“on fire for the Lord,” and thus smoking for Jesus. There is also an implied wordplay, however, since some in the ministry are recovering addicts. On the anniversary of the evacuation, there was much to celebrate inside their new sanctuary, with its vaulted ceiling and wood-paneled, ski-lodge decor. They sang and danced and shouted and swayed as if the church itself were on springs. A woman, consumed by the spirit, collapsed in a fit of convulsions and spoke in tongues. After opening with songs and prayers, Claudette Monnet, the pastor’s wife, took the microphone. “[God] counseled us to be ready on that Sunday morning. He led us through all those places. … People came to see us like we were some kind of exhibit, to see how broke down we were. God wouldn’t let us be broke down!” The entire congregation stood and cheered. Pastor Monnet then rose to speak. “This would be the Sunday we dressed in our shorts and T-shirts and came to service and packed up … I inherited about 200 children that day,” he said. “It took us 40 days to get to Marble Falls. The first three weeks were some of the hardest times. Look what He’s donekept us together, gave us another church. And it ain’t over yet.” Monnet explained the lesson of Katrina. You may never know where or why or how God might lead you, but you must trust in Him. Only by letting go of your free will can you truly walk with the Lord. “Worship is a sacrifice,” Monnet preached. “To do God’s will is going to cost you sacrifices of your dreams and your wants. Sacrifice it on the altar. … That’s worship. You’re going to put your life on the altar. He’s already set aside a purpose for your life. … It don’t matter what you want to do. It’s not your life.” The ministry is an absolute hierarchybased not only around the pastor’s warmth and charisma, but also around his interpretation of God’s will. \(Many Smoking for Jesus members wouldn’t consent to an interview for this story without members to subjugate themselves to the pastor’s version of the Lord’s desire imbues Monnet with enormous powersome might say dangerous power. In fact, the relatives of church Pastor Elder Willie Monnet Sr. at the beginning of his sermon on Easter Sunday A young ministry member gets a drink of water at the back of the church between Sunday school and Sunday services. NEXT PAGE The ministry has recently purchased 56 acres of land surrounding the church where they soon hope to begin the construction of homes for ministry members. Young ministry members hang out at The Vistas Apartment complex, the 93 brand new vacant apartments in Marble Falls.
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