Kalani Apilado: I grew up in a family that was involved in drugs. My father was a drug dealer. And my mother was a drug user, along with a lot of uncles and aunties. That was kind of the downfall [of] our family. My father wouldn’t make much money because my mom would use it before selling it. One day, we were living at the park and my [grandfather] picks us up, tells us to get in the truck. So we listen to him. My mom is all strung out. We tell her that we’re going with our [grandfather], not realizing that we’re never coming back.
My name is Kalani Apilado. I was born on the island of Kauai, [Hawaii], and raised on the west side of Kauai, in the city of Kekaha.
Growing up I had a lot of challenges. I’ve endured the divorces…and raised by drug-addict parents. And I was homeless for a portion of my life.
“We Were Always Hiding”
My father was a drug dealer. And my mother was a drug user. My father was in and out of jail, which at the time, he was the one that was paying the rent and most of the bills.
We lived either in her [mom] van or we would move from park to park until the park rangers would kick us out. For us, it was… it was difficult because we wouldn’t have warm showers. Sometimes we wouldn’t have food.
I wasn’t in one particular school for very long. It was a quarter here or a quarter there. And eventually, I circled back to the first school that I went to.
“There Was Always Food At The Baptist Church”
Going to school with the same clothes, getting picked on and teased – that was a difficult thing to endure as a child. We had to move from school to school, it’s because…we would try to camp in one certain area, in one city. We would go to the extent of hiding our campsite in areas where it’s not seen by the public. But eventually, someone ends up finding us. Either police would get called or some agency would come and tell us that we’re not allowed to be there and we would have to move.
Whether I was homeless or not, my great [grandmother] would pick us up every Sunday and bring us to the Baptist Church. And we would only attend because we knew that they had food after the children’s worship service.
“I Got Involved In Sports”
One day, we were living at the park and my [grandfather] picks us up, tells us to get in the truck. So we listen to him. My mom is all strung out. And we tell her that we’re going with our [grandfather], not realizing that we’re never coming back.
When my [grandfather] took us in, he was just tired of seeing the way that we lived. The last name is such a big thing to him. When we played sports, we made his last name look good. So that motivated us to do better in sports, which just made us better in the community because we started engaging ourselves with community events and activities.
I’m very thankful for my [grandfather] because he didn’t need to take us in. He didn’t need to reach out and retrieve us from where we were currently living. He took it upon himself to want to bring us in and make us better. And I feel like I am better because of him.
“I Wanted To Hear Something Good”
I first learned about the Church Of Christ when I was 16 years old. The reason why I started listening more in the Church Of Christ…is because of brethren, like Brother William, who reached out to me [and] brought me to the Church Of Christ.
At the time, the things that I was going through, I wanted to hear that there was something good out there. And the lessons that [were] taught…here in the Church Of Christ, made a lot of sense. And I think I wanted to be a part of what the Church Of Christ was because of how welcoming the brethren were and how they made me feel when I first entered.
When I first heard the doctrine of the Church Of Christ being the only true Church, I didn’t believe what was being said because I grew up as a Baptist, which they preached to me, from what I understood, that anyone could go to heaven as long as they just believed in God and Jesus Christ. Learning more about why the Church Of Christ believes that this is the true Church and having…evidence from the Bible, verses from the Bible related to you, definitely would make anyone a believer.
“Prayer Helped Me Through Tough Times”
Part of my Bible studies happened before I went to military training. Because I left, I didn’t get to finish the rest of my lessons. Part of the lessons I remember was prayer. And I would pray every day through training, which I felt like it helped. That was where I felt that God was with me because of some of the lessons that I learned through Bible study.
I finally decided to register to become a [Bible student in] the Church Of Christ because I felt like I finally got my life together. That was the first thing I wanted to do when I got back from my military training.
My favorite answered prayer was when we were going through some difficult financial times. I was working three or four different jobs at the time. And I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. So that’s why I took the police exam not expecting it to go anywhere, but I remembered asking God that, “If this is what you want me to do, please help me to do my best.” So I passed the exam. And six years later, I was selected as the Officer of the Year for Kauai…and also the Top Cop in the State of Hawaii. And now, I just got promoted [to] a different position in the department.
“The Church Of Christ Changed Me For The Better”
With the current situation that my family is in, they’re still living on the streets and still doing drugs. And me, as a law enforcement officer, I do collide with them [on] certain occasions. There [were] a few incidents where I had to deal with my mother and my younger siblings that resulted [in] me having to arrest both of them. Nobody else would treat them the way that I would treat them. They wouldn’t…be so compliant with anyone else. So I took the opportunity…and arrested both of them on their warrants.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) changed my life…because it surrounded me with people that had the best interest for me. It’s good to feel that you’re not alone. I think everyone wants to feel like they’re a part of something. And that there’s always someone backing them up. And I feel great knowing that God has my back.