“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Jake sat on the ship, reading the words in Hebrews 13, unsure of his destination but comforted by God’s promise. Jake had been a young student at a university in the Philippines.
He had also been a drug courier and professional assassin.
When Jake’s mother had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, his family couldn’t afford to pay for treatment. His parents had separated when he was young, and he had no idea where his father was.
When one of his friends found out Jake was desperate, he offered him a simple job that became his entry point into the drug syndicate. It was dangerous, but it helped him provide for his mother’s medication.
“Take this, deliver it to this person, and when you get back I’ll give you money.”
Soon it became clear that Jake had a lot of potential—he was smart, careful, and observant. Every summer for the next three years, Jake was trained in military tactics and psychological warfare.
“Every summer vacation for three years I trained,” Jake told us. “We had paramilitary, psychological warfare, and sharpshooting training. Each batch of trainees is composed of 12 children. This was the syndicate. They target the orphans, street kids, runaways, and those like me who have dire family needs.”
Soon Jake could tell exactly when a person was lying or doubtful. And when the wrong person was lying at the wrong time, Jake killed them at the drug lord’s command.
“It was really hard for me,” Jake said, “but I would tell myself, ‘Think for you, think for your own needs!’ I shot them face to face. I would draw my .45 with silencer and as quick as possible I shot.”
The job paid well, but Jake knew that his time was running out. By the age of 18 they became a liability because they could testify in court. The drug syndicates would eventually kill drug mules like Jake.
On campus one day, a friend invited Jake to a Christian church where university students would gather to worship.
“He was looking at me like I would with others, reading me, observing me. But I could not read him like I could other people. Something was different about him that blocked me from reading his thoughts, emotions, and movements like I had been trained.”
Jake was so curious that he kept coming to the worship gatherings. Over time, he and his friend became closer. Jake shared bits and pieces of his story and discovered that his friend also had similar experiences.
His friend introduced Jake to Jesus.
When his mother died, Jake knew he had to get out of the syndicate, but he didn’t know how.
Among his mother’s belongings, he found a dictionary with a phone number scribbled inside. Curious, he dialed the number.
“What’s your name?” a male voice asked.
“Jake Fransisco,” he replied.
“So, you’re my son.”
Jake had not seen his father since his parents separated 15 years earlier.
His father came to Dumaguete and picked up Jake, and they left the drug syndicate and Jake past life behind.
He knew that God had rescued him. But where would he go now?
He remembered that his friend who had shared Jesus with him INfire mentioned there was a safe place in Zamboanga with someone named Mark.
With no more information than that, Jake boarded a ship for Zamboanga City. Reading his Bible, he found comfort in the promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Once he arrived, Pastor Mark began discipling Jake, and he joined the other boys at Pastor Mark’s house — orphans, kids from the street, former gang members, or too poor to go to school. Pastor Mark and the church gave them a home and supported them so they could helped them attend school. IN:FIRE provided support for Pastor Mark and the other indigenous leaders.
“When I came to this home, I immediately felt joy!” Jake told us. “Joy in the sense that I never knew God was someone I could rely on, but He had brought me here. My very first step into the house felt like home for me.”
Jake is still following Jesus and living with Pastor Mark.
Out of the twelve assassins and drug couriers he was trained with, Jake is the only one still alive.
Now, he is living with youth who are at-risk like he once was, sharing the love and hope of Jesus.
Join our fight
Help us stand in the line of fire for children in conflict