Edier Osvaldo Ruiz began his life of crime 40 years ago. While only a child, 11 or 12 years old, he became a part of the Medellín criminal cartel, made famous by its leader, Pablo Escobar. From a young age, Edier served as a contract killer, murdering people in Medellín and beyond.
Edier lived with his mother and six siblings, earning just enough to scrape by in those early years. By age 13, he quit school to dedicate his life to crime. He soon began to climb the ranks in the crime world. At 14, he met Pablo Escobar and his family and was given a home as a reward. From 1990-92, Edier was one of Colombia’s most wanted criminals. In 1993, police killed Pablo Escobar in his hometown of Medellin. Within a couple months of killing him, they captured Edier in a huge sting operation.
Edier was indicted on 14 offenses, including homicide, possession of illegal arms, drug trafficking, and kidnapping to name a few. He was sentenced to 60-70 years but eventually received a 48-year sentence.
In February 1994, Edier arrived at Bellavista Prison, where he had to constantly watch his back because he had so many enemies within the walls. When he arrived on the 8th cell block of Bellavista, he soon heard about the price on his head of $150 million pesos or $175,000 US. Edier’s life was in danger daily.
After serving a few years, some Christians within the prison introduced Jesus to Edier, offering him the chance to change his life. Several of the new converts included men who had once worked for him. He thought they were crazy because he never liked Christians.
After several attempts on his life (a couple times he was severely wounded) and transferring prisons multiple times to protect him, he began to receive encouraging notes from those old friends who had converted. They shared that they had changed, that the Bible had transformed their lives. But Edier just laughed and made fun of their decisions.
The new believers continued to send him letters, telling him that Jesus loved him despite his past, but Edier thought, “How could God forgive a man as evil as I? How could a person who murdered so many, who had left mothers without their sons, wives without their husbands, children without their parents be loved and forgiven?
Near the end of 1996, Edier got transferred again to the high security wing of Bellavista after another attempt on his life, where he reunited in person with those friends who had found Christ. They faithfully shared Jesus with him. Then, in the middle of the night, he heard a voice that said His power was greater than all the power Edier had ever had in the world. The voice said he should call to Him, and He would teach Edier mighty hidden things that he did not know. Edier thought he was going crazy. For two nights, the voice was constant, calling him, telling him that He was Edier’s Savior, that he created him with a purpose to be a man who was more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ.
Here is the rest of the story in Edier’s own words, “On the morning of November 27, 1996, I heard singing, and God told me to leave my cell and go to the singing. I arrived, and there were the “hallelujah people.” There were about 50 inmates praising, exalting, and glorifying the name of God. I stood at the entrance and started to shake. I just wanted to get out of there, but when I ran out, they had closed the gate so I couldn’t leave. The Christians came to me and prayed over me. While they prayed, I was stretched out on the floor. Then, they opened the gate, and I fled to my cell and began to cry … One brother brought me a Bible and said, ‘Look, boss, from now on this is your weapon. It has 66 shots. Take it! You will be alright, don’t worry. We are your brothers. We will help you. We will care for you in Jesus’s name. Press on!’ As I wept, I began to read the Bible. I spent the next 3 to 4 days reading it and praying about my shameful state before God, asking forgiveness, repenting of my sins, and all I had done.
“Then I heard God say, ‘If today you wish to believe in my beloved son Jesus Christ, you shall be a new creature. All the old things shall pass away from your life, and all shall be made new.’
“On that day, I surrendered all.”
In 2005, Edier was released from prison … after serving just 11 years. He reunited and reconciled with his family, got married, was baptized, and began to regularly share his faith. After a year of faithfully volunteering, Prison Fellowship offered him a role on the evangelism team to work in the prison. OMS Colombia missionaries discipled him, and he served with ECC for four years.
Today, Edier and his wife lead a church. He returned to school and studied at the Colombia Biblical Seminary. God also gave him the courage to face his victims’ families to ask for forgiveness. Total reconciliation is so powerful, and so is our God.
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