From Desparation To Freedom

By Donna Ireland, Lumbee and African American. We are grateful for Donna’s permission to post her hopeful journey from despair to freedom in Creator’s Son Jesus. (Donna is preparing to complete a Crossroads Discipleship Training School at YWAM Tyler, TX and feels called to serve among Native people)


Donna Ireland with Son Emmanuel

My name is Donna. I am 39 years old and I have a seventeen-year-old son. When I was 6 weeks old a loving Christian couple adopted me. I am half African American and half Native American. My parents are Caucasian. My parents adopted a boy from South America and they have a biological son. My family went to church every Sunday. We went on family vacations.

On the outside my family appeared great. On the inside we were not great. My dad struggled with alcoholism. He was a great provider but he was hard to live with. When I was in middle school the most important thing to me was fitting in with the crowd. I felt different then other kids, I felt a void in my life. In my early teens I thought I found where I belonged. I found a crowd that smoked marijuana, cigarettes and drank alcohol. We hated life and authority. I rebelled against my parents and God. I cursed my mother out daily. I thought I was invincible. I was angry at my birth parents and took it out on any one who tried to love me. I had cool friends. I went to all the keg parties and I fit in.

I didn’t know than that a lifestyle of partying would turn into a life lived in desperation. I became desperate for a drink, desperate to get high, and desperate for someone to love me. My spirit was desperate for Jesus. He was calling me, but I was to busy being desperate for the wrong things to hear his voice.

When I was 22 I gave birth to a son. I wasn’t married. I thought having a baby might fill the emptiness I felt. My addictions took the place of my son. My parents adopted him after the state took my parental rights away from me. During this time my father quit drinking and rededicated his life to Jesus. I should have followed his lead but instead I made the streets my home. I slept behind dumpsters, in bushes, and at stranger’s houses. I smoked crack every day. I drank beer from the time I woke up until I went to sleep. I would stay awake for days. I lived like this for about four years. My parents lived a few miles away from me, but I didn’t think I had a problem and I liked the way I was living. My parents finally convinced me to enter into a detox center. I weighed 90 pounds. I was so weak that I was in a wheel chair the first few days. After detox I went into a one-year faith based rehabilitation center.

It was there that I found my healer and my Savior. I found what was missing in me all along. His name is Jesus Christ. I surrendered my life and my will to Jesus. When I surrendered to Jesus he forgave me for all that I did. I am a new creation today. I graduated Bible School. I have worked in full time addiction ministry. I am healthy. God is working on my relationship with my son. My relationship with my parents has been completely restored.

Jesus has done amazing things in my life within five years. If he can do these things for me imagine what he can do for you. Jesus has a plan for you. There is hope for everyone. I pray that you will surrender your life to Jesus and receive the wonderful plans he has just for you.

I did awful things in my addiction and God forgave me. When I surrendered my life to Jesus he wiped away all my sins.

No matter what you’ve done or where you come from you are beautiful in God’s eyes. You are important and you deserve an abundant life in Jesus. Jesus has a glorious plan waiting for you. He’s just waiting for you to call on him.

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11)


“I will fight no more—forever!”

October 8, 2009

The doctor entered the room, preparing to give me the exam required by US Immigration authorities. Quickly his questions turned personal. Why was I here, what was my job?

I briefly stated that I was working with a Christian non-profit organization seeking to walk with and work among Native people in the area. His reply dumbfounded me. He said something like this: “I don’t know what Native Americans want, we, (obviously referring to his Caucasian ancestors) won fair and square.” I was taken aback by his rather calloused and simplistic reply. Unfortunately, not being too quick-witted, it was only later that I could think of what I wanted to reply. “Maybe you won—but there was nothing “fair” and “square” about it!

Chief Joseph's surrender at Bear Paw

Chief Joseph's surrender at Bear Paw

On Monday, October 5, 2009, our Nez Perce neighbors commemorated the 132nd anniversary of the Battle at Bear Paw, Montana. Here, their fighting retreat ended with Chief Joseph’s heartrending surrender to Generals Miles and Howard. It marked the culmination of their almost four month long flight, fraught with many “unfair” battles, hardships and losses of warriors, children and elders. It all had started at White Bird Canyon on June 17, 1877, when a hothead civilian volunteer engaged the US Army and the Nez Perce, who had approached under a white flag of truce, in battle, by firing the first shot.

Is it not high time that we shed ignorant and simplistic attitudes about historic events and begin to deal with the reality of what happened, not by re-writing history, or by trying to “explain away” what happened, but by squarely facing the hard and difficult truth, warts and all?

Unfortunately, what has happened cannot be undone; however we can learn from history and commit to not let injustices go on or happen again. We can begin to identify with the loss and pain that our Nez Perce neighbors are reminded of on days like this. We can choose to treat them with the dignity and honor Creator has endowed them with. They are the First Americans and they are the Gate-keepers of this nation.

Chief Joseph (Nez Perce)

Chief Joseph (Nez Perce)

From Creators Word to us we know that transforming change begins with the recognition of wrong, and honest repentance, (change of mind and then of action). While it is impossible for me to even imagine the agony and suffering Nez Perce families are reminded of on this day, I want to express my sorrow over the injustice they suffered and identify with the sins of my forefathers. I know, it will not bring their ancestors back, restore the lives and land lost, but I commit myself to walk beside you, to speak up against unrighteousness and injustice and to add my small contribution to a better present and future for you. Most of all, I trust and pray that the Judge of all the earth, will do what is just! (Genesis 18:25)

By: Volkhard Graf

Father, Faith & Family


Recently, (June 21, 2009) our local area newspaper, the Lewiston Morning Tribune published a great article on the Picard family (Nez Perce) from Lapwai. They share how Jesus helped them through the tragic events in which they lost two of their sons within a year, and how he continues to use them to bring wholeness to their sons friends. If you like to find out more about their journey see this document:

Father, Faith

Stories of two Native American Men

He’ll be dead by Christmas, unless…

7tkamiahThe following are recollections, excerpts of letters and conversations with Newton Bohanan, Nez Perce, 32. Thank you, Newt for allowing us to tell your story. May it encourage many! Since his dramatic life and death experience Newton has already been a huge blessing to many by his enthusiasm and love for God. Volkhard Graf

I had heard some stories about him, but never met him in person. The descriptions I’d heard seemed to fit the stereotypical picture of a Native American male. He was known as a person who you’d have to be lucky to meet in a sober condition.
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