When others saw 'dumb Indian' girl, missionary says God saw 'princess'

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Alpha Goombi was 27 years old when she became a Christian. It would not have happened, she said, if a missionary had not been sent to her region with Annie Armstrong and Cooperative Program funds to lead her to Christ.

Today Goombi is a North American Mission Board missionary working in Nebraska with her husband, Ron.

She shared her testimony as part of the 2004 Missions Celebration and National Woman's Missionary Union Annual Meeting in Indianapolis June 13-14.

"At age 27, I was attending the University of Oklahoma with my husband," she said. "I was majoring in drama, and it was my intention after I earned my degree to leave my husband and go to the stage either in Hollywood or in New York City and be the first Native American actress to win the Academy Award. That was my aspiration."

Goombi said she married her husband to get out of poverty. Ron Goombi came from a good Christian family among the Kiowah Indians. She said she had no self-esteem at that time.

"When I was a girl growing up in southwest Oklahoma in a dusty little farming community, I was not allowed to be a member of First Baptist Church because of the color of my skin," she said. "As I grew up it was really hard because I was told I was nothing but a dumb Indian."

When Goombi was in the first grade, she heard her teacher say, "I don't want any dumb Indians in my class." In the second and third grades, her teachers told her she didn't have the ability to learn and she would not amount to anything.

But she told the WMU participants she really believed what her mother and father told her: She could do anything if she would set her heart to it. So she went to college in southwest Oklahoma.

"When I was there," she said, "the dean of the college called me into her office and said, 'Alpha, I don't know why you're here, because all you can ever amount to is becoming a drunk. You don't have the ability to learn because you're just an Indian.'

"I thought this woman must be right, so I took up drinking to numb the pain from being told just about every day from some white person that I would never amount to anything."

Goombi's uncle sexually abused her as she was growing up, but the prejudice was much worse than the abuse, she said.

"Even today as we work on three Indian reservations in Nebraska, we still see many churches around those reservations closing their doors," she said. "The world is at our doorstep, but many doors are closed to the world that's right outside our backyard."

While Goombi was a student at the University of Oklahoma, a missionary came to her hometown near Norman. His name was Eddie Lindsay, and he was a full-blooded Creek Indian.

"I was so angry and so lost," she recalled. "I hated white people so much. Bro. Lindsay came at an important time in my life when I was really lost. That man came to our door every week with a big smile, and I just wanted to slap that smile off.

"My mother-in-law began to pray for my salvation, along with my father-in-law and my mother. I had gone deep into the depths of alcoholism."

Every weekend Goombi left her husband and young son and went out to get drunk. On Sunday mornings, she would either be passed out or gone from their home. Ron and their son would go looking for her and take her home again.

"One weekend after the missionary had come and invited us once again to go to that Indian mission in Norman," she said, "I got in a doozy of a fight with my husband and I screamed at him, 'I don't want to be a wife! And furthermore, I don't want to be a mother!'

"When I said that, my son walked into the room -- my 5-year-old son -- and at that moment something made me turn around to look at my son. I was always careful not to argue in front of my son, but he walked into the room as I was ranting and raving. My son stood there and looked at me with big tears rolling down his cheeks.

"Before those tears hit the ground, I came to the end of myself. And when I came to the end of myself, I knew I needed a Savior. I knew that Savior was Jesus Christ," she said.

That night Goombi told her husband she wasn't going out because she wanted to go to church. The next morning, they went to the little mission where Lindsay served as pastor.

"When they gave the invitation, I ran forward and gave my heart to Jesus," she said. "I've never been the same since. In my life, when others saw a dumb little Indian girl that wouldn't amount to anything, God saw a princess."

Goombi said doors have opened now in her hometown in southwest Oklahoma. The first Vacation Bible School was held this summer, led by a WMU leader.

She reminded Southern Baptists of the importance of continuing to send missionaries.

"When you give and when you pray and when you send missionaries," she said, "it gives life to somebody like me."


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