I wanted nothing to do with faith. That changed the night I tried to take my own life.
I grew up with idealistic missionary parents who wanted more than punch-a-clock and pay-the-mortgage normalcy. They pursued a ministry life abroad, but after I was diagnosed with leukemia as a child, we were left stateside and struggling financially. We moved a lot—Hawaii, then Nepal, then back to Hawaii, then New Mexico.
For most of my teen years, we lived in Albuquerque, and during that time, I began to resent the ways God allowed us to suffer. I began to think God was cruel, a scarce and mean God who looked the other way when we were in need. My parents gave me space and didn’t force me to go to church with them, but I knew they prayed that I would come to know Christ. My dad would often say, “I believe God has a call on your life, Alia.” But I wanted nothing to do with faith.
Everything changed in the middle of my junior year. My parents got another ministry job offer and moved us back to Hawaii.
When we arrived in Pahoa, my dad surveyed the house the ministry had provided for us. It was unlivable. The house had no plumbing and no interior walls, only a concrete slab pooling with puddles of mosquito-infested water. Heavy green mold scaled the cement ruins and the jungle loomed around the house, unruly vines breaking through shattered windowpanes. No one had flown to the Big Island to inspect the house or property for years, and it had become uninhabitable.
We lived in Nepal in the early ’80s in a dung-style hut, so we’d never be accused of being high maintenance, but this was ridiculous. The ministry agreed to pay half the rent for livable accommodations. But even a month after we moved in, we had no furniture and couldn’t afford to get any now that we had to pay partial rent. We …