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Caleb Quaye’s Testimony – The Beginning of a New Life!
October 9, 1978 is the date. My hotel room on the ninth floor of Omni Hotel in Atlanta Georgia is the place. This particular date was my 30th birthday, which I celebrated while on tour as the lead guitarist for a band called Hall & Oates. It was on this occasion that Jesus gatecrashed my party by simply speaking to me in an audible voice that caught my attention and started me on a journey that was to transform my life forever. After doing a concert at the Omni Theater that night, the band threw a surprise birthday party for me, which consisted of all the accoutrements of rock and roll and went on into the wee hours of the night. The party took place in my room, and when every body crawled out and slithered back to their own rooms I sat down in a chair to chill out for a few minutes before I went to bed. It was about 5 am and while sitting in that chair all of a sudden I heard a voice speak to me and call me by my name to tell me “Caleb, from this point on everything in your life is going to be different and nothing is going to be the same for you ever again.” This voice was so loud that I turned around to see who had entered into my room and found myself staring out the window seeing nothing. In that moment I was no longer high on drugs that voice had straightened me up, in my limited understanding all I knew was that I had been spoken to, but I did not know who the voice belonged to. At that time in my life I was not looking for God or Jesus. I was a very successful musician at the top of my game as they say, but I was a person who was looking for answers, looking for answers to this existence that we call life and looking for something supernatural. So in that moment of hearing this voice I made a promise to myself that one day I would find out who that voice belonged to. A few days later my musician friends would ask me what I did on my birthday because I had just turned 30, so I would tell them about this experience with the voice and relate to them exactly what the voice had said, it was so clear in my mind because I couldn’t shake it. (Something I have learned in retrospect is that when God speaks to you and is calling you, He speaks with a voice that cannot be shaken off or dismissed. You can run but you cannot hide!) Their response was “wow man what were you smoking and where can we get some!” I would try and convince them that this experience I had was real but all to no avail, so I just held on to my promise that one day I would find out who this voice belonged to.
That tour with Hall and Oates ended at Christmas of that year and we all disbanded and went our separate ways to our respective homes, my home was in Los Angeles, CA. Sure enough just as that voice had told me, as soon as I got home my life started to unravel in every way possible. Up until that point I had led a successful career as a top studio musician in both London and Los Angeles with my phone ringing constantly with producers calling me for top-flight projects. And now the phone suddenly fell silent, it seemed as though I could no longer control my life, to put it in a nutshell, everything that could go wrong went wrong including divorce and bankruptcy, and I was left with a drug habit that wouldn’t quit! My life as I had known it was in the process of being stripped away. This process lasted for 2 and ½ years and during this time around the end of 1980 I met a guy who became a dear friend and who was instrumental in getting me to Jesus. His name is Chester Thompson, a world-class drummer and all around good guy and precious brother in Christ. You may know him from his work for many years with the group Genesis and Phil Collins.
In 1981 I joined a band that Chester was putting together which was a lot of fun and some great no holds barred jazz-funk fusion music. We jokingly called it the “Oogah-Boogah Band” and played in clubs down on the beach around Malibu. There was something about Chester that I could not figure out. I couldn’t understand how this guy who was the same age as me and in the same line of work could keep it together and not do drugs and be crazy like everybody else in the industry. It seemed that there was a quality and stability about his life that was attractive to me. In short I used to think “there’s something about this guy that is different and whatever it is I want it”. I knew that he and his wife Roz went to church and they were Christians but it didn’t mean anything to me at the time, maybe it was because I had gone to church when I was a kid and left it in my early teens never having heard the Gospel only the do’s and don’ts of religion. In case you are wondering about the title of this chapter, it is to do with the fact that God loves to set people up! Have you ever noticed that! He just loves to mess up our plans so that we will come to him, because He loves us so much he will put all kinds of roadblocks and detours in our way so that we will go his way, because His way is the way of blessing. And like any good father he loves to bless his children.
The “setup” for me took place around the dinner table at Chester’s house. We would work in his studio all day rehearsing and recording the band and at the end of the day his wife Roz would cook us a lovely meal, which would often be the family favorite “African Stew”, boy I can taste it now as I write about it! mmmmmm! At the end of the meal as we put our knives and forks down she would turn to me and ask me this question “well Caleb why don’t you go ahead and tell us just exactly what do you believe!” a logical question one might say. At that point I would begin to expound for about 45 minutes on what I thought were the things I professed to believe in. It would start somewhere around spaceships aliens, gurus, eastern mysticism, rabbit’s feet, crystals, astrology and I would round it all out with the age old justification for doing drugs which goes something along the lines of “well you know if God makes potatoes and vegetables to grow out of the ground and marijuana grows out of the ground too surely that’s okay with God right?” Chester was amazing he had the patience of Job; he would just sit across the table with his arms folded and wait for me to finish. When I was done he didn’t preach to me or try to ram a Bible down my throat, all he would do is simply respond with “yea man I know what you mean but you just need Jesus!” When he would say that I would be absolutely infuriated. I was boiling mad inside, but I did not show that to him. I could not get my head around that fact that it took me about 45 minutes to explain myself and he could boil it all down to One Name! What made it worse was that I knew that I had to go back home and he was going to get a good nights sleep and I wasn’t. Deep down inside I knew that everything that I had professed to believe in could not cure me of my drug habit or fix my internal pain. I was in a bind and I knew it, and all my friend and his wife could say was that One Name!
On Easter Day 1982 I received a phone call that would be the catalyst for taking the first step towards the most important decision of my life. It was Chester on the phone “hey man what a you doing today?” he asked, I wasn’t sure what to say as I had been up all night ‘til about 4 am dealing and doing drugs. I was wasted and not in great shape so I answered “not much, why what’s up?” and he said “why don’t you come to church today? It’s Easter!” In that split second I hung on the phone for what seemed like a long time, my mind did a quick inventory of my life and came up empty, so I said to myself “well I’ve tried everything else, why not church!” I then said to Chester “OK I’ll come with you”, to which he responded that’s great we’ll come and pick you up.
The church that he took me to was in a brand new building in Van Nuys, CA called The Church on The Way. I had never seen anything like it before, about 2000 people all smiling and hugging each other in fellowship, so I thought “there’s no way that this can be a church because these people are happy!” I was 33 yrs old at the time and the last time I had set foot in a church was when I was about 14 yrs old, which was in my local church in England. My local church was St Mary’s Church in Finchley, it was built in the 12th century and back then everything about it was old, and the gospel was never preached. When I went to church as a kid nobody ever told me that you could have a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. So here I am at the end of my rope in life walking in to this brand new building seeing musical instruments galore and a huge sound mixing board, and I thought “there is no way that this can be a church with all this stuff, I know Chester’s playing a trick on me and he’s taken me to a surprise gig, any minute now the Grateful Dead or Weather Report (two well known groups at that time) are gonna come out and blow everyone away!” Chester could see that I was feeling a little uneasy about all this so he said don’t worry let’s go and sit down over here, when we got to our seat they began the service with some worship. The congregation were singing contemporary choruses of the day of which I knew none, because my childhood church experience consisted of hymns, they started to sing one simple chorus that caught my attention and was the tool that God used to soften my heart and open me up. “In my life Lord be glorified, be glorified, in my life Lord be glorified today”. I had spent years playing every kind of music imaginable in my life as a professional musician. At this time in my life I was very much into jazz-fusion, complicated music with odd time signatures and key changes all over the place, and here I am in church hearing a congregation singing a childishly simple song with no more than four chords in it, and all of a sudden the world is no longer the same! To my ears the one word in that song that really got my attention was the word “TODAY!” Every time they repeated the song the only word I could hear in the song was TODAY and seemed to get louder and louder, I started thinking to myself “wow something is up with TODAY! TODAY is different to any other TODAY that I’ve ever known before TODAY!” People started to raise their hands in worship and I thought they were playing some kind of spiritual basketball, I thought to myself “who’s throwing the ball and who’s catching it? If somebody would just tell me what the score is I can go home and I’ll be fine!” The atmosphere in the room started to change and it dawned on me that these people were serious and they were singing to Jesus. It seemed as though Jesus was in the room and he knew just where I was sitting. As I was trying to make sense of what was going on, suddenly the same voice that spoke to me in the hotel room 3 ½ years ago spoke to me right there in the church and said very clearly “Caleb it’s time for you to come home to me TODAY because I have a new life for you!”
At that moment I knew whom that voice belonged to, it was Jesus, and it had been Jesus who had spoken to me in the hotel room! It seemed like an explosion in my soul and all of a sudden I felt myself bathed from head to toe in a peace that I had never known before. The only way I can describe what I felt is to say that for the first time in my life I had found a place that I could rest the pain in my guts that I had carried around for years. I was in the presence of the Lord and did not know what to do. I broke out into a sweat and gripped the sides of the chair in which I was sitting. At that moment Pastor Jack Hayford came up to the pulpit and started to rip into his Easter sermon. Boy he was really going at it, the atmosphere was electric and I was gripping the seat for dear life, my mind was trying to tell me to get up and leave because we had business to attend to at home but I was physically unable to move. It was a strange feeling because Pastor Jack was preaching up a storm but I could not understand a word he said, yet at the same time it seemed to me that this guy in a brown suit was telling my story to the whole congregation. The only thing that I could consciously understand was when he gave the invitation, and he simply said, “Is there anybody here TODAY who would like to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!” the next thing I know is that I am now standing up with my hand fully extended in the air, I’m looking up at my hand and then down to my feet, and thinking to myself “how did I get up here!” It was as if an invisible hand had grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and lifted me to my feet. It was in that moment I said yes to Jesus. And went forward for prayer to become a Christian. I went into a prayer room and prayed with one of the pastors, and he gave me some literature to help me get started in my walk with Jesus.
The problem was that now I had to go home, and home was not a good place to be. It was a drug dealing hellhole! So I went back home and continued to live life the way I had known it. I soon forgot what had happened at the church on Easter, the peace that I encountered in the church had left and I was just doing the same old routine and my life was out of control. I had now got to the point where I could not get high anymore even though I was doing everything I could get my hands on and it was absolutely miserable. Then the unthinkable happened, I got very sick, I was laid out on my bed shaking uncontrollably from head to toe. I knew that after about eighteen years of doing drugs that something had to give out and it was my nervous system. I knew that if I did not get out of this that I was going to die, it was going to be all over and there would be no more Caleb Quaye! Nobody came to see me and I was on my bed for 3 days during this time I cried out to God. This was what I call my one on one time with God and it was definitely the most painful experience I’ve ever had in my life. Suddenly my life flashed before me in a vision. It was as though someone was showing a video on the ceiling and I saw everything that I had ever done all the success that I had achieved in the music industry, the millions of people I had played to, and everybody I had known since I was about 4 yrs old. God was showing me in a way that I could understand that none of this meant anything unless I made a choice as to whom I was going to live for! At one point it seemed as though I had been struck blind, I knew that it was daylight and my eyes were open but I could not see a thing and it seemed to me that I was being moved down a dark tunnel and at the end of it there seemed to be flames and it was real hot and I did not want to go there, I began to cry out to God. I did not know how to pray at this point but I started to tell God that I was sorry for what I had become, because I knew that it was not God’s plan for me to become a drug addict, and I knew that my decisions had offended Him. I made a deal with God as I was lying upon what was intended to be my deathbed. My prayer which I will remember for the rest of my life was this: “God I don’t want anybody else’s theories or opinions, but if you would help me turn this page in my book and just give me Jesus, I will give you the rest of my life!” No sooner had I said those words that the same voice I had heard in the hotel room, the same voice that I had heard in the church on Easter Sunday, spoke to me right there and said “Caleb go and get yourself baptized TODAY!”
I called my friend Chester and he was glad to hear my voice on the phone, “hey man where have you been we haven’t seen you for awhile, what’s going on?” To which I answered “well I don’t feel too good right now but I believe that the Lord has told me that I am to get baptized today, could you help me?” At this point Chester starts to get excited “do you know what day it is?” he asks. “I think it’s Sunday” I respond. “It’s Pentecost!” he exclaims, “What’s that?” I ask. At this point Chester starts to try and explain to me about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church as described in the book of Acts. Unfortunately I had just crawled off of what was intended to be my deathbed and was in no condition to go through Bible College on the phone. “If you could help me to get to the church so that I can get my body into the water that’ll do fine”. “No problem” he responded, “we’ll pick you up”. I arrived at the church around 3:30 that afternoon in time to attend a class on water baptism. As the class was being dismissed the pastor who had instructed us said “Oh by the way if anyone is interested in the Baptism with the Holy Spirit just speak to one of us back here and we’ll take care of it”. The evening service began at 6 pm and I was nervously waiting in line dressed in a white robe as part of a group of 13 people who were being baptized that day. The service began as with worship and we were stood behind a curtain that was behind the organ, so we could not see the congregation. Suddenly Pastor Jack came out on to the platform and stopped the worship and proceeded to address the congregation with these words “Church! Today is Pentecost and I believe that the Lord would have us all sing in the Spirit!” At that point the organ started playing again and the congregation, which numbered about 1500 people started to sing in their spiritual language, which is known as tongues. I didn’t know anything about tongues at this point and I could not figure out what was going on, I started to get upset thinking to myself “what on earth are these crazy people doing singing in French, Greek and Spanish all at once, can we please just get on with the program so that I can go home and get well!” At that point it something happened to me that is very difficult to describe. It was as if a trapdoor opened above my head and my body stayed here but my spirit left this place! Because I was no longer hearing the congregation singing with the organ, I felt as though the same voice that I heard in the hotel, and in the church on Easter said to me “You’re a musician I want you to come up here and hear this!” I was caught up into heaven itself hearing the multitudes gathered around the throne! Millions of voices now singing in perfect harmony before the throne of God. I could not see anything but I was allowed to hear! The perfection of this music was devastating it kept washing over me in waves. To me it seemed as though I was gone from this place for two days! In my life coming from a musical family and having been exposed to music from all over the world, I had never heard anything like this, so beautiful yet awesomely powerful! When this experience started to die down the line of people started to move slowly forward to the baptism pool. I was stuck toward the back and was so overwhelmed with this experience that I turned towards the person standing next to me and exclaimed “somebody had better get me in to the water quick because I can’t stand this anymore!” He just gave me a blank look not knowing what I was talking about so in desperation I pushed myself to the front of the line and dived into the pool! One of the pastors already in the pool baptizing people grabbed me by the throat and put me under the water! When he pulled me up I was a changed man. 18 yrs of doing drugs was over! When I stood up in the water my mind was no longer messed up, and I knew for the first time in my life that God knew me and had accepted me as one of His own!
When I stepped out of the water an assistant gave me a towel to start drying off as I was patting myself down something very strange started happening. I could feel my hand passing through an invisible hole on my right side. I kept looking back to the water, because I knew instinctively that something had been taken out of me and left to drown in the water. Later on I would find out in the Bible that Paul in talks about the spiritual surgery that takes place in water baptism, describing it as follows:
Col 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
The whole in my side lasted for a week. It was about a foot in diameter, and each day I would feel my hand passing through it in the shower, and each day it would get a little bit smaller until it finally disappeared at the end of the week. This was my deliverance from drugs. Jesus Christ is not only our Savior but also our Deliverer! After I got dried and changed I went up to one of the elders in the church, and asked him if I could receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. I had heard the pastor make a brief mention of it in the baptism class earlier on, so I thought if it was from God it must be good and it wouldn’t hurt to get all I could! So he told me to sit down and he laid his hands on my head and proceeded to pray in tongues over me. At that moment I started to cry and weep like a baby, and suddenly he stopped praying and said you have it! Well this was strange because I did not start speaking in tongues right away because I had a fear of something, but I knew that I had received something also. I knew that the Holy Spirit had taken up residence inside and was now bursting to come out in some way. This kindly old man whose name was Don, just said to me “don’t worry you might start speaking in the car on the way home or something like that”. Well it didn’t happen in the car or anywhere else for that matter because I was scared stiff to do this tongues thing. My fear was due to the fact that I had grown up listening to a lot of Jazz music and knew all about “scat singing”, and I thought that “tongues” was similar to “scat singing” and I did not want to offend God by doing that! I never told anyone about my fear, which was my little secret that I kept to myself. This went on for about a couple of weeks and my stomach was tied up in knots, as I knew that the Holy Spirit wanted to be fully released in me.
Then it happened one day I was vacuuming my house and there was a knock on the door. I opened the door with the vacuum still going and there stood my friend Bob Sobo. Bob had a very serious look on his face and he had a Bible tucked under his arm, he looked like a man on a mission. “Hi Bob, how are ya doing, what brings you this way” I said. “I need to talk with you,” he said, “right now” he added. “Can you turn that thing off?” he said pointing to the vacuum cleaner. I turned the vacuum cleaner off and immediately he asks “Have you started speaking in tongues yet?” I froze on the spot and thought Oh! Oh! What’s going on here? Then Bob started to tell me about a visitation that he had from an angel the previous night. “This angel was sat at the foot of my bed and had a hood over his head with a big nose sticking out, it looked like Pastor Jack’s nose”. At this point I thought Bob was losing his marbles and that this was all a joke, when he added, “ My wife woke up and she saw him too!” Now he had my attention, Bob told me “The angel said go and tell Caleb it’s OK to speak in tongues because it’s just like scat singing!” At that moment it felt like somebody had thrown a spear into my chest. I was completely dumbfounded; this had to be God because nobody knew my secret fear. Here I am standing in the doorway of my house holding on to a vacuum cleaner, and the Lord is making it clear that he loves me so much he sent an angel to a friend of mine the night before, to give me a specific word of knowledge, so that I could be free from a fear that was preventing me from receiving the fullness of His Spirit. This is a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life! Bob says to me “So let’s take care of this right now” and I said “Whoa wait a minute”, I was panicked this was too much at once, I needed to process this and I also felt that this was something that had to be between me and the Lord. I said to Bob “here’s what I’ll do, before this day is over I will get with the Lord and take care of it, and I will call you and let you know” OK he agreed. The rest of the day my stomach was doing cartwheels and it seemed like the day was filled with all kinds of details and distractions to take care of. Finally it was time to go to bed, and I knelt down by my bedside and glanced at my clock, it was 11 pm, I closed my eyes and said a very nervous prayer which went something like “Lord I know it’s time for me to start speaking in tongues so I’m going to open my mouth and start making some noises and whatever you want to do with that is fine with me – Amen”. I opened my mouth and within seconds a flood of words and a language that I had never known before came pouring out of me in praise unto Jesus. The next time I opened my eyes and looked at my clock it was 1.30 pm I had been praying in tongues all that time, my stomach was no longer in knots, I was both exhausted and blessed at the same time, my knees were shot and I crawled into bed like and slept like a baby! I had truly been baptized with the Holy Spirit!
My journey in music ministry began in the Summer of 1982 about 3 months after I had become a Christian. The same voice that I had heard in the hotel room and in the Church on Easter & Pentecost Sunday was about to call me again, this time to ministry. I was told by some friends at the church that there was soon going to be a concert by a guy called Ken Medema, and it was highly recommended that I should be there to see this guy because he was really good and anointed etc. So when the day came I went with my good friends Chester and his wife Roz, and my dear friends Pee Wee & his wife Michiko to see the concert. Typical of musicians we arrived late and slid into some seats at the back of the church just as Ken was being led to the platform to take his place at the piano. Ken Medema happens to be blind, but what he may lack in physical eyesight he more than makes up for in spiritual insight and incredible musical talent.
As Ken started to play and sing his songs, something started to happen! The piano sound suddenly changed, and it became the most beautiful sounding grand piano I had ever heard in my life. I had spent many years in recording studios and had heard piano’s recorded under the most impeccable conditions with state of the art equipment, but I had never heard a piano sound like this. I looked around to see if people were hearing what I was hearing. They just seemed to sit there motionless and indifferent to the quality of the sound, and the music that was being played. Ah Ha! Maybe the guy running the sound was putting some effects on the piano and playing tricks with the sound! I looked over to see the sound guy just sitting back doing nothing with his feet up on the console sipping a soda! What in the world was going on with the sound of this piano I thought, nobody else seems to be hearing what I’m hearing! The suddenly the voice of the Lord spoke softly yet firmly to my soul and said “Do you see what he’s doing?” somehow I had an understanding that Ken was doing something spiritual with the music, so I answered “Yes”. Then the Lord said to me “I want you to start doing that for me!” It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord only has to say a few words and you get the whole picture. I suddenly realized in that moment that God was calling me to change my whole way of life. Up to that point I had lived life as a secular musician making a living in the studios playing all kinds of music and none of it was glorifying god. I realized that God was calling me to come out of the music industry to play for him. In my understanding it became very clear to me that either I play music for God or I don’t play at all. No longer was I to play music that extolled the vices of the world, God had given me the gift of music, a gift that has been in my ancestry for generations, and now it was to be used for him or not at all. The conviction was so strong on me that I had me head in my knees, I felt that I had to make a decision before I left the building other wise I might get struck by lightning or something. In the electricity of that moment I turned to my friend Chester and said “I don’t know what’s going on man, but I’m coming out of the studios, I can’t play that music anymore!” He looked at me not knowing quite what to say, but he knew that something serious was going on. When the concert was over his wife Roz said to me “let’s go out into the foyer to look at the books and tapes that are on sale”. This sounded like some well needed relief for me so I accompanied her into the foyer.
While she was browsing the books I was just standing there in a daze trying to process what had just happened, when all of a sudden the pastor who had led Ken Medema onto the platform came running through the crowd looking for me. He was very excited and pointed his finger in my face in front of a crowd of people who were wondering what was going on, and said “God has just told me that you are to play at the next Face To Face concert in November, will you do it?” So feeling somewhat embarrassed in front of everyone I said off the top of my head “sure, no problem I’d be happy to!” I left the building in more of a daze, got into my car and as I’m driving home I started to have a conversation with Jesus! “Lord would you mind telling me what have I just done! I’ve told this pastor that I will do his concert in November, but I have no Christian band, no Christian music – what am I to do?” The Lord’s response to my plea was “That’s right it’s time for you to start playing for me now” so I said well OK but I need some songs. Thirteen songs were written in one week, I put a band together with my dear friends Pee Wee & Michiko and a drummer, we did the concert and 35 teenagers gave their lives to Jesus. When I saw the response I said to myself Ah Ha! I can do this. There is no greater joy than seeing the Lord use us and anoint our gifting to bring others to himself. I spent years playing music in high powered concerts that inspired people to do drugs or go crazy. Nothing is more satisfying to me than making music that can inspire a person to open their hearts to a personal relationship with our Savior and Deliverer Jesus Christ.
If you would like a personal relationship with Jesus Christ whom you have just read about in my testimony, may I invite you to say this prayer and make it your own personal invitation for Christ to come into your heart:
Thank you Jesus that you have made yourself known to me. You are not just a person to read about or hear about, but you are real and living. I believe that you are the Son of God who suffered and died on the Cross so that my sins might be forgiven, and that you rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to appear before the Father for my sake. I open my heart to you to confess my sins to you, and put my trust in you as my Savior and the Lord of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and help me to understand the Bible so that I might live a life that is pleasing to you. Thank you for your mercy, forgiveness and the free gift of salvation. Thank you for my membership into the family of God, in Jesus name – Amen.
Read the entire story in Caleb Quaye's book A Voice Louder Than Rock and Roll. Just click on the cover art to be taken to his website store for purchase.