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From Prison to Pulpit

Snot and tears streamed down 25-year-old Broud Freemans face as he stared through a six-by-six

inch window at his granddad. His life had spiraled out of control - he was facing a sentence of 10 to 20

years for a crime he did not commit.

It all started to go downhill on April 7, 1993, when Freeman was 16 years old. That day his

father, a pilot, was suddenly killed in a plane crash. His father was the biggest role model in his life.

Dad was the nuts, bolts and the glue in our family, he said.

Freeman didnt know how to cope with his emotions. He struggled with the fact that his father

was there one day and then gone the next. Not knowing where else to turn, Freeman began to cope

through drugs and alcohol. He graduated high school by the skin of his teeth, but was fortunate enough to

be able to play college football because of his athletic ability. But his feelings of insecurity and hurt just

grew worse over the next five years.

No matter what I was doing, I needed to drink. I didnt realize I was coping with emotions,

Freeman said. I remember a night where I was out on the football field, screaming at myself and I cussed

out God. At that point, all hell broke loose, Freeman said.

He had hit his breaking point. He started using harder drugs and drinking even more alcohol,

creating a destructive party lifestyle. This lifestyle led him to a precarious situation his senior year.

Guilty Not Guilty

At 24 Freeman found himself in a position where he was being accused of a crime that he said he

wasnt guilty of. Freeman didnt think anything would come of these accusations because, in his mind,

they were obviously false.

About 16 months later, Freeman was questioned by the police for a second time. He shut his

doors on the police, deciding to hire an attorney instead of cooperating with the officers. He later found

out there was evidence that did not lean in his favor.

I was thinking about my easiest way out. But if I had bit the bullet, the truth would have come

out, Freeman said.


He said that perhaps if he had been more open during the trial, he may not have been sent to

prison. Toward the end of the trial, when it was obvious the odds were against him, Freeman sat in a

visitation room looking through that small window at his granddad.

I was distraught, and he looks at me and says, You've been trying to live your life your way for

25 years. And where has it gotten you? Freeman said.

I was hysterical and threw up my hands and said, Nowhere, Freeman said.

Freemans grandfather offered a solution.

Granddad said to me, I challenge you from this day forward to try to live it Gods way,

Freeman said.

Out of ignorance, Freeman said, Alright Granddad, but when it doesnt work. Im gonna quit it

too.

The next day his grandparents gave him a Bible covered in sticky notes and underlined verses.

Soon after, the jury found Freeman guilty after 12 hours of deliberation. He was sent off to prison to face

a 10 to 20 year sentence.

Rock Bottom

Freeman felt compelled to change his life, but did not have the confidence to move forward. On

Dec. 31, 2002, three to four months into his experience in prison, Freeman got into a fight and was taken

to solitary confinement (also known as the hole). It was nothing more than concrete floors and a mattress

that was barely off the ground.

While he was in the hole, Freeman hit rock bottom. He was completely broken with nowhere else

to turn.

At that moment I literally fell to my knees, and I said, God, if youre real, and if you can change

me, I will serve you for the rest of my life, Freeman said.

Finding Freedom
For the first time in many years, Freeman said he gradually began to feel hope. He opened up his

shattered heart and gave everything he had to Jesus Christ. He was on a mission to surround himself with

people who would teach him the word of God.

The change did not happen overnight, but Freeman said he believes that God sent several people

into his life to teach him about what it means to follow Jesus. Freeman believes a man named Art Lindsay

was sent by God to mentor him throughout the rest of his incarceration. Lindsay visited him at least once

a week and played a significant role in the transformation in Freemans life.

Soon after Freemans time in the hole, he also became best friends with a man named Myron

Pierce. Pierce was also on a mission to learn more about God, and a few months later, they became

cellmates.

[He] would give you the clothes off his back; he is a passionate team player devoted to serving,

said Pierce, who is now a pastor.

Each morning, they would wake up at 5 a.m. and make instant lukewarm coffee from the sink,

take communion together and recite and declare about 50 scripture verses together. Although physically

incarcerated, Freeman said he lived with complete peace.

Freeman then became the prison barber, and was able to spread the Gospel to those whose hair he

would cut. He also enjoyed participating in every sports league the prison would put on. He was basking

in his new sense of peace and telling anyone he could about it.

Jesus Freak

After about five years, Pierces time in prison was up. Many people in the prison looked up to

him as a spiritual leader, including Freeman. Now Freeman felt that it was his job to fill his shoes.

He did just that.

In the last stages of his time in prison, he was moved to the Omaha Correctional Facility where

his influence increased drastically. Freeman said he realized that people were just looking for hope. He

found his purpose there was to lead people. He would deliver sermons and talk about what Jesus had done
in his life to anyone who would listen. People even started calling him Pastor Broud, but he would

quickly correct them, saying that he was not a pastor.

Bananas and Chocolate Milk

At the end of his sentence, Freeman was able to work through prison jobs to earn some money.

Freeman chuckled as he recalled his first experience purchasing something after being locked up for

almost 10 years.

I didnt know much about the world we live in anymore, he said.

One day, he and his crew stopped at a gas station. He had some money on a debit card from his

work in prison. He wandered around the gas station with butterflies in his stomach and no idea what to

buy. He finally decided on chocolate milk and a banana. When he took it to the counter, totally

exasperated, he handed the card to the cashier instead of swiping it on the machine in front of him.

I saw this square in front of me. I understood it is probably for my card, but I didnt really know

how to operate it, Freeman said.

The world had moved on without him, and he now he felt he had to figure out how to catch up.

A New Man

In November 2011, Freeman was moved to the Community Correctional Facility. Here he was

allowed a bit more freedom. He was able to go to church where he met his wife, be taken out for special

occasions and be on work release. He stayed there until Feb. 16, 2012, when he was released from prison

after being in for a total of nine years and four months.

I was so overwhelmed and overjoyed, he said. He moved in with a supportive military family

for his first year where he continued to learn about God and grow in his faith as he started his new life.

Today, Freeman is a leader at Bridge Church in Omaha, and the construction manager at an inner-

city non-profit organization called Abide in North Omaha. He also started his own company in 2015. In

May 2017, he will have been married to his wife, Natasha, for four years. Freeman also now lives one

house down from his former cellmate and best friend, Pierce.
He said he knew God let him go through those trials to gain an intimate relationship with Him.

He also feels called to tell his story to influence others. He tells his testimony to at-risk youth, volunteers

working in the inner city and speaks in front of congregations at his church.

When youve gone through something that has been difficult and you come through on the other

side, not only a better person, but a man of God, it makes it all worth living, Freeman said.