Rescued By God
Pastor Mark Fredenburg is a man who has a deep compassion for men caught in the bondage of addiction and the life of sin that goes hand in hand with it. He understands the frustration and hopelessness of being stuck in the pit and unable to get out of it. He experienced that life for many long years, and he has also experienced a way out. He shares the story of his rescue from addictions.
“The first born of three, I was raised in the country not too far from Port Orchard, Washington. I grew up in a good Christian home where my parents persevered to raise good kids. Dad and Mom built a small farm, and we attended a local non-denominational country church. About the age of seven, I accepted the Lord.”
The Problem Begins
Accepting the Lord is a life-changing event, but the Lord won’t force us to follow Him. When we hold on to our life as ours to do with as we please, the desires of the flesh become more important to us, and they grow more and more demanding. As a young teenager Mark began to do things he knew he shouldn’t, but he found it hard to stop. “I did my best to change my ways, but all I had was behavior modification.”
“About a year after graduating high school, I decided I would be a missionary – that that would fix me. I went to Brazil for a few months, then came back to the states for training in Bible school. There I did start to learn what it was to have a relationship with God, what it was to walk in freedom, and I began to have peace. But of course the test came, and I started looking back. I didn’t like the fire. At end of my first year, I was asked to pray about not returning for a second year. So I told the Lord, “Look, I am just going to go over here and live my life…. I won’t be bad, I promise.”
A Promise He Couldn’t Keep
“Over 25 years later, my life was so deep in the pit that I thought I was done…I was hopeless. By this time my addictions had the best of me. With my life in shambles, I headed home. I had been out of touch with family for many years due to my choices and lifestyle. However, they set me up on their property, and I figured if for no other reason, I could change my life for them. My belief was that since it was my mess, I had to clean it up. But behavior modification doesn’t work for long, and sure enough, despite my best efforts I was asked to leave again.”
A Cry for Help
“For the first time in years, without realizing what I was doing I cried out to Him in desperation, “God help me!” My fists were shaking up at Him out of sheer frustration and despair. I realized I was screwed up and there was nothing I could do about it. I began to give up and became willing for His help. It seemed like God responded, “I thought you’d never ask.” It was a start for me. Up until that time, the longest I had gone without drinking was a week; so when two weeks rolled by, I knew my compulsion for drinking and drugs was gone and that there wasn’t anything God couldn’t do. I went to AA and began to spend quiet time with the Lord. But in spite of that, deep down I was still holding on to my desires, and God will not force us to let go. About 18 months later, I ended up with a bottle stuck to my lips once again.”
Trying to Keep It Together
“During this time I was trying to control my addictions and my life while working as a contractor. I kept that up for about five more years, until I got so shaky that I couldn’t hold a screw gun steady enough to get a screw into the wall.” Mark had to face that he was out of control and that his addictions and sin had hit an all-time low.
A New Beginning at Set Free Elma
“I called the church where I grew up and asked for help. In a few hours, I was headed down the road with a change of clothes and a member of the Set Free Elma church who had once been where I was. My plan was to do this one year program called Set Free. I had one last chance at this thing called life! I knew the Holy Spirit wanted 100% of me, and it was all or nothing because I was dying and quickly.”
“I told the Lord I would do anything, and I meant it! I said, “This time, You tell me what truth is…let’s start over.” I didn’t care what I believed about anything. The first thing I knew was I had to be obedient with whatever was in front of my face. So I did my best. Little did I know what a sad, angry man I had become. Jesus had a lot of dross to chip off from me. It was, and sometimes still is, the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.“
The Way Out
“The apostle Paul talks in scripture how men like us get here: we suppress the truth, we become our own gods, we worship ourselves, then we get to a point where life is so screwed up and we know it….” Countless times Mark had tried to change: he tried modifying his behavior, he tried to stopping his addictions, and when he couldn’t stop the addictions, he tried controlling them. He tried changing his life, and he tried repeatedly to get himself out of the pit. It would work for a season, but he would always find himself back at the door of sin and addiction, each time lower down in the pit. He was caught in the grips of sin, literally held in the chains of addictions that were leading him to his death.
Where is the answer? What’s the solution? Pastor Mark gladly shares it. “The washing and the renewing of the mind through God’s word. The scripture that asks “What must I do to be saved?” means so much to me today because of Jesus’ answer “Believe in me.” It encompasses so much more than I ever thought. HE pulled me out of the pit I dug myself into… HE transformed me, HE lives in me. Because of this transformation, I get to walk in obedience to the best of my ability. I never want to go back to the man I once was, so each day I know I must stay in the center of His will.”
“At Set Free Elma, we know each other and we share something in common. With that bond between us, every day I get to encourage my brothers, “There is a better way: it’s through Christ, His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness… It’s a love walk, it’s a light walk, it’s a wisdom walk, in all our relationships. And it’s only because of what is being so freely given to me.”
Called to Service
“At some point in the first year, I knew the Lord called me to serve here at Set Free Elma. Not only has there been restoration with my family and my life, but there was restoration in his plans with me as well.”
“In 2012 I was made a pastor. I spent that afternoon before the Lord asking “Don’t You know where I’ve been? Don’t You know what I’ve done?”
“In 2012 I was made a pastor. I spent that afternoon before the Lord asking “Don’t You know where I’ve been? Don’t You know what I’ve done?”That’s a beautiful and amazing thing about the Lord. There is nothing His grace and mercy cannot cover once a person sees they need Jesus Christ as their Savior. With that covering of grace, all He sees is the blood of Jesus Christ and His righteousness; and as we turn to Him with our entire life, He begins producing fruit of His Spirit in our lives. The past is gone.
“There have been many tests along the way, and there are many more to come. But I know that He is faithful, and He will accomplish His work in and through me as long as my eyes are focused on Him and His kingdom.”
“I am grateful for the men and women who have discipled a stubborn knucklehead like me. Jesus said to go and make disciples. Sometimes that gets messy and hard, but Paul says, “Pray for me that I might be bold…” As I get to know who Jesus is, and as my life gets re-framed by His power and by His Holy Spirit, I get to pass on true life to others, just as it has been passed to me. I have found a peace, and what gives me the greatest joy is watching another soul come into this salvation. And that salvation is for the here and the now.”
Are You Looking For the Way Out?
If you’re stuck in despair or your life is out of control and you are seeking help, take heart – there is a way out. Please read our Recovery section to learn more about the Set Free Elma program, or contact us if you’ve read it through and know you are ready to take the first steps to your new life.