Pastor and City Councilman Freddie Jack is pictured here as he sits inside the sanctuary of his church St. John Baptist Church in Ville Platte. He is holding in his hands his Lifetime Achievement Award that he won from My Brother’s Keeper in recognition of his many accomplishments. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
God calls people at different times to bring about His kingdom on earth, and a Ville Platte native heard this call to become a pastor and city councilman. Because of his efforts and accomplishments over the years in both capacities, Freddie Jack earned this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award from My Brother’s Keeper.
In his humility, Jack gives all the credit of his achievements to his Creator. “I can’t take any real credit for it other than being a tool or an instrument used by God to get things done,” he expressed. “Other people saw what I was doing even though I was not asking for recognition for it. That’s one of the things I love about being me. I don’t look for recognition for what I do because I realized, as much as God uses me to do it, He could very well could use somebody else to do it.”
He continued, “It’s not about me. It’s about working for the Kingdom of God and for the people of God. I’m just glad to be used and to be found worthy to be used. I know I’m not the best and I’m not perfect. I’m just thankful that God found me worthy to be used as an instrument.”
Jack heard the call to become an instrument of God back when he was working at Cameron in Ville Platte. He said that becoming a preacher “wasn’t anything I wanted to do.” He added, “If God had sat me down and interviewed me, I would have told him no.”
He went on to describe when he finally answered God’s call. Jack said, “God kept troubling me, and I’ll never forget that Saturday afternoon when I was sitting in my rocking chair and looking out the window. God just spoke to me and said, ‘do or die.’ I didn’t want to find out what ‘do or die’ meant. Did He mean die spiritually or die physically? I wasn’t willing to gamble. That’s when I decided to go ahead and do what God called me to do.”
“I was teaching Sunday school at the time,” he continued, “and I decided one day to go talk to my pastor to tell him I had been called to preach. He told me to go home, pray about it, and come back the next week. He wanted to know if I was serious, so I met him at his office again a week later and said I was ready.”
Since then, Jack has become pastor of St. John Baptist Church and has been for the past 25 years. Part of his accomplishments as pastor has been creating such ministries as a nursing home ministry and a prison ministry. The ministries also include Food for Families drives and Red Circle.
“We’re really all about ministry here and reaching out and helping as many people as we possibly can regardless if they’re a member of this church or not,” Jack commented. “That’s what ministry is all about.”
About five years after becoming pastor of St. John’s, Jack heard another call from God to serve the people of Ville Platte. This call was in the political arena. “I became interested in the city council back around 1996 or 1997,” he said. “I just began attending the meetings to see what it was all about and to get a feel for it. In 1997, Curley Dossman, who was at that time the representative for the district, came to me and asked if I would be interested. That was just confirmation from the Lord. He had already impressed it in my spirit to be a part of the political arena, and so I told (Curley Dossman) that I would be interested.
Jack continued, “I went unopposed my first time, and I was, to my knowledge, the first minister in Evangeline Parish to ever be elected to a political office.”
While serving on the city council, Jack had his hand in “a lot of great things that have come to pass” inside the city. As he said, “I’ve seen the pavilion built over at the North Side Civic Center. I was part of that and a part of the beginning of our water project that’s nearly 90-percent complete now. I also had my hand in the upgrades at Hargrove Park and the walking trail that we have there now. I’ve served just to serve.”
Jack’s service is something that he wants to impress onto others. “I try to make other people understand when they run for office that they have two people voting,” he explained. “There are those people voting for you and those who are voting for the other person, but, if elected, you’re elected to serve both parties. That’s the only way to be a good servant. You can’t be a servant being one sided. You have to help as many people as you possibly can. I have helped a lot of people who didn’t even reside in my district because most people don’t know who their district representative is. You have to learn how to help people when you can and where you can and as much as you can.”
After 20 years on the city council, Jack sees the seasons changing in his life and is not seeking reelection for a sixth term. “I’m getting out because I know it’s my season and my time to move on,” he said. “It’s time for some new energy, some new ideas, and new strength from new people. I learned if you stay too long then you lose interest. And, the last thing I want to do is being responsible for the downside of any organization rather than for the upside and the upkeep of it.”
Once his term ends at the end of the year, Jack will devote himself to again being a full-time pastor and to serving the church in greater capacities. “Three years ago, I was elected as president of our district that covers seven parishes, and, as of today, we have 54 active churches in the district,” he stated. In July of this year, I was appointed vice president of our state convention. That installation service will be on October 19 in the Lake Charles area.”
He continued, “I’m stepping out of one commitment and obligation into other commitments and obligations. I’m really not retiring from anything. I’m just moving from one field to the next where God has called me.”
Jack hopes that all of his achievements as pastor and city councilman will be enough for him to enter the same Kingdom of God that he worked for here on earth. “When I stand before God for judgment, I want Him to say that I represented and represented well because that’s what I did whether people were black or white, rich or poor, good looking or not good looking, known or unknown,” he concluded. “If people call and have a need, I try help to the best of my ability. And, I did that.”