Pages Update: "El Pastor"
I added a piece and two videos about one of my heroes..”El Pastor” of Juarez.
You can view them in the “Pages” section on the right side.
“The mural depicts a conquistador. A sign says, VISIÓN EN ACCIÓN. Vision in action. But one of the N’s has fallen off. In the corner stands a metal statue of a man in armor. This is the office of El Pastor, José Antonio Galvan, the evangelist who took in the battered remains of Miss Sinaloa and gave her succor in the asylum. His office was once a drug house where addicts punctured their veins and savored their dreams. El Pastor arrived here as a street preacher raving in the calles. The local priest called him a devil. But he drew others to him. As for the devil, he fights him daily—he keeps a black and red punching bag near at hand and slams it with his fists as he fights Satan. Everything about El Pastor is vital and coarse, his language often vulgar, his feel for the crazy people visceral. He is sitting in front of me, with a mop of graying hair, a fleshy body, a ready smile—but rough edges remain and keep him honed. He has a tattoo of a good-looking mestiza. And another of a beautiful indigenous woman.
He is showing me a movie of the asylum—men beaten by police and dumped half-crazy on the streets, addled addicts with seeping ulcerated wounds, women who will never remember what happened to them and never want to remember.
I stare at the ruined faces in the video and ask, “Does your congregation support this work?”
He smiles, points to the screen, and says, “This is my congregation.”
El Pastor spent sixteen years as an illegal immigrant in Los Angeles, where he learned to be a crane operator. He did lots of drugs and drank lots of alcohol and earned sixteen dollars an hour. Then, in 1985, he was reborn. He returned to Juárez to do God’s work, mainly preaching on the street to drug addicts. In the winter of 1998 El Pastor says he was driving through a bad storm when he saw a mound on the street and swerved just as a man stood and shook off the snow that had fallen and covered him. “I was driving that day and singing to the Lord and it was snowing. I said, ‘Lord, I’m working with you,’ and the Lord pulled my hair.” So El Pastor rounded up friends and spent the day gathering the wounded of the streets—brain-damaged addicts, ruined gang members, everyone left out in the snow in a city without mercy. That is the moment when he began scooping the crazy people off the streets, the moment when he began creating his asylum in the desert…”