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Agustin Pimentel: Philadelphia's first blind D.J.

Interview by Evellym Yanira Hustedt, MHS, Glenside, PA

This is the story of an evangelist. He is the first blind D.J. in Philadelphia. He is also a singer, song writer and music producer.

E.H. What is your personal and professional story?

I was born in Puerto Rico on February 18, 1943. My family was considerably dysfunctional. My parents were separated when I was born. My father went to the Army, and left me with my grandparents when I was six months old. My brothers took me to church regularly. I grew up with a lot of ambitions and goals.

Living a double life
My father came back from the Army and got re-married. I moved back with him when I was 14 years old, but then started having problems with him. My brothers stopped taking me to church and I became a rebellious teenager, involved in fighting and drinking.

I felt as though I was living a double life. I had bad behavior, but I wanted to go to church. I used to think about my childhood church, but did not know how to get out of my lifestyle. I visited several small churches, but their messages conflicted. Finally, I prayed for God to talk to me. I then had a dream of my childhood church.

I found out that my childhood church was having a service nearby and attended the service. The preacher said some things during his speech about me that I had never told anyone. I was angry at him, and I wanted to beat him up. Instead, the crowd pushed me to the front. I knelt in front of him, and I got converted. He became my best friend. I started living a righteous lifestyle. I was also singing in the church. I got married when I was 18 years old.

Losing my way
Unfortunately, I went back to my old lifestyle. I started drinking again. Several people approached me to tell me that they had a dream about me becoming blind. I did not believe them, because I had 20/20 vision. In order to start a new life, I decided to move.

I went to Brooklyn, NY with my wife and two children. Once there, strangers approached me and would say to me; "You have a calling to preach". One day, I was drinking beer, and an old lady said to me; "You have so many blessings and you have a pacifier in your mouth. You are going to become blind". I knew God could not punish me like that!!! After all, I had a great career as a toolmaker, making $20.00 an hour.

Then, I also had the same devastating dream that I was going to become blind. One day, when I was working, the numbers started jumping at me. My boss thought that I was high, because my eyes were red. One of my co-workers assured him that I was not high. So, I was taken to the emergency room. The doctors thought that I had an infection. I started to lose my sight. I was so upset that I wanted to kill myself. Instead, I prayed for God to forgive me. I also asked for my sight back. Within three days, I got my sight back.

Bargaining with God
Instead of going to God, I went back to my corrupt lifestyle once again. I started drinking and getting high. I also lost my marriage. I had a vision of God talking to me; "I gave you your sight back. Since you remained disobedient, you are going to be blind and paralyzed". Shortly after, I became blind and paralyzed. I used a wheelchair for six months. The doctors told me that they had to amputate one of my legs. I had signed forms for the operation to go through. On my way to the operation room, I prayed to God not to allow the doctors to cut my leg. When I reached the operation room, I was able to move my legs. The doctors were shocked and they said that it was a miracle.

Studying independence skills and the Bible
I was able to walk again, but I remained blind. Despite my disability, I wanted to reach my goals of becoming independent. I went back to Puerto Rico and enrolled in a blind school.

I studied the Bible. One day at church, the preacher asked me to come to the front. Once I got there, he said; "God has forgiven you, and he wants you to preach. You need to move forward". Then he said; "the lady in the red dress should also come up to the front. She is your partner, and she will be your sight". I was glad to hear that!!! We have been married for 20 years now. She has been my visual and spiritual guide.

I was asked to go to Philadelphia, PA to preach for three days. Instead, I ended up staying in Philadelphia. That was 16 years ago.

Becoming a case manager
I became a Vista Volunteer at Liberty Resources, Inc. This was a nice way for me to give back to the disability community. I met great people while I was at Liberty Resources. Some of these people were Evellym Hustedt, Pam Shaw and Robert Fitzgerald. I volunteered at Liberty for three years. Then, I became a Case Manager/ Instructor for Associated Services for the Blind (ASB). The position was exciting, because I was able to coordinate services for Latinos who were blind. I led support groups and classes for ten years, then retired from ASB in January, 2006.

 I am dedicating more time to my recording studio that I have had for 15 years. I am also a D.J. for Radio Salvacion. I have been working with Radio Salvacion for eight years. I have my own radio show and complete access to operate the radio station.

I am able to travel more. This allows me more time to preach and promote my new CD called "Me Declaro en Victoria". This CD is my fourth recording. My previous music recordings were done on cassette tapes and my other recording was a testimonial cassette tape.

I am also in the process of writing two books. One of the books is about a blind detective, and the other book is my life story.

Since my retirement, I have been able to spend more quality time with my wife, three daughters, one son, 19 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.