I was born in a Spanish Harlem in New York City. Even though I’m brown in complexion, if you live in Harlem you’re white! Isn’t that crazy?
So when I was going downstairs to get a loaf of bread, I would have to go back up and say, “dad, I can’t go. They’re waiting for me downstairs. They’re going to try and beat me up.” I was just a young kid. So my father says, “well here, take this” and he hands me a stick.
He was a musician; he was a very grand musician. He was honored at the Lincoln Center in 1978 for Pioneers of Latin Music. He had been with Desi Arnaz I think.
But there was fighting in the home. I remember as a kid, about 10 years old, I remember my father was going to throw my mother out the window of a third-story apartment complex. I kept trying to pull him off and I couldn’t. I went to where we had the knives and got a knife and put it behind and his back, and I told him, “I’m going to stab you if you don’t let my mom go” because he was going to throw her out. He dropped the knife, but he drank a lot.
At 15 I left home, so after that, I joined the Marines. I used to box a little bit, I was working out for the golden gloves. I started working for Shallow Air Company in Public Relations; that was helpful. I was one of the designers of the logo. I started to get involved in producing concerts. I was involved with the Beach Boys, doing a concert there at the Jack Murphy Stadium. They had 50,000 people there. There were other concerts, I was involved in Woodstock. When I was working at Shallow I was asked to do that for individuals that I knew.
I was exposed then to drugs because everyone at Woodstock seemed to be using some type of a drug. There was a gallery of over 400,000 people.
I had an experience that changed my whole life. I never knew really what fear was. Something was happening to where my spirit was leaving my body and I was literally being elevated off the ground. And I remember I held onto a chair that was close to me, standing up, but I could not control, and I was good at control, but I could not control the feeling that I was going through. And I was afraid I was going to die, and I was going to go to hell. It was very real, and what I thought lasted a moment was like an eternity. And I hadn’t been to church in 25 years. So what is going on, why can’t I control this, all these thoughts are going through my head right away. Then all of a sudden I heard a voice and the voice said to me, “which way do you choose? Life of death? You must choose now.” I heard it as clear as anyone could hear something, it was very profound. It was not said over and over, it was said one time. This was it! This was it for me! And I knew it was it. I knew if I died at that moment I was going to hell. I was on my way out.
The only thing that happened to me was I screamed, “Jesus save me!” I don’t even know how I said that. It had to be the holy spirit that said that because it wasn’t me because I didn’t know God for 25 years. I had never called on his name, but I called on his name and I said, “Jesus save me!” I didn’t say it like I’m saying it now, I screamed it! My spirit jumped back into my body and my girlfriend ran out; it was like a movie. All of a sudden she was all hysterical and she called the paramedics and they came and rushed me to the hospital. I was like a vegetable; they shot me up with all kinds of things. There was a battle going on between Satan and me, and I couldn’t fight it. I could feel the torment in my mind, I could see this battle of trying to destroy me. But in the same process, the Spirit of the Lord, the voice, and rebuked Satan on my behalf. And it was gone.
I was like this for a year. I was in torment for a year. I was a vegetable. I couldn’t get up and go the bathroom by myself. And it was then that I reached the point where I really wanted to take my life. I was good looking, I was a player, I had a lot of girls, I had drugs, I had this, I had everything going for me. Supposedly, I was a dead man walking.
My spirit would say, “go to this church” and I went to that church. I walked in and a group of people laid hands on me, and whatever I was experiencing, that feeling of being elevated, even that feeling of the usage, or addiction, or the desire to use, or to have whatever was gone.
When they prayed over me, something happened to me, like something had left me but something came into me. I couldn’t understand and they said, “you called upon the name of Jesus, right?” and I said, “yes” and they said, “the Word says that anyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved.” Anyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. I called on the name of Jesus and I didn’t know what I was doing! I believe that was the moment that changed my whole life. To the point that where I’m at right now, why I’ve been in the ministry for 40 years, and by faith, I have walked by foot around the world.
It’s not me now going to countries and me walking for them so much, as the country is now walking with me or for me as we lift up the name of God.