Two summers ago, my brother, my niece and myself, had stopped at a Wal-Mart in South Texas on our way to visit Jake during his 8 month stay at the ranch. As we were walking through the parking lot on our way back to the car we were approached by a young man selling candy to raise money for a ministry he was part of, Victory Life Ministries. He handed us a pamphlet entitled “Outcry in the Barrio,” and began to tell us his tragic story of addiction and his recovery through this wonderful ministry. I stood there nailed to the street, listening to his story. I told him that God works in mysterious ways because we were currently on our way to visit my son who was in treatment for addiction. The young man set his bin on the ground, took out pen and paper and asked for my son’s name. He said that the ministry would pray for Jacob that night. We thanked the young man, wished him continued luck in his recovery and bought a bunch of his candy!
This past Memorial weekend I was shopping with my mom, my daughter, best friend of 30 years, Diane and again, my niece. We had just stepped outside into the grueling Texas heat (triple digits that day!), when a man approached, carrying a bin containing baked goods, “Good afternoon ladies, I’m part of a ministry…” A huge smile broke across my face as I knew before the words were out of his mouth, what ministry he was with. As he said the words, Outcry in the Barrio, and handed us the very familiar pamphlets, I just smiled and told him that I was very familiar with this ministry and I told him about my first encounter with them. He began talking to us about the incredible healing power of God. His story was very powerful and evokes hope in even the darkest of situations. He said that he had been shot 3 different times and “the good Lord saw fit to bring me through it each time.” He had been stabbed several times in the back with an ice pick by his brother; again, the Lord saw fit to bring him through it. He said that he was addicted to crack and heroine, drank a lot and smoked weed. One day he said he was on a street corner when he just walked out into the middle of an intersection, in the pouring rain, got down on his knees and cried. He cried out to God to deliver him from the drugs and life he was living. He said he pleaded with God telling Him he couldn’t go on that way anymore. He pleaded with God to either deliver him from his life of addiction or to take him then, out of this world. He said the next thing he knew there was a woman in the street, patting him and telling him that he was okay. He said he told her, “No, I’m not, I can’t do the drugs anymore.” He was 36 years old when this happened and he has been clean for 10 years now ~ Praise God!!
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13
Just like before, the man took out pen and paper, wrote down Jacob’s name (said his name was easy to remember because it was his brother’s name also) and said that the ministry would be praying for Jacob. All things to the greater glory of God!
Twice now, in two different cities, 100’s of miles apart,, I've had the good fortune of crossing paths with people from this ministry. No one that I have asked (in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex) has heard of this ministry, nor have any ever encountered someone from it. I believe it’s a God thing…..angels among us!!
I read this book a couple of years ago and would encourage others to read it too! Jacob read it before I did and passed it along to me. This book, “Outcry in the Barrio,” can be ordered free of charge from this website:
Pastor Freddie Garcia, founder of Victory Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas, was known for accepting the very people others gave up on. A former drug addict himself, Pastor Garcia approached broken lives with humility and determination. Pastor Freddie, at the age of 71, left this world and went home this past October 2009. He was an incredible man and disciple of Christ. His ministry lives on. He will be missed.
This is a news article that was written about Pastor Freddie at the time of his death:
Freddie Garcia wasn't a 9-to-5 preacher who left his work at the church.
A reformed drug addict, he was a minister 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Garcia, who died Friday, invited drug addicts into his home and eventually built a nationally acclaimed faith-based ministry that helped untold numbers of addicts kick their drug habits — just as he had.
Victory Outreach ministry, which he and his wife, Ninfa, launched in 1970, became so successful that in 1990, President George H.W. Bush gave him a national Achievement Against the Odds award at the White House.
Some 15 years later, Garcia opened a modern, $3.6 million drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, New Victory Fellowship, at Castroville Road and Southwest 39th Street.
Garcia, 71, died at a local hospital. He'd been on kidney dialysis for nine years, said attorney Luis Vera Jr., who'd known Garcia more than 20 years.
Garcia's best-selling book, “Outcry in the Barrio,” detailed his life story and influenced many young drug addicts to seek help.
“Any church leader around here, or the country, who helps addicts or alcoholics got their training or inspiration from Freddie,” Vera said.
“Freddie did not believe in methadone as a treatment for heroin addicts,” he added. “He believed that spiritual healing was the key, and that is why his program was so successful.”
Vera said Garcia was used to “having families drop off their husband, wife, sons or daughters at all hours of the day or night” at the West Side facility because they just couldn't deal with the addicts anymore.
Born in 1938, he met Ninfa in 1963. The couple lived on the streets, and Garcia was an addict. “I went through a lot of treatment programs but didn't find an answer,” he often said. “They were dealing with the branches of the problem. They weren't dealing with the root, which is sin.”
After turning to religion at Teen Challenge in Los Angeles in 1967, Garcia married Ninfa and attended the Latin American Bible Institute in La Puente, Calif., graduating in 1970.
He then returned to San Antonio determined to help drug addicts in the barrio change their lives. His ministry was modeled after that of Teen Challenge.
The Garcias invited addicts into their little home on North San Eduardo Street, a half-block south of Culebra Avenue.
The couple became parents, teachers and mentors, encouraging addicts to accept religion and take responsibility for their lives.
When more addicts came, Garcia enlarged their little house. A visitor late at night often could find guests sleeping on couches, dining room benches, beds and floors — wherever there was room for a tired body to rest.
Years later, after his ministry's success was nationally recognized, “Pastor Freddie,” as he was known, said he couldn't believe that he, an ex-junkie, was walking on the front lawn of the White House as a guest of the president.
But he gave God all the credit and opened his arms and his home to thousands who came asking for the same change in their lives. “I never ask them if they're here to change. I just take them in because I know what God's going to do,” he told the San Antonio Express-News in 2002. “Nobody makes them stay. If they stay it’s because they want to change their lives.” He gave them the Bible, fatherly discipline and love.
“I thank God for Freddie. To this day, he lives a surrendered life,” said Jaime Mata, an ex-addict who was changed through Garcia's ministry and then joined him in ministering to addicts. “Freddie has no care for himself. It's all about other people. He's a relentless teacher of the truth.”
Mata said Garcia's ministry enables drug addicts to be sheltered and protected from outside distractions during the time it takes them to kick their habits and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Garcia said he didn't push any of his children to continue his ministry, believing it must be a call from God. His youngest son, Jubal, heard the call at age 18 and began training to assist in his father's ministry and eventually succeed him.
“A lot of preachers were never there for their kids; their ministries were more important. But I never experienced anything like that,” Jubal Garcia said in 2002.
And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." - Matthew 19:26
- Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, United States
- I'm mom to 3 beautiful children, wife to a wonderful man who is the love of my life and grandmother, "Nonna", to a beautiful grandson. Like too many others out there, I am the mother of an addict. I am still learning to deal with things in a healthy way and have a life inspite of the insanity that addiction produces. I am very blessed to have found this community of amazing people that share so much of themselves with us all through their blogs. You are all an inspiration to me. I share your struggles, your pain, your joys and all your hopes. I pray for the addicts still out there suffering and for the people that love them the most. My heart felt thanks to each & every one of you! May God's mercy and grace be with us all, Kristi