Deborah Finley, Witness to Her Father's Murder
By Kara Lavengood
The 700 Club
Deborah Finley grew up in a lonely world filled with fear and violence. Her father left when she was just three years old.
“I saw my father walking down the street with a suitcase in each hand. So I ran to my mother, and I asked where is my father going. She said he’s going away and he won’t be back,” Deborah tells The 700 Club.
Her parents divorced. A year later, Deborah’s mother met and married another man.
“He seemed like a nice person. Unfortunately as time went on, it was like a Jekyll and Hyde situation. It was very common to go to sleep to the sound of hearing my mother crying, pleading in the next room from her being abused. It was very common to wake up to blood and glass everywhere. He would go into violent rages, my step-father, when he would drink.”
Deborah felt powerless against her stepfather’s rage.
“I was in constant fear and depression and just without hope. Feeling like there was nothing that I could ever do but just accept what was happening.”
When Deborah was about 11 years old, her mother and stepfather Gene divorced. But four years later they remarried.
“It was very peaceful when he was gone,” Deborah recalls. “Unfortunately he didn’t change. So it was back to the same old fear, violence, walking on egg shells. The one thing that was different was she started making sure she wasn’t home.”
When her mother wasn’t around, 15-year old Deborah became the target of Gene’s aggression.
“One day my stepfather came home drunk on a Monday morning, and she was gone. He just started ranting and raving. As I got up from the table with my glass of milk, he knocked it out of my hand and punched me in the mouth.”
Deborah ran to her grandparents house and called the police. Gene was arrested but released soon after.
“I was just so tired of living in fear and violence, so I had called my father.”
Her dad had mafia connections, and he sent someone to kill Gene.
“About 45 minutes later the doorbell rang, my stepfather was going to go to the door and all of a sudden you heard boom, boom, boom. Wood was flying everywhere. Someone had come and shot through the door. After that happened, they of course called the police. It was just a miracle no one was shot; bullets went into every room.”
Her dad was charged with his involvement in the shooting. The night before his court date, Deborah secretly met him.
“My father and I were sitting on the couch, and we were visiting after we had went out for dinner. The door flew open, and it was my stepfather with a gun. So I jumped up and I just said, ‘No, don’t!’ He was only a couple feet from my father, and he shot him in the heart. He died instantly. I was just in such shock, I started screaming. I ran down the stairs. He ran one direction, I ran the other.”
Gene was convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison. But Deborah continued to live in constant fear and confusion.
“I became very doubtful of there being a God, because I thought He made the bad happen. I wanted nothing to do with Him, because I thought that’s a cruel God.”
She married when she was 17 years old, but even her husband Kirk couldn’t make Deborah’s fears go away. She says, “I went to substance abuse. I was just so depressed I couldn’t sleep at night.”
One night, after Kirk went to bed, Deborah sneaked out to the couch to smoke marijuana and cry herself to sleep. A TV show caught her attention.
“I heard someone on TV say Jesus Christ is the healer of the brokenhearted. You [can] ask the Lord to help you no matter where you are. I thought, ‘Oh, I really need His help.’ So I prayed this prayer, and I asked Jesus to forgive me and come into my heart. It was just so amazing. I just felt this heaviness lift from me, and I felt so different. After that day, it was so wonderful to be able to have peace.”
Deborah started going to church and reading her Bible. “It was such a wonderful feeling to find out that God is not the author of the bad but will help you through it.”
As Deborah grew in her faith, she knew that there was something she needed to do… forgive her stepfather.
“When it came to my stepfather, I said, ‘I can’t do it. It’s just not possible.’ Well, I knew that God said that we needed to forgive to be forgiven. I knew that I didn’t have the strength to do it, but I found out that the Lord was our strength.”
Not only was she able to forgive gene, she was able to lead him to Christ!
“So we joined hands and we prayed. He sincerely asked Jesus to forgive him of his sin, come into his heart. It was just so freeing. I can’t even find the words to express how freeing. Now I cry tears of joy all the time instead of the other. It’s so much better.”
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