What Can We All DO to Heal the Racial Divide in America

The renowned Pastor Dimas Salaberrios shares his remarkable journey from a teenage drug boss known as ‘Street God’ on New York streets to serving as a Pastor and leader for communities all across the country. Hear Pastor Dimas Salaberrios recount some compelling stories from his younger days as a drug boss, which he later turned into the book called Street God. It truly is a remarkable story of transformation, faith, and inspiration. Today, Dimas is an international speaker as well as pastor of Infinity Bible Church in the South Bronx of New York City, a church he co-founded with Tim Keller.

Click to Read Transcript

Ron:

Welcome my close friend and brother, the former notorious ‘Daylight’ now, Pastor Dimas Salaberrios. Welcome Dimas. Welcome to my show.

 

Dimas:

Hey, Ron, it’s so good to be on with you, man. And thank you.

 

Ron:

Yeah, we’ve had some good times together here in the last maybe two and a half, three years since we made a friendship and I have loved every minute of my friendship with you. But let me just tell you, knowing your book and your biography and hearing the story now, it makes my life as a small town paperboy and Cub Scout sound like really, really dull. So

 

Dimas:

Well, yeah. You know, hanging out with Denver. I’m sure had its nice twists and turns for sure.

 

Ron:

Oh, well it did you know, but hey, yeah, we met up. What was it the National Prayer Breakfast we met about three years ago and you were being actually honored. And I will never forget hearing your story that night at that dinner after the prayer breakfast; it’s the most powerful story of God’s transformative powers that I’ve ever heard. And so, I’d say that you are one of the most gifted and interesting and blessed men that I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. But my leading question is, how did a kid named Dimas with a good mom and dad become ‘Daylight’ and ‘Street God’?

 

Dimas:

Well the crack epidemic and the way it came through, you know, I was living in the largest middle-class black population in America. And, you know, it was a great right. We all had beautiful lawns, we had private homes, and things were really going great. But parents didn’t know that the streets started introducing this new form of cocaine that was cooked up into freebase and had such an addictive power that it drove the streets crazy. So I think the parents were just thinking, yeah, you know, we know there’s a little marijuana out there and you really kind of out there a little bit. You know, some people probably were sniffing cocaine and doing that, but they didn’t know that this new form was gonna, you know, lead to so many homicides when New York letting killing and in a lot of people got got rich and wealthy, off of the backs and the misery that it brought to so many homes. So I mean, I was 11 years old and in Junior High School and you know, watching shows like 21 Jump Street watching Miami Vice, they didn’t necessarily deal with that; they didn’t necessarily deal with crack cocaine. But you did see that drugs were at an all-time high. And there was an attraction that started me to wonder if you know, what could I do if I got involved in that life?

 

Ron:

Mm hmm. Did you start as a drug user before you became a dealer?

 

Dimas:

No, I instantly went to selling drugs. I did have a six month period when I was 15 that I was using marijuana and I was putting the crack cocaine inside of it. But after six months, I realized that was going to destroy my life and get me killed. So I had to abandon that quickly; you can’t survive using and dealing, you know, you’re gonna end up being killed eventually.

 

Ron:

Yeah, you got to be quick on your feet I guess or kick quick on your feet or quick on the trigger, you got to be sharp mentally I guess to live in the circumstances that you’re living in with so many things coming at you. I guess that makes sense that you can’t be high and be a good dealer.

 

Dimas:

Yeah, you have that aspect, and also you would mess up the money. Oh,

 

Ron:

That’s right. I didn’t think about that.

 

Dimas:

You know, crack. It’s one of those drugs that it never satisfied. So you would try it. And for like two or three minutes, you’re like, wow, you’re like, I need another one. I mean, that’s why it made so much money, because you can blow through thousands of dollars in a day trying to sustain the same level. That was a good trick of the enemy. That would still be going on today, in the way that I saw. And it’s a miracle. It’s a miracle of Jesus. That crack is not the way it was back in the day. I mean, I thought it was gonna be like that forever.

 

Ron:

Yeah. Did they change the formula or just people lost interest in it because they saw how it destroyed lives?

 

Dimas:

Yeah, people, the next generation got smarter. And you know, honestly, I cannot take away the miracle aspect. But people started to say, hey, you touch that you’re going to go downhill, and people had enough evidence, to believe it, to have seen examples of it. And to be smart enough to say, I’m gonna try another route. You know, instead of dare trying to put myself in that kind of situation. So people got wiser and people raised their kids to be wiser and smarter. I’m sure there’s still some issues out there on the streets, but nothing to the magnitude of what I see. I used to see 40 drug dealers on one block, 20 on one block, lines of drug addicts going around the corner, things like that. Hundreds of walking zombies all around the streets. I mean, it was an image that you just couldn’t… it still stays with me today.

 

Ron:

I’ve never been able to shake those images and the dangers that you faced out there. I know so many times in your book, I see you were facing guns and knives and near-death situations. It’s crazy. I guess what people do for drugs I’d never have tried drugs. So I don’t know how insane you can be on it. But I do know people that have and it’s ruined their lives. So I I was a quick learner on that; I’d never wanted to get my life destroyed by something like a drug.

 

Dimas:

Yeah, yeah, you’re wise on that.

 

Ron:

So tell us about now being on the streets as a drug dealer, what that was like? And I know that, you know, you’ve been arrested and in and out of jails and things. It was just such an unbelievable story, but I want our listeners to get the power, the magnitude of how God’s saving grace saves you from the darkest life imaginable.

 

Dimas:

At a very young age, I realized I said, Wait a minute, these guys, you know that I was at, we’re in school with, were able to buy cars. We’re buying big jewelry. We’re able to do the very things that I was told by my mother, who was a principal of elementary school. But she told me she said, Hey, you’ve got to go to college. When you get out of college. You know, you’re gonna get a good job. You can get a good job. And then you can have these things. But at a young age, I was saying, ‘Ma you don’t understand I can have those things right now.’ I mean, that’s what was going through my head. And I always thought I was pretty smart. So I was like, hey, you know, you can go about this right now without going to jail, or, you know, there are ways to work around this.

 

So I was coming up with every kind of wicked invention that I could to make the money without having to pay the consequences. So very quickly, I found out who was the smartest and largest drug dealers, and let me go and connect with them, and see if they can, you know, mentor me if they can teach me. So I went to them, and many of them were like, yes, they showed me, the way in the ropes of setting up an operation that was very difficult to penetrate. So most of the time when I did get arrested, it was because drugs were planted on me, or they did a sweep and found somebody else’s and said, we’re taking all of you in, you know, so I learned the game.

But eventually, that game will catch up to you.

 

I mean, I’m 11 years old, just imagine I was tall, I was skinny. I’m on a corner at night, dealing with grown men and women, and the darkness of it all… people that used to be leaders in the community that are now on drugs… people that used to be, you know, robbers and criminals that are now on drugs, that is saying, hey, let’s go rob, these little young punks who think they’re going to be able to make all this money.

 

So you in a second’s notice, I always had to figure out, are you really coming to buy? Are you coming to rob me? Are you coming to kill me? Are you an enemy, but those skills are so transferable today, and be able to see you know, who’s real and who’s not, you know, who’s good to be around and who you have to avoid. So later on in life, I think some of those skills have been helpful, but the price that you have to pay to go through it, I mean, 30 of my friends were killed in the process. You know, that’s… I could fill up an entire room 30 people that I knew were murdered, because of selling drugs, you know, and that’s something that stays with me. And in that, that reality is always there. But it also helps me to tell young people, you know, don’t go that route, and they’re willing to listen, you know?

 

Ron:

Yeah, I remember very well, your story about being a fugitive on the run and even, you know, escaping the courthouse and in chains and things. Take us back to that day.

 

Dimas:

Yeah, I remember I went to jail, and I spent a year in jail, six months were was in Rikers Island, you know, fighting almost every day around adolescence that, you know, everybody wanted to be powerful, including me. You know, I was addicted to power. I was like, Look, when I get on the street, I want everybody to know the name ‘Daylight.’ So I’m not going to take anything from anybody in here. If you want to fight, I’m your guy. If you want to be slick with your mouth, I’ll slap you in a minute. Like, you know, I was building up this jail reputation that I wanted to extend when I got back home. And so here I am. I get out of jail because I went to this military boot camp. It was like to rehabilitate you was like a boot camp for six months. It was incredible. I loved it. I mean, doing push-ups, sit-ups, running, jogging, and that whole you know. I literally was, like I said, with this felony on your record that’s changed now. But with the felony on your record, they said I couldn’t go into the military. And most people said they thought I would have did really, really well in that in that environment. But um, so I got out, and things were going well, but it was still tough to get a basic job.

 

Ron:

How old were you then?

 

Dimas:

I was 17. And a lot of people, you know, God, understand I say this, even today, when I go into prisons or jail. I say how many people said, you just go and get a job? Every hand goes up. But how many of you tell the truth have filled out at least four or five applications but nobody hired you, man, you see almost all the hands go up. And I say guess what, God forgives you. He knows your pain. He understands the hardship that you had to go through. I’ve had grown men just start crying from that alone right there. Like I tried, but nobody would hire me.

So then I went to the streets.

And that’s something we’ve got to change… but nobody hired me. So then I said, Okay, you know what, I’m gonna go back to school, and I’m going to deal drugs. And I came up with this idea that I would, you know, just show my parole officer, all my school homework, and I’ll be straight a little bit. I know, every time because I was dealing with large quantities of cocaine, not using it, but it was going through my pores through my hands, and showing up in my urine. I didn’t even know what pores were at the time. I had on gloves. So one day I go up in there, and they handcuff me. And they’re like, you’re going back to jail. I said, Are you kidding me? No, I’m not. And I thought to all the people I fought Ron, all the people that I beat up and that are now in jail and have their organization of gangs straight Dimas. I’ll be right back after just finish your paperwork.

 

When she walked out, I slipped the cuffs underneath me. And I stepped over them because my arms are long, and I was able to bring the cups into the front of my body. So when the woman walked in and sat down, she said, Are you ready to go to jail? I said, No, I’m not not jumped up and grabbed the door, which she didn’t expect I’ll be able to do that. And I took off running. I’m on the fifth floor of this building. I’m running as fast as I can. And I got to the stairs, and I can hear the officers coming after me. And I just dive down the flight of stairs. Wow. Like 2030 feet. Superman. Yeah, you know, when you’re young, you’re like, rubber man, you can bounce around. It started rolling down those stairs, got up and jumped again, and ran and ran and ran until I got out on the streets. And I remember that was My first encounter with Jesus. When I hit the streets, I yelled, praise God. And I’m running down this crowded street with hundreds of cops, at least 100 officers as they said, work Palen out of that building coming after me, because it was parole offices on every floor. And I’m running and running and running. And I ran inside of this mall. Kid inside of this barber shop. I opened the door, the barber shop and dive into that office and I was a miracle. They didn’t see me. And I heard the guys yelling, hey, hey, the cops is chasing this guy. down into the mall. The cops is chasing this kid. And they didn’t even know I was in their office. What one guy opens the door and I said to him, yo, yo, I had handcuffs on. I said I need help. I knew one of the barbers there. You know, believe it or not. His name was Oz, like the wizard Avaaz. I said Call us for me please. I said call. It said, All right. All right. Lane load is cops everywhere. So oz comes around with his big jewelry. And he’s like, oh, shoot, he’s like daylight. What happened? I said, Man, I said, I’m trapped. You got to get these cuffs off me. He said, I know what to do. He went down to the jewelry store, we bought all the gold, gold, and they gave him a little saw, and he came and cuff. cut my cuffs. Wow. And I said to him, change shirts with me and put me in the barber’s chair. He said, Are you crazy? I said, understand me. The cops are looking for somebody with cuffs on not with somebody that can move their hands. And I said cut my hair cut like Elvis, give me those long sideburns. Do whatever you want to do baldly do something dynamic, you know, and the guy started cutting my hair and a costume walked in. And when they walked in, I just got louder. I said, Man, look the next. What are they doing, man? When are they gonna ever when the cop just walked out? And then oz and his friend pulled the car in front? And I walked out, got in the car and pulled off and not away? Yeah. Yeah.

 

Unknown Speaker

So you ended up in another town, too?

 

Unknown Speaker

Yeah, well, at first, I went to my girlfriend’s house, paid a guy to take the cuffs off me. And when the guy took the cuffs off me, I had I don’t know why. I said, What do you do for a living? He pulled out a badge and said, I’m a parole officer. I said, Oh my gosh. And then I saw he put two and two together that I was the guy they were looking for. And when he left, we ran out the back door. a day late, we hit somewhere else. And a day later, we drove down to Winston Salem, North Carolina. I had to dress up like a woman and took the train actually and I had to, you know, disguise myself because I had my picture all over everywhere looking for me. And I got down to Winston Salem, North Carolina. And very quickly, that’s when I dominated the drug market there. And it became, you know, one of the largest drug dealers and once the sale

Yeah, but you also most nearly lost your life there as well.

Oh yeah, man I had I had a close encounter of the second time, you know, I know.

 

Unknown Speaker

I remember reading about the was the guy named mental or something like that?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Mental Mike. Yep, that’s him. And so so what happened with that was a series of a drug war broke out. Many friends have died and were killed. And it was it was brutal. You know, they were trying to get rid of the New Yorkers. And then I went and I felt like I was losing my mind. In a sense, like, it just was overwhelming state of sadness. And then these three women said, Hey, can we pray for you? And I said, Pray for me. I said, Yeah, sure, why not? So in the movie, the warm room, there was one elderly black praying woman, and my story was three. And when they took me into this room, all I know is they started laying hands on me. They put oil on me holy oil, they were praying over me, and something very evil that was driving the inside and the inside of me, I didn’t know that I was demonically possessed at the time, but this demon left out of me and I felt a piece like I never experienced before. And I remember when that piece came on me, I said to these ladies, I said, Can I go out and say a prayer? I just want to talk to God for myself, they were like, sure, sure, Baby, you’re free. You’re free. I said thank you and I walked out and I said to Jesus, I said never again God. I said never again. I said, I’ll never sell crack again. I’m just gonna deal marijuana Lord, because that’s natural.

My crazy first prayer to God

Oh, oh, crack areas into marijuana spots. And I thought Jesus was blessing my marijuana business. When I tell you I was more confused than that you could imagine.

Well, so you’ve been delivered from a demon and now you’re only going to sell marijuana. So how do you get from there to seminary and pastor Demas.

 

Unknown Speaker

The first thing that happened to Ron was a pure miracle laying In my house, and I hear a knock at the door, boom, boom, boom. And I wake up and I could just feel in my spirit that something bad was about to go down. So I opened up my Bible, and I read this one verse in Matthew chapter six, that says, oh, ye of little faith. And I said, God, I have faith in I trust you. I’m not afraid. And I walk out open the door. And when I step out, my childhood friend was their mental Mike and Mike had a car he had some guys in a car on the side waiting as well. And he said, Hey, I want to talk to you come to the side of the house. So I see the car running. And I could just right away tell this is a setup. But I was I couldn’t go backwards because I locked the door so that he couldn’t get in. I knew enough to do that. So when I go to the side of the house, he stays Today with my enemy, my worst enemy, this guy hated my guts, he wanted to take over my whole entire Empire. So this was a huge setup. And this guy pulls out the gun, Mike puts it to my head, and starts to tell me about how his brother was killed. And now he’s tired of like being underneath me. And he starts to I saw a tear go down his face. And when he pointed the gun, I just said, Jesus, I’m yours. And when he pulled the trigger your tank and the bullet, I mean, that’s the this the hammer, hit the bullet, but the bullet didn’t fire. He tried it again tank. he clicked it again and with take and clicked it again. I’m watching this guy try to blow my brains out three or four times. And then they looked at each other. And they took off running because they knew I was a fighter. And when they took off running, I stayed right there. And I scream to Jesus, I said, Jesus, I am yours. I said, you say my life, I am yours. So whatever you want, wherever you want me to go, whatever you want me to do, I am completely yours. And very quickly, Jesus started to point out that I needed to straighten out my past. So I went back to New York, turn myself in. I was facing seven years for that escape charge. I went to jail, preached in jail, not even knowing how to preach. And very quickly, I went before the judge after 56 days, and the judge asked me, Why did you turn yourself in? And I told her straight I said, Ron, I said, I’m a follower of Christ. I said, I’m a follower of Jesus, and I will follow him in jail or out of jail. In the judge, it blew her mind. She said, remove This guy from my court right now, put me back in the cell. And about 10 minutes later, they came and open, the seller said, the judge wants to see you again. And I walked out, the judge said, I’m gonna do something I’ve never done before. I’m gonna release you. And she said, and this is why the person that I see today is so different than all these other pictures that I’ve been looking at and reading about. And I feel like if I send you back to jail, you become who you used to be. And that judge let me loose. I came out, serve God went after Jesus met a guy by the name of Tim Keller got mentored by him, ended up going into seminary, got my masters of divinity after four years of long study, it took a little longer than that, but it was a four year degree and opened up a church and been minister and ever since and been traveling with like with us. Others to dangerous places where, where they need the light of Jesus to show up like I just got back from George Floyd in Minneapolis was in Baltimore was in Pittsburgh. When they did the synagogue shooting. I’ve been to almost every shooting, including the manual, not in Charleston, South Carolina, the police shooting that happened in Dallas. And I mean, I could go on and on and on with with so many more, but you made a very beautiful film Emmanuel from the Charleston police shootings. It was amazing. And I know that you responded, even to some Muslim shootings, where they were shooting, converts and things like that. Yeah, you’ve been in some crazy dangerous places, but God has called you to this ministry of being a first responder. Yeah, yeah. You know, I think

 

Unknown Speaker

I served hard for Satan. I’m very clear on that in my younger years, and I’m going to serve God Even harder. Now I’m going to be braver than I ever was for the demonic world. That’s something that I want to be and I want to do and I want to encourage other Christian men, be bold, be courageous. I want to encourage women. Be bold, be courageous. This is something that’s outlined so many times in Scripture with Peter and with Joshua, chapter one in the New Testament, the Old Testament, we have to be bold believers out there. The world needs to hear our perspective, and our voice and I’m going to try to champion that cause as long as I can.

Well, I know that we share a lot of friends. And I’ve heard people saying that you are kind of the modern day Martin Luther King that you are trying to bring peace to the nation and racial reconciliation and all the things that especially America ACA needs right now and you are a leader for that a spokesperson and people respect you and listen to you. So I’m so honored to be a part of your life and a friend and even doing things together with you. It’s really it’s very exciting. So you take me to some places, that ain’t never been and quite frankly, you scare the hell out of me sometimes.

Well, let me tell you when we went to Chicago, I think that scared scared bozos we need the extra dose of boldness out there and and it’s so sad that killings are still going on there. And we got to keep fighting Ron, us and many others to try to save. Save that city because it’s leading in evil for sure.

It is you know, my my good friend Denver who’s no longer with us. Who was some people listening to this may not know he was illiterate homeless man on the streets. Five years, but he was wise. And, and he told me one time he said, You know, sometimes Mr. Ron, people are full of hell. And you just got to bless the hell out of them. Just don’t give up. Keep blessing others true, bless the hell out of them. And that’s what we have to deal with these peoples. We have to find a generation that’s willing to go in there and bless the hell out of these kids that are killing each other. Yeah, I know I do want to hit on this topic, because this is exciting news to know that Hollywood has come calling to de Mohsen street God so give us an update on Hollywood in the street God.

Well, so far the book has been picked up by anonymous content, which is one of the top storytelling companies they have to detective they have many other hit shows and series out there. And they have the they did they want Academy a mod for the world. Revenant spotlight in so many other incredible, incredible films and shows, so we’re honored to be working with them to turn st God into a television show. So we hope in the air in 2021 is the plan. So everyone keep us in prayer that we can stay on schedule, you know, unfortunately the Coronavirus slows down everybody’s momentum a little bit, but it feels like you know, we should be coming out of it we’re praying for, for Texas, you know, especially the jump in cases there, that God would, God would just remove this plague remove this virus from our country and countries around the world so, so we can we can do the work that we’re meant to do. And that’s to tell the glorious story of what Jesus has done in the lives of people actually akt cannot wait, cannot wait to see that. And if, if I can do anything to help, as you know, I will be happy to serve you. And just, I love spending time with you. I’m just so proud of you as a human being and so proud of how God is using you. It’s, it’s just an amazing thing. So, I do want to just cover as we in this episode of our podcast, just your kind of final thoughts on what’s going on in the world? And how can we as an individual make a difference and just trying to get to the bottom of all this mess?

You know, a group of us have been thinking about this very deeply, and we formed a group called stop the silence. And we’re asking all voices to speak up against injustice, whether you’re white, whether you’re black, whether you’re a police officer, or in any other field of service. I think that you know, ultimately, you know, I love the call that people say when they say all lives matter, and they really do all lives matter. And one way to really show that is to care for those lives that have been taken the most by the hands of officers today. So we have to really see some healing happen in our nation, between the relationship with the African American community and police officers and healing in the relationship with many white and black people, Latino, Asian across the board. But I think that all of us being able to stop, slow down, see what’s going on, and to be a voice that’s that’s being heard. I mean, you know, even if, as Christians a voice of compassion, you know, I’m praying for George Floyd’s family. I’m praying for Brianna Taylor. I’m praying for some of these sad losses that recently happened. Praying for their families, even just saying that goes a long way. But I think when we’re totally silent and just say, you know, I’m just going to ignore it, it allows these things to continue on in such a huge way so we need healing in our land and they can go to stop the silence the website they can go to we can stop the silence on on Facebook or Instagram. And like our page goes a long way be you know, there’s ways you can be involved in and follow us and be a part anyway you can well, I will certainly hope that our listeners get involved in that and and that we can make a difference this podcast really, I was hopeful that we would have people like you, there’s just not a lot of people like you so but I’m doing the best I can. But we want people on here that are making a difference and again, encourage others to be a part of that action. Just as we’re kind of closing off here today, I know you’re still such a young man. I’d like to know what’s on your bucket list because you’ve got a long life to live. And I want to know what you’d really like to to accomplish here in the short term, and in the long term, your bucket list.

You know, one thing is I like to do the largest gathering of African American men that this nation has seen, and gathered them together to address many of the problems that we have within our own communities. I love the diversity that’s taking place. But I think there’s still some very real things that need to be addressed in the black community, in order for the black community to be healthy and be able to function like many other communities too. And and I think it’s going to take a gathering like that as a step and then to continue to do further steps and then Do a women’s gathering call in the same kind of measure to deal with issues that women are dealing with. And, you know, we should all be a very healthy, contributing resourceful communities in the United States. And I think America will shine in the way that it’s, it needs to shine. And as the listener if you want to know what I’m about, pick up my book street god, it’s everywhere books are sold, it’s easy to find the word Street and the other word is God God and in read about me and know what we’re about, we’re about the kingdom of God and seeing him go forward and healing our nation. So that’s what we live for.

And Demas, I can tell you that with your influence, you know, your, your presence, that you get the people to listen to you. I’ve been with you on the bullhorns and you you reach large audiences on the streets and you can come, sometimes a very angry crowd. And I just pray God continues to use you. And I think that you alone, God has anointed you to bring our country together and bring the races together so that we can truly come together and not worry about the color of our skins. But just celebrate the condition of our hearts when we can love everybody as we love ourselves. So I am so thankful for my friendship with you. I know I say that, but I want you to believe it. I know Rob, you’re my dude, Ron. I know.

And thanks again for taking the time to be on the show. I know you’re one of the busiest guys that I know in the whole country. And you’re it’s hard to catch you You’re always somewhere else on another day because you respond to to needs as quickly as anyone that I’ve ever known. But thanks again for being on the show. And now I’m fixed to do Something that the devil ain’t never done for you. I’m going to cut you loose.

So until the next time by a conduce, my friends and that’s it for today, folks, please head over to iTunes and subscribe to the ron paul show. Every week. One lucky listener who post a review on iTunes will be entered into a drawing for our grand prize giveaway worth $25,000 their very own personal VIP event with Ron Hall. Be sure and go to the Ron Hall show calm and pick up your free copy of Ron’s gift to you. Thanks for tuning in today and please join us for our next episode.