From Drug Lord to Pastor: How a New York Man Found Freedom Behind Bars

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Herman Mendoza had it all—money, success, mistresses, and a beautiful home in the Poconos. But the kingdom he had built came toppling down when he was arrested for selling drugs, forcing him to his knees where he eventually accepted Christ.

According to CBN News, Mendoza’s experience with drugs started young as a teenager with his brother. He continued experimenting for years until he lost his job in his 20s.

“I was married and living with my wife and I was laid off from a job that I was working at,” Mendoza told The PureFlix Podcast. “And so I was desperate for money.”

He partnered with his brother and the two sunk deep into the drug trade, largely selling cocaine. Soon, the money started to flow in and Mendoza felt on top of the world. He bounced around from party to party, traveling the Eastern Seaboard with his brother distributing drugs and collecting mistresses. Eventually, he had a home in the Poconos for his nuclear family and a string of apartments around the city for his mistresses.

“I thought, ‘Hey, this is an easy way to make money and get rich,’” he said.

But the high didn’t last long. Mendoza’s newfound success stopped when police discovered cocaine in the trunk of his car, marking his first arrest. He was stunned, terrified of what might happen to his wife and child while he was in prison.

He faced 25 years to life but struck a deal with prosecutors to be released early. Though the arrest shook him, his freedom didn’t change his behavior.

“I was a fool…and I went right back into what they call in the streets, ‘the game,’” he said.

It wasn’t until his second arrest after being released that changed the drug lord. As his legal struggles mounted, God was at work with his brother. He had become a Christian behind bars and encouraged Mendoza to do the same. And in time, he did.

“I gave my life to the Lord … there was no other recourse,” Mendoza said. “I said, I need to try God, I’ve tried everything else. … I had millions of dollars, but it was never satisfying.”

In his book, Shifting Shadows, he recalled the experience of trusting Christ as liberating.

“Suddenly, it didn’t matter anymore that I was behind bars; I was freer here than I had ever been,” he said.

After being released again, Mendoza chose a new path. As an international speaker, he travels the world to declare God’s love and serves as an associate pastor at Promise Ministries in New York.

“I was a walking dead man, and now I’m alive in Christ.”

Photo courtesy: ©Pexels/Donald Tong

Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.

Written by Wayne

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