The Man Who Went to Hell

John Ramirez had a dad—and his name was Satan.

Yes, it sounds sensational, and, yes, it is the testimony that this 57-year-old evangelist has been telling for the past two decades. According to Ramirez, he saw the devil as his surrogate father after being initiated into Santería at the tender age of 10.

Santería is a syncretic religion, an amalgamation of several different traditions, cultures, and, thus, religions as well. Learnreligions.com defines Santería as “[combining] influences of Caribbean tradition, West Africa’s Yoruba spirituality, and elements of Catholicism.”

From Ramirez’s testimony, it is clear that Santería is straight occultism. His storytelling is steeped in religious jargon—demon church, offerings to the devil, even prayers to him. “The devil is into religion,” says Ramirez.

The Bronx native met the prince of darkness during his initiation rite. Next, he started to attend what he calls “demon church,” which lasted the entire night and where he was “trained by witches and warlocks.” He then worked his way up to become “the third highest devil worshiper in New York.”


Going to Hell

Ramirez did not have a good relationship with his father, who abused his mother and neglected him and his siblings. He remembers often going to bed cold and hungry.

But after he “sold his soul,” the devil paid attention to him. The devil visited him and talked with him and gave him assignments. Ramirez claims to have been demon-possessed. He used to hop from nightclub to nightclub, telling fortunes to entice people into joining the devil’s army. He has been branded several times by the devil—what he calls “the mark of the beast.”

Then, one night in 1999, his life changed.

“Jesus Christ took me to hell,” Ramirez claims.

Hell was, according to Ramirez, very hot, and “the ground was breathing like a human being.” He got there via train. Though he tried desperately to escape, he could not.

“It was a place of torment,” he says.

While there, he encountered the devil, who called him a traitor and tried to take his life twice. But each time, a cross appeared and incapacitated the devil.

(Incidentally, it was a vision of another cross that launched the Christian faith into a realm of superstition and corruption—Emperor Constantine’s supposed battlefield vision of the cross galvanized him to Christianize the pagan Roman Empire.)

At this point in his testimony, Ramirez emotionally quotes Psalm 139:8, “If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.”

After returning to his body, Ramirez gave his life to Christ and became an evangelist. He’s written several books and makes paid appearances.


The Truth About Hell

But others have pointed out inconsistencies in Ramirez’s claims and doubts about his stories. For instance, he has previously described his vision from God as astroplaning, an occult “out-of-body experience” where the soul supposedly separates from the body and travels to different realms. In fact, this is how The Christian Post characterizes it.

Now, we could be asking why a staunchly Christian news source is promoting the idea of an occult practice as being of God. But even more to the point, let us “test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and let us do so by “[searching] the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

If we study out the term “hell” in the Bible, often its original meaning is “the grave.” The Bible is very clear what happens when we go to the grave: “The dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). They don’t feel (v. 6), they don’t think (Psalm 146:4), they don’t move (Isaiah 26:14). In short, “they are dead, they will not live.”

That is exactly the meaning of the verse Ramirez quoted. “Hell” in Psalm 139:8 is actually a translation for sheol, the Hebrew word for “the grave.” The verse isn’t talking about living in the burning pit of torment that Ramirez experienced. Read in context, it is praise for God, who will not forsake us, even in death. This belief is, indeed, the basis for the gospel: Jesus died for our sins, and He will give eternal life to all who accept His precious gift—even those who have gone into the grave. Yes, even the faithful who have made their bed in the dust of the earth shall God resurrect on the last day, when “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

You may be surprised to learn that there is no mention anywhere in the Bible of the “hell” that Ramirez visited. According to the Bible, that place of everlasting torment from which none can escape does not exist. Scripture does, however, teach extensively of “hellfire,” which will “[come] down from God out of heaven” (Revelation 20:9) in the final judgment and forever destroy the devil, his demons, death, sin, and all sinners who did not place themselves beneath the bloodstained banner of Jesus Christ.

For an in-depth explanation of hellfire, look no further than our free Study Guide “Is the Devil in Charge of Hell?” 


Learn more at the helltruth.com website!


If you’d like to share this beautiful Bible truth with others, our newest magazine The Bible Truth About Hell: Separating the Facts from the Fables is also available.

Oh, and Ramirez’s “mark of the beast”? The Bible has lots to say on that too—and it’s a far cry from having a pentagram carved into your arm. Check out our equally informative Study Guide “The Mark of the Beast” for the Bible’s truth of the devil’s mark.

Take to heart God’s counsel in these last days: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).


Kris W. Sky
Kris W. Sky is a writer and editor for Amazing Facts International and other online and print publications.
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