As a young boy, Ken Freeman was beaten, neglected, and molested for years. Anyone ever claiming to love him simply wanted to abuse him.
But then one day, Ken was introduced to the love of a Perfect Father, and his life would never be the same.
The following is a summary of the podcast interview above with Ken Freeman. Many more details are included in the original podcast episode and we encourage you to listen.
A Terrible Childhood
24 different schools and 9 stepfathers. Alcohol by age 9 and in jail by age 15. Beaten, molested, and abused for years. This was the childhood of Ken Freeman. What should have been a time of innocence and joy was instead a living nightmare.
Ken’s dad was absent and left him and his sister when Ken was just 4 years old. His mom was an alcoholic who was virtually never sober. As a result, Ken and his sister were often neglected as they grew up.
As early as age 7, it was routine for Ken to travel with his mom and sister from one bar to another all night until she eventually became so drunk she forgot she had brought them with her. Ken and his sister would fall asleep in one of the bar’s booths and wake up to discover they had been locked up in the bar for the night.
At home, Ken suffered horrible physical abuse from his mom. Ken and his sister learned to sleep in their school clothes and listen for their mom to come home in the middle of the night, always drunk. They would escape out the back door and hide wherever they could find a place, then come back home and return to their beds once their mom had passed out.
This is just a sample of the nightmarish life Ken grew up in. An incident involving one of his mom’s ex-boyfriends left Ken scarred for life.
A Living Nightmare
Ken woke up one night to his sister crying and groggily looked over the side of the bunk bed down to her bunk below. It was probably another one of her nightmares, Ken thought. But it wasn’t a nightmare this time, and what Ken saw horrified him.
In shock, Ken watched as his mom’s boyfriend raped his 5-year-old sister. Then, Ken was molested too, at just 7-years-old.
Later, at a hospital, it was discovered this wasn’t the first time Ken’s sister had been molested, and, sadly, it wouldn’t be the last. Ken would also experience more molestation as he grew up.
Then, just three years later, Ken woke up to another terrifying scene.
10-year-old Ken smelled the whiskey on his mom’s breath as his eyes opened sleepily. A familiar sensation. However, he immediately jerked awake when he realized there was a knife at his throat.
Ken’s ears were filled with the angry and hateful words of his wasted mom as she ranted about how she wished he had never been born. How she would be better off if Ken were dead.
Young and vulnerable, there was nothing Ken could do but to lay and listen, his heart racing in fear, until his mom eventually passed out and Ken could slip out the door.
Ironically, 2 years later, Ken found his mom passed out in the kitchen, the same knife lying near her. This time she was the vulnerable one. Filled with hate, Ken reached for the knife and touched its blade to her throat.
For reasons that can only be explained by God’s mercy, Ken didn’t kill his mom but instead put down the knife and sunk to the ground, crying.
That was just the beginning of God’s mercies toward Ken, even with such a difficult childhood. Soon after, Ken moved to Texas with one of his many stepdads, reasoning his stepdad would treat him better than his own mom.
He might have been right, but what he didn’t know was his stepdad had remarried an abusive woman who was just like his mom. Ken was right back to where he had started.
Determined to escape the abuse and terror, Ken ran away from home at age 15. He started roaming the streets during the day and sleeping at his friends’ houses at night.
It was during this season, while Ken was couch-surfing, that a friend of his named Jeff began inviting him to church at age 16.
Come to Church
Ken hated church. It seemed impossible to him that a loving God could exist when he had experienced such horrific things. For him, churches were simply buildings he broke into and stole from.
But when Ken asked Jeff for one good reason he should go to church, Ken gave him two:
Girls and food.
Such attractive reasons were difficult for Ken to pass up, and a few days later he found himself walking into what he later learned was a revival service led by the evangelist Freddie Gage.
What followed was almost humorous as Ken tried to navigate the confusion of being introduced to church for the first time.
Fish Out of Water
Instead of finding a seat in the back row like Ken had hoped, Jeff led him up to the stage where Ken was seated next to Jeff with the youth choir.
Ken was completely baffled when the congregation began clapping and shouting “Amen” as the fiery evangelist shouted some people were headed for Hell, while others had been saved. Then the evangelist exclaimed that some had been justified and sanctified, which were completely foreign terms for Ken.
But when the evangelist spun around, pointed to the choir, and said, “Some of you have been convicted!” Ken began to pay attention. He turned wide-eyed to Jeff and asked if the evangelist had been told about Ken’s time in jail.
The church service was completely alien to Ken… but something about the evangelists’ words grabbed him.
When the evangelist gave the invitation, Ken stepped forward. The Gospel was clearly explained to him for the first time, and with tears streaming down his face, Ken prayed for God to save Him.
Changes started happening immediately in Ken’s life and heart. His language changed, and his addictions gradually lessened as he began to desire God more.
This was the beginning of a new Ken Freeman. Instead of despair, Ken’s life was filled with hope. Instead of fear, there was peace.
But Ken still had his share of struggles and challenges ahead of him. There still was the baggage from a lifetime of abuse which had to be unpacked.
2 years later, Ken was unofficially adopted by one of the families from the church and moved to San Antonio, Texas with them. It was during this season of life, as a 17-year-old, that he had an eye-opening conversation with his new adoptive father about the source of some of his ongoing struggles.
“Do you love your mom and dad?” was the question was posed to Ken.
The answer was easy. “If they walked through the front door right now, and I had a pistol, I would blow their brains out.”
Ken’s adoptive father guided him through Colossians 3, where they read together about God’s command for believers to forgive others, just as God has forgiven them.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13
After a long and tear-filled conversation, Ken prayed for God to help him forgive and love his parents.
It was the second time in his life Ken experienced peace like no other. He described the feeling like a “…backpack [of hate, rejection, and guilt] being cut off of my back.”
Reconciling With His Mom
Ken knew what he had to do next. He called his mother and confronted the woman who had caused so much pain in his life. He could immediately tell she was drunk and was the same person he had left years before.
But Ken had been changed by God. He no longer felt hate for his mom coursing through his body.
Instead, Ken asked his mom to drink some coffee so she could sober up a little bit while he told her something. Then Ken shared with her that he loved her and no longer hated her. He asked his mom to forgive him for his previous hateful thoughts and feelings toward her.
And from that moment on, Ken and his mom were reconciled.
However, Ken’s dad was a different story.
Looking For His Father
The last time Ken had seen his father or heard his voice was when he was 4 years old, over a decade prior.
“I’m looking for James Arthur Freeman,” Ken said nervously over the phone after being connected to an unlisted number.
The response was not encouraging. “What do you want?” a voice said gruffly.
Undeterred, Ken began to tell his dad about God saving him. Just as he had done with his mom, Ken explained he no longer harbored bitterness or hate, and he asked his father to forgive him.
Ken waited expectantly for a response, but all he heard was the “click” of the phone as his dad hung up.
A couple of weeks passed, and Ken received a letter in the mail from his father. Ken opened it and found 4 photos (which are posted at bottom of this story) as well as a letter.
His eyes scanned the page hopefully, but what met Ken’s eyes were the words, “I’m not your dad. You’re not my son. Stay out of my life.”
The blow was a hard one, but instead of despairing, Ken threw himself into caring for his mom. She worked at bars, so Ken often visited her there, constantly looking for opportunities to share the Gospel with her.
Sadly, Ken’s mom eventually passed away of cirrhosis of the liver, and Ken has no knowledge of her ever professing faith in Jesus.
After 28 Years
Ken didn’t know it at the time, but God was beginning to work in the heart of his dad. 28 years after Ken received the rejection letter from his father, he tried contacting him once again.
This time, Ken found his father’s home address and flew all the way to San Francisco to visit his dad in person, unannounced.
A woman named Maxine, his dad’s new wife, answered Ken’s knock at the door. And standing behind Maxine was the man Ken hadn’t seen for 42 years, his father.
Filled with emotion, Ken embraced his dad and shared that Christ had enabled him to forgive and love his father.
When Ken looked at his dad, he saw something he never expected. His father was weeping.
Ken spent the next 10 hours sharing with his dad his story and the Gospel which had rescued him. Ken finally left his dad that day who was still in tears.
Maxine later told Ken that in 47 years of being married to his dad she had never seen him cry.
The relationship between Ken and his dad didn’t experience any sort of dramatic change after his visit. In fact, aside from his father not telling him to leave, things were basically the same between them.
Even though Ken didn’t receive a warm welcome from his father, he continued to pray for him and pursue him.
Ken spent the next 6 years sending his dad Father’s Day cards, tapes, his first book he wrote, and Scripture. But he never heard back a single time.
It all seemed to be for naught until one day Ken received an unexpected call from Maxine in 2004.
Your Dad’s Dying
“Your dad has throat cancer and bone cancer, and he’s got 5 months to live.”
Immediately, Ken hopped on a plane and flew to visit his dad once again. He stopped at KFC to pick up his father’s favorite meal and then drove across town to the house he had visited 6 years ago.
With great urgency, Ken shared the Gospel with his dad one more time, pleading with him to accept Christ before he died. “I already have one parent in Hell, probably,” he told his dad. “I don’t want to have another.”
By the end of Ken’s visit, his dad had become a born-again believer. Tears filled his father’s eyes. It was the second time his father had ever cried.
The next words Ken’s dad said to him were incredibly special.
He told Ken that, for the first time in his life, he had peace, knowing that God had saved him.
Then he pulled Ken close and said he was sorry for all he had done to Ken and the life he had put him through.
And finally, through tears and a raspy voice he said, “I bet you would have been a great son.”
Ken’s time with his dad was short, and he had to fly back the very next day. God worked a miracle and changed a stubborn heart in less than 24 hours.
Two weeks later Ken would realize how providential God’s timing had been. Twelve days after Ken’s dad trusted in Christ to save him, he passed away. Not 5 months like the doctors had predicted.
Ken’s prayers for his father and witnessing to his dad had not been in vain. God saved Ken’s father, just days before his death. God had sent Ken to his dad at just the right time.
Ken Freeman is a Free Man
Shortly after the night Ken forgave his parents, he entered the ministry. Over the years he’s served as a worship leader and a youth pastor, but he found his deepest joy by sharing his story as a traveling evangelist. Something he’s now done for the last 38 years.
Today, Ken loves to share with others that God can “Take a mess and make it a message.”
Ken’s life is living proof of that.
Win 1 of Ken’s Books!
Win an autographed copy of either of Ken’s books “Toilet Bowl Christianity” or “Choices 101”!
Note: Winners must live in the United Statesa Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: Winners must live in the United States
- Article on Freddie Gage, the evangelist who led Ken to Christ.
- Video sample of Freddie Gage’s preaching. Freddie begins preaching at around the 25 minute mark. He shares his testimony at 42:40.
- Ken Freeman is the same evangelist who led David Benham to Christ. You can hear that Compelled podcast episode here.
Below: Tattoos that Ken got in honor of 2 of his grandsons. One died as a child and the other was in a terrible car accident that severely injured his brain.