Brother Mario Estoce of Cebu City was once a hired hit man and worked with a group of mercenaries that would carry out almost any criminal act for the right price. From 1992 to 1994, he was number five on the Philippines “Most Wanted List” for three counts of murder. He lived a sordid life in shadows and darkness and on the run from law enforcement, the military and bounty hunters.
In 1991, he was captured, tried and convicted and sentenced to a long term in prison. In 1995, Estoce, an incorrigible criminal was spiritually moved when he heard the Evangelist preaching on his radio broadcast the “Jesus Miracle Hour.” Estoce contacted his wife and requested that she ask for JMC ministers to visit and pray with him inside his prison cell.
For the next several weeks, over a series of prison Bible studies, the former “contract killer” repented for his sins and was baptized in the name of Jesus. He told the JMC ministers that he was instantly delivered of all of his vices; drug and cigarette addiction, lust and gambling. Brother Mario served God while in prison and shared the gospel and his testimony with other inmates. Eventually, he lived up to the old prison ministry adage that “if you can serve God in the joint, then it’s easy to serve Him when you’re released.” Amazingly, Brother Mario was given early release and walked out a free man in March of 1997. He did not return to his “old ways” when he reentered the world. He gained a prosperous job in ship cargo handling at the Port of Cebu City and has continued to be a faithful JMC member living a productive, peaceful life and bearing witness that God can change a wicked man’s heart and He alone can rehabilitate a man’s soul.
Another murderer that came to know Christ through the ministry of the beloved Evangelist Wilde Almeda was William Ramirez, a member of an armed Christian militia that battled and carried out revenge on the Muslims in the Southern Philippines. Ramirez belonged to the tad-tad group called Haring Bakal Democratic Christian Crusaders of the Philippines, Incorporated. Ramirez testified that before he was saved and joined the Jesus Miracle Crusade, he was a tad-tad (chop-chop) assassin* and killed 29 people. At a Jesus Miracle Crusade, Ramirez repented for his sins and was baptized in Jesus’ name.
Many JMCIM members were former outlaws and outcasts, but were changed by the Holy Spirit and accepted into the Body of Christ. The Jesus Miracle Crusade has a vibrant Prison/Jail Ministry that acknowledges that prisons are dens of hopelessness and anxiety. Many inmates have brought shame to their family and have been abandoned by their close friends and loved ones. They are lonely and have fallen as low as they can go, but they are open to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Jesus Miracle Crusade sees prisons as a mission field that needs to be harvested.
*The tadtad killer belongs to a bizarre group of assassins who believe that potions and amulets will make them invisible. Tadtad means “chop-chop” and initiates ritually slash their bodies during initiation into the cult.
Source: Miracles in Moroland: A Journey of Faith, Love and Courage (The Inside Story of the Sipadan Hostage Crisis) by Sam Smith, published in 2015