Born and raised in Alaska, my mother was from the only Federally recognized Indian Reserve in Alaska – Annette Island Indian Reserve, town of Metlakatla. She met my dad while attending college in Sitka, Alaska. I have three older brothers and a younger sister and adopted younger brother. My parents were both religious. My dad travelled the world with his dad – a presbyterian minister in the military. My mother grew up going to Sunday school and church. Naturally, they brought us up in the church, morning devotions, attending church and Sunday school weekly – participating in vacation bible school, and various other church related activities. Both were Sunday-Keepers. I was water immersed baptized at about age 9. It was done because my brothers were being baptized and I was forced to do it. I didn’t understand baptism – but did what I was told.
I was an observant child. From a very young age I would watch my parents argue while getting ready for church, scream and yell in the car at us kids, park the car and voila they had their “church” persona on smiling and greeting people as if our family was perfect. This started souring me on the whole “church” idea – to which the rebellion started.
We moved from Sitka to Metlakatla when I was five. Going to live on a Reserve was very difficult. The population of the Island consists of mostly full native blood. Because I was not full native, I was referred to as a “half-breed”. My older siblings have the native complexion and black hair so they “fit-in” more than I did.
My mother’s siblings live(d) on the Island with their children. At 5 years old, molestation started by several family members. When I told many adults, I was dismissed and was told “boys will be boys”! At this young age – I prayed many prayers and they went unanswered. This pushed me away from God.
My parents divorced when I was 10 years old. I was a total daddy’s little girl. I did everything with him. I felt safe around him. I was left behind with my mother and the abusers. I felt alone and was mad all the time and I blamed God. I had a very strained relationship with my mother. It was not a healthy relationship. She vented frequently to me about my dad. At 10, I could not understand adult issues. I missed my daddy and wanted to be with him but mostly, I wanted away from the abuse. After begging him to convince my mother it was ok for me to go live with him, she relented, and I moved in with my dad and his new wife. His new wife became my mom. To this day, we are very close.
I never told him about the abuse while living with him. I was ashamed and felt it was best to just leave that business on the island. Things seemed fine, but deep down, I knew it wasn’t. They attended church and I went with them, but I was still mad at God. I was there only because of my parents. I had a new mother and a little brother now and I pushed the past down deep. But, as we all know, it doesn’t go away.
I grew up, graduated, went to college, came back to Alaska – went to work at Merrill Lynch – met my husband. Moved to California, back to Alaska, then to Washington State. Things were great, we were doing well and “planned” to someday have kids. Whenever the topic came up, I’d get defensive. That abused inner child woke up during these conversations and I finally told my husband what happened to me. After Washington State, we moved to Arizona. We have been here since 1995.
Early in our relationship, we decided that we would wait to have kids and continue our careers until we felt “ready”. I shared with my husband the standing joke in my family that I was the one who would have twins. My father was an identical twin, and my siblings joked saying “Judie will have twins”. Alas, we decided we would give it a try. Well, we tried, failed, miscarried, waited, recovered from the sadness of losing the baby – tried and tried again. Every month felt like a failure, especially for me. Lots of prayers, “making deals” saying the baby would be brought up knowing God, promising we would be good parents etc. Nothing happened. We tried everything. Finally, we went to specialists to see if there might be other reasons we couldn’t conceive again. We both received news that the probability of us conceiving had very low odds. There were issues with both of us, but even worse, they said because of a “tilt” I couldn’t carry to term. I blamed God for these issues and my mind went to what had happened to me in childhood, thinking that could have been the reason.
After eight long years, we gave up. Kids were not in our future and we accepted it. We told our families and they were crushed. God had other plans though. A few months passed and I was pregnant! Not only that, a few more weeks passed and I was told it was twins! I learned that God does answer prayers, but in his time not mine. I had to see a neo-natal specialist who specialized in high-risk pregnancies. The babies came early because my son was sitting on his sister’s umbilical cord and was taking all the nourishment. He was 5 lbs. at birth – she was at 2 1/2 lbs. – but dropped to a pound and a half while in the NICU. They were both fighters and were in intensive care for 6 weeks, but they came home. My daughter was a whole 3.5 lbs. when we got to take her home – she was the smallest baby ever released from the NICU. They are 17 years old now and graduate this year!
At first, the children were brought up going to church. Things seemed great God had given us not one but two little blessings. However, in 2007 when the kids were just 2 going on 3, I got some really tragic news. Laying with my daughter every night – reading to her – I felt a soreness where she laid her head. It was up near my clavicle area just below my neck near the left shoulder area. It felt like a knot and I thought it would be best to check it out. I went to the doctor. After many tests and a biopsy, I received news it was Stage IIIC breast cancer! I was crushed and confused. How could breast tissue be so far up near the shoulder/neck area? How could it happen to me? Was I going to die? My family history showed zero cases of cancer. I kept asking God “why me” crying each and every night as I sat alone. It was a very aggressive cancer that required aggressive treatment. After getting a second and third opinion, I began treatment. Round after round of chemo only to be burnt to a crisp with radiation. Finally, I was done with treatments. Because it was a triple negative type of cancer, I did not need any further medications. After the required PET, MRI and CT scans – of which I had many – I was deemed cancer free.
Four years later, I felt another lump. After reliving my earlier cancer days, I thought there was no way I had it again. I had a biopsy and the doctor that did the biopsy got a certain look. I said to her, just be straight with me. I don’t want to wait for days/weeks to find out, does it look like cancer to you. I said I can handle the truth; I can’t handle the waiting. She paused, looked at me for a solid minute, then said yes, it looks like cancer and more than likely is cancer. She said it would have to go to pathology, but in her professional opinion, its cancer. I got the call confirming it was cancer and I had to put that poison back into my body again. I retracted from God and yes, I blamed him. How could he make me a mother only to give me cancer? I fought the cancer battle again and have been cancer free the last 10 years. I drifted further from God; my biological mother passed – my siblings drifted away – I felt I was too far away from God – and I thought he was mad at me for being mad at him.
About two years ago, I had this nagging question that kept randomly popping in my brain. “Why do people not honor the fourth commandment?” I dismissed it, However, that question went from random to daily. I gave in and started researching. I contacted my childhood minister (Anchorage Alaska) and told him about the question I kept hearing and he advised me to go ahead and research. He said do not look at any of the backgrounds for any minister I listened to until after I listened to them. He said you need to figure this out on your own. He did say that I should dismiss E. G. White’s studies and that she was affiliated with SDA. He also told me that “every day is precious to God” So Sunday worship is honoring God. I did not, however, let that sway me in any direction. Every day the question kept popping in my brain. I wanted “truth” and I wanted “bible truth”. I listened to various ministers – understood some, but mostly I wanted an answer so the question would stop pitching a tent in my head.
Most of the ministers I came across got to the fourth commandment discussion and breezed right over it. No details, no information, just a standard “we are saved by grace” or “the commandments were nailed to the cross” answers. I messaged quite a few of them asking them to be more specific. I questioned why, if God is perfect, how could he have made a mistake and now the fourth commandment no longer exists? No one answered me. I grew frustrated. I prayed and prayed asking God to provide me direction in getting this question – he obviously planted – answered.
I was directed to a movie – called from Babylon to America. This film provided so many more answers than I had expected. After viewing the film, I had answers that I could understand. Also, the question about the fourth commandment finally, after two years, went away. I had my answer – the fourth commandment wasn’t done away with. I wanted more information, more answers – more “soul food”. I felt blessed reading and studying God’s word. I had a difficult time understanding what I read at times and sought other ministers/ministries for answers.
Soon, another question came to mind – this time it was about the trinity. I was also trying to understand the books of Daniel and Revelation. From a young age, those two books always intrigued me. I prayed and asked God to point me to someone that teaches from the bible, honors all the commandments, teaches about God the Father and his Son and can explain the holy spirit to me. I knew that there was a better answer out there.
One day, after praying, I immediately typed in the search “Daniel with Revelation” and Revelation with Daniel page appeared. I clicked on it and have been wowed ever since. I actually found someone, through answered prayers, who taught God’s word using God’s word but more importantly, someone I could totally understand “there is a one true God, the trinity is idolatry, The fourth commandment is still in effect. Commandments weren’t nailed to the cross, etc.” . I retain more listening to how Pastor Daniel teaches than any other minister I’ve listened to. Everything makes sense. There are times when it doesn’t, but that is my que to study until it does. Getting to know the Father and his son requires reading his living word. I now do this daily.
I am so glad to have found Daniel and his ministry. I am also thankful that God impressed upon me to find answers about his kingdom. I drifted so far away from him over the years, and I am glad he never forgot me. I communicated with Daniel and shortly after I asked him about baptism and would he baptize me. Daniel came to Arizona to baptize me. I was adopted into the family of God on October 11, 2021.
PS: regarding the molestation, after many years of hurting and prayers, I realized something I had missed all these years. I was molested at age 5 and the one family member was also age 5 – so, how did that 5-year-old boy know how to molest? His parents’ “hush-hush” divorce made sense. I am at peace with it. It also explains why he took his own life. I actually turned the hatred of what he did to me in to empathy. If I wasn’t listened to, perhaps he needed help he didn’t receive. The other two, the older family members killed himself as well and the adult died of a heart attack shortly after I left the Island. I can’t change what happened, I forgave and I am moving forward.
Judie DeLong, AZ, USA