Pastor Dimas Salaberrios: When I got back down to North Carolina it was like I completely lost my mind. I started to see things in shades of red. I mean, I was walking around the house trying to find a gun to kill myself, but part of me was trying to stop myself.
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John Fuller: We can sense the inner angst that was going on. That is a former drug dealer and user, and he was spinning out of control. Dimas Salaberrios is his name and you’re gonna hear how his world changeddramatically. That’s our presentation today on Focus on the Family with your host, Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, this is an exciting true story that we’re sharing and if you missed Part One of the presentation last time, get in touch with us!We can send you the entire message on CD or audio download so that you can listen to it or share it with a friend. Especially, I would think, older teenagers—this would be a great story about the dark side of life but how God reached this man.
John: Yeah, this is really a riveting story and, um, you can get the CD by calling 1-800-A-FAMILY or stop by our website, get the CD, the download, or get the app for your tablet or your phone so you can listen on the go.Those are at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Jim: As I said at the start of the show last time, I met Dimas at a pastor’s breakfast sponsored by Salem radio in Philadelphia. Yes, this former drug dealer is now a pastor, and that’s what makes his story so powerful. Um, I was so impressed by his enthusiasm for the things of God and his desire to share Jesus Christ in urban areas around the world. He’s written a book about his experiences called,Street God: The Explosive True Story of a Former Drug Bosson the Run from the Hood and the Courageous Mission that Drove Him Back. And that’s the story that you’re gonna hear today.
John: And Pastor Dimas is the president of Concerts of Prayer Greater New York; he’s married to Tiffany and he’s the father of three girls. Here, now, Dimas Salaberrios speaking at Harvest Fields Community Church in the Bronx, on Focus on the Family. And we’re gonna share a brief recap to help you get caught up on his story.
Dimas Salaberrios: Now growing up, I grew up in Queens, New York in the Hollis area of Queens. This area was called Cambria Heights. My mother was a principal. My father was a captain of correction and an Air Force guy. And I remember, you know, my mother got me to the best school district.
So the school took us on a trip to see the movieE.T.. Any of y’all remember seein’ that? E.T. phone home, you know.
But then when we came out of the theater, we started to walk and there was a big sign of the movie that’s coming out calledScarface. So, at age 10, I went in there, saw that movie and it had a real negative impact on my life. I left out of there with a dream of becoming a ‘Street God.’ I left out of there with a dream of becoming one of the largest drug dealers in New York City, at age 10.
And you know, by age 11, I finally went back to middle school and I remember I was walkin’ the halls and I saw one of my friends. [He] Pulled out this bag of these little dots of mescaline tabs, which looked like a tip of a No. 2 pencil was broke.And I took … I said, “What do you do with these?” He said, “You gotta swallow it.” So, I swallowed it.
And then walked in the principal with this man with him and they said, “Today we’re gonna have a special assembly on drugs.” I sat there. My heart was poundin’, ‘cause you know, at that age, you just feel like teachers know everything. I was like, “I’m busted.” I was like, “they’re gonna know.” And I remember I went into that assembly and the guy was talkin’ and the giggles just came over me and the guy just looked at me and I knew he knew.
But then he kinda second guessed himself, like “this kid’s 11.” Nah, no way and just kinda went on. Now I was there, and at that point, I told my friend, I said, “I never want to take it again. I’m good.” And then my friend said, “Well, why don’t you help me sell it?” And then I said, “Oh, yeah, I could do that.” And then I became also a drug dealer at age 11.
And I went down to McDonald’s and I’m … I’ll never forget it.This guy’s from my neighborhood, he had this beautiful Cadillac and he was only like 18. And I remember my friend said, “Yeah, man, he’s a crack dealer.” And then it went into my head, crack! That’s the way I could get a car. (Fade out on Laughter)
So, I went and started working for them, hustling for them, learning. And I started to get arrested from time to time, but my father, since he was the captain of correction, he knew a lot of judges, so I was getting passes over and over again.
And when I went to court and I had my lawyer, he came and he said, “Look,” he said … he said, “You’ve been arrested nine times already. You’ve beat nine different drug cases. We’re not beatin’ this one.” He was like … he was like, “This one is lookin’ serious.”
So, I was sent to Riker’s Island, you know.I went in there for a year. And Riker’s Island was hard.I ain’t gonna front. They finally put me into this thing called “Shock.” Got out, came out. I was so excited. I … I just … Shock was like awesome. It was this military thing. And I really came out with my mind set. I can see somebody went to Shock in here. I came out with my mind set (Laughter) like, “yo, I’m gonna like go straight. I’m gonna do the right thing.”
And the only job that was available to me was White Castle. And at the end of the week, they gave me $75. I was like … when I was used to sometimes clockin’ a G in an hour. You’re talkin’, I mean, real money. So, when I got the $75, I was like … I tried it for another week and I was like, “I can’t do it.”
And I went back into the drug world and then this one girl, I’ll never forget, she gave me what I call the kiss of death.Now I didn’t date her; I just liked her. And she said, “Put your lips on mine and I will blowthis smoke into you.” And kneeled down and when she blew into me was marijuana and crack cocaine. (Audience groans)
And I realized from those drugs, I lost all my self-esteem. And I remember I turned to my friend. I said, “Well, guess what we’re gonna do.” I said, “We’re gonna hustle crack and this time, we’re not gonna use it.”
And then one day, I mean, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had parole officer I had to report to. I was gettin’ a GED program stuff goin’ down and I remember, I walked in there to see the parole officer and I was sittin’ there and she said, “You’re goin’ back to jail.” She got up and handcuffed me. I said, “What!? I said, “For what? I’m in a GED program. What’s goin’ on?” She said, “You have turned in three dirty urines of cocaine back to back.” And I said, “I don’t even get high.”
And then I thought about it, like the movieBreakin’ Bad, I was cooking the drugs and the cocaine was goin’ in my pores and I didn’t even know what pores were! (Laughter) Then she was like, “Okay, you’re gonna go to jail. It may be 90 days; It may be six months.” And I jumped and said, “No, I’m not.” And I grabbed the door and opened it and now I’m runnin’. And I was on the fifth floor. So, I would hit the steps and I’d justleapdown the steps. I mean, heading with my face forward. So, I’m runnin’, jumpin, boom, runnin’, jumpin’, boom. I’m runnin’. Now I knew down at the bottom it was always this officer there and I said, I gotta get around this dude. So, when I came around the corner, he wasn’t there. I wasn’t even a Christian, but I yelled, “Praise God!” and ran outside. (Laughter)
And on my route drivin’ to New York, there was this other drug dealer whose girlfriend was well-known as a witch. I remember, I woke up and looked and I saw the girl drivin’ past me like, lookin’ at me like this. And we all saw her and we were all like talkin’ about it the whole ride. Like how did she see us?
And then we got all the way to New York. And I was walkin’ down the street and that girl popped out, grabbed my arm, and I remember I yanked my arm away from her and she did some like weird move and I just pulled it away. And lo and behold, when I got back down to North Carolina, it was like I completely lost my mind.
So, I called up my mother and I said, “Ma…” I said, “I’m strugglin’. I need help. I said “This is hard.” And she said, “What’s goin’ on?” I said, “It’s like I’m losin’ my mind. I’m seein’ everything in red. Can you help me?” She said, “Why don’t you go to church?” I said, “Ma, I need real help.” And I hung up the phone. Bang!
And God sent three women. Three women walked over to me and said, “Can we pray for you?” And I said, “Why not? Nothin’ else is …”But I didn’t know what I was gettin’ into. (Laughter) They took me into a room. One of them had oil. They started sayin’, “Come out!” (Audience LOUD) Another one said, “In the name of Jesus.” And I went … I’m in there like, “What is this?” (Laughter) They started to pray for me. I felt the power of God. I hit the floor. They were prayin’ for me.
I remember I got up at that moment. I felt such a peace, like never (Applause) before. I mean (Applause), this incredible peace. I took all the crack out of my pocket. I started dumpin’ it in the garbage. I looked up to heaven. I said, “God, I’m never gonna sell crack again. I’m just gonna sell weed, because it’s natural.” (Laughter)
I mean… I’m makin’ more money than ever before. I was workin’ with my Bible. I was like, yo, I was the Bible weed hustler. (Laughter)
So, I was there, enjoyin’ all this stuff that was goin’ on and then one day I went to church and I started to tithin’ to the church. Amen, but I was tithin’ drug money, so that Bible verse, “the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous,” [Proverbs 13:22] that is real.
And remember the pastor got up and announced, he said, “Tithin’ has gone up by 70 percent … cent … cent.”
He was like, “I’m doin’ a building fund.” He said, “This church is takin’ off.” He didn’t realize it was all that drug money he was getting’. And then this one woman, I’ll never forget her, she stood up and she said, “I just want to tell you church, I had a light bill for $80, for $80 and I opened up an envelope and it was a check for $80. God has blessed me.” And church was screamin’ and shoutin’. Oh, I was like, oh, yeah. I said, “Pastor, I got a testimony.” (Audience reaction LOUD) Oh, it was on.
I remember I got the mic. I said, “Let me tell you,” I said, “the Lord has blessed my business.” (Laughter) “Right outside in the parking lot, I got a 535i BMW. Say amen, somebody.” And it was quiet. (Laughter) And then the woman said, “Somebody better talk to this man. One of you men better talk to him.” And I’m like, “Your little $80 light bill hatin’ on me. I’m talkin’ about real money.” And I remember, I didn’t say that to her, but that was goin’ through my mind.
Then the next week, the whole church changed. They said, “We’re gonna have all the young men, 20 and under, we’re gonna have you meet downstairs and all the young ladies 20 and under.” And they started to talk about drugs.And I asked the guy, I said, “What’s wrong with weed?” And he said, “In Galatians chapter 5, [Gal 5:20] there’s a word called ‘sorcery.’ Sorcery; the Greek word. It’spharmakeia, which is where we get pharmaceuticals.” And this guy broke this down, so when you’re dealin’ with witchcraft and drugs, it was being used during the time, so drugs are not new. It was actually found in the Bible and I was one of these dudes. I mean, I was cut to my heart and I said, “I’m done.” I said, “I’m finished.”
I said, “All right.” I gathered my whole team together. Now I was the supplier for multiple drug dealers. So, I got them all together. I said, “it’s over.” And many of them were mad. You know, they were like, “Yo man. That’s how I’m payin’ for my car.” “It’s how I’m paying for my ho … my crib, all this stuff. How are you gonna do this?”
And I said, “I quit.”
So, I left, but little did I know one of the guys in that meeting had planned to murder me. So, I was in my apartment, chillin’ and I heard this knock on the door (Sound of knock, knock, knock, knock, knock). Now have you ever just felt evil, like you could just sense somethin’ is not right?
I walked down, opened the door, locked it behind me and stepped outand there was this dude. I knew his name was Mental. And I said … I mean, I put it together quickly. “Oh, man, they’re gonna murder me. They’re gonna take all my drugs. And he said, “Yo man, I want to talk to you. Come on the side of the house.” When I walked on the side of the house, there was this other dude there named Jaw, who hated me. And I was like, it’s gonna go down. And I just said, “God, You’ve gotta get me through this.” Here’s Jaw; here’s Mental. I said, “oh, it’s about to happen.”
He just thrust at me with the gun and the thing went “Tink.” He clicked it and it went “Tink.” He clicked it and it went “Tink, tink.” And I’m standin’ there and by the power of God, no bullets came out of that gun. (Cheers) By the power of Jesus (Applause), no bullets (Applause) came out of that gun.
And I’m standin’ there, lookin’. He looked at each other, they looked, ‘cause they know I was a fighter, they both looked and they jetted, got in the car and took off. I just looked up to heaven. I was like, “God, wherever You want me to go, whatever You want me to do (Applause), I belong to You, God.” (applause trickles)
And I totally at that point surrendered. I went to church. I started to learn about, “you have to obey the laws of the land.” I stood up in the church and I said, “Listen, I gotta confess.” I said, “I’m on the run” and the whole church broke out laughin’. And I said, “I don’t understand. What’s so funny?” They said, “Don’t you know we know every New Yorker down here is usually on the run?” (Laughter)
And then cops in the church started to stand upand said, “Hey, Daylight, we’ve been watchin’ your life.” A correction officer stood up. “Daylight, this is what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna write letters for you.” I was there like, what in the world? (Applause)
John: Pastor Dimas Salaberrios on Focus on the Family and we have a CD of this program. We’ll send that to you when you make a generous donation ofanyamount by calling 800-A-FAMILY.Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/radio
End of Program Note
Dimas: I drove back to New York, went to my mother’s house. My mother said, “Just stay three days. Let’s get things together. Get the lawyer, get all this stuff together.” and I said, “You know what, Ma.” I said, “I’m gonna head out. I’m just gonna get somethin’ from the store. I’ll be back and when I went out, I mean, Satan gave me one last temptation. I’m walkin’ and I’ll never forget it. This car pulled up and it was my connection that used to bring all the way from Texas. He rolled down his winda… I mean, he was like, “Yo, Daylight.” I’m like, “Yeah, what’s up?”
He’s like, “Yo, take my number.” He’s like, “it’s not the same.” He’s like, “Yo, if you want to kick it off again, give me a call.” And I remember, I was lookin’ at that number like, Riker’s Island, Street God, Riker’s Island, troubles. And I just grabbed the number. I said, “Jesus,” I just ripped it up and threw it. I went home; turned myself in. They … they gave me a court date fifty-six days later.
During that time I ministered the Gospel as best I could. I didn’t know how to preach. (Applause) It was … it was pretty good. I knocked on (Laughter) cells. Cell doors all over the place and I’d be like, “Come out; Bible study in the day room.” All these dudes would come out and I remember, I’d stand there and I’d open the Bible. I’d say, “Look at that. Look at this.” (Applause) “It says in Joel, Moses’ bones. Do you know what that means? It means, all you need Jesus. Everybody here needs Jesus.” (Applause) You need to get saved. And dudes would just be like, “Word.” And they’d get saved over Moses’ bones. (Applause)
And then finally, the day came where I went before the judge and the judge said, “Why are you turning yourself in? I said, “I turned myself in, because I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. And whether I follow Him in jail or out of jail, I’m gonna follow Him.” (Applause) That’s what I told her. (Applause) She said, “Get this young man out of my court.” They grabbed me and I … I walked. They put me in a cell. I was there like, I mean, I started prayin’, “God, what’d I do wrong?” I was like, “God, I need You.”
Then she brought me back out and she said, “I’m gonna do something I never did before.” She said, “I’m gonna release you.” (Audience reaction and Applause) She said, “Riker’s Island would make you back to the person that you were, but I want to release you and keep doin’ what you’re doin’.” And God allowed me to be released from that jail and I came out on fire afterJesus. (Applause) I mean, goin’ after Him with all my heart, all my soul, everything just total commitment to Jesus.
Started bringin’ all these people to church and then, you know, I got plugged into a church in Queens. I started datin’ my wife, Tiffany, and she found this organization that could smuggle Bibles. I got hyped. I was like, I could smuggle (Laughter) for Jesus! (Laughter and Applause) I was like (Cheers and Applause) you had no idea how excited… I was. (Laughter)
So, I flew to China and I changed their whole game. They were put in this bag, I’d show them how to put it all over your body. I could hardly walk (Laughter), but I got a lot of Bibles through. And then one, down to the last trip, it was this one guy who was like a submission psycho. That’s all I can call him. You know, he’s like gettin’ in my face, “You need to submit. You need to do it my way.” He said, “You gotta put it in the bag.” I said, “I can get 66 Bibles on my body through. In the bag, you can only do 40.” He said, “You need to submit.” And I said, “You know what?” I read verses on humility. I said, “Okay, I’ll submit.”
So, we’re goin’ through, we’re walkin’, he gets though. The other person gets through. I walk through and they say, “You! Stop!” And I started to act like I ain’t here. I just kept walkin’. (Laughter) The … the next thing I know, I’m surrounded by all these Chinese people, these cops and they said, “Put the bag on the scanner.”
So, I put it on the scanner. I’m believin’ for a miracle. I’m like, “Let the hand of God make the Bibles disappear.” (Laughter) I mean, I … I heard all kinds of missionary stories. The thing went through. All you heard, “Bing, bing, bing.” Now more of the cops came. They zipped it open. They said, “Whose books are these?” I said, “They’re all mine!” They said, “You read Mandarin?” I said, “No, but they’re mine.”
Then the guy got angry. He took a book and nudged it in my face. I said “I’m in trouble, man.” I was there and the guy looked and then one of them asked. He said, “How tall areyou?” (Laughter) I got New York slick mouth. I said, “I’m as tall as Michael Jordan.” (laughter) He looked. “Michael Jordan!” (Laughter) “Michael Jordan!” I just smiled, started shakin’ hands. (Laughter) I … I just walked out of that place (Laughter and Applause). I said, I got in the car and drove off. I said, “Jesus, You are awesome!!!” (Laughter and Applause)
I just share that to share (crowd: murmurs) God can deliver you from anything. (Applause) God can help you with any situation. When you come to God, don’t make a mild adjustment in your life. Dive fully in. Go all in. Give up everything for Him and your life will never be the same, ever!
John: Pastor Dimas Salaberrios on Focus on the Family and what a powerful example of what God can do in one person’s life.
Jim: That’s it—from notorious drug dealer to a bold missionary for the Lord, I love it! What an amazing story! And the rest of the story is that God sent Dimas back to the Bronx to work in ministry and to reach out to drug dealers and juvenile delinquents in his old neighborhood. That is awesome!
Dimas was able to plant churches and conduct prayer walks in various areas of the Bronx and even received a commendation from police commissioner Ray Kelly for lowering crime in the Bronx River neighborhood.
John: Now that’s something that only God could do.
Jim: Yeah! And it’s so true, John, that is only something God could do. We love hearing stories about how God has worked in a person’s life and let me remind our listeners that a lot of these stories come from you! So if you hear a great testimony at a church or at a conference, please get the CD and send it in to us for review.
John: Yeah. Our team will absolutely give those a listen. Send it to me, John Fuller, at 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the zip code is 80920
Jim: John, I hope and pray that this message from Pastor Dimas has given hope toanyonewho has a loved one who is living a life that’s not pleasing to the Lord. And if that’s your situation, I hope you’ll call us. Here’s just a couple of examples of the calls that we get here at the ministry. Alex said: Our 30-year-old son has always been a responsible, godly person. Over the past year he has completely changed. He has stopped going to church and we just discovered that he’s been using drugs. I want to intervene and give him some ultimatums but my wife is afraid that if we are too tough on him he’ll quit talking to us and then we’ll lose any influence we might have with him.
My heart goes out to that couple. Here’s another one: Julia called because she didn’t know where else to go for help. She said, “We have neighbors who are doing drugs and their kids are trying to get my 8-year old son to take drugs, too.”
John: That’s horrible. But it is reflective of the kind of thing that is going on in our culture—so many hurting individuals and families.
Jim: It really is, but, you know what, Focus on the Family offers hope to these families. We just don’t receive that kind of message and then say, “thanks for calling.” Our counselors are here every weekday to take your calls and to help you work through problems that are too big for you to handle alone. So if there’s someone in your life that you’re concerned about, please, please give us a call and we’ll do what we can do to help you.
And when you call, ask for a CD of the complete presentation from Pastor Dimas Salaberrios.Maybe you’re thinking of someone who needs to hear it;a neighbor, a friend, a family member—we’d be happy to send that out to you for a donation of any amount as you help us cover our costs of providing these resources toeveryonewho asks for them.Our mission is to help your family thrive in Christ, so let us
know how we can do that today.
John: And we’d really appreciate hearing from you. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or focusonthefamily.com/radio. And again, if you’d like to send in a story or testimony on CD for us to review, or to donate by check, our address is 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920.
And if you enjoyed today’s program, please tell a friend to tune in next time. You’ll hear popular blogger Alli Worthington explaining how you can find peace in the midst of busyness. It starts by asking yourself...
Mrs. Alli Worthington:What are the two or three things that I’m doing now that I just know in my gut, I don’t want to do this anymore?
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