As I’m writing this entry, a little fete in the house still continues in honour of our Patron Saint. Kin and fellows come by round the clock to share sumptuous meal with everyone. Hankering for fresh air, I decided to stay in the vestibule earlier – not knowing a metamorphic conversation would take place there. Julius Perez, a distant kindred and an ex-con, as how he introduced himself, took my faith to the next level.
03 December 2005, Julius, together with a minor, has killed an allegedly male AKRHO Gang member. According to him it was a crime of self-defense since he was pointed with a gun first. Financially crippled to obtain a private lawyer fighting for his case, he ended up spending 12 years in prison with a tag– MURDERER.
“It was difficult. At times I think of his family. At times I think of my future. I was struggling the first few months in jail but I have had high hopes one day I can be free”, he reverberated when asked about the challenges he went through.
Determined to get out from prison with head held high, he behaved accordingly abiding all cell rules. From an ordinary inmate, he was chosen to become a commander (jail lead) for he portrayed a commendable behaviour. He created fair rules and camaraderie among fellows. He also learned as much as he can, in fact, he was the very first detainee to graduate from ALS (Alternative Learning System).
Notwithstanding , the rumination that startled me most was when he shared HOW HE MET JESUS IN PRISON. Inside bars and in the midst of distress and anxieties, he found Jesus. He felt like a little voice was comforting him with powerful sweet words of fortification. By then, he never let go of the connection and worked so hard to grow his relationship with God. He started the art of silent prayers. He read all chapters in the Bible from Old to New Testament. He attended every Holy Masses celebrated inside the prison, and he led the recital of Holy Rosary – a life completely antithetical before his conviction- when all he knew was to have a good time (barkada, barrio disco and booze).
“God exists and so does blessings. I thought being in prison is the end of everything, yet, it became the beginning of all great things. God showed me his ways and I accepted it with open heart, and now I am trying to continue my very intimate relationship with HIM.”
Julius, is one of those stories that truly touched my inner being. His story is a testament that God reaches to us wherever we are under any circumstance. He never abandons His children specially the lowly ones.
Today, being a freeman, Julius relentlessly sustains his reverence to Jesus and even compound this to others. He is now teaching his girlfriend how to read the bible and to pray the Holy Rosary. He is also never embarrassed being called an ex-con for he’s aware that God has pardoned him.
Editor’s Note: Although, Julius is an ALS graduate (HS Level), he still finds hard to get a decent job due to his history of being an ex-con. However, from our conversation earlier, I can vouch that he is a man with pure heart. Definitely, full of gratitude. May all my blog readers be able to help him in his journey towards starting a new life outside the prison cell.
Julius, may you be blessed even more and may God’s name be glorified because of your humility!