Pulse Survivor is Free in Jesus

May 3, 2018

Luis.RuizWASHINGTON, D.C. – A survivor of the 2016 mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub will be speaking in Washington, D.C., this Saturday. Luis Ruiz is giving credit to Jesus Christ for setting him free from his past, including homosexuality. Ruiz will share his testimony at the Freedom March this Saturday, May 5, 2018. The event is open to the public and will have speakers from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the National Sylvan Theater, near the intersection of the northwest corner of 15th Street and Independence Avenue. Then at 3:00 p.m., they will begin marching from that location.

That night in the Pulse Nightclub, the last call for alcohol went out when Ruiz and his friends heard someone screaming to get out. He and his friends were joking, "Wow, they [the bouncers] are trying to kick us out already!" Ruiz explained that right away, the shooter was in front of him. "My friend literally grabbed me and pushed me out the door, and that’s when I was able to run out." However, a locked gate still trapped a group of them next to the building. They kept hearing screams and shots getting closer. Ruiz and another person started kicking down a locked gate. "Our adrenalin was pumping!" he said. He recalls his foot being caught in the gate and being trampled by people running out though the hole they opened. Because of their efforts, others were able to get to safety. In pain and unable to walk, he was taken to the hospital. He said his friend who pushed him out the door was still in the club. "He was there with his partner, and once rescued, they both died in the hospital."

Luis.RuizAfter the shooting, Ruiz felt God tugging on his heart, saying, "Hey, I’m giving you another chance." But Ruiz was still trying to drown the memories with alcohol. He described it as "really messy." The breaking point was when he found out he was HIV positive. "That hit me hard. I realized I was making a lot of bad choices. I was burned out and lying flat on the floor. I needed my life to change." Even though he knew there was medication for HIV, that was the point he decided to turn to Christ and to ask for help to make lifestyle changes. "Little by little, it was a process. I would leave church and go to the club. But in that time, Jesus was taking those things away without any effort from me."

The 34-year-old grew up as a preacher's kid and said, "I had the Word inside me since I was a little babe." However, there was a gap between those struggling with homosexuality and the church. "When I came out of the closet, it was hard. The church was not equipped for it." So Ruiz left and joined the military. However, he passionately says, "I believe the time is now to bridge the gap that was broken between the church and the LBGTQ community – and without compromising the truth of Scripture, they can come as they are and allow the Holy Spirit to take care of that." While every Christian struggles with sin of some kind, it has not been easy for Ruiz."“I feel there still is temptation, and some days are tougher than others, but I feel free from it. I am not doing it on my own – I'm letting Christ guide me in that."

Ruiz shared through a Facebook post about Saturday's march, "I remember my struggles of perversion, heavy drinking to drown out everything and having promiscuous sex that led to HIV. My struggles were real! The enemy had its grip, and now God has taken me from that moment and has given me Christ Jesus. I've grown to know His love in a deeper level. 2 out of the 49 [victims of the Pulse shooting] were my close friends and are no longer with us. They lost their life that night. I should have been number 50 but now I have the chance to live in relationship and not religion - not just loving Christ but being in love with Christ and sharing His love. I know who I am and I am not defined with who the enemy says I use to be - but who Christ Jesus says I am."

"In relationship with Jesus Christ, there is hope and forgiveness. You become a new creation. The old has past and the new has come. Luis Ruiz has been set free" said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "There is freedom and hope for all who believe," Staver said.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.