Saturday, March 15, 2008


He was going to be a tailor. It was decided. Santiago’s first fifteen years included a three-hour shoeless walk to school alongside six sisters and four brothers. He was born into a humble Christian family, but with a chronic empty stomach, Santiago found little solace in God. Now, at twenty-three, he found himself alone in a rented room above the shop. Yes. Becoming a tailor was the answer. He’d worked in the tailor’s shop miles from his poor barrio two years now, sweeping scraps and running errands for the old man. After sending money home, he earned enough for the room and a bed, plus a few meals a week. One more year and the boss promised to teach him the trade, maybe let him take over the shop eventually. All it’d take is a little more hard work and loyalty…a dream for a young Dominican boy like Santiago.

Sleep should’ve come easily, then, but he found himself annoyed by the quiet. Santiago slept folded up on the edge of the bed, barely disturbing the covers. He still couldn’t get used to having a bed to himself and fell asleep thinking about his siblings back home.

A hellacious banging soon rocketed the thin man to the floor. “Who’s there?” Santiago shouted hoarsely in the direction of his door, catching a glimpse of the moonlit clock on the wall. Three AM. “What do you want?” Santiago sang out again, fear beginning to well up in him. The door swung open, sending Santiago scrambling out of the way of a monster. The large, sweaty man loomed over Santiago, yielding shiny silver scissors above his head. Santiago froze.

“Our Father, which art in Heaven,” was all the young man’s lips could manage. “Hallowed be Thy name…” The Lord’s Prayer spilled slowly at first, gaining speed as Santiago’s fear turned to hopeless resolve. “Thy Kingdom come…” He was no match for this man. “Thy will be done…” Santiago closed his eyes and awaited the piercing blows.

“…Deliver us from evil,” he continued, unnerved again at an eerie silence. “For thine is the Kingdom, and the power,” Was the man still there? “and the glory, forever and ever.” With a weak, “Amen,” Santiago willed his eyes open again. Blinking, he faced not a drunken murderer, but the most astounding of beings. Before him stood Jesus.

Silver coins replaced the scissors in His left hand, and he held them before Santiago, “Is it going to be what YOU want, Santiago?” With His right hand, He motioned to the heavens. “Or is it going to be what I want?”

“Oh, Jesus, I want what YOU want!” Santiago desperately replied.

Jesus gently lifted the young tailor from the floor, inviting him to stand beside him. The vision of a pulpit emerged. Jesus motioned Santiago to read from the Holy scriptures upon it. In obedience, Santiago began reading from Ezekiel, The Valley of the Dry Bones...

"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’

I said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.’
Then He said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones and say to them, Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, Son of man, and say to it, This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army…” Ezekiel 37

“But, Jesus, what does it mean?” asked Santiago sheepishly turning to Jesus.

“Tell My church to prepare, Santiago. For, I will return,” whispered Jesus as He faded from sight.

Santiago fell to his knees, crying out, repeating, “Yes, Jesus, I want what You want…I want what You want…”
Today, Pastor Santiago Ramón of La Romana, Dominican Republic, is a veritable dynamo, indeed preparing a vast army for Christ. Leading a large congregation with a focus on street evangelism, “Santiago’s” visions for Christ’s lost people have been continually fulfilled. His feats include several contemporary Christian music CDs produced in the Dominican Republic in which he innovatively combines emotion, a Latin beat, and genuine Christ-praise in songs like La Gloria de Dios (The Glory of God), and not ironically, Preparate, Cristo Viene (Prepare! Christ Comes). Currently, Santiago’s vision has gone global as American mission work teams join him several times a year in La Romana in order to help build a hospital, a school and a seminary on forty acres that once lay fallow, a trash dump for the poor barrios that surround it.
As a short-term missioner, it was there on the forty acres where I met Santiago for the first time. His successes were not what imprinted his image into my brain, compelling me to sit at his feet listening, to buy his CDs or to return again to mix concreta with other Americans and Dominicans in the sweltering heat. No, Santiago’s true gift to others lay in his presence, in his resolve, in his passion for his Jesus.

I asked Santiago once what kept that fire inside of him going. He proceeded to tell me the story of a young man who once wished to be a tailor. And with every moment of the story, Santiago breathed life into my dry bones.


Jennifer Johnson said...

Hi! Some have read a shorter version of this, but I hadn't posted it here yet. I'm having a bit of writer's block...not the kind where I can't think of what to write, but the kind where I have so many things I want to write, I can't decide which to pen first!

Blessings to all, and may you all encounter someone as strong and passionate as Santiago. May they breathe new life into your faith.


Squeeze said...

You probably want to make every entry 'perfect'. Nothing says you can't have several entries a day! That's what a blog is for! Plus if you don't like it, you can remove it.

So write a few sentences on the first thing you think of and post it! It'll be freeing.


Love you sister!