There are times when God’s Holy Spirit works through believers in Christ Jesus much like rocket fuel (see Your God-Given ‘Sweet Spot’). Then again, we may find ourselves faithfully exercising our spiritual gifting yet feel wiped out and ready to quit. Today, we’re interviewing someone who knows what it’s like to be on both ends of the spectrum and glean some of what she’s learned when the going gets tough.

 

  

 Before we hear from Deborah, a little background.

She lives and works on the White Mountain Apache Reservation alongside her full-blooded Apache husband, Veldon. Deborah has the gift of faith.

God impressed it upon her to leave the Midwest and go to Whiteriver, Arizona when she was in her forties. Deborah was on her own, had never heard of the place, nor seen an Apache. Nevertheless, in faith, she went.

Pretty much everybody thought she was crazy.

When arriving in Whiteriver, Deborah visited an Apache church. A woman there gave her permission to pitch her tent on her property (and yes, you read that correctly). Winter soon arrived and, with it, cold and snow. The woman whose property she was on would come out in the mornings and call, “White lady, are you still alive?” Deborah shares that some mornings, they were both a little surprised to find she was.

  

June: You’ve now been in Whiteriver for over 20 years. Deborah, what did you find when you arrived there, and what did God have you do?

Deborah: Despite it being a beautiful place with beautiful people, there being churches, a school, medical facility, and other resources, I saw hopelessness everywhere. Alcoholism was and is a problem. Gangs are deadly and begin recruiting kids in first and second grade. Suicide and murder rates are high. Unemployment is rampant. Demonic activity is strong and out in the open. I started the Hope Center to give food, clothing, counseling, hold Bible studies, disciple new believers, and work to facilitate better coordination between the small reservation churches.

J:  That sounds daunting. Can you tell our readers if you ever felt as though God was working through you supernaturally?

D:  Oh, yes. God did miracle after miracle right before my eyes. And, as strong as the spiritual forces of darkness are that work among many of these dear people, they can’t compare to the greater works of God I’ve seen: unbelievable things!

 J:  But nearly two years into it, you were ready to leave Whiteriver and never look back. Would you mind sharing with our readers what happened?

D:  Well, I’m fairly tough but wondered more than once if I could handle this. At that particular time, I’d been having a Bible study and working with some Jr. and Sr. High girls at the Hope Center. I organized a weekend event for the girls and one who came was demonically possessed. She had some interest in Jesus, but didn’t want to make a complete break with the demonic world. I talked and prayed with her, but her mind and heart were divided. When I gave her a ride home, I shared again that God loved her. That was on a Sunday.

      At a church prayer meeting the next Thursday, I received a frantic call that she had hanged herself. She was dead.

       I was devastated. I hadn’t been able to help her and now she was gone. I drove to her mother’s house to try and support her through the shock and pain.

      The next morning, I told God I was done. I couldn’t take it anymore. Kids and adults you loved and cared for got murdered. Others committed suicide. Some lay drunk by the roadside. It was too much. I got into my car to drive off and leave for good.

J:  And?

D:  The car wouldn’t start; the engine wouldn’t even turn over. And I knew it was God’s doing.

       I’m fairly handy and tried everything I knew to get the car running, but nothing worked. I went back and tried several times through the day. ‘Fine’, I thought. ‘I’ll have a mechanic come and look at it.’ Well, I did and he couldn’t find anything wrong.

   

      I was mad at God and kept trying to leave Whiteriver. One day turned into two, then three. For four or five days I kept working to get that car to run and it was the same “nothing” every time.

J:  I’m sorry, Deborah, but I love this part of the story. Tell our readers what happened next.

D:  I finally gave in. I told God I’d stay. I also mentioned my need for groceries and asked if He would please make the car start so I could at least go to the store?

J: I never know whether to laugh or cry, here. And I’m sure everyone can guess what happened. But let’s hear it anyway, my friend!

D:  Oh, I had no doubt that car was going to run. And, sure enough, it fired right up! God was just waiting for me to say “Okay, I’ll stay!”

  

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Right down to vehicles not performing…

  

J:  Deborah, what advice can you give us? I mean, you’ve experienced God’s power working like rocket fuel through you, yet you know what it is to wrestle with God in weakness and agony of soul. How did He challenge or help you through that time? And all the years since then?

D:  God was very clear right after I gave in to Him that I had been thinking about myself an awful lot:

      What I wanted.

      How I felt.

      What I thought I could do.

      What I failed to accomplish.

      He led me to Proverbs 3:5-6, which states: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” My advice to everyone is to make this a foundational part of your thinking and in the faithful exercise of your spiritual gifts.

      No matter how many tragedies affect me and Veldon or the number of times our hearts have taken a beating, this truth remains: God has allowed us to be instrumental in watching Him move people from the realm of spiritual darkness into eternal light and relationship with Him. And it doesn’t matter that we are weak, because He is strong. There will be many Apache brothers and sisters around the throne of God, joyfully praising His name! And helping only one to know and trust in Jesus would have been worth it all.

Join me in thanking Deborah and Veldon Clendon, the volunteers at the Hope Center in Whiteriver, Arizona, and my sweet Apache brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. We know how the story ends!

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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