time might be more subdued than the last. I was wondering would things happen like they did last time? I learned this much, God will work in different ways, never limit him- let him surprise you. 

God began to do it again. This time I was intensely praying for an entire hour over people and Adam could not believe my stamina-the Holy Spirit just took over-it was the quickening of the Spirit. A woman came up from an operation and it looked like half her foot was missing. She still could not walk on it-we prayed for her and on her own she threw her crutches away and she began to walk with ease on it. She began to shout! 

adam10A young woman fell on the ice that day and she was in great pain. Her friends told me she was going to have to go to the hospital. We prayed for her and when she went to sit down she realized she had no more pain. She came back up weeping at God’s goodness-this was amazing. There was a powerful word of knowledge and God began to expose the hearts of backsliders and restore them, I began by the Spirit to expose sin and it was confirmed-God was bringing people to repentance.

When we went back to Santa Ana on Sunday night I preached on becoming a Soul Surgeon and the scalpel of theadam 9 Lord cut away at people’s excuses and many felt God’s call to preach the gospel. It was so profound Adam extended this revival for a week. I was being ministered to as well despite the fact that Roman and Adam trashed my life at chess.  There were storm clouds at home in our church and God was refreshing me. My Dad was preaching for me while I was away and did a great job. So the church was in good hands.

We began to minister and we went to Teen Challenge. There was a man there in a wheel chair and he had been injured by an accident. I went over to him and pulled him out of the wheel chair in Jesus name! I walked with him up and down the aisle-it was awesome. It scared the stuffing out of me at the same time. I am very serious abut the things of God. It is no game to me.

That Thursday night, I preached a message called, ‘The Great Deception” I’ll Follow Jesus Tomorrow.” I could feel the dense conviction of the Holy Spirit upon the audience. I have never sensed such an evangelistic spirit in all my travels and it was a powerful drawing of the Holy Spirit to Jesus. The front was filled with kids who came to repentance and faith in Christ. It was much like that in each service.

Adam is a friend of mine to this day-we still talk of those days and look forward to God doing greater things. For Jesus is not done healing the sick, freeing the oppressed and filling people with the Holy Spirit. I am even now greatly burdened to see a mighty move of the Holy Spirit-use me Lord! Send me Lord!adam 7

SPIRIT OF CHRIST CHURCH

spirit of Christ“Furthermore David the king said unto all the congregation, Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God.” (1 Chr, 29:1).

When I think of the days of my first pastorate more things stand out to me than others after 27 years. Before and after I married my wife Sarah, I was preaching in the Northwest of the United States. I had opportunity to be the keynote speaker and preach the “This Jesus” Conference in November 1988. I preached on, “The Beauty of Jesus” from Psalm 45 and I will never forget it. God worked wonderfully especially among the ministers there. I was invited after that to speak in many different churches in that area, I loved doing it.

People would come in fifteen inches of snow like it was nothing. It was amazing. There was one church were at least 900 people were dancing in the Spirit. I never saw anything like that before. I tried to be dignified but it was really powerful. I saw numerous healing miracles and baptisms in the Holy Spirit. The devil was being defeated left and right.

While back on Staten Island in 1988 God was speaking to my heart. I felt what I could only describe as a spiritual anticipation. I knew something was happening in the Spirit. I was telling people that God has a church for me. One uncle said to me cynically, “You don’t have a church.”  Later, God spoke to me from scripture, “And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.”  (Psa. 27:6). Not long after, a Pastor for who I had preached for in Wisconsin connected me with a group in Pennsylvania who were meeting in a home. It was a beautiful home owned by Peter and Christine who were a tremendous force in the work of that ministry and who helped us maintain the building we would eventually purchase. I was well received by them. I was officially a home missions Pastor.

We moved into a townhouse in Lansdale, PA and wanted to get the carpets cleaned.  A man named Ted knocked and he was holding his baby girl Nicole when we opened the door. While looking around the house he saw my theological books all over the floor he asked me if I was a minister. I replied in the affirmative and he cleaned all the carpets for free. What a blessing!

I found out Ted came from a Mennonite family. I asked him if he would like to visit our church. He said that he did, but I did not see them for weeks. I called on the phone and I found out that both their children were suffering with the croup. So, God gave me holy boldness and I said something to the effect that, “I am going to pray that God heals both your children and when they do you will come out to service.”  Well, God did exactly that and Ted and Joyce came out to church. Joyce did not really agree with Pentecostalism and so I debated with her about some things. My wife wondered why I was being so forthright with her. I said, “I like Joyce. I think God is working on her heart.” He really was.

Not long after, my brother Mike was preaching one Sunday Night and Ted and his wife Joyce were there. My brother pointed at him and said, “Brother, the moment I lay hands on you you are going to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak with other tongues.” My brother came over, laid hands on him and Ted fell to his knees and quietly spoke in tongues. It was amazing. Ted and Joyce as I remember consumed the Bible and books about the Holy Spirit and his gifts.

Joyce had not received the baptism of the Spirit yet and on Sunday night we were sitting on the floor and I was praying with her while she was crying. I will never forget when she told me, “Everyone is getting the Holy Ghost but me.” It broke my heart.  But not long after, we were in church one Sunday and during worship I heard her speaking in tongues. I was surprised and asked her, “When were you going to tell me you were baptized in the Holy Spirit.” She told me that she had been praying at home and God filled her. Her countenance was glowing and she was so excited.

I found out Ted was a talented musician. We sang acapella and we had no music until he led worship. He played a twelve string guitar and he was anointed. He played it furiously and broke strings every Sunday. I had never seen a better Psalmist. While he was leading worship I saw what I believed was a hot flask of oil that poured on the top of his head by an invisible hand. I knew God was calling him and Joyce to ministry. They both have traveled internationally and were both he and his wife are pastoring a growing church in Pennsylvania.

I can tell you some things that came out to me among the many things that God did. There was a pregnant woman named Lisa hooked on drugs who came to our church. She was on speed during the pregnancy and her family concerned about the child. She gave her life to Christ and we prayed for her after she confessed this issue. God protected that baby and Amber was born healthy and strong.

I remember another woman named Sherri and she was drawn to Christ through a message on the armor of God. She said as she came up for prayer and knelt alone she could hear an argument going on between the devil and God. The devil said, “She’s mine!” and God spoke and said, “NO she is mine!” She became a glowing Christian. Wow.

Another woman, originally from Germany, was pregnant with what I believe was her fourth child. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She was told by the doctor’s at that time she would have to abort her unborn child in order to live and that was unacceptable to her. We prayed for her and God healed her and she had a beautiful baby boy.

One time I myself was stricken with Bells Palsy and the right side of my face froze, it was devastating. I wept a lot in private and no one knew how much it crushed me, especially during a time I was teaching on healing. It was Ted and another man that prayed with me. Ted prayed for my face, but he did not touch my face. He told me that he did not want me to feel any heat from his hand, so that I could feel the Holy Spirit healing me. God healed me and now I knew personally God heals the sick.

The Lord granted me opportunities to minister in Word and to sing on television and radio and I got to evangelize in New England often. We even created an album during my time in Pennsylvania.

But not all churches are perfect in fact, wherever people are they are problems. People will tell me this happened in a church or that happened. I always ask them, “Were humans involved?” As a young pastor I did not realize that the human factor would prove to be a huge issue. Where the Spirit is, the flesh is as well. Where God is at work, the devil is at work as well. We still live on this side of heaven.

These people I began to serve were at one time the disgruntled members of another church. It was my first pastorate and I was unaware of this and I had no idea how challenging it would be. I was only 23 years old and I thought preaching was enough experience- it was not. Whether the past issues of people were valid or not is not the point. Not all Pastors have diplomatic ability, people skills or political savvy and these abilities are NOT part of the requirements to be a Pastor. A Pastor’s obedience to God is his greatest asset. But if you are a person that is called to set fires instead of putting them out you may want to think twice about dealing with people who are hurt by a previous church in a pastoral capacity. I was more of a fire setter. I was confrontational and uncompromising-which means, I got hurt badly in the end.

The family that was the largest tithe payers were affluent and I think that since they were hurt by a previous church experience they took a very business like approach to church. The man owned a successful business for sure and he arranged a balloon mortgage on the church building. I was so young I did not even know what that entailed. If I would have known I would never have agreed to it.  He and his wife and another family left the church. A few years later when the mortgage came to maturity we had to sell the building to an Anglican church for not much more than the price for which we purchased it. I miss the building to this day and even feel selling it was a mistake. The lesson I learned was stay put and watch God provide he will take care of things despite what people do.

There was a woman and man, both who were married who were committing adultery in our church. While I was ministering in California a second time (a story I will relate another chapter). My father came and preached in my place. He was an excellent Bible teacher and loved teaching about God’s purpose for marriage. My father said they confronted him after one message. My dad let me know and he did not feel they had much respect for the Word. By this I learned that God was attempting to reach this couple in his mercy so that they would repent. I was shocked when I found out that same woman was crossing out verses in her Bible that she did not like, writing notes on the sides of her Bible such as, “My god would not do that.” She was under a spirit of delusion. I reprimanded them with the scripture and they left the church refusing the restoration process. These were very sweet people but sometimes when people think that they have more love than God does, they will end up in compromising situations which will damn their souls.

My mother in law, an angelic Pentecostal woman died suddenly from colon cancer at fifty two years of age. After that my father in law was experiencing severe heart issues and my wife was back on Staten Island taking care of him best as she could. What was worse is that we experienced a church exodus as well. It was my first, it hurt. A year later my dad died from heart surgery complications. Satan was hitting us on all fronts.  The best thing that happened during those times was the birth of my son Stephen. I learned that as a Pastor you had to play hurt, sometimes bleeding and that only going through things like these is when God will build compassion in your heart. This was the beginning of a very long painful process and eventually I would have to find a job, my dream of pastoring was shattered and I wept many a morning as I went to work.

It should be noted that Ted was influenced by an outside source and a very strange man attending our church who had an agenda of his own. The man was very subtle in his demeanor. He convinced Ted that I should no longer be the pastor. They even approached me and wanted me to give up the building so they could have it. That was unacceptable to us. Eventually, he and Joyce left. I tearfully begged them not to leave but they did anyway. It was a real shame. While I am thankful they are serving the Lord I also learned that if people do not want to serve in the church that you Pastor, let them go with a blessing. Keep your spirit sweet. God will provide others who love you and will be glad to serve the Lord with their gifts.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney, give credit where credit is due