John Ramirez grew up in the Bronx, where his relatives practiced Santeria. “My father’s side came from a family of witches and warlocks,” says John. “My father was very heavy into Santeria, very heavy into Spiritualism.”
John longed for a relationship with his dad, but his father was abusive. “There was no love; there was no compassion. We watched him beat my mother in the house. He came in drunk most of the time–demanding stuff, asking for stuff. If things weren’t done a certain way it was always put down, hurtful words: ‘Dummy! Stupid! You’re going to amount to nothing.’ That kind of stuff,” John recalls. “I would just stand by the door and look and see what he was up to because I was looking to see if there was time for me just to have interaction. Hey, my dad and I did something. But he was connected to the demons; he was connected to Spiritualism.”
John’s mother was also influenced by Santeria. At his aunt’s suggestion, she took John to a tarot card reading. “The lady said in her cards I had thirty days to do a ceremony or I would be blind. So my mother, as a good mother, didn’t want anything to happen to her son, so we did it. They blindfolded me; they did a bath for me with herbs and they started chanting and calling their five main god/demons from Santeria.”
From that moment, John’s life changed. “My whole personality, everything who I stood for as a young boy was no longer there. I felt like someone took a black blanket and just put it right over me – spiritually. I was answering not only to my mom and my dad, but I was answering to the demons,” John recalls.
John’s involvement with Santeria deepened quickly. “I was being taught and trained with high rank devil worshippers into Spiritualism,” says John. “I went to sneaking into funerals, acting like I knew the person that died because I wanted to buy the soul of that person that died, because I can get that soul and put it on somebody and (they’d) die the same way. When drug dealers got killed in the street, I wanted to run out and get the blood, because I can use that human blood to do witchcraft.”
For the first time in his life, John felt powerful and respected. “People knew that I was a force to be reckoned with,” says John. “I liked that power. I was talked down to as a young boy. Now, I had the authority and the power that I can do whatever I want.”
When John was thirteen, his father was murdered in a bar fight. John gave credit to the devil for relieving his mother’s suffering. “I’d be up at five in the morning calling out to God saying, ‘Help my mother!’ and no one showed up,” John recalls. “But the devil showed up because he killed my dad. I believed the devil said, ‘Well, no one loves you, but I love you. Your father can’t provide for you, but I’m your provider.’ The devil said to me, ‘Do the religion. I’ll give you anything you want–just ask.’”
John says Satan became the father he never had; John was devoted to him. “I’d light up my candles; I spit the rum; I spit the cigar smoke–the cigar smoke means power. If I didn’t have money for a rooster, I’d cut myself and use my own blood and pour it in,” says John. “The whole atmosphere of the room changes and you know there’s something there. And when it’s there you have to address him like a family member, ‘My father, I’m here. What would you like to speak to me about? What is it that you want me to do?’”
As time went on, John also practiced the dark arts outside his apartment. He preyed on Christians in particular. “At the clubs, I would go around looking for Christians,” John recalls. “And I knew that in the club you were in the devil’s playground.
So I knew that if I could get into you and you had a beer or two already in your system, I knew all I had to do was just say, ‘Listen, I have something to tell you today.’ And right now you will open the door up and say, ‘What is it you need to tell me?’ You gave me the gateway.”
Eventually, John became a high priest in Palo Mayombe, a form of African Spiritualism. As he became more powerful, John took warfare seriously. “The devil told me that I had to go into the neighborhood in the spirit realm in order to weaken it in the natural,” says John. “Whatever you kill in the spirit realm you can kill in the natural. So I would leave my body home and astral project myself into different boroughs, different regions, different states, different countries. And as I fly into the neighborhood I would speak curses into the neighborhood, speak things that I wanted to happen into the neighborhood.
Sometime I would go into a neighborhoods and I’d see this group of people in the spirit realm, on the corner praying–holding hands, heads bowed, praying up a storm. And there was no accomplishment in that neighborhood. That neighborhood was sanctified, blessed through prayer. You couldn’t touch it. But in the other neighborhoods, it was party time.”
Around that time, John met a girl who intrigued him. “I said, ‘Well, you know, I could hang out with her,” John remembers. ‘She’s good looking and she invited me to church.’”
She also invited John to meet her parents, who talked to him about Jesus. “They had the Bible out, ‘Hey, listen, we want to talk to you about this.’ I’m like, ‘Well, I can’t come to your house anymore. Your parents are crazy,’” says John. “And I said, ‘At least let me digest the food, and then you can talk about this Jesus guy. ’ And then after I leave her I would go to worship at the devil church and kill animals all night long, and then I would come back and see her but she didn’t know. ”
John found the Christians amusing and harmless. “We had a different system than they had. They’re stuff was just kisses; ‘Hallelujah, we love you,’ John remembers. “So I kept coming to church to please her, but I wasn’t going to leave the people I was committed to.”
One Sunday morning, the pastor gave an altar call. John went forward, but he wasn’t prepared for what happened next. “I said, ‘Well, the devil can’t touch me here. I’m in front of the pastor now. I’m protected,’” John recalls. All of a sudden… “I got demon possessed. I grabbed him by the throat, picked him up in the air and said, ‘I came for you.’ And all these big men came out of their seats, tried to grab me. I was just throwing people around like ragdolls,” John says.
“And then two hundred-and-some people got up and raised their hands–spiritual warfare for a person that would have killed them in a heartbeat. I saw the power of God in the church. One of the guys was whispering back in my ear, ‘”Say, Jesus is Lord.’ Say, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ Say it. Say it.’ I couldn’t open my mouth. And then suddenly I was able to say, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ And the devil left.”
John says that he wouldn’t trade anything for what he’s found in Christ. “For twenty-five years of my life, I was able to do anything to anybody, anywhere. I count that all to be foolish to gain Christ. He’s my Uno. He’s the breath that I breathe. He walks with me. I can hear the sound of His voice in my ear.”
Today, John shares the gospel with everyone he can. He has written a book about his experiences called Out of the Devil’s Cauldron.
“I’ve been victorious in Christ,” says John. “I’ve got peace. I’m not empty anymore. I’ve got fulfillment. I’ve got a purpose and I have a destiny today, and all because I said ‘yes’ to the cross. Now I’m an evangelist for the Kingdom of Light. No more an evangelist for the dark side. I expose the dark side every time the Lord gives me a chance because you don’t have to die in your sins. You don’t have to shed blood, like in Palo Mayombe. Jesus shed the blood for you. That’s the blood that counts, the one at the cross.”