Over a period of 24 years, from the time he was 18 until he was 43 years old, Freddie was in and out of prison 8 times for a total of more than 20 years jail time. He was called “Big Time Freddie” in his community in Marikina, revered by young delinquents and known for far-ranging drug deals.
During his eighth incarceration, in 2004, Freddie saw Pastor Danny Orquico of Christ’s Commission Fellowship arrive in jail with some youth volunteers. They shared God’s word and made friends with Freddie and the other inmates. Then they kept visiting.
Soon Freddie became overwhelmed by the genuine love that he experienced from the pastor. He saw in it a reflection of God’s own love for him, and it moved him to surrender his life to Jesus.
As Freddie began to walk with the Lord, he faced the possibility of spending 12 to 20 years in prison, corresponding to the various criminal charges against him and in consideration of his long record as a felon. He prayed for another chance and committed to serve God for the rest of his life. By God’s grace, when the promulgation came he received an acquittal for almost all the charges against him, and was only found guilty of concealing a deadly weapon. Consequently he was released from prison the following year, on the birthday of his youngest child.
He was determined to keep his commitment to God and not to go back to his old ways, but finding employment after jail seemed close to impossible for a person with a history like Freddie. He resorted to waste-picking, pushing a cart around the city to collect bote-dyaryo (old bottles and newspaper). It was during this time of struggle that Freddie saw the love of Christ as reflected once again in how Pastor Danny and the BIYAHE ministry continued reaching out to him, until he was able to have a stable source of livelihood.
Freddie now works as a washing machine technician and has saved enough capital to purchase his own second-hand machines, which he rents out to people in his community. His income is humble but enough to support his family, and more importantly, he is no longer seen as “Big Time Freddie” but as a man to be regarded with respect. He imparts God’s word to his neighbors, shares his testimony to all who are willing to hear, and encourages young people to follow God. He has also gained wisdom that allows him to discern when old influences are too strong and when he should simply avoid company that may lead him away from the Lord and back to his former life.
Much of Freddie’s time is spent these days as a volunteer of the BIYAHE Jail Ministry. He is also leading a discipleship group of his own, attends CCF’s Global Leadership Center Level 3 classes, and regularly still meets with Pastor Danny alongside other former inmates who have devoted their lives to Jesus. Moreover, among his top priorities is making up for lost time with his family. He is now shepherding his wife, whom he had wooed back after coming to faith in Christ, as well as his children and grandchildren, that they too may follow Jesus and live as His disciples.
Freddie holds fast to two verses that have become especially close to his heart. The first, Hebrews 11:1, says,
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
The second is Romans 10:11, which says,
Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.
Note: This post, based on an interview with Kuya Freddie in December 2014, was originally meant as a volunteer profile to be featured in Christ Commission Fellowship’s Move magazine.