How We Came to Be so Far

Linda Jiheng, who grew up as a jungle girl in Borneo and now lives in Alaska would like to share her story.

“I was born an Adventist in an Adventist village/longhouse that was totally separate at the side of the big pagan village from which my parents were kicked out when they converted to Adventism.

“So I grew up totally in the jungle, no electricity or nothing until I was about 13 years old when I went to a public school in town.

"After getting married my husband became Islamic, and it affected my life and my boys. We got divorced and for 10 years after my divorce I had a hard life—having my boys only on weekends to come with me to church.

"Jim Miller and I met on the Internet.… Jim was the first person I met online. Jim asked me, ‘So what’s your hobby, what are you like?'

“So I said, ‘Well, I’m Adventist, I don’t smoke. I don’t drink.'

"He replied, 'I’m Adventist too!'

"We dated online and were married at the Sunnyside Adventist Church in Sarawak on the island of Borneo.

"In Borneo, which is part of Malaysia, it is unheard of for a Muslim man to let go of his boys to a non-Muslim. The time came when my boys were about to turn 12 years old and at that time they are required to have identity cards made. Once you are a Muslim in Malaysia, you cannot unconvert—and it shows in your identity card for life.

"Their I.D. cards were destined to have my boys' Muslim names on them, unless a miracle happened. The church members in Barrow prayed about it as did my Adventist friends and relatives in Borneo.

"Next the improbable happened. My ex-husband asked my boys which name they wanted to register, and both requested that their Christian names be used. He said okay.… In just one week's time, they both had visas that would permit them to accompany me back to Barrow.

"Even the officer at the U.S. Embassy, couldn’t believe it. He said, ‘It’s like a miracle! This is the fastest and first visa to be processed where a Muslim father allowed his sons to choose to be Christians.'

"It has been quite an experience bringing the boys here to Barrow. It was the first time four months ago for the boys to see and touch snow! They came from where it’s 90 degrees everyday to 65 degrees below zero. They helped build the igloo you saw in the Northwest Spotlight on Mission DVD presentation. After watching the locals struggle with ice saws to cut blocks of snow out of a drift, they came in and got their jungle machetes and began chopping blocks. Nobody up here had ever seen knives so big! The community of Barrow has really embraced us. My boys really enjoy being Adventist.

"All these things are possible because of the prayers of the Adventist group in Barrow and Borneo. And that’s how we came to be so far.”

September 01, 2004 / Alaska Conference
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As told to Todd Gessele, NPUC associate communication director and Northwest Spotlight on Mission producer