From Drug Dealer to Hope Peddler: A Stunning Story of Grace, Redemption and Hope in One Katy Resident’s Life

KATY, TX– One night in 2019, 26-year-old drug dealer Marco Ruiz stood alone in his house, gripping his Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun.

The house was sizable and lavish, but the hallways that had once rung with the movements, voices and footsteps of his wife and three children had fallen silent. Marco’s home was devoid of sound, aside from the endless murmurings of his own thoughts. His family was gone. Alone, tormented by his solitude, so was Marco’s resolve to live. 

With his gun trained toward his head, Marco uttered his final words to God.

“God, I don’t know if you’re listening to me, but I want to make a prayer,” Marco began.

“I pray that you will give my wife a good husband, a godly man who will take care of her. And I pray that you will give my children a man who would be a good father, who will teach them how to live with you.”

“I mean, I’m not a Christian,” Marco admitted to God. “I’m just praying this, so before I take my life, I pray that you hear my prayer.”

Then, he cocked the shotgun and pulled the trigger. It went “click.” But it didn’t go off. His gun had jammed. Marco began to sob.

Today, five years later, the Lord has answered Marco’s prayer. Yet it wasn’t another man that his family needed; it was him.

At thirty-one years of age, Marco Ruiz is one of the most chilling, miraculous living testaments of God’s ability to shape and transform lives. Further, Marco serves as evidence that once a person gives themselves to the Lord, the obstacles they’ve endured or have inflicted upon themselves are to be used for the Kingdom.

In his own words, Marco has “gone from a drug dealer to a hope peddler.” Now sober and leading a happy, loving home, the Katy resident devotes his life to preaching, testifying and blessing those in need. 

We had the pleasure of interviewing Marco. His words were raw and sincere in a manner only a man fully transformed could speak. Midway through the interview, we realized that Marco’s story is laced with fragments of a mirror, reflecting each of our own journeys in small ways. In that sense, the 2019 Marco is profoundly human, and the 2024 Marco is who we all might aspire to become.

This is his story, and like each of our own, it dates back to his origin: childhood.

Marco grew up with his mother, father and a younger brother and sister. 

“I was the oldest,” Marco explained. “My parents would work long hours to try to move us out to Katy. When we [finally] moved, I was in middle school, and I had already adopted a lot of bad habits. My father was an alcoholic, and my [parents] were not around a lot.”

He stumbled into drugs at only eleven years old, and by age twelve or thirteen, he was a full-blown addict. As a troubled pre-teen, Marco then had his first encounters with the law and was put on probation. He attended AA meetings, therapy, counseling and anything else the court recommended.

“Growing up, I rebelled a lot with my parents. [My dad] and I had a lot of issues. It just got really bad,” Marco detailed.

At age fourteen, Marco was sent to an alternative school in Katy. There, he got into a fight and walked into the next building over— through the doors of Powerhouse Church Katy. Still on probation, Marco was officially on the run. He camped out at the church for three days, whereby happenstance, a youth “lock-in” was unfolding.

Ministers shared with youth stories of grace, mercy and forgiveness. Marco’s ears fell deaf to their words, and this did not go unnoticed. On the final day of the lock-in, a minister approached Marco. 

“Hey,” the minister greeted him. “We noticed that you’re not paying attention, and you’re not really being involved. Why are you here?”

“I’m here because I’m on the run, and I don’t want to go home. My parents are going to be mad, and the police are looking for me. That’s why I’m here,” he responded.

“Well, if you want to get to know Jesus, walk up to the front of the altar,” the minister invited Marco. “You’ve been here, but you don’t listen or pay attention. You don’t really understand Jesus Christ.”

The accusation, albeit accurate, bewildered the troubled teen. To understand Jesus Christ? Yet Marco felt a bottomless, hollow void within him. He yearned to fill the cavity with something more substantial than how he was living.

He walked toward the altar. Hands prayed over him, and he gave his life to the Lord. Yet as the ministers predicted, he walked away without an understanding of what that meant. 

The next year, Marco was fifteen years old and living on the streets. 

“My parents would either kick me out or I would run away. So, I ended up on the streets, and I met my girlfriend who is now my wife,” he detailed. “I was house hopping with my girlfriend, and I finally got arrested one more time.”

Marco was sentenced to a juvenile program called the Center for Success and Independence, where he spent the next year of his life. His parents visited him and facilitated letter delivery between him and his girlfriend. Then, at age sixteen, he was released from the program.

Yet Marco had zero intention of staying sober or changing his ways. Now connected, he had become involved in an array of criminal activities, including robberies and selling drugs. Then, another life catalyst unfolded: he got his girlfriend pregnant.

“I had a daughter on the way, and all I could think was that I had to hustle harder. So, I started selling more drugs and doing tattoos,” he described. “At that point, my mother and my father had gone to Powerhouse Church Katy, a year after I went, and they got saved.”

“They gave their lives to the Lord. I was in Houston with my girlfriend, and [my parents] were praying for us with the church. They just grew into that church. Today, they’re overseers and elders. But back then, I was out there doing my thing.”

At age seventeen, Marco’s daughter was born. He was selling crack, doing tattoos and living under his mother-in-law’s roof with his sister-in-law, wife and infant daughter. 

His wife’s father, an ex-Mexican mafia gang member, was serving a 45-year prison sentence, so Marco assumed the role of “man of the house.”

“I got a job, and I hustled after work. I took care of my family the way I knew how, and that was to provide financially,” Marco reflected. “But I was not a good father emotionally or physically. I was very abusive. Very angry all of the time.”

“Suicidal, homicidal, I was just upset at the world. I thought God [had given] me a rough hand. I [myself] had been abused physically, vocally, I had been through a lot.”

The next year, Marco was eighteen with another child on the way. He remained emotionally and spiritually unhealed, and the stressors of life compounded on him, perpetuating an endless cycle of despair.

“I blinked, and then I was twenty-one years old with a wife, a house, and we were making good money, but nobody wanted to hang out with us,” Marco recalled. “You wouldn’t want me over at your house or your party. It was my attitude. My attitude was really bad. I was very antisocial. If it wasn’t about making money, it didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t want to communicate with anyone.”

When times were hard, Marco would pray to God— with the same misguided understanding he had of his higher power as a young teen. He would ask God for protection during drug runs; he would pray for a bigger house and better cars. 

“God, if you would just give me a warehouse full of dope… this stuff that I’m doing now isn’t enough,” Marco once prayed, searching desperately to fulfill the void within him.

“I know what it means to have nothing, and I know what it means to have everything, financially, but I always felt empty. I always wanted more. I chased the materialistic things of this world. I wanted the next car; I wanted the bigger house; I wanted the nicest clothes. My children had jewelry, and I wanted jewelry, and that was the way we lived,” Marco revealed.

But his void was spiritual, so coveting the materials of the secular world to satisfy it was akin to pouring water into a broken jar. By twenty-three years old, Marco bought the bigger house and moved to Katy with his wife and three children.

“I ended up just bringing the mess with me, and I became one of the biggest drug dealers in Katy. Nobody knew who I was, but everybody knew who I was,” he remarked. “They couldn’t get to me or know where I was at. I was very much incognito, as much as I could be. Being antisocial helped me with that.”

That year, he began frequenting clubs and bars, and he would disappear for days on end. 

“I would abandon my family, believing that me providing financially for my wife and children was me fulfilling my duties as a husband and a father,” he described.

His parents, who had been born-again Christians for several years, longed to help their lost son. They would frequently talk to him about church, but they were met with hostility and festered resentment. Memories of who his parents once were— particularly his father— echoed through his mind. 

“Because I knew who my dad used to be, I always thought that they were insincere or hypocrites. I would tell myself, ‘I know who you really are. You’re not who the church sees you as,’ he recalled. “So, I was hostile toward church, but I would pray to God for protection when I would make runs… when I would be out doing bad stuff. I would pray for my kids and wife.”

Throughout Marco’s troubled journey, God continued to shepherd him toward faith through encounters with many people.

“Along the way, people would minister to me on the street, at the stores, in the malls and when I would travel,” he attested. “It always seemed like someone was there trying to stop me and evangelize, saying ‘Hey, do you know about Jesus Christ?’ I would say, ‘Yeah, of course I do.’”

His parents and Powerhouse Church Katy rallied in their efforts to pray for Marco. Simultaneously, Marco, age twenty-six, stumbled into the deepest era of his battle with addiction. 

“I had been on drugs since [I was] eleven. I was the kind of addict where you had to lock me up and throw away the key for me to get sober. Between juvenile programs, Harris County jail and multiple rehabs, I just couldn’t shake it,” he said.

“Growing up, they told me I had ADD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder [and] manic depression, but the truth was that I was just on drugs. So, all these labels affected me. So did the issues with my father.”

Marco then described the three kinds of fathers he’d encountered at twenty-six years of age. At the time, these relationships defined his impression of fatherhood and manhood.

“We have three types of dads. One, you have an absent father, or there was no father,” he listed. “Two, you have a ‘father’ who wasn’t your biological father. It’s a stepdad; a brother; an uncle; family.”

“And three, you have a father who was in the house, but he was not there for you emotionally, mentally or spiritually. And that was my case.”

During Marco’s critical formative years in childhood and adolescence, his father wasn’t saved. He wasn’t emotionally or spiritually present to encourage Marco, motivate him, guide him through life’s difficulties or show him love.

“He was very much an old school, Hispanic rough-and-tough father,” Marco described. “And that’s the way we grew up.”

However, at twenty-six years old, Marco finally started to recognize fundamental changes in his mother and father. He realized that their faith wasn’t theatric or performative; it had become a permanent fixture in their lives. That year, he began to attend church with his family during holidays.

There, he met Pastor Robert Burdett, who today is Marco’s spiritual father.

“But [that year], I hit rock bottom,” Marco said.

At that point, Marco had both sold and used drugs for the majority of his young life. When cocaine became popular, he began to move it and quickly fell into a severe addiction.

Insomnia frequently plagued him, sometimes for up to five days at a time, and he experienced auditory and visual hallucinations. Intensifying the atmosphere, Marco was enduring a strained season in his marriage.

“[This] rocked me, so I kicked her out of the house. I put my kids on the street,” he admitted. “They ended up with my [mother-in-law]. There I was, alone in Katy, with a bunch of money, a bunch of drugs and nothing to do.”

“And for a year, I burned through a [large sum of money]. I couldn’t shake the addiction, and I became suicidal.”

Then, the fateful night approached. Marco had been wide awake for 120 hours when he decided to commit suicide. He loaded his shotgun and began to pray.

“Lord, you’ve kept me, and you’ve provided for me,” he prayed. “We’ve had everything. But I recognize that I’m not a good husband, and I’m not a good father. Give my wife a husband who will love her. Give my children a father who will love them and teach them to grow up in the ways of the Lord.”

He cocked the gun and pulled the trigger. It didn’t fire.

Marco wept.

“I got hysterical and started calling people, calling people from the church, calling my mom, saying ‘I need help! I need help!’”

“I left the house that morning and began overdosing near Katy Mills Mall. The police picked me up, and I called somebody from the church. The church told the police that if they would allow me to get to the church, that they would find me help.”

Touched by the church’s desire to help Marco, the Katy police made a life-altering decision: rather than going to jail, they escorted him to Powerhouse Church Katy. 

Quickly, Marco enrolled in a rehab facility called The Wings of Life in Mobile, Alabama, an extension of the church. He stayed for a stint of three or four months, and once sober, he traveled home to find his wife and children were back in the house.

Yet drug addiction wasn’t the only obstacle in Marco’s path to a clean, God-fearing and fruitful life.

“I wasn’t selling drugs, I was sober, so I had no job,” he recalled. He turned to prayer, pleading with God to find the ability to provide for his family in an honest way.

“I said, ‘God, I know you didn’t bring me out of all of this just to leave me stranded with the inability to take care of my family. Something has to happen.’”

A couple of months passed, and Marco began to fall tremendously behind on bills, including mortgage payments. His bank account had run dry, and he was at risk of losing the house.

He and his family frequently walked around a local park, praying aloud for a solution to their increasing debts and financial desperation.

“I remember telling God, ‘God, if you don’t do something now, I’m going to go back to what I used to do. Because this is no way to live,’” he said. “And at that moment, a lady called me.”

The woman, a job recruiter for Houston’s NRG, miraculously offered Marco a job with the exact hourly pay he needed to manage his bills. He took the job.

“God began to ask me why I was so unfaithful,” he confided. “He had already gotten me out of [addiction and drug dealing], and He would get me where He wanted me to be. I’ve been submitted to the Lord for five years now.”

Today, Marco Ruiz is five years removed from the day he tried to commit suicide; from the day he gave up his old life. He is thirty-one years old. His wife, Angela Ruiz, is thirty-four; his daughter, Aliya, is fourteen; his son, Matthew, is twelve; and his youngest son, Jacob, is nine. 

Throughout the past five years, Marco has come full circle. His walk with Christ and complete spiritual transformation is evidenced in the ways he lives and breathes. Marco works and serves at Powerhouse Church Katy— the very church that prayed and pleaded for his salvation for years. There, he works at the Men’s Ministry and serves on the Recovery Team, ministering to people who come out of addiction, prison or rehab.

Additionally, he runs the second, Texas-branch of non-profit ministry YAIPak Outreach, which is headquartered in Tennessee. 

The non-profit partners with other organizations to bless people in the community, including veterans, the homeless, foster children, widows, foreigners, immigrants and any other persons or groups who find themselves in need of help— whether it be with laundry detergent, clothing, hygiene products, food or a loving friend and guidance. 

“You name it, we get it and send it out. [YAIPak] became a glory hub here in Katy. Most people don’t know we’re here, because we like to work in the background, but we believe that if we meet the needs of the people, then God will meet our needs. So, our ministry has never lacked,” Marco described.

YAIPak, an acronym for “You Are Important People Administering Kindness,” founded its Texas chapter in February 2023, and Marco served the ministry as its leader since its beginning. In its first year, the non-profit blessed some 140,000 local residents. 

“God finally answered my prayer of wanting a warehouse full of dope, but he gave me a warehouse full of dope stuff,” Marco quipped. “I went from a dope dealer to a hope peddler!”

Marco vehemently believes that his turbulent past and hardships are to be used to build the Lord’s Kingdom on earth. 

The ministry, which encourages, edifies and empowers people to reach other humans who are hurting, is sacred to Marco. He views the opportunity as a blessing. Through the non-profit, his work with Powerhouse Church Katy and his travel preaching, Marco is proud to have influenced thousands of people in their paths to salvation.

Years ago, Marco Ruiz defined manhood and fatherhood as the ability to financially provide for his family. How does he view these roles today?

“For me, I believe that Christlikeness and manhood are synonymous. It’s the same thing,” Marco said. “In order for me to achieve and to reach the full potential that God has intended for me, as a man of God, a husband and father, then I must be like Christ. I must be sacrificial. I must go above and beyond for my family.”

“Provisions or finances— that’s only a percentage of what the man does. I am able, now, to minister… to be the priest of my home, and to be a living demonstration.”

Marco’s family witnessed him struggle with addiction for a number of years. His eldest daughter was nine years old when he finally shook the shackles of drugs. 

“My sons were young, but they knew Dad before Christ, and they know me after. I have a great relationship with them. I’m now able to father them, and I’m able to protect them, and because of that, they allow me to govern my family, and they remain submitted and in reverence of me as their father. I have great kids, and I have a great wife,” he said.

“And for me, Jesus is everything. I stay committed and submitted to the Lord.”

After achieving sobriety and growing close to God, Marco has reconciled and reconnected with his mother, Monica Ruiz, and his father, Marco Ruiz Sr. 

Today, Marco and his father enjoy doing ministry together. He’s immensely grateful to serve at Powerhouse Church Katy alongside his parents and pastors Robert Burdett, Anthony Stewart and Roger Whitehead.

“If not for my parents’ prayers, and the church, for so many years, I may not have come back to Christ,” he said.

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