© 2022
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Native American Stories of Resilience

Aaron Kalenze

Aaron Kalenze

Edit | Remove


All text and audio copyright, 2015 by the Native American Development Center ©

Aaron Kalenze:           Hi, my name is Aaron Kalenze. I'm enrolled in the Spirit Lake Sioux Nation. I'm currently residing in Bismarck, North Dakota and I've lived here all my life. I have one little brother. Our mom passed away so it's pretty much just been me and him. Right now I'm currently looking to start a family of my own someday, looking for that one female. I've got my eye on one so far, but we'll see how that turns out. I do have a GED and right now I'm currently working through Bible College through my church to acquire a certificate in Christian Ministry.

Audio File

Complete audio of the interview with Aaron Kalenze.
Edit | Remove


                                    Right now I don't really have a place of work. I am really looking forward to a calling more, so to speak, rather than a job or a career, a place of work that I just love to do every day, I wake up just feeling inspired just to do something I love every day. More than just a means to an end, and something I can actually help give back to society to give rather than take like I've been doing my whole life.

Lorraine Davis:           Thank you, Aaron. That's great. I just wanted to share because you're younger than some of our other interviewees, and I think that's important for our audience to realize that you're a young adult. Can you tell us how old you are?

Aaron Kalenze:           I am 23 years old.

Lorraine Davis:           23 years old, and you have so much wisdom and knowledge, so I really look forward to this interview. You shared a little bit that your mother passed away. How old were you when she passed away?

Aaron Kalenze:           This happened in 2013, so I was just 21.

Lorraine Davis:           21 years old when she passed. How has that impacted you?

Aaron Kalenze:           Well, I have mixed feelings about it every now and then. When it actually happened, I was just getting out of my second trip in prison and it hit me hard. My mom was my rock. She was the only person I knew, really, that could keep me out of trouble, that could keep me at peace, I guess you can say. When I got out of prison, she died just 10 days before I got out of prison. I got out of prison and I was heartbroken and I was at peace because I was told by a friend of our family that Mom, she found Jesus Christ before she passed away, but I was still a wreck. It's like I was at peace, but I was still sad and I was still in mourning.

                                    The day I got out of prison, I was on parole, or probation. I started getting high and started falling back into the drugs and, not necessarily the alcohol, but the drugs. I started becoming that same person that I was before. Then just the whole day, I didn't really say much to anybody about it, I kind of kept it buried, until it got to the point where I was breaking down and I was pretty much crying every day. It's just like, man, I wouldn't admit that to anybody, but that's just how it was pretty much.

Lorraine Davis:           Yeah, so quietly behind closed doors, you were crying. You were really hurting.

Aaron Kalenze:           Yes.

Lorraine Davis:           But you'd cover that up by using and to "get you through it." That's how you dealt with it, so nobody probably really knew that you were really hurting in that way? Is that ...

Aaron Kalenze:           Right. Pretty much. I isolated myself. There's only ... I could count all my friends on one hand basically and sometimes I would isolate myself from them. Just isolation and just being by myself and just ...

Lorraine Davis:           I'm going to kind of backwards now a little bit. What was your ... First let me say, you mentioned you grew up in Bismarck. Who raised you and what was your family status growing up? Did you have Mom and Dad? You mentioned a little brother. Was it just you two? What was your family status?

Aaron Kalenze:           Well, I was pretty much raised by my Mom. My Dad walked out of my life when I was four years old and even though we still kept in contact, I never really had that fatherly figure. Well, I kind of had fatherly figures, but none really worth looking up to. Just that party scene pretty much is how I grew up. I didn't grow up in the church, didn't grow up really knowing my heritage or my culture.

                                    I just kind of grew up in a broken home you can say, and the only real male influence I've had was my little brother's Dad. Him and my Mom, they didn't marry, so it's like to this day, I don't really call him my dad, but he's more of a really good friend. My brother was born and it was just the four of us. We kind of had our own little family.

Lorraine Davis:           Wow. Okay, so did Mom deal with alcohol and drugs kind of thing, too?

Aaron Kalenze:           Yes.

Lorraine Davis:           Okay, so then you mentioned growing up in Bismarck. Is there any other challenges that maybe that you had growing up living here in Bismarck that are profound to you that you want to share? I guess I just want to touch just a little bit, I'm not just looking for negativity, but is there ... What was it like growing up here in Bismarck, for it being a Native American, I guess there's maybe nothing to compare it to because you haven't lived on the reservation?

Aaron Kalenze:           Right.

Lorraine Davis:           That probably is not a good question.

Aaron Kalenze:           Well, as far as ... I've had my difficulties with, it really is kind of what you make it. I grew up and it all goes with influence and whoever you have in your life. If you're going to have a positive influence in your life, then you're going to grow up positive. Other than that, if you don't really have any influences or role models to look up to, you're going to grow up to the people that you're around, and for me it was the potheads, the alcoholics, the meth addicts, all the people who are broken is really all I had as an influence really to look up to.

Lorraine Davis:           You're talking about positive versus negative influences.

Aaron Kalenze:           Pretty much.

Lorraine Davis:           It's going to be one or the other.

Aaron Kalenze:           Pretty much.

Lorraine Davis:           You mentioned role models. That is something the Native American Development Center is focused on is bringing a platform for what would be role models for our young and even just for our own adults. We need to see more of that, otherwise I think the perception is, it's kind of negative. Okay, well thank you for that. I want to go back to the challenges and things. What were the predominant challenges for you, then, I guess growing up? Where did it start? It was pretty much all your life it sounds like, because from the get go you really didn't have positive influence, right?

Aaron Kalenze:           Right.

Lorraine Davis:           And so, what did you learn from that? What is it we can pull out of that?

Aaron Kalenze:           Well, I really learned what not to do, but a person ... I could tell people the path I've been on and tell them what not to do. They're going to do what they're going to do and they're going to have to live that path themselves in order to really find out. You live that path long enough to realize you're going nowhere fast.

                                    That's kind of where I'm at right now, is showing people, being a light to them. I think for me it really was the friends I had, the people I surrounded myself with, and not only that, the people that I grew up with in my household. Just a party scene, people that my Mom and her friends surrounded themselves with and the whole atmosphere basically.

Lorraine Davis:           Basically to be a light in dark places?

Aaron Kalenze:           Yes.

Lorraine Davis:           How do you that? Especially when you've already had the dark place in your own life? How do you overcome that or how do you do that?

Aaron Kalenze:           Well, basically I can't really give you a really solid answer besides bottom line is Jesus Christ. I really found Jesus Christ to really be my rock and just to really guide me out of that darkness. When I had nobody, I didn't know anybody to ... Any one of my friends, any one of my family members really that I didn't know of at the time to really lead me to Jesus Christ. I never grew up in the church, I never really had a spiritual background at all.

Lorraine Davis:           That's amazing. That just really amazes me. What led you to ... If you never grew up with that, where did that seed come from or who drew you to Jesus? How did that happen?

Aaron Kalenze:           Is it all right if I name drop here?

Lorraine Davis:           Well, you don't have to name drop, but the relationship to you. Was it a mentor?

Aaron Kalenze:           Okay. Well, I guess I can't really say what led me to Jesus Christ without telling the whole story, but I'll try to sum it up here for you. Like I said, I grew up and throughout high school, throughout middle school, it wasn't until I got around high school I started getting drunk, smoking weed, getting high, experimenting with all kinds of different drugs, going down that path. I ended up in juvenile placements, like YCC, EPLC, all these different places and getting in trouble, ending up in ... I ended up in a group home here and I became a felon at a young age.

                                    I turned 18 and had a big head thinking that, "I'm 18. I'm an adult now. I'm grown. I can do anything I want." That changed fast. Within a couple of months after I turned 18, I get another felony on my record, something I have to deal with the rest of my life or however long. I ended up throwing my life away again basically and went to prison when I was just 19, 20 years old. I was back in prison, not back in prison, but in prison for the first time. I got out and I told myself I'm not going to blatantly throw my life away this time. I'm going to try to be more sneaky.

                                    I never really had that intention to quit. I just kind of manipulate the system, fake it until you make it. I know I wasn't the only one. I know that there were other people, even though they won't probably admit it, but deep down they're like, "Oh, I can't wait until I get out of here. I'm going to go get drunk, go get high. I'm going to start living that lifestyle again." Then the whole oil boom here in North Dakota really affected me because the methamphetamine, that spread. It spread like wildfire.

                                    Pretty soon I experimented with methamphetamine because I found paraphernalia and I tried it myself. After that I tried to hide it. I'm like, "I'm going to tell nobody about this. Nobody else needs to know." But pretty soon before I know it, everybody was doing it. I couldn't get away from it, so that really sucked me in and not only was I sucked in, but it's sad to say, my Mom was even stuck into that cycle, God rest her soul. My whole family was blown away by it. We were taken captive by it. We were basically hostages in our own home.

                                    Meth has a real big part in my life without, I guess, it really brought me down to the rock bottom, the lowest I've ever been. It's crazy. I really can't explain it to you. Hopefully the way I'm going to break it down, I hope there's someone out there that really can understand because I know I'm not the only one. I've shared my testimony before and I know that other people have the same kind of experiences as I've had, but it's really a spiritual experience. It's something that you can't explain.

                                    I woke up one day and something was different. I seen something with my loved ones, my friends, my family. The people I cherished at heart, I seen something within them that I could not explain and it's bottom line was it was demonic activity, demons. I didn't know it at the time, so I was going through all that, and a friend of mine, he brought me to this man who, he practiced witchcraft. He was a very strange individual and through him, I made a deal with the devil to sell my soul.

                                    After that it's like I invited basically, this meeting, long story short, I invited all kinds of demons into my life and more than I had. Basically their sole purpose was to steal, kill and destroy. I woke up, I didn't see one friend. All I seen was an enemy everywhere I went. There was a helicopter that followed me around for about 3 or 4 days. I can't even explain that.

                                    I was so deep into everything I was doing that I was terrified, didn't know what to do. Before that I had basically, no necessarily blatantly campaigned against secret societies and the occult, but I was aware of it. I wanted to inform my friends and my family and say, "Hey, there's something going on here that we're not paying attention to. Deep down, there's really something going on."

Lorraine Davis:           Looking back at that now, was that true or that's just how you felt at the time?

Aaron Kalenze:           I still find it to be true to this day.

Lorraine Davis:           You do?

Aaron Kalenze:           The Bible says that our war is not against the flesh and blood, but against the principles of darkness, the basically dark spirits, the evil spirits in heavenly places and heavenly realms It's not necessarily the whole physical force behind it, but it was a spiritual force behind it that I was at war against. I didn't know that at the time.

Lorraine Davis:           Wow. My goodness. That is very, very deep. Thank you for sharing that. After having something, an experience like that with demonic activity and this things that you see, where did the breakthrough come through?

Aaron Kalenze:           The breakthrough didn't come in for awhile after that. I felt the loneliness and it's really what happened to my Mom. Her addiction got terrible and that really to this day, it's like, well, we'll get there. I don't know what to say, but I would go into my Mom's room. She would stay up for days at a time and she would try to go to sleep and she would talk gibberish in her sleep. Everything she would say, she would be sleeping but she would just talk just gibberish.

                                    I would walk into her room and she wouldn't be making no sense at all. It got to the point where I'd go in her room, "Mom. Wake up. Mom, snap out of it." She would wake up, look at me, nod her head to acknowledge I was there and she would lay down instantly into her meth-induced seizure, so to speak. Then I didn't know what to do. I really didn't know what to do.

Lorraine Davis:           How old were you at that time?

Aaron Kalenze:           I was probably about 20.

Lorraine Davis:           20. Okay.

Aaron Kalenze:           I didn't know what to do, so I went in my room. All my friends were out in the living room. They were all getting high, doing their thing. I just went in my room and I didn't know what to do. That was my Mom. My Mom was a junkie. Basically I had to go to prison a second time and this is after all these demons were tormenting me and this went on for about a year and a half. Finally ...

Lorraine Davis:           I just need to back up here. They're tormenting you while you're high or all the time?

Aaron Kalenze:           All the time. Even after I got high. That's what I told myself. "Oh, Aaron, you're just hallucinating. You need to sober up." But even after the fact I sobered up, I was still tormented. I'm like, "Okay. This is real. There's something really going on here." I didn't know what it was. I kind of knew what it was at the back of my mind but I didn't at the same time, if that makes sense.

Lorraine Davis:           Yeah.

Aaron Kalenze:           I knew that it was the devil. I knew that the demons and the devil were at war against me, but I didn't know what to do about it. I didn't know Jesus Christ. I didn't know creator God. I didn't know anything other than the devil. I just knew the wickedness. After my Mom died, I get this phone call while I'm in prison from a nurse at Sanford saying, "Aaron, you're at a point in your life where you got to make some decisions. Right now your Mom is on life support."

                                    She's ... Kidneys are failing, liver's failing, she had a stroke, so many things that were going wrong. What do you do? I was and to this day I still am, a Mama's boy somewhat. I still need that mother figure in my life. What do you do? I didn't want to see my Mom suffer, but I didn't want to see her go. Finally it reached that point, I was like, I don't want to see my Mom suffer. Even if she does pull through any of this, she's still going to be suffering.

Lorraine Davis:           Right. Right.

Aaron Kalenze:           Finally I made that decision to pull the plug on my Mom and after that, after she passed away, I felt like the worst person in the world. "Bro, you just killed your Mom," basically. I felt lowest of low, of all people on the Earth.

Lorraine Davis:           Did you have anybody to consult about that decision? An adult, a close family member adult or anything?

Aaron Kalenze:           Pretty much just my little brother's Dad. Both of us, we did not want to make that decision.

Lorraine Davis:           Yeah.

Aaron Kalenze:           We talked to each other. I was in prison and I talked to him over the phone when I was in prison. He was saying, "Aaron," He didn't really say my name at all, but I could tell that he was choked up. "What do you want to do?" Because I told him, "I really don't want to do this. What do you want to do?" He's like, "Well, we'll just let it roll and see. She'll pull through like she always does."

                                    My Mom had a habit of going into the hospital all the time when she was sick. She would get sick, go to the hospital, sit there for a day or two, three days at the most, then come back home. Pretty soon it became a weekly thing. Finally, this one last one, it became evident that she was not going to recover.

Lorraine Davis:           When she would go into the hospital weekly, what were they dealing with?

Aaron Kalenze:           Well, she had diabetes, fibromyalgia, a lot of arthritis, back problems. There were so many health problems wrong with her, even before the meth wore her immune system.

Lorraine Davis:           Okay, yep. I see.

Aaron Kalenze:           Brought her down. Her health, basically, was just ...

Lorraine Davis:           Broke her down quickly.

Aaron Kalenze:           She was only 45 years old.

Lorraine Davis:           Wow, so the breakthrough that comes from this, what ... Because you were 20 at this time?

Aaron Kalenze:           Yes.

Lorraine Davis:           And you're 23 now, so there must have been a breakthrough here some time soon?

Aaron Kalenze:           Yeah. Well, that whole summer after I got out of prison, I was getting high, got back into the meth again, and stayed away from the alcohol. That's a whole different story there. I got a head injury and ended up in the hospital. I thought I was never going to walk again, thought I was never going to talk again, but that's a whole different story. Like I said, I told myself, "If I stay away from alcohol I'll be fine. If I do everything else, I'm good," but that was a lie.

Lorraine Davis:           Yeah. Yeah.

Aaron Kalenze:           Finally, like I said, I got tired of my life. My soul belonged at that point, as far as I'm concerned, my soul belonged to the devil and I'd hear the devil whispering in my ear. "Don't even think about getting out of this. You belong to me now. You try to get out of this, I'm going to expose you. I'm going to ruin you. I know secrets about you that nobody else knows. You try to get out of this, I'm going to ruin you." Finally, I got to the point where it's like, "You know what? I don't even care anymore. I don't care. Go ahead. Do what you're going to do." I'd sit there and I'd hear these demons and finally I got to the point where, "I'm tired of living this life." To me, suicide was an option. I did consider suicide a lot. I thought about, "What would this world be like if I was not here?" But eventually it's like, "You know what? You know it’s like, there's got to be a better way. There's definitely got to be a better way."

Lorraine Davis:           That's the Holy Spirit speaking in you that's saving your life, because you're here today.

Aaron Kalenze:           Pretty much. Finally one day, it's like, I talked to, well he's a brother in Christ right now. At the time, he spoke over my Mom's funeral and stuff, and him and this other lady, both of them are friends of the family that have been there for a while. I just didn't really know at the time. This lady who really kind of planted the seed, from her, when she planted the seed when I was in the hospital for my head injury, she really spoke into my life. She gave me my first Bible.

                                    Before that, I just remember sitting there, sitting down in my room and I got tired of it all. I'm like, "Dear God, you got to do something. You got to, please God, you got to help me. You got to do something because if you don't help me, I'm going to be at the point of no return." At that point I was really concerned for my spiritual health and eternity, because I started thinking, "What is the point in life? We can't really ... Are we really here to live, pay bills, and die? There's got to be more to it than that."

                                    I was really concerned. I'm like, "What if I'm wrong? What if I'm wrong and Hell is for real? What if Heaven is for real? What if it all is for real and I'm wrong?" I'd rather live my life following Jesus Christ and to die and to figure out I was wrong than to live my life without a savior, then die and find out that there is one there.

Lorraine Davis:           Mm-hmm.

Aaron Kalenze:           Basically, I'd rather waste my life than waste my eternity. That's how I thought about it. Pretty soon I started reading the Bible every day and I was tormented to that point. I started getting tormented more and more. They didn't want me reading that Bible. A person might read the Bible and not understand anything it says. It's until you really live it and really experience it for yourself that you start reading the Bible and all those words are going to make sense. I don't know. I really had to cut myself off.

                                    It was a real, it was a sacrifice. I had to cut myself off from my friends. Not that I didn't love them, but it's like I love myself to the point where I have to get out of here. I have to get out of this life, and I'm still in the same house that I was at, where the drugs, the alcohol, everything. I'm still surrounded by that atmosphere right now to this day. I just had to, I just let myself in my room, read my Bible, and get closer to Jesus Christ, get closer to creator God and his son because if I hadn't separated myself from my friends, there would have been compromise eventually.

                                    I would have gotten high and started drinking possibly again. I had to make a sacrifice. I gave up the meth and I gave up the marijuana. I gave up even smoking cigarettes, even the secular music that I was listening to. I had to quit listening to that all and let it go because I know I didn't hear the music. All I heard was the devil talking to me. I can't listen to this music. I couldn't even watch TV. I couldn't do anything really, without hearing the spiritual realm. There was something there that, there definitely was a world there that I could not see. I can't make this up. This is my experience and everything I went through.

Lorraine Davis:           Mm-hmm.

Aaron Kalenze:           I told my testimony to people and they were like, "Aaron, you're crazy. You're nuts. You're just ..." I'm like, "Okay, bro. You believe what you want to believe." It's just what I went through and my testimony of the things that I have seen and I went through. I gave my all to Jesus Christ, just surrendered everything to him. "Lord, I'm sick and tired of my life. I'm done living this life and I want a better one."

                                    It wasn't until I gave up my all and denied myself, died completely to the life that I was living, to the life that I desired, the money, the drugs, all that stuff. My status as an individual here in society, I gave it all up. It got to the point where it's like, "I don't even care about my life. I'm going to live it for something else."

                                    That something, someone else was Jesus Christ. I started living my life for him, I started really getting to know him every day and he changed my life around. I've been used for evangelism across the United States. I've went to nine different reservations last summer just proclaiming the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ. That was a life-changing experience and really, it's like I've never really had true joy, true happiness and true contentment with where I'm at until I met Jesus Christ.

                                    Right now, I'll be honest, I don't really have a place of my own that I call home. I don't really have a lot really to look forward to in life right now. I really, I'm at the bottom still. All I really have is Jesus Christ and that's all I really need. I'm content with where I'm at. I don't have the big shiny house. I don't even have a car of my own. I can't even get my license yet. I have a felony on my record, that really messes with a lot of things.

Lorraine Davis:           Let's talk about something, though. You have Jesus and you have a spirit of hopefulness, you have a spirit of gratitude. I think you have a spirit, you have wisdom. Just, you're 23 and you've been through so much and you've seen the other side, you've seen the dark side, a very, very dark side. Now today, you're able to look through a different lens. It's dimensional, would you say?

Aaron Kalenze:           Definitely it is.

Lorraine Davis:           You're here. Like you mentioned you're in the same place, the same apartment, the same and you could look out a different lens than you could before you accepted Jesus Christ. That is so powerful because I think that there's so many people out there, young and old, who have not ever experienced that, letting Jesus Christ enter their heart and their life and letting him lead. That that is really where the true solidarity comes from.

Aaron Kalenze:           Pretty much. A lot of people don't agree with what the Bible says, but Jesus Christ himself said that he is the way and he is the truth and he is the light. No one goes to the father but through him. I tried it all. I tried the drugs, I tried every means of escape and all the brokenness was still there. It never really left. I really can't explain it, but it's just he is the only real way to that joy. Not necessarily happiness, because happiness is temporary.

                                    If I could draw an analogy between happiness and joy, picture you're driving down the road, you hit a green a light, you go past it. "Oh, hey, I got a green light." You're happy. You hit another green light. You keep getting these green lights and you're happy as you hit these green lights and finally you hit one red light and, "Aw, man." Your happiness is gone. Joy, on the other hand, is you hitting all these green lights and you come to that one red light. You stop there and you're like, "Oh, well. It is what it is. At least I got all those other green lights." You rejoice because you only had to stop once.

Lorraine Davis:           Yeah. Good analogy.

Aaron Kalenze:           My brothers in Christ share that with me and I live that to this day. I'm like, "Wow, that's something else." Because the way I look at it, happiness is temporary but joy is eternal. My joy's in the Lord because nobody can take that away from me. The devil will try to steal it from me and every now and then he succeeds, but it's greater is him that is in me than he that is in the world.

                                    Right now, I'm really working on ministry and bringing the power of God in a whole different perspective. Our people are a visual learner. You can tell them to read the Bible all day until you're blue in the face, but until they really see it firsthand, like Jesus Christ did when he was in, while he walked, working these miracles, working casting demons out, all this stuff, the kingdom of Heaven. That's the message that I think is really preached today in the church is the kingdom of God and Christ being preached, rather than, sorry to say what I'm about to say but getting our ears tickled basically.

                                    It comes down to hard truth. I'm really trying to walk a lifestyle right now that a lot of people really don't dare to do. Basically it's ... I try to die to myself every day and I'm not successful. I still fail every day according to God and his standards. If we are to measure ourselves to other human beings then it's a vain pursuit. It's very endless and meaningless. I really came to the point in life where, "What is the point of everything? Everything is meaningless." I finally realized there's nothing better for me to do that is actually meaningful than serve Jesus Christ and follow through with the plan that God has for my life, the plan that he has for me right now.

                                    That's kind of what I do right now. I really feel a special place in my heart for those who are addicted to substances like the meth, marijuana, the alcohol, pills, whatever it is. I feel a special place in my heart for them because I've went through that life, I've seen what it did to my Mom, I've seen my friends, a lot of my old friends are still stuck in that lifestyle. I try to elevate above it all and just show them that, "Hey, there is a way. I know the one that can get you out of that mess."

Lorraine Davis:           Mm-hmm.

Aaron Kalenze:           You just got to believe. You just got to believe it's real. The hope will come when you believe it's true. Right now I'm really going into ministry and just, I'll do ministry down on the Standing Rock reservation with my cousin and really trying to grow to be a leader in the church. It's wherever the Lord wants me right now. Like I said, I don't really have a career or means to an end right now, but God will provide and that's where I'm at right now really.

Lorraine Davis:           Wow. What do you think, what do we need here in Bismarck-Mandan that would help Native Americans to come out of addiction or all these different challenges, broken homes? What do we need here that would help them?

Aaron Kalenze:           That is a very good question. I really don't know. I only have one answer, but they really got to live that life for themselves. That life is to ... My answer is Jesus Christ. That's the only person, the only answer I can think of. Honestly, that's all I, the only answer I got. As far as that goes, a lot of it goes with role models.

                                    If you can influence them, while they're really young, influence the people while they're young, there's a good chance that, an even better chance. But while they're at those teenage years, even in their adult years, or elderly years, they're more hard-headed. It's going to be more difficult for them to really accept, especially if they're brought up in traditional ways. It's going to be not quite as easy for them to accept a man who died on the cross for us. It's not going to be so simple.

Lorraine Davis:           Well thank you, Aaron. That is just a powerful story. You had lots to share there and you explained a lot and very articulate in detail. Thank you for that. I think you've touched on everything. One last question. Today, and you mentioned that you're seeking God's calling on your life right now. You have no place to really call your own.

Aaron Kalenze:           Right.

Lorraine Davis:           You don't have transportation to do what you need to be doing.

Aaron Kalenze:           No. Right.

Lorraine Davis:           You don't have children, though. Is that right?

Aaron Kalenze:           Right.

Lorraine Davis:           You have an opportunity to take care of yourself before that happens, so what would help you in a more physical sense? If there was resources in this community that would help you with those challenges, what would help you? How would you see that?

Aaron Kalenze:           Well, right now, I'm stuck in the system, so to speak. I have a felony on my record. I know that really affects job hunting, looking for work, looking for decent work. I have just the GED, don't have really much of an education and that really is a barrier. You got to have a diploma or something for pretty much a lot of things, a lot of the good, actual careers and actual jobs that are going to make a living here in North Dakota.

                                    I don't have a degree or diploma or any kind of education like that. I know that there's a difference between education and intellect, between book smarts and actual wisdom and knowledge, but a lot of employers don't really care about that as long as they see that paperwork on your file. Like I said, the felony, the criminal record. Also my driver's license and all that stuff. I can't get that until September of this year.

Lorraine Davis:           It's suspended?

Aaron Kalenze:           Yes.

Lorraine Davis:           Okay.

Aaron Kalenze:           What else here? Just, yeah, the transportation.

Lorraine Davis:           That's helpful. That's good information. As far as housing, well if you can't have a job then you can't pay for rent, right?

Aaron Kalenze:           Right.

Lorraine Davis:           Transportation is the first step.

Aaron Kalenze:           Right.

Lorraine Davis:           What about, you mentioned a GED. I believe that United Tribes, for example, they accept GEDs to go to school. I didn't know if you were aware of that or not.

Aaron Kalenze:           No.

Lorraine Davis:           But your calling is ministry work.

Aaron Kalenze:           Yeah. Even if I could do counseling, just talking with people. That's the kind of thing, I've never really been good at anything, except for listening, talking to people, giving them the best of my advice. Sometimes I'll admit that I can't really give advice, but for the most part, I'll give people the best advice I can. As far as, I know if I have my transportation, that woman in my life right now that's in my life, she's the one, she's basically my only transportation that I have. She has her own job and she has her own things to take care of.

                                    I don't know ... Really that license is really a barrier to me right now and I can't really get my life started until I have that license. I know North Dakota Teen Challenge, I was not really talking to them directly but through somebody else I was talking, they said they needed good people to really know the Lord and just to work the program, just to be ... I don't really know the job description there but like I said, I really feel the call, not only to ministry.

                                    Here's the thing I look at, it's not only will just ministry and serving people at the same time, but also a means to an end at the same time. It's all in one. Me being able to reach out to those who are addicted, to speak into their life and just to really serve them. Even if it wasn't necessarily that, if it was just counseling, just talking with people. Like I said, I don't really have a degree in psychology or anything like that or addiction counseling, but it's just, I don't know.

Lorraine Davis:           It sounds like a support group for Native Americans, that would be definitely a place where, for example, the center would call on you. Is there any last words that you would like to share before we end our interview? That person hurting right now, lost in drugs, alcohol, and don't have Jesus. What would you tell them?

Aaron Kalenze:           I would tell them that there is a better way out there. Don't give up and don't turn to suicide. There is definitely a better way out there if you're willing to try, if you're willing to give it a try. It's going to take a sacrifice, but I promise you this. I know that Jesus Christ, that he can fix everything that you're dealing with. That hole in your heart that you're trying to fill, that's only a hole that Jesus Christ is able to fill. Nothing else will be able to fill that. No amount of drugs, no amount of alcohol, nothing. Even relationships, no matter what.

                                    Nothing will be able to fill that hole in your heart but Jesus Christ. Don't give up because there definitely is hope. Like I said, the hope will come when you believe it's true. I've walked this path before and it ain't good at all. It's not pretty. Just keep your head up. I know times are hard and there's going to be some things that make you want to ... A lot of people won't confess this, but that make them want to cry, make them just want to scream at the top of their lungs, but the bottom line is, the only words that I have to say is don't give up. There is one way out there, the only way that a lot of people haven't tried yet and that is Jesus Christ and following him.

                                    He is creator God's son. I do believe that. You give him your all, you give him your life right now. You just cry out to him right now. Say, "Jesus, I don't know you," or maybe you have known him and you left that path, but just call out to him and say, "Jesus, I need help. I really need you." You say that with all sincerity on your heart, you say that and I promise you he will answer you. It might sound like he's not really there. it might seem like he's just ... You might scream at the top of your lungs, and all of a sudden just silence, you might not get an answer, but I promise you he will answer.

                                    I know this. I went through this path and you hear the good news and the good news is God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, gave him up, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved for it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and with your mouth that you confess and are saved. That's my advice.

Lorraine Davis:           Thank you, Aaron. I enjoyed your interview.


Related Content