This is the first post in a series of personal profiles for those on the streets in Whiteclay. We hope that series gives a new perspective on the situation in Whiteclay Each person has their own story, their own struggle, and their own dreams.
David Whiteface - A Warrior's Return
By Marsha Bonfleur
David has spent every day of the past four years of his life drinking on the streets of Whiteclay, but no one noticed. Unlike the other regulars on the street, David is not loud; he is not crude; he is not violent. Instead, he is a man with a quiet spirit who drinks his beer leaning against “his spot” on the fence every morning until the afternoon sun chases him across the street to his spot of shade. To the casual onlooker, David is invisible.
One Tuesday night, during our weekly N.O.A.H. dinner time, David was sitting alone with an almost empty paper plate. He isn’t someone I would usually search out, but the gentle voice of the Spirit said, “Pray for him.” I sat down next to him, fully expecting him to get up and walk away, and asked if he would like me to pray. He quickly bowed his head, and even though his baritone voice has the ability to easily be heard in a crowd, I had to strain to hear his soft reply. He simply said, “Yeah, I wanna see my son.” He went on to explain that on the day his wife was buried four years ago, he left the funeral, walked from Pine Ridge across the Nebraska border to Whiteclay and never returned. “Now I can’t go back. They won’t let me see him because I’m a drunk.”
As I put my hand on his head to pray, I felt a gentle warmth and envisioned the Holy Spirit trickling down, flooding through his body, washing away decades of hurt. I prayed that God would hear his cry, heal his ravaged body, and remove the searing pain that had held him in bondage far too long. I asked that he would be restored to his family, and that he would become the strong Lakota warrior and father God had created him to be. Trying to hide his tears, he whispered a quick, “Thanks,” and got up to leave. As I watched him walk away, God placed a confident assurance in my heart that things would never again be the same for this gentle man.
That awareness was confirmed a few weeks later when an acquaintance from Tulsa felt led to stop by unexpectedly for a visit. He was on a tight schedule but took the time to walk the street and pray with our Warriors. Quite unexpectedly he called to say that he was taking one of the men to City-County Detox in Rapid City. It wasn’t until later that evening that I learned the man he took to treatment was David. Suddenly, I knew that although he was invisible to the rest of the world, his Creator had never lost sight of David.
During the next week, I spoke with David, his detox counselor, and the intake coordinator at a nearby¬¬ 30-day treatment facility several times each day. Every form was completed, every test was checked and double-checked; every provision was made to ensure a seamless transition from detox to treatment. When he arrived, however, he was denied entrance. It was at that moment I realized that David was indeed no longer invisible – he was on Satan’s radar as well.
The past several months have been grueling as we’ve fought to get David a birth certificate, a tribal ID number and a social security number. To date, we have been able to secure everything he needs in order to be admitted to treatment except his social security card; it has been months since we sent in the paperwork. Just when God knew he needed encouragement, however, David’s 12 year-old son’s guardian brought him to Whiteclay – it was the first time they’d seen each other since the funeral four years ago. This has made David’s resolve unshakable. Every time he sees me checking the mail, he waits, and every time I have to tell him it hasn’t arrived, he says, “I hope it comes tomorrow. I gotta get outta here.” David’s prayer is to be able to raise his son to be a football player, to go to college, to have a life-sustaining job – all the things he’d hoped his life would be.
We firmly believe that God will make a way where there seems to be no way for David. We firmly believe that God is lining up every circumstance; that on exactly the right day David’s social security card will arrive and that he will be admitted to the right detox/treatment facility. We firmly believe that David will then be able to return to be a father to his son. We firmly believe that God will restore David to be the strong, Lakota warrior He created him to be – a man who will stand for and lead others to know Jesus as their Savior.
Would you please add your prayers with ours and stand firm with us in confident assurance until that day?