Transcript Episode 48
One80 Podcast, Don Long

This transcript may have errors that veer from the original audio, found here:

Don Long: When you’re left on your own, you develop an independence, that some would applaud you for. But as I look back and as adult, it creates a very unhealthy view of life. And again, people can applaud and think, boy, you, pulled yourself up by your bootstraps and you endured.

Ryan Henry: Don long had a precarious childhood. Having both parents die by the age of 12. So we learned quickly how to care for himself. With his own bootstraps theology. His view of the world was grim. And for Don, he couldn’t see. He himself making it past 18. He pride fully wore his sin, like a uniform. But a loving mentor. I saw right through Don’s tough guy, facade. And he spoke to him about a kind savior and the book he needed to read. Through the pages of the Bible, Don found new eyes to see. The blessings around him and a true helper in times of. 

Ryan Henry: Don, welcome to the show. Really excited to have you on 180 today.

Don Long: Well, I’m excited to be here. I something I can share might touch somebody’s life.

Ryan Henry: amen. Amen. Well, before we get too far in your story, we wanna start off with a random question 

 what was the hardest thing that you ever learned?

Don Long: You know, as I think about that, I would say probably the hardest thing I’ve had to learn was how to be a husband and how to be a father, because I didn’t have a good role model for that.

To be kind, to be patient, to be loving, to serve. I can go right down the list and my wife would probably be echoing an amen because I had no idea how to do those things. 

Ryan Henry: thank you for sharing that. That’s, that’s good. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to that. 

But let’s get into your story, Don. Um, and if we can go back to the beginning, talk to us about where you grew up.

Don Long: I was born in Delaware and um, my childhood’s kind of unusual because I know some details, but I don’t know some details. 

 My understanding is that, my birth mother had had cancer. And it was treated. And then when she found out pregnant with me, she was told, we need to get rid of this baby because more cancer, we need to treat it. And that in essence, her response was, I’m gonna have the child and we’ll deal with cancer later. 

My father, he worked away from home. Monday through Friday he was gone and so she had a four year old, a baby, and she had cancer. And my grandparents were in Virginia they came up to get her and the kids took us down there.

I went to North Carolina to live with an aunt and Uncle, so my first memory. as a kid, my first memory is with an aunt and uncle the grandparents kept my, uh, mother, my sister stayed there. in essence, she watched our mother deteriorate and I was a happy-go-lucky kid.

 I didn’t know I was experiencing an unusual childhood until, my mother died, a few days after I turned four.

And, my dad shows 10 months later and said, this is your new mom. This is your sister. put us in a car. Drove from Virginia to Delaware. We were all put in a home in Delaware and Monday morning he’s off to work in Pennsylvania. And so our 

stepmom was 50 years old, had never been married, and she gets two kids that in essence, hadn’t lived together So you get a four year old and an eight year old so things changed when we came together as a family unit. 

Ryan Henry: so what happened next?

Don Long: it was a difficult time because my stepmom, uh, She’d never been married, never had kids. uh, my dad was gone Monday through Friday, so in essence, she didn’t have a husband around either. it was kind of a tumultuous situation. 

 I guess the family moved to New Jersey to try to be together when he was at one of his job sites and that didn’t work. And then, um, he had tried teaching for a year.

My understanding is he was miserable at that. So he went back, uh, he worked for the Corps of Engineers, so he was working, around the East Coast. then everything changed in third grade. 

My stepmom, she left I had heard nervous breakdown. And I didn’t really understand it till I was probably 35 years old 

as her health was fading and she was needing to go in a care facility I found every letter that she had written during that time. 

So I put ’em together by date and I began to read. The letters would be my dad saying, you call yourself a Christian. These kids need a, uh, mom get back here. Her response back as I’d read her letters would be, they need a dad, I need a husband. We need to be together as a family. Then the response would be something to the effect of, I’ll buy you a car if you will come back here. I read those letters and here I’m in my mid thirties and I finally understood what happened. on my end as a third grader, my sister and I We had no adult Monday through Friday. 

Ryan Henry: Hmm. 

Don Long: I was third grade. She was seventh grade. We were somewhat on her own. people have asked, how’d you feed yourself? I don’t know. we did it.

Um, my sister, she was more the responsible one. And let’s just say as a third grader, she wasn’t my boss and I did what I wanted.

 I was such a little con artist. I thought, why steal a pack of cigarettes from the grocery store if you can steal a carton? Because then you have to steal less. 

I found a bottle of peach brandy, and as a kid at school, they served peaches. there was that juice in the bottom of the bowl, and I love to drink it. I thought, peach brandy, that must be what that juice is in the bottom of a bowl. 

Ryan Henry: no. 

Don Long: You know, I found out that peach brandy was not what was in the bottom of that bowl. those are just a couple illustrations of things that I did, I recall, uh, being fearful at night because we lived in what I considered a creepy old house, my pillow, I didn’t use it under my head. I covered my head because 

that was a creepy old place. And. My sister was the only one around. And yet again, I was kind of defiant. Third grader, she wasn’t gonna be my boss. So it was an unusual time. My dad, you know, would come home on the weekends. He came home one Friday. He must have taken off at noon, cuz Friday afternoon I’m a third grader and he walks into the house. I’m sitting in his chair smoking.

Don Long: Wow. When you’re left on your own, you develop an independence, that some would applaud you for.  But as I look back and as adult, it creates a very unhealthy. View of life .

And again, people can applaud and think, boy, you, pulled yourself up by your bootstraps and you endured. In fourth grade, my stepmom came back, and we kept a place in Delaware. but she came back they bought A mobile home, you can call ’em mobile homes, but in school, we were called Trailer Trash. It was a construction workers trailer park along the Chesapeake Bay, cuz that, that was where my dad was working at the time. And so we would live there Monday through Friday as a family, fourth, fifth grade. 

 it was a rough trailer park.

 those were the two years that I think we lived somewhat a normal. life Cause there was a mom and dad 

there, but then in sixth grade, my dad got sick and he died.

Ryan Henry: wow Right. Oh my gosh. It’s, yeah. So hard. . But gosh, you were so young, you know,before your dad dies. what was your view of life? I mean, you mentioned, you know, kind ofpulling yourself up by the bootstraps. earlier 

 Like just get through it. 

Don Long: I didn’t do it at the time as get through. I was more, the independent freelance. a phrase I double dog, dare you. fortunately I didn’t back down from any of those and that that’s sometimes 

not a good thing.

I was very independent. It came to an culmination, uh, when my children were in their teens and the show survivor was coming on and my kids said, 

dad, you would be great on the show 

survivor. I go, why the heck would I want to go on that? And I realized that was my life growing up and I didn’t even 


Ryan Henry: Mm-hmm.

 did you have a view of God? 

Don Long: I really didn’t. my stepmom was a choir director, some at a Methodist church, but I didn’t wanna go to church. And I, I remember one memory of going to church as a family and my dad falling 

asleep. it was something that, we may have done, but, but as far as it having an impact, I remember my dad would, had this set prayer he would do that.

He ran through so fast, at a meal. but, there wasn’t much of a connection. 

Ryan Henry: Yeah, 

Don Long: I really had no view as far as it having an impact in my 

Ryan Henry: Yeah. Yeah. let’s go back to when your, your dad, passed away, and would you say that was Sixth grade. 

Don Long: Yeah. 

Ryan Henry: Sixth 

grade What? So what happened then? What was that like for you?

Don Long: I only have a few memories of that. One is, my 12th birthday. I don’t ever remember birthdays, Christmases, things like that, but he went into the hospital a few days after I turned 12. I recall we went to a toy store.

He bought me a bicycle I thought it was a great bike swim stingray, and literally it’s the, I can’t remember getting another gift. 

that was a big deal. I got that. and I think it was the next day, and he went in the hospital.

I heard brain tumor. I didn’t know what that meant. And again, I went real serious minded as a kid. So I was like, okay, he is going in the hospital. and I actually remember, In his hospital room. One time I looked out and there was a cemetery there, and here I was a sixth grade kid and I made the joke.

well, if something happens to somebody they don’t have far to go. and all these nurses and people were like, shh, 

don’t say things like that.

Ryan Henry: Oh my 

Don Long: And, for me, 

I only remember being at the hospital one time. And then, I remember the evening, 

 my stepmom coming in and the pastor’s name was short. and I remember cuz I was in school with, his son. and so we always were the long and the short And, and it was late at night and they walked in and 

he told me, you know, uh, your dad died. and over the years I’ve told people when their, their parent has died and they’re in elementary.

Don’t ever say to a kid, you’re the man of the family now. Cuz I had people 

saying that to me. And I look back going, I was 12 


old and you’re a 

kid. And 

I don’t think I cried at my dad’s funeral because here are people, a patch on the head. You’re the man of the family now. 

 did I grieved it? grieve process things.

You just did it. 

Ryan Henry: Hmm. 

Don Long: And sadly that 

became my way. You just 

got through but something clicked. basically the enemy got a foothold. And somehow I had this belief that it must be in my DNA to have a mom die. A dad die. and I’m gonna die soon. 

Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh. Wow. 

Don Long: and 

I don’t think I picked a number 

at 12, but within a short time, I thought, I’ll never make it past 18. And the trailer park was 

tough. We had a kid get killed there in a fight. 

 I had a big mouth, no muscles, dangerous 

combo. I needed, to sit me down. my stepmom would try to discipline me and I did what I wanted.


Ryan Henry: so when your, when your dad passed away, how did that affect your view of God?

Don Long: Oh, I got angry. I’ve said before and, people can find it unusual as a pastor now, but I got mad as hell 

and I took it out 

on anybody I was angry with things like other kids. They had a dad to play catch with. I never had anybody to play catch with.


had these different things and I started looking, going, this isn’t normal. I would watch kids that, that, they’d shoot in the driveway and, play basketball with, dad. And I was like,

I don’t have anybody to do that with. 

And then, My stepmom was older and she was fully gray white hair. So everybody’d say it was this, your grandma. So it became embarrassing 

to me because others would have, a younger mom or dad.

and yeah, I got 


 seventh grade 

on, I began to cheat. I was disrespectful. I, our school had, a policy. If you went to the principal’s office 20 times, you got suspended.

Ryan Henry: Oh. 

Don Long: I went 19 times as a seventh grader, 19 times as an eighth grader, 19 times as a ninth grader. 

Ryan Henry: Oh my 

Don Long: I walked in 10th 

grade and the principal looked at me 

and he held up three fingers. I go, wait, what happened to 20? He goes, three times and you’re 

gone. I went 

two times. 

Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh. 

Don Long: So, I was 


to walk right up to the line.

 I didn’t know how to express my anger. And so sadly, I think my sister and my stepmom and probably my teachers, were the recipients, 

 I knew enough to straddle the line and not say certain things, you know, around my stepmom. I had faked her out pretty 


 in 10th grade 

 my stepmom had offered to adopt my sister and I, and I was arrogant, I tried negotiating with her and I said, if you’ll buy me a car, I’ll sign the adoption 



she, said, I’m not buying you a car. And so I literally walked outta the lawyer’s office and wouldn’t sign the adoption papers cuz I wanted a car. 

 I found out later that the Maryland Department of Social Services, basically indicated you’re gonna become a ward of the state if, you don’t have a legal 

guardian. And so I did sign the adoption papers And so there, there 

was a disrespect, an arrogance, an anger, 

Ryan Henry: Man. 

Yeah. Yeah. 

Don Long: but here’s 


happened During basketball 

season, my wisdom 

teeth were messed up. And we had a weekend where we didn’t have any games. They had a range where we can go in and we can remove your wisdom teeth. 

 they had me under anesthesia to remove the teeth. My sister told me this 

a few years later. They were in the waiting room. My stepmom gets up to go get some food. The nurse came storming out and said, who’s with him? And my sister was the only one there.

And she said, well, I am. She would’ve been what? 19. 

Then she 

goes, he is cussing out everybody in there, he’s. Foul. He’s calling everybody names and she goes, let me go get his mom. Because she knew I was a 


And it angered her that here, my stepmom still wasn’t aware of some of my 

stuff. She told me 

later, she goes, I went and got her, 

mom had her walk

in the recovery room.

And she goes, you are cussing out everybody, calling everybody, every name imaginable. And she finally 

heard what you were really like and what was going on in your 

heart. And I think that was 

part of what led to a huge transition in my 

life. that summer at, the trailer park we lived in. A family.

the year before, uh, one of the brothers got in a fight and the dad came running with a shotgun and killed a guy fighting his son. Well, that summer 

 I was playing basketball. I blocked a shot of his brother I was trash talking him, embarrassing him, making fun of him. And he took off running. And so I’m mocking him. He ran away. Well, he came back with a knife 

Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh. 

Don Long: was wanting to cut me up and so I had messed with the family that the dad a year earlier. Had shot and killed somebody who was fighting with his son.

 Well, my stepmom heard that he had come after me.

And so between that, her hearing, my language, she began to get things from Culver Military Academy. I didn’t know what military schools were. She didn’t know what to do with me. she was a Christian. I had, actually grabbed her once and held her upside a wall because she told me she keeps praying for me.

And I go, stop praying for me because if there’s a God not real interested because it seems like. Life’s not going well. And somehow in there that futility that I’m not gonna make it to 18 

had been impregnated in my 



so you know, I’d be a smart elec. I’d see these brochures of the military guys that ran these military schools, and I was like, yeah, bring them on.

 I, didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know what to do. I was an angry kid. she, announced to my sister and I, one day we would be moving to Indiana. at six two in Maryland. I was a center on the basketball team. I wasn’t that good, but I was cocky and so I thought Indiana basketball, bring it on. I’ll show those boys how to play ball.

so I moved, I had the east coast accent. I was cocky, arrogant, used to fights in school. And we moved to Indiana and I was a duck outta water

 I’d ask What kind of fights you have in school?

And they’re like, what? basketball wise, these boys knew how to play basketball and they were a lot bigger and they were a lot better in me. my world 

was jerked out 

 under my feet.

Ryan Henry: I can see how that would, uh, out like that. 

So what happened next? How, how bad did things get? 

Don Long: I was still cocky and here I had cheated in school, seventh through 10th 

grade. somehow moving that far away, a new school

 I decided not to cheat and, Within a a month a teacher accused me of cheating. And I had gone four years and never been caught cheating. And one of the math teachers accused me of cheating because I didn’t follow his formula. And I go, is the answer right?

He goes, 

yes. And I was like, really? 

I, I tried doing something noble and I’m accused of cheating and I hadn’t cheated. 


Ryan Henry: Hmm 

Don Long: But,

my stepmom was a Christian.

My sister had accepted Christ. They started going to a larger church. It was, 500 people. And, they sick the youth group on me 

and the church had sports 

and, a lot of cute girls. And I’m like, okay, that kind of works for me. but they had a, a stipulation to play on any of those sports teams.

You had to come two times a month to church. I wasn’t real hip hop going to church, but did I mention 

they had cute girls? 

Ryan Henry: Yeah. 

Don Long: So I 

literally would slip in as the last guy and sit on the back row. And then before the men was done with Amen. I was out of there. 

 hey thanks for listening to 180, make sure to share Today’s 180 with your people it may be the best. best news that the here today now. now back to the show

Don Long: But the pastor was a real hellfire guy and he preached a lot about heaven and hell, you know, Christ, you go to heaven, you don’t know Christ.

You go to help. And he would talk about people are sinners and all while I was 17 years old, I had that sin thing figured out. you didn’t have to convince me. I was a sinner. It was like, check, I understand that. if you don’t know Christ, you go to hell. And I thought, well, some of the stuff I’ve done, I deserve that.

But wait a minute, all you have to do 

is pray to believe Jesus is the son of God. And I’m like, I didn’t know much about sounds like he was. And just 

say, you’re a sinner and be my savior, and you go to heaven. And as a little con artist, I remember thinking, I’m 17 years old, I only got a year to go. I can do this Christian thing.

And I literally began to figure out the rhythm of the pastor because he would do altar call invitation at the end. if somebody go up early, he’d, kind of parade them and say something to them and talk about him. But if you went up at the very end, they somewhat ushered you off into a room.

And I thought, okay, I’m gonna do this Christian thing and I’ll ask Jesus, but I’m gonna do this, in a way that can be the least noticeable possible. So I figured out the rhythm he would do on the Sundays and when he said this certain phrase, I knew that was nothing after that.

And I waited till the very end and I stepped up and he kind of looked at me and they ushered me off to the room and I thought, very few know, boom, I’m in.

heaven sounded good. Hell, I felt like I’d kind of lived hell on Earth. Why do I want to spend eternity? And again, I only had a year to 

go. So that, that was part of a 

journey that was 

with impure motives, 

Ryan Henry: So, so in that moment when you got rushed off, would you say, is, is that where you gave your, your heart to the Lord officially, or was 

that just kind of impure motives? I you just describe that for 


Don Long: Was it 

in pure motives? Absolutely. Do I believe that Jesus accepted me at that time? Yes, I do. 


scripture says who needs a physician, those who are healthy or those who are sick. I was about as sick as they would 


at that 


I didn’t really 

know even what it meant to follow Christ.

I just thought I got a year to go. 

I’m gonna be dead. I go to heaven. 

The whole thought 

of Jesus being the Lord of my life. 

Knowing his word, submitting to the spirits, leading, I had no clue. 

 I started going to the, the youth group 

these were a lot of kids who know, they’d been raised in the church while I come in.

I knew nothing. it’s amazing how flippant we share terms, you know, Jesus is Lord, and, and I’m a Christ follower and God the Father, yet there’s the Lord and there’s a savior and there’s this ghost thing 

and there’s this spirit and, and Emmanuel and, all these phrases. And I recall once stopping and I just said, 

 Hey, do you guys have a roster? Who y’all talking 

about? and they looked at me like, what? but I go, man, you’re, you’re saying there’s God and there’s Father, and there’s Lord, and there’s Savior, and there’s Jesus, and there’s Jesus Christ, and there’s spirit and there’s a ghost.

I said, who is everybody? 

and so I encourage people, 

be careful what you assume, because I knew so little, and yet I would hear that you were a sinner. And then I kept hearing this thing of God loves you. Andthe first verse. You think John three 16, Okay. I understood the whole thing. God loves you. But I wasn’t one that can say, I understood a whole lot what love 

meant, but the verse 

that got me, Is John 10 10 that I’ve come that You can have life and have it abundantly. that is a verse that I remember thinking, okay, abundance 

as opposed to 

survival. Is that 



Ryan Henry: Mm-hmm. 

Don Long: But again, I didn’t think I’d lived past 18, so I was making no plans of the future. I still had a lot of anger.

And then my 

senior year, I turned 18 at the end of March. And it was a faith crisis because I was still alive. And you know, your senior year is when people are saying, so what are you gonna do 



Well, it wasn’t like I was exactly academically prepared to do anything next year, and it was a 

faith crisis. 

but God, God was grace as a, one of the, I guess he was called an adult. Youth sponsor. He saw past my arrogance. A couple of the guys in the youth group. I wasn’t nice to them because they were competition, because he’s cute girls, but they were very 

gracious to me. And, uh, this guy would say, you don’t, know anything about the Bible.

And I’m thinking, man, can you Christians read that? Is there like, you know, something you can read? And I go, you know, again, arrogance. Yeah, well, whatever. And, and he g he 

gave me 

a living Bible. And I go, okay, 

here’s a problem I don’t read. Well, because I hadn’t read. I was a poor reader.

And he goes, why don’t you pray and maybe God will help you learn how to read. And I’m thinking, this guy’s a nut, 


of all, prayer, okay, what’s that? And then, Help me to read and so my prayer, I, it was something like, uh, yeah, right, God sure. if you can help me read whatever. Uh, that was probably the 

depth of my prayer.

And I 

began to look at this living Bible and I’m like, I don’t get this Guinness book, you know? He goes, no, gen Genesis. Don’t, don’t start there. Maybe read this John. And again, I came across that I’ve come that you can have life inhabit abundantly and that whole thing with God so 

loved the 


of it was starting to make a little 

sense. Not much. 

Ryan Henry: so what did you find when you started to read the Bible? I And you said some of it started to make sense. 


Don Long: Obviously, I started going to the youth group. I started going to church 

not twice a month, but it was all new to me. And, the whole thought that, that, God had a plan for my life, I would 

hear that and it’s as though someone looking forward, and yet I was always looking over my shoulder going, yeah, great plan.

because it was 

starting to make sense that at 18 I hadn’t had a normal childhood. 

Ryan Henry: Mm-hmm. 

Don Long: For 

me, when you live that you don’t know any different. And my stepmom, God bless her, when I graduated high school, She looked at me and said, you wore me out. And I thought there were never truer words spoken because it was beginning to make sense all that she had done for me. Rarely had I thanked her 

Ryan Henry: Hmm. 

Don Long: and yet 

where I was, and I was still alive out of the environment I was in. I had clothes on my back. Food, but I had wore her out and again, she was 

65 years old. I was embarrassed by her, so I rarely complimented because, if she would come to events, you know, you’d hear things, oh, is that your grandma?

And, and so 

I didn’t necessarily want her around a lot. And yet, years later, I began to think, what would my birth mom have prayed knowing she was dying, knowing my dad was not necessarily in the picture a whole lot. And I thought, would she have been praying that God would’ve brought someone to navigate me?

Through the years that we’re ahead and a number of years later, I began to reflect back thinking. Myrna, I believe was an answer to prayer 

of my birth mom.

Ryan Henry: Hmm. 


Don Long: Because even though, I mean the difficulty and the separation and coming back and, and being persistent enough to say we need to be as a family and, and then feeling led to move me, God had been watching over me 

Ryan Henry: Hmm. 

Don Long: and it was 

a, a few years in that whole timeframe.

I heard the passage that God said, I’m a father to the 


Ryan Henry: Wow. 

Praise God. 

Don Long: And I, I 

look back thinking because I 

made some dumb decisions again. 

 and somehow Purdue University accepted me. I have no idea 


Ryan Henry: Wow. 

Don Long: I go off to school and people are like, what do you wanna do?

And I’m like, I don’t know. My dad was an engineer, maybe engineering. Well, I quickly found I was no more ready for college because I had no study habits. spiritually I was an infant. You go into a college atmosphere. I was no more ready for that. I made it to about Thanksgiving and again, cocky, arrogant.

I didn’t have a foundation of my faith and I quit. and my trying to look cool statement was, I’m quitting college. I don’t need this. I’m getting a fast motorcycle, fast car and a fast woman. And I found out later, none of those three had any redeeming value in my 

life. I quit, got a job, I bought the motorcycle. My stepmom said, you’ll never have a motorcycle live under this house again, my disrespect. I bought a motorcycle, broke my foot the next day. the car I 

got, got eight miles a gallon. so that, wasn’t a great idea. And dating, I had no concept of what it meant, to honor God, to what a relationship looked 

like. And yet again, 

one of those youth sponsors. Took me under his wing. I was, working a job, you know, wanting to play softball leagues and stuff like that. You know, I was the 19 year old now making some money, working, no purpose in life. 

But this guy I didn’t know it was called mentoring or discipleship, but he was gracious and began 

to just talk to me about what God’s word had to say.

And he was 

patient with me. he saw through the cockiness, he would talk to me about what does it mean to honor God with dating? I mean, some of these concepts, I had no idea what does it mean to be a man of integrity? 

 things that you would hope a father would instill and teach, 

um, their son.

 Was there a specific point where you were like, all in, or how, how did your 

Ryan Henry: faith go? Go and just bloom? 

Don Long: There are some people that can point to one specific moment as far as that being their transition time. For me, it was a series of events, at the church. It was a Baptist church. They strongly advocated baptism. Well, I thought I’m gonna do this year long thing. I’m gonna die at 18 and I’m gonna get out of this without my buddies knowing, I’ve done this faith thing.

But no, they kept talking about baptism. And so they had an evening service and I thought, man, I can do it in the evening. Nobody will know. My buddies at high school won’t know. But, uh, somehow the word got out and some 

of my buddies 

showed up 

and I’m like, man, I’ve been outed 


As I look back, that was probably my first testimony that I’m a, follower of Christ because as much 

as you want to be cool, back then I had hair, and, um, I thought I’d look cool. 

 and when you get baptized, and when you’re immersed and you come out with that, Glob of hair all wet and looking like a mop. There is nothing cool about that. And yet I look back going, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. And I think that was one 

humbling moment for me because there were some high school buddies that didn’t go to our church that showed up.

The rest of the youth group were aware of 

this. I looked like a 

wet dog coming out of that water. And I thought, 

I’ve been outed. and then, I began to gradually grow my faith. I was 

working a job thinking, is this all there is in life? 

 and you can go to work and go home. And that’s life. And I kept thinking 

I’ve come that you can have life and have it abundantly. this other guy 

goes, why didn’t you begin to pray and say, God, what do you have for me?

Well, it was during that time that 

a couple of those guys in the youth group, they were at Purdue University, 

And there was one Christian co-op, And these two guys from the youth group were in it. And I thought maybe God has me. To do this college thing. But I wasn’t convinced. I was smart. I knew I couldn’t handle some of the temptations of college life and I thought maybe this Christian co-op will be helpful.

God used that in incredible way in my life because among the 44 guys, I have no doubt I was 44th. Spiritually 

it was a house where we won a lot of the campus intermurals beating these frats.

I was a cheap shot artist in sports and these guys are going, Hey Don, we don’t do that. we’re gonna play the glory of God. And I was like, what does that mean? we’re, we’re gonna be fair. We’re gonna be honest. We’re gonna date as men of integrity, we’re gonna study. 

 we’re not going to cheat. They taught me you need to go to class, you need to study, you need to 

read. the these guys were a godsend because 

one, they were genuine. There were some jocks.

I’d always looked up to jocks. I wasn’t the best jock, but I wanted to be. These guys didn’t brag about it. But they were really good. And 

Purdue had a six point gpa. I think the house average for 44 guys was like five These guys 

were an aeronautical engineering, pharmaceutical, civil engineering, crazy majors. And, I got on the train, is the only way I can describe it. And I began to spiritually grow. I began to academically, learn and I realized, man, maybe I’m not so dumb.


stepmom had moved to Michigan, I was like, I can’t afford college. the county, I lived in Indiana, there is a scholarship. The qualification is both of your parents are dead. Well let’s just say I didn’t have a lot of competition, 

 And so I got 

this scholarship I was used to. Fending for myself. And I was like, 

wait a minute, there’s a scholarship for a kid like me. 

And, I was growing in my faith. 

and then one summer the youth group had a, traveling choir so now as a college guy. And so they asked me if I’d be one of the sponsors. I was in my second year at Purdue, I had, matured, stopped cheating, stealing to the point.

I was actually the treasurer of our house.I went with the youth group as one of the sponsors. They went to a camp in GreenLake, Wisconsin, And there was a speaker he was speaking about Moses and Aaron 

and, one having the, excuse of saying, God, you can’t use me because of my background, use my brother, I stutter. so use Aaron 

And a few folks along the way had come up to me and go, man, might God ever use you in ministry someday?

Well, that kind of freaked me out. And so my little phrase I came up with was, God saves guys like me, but he doesn’t use guys like me. You know, cuz I viewed pastors. 

They’re the old white-haired dudes that, know, never sin, never 

cuss, never did stupid stuff. that’s not me. And so I, I was hearing this 

message, but something is stirring inside me going, 

man, do I come up with excuses 

 that evening there was a guy sharing about this Christian college and they have to take Bible classes and, and all this.

And I’m just sitting back, you know, I’m the college boy. I’m, I’m the sponsor. he got done. And again, I’m just a couple years new in the faith. We got done talking to those high school kids and he looks over at me and goes, I sense God is stirring in your life. I sense God might be speaking to your heart.

Is God potentially saying to you that, that he might have something bigger for you? 

Ryan Henry: Hmm. 

Don Long: 

was cool, calm, collected, that arrogance that I had. I. I was dying 

inside. Cause I’m thinking, 

these Christians can like read what you’re thinking because again, I was so new in the faith, I thought, is there like this scroll going across my forehead that, that you can read this 


and I was like, oh no, not me. I was like, no, I’m, I’m not doing any Christian college stuff, you know, I, I can only go to a state school cause I don’t have any money, scholarship, all that stuff. 

Ryan Henry: Hmm. 

Don Long: He goes, 

okay. I left that evening. Walking back, instead of walking with a group, I walk with one of young ladies from the youth group and she goes, man, what was that He was saying, and I go, if that were to be true, God would have to send a shooting star across the sky. And literally at that point, Across the sky, this bright light. And she goes, did you see that? And I go, oh yeah, that was an airplane that was just lights on the airplane 

inside. I’m 

thinking, man, if that’s the case, it crashed.

And, And, by the way, that young gal that was four years younger than me, 

we’ve been married 

for 42 

Ryan Henry: years now. Just to,cool. 


for our last question, have you ever thought about what might have happened differently?

had your stepmom 

not taken you in? Don? 

Don Long: Oh, absolutely. 

 cuz down in Virginia we’d go visit once a year, the aunts and uncles.

And, and there were a couple cousins down there that, man, I thought they were the coolest guys cuz their parents were younger, uh, than than my stepmom. And they had a lot of freedom. 

Ryan Henry: I would’ve absolutely loved. if my stepmom had said, you can move down there and move in with them.

Don Long: I look back and that would’ve been absolutely disastrous cuz these guys had a 

lot of freedom. it did not serve them well as they grew older in life. 

Ryan Henry: Hmm. 

Don Long: And I 

am so thankful that she, um, and I think we’re scripture says, my sheep hear my voice. She 

heard, and I believe 

she was sent for such a time as this.

And often 

we look at Esther and go for such a time as this.

I believe, Myrna was one of those for such a time as this. It wasn’t a fun job. It was hard. She didn’t receive a lot of, thank yous and yet, she. Was so instrumental 

 she served and gave, and she poured out and got very little in return. And I look at the opportunities that I’ve had and I think how grateful I am, for those along the way that God brought at just the right time,

 And as frustrating and feeling as though I lost out, I believe that God at just the right time, brought people into my life to protect me, to hedge me in, to watch over, to show me patience.

They were gracious to me, at just the right time. if you were to look at a billboard, of my life, it would have under it. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things to shame the strong. And there’d be a picture of me because it was not about me.

It was 

by the grace of


Ryan Henry: Wow. So good. Don, thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s so good.

It’s been great 

having you on the show. 


Don Long: It’s been a privilege and I’m very thankful. but by the grace of God,

Kate: This is Kate with the sendoff today. We’re featuring our 180 poet blind. Tony. 

Blind Tony: We tend to do things on our own when we believe we’re all alone, 

molding and shaping our plans with the strength of our own hands. 

Bootstrap theology can make a person into an army of one, 

making them believe that it is only their own strength that gets everything done. 

Cutting them off from others, 

making it hard to see them as brothers.

But no man is an island. 

No man stands alone. 

God’s love surrounds us and he’s still on the throne 

loving us patiently till we come to our senses,

start building bridges instead of putting up fences. 

Thank you, Father, for loving us in such a wonderful way, 

giving us victories day after day 

because you tell us in your word to be aware when we think we’re standing.

Lest we fall. 

And that’s good advice that’s applicable to us all. 

I am weak, but thou art strong, 

Jesus, keep me from all wrong. 

And even though those words belong to a very old song, 

they point the way to where we belong.