Derek's Story

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Growing up, I looked up to my older brother as a role model. Every little brother does. My brother was in a gang, and I wanted to do whatever he wanted to do. By the time I was ten years old, I joined a gang. At the age of eleven, I started selling drugs at my school. I felt bad. Not only was I a seller, I was a user. The gang I was in was like a family to me.

My Mom and Dad had no clue what I was doing. One day, they found out the hard way when I got kicked out of school. By age fifteen, things got even worse. My older brother actually got out of the gang, and decided to change. I told him, “Whatever, man! I looked up to you as a role model, but I see. I’m the one that’s going to have to do it now!”

Then I attended my first Warrior Leadership Summit Conference. I went with a bad attitude. I didn’t want to meet anybody, or talk to anyone. I just walked with my chin up and was like, “I ain’t going to talk to you guys.”

God spoke to me that week, and I really wanted to change my life, but I didn’t. I got back to my reservation and I started doing the things I always did: Drugs, drinking, party every night, wake up every morning with this hangover.

At that time I was living with my Grandmother. Every day, my Grandma would say, “Are you going to do this the rest of your life?” I told her, “No, eventually I’ll stop.”

My grandma persisted, knowing I was on the wrong path. She told me, “If you really do love me, go back to church. I want you to change. I don’t want you to be this person. I don’t want you to do that no more.” Then, my grandma passed away.

I was devastated.

When Grandma died I blamed everything on God. I blamed God for all that He took away in my life. I asked Him, “Why did You take the sweetest lady in my life? Why did You take her?”

A year later, I went back to Warrior Leadership Summit for a second time. Again, I just sat there and didn’t really listen. I was always in the room, but had my iPod on, listening to music. There was one point when I turned the music off long enough to hear the speaker, Ron Hutchcraft, share from the stage, “If you want a new life, if you want a new beginning, it starts right here at the bottom of the stage. If you really want to change, if you really want to commit your life to God, come now…” I thought to myself, “I want to do that, but I don’t know. If I get back to the rez, I will probably be the same way.” And I just ignored it. Again.

But the feeling persisted. Something was speaking to my heart saying, “You need to go there. You need to fill that hole you feel. You can’t take everything out on your family or your parents.” The voice inside of me kept getting louder and louder, saying, “Go up there now. I want you to do what I want you to do now. You’ve always done what you want to do in life.” I fell to my knees and started praying.

Soon I felt this sense of security and lightness come into my body. The chains were gone. I felt so light, so relaxed. I felt like I could finally go and talk to people, tell them how much God had done in me, and how much He can do for anybody else.

I realized what God did when He took my Grandma away - God gives life and He can take it away.
Then I was challenged to join the On Eagles’ Wings team, and tell others about this hope I had found in Jesus. I thought, “Yes, I want to do that. I want to go to different places!”

That summer, I traveled with the On Eagles’ Wings team, sharing about this new hope in my life. I saw how much God can do for me and through me. I’m amazed at everything the Lord has done in my life and can’t help but give my life to him through service in gratitude.