Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God's Companionship

Leslie Basham: As Dorie Van Stone grew up abused and neglected, without adequate clothes or food, here's what she learned about God.

Dorie Van Stone: "That He would be my father and my mother and my brother and my sister. He would be everything I needed. People, I mean that! Everything I needed."

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Thursday, July 10. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: All this week on Revive Our Hearts we're listening to a testimony that I think touches at the core of what so many women are experiencing today. The story of Dorie Van Stone, who as a little girl was abandoned by her mother, sent to live in an orphanage where she was abused routinely and then sent to live in a series of foster homes where the abuse continued.

This is not an easy story to listen to. If you have children in your home, this is not a story that you want them to hear at a young age, because they are not prepared to listen to some of the details that we'll hear in this story.

And if you've experienced this kind of abuse, you may not want to listen to it either. But I would say it's worth hearing this story, because throughout this dark, depressing series of circumstances there is this ray of hope and grace that keeps shining into her dark world, as she has come to know Christ, now, as a young teenager and has been given a Bible, and is reading that Bible daily and finding there's something to cling to, a safe place, a refuge in the midst of her very tormented world.

So, as we pick up the story today, Dorie is still in this foster home that she calls "the house of meanness." And she gives us some more detail about some of the atrocities that she experienced in that foster home. And you'll hear how the Word of God came to her, in that very desperate setting, something that was precious and life-giving and really a sustaining force in the heart of this young woman.

Let's join Dorie Van Stone.

Dorie Van Stone: I'm going to ask you to turn to the 139th Psalm, and I'm going to read some Scripture to you. I'm going to start with that first verse. "O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou doest know when I sit down and when I rise up. Thou doest understand my thought from afar. Thou doest scrutinize my path and my lying down. Thou art intimately acquainted with all my ways. And even before there was a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou doest know it all. Thou hast enclosed behind and before, and Thou hast laid Thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; too high, I cannot attain to it."

Let me go down to verses 13, 14, 15 and 16. "For Thou didst form my inward parts, Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. And I will give thanks to Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And wonderful are Thy works; and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth." Now listen carefully, "Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance, and in Thy book they were written, the days that were accorded me, when as yet, there was not a one of them."

You know, it's going to be a little difficult, but as I share it, I want you to remember again, it's the God that's been my comfort. He knew my days before I ever had one. Whenever I read that I am comforted because I realize again, God had a purpose in all of it.

And I want you to know there was a time when I lived in this house in San Francisco. I call it now the house of meanness, since we wrote this second book No Place to Cry. And in this house of meanness, where I was telling you I could only take a bath one day a month.

But then, when the woman would call me in to take my bath one day a month, she'd have a note on the door and I'd go in. I could never, never draw water. So she'd sit on the edge and draw up about this much water. My hang up was at how much water.

I can feel comfortable with about this much when my gorgeous daughter has me come visit her and she was here last night. She put bubble bath and everything in it and I just soak and my grandkids will come knock on the door and say, "Mimi, times up." And I'd tell them, "Go away, I'm soaking."

But then, there was about this much water. I'd have to undress in front of her. No privacy. And then she would take a great big leather belt, as she'd tell me to scrub and to hurry. And with that leather belt, it was like what the fellows used to use--I'm telling you, I'm an antique--when they'd sharpen their razors. She'd take it and hit you. And when you're wet and they hit you, it stings.

I didn't get my elbows clean or my neck or my knees or feet or anything else. You'd have to hurry and get out. But, let me tell you. I said last night that I would sleep in a hallway in a little cot. I did, because there were certain nights when I slept there, they would allow the men to come through and get me. But you know where I slept the rest of the nights? May I tell you? Apartments are all alike and this apartment wasn't different than any other one; and they all had porches. And out on the porch there was a big wide double cabinet. One door was off. They would fold an old dirty blanket. I could even describe it, which I won't now. And they'd put it down in the bottom. And that's where I slept the rest of the nights.

I know how a dog feels. They would never call me to see if I was there. The man would open the door and give a kick and I would go "ouch!" And he's say yea, she's there. I did know how dogs feel. I did know what rejection was. I did know what it felt like to be afraid, but I also knew something else. In spite of all of that, when the light would come through the window, I would take that little New Testament and read it until I could get into the bathroom and kneel by the bathtub and there find my verses.

It was then in those days, when it was so extreme and so difficult, then I realized that the only one that really cared anything about me was the Lord. And Lord, I'm gonna trust you. You're the one that's known me from the beginning. I'm gonna run to you when I'm afraid. I'm gonna call to you.

I remember walking down the streets of San Francisco. Do you know what I looked like? May I share it with you? Their kids were way bigger than I was. When their shoes would wear out they'd give them to me and tell me to put them on. I'd say, "They have a big hole in them." They'd say, "Put them on. You grew up in the gutter, you're gonna stay in the gutter." I'd say, "But, sir." "You heard me, put them on." I'd put them on; I'd tie them. I could walk out of them.

I learned a beauty tip. Want to hear about it girls? You put rubber bands around the shoe. Not the little tiny ones, cause when you walk on them they flip and then hit you. But you use the great big thick ones. You put them all over the shoe and the foot. If they get loose you reach down and tie a knot and they'll stay. And I'd be walking like that. Dorie, you didn't like that. Yes, I did.

So, sometimes I'd find a pin and pin the hole. Sometimes you couldn't even find a pin, so I'd take the part of the garment that was holey, pull it together and get a piece of string and tie it so I'd have great big things like this all over me.

People would look at me. I looked awful. And then the matted hair and then the stench from not being able to bathe. I'd walk around and I'd look in those windows in the stores where the mannequins are. They're always in such funny shapes. You know, with all these gorgeous clothes on and they're real, real skinny. And I'd look at those mannequins and I'd look at those clothes and say, "Oh, Lord, if I could look nice, one time, just once."

Now, I was reading about the garment of righteousness and "You look beautiful to Me, daughter." And I'm thinking, "Lord, I gotta get You glasses?" I got on the holey shoes, and these awful looking clothes. The King's daughter, as God's Word tells us, is all glorious within. Oh, Father, thank you.

Listen, I know what it is to be hungry. I've stolen food. I learned a lesson, I'd go by all those fruit carts in San Francisco and steal me an apple or steal me an orange or an apricot. And then the more I read the words of this book that told me all the things I wasn't to do.

I remember going by one of those carts that I use to steal the most off of cuz' he's an old man and I went up to him one day and I told him that I'd been stealing some of his fruit, and that I had become a Christian and I knew Jesus, and I was so, so sorry. I said, "Sir, I don't know how I can ever pay you back, but I want you to know what I did and I will never, never do it again.

He was polishing an apple on his arm, like that. He said, "Is that so, kid? Do you know how many people steal off my cart? You're the first one to ever come and admit it; here have one on the house." Isn't that the Lord showing you a lesson? To be honest and don't do things like that. But then I found out something. I found out that God says man doesn't live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Now, Dorie.

Now, I want to tell you something. Sometimes the hunger pains would be so great I'd be crying. But you know what I really saw when I walked along those streets in San Francisco. I'd walk along and I'd look and I went, "Oh, I see what I want, Lord." As I walked down the streets I'd see moms and dads holding little kids. I'd see a little kid on daddy's shoulders and I'd say, "That's what I want. Somebody with flesh." I'd see girlfriends walking arm and arm and I'd think, "Oh, Lord, to have a friend like that, with skin on them." And you know what?

The Lord showed me from his Word that He would be my father and my mother and my brother and my sister. He would be everything I needed. People, I mean that! Everything I needed. I looked so ugly and so dirty and so messy, I wasn't invited to little girls houses. "Get away, get away we don't want you!" And the Lord showed me He could be my closest friend. "I'll be closer to you than a brother." How close is that? "I will indwell you." Can't get closer than that.

You know, sometimes I have to apologize the way I speak and I have a couple of dear friends tell me, "You know, Dorie, you're always saying 'we.'" And I journal everything, and I say "we." "We got back, Lord." Who's the 'we,' Dorie? The Lord, the Lord.

He was with me. And He said, "I'll never leave you and I'll never forsake you." And everywhere I went, He was there.

Now, I'm going to turn to Psalm 71, and I want to read verses five and six. "For thou art my hope, O Lord God, thou art my confidence from my youth. And by Thee I've been sustained. Thou art He who took me from my mother's womb and my praise shall be continually of Thee."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We've been listening to Dorie Van Stone. It was actually the pain and the shame and the fear and the rejection that Dorie experienced as a teenage girl that drove her to the Word of God. All she had was God and His Word and His Spirit. She did find that His grace really was sufficient for her.

I know from reading letters from many of you that some of you are in circumstances that you consider utterly helpless. But I hope that as you've been listening to Dorie's story that you're realizing that in the midst of the darkest, most helpless circumstance, God's Word and God's love and God's grace really can sustain you.

If you are His child, He lives inside of you and He has promised to be everything that you need. The important thing is that in the midst of your circumstances you get to know God for who He really is.

A book that's been very helpful to me and to many others that I know, in coming to know God in that life-changing way is a book by my friend, Kay Arthur. Her book is called Lord, I Want to Know You. No matter how difficult or painful the circumstances you may be facing, your greatest need is to get to know God.

This is a book that will help you in that journey. And I would encourage every believer, whether you ever experienced this kind of abuse or not. I'd encourage you to order a copy of this book and to get to know God in a way that will be your means of refuge and healing and grace.

Leslie Basham: Thanks, Nancy. To get a copy of Kay Arthur's study Lord, I Want to KnowYou, just give us a call at 1-800-569-5959.  Or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We'd love to hear how this week's programs have affected you. You can write and let us know at Revive Our Hearts.

Now as you've been listening to Dorie's testimony this week, you may have had the thought, Why would God allow all these things to happen to a little girl? Dorie will address that question tomorrow. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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