Kim Daniels takes her nickname seriously. Since she began her evangelistic ministry in Florida, she's seen homosexuals healed, witches converted to Christ and mentally deranged people set free by God's power.
It's not uncommon to see the blue steel of a gun on the corner of Blue and Steele streets in Jacksonville, Fla. Yet in this neighborhood plagued by violence, drug abuse and prostitution, a covert battle is raging.
Armed with spiritual weapons, Kimberly Daniels is waging war on the devil--not just in her community, but around the world. Founder of Spoken Word Ministries, housed on this block, Daniels has seen witches, drug addicts, prostitutes and felons delivered from demonic oppression and transformed by the power of God.
With her team of "demon busters," Daniels is "stomping on the devil" and enjoying every minute of it. Once a drug addict herself, Daniels travels the globe teaching on spiritual warfare. In December 2000, she set out on a world tour, stopping in Hong Kong in January and rounding out the year in India and Japan.
As raw as the inner city where she grew up, Daniels, 40, spends most of her year traveling across the United States in a 30-foot recreational vehicle dubbed the Demon Buster Mobile. Preaching at churches large and small and performing Christian rap music, Daniels candidly shares her testimony: from troubled teen-ager to Olympic track hopeful to drug addict to military officer. Her ministry emerged after she accepted Christ in 1987 and was set free from demonic oppression.
Today her message centers on a believer's authority over the enemy and how to operate in the supernatural. Deliverance, she says, is "the children's bread" (see Matt. 15:21-28), meaning it was intended for Christians.
"You cannot bring someone out of the world and into the church and [think] because they said the sinner's prayer they're going to be automatically transformed," Daniels told a crowd at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston during a prayer conference in October. "It is hard to get your mind renewed when you're tormented by demons."
C. Peter Wagner, who has written extensively about spiritual warfare, applauds ministers like Daniels, who has spoken at his conferences, because her primary base is a local church and she makes deliverance available to her community--even running an ad in the yellow pages. He says that if God were to send a major revival right now, the church would be ill prepared to cope with vast numbers of people seeking deliverance.
For Daniels, the focus on deliverance at Spoken Word was born of necessity. She knows from experience that Jesus is the only one who can break the bondage of violence and addiction. She is a constant reminder to her community that whom the Son sets free is free indeed.
A War in the Streets
Growing up in one of Jacksonville's toughest neighborhoods, an area known as "Uptown," Daniels learned to defend herself early in life. She says she intentionally got in at least one fight each week and formed a gang with the toughest girls in school.
Looking back, Daniels believes she inherited a generational curse from her blind grandmother, a "wicked" woman once imprisoned for murder and feared for her violent ways. Until age 8, Daniels was her grandmother's eyes and hands. When "Big Momma" needed to settle a score, she instructed Daniels to lead her to the intended target, back away and watch her brutally cut the person with a knife.
After her grandmother's death, Daniels says she was plagued by the same violent spirit. "I had walked so close to grandmother that I found myself acting just like her," she writes in her book, Against All Odds. "Fighting was like eating breakfast to me."
At 17, Daniels, a straight-A student, purposely got pregnant to escape her mother's house. Moving to Oregon with her boyfriend, she received a track scholarship and quickly emerged as the fastest woman sprinter in junior college. On her way to building a successful athletic career, she left Oregon and her boyfriend in 1981 to join the track team at Florida State University.
But Daniels' bright future soon began to dim. With her son still living with his father, Daniels started dating a drug dealer named Danny. He introduced her to cocaine, and the two became hopelessly addicted. But when the police targeted the pair as drug traffickers, Danny knew their sordid party had to end.
He encouraged Daniels to return home to her family, but she refused, ashamed of her thin frame, a sure sign of addiction. Danny, however, left suddenly and was married within days. Devastated, Daniels fell further into addiction, even when she discovered she was pregnant again.
Convinced that she would deliver a healthy baby, Daniels continued to use cocaine. Yet in her fifth month of pregnancy, she began to emit a foul odor. Her child had died in her womb two months before and was beginning to rot.
Having returned to Jacksonville, Daniels says she hit the streets even harder after her baby died, hanging out with the roughest people she could find. But when her father, himself jailed for racketeering, told her he never thought she'd turn out like this, Daniels realized she needed to make a change.
She says something whispered to her, "Go into the military," and she joined the Army. Finally kicking her habit, Daniels began to taste success. Her son, Mike, was now living with her, and she had married a fellow serviceman.
It was 1987, and she went home on leave for a month before being stationed in Germany. While visiting her stepmother, who had recently given her life to Christ, Daniels watched the end-times flick A Thief in the Night.
"This movie rocked my world, and I wasn't good for anything but Jesus," Daniels says. "I found out I was on my way to hell and urgently needed to change course."
She and her son committed their lives to Christ, and her husband later followed suit. But unexpected challenges awaited them in Germany. Daniels began experiencing strange manifestations of evil. She dreamed of devilish imps pulling her son from his bed, and on another occasion felt wiry, monkey arms come from under the bed and pin her down. She cried out to Jesus, but felt a hand on her mouth and heard a voice telling her to shut up.
Not knowing how to pray, Daniels says she read Prayers That Avail Much by Germaine Copelend along with Kenneth Hagin's books on faith. Sensing that she needed something more, Daniels returned to the United States to attend Hagin's camp meeting.
At a prayer meeting in her hotel with other attendees, Daniels says someone prophesied, "An unclean spirit is among us." Believing this word was for her, Daniels stepped forward to receive prayer. When the meeting was over, she says she was free from demonic oppression, had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and was speaking in tongues.
Stomping on the Devil
Armed with the knowledge that she had authority over Satan, Daniels returned to Germany "lit up like a firecracker." When she prayed for people at the hospital where she worked, demons manifested. She still didn't know much about spiritual warfare, but had heard a voice say, "In My name they shall cast out demons."
Daniels flourished under a charismatic ministry in Frankfurt, Germany, and was mentored by two seasoned prayer warriors in the United States. When she left the military in 1992 and returned to Jacksonville with her family--which now included a daughter, Faith--Daniels was prepared to "kick the devil's butt."
Along with two other praying women, Daniels went to prisons, crack houses and tough neighborhoods preaching the gospel, casting out demons and baptizing people in the Holy Spirit. With their reputation spreading, the trio became known as the "demon busters."
In 1996, Daniels and her husband founded Spoken Word church with a handful of faithful members. But before long, she felt a backlash from the dark side as voodoo priests and witch doctors confronted her with curses and attempts on her life. She would find dead animals on the front steps of the church, and once there was a stench in the church that took weeks to remove.
During this season, Daniels says she learned the mechanics of spiritual warfare. When young people involved in the African religion Yoruba sought her out for deliverance, they introduced themselves by naming the strongmen over their heads, telling her that in order to help them, she'd have to deal with these demonic forces.
"I taught them Jesus, and they taught me warfare," Daniels recalls. "They were used to fighting. They were used to spiritual warfare from the dark side."
Not easily intimidated, Daniels confronts demons boldly, often calling them "sissy, punk gods" before casting them out. Though unconventional, her method has produced much fruit.
Lavette Peoples, 29, was a practicing witch when she first visited Spoken Word Ministries (SWM). "I participated in spells, blood and animal sacrifices, astral projection and conjured up demons," says Peoples, now an intercessor at SWM. "I was crying out for help, and nobody in the city recognized I was full of demons. But when I went to Kim's church, I received deliverance.
"My life is changed. I was told I could not get out of the Yoruba religion, but who the Son sets free is free indeed."
Tara Baker, another former witch, knows exactly how she feels. "I also was involved in homosexuality, whoredom, stealing and drug use," she says. "When I came to SWM, I was a mess with split personalities. They walked me from the pits of hell. Now I'm on the praise and worship team and the deliverance team, casting out the same devils that once tormented me."
Daniels is quick to note that Spoken Word doesn't focus solely on deliverance ministry. "We have a well balanced teaching ministry because you can't bring people out of the occult without the Word," she says. "We minister to the whole man, but...if the devil lifts his head, we deal with him."
Daniels says she has seen many homosexuals set free, and when drug addicts join her church, they don't go back to the streets. She also reaches people diagnosed with mental illness--but often not without a fight.
"Just one such incident," Daniels says, "is a woman who was brought to one of our meetings from a mental institution. When they pulled up and parked the car, the car began rocking violently with her in it under the power of demonic influence. So in the name of Jesus Christ, we cast the demons out of her. She has a sound mind and is not in an institution any longer."
Anthony Steward was a successful rapper in California's underground hip-hop scene when he met Daniels. He attended one of her deliverance conferences in Colorado after witnessing the dramatic transformation of a homosexual relative who attended a previous conference.
"I had been on drugs for about six months and was living in a ghetto city," Steward says. "They laid hands on me at the conference, and I was delivered and baptized in the Holy Ghost. When I went home I was different."
Today Steward is part of Daniels' "demon busting" music ministry, which has recorded rap songs such as "Who Dat Trying to Be Bad?" and "Oops Up Side Yo Head."
The Season of the Last
Though her church and ministry are receiving international attention now, Daniels admits that it hasn't been easy. She remembers not long ago sitting in a building that seats 900 people with fewer than 20 in the service.
"Even on Easter Sundays when most churches had lots of visitors we still only had our faithful few," she says.
After she divorced in 1996 when she says her husband became physically abusive, the attendance shrank even more. She was determined to rebuild the church and focus solely on ministry, but an old friend resurfaced: Danny.
Now divorced but still unsaved and dealing drugs, Danny found salvation and deliverance under Daniels' ministry. Though she says her feelings for Danny were long gone, Daniels began to receive prophetic words that the two would marry--which came to pass in 1997. The couple now has 4-year-old twins, Elijah and Elisha.
Starting from the ground up, Kim and Ardell "Danny" Daniels have watched the ministry grow from four to more than 200. In 2000, Daniels was ordained through apostle John Eckhardt's Impact Ministries. Eckhardt, pastor of Crusaders Church in Chicago, says he recognized an apostolic gift in Daniels and believes God will use her to encourage other women called to walk in similar kinds of ministries. He describes Daniels as a pioneer and had no qualms about ordaining a woman.
"Apostle means 'sent one,' Eckhardt says. "A woman can be sent...If the grace is on her life [for ministry], we cannot deny that grace."
Daniels is still attracted to the "tough cases," though her church is home to a cross section of people--from former drug addicts to professional athletes. Member Emmanuel Smith, wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars, met Daniels at a Tuesday night Bible study she had been invited to lead for the team.
"I received deliverance in front of my teammates," Smith says. "Everyone was shocked and watching me with their mouths open. But my life has been going uphill since. I'm learning and growing every day. After that event, a lot of my teammates wanted to get what I got, and I've been a member of SWM since."
Jaguar linebacker Edward Thomas, 27, says his faith has grown by leaps and bounds since he joined the ministry. "It's been tangible to me that we can do what the Bible says, speaking in tongues and casting out devils," Thomas says. "Seeing people like Emmanuel delivered leaves you with no doubt that God has power. It set me on fire for God."
Renaldo Wynn, defensive end for the Jaguars, and his wife, LaTonya, are also active members of Spoken Word. Renaldo met Daniels at the same Bible study his teammates attended. "Knowing Emmanuel personally, I knew it was for real. A lot of preachers don't talk about...spiritual warfare or deliverance, but this thing is more than physical, it is spiritual. This ministry exposes the devil."
Daniels and her Demon Buster partners are now highly sought after. Invited to lead a workshop at C. Peter Wagner's spiritual warfare conference in August, Daniels became the main session speaker after, she says, "the glory of God just sat on that room" during her workshop.
The scene at the conference presented a strange irony that still baffles her: "The church has been trying to get the inner city delivered, but in this case God brought the inner city to deliver the church." Within two days after the conference, Daniels had received invitations to speak from 40 states.
Wagner sits as an adviser on her board, and she is part of Rod Parsley's ministerial fellowship and has been featured on his Breakthrough program. Her testimony and book also were featured on The 700 Club.
Such occurrences have convinced Daniels that this is the "season of the last," during which God is raising people who have hit rock bottom. "Many believers have become too comfortable on their pews. There are prostitutes or drug dealers who may one day knock them off their seats in order to get close to God.
"Those saved from life on the streets are hungry for more of God. People want Jesus. If the evangelists will not win souls, the prostitutes will. When pastors get weary in well doing, the drug dealers will feed God's sheep. The rocks will cry out."
Lesa Henderson is a freelance writer based in Jacksonville, Fla. Adrienne S. Gaines is former news editor of Charisma.