Grammy-award winning musician Carlos Santana has had a rollercoaster life of extreme highs and lows.
He’s also been the victim of molestation, gone through a heartbreaking divorce and contemplated suicide according to this article by Plain Truth Ministries where Santana shares his testimony and journey to faith.
Santana was born in a small seaside village in southwestern Mexico called, Autlán de Navarro. He was only a young boy when his father left his mother along with Santana and his six brothers and sisters for another woman.
Thankfully his father didn’t totally abandon his family and continued to send support to them before they relocated to be near him in Tijuana. He made a living as a mariachi violinist and was a big reason why Santana became a musician as well.
It was also during this time, at the age of ten, that Santana was molested by a friend’s father who, “Silenced him through bribes of candy and trinkets.”
Santana’s father would then move again, this time to San Francisco and his family followed suit. It was around that time that Santana took up the guitar—a gift from his father—and never looked back. He helped support his family by becoming a club musician but with the sixties on the horizon, and with it the sex and drug revolution Santana fell headfirst into it.
However, as is the story with most people in Santana’s position who possess a unique gift that bring fame and fortune he still couldn’t fill the void he felt within.
In Mexico, Santana had been raised Catholic but found the experience scarring, describing it as, “like branding a cow with guilt, shame, judgment, condemnation and fear.…”
So, along with his new wife, Deborah, he sought to fill that spiritual void in the New Age and started following a spiritual guru called, Sri Chimnoy, from 1972-81.
Their time with the cult leader soured with Santana choosing to leave Chimnoy who took exception to his departure and in turn tried to ruin Santana by attempting to alienate him from his friends, amongst other things.
It wasn’t until 1994 that Santana made a public profession of faith and got baptized, which was attended by Aaron Gallegos, who wrote in the Sojourners magazine that Santana’s statement was, “a heartful, soulful expression of deep devotion to Christ…rarely broached within the institutional church.”
But as with all who come to faith, the walk with Christ is a journey and Santana fell foul to some of his old habits, which resulted in his wife of 34 years, Deborah, divorcing him.
This was a soul-crushing time for both of them, especially as they had three kids together and Deborah had been such a stabilizing force in Santana’s life.
With his life in tatters Santana contemplated suicide seven times, telling Rolling Stone in a 2008 interview, “It got to the point where I really thought that death would be sweeter than pain…But then I would look at a picture of Jesus and say, ‘Help me,’ and then, very clearly, inwardly, I would hear this one voice that’s softer and louder than all the others, and it would say, ‘I am sitting next to you. Isn’t that enough?’ Once I heard that voice, something would shift, and I’d be able to find joy again….”
It was also during this time that Santana chose to forgive the man who molested him telling Rolling Stone, “I was able to remove the anger by forgiving that man…. Forgiveness, man, forgiveness is incredibly liberating. And I’m here to tell you, with all my heart and spirit, that it can be done. You can be freed.”
Santana has since remarried and his faith is very much alive and kicking. So much so that he and his band pray before they go out and play likening it to, “a doctor washing his hands before performing surgery.”
He acknowledges that he’s still on a journey and despite putting on hold plans to become a pastor says that, “God is not done with me.”