Difficult Beginnings

I come from a poor and broken family. My parents separated and had no stable work to provide for me and my siblings. My mother washed clothes for other people, while my father spent time in prison. From a very young age, I lived on the streets. As a young lad, I was imprisoned many times for robbery and illegal drugs. Growing up, the government would take me to temporary house shelters.

The very first time that I heard the good news about Jesus was when I was a teenager inside a prison for juvenile offenders. There was a 3-day Christian youth camp held by one of the visiting Christian groups, and I was one of those chosen to join this camp.  I experienced worship time, playing games, and having fun. We had many Biblical devotions and sessions. I listened to a Bible message about Jesus from the kuyas conducting the camp.

Because I did not grow up in a Christian family and had never been to church, I did not have any prior ideas about Jesus and what He did for us. I listened intently as the kuyas shared what Jesus did for us on the cross to save us, to forgive us, and to bring us back to our Father God’s heart. I heard that if I would receive Jesus into my heart, I would have eternal life. Hearing these messages, I felt Jesus’ love flowing in me. For the first time, I invited Him into my life. I was not able sleep the whole night because of overflowing joy! However, I did not change totally as a person.

Not yet.

Life in the Streets

Outside of prison, I kept company with friends who were like me. Being young, I was not yet firm to say “no” or to step away from bad things that drove me to trouble. I was trapped in vices and having indiscriminate sex with people, whether male or female. I would fight with other boys at school, too.

Years went by.  I reached rock bottom to the point where I became crazy, talking to the devil and myself. I would curse my identity, saying I was worthless, with no hope and nothing. I was hooked on many drugs, and I was separated from my live-in partner and eldest daughter.

But in the midst of all this, I had a sudden remembrance of Jesus. It was God reminding me of His love! I remembered the words that people from the youth camp shared to me. I begged God to give me another chance.  “Father God, if You would give me a chance, I will surrender my life to You fully. You can use me for whatever You want me to do, and wherever You want to send me.”

Some of my friends gave me the contact number of Help International Philippines Rehabilitation Set free Center. I took that chance!

Life at the Set Free Center

On July 15, 2002, I arrived at the Set Free Center. When I stepped inside, I was met by people who were like a big family. They did things together and ate together. We were not treated like patients or forced to swallow medicine during our stay; rather, we were treated like brothers and sisters—treated like part of the family. Every day, we had devotional time and worship.

Other men and women who were being set free by God at the center shared their lives with me. All the more, I surrendered my life to God FULLY. I asked God for forgiveness from all my sins, and I watched Him change my life little by little.

As He was changing and restoring my broken life, God gave me a new heart—a heart like Jesus! I started to see the needs of others through the help of many missionaries in the community. These missionaries showed me how to reach out to people like me— lost, broken, hopeless, addicted to many bondages; people who didn’t know Jesus yet. Most importantly, I saw how these missionaries surrendered their all to Jesus to follow Him!

By joining outreaches in the streets, prisons, and many different poor areas, I learned what it meant to share my life—to share with others what God did in me! It soon became my passion to let people know that God can do impossible things like what He did to me—changing me from a man in bondage to a man set free! And He is still doing impossible things to me today!

Impossible things do not mean that they will not happen. Impossible things actually give God a chance to do new things. The impossible is the easiest thing for God to do!

The God Who Restores

After two years, I graduated from the rehabilitation program at Set Free. I stayed in the center and served as a volunteer until December 2006. I decided to leave the Help community and go to Tacloban to work so that I could provide for my daughter. By then, she was already 6 years old and her mother had another live-in partner. When I arrived in Tacloban, God did another miracle. I received my family back, and in March 2007, I married the mother of my child. My family lived in a house, and I worked as a pedicab driver everyday. Early in the morning, I was already on the streets working until evening. I was content with what I was doing, but God had much better plans for me—plans to do His will.

I believe the reason why He gave me another chance at life was to use me so other people may know Him. One day, He reminded me of this while I was at a noisy and busy street. God spoke to me and said that simply driving my pedicab was not the reason why He changed me. I answered, “If this is really You, then You will make a way for me to come back to Set Free Help International because I’m not going back there alone— I have my wife and kids.”

God did the impossible. He provided for our traveling expenses, and we went to the Set Free Help Center in Manila. My wife eventually got into a personal relationship with Jesus and was baptized. We became volunteers and later on, staff and leaders at the Help International community. I am now in Tondo with my family, and we are serving God together. We reach out to different places and communities, sharing Jesus everywhere we go!

God has also brought me to different countries to visit and to share what He has done in my life. Until now, He is still doing the impossible and leading me to His will. My greatest achievement is that God—the One who loves me and who picked me–has chosen to use my life for others and for His glory. Hallelujah! Praise and glory to God!

“This is how we know what love is: Christ gave His life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for others!” 

1 John 3:16


“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!” Matthew 10:8

Ruel Dela Cruz

Ruel Dela Cruz serves at the Set Free Center where his greatest joy is found in Jesus who has given him a chance to share with people how good and loving our Father God is.  He is thankful for the second chance of life given to him.