My Search For Acceptance
By Jack Cochise
My name is Jack Cochise. My birth place and home is the Mescalero Apache Tribe in New Mexico. My grandmother was Amelia Naiche, daughter of the great Apache leader Naiche. His father was Cochise, chief of the Chiricahua Apache and his mother, Dos-Teh-Seh, was daughter of the great Apache leader Dasoda-hae, also known as Mangus Coloradas. It is a great history, and I am honored to be of Native American descent.
I grew up hearing all the stories of how the white man stole our land, so I grew up being taught to hate. The hatred was directed not only toward white people, but also toward anyone who was not of our family, and anyone who was not Apache. Such a culture prejudice was also directed toward me, as well, and caused me great hurt. My relatives labeled me a half-breed and blamed me for their problems. For you see, I am also a descendant of the Ogala Sioux, Cherokee, Black Irish, and French Canadian people. As I grew older, I too blamed everyone and everything else for all my woes and hurts. I found it so easy to blame someone else for all my pain.
I was desperately searching for hope. I sought for answers in the Apache traditional god, “Ussen” and in native medicine. The Apache religious beliefs only deepened my frustration, prejudice, and hatred. I learned that the Apache Spirits were never happy nor harmonious – always hungry and angry. It left me with more mystery and spiritual confusion. All my interaction with this traditional god was filled with fear, depression, and a sense of dread – with great fear of noises in the middle of the dark night. It disappointed me that I found no answers for my pain in the native beliefs. I remained without comfort, security, love, hope, or peace.
The cycle of addiction, despair, and pain runs deep in our culture and in our native families. My life on the reservation was like many other reservation families, no better and no worse that any other Native living on any of the tribal lands in the Americas. I am not unfamiliar with the heartbreak, drugs, alcohol and other general abuses. My Father was an alcoholic, and he made our lives a living hell. Through his drinking problem, physical and other abuses entered into our family. I was physically and sexually abused between the age of 9 and 11. I turned to drugs and alcohol at a very young age to self-medicate and try to make life easier to deal with. Drugs did not give me the peace I so wanted. I thought money would give me the power to control my own life. I hoped sex would give me the love I never had growing up. I was desperate…desperate for hope. I started being physically aggressive and abusive at an early age. I ran away from home and boarding school. My thievery shocked my little community. The crimes I committed were serious enough to have had me been placed in a federal institution. By the time I was 18 years of age, I was a raging addict in the reservation party lifestyle. I was a “life-defeated” individual. I celebrated my 21st birthday with a party and I woke up the next morning with a major headache and a hangover. I had hit bottom. I looked at my past choices and the current life style I was living. After having failed so miserably and looking in so many dark places, God brought to my memory two verses from the Bible which I had heard in church as a youngster.
Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Romans 3:23 states that I am a sinner, lost and without God. John 3:16 teaches about God’s love for me and how He sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for my sins. No native religion ever spoke to me this way. I had been misused, hated, mistrusted, and rejected by family, but God cared for me. I was hated by my own people, but God loved me. I was hated by other tribes for being Apache, but God accepted me. I realized He accepts me as I am. He loves me and wants me to spend eternity with Him. God’s Holy Spirit was at work in my heart. After many hours of soul searching, I finally understood. God took His Word, and He did His Work in my heart. I accepted Christ as my Savior that day on my 21st birthday. I prayed asking God’s forgiveness and received eternal life. My prayer was simple:
“God, I want the peace you are offering because I have no peace of my own, and I can’t find peace anywhere. I know I am a sinner. I believe your Son Jesus died for my sins…for me! I ask for forgiveness for what I have done. God forgive me. Please save me! I want Jesus to live in my heart. I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior.”
For the first time in many years, I cried. Tears ran down my face; everything I was looking for I found in that moment. I knew I was really alive and forgiven. Faith had invaded my heart, and the spiritual battle in my life was over. I found that Christ was the Answer to my despair. I now know, and I want to share with others who have been hurt like I had been that there is only One Who can break that cycle – He is Jesus Christ! He loves you! There is hope! I am now a grandfather, and I am teaching my grandchildren about their heritage. I want them to be proud of our ancestry as descendants of the great Apache warriors, but more important is the heritage that we can all receive from God. Romans 8:14 tells us, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” I invite you to learn more about how God can heal and transform lives by reading the story of my great-grandfather Naiche by clicking here: “An Apache Warrior Chooses A New Name”.
Joyful in Christ,
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” I John 1:3-7
Jack Cochise joined his Heavenly Father on January 23, 2019 after a courageous battle with cancer.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15