Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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God Is Writing a Story: Maria

Dannah Gresh: When Maria Toro’s’ husband left the family, her six sons wondered how to navigate life without a dad. She acknowledges the situation was tough for her sons.

Maria Toro: A Spanish woman with this many kids, the stats are that you’re all going to be criminals. But we’re going to show the whole world that Jesus will not allow this in our family.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for December 9, 2019.

Nancy, do you ever feel like trials come in waves? Instead of handling one tough thing at a time, it just feels like they all seem to hit at once.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Yes. Both of us have been through some of those stormy seasons. It can be hard sometimes to even know how to pray. Sometimes all you can say is, “Help, Lord!”

Dannah: Yes. Our guest today has gone through some of those stormy seasons, but you wouldn’t know it. She is full of joy, living out Philippians 4, which describes the peace the Lord gives. It’s peace beyond understanding.

Nancy: I can’t wait to hear the story.

Maria: My name is Maria Toro, and I’m from Pennsylvania.

Dannah: Maria was born in Columbia.

Maria: When my parents brought me to America, I was ten years old, in Staten Island. I got married. I went to school, and I went to the university in the city, in Manhattan.

Dannah: Maria remembers when she started listening to Revive Our Hearts on the radio. Nancy, remember when the program was a little shorter?

Nancy: I sure do. It started as a fifteen-minute program in the early days.

Dannah: That is when Maria started listening to Revive Our Hearts.

Maria: I started listening to Nancy’s fifteen minutes on the radio. I used to own a florist shop. So first thing in the morning I would put my Christian radio on. Nancy would come on at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

Dannah: Maria had a daughter and six sons. She would listen on her own, and then go online to find the transcript. She wanted to share what she was learning with her family.

Maria: I would have the boys print it out for me so that everybody would read it.

Dannah: Maria’s children were eager to listen with her, but her husband didn’t share their passion to learn God’s Word.

Maria: He would always rip our Bibles. He would always call us names. He called me names all the time. He would always just be very difficult.

Dannah: I know in the early days of Revive Our Hearts, you taught many series on how to handle the storms of life.

Nancy: Yes. In fact, the very first series we ever recorded for this ministry was on dealing with the storms of life. I often tell women, “You’re either coming out of a storm; you’re in a storm, or you’re headed into a storm.” I found it so important in my own life and ministering to other women to remember to cling to Christ through those storms.

Nancy on radio: When we’re fearful, when we’re feeling overwhelmed, when we’re feeling attacked or threatened, perhaps going through a season of grief, when we’re feeling desperately needy, when we’re facing deserts or storms or enemies, what are we to do? Run for the wings. Take refuge under His wings.

What does that mean? 

  • It means I draw near to Him as the Scripture commands me to. 
  • It means I look up to Him, and I trust myself to Him. 
  • I trust that He is capable to handle these circumstances. 
  • Then I stop wrestling. I stop striving. 
  • And I just do what the Scripture says and be still, be safe, be protected—trust in that place of dependence that He is going to provide all that I need.

Dannah: That teaching on Revive Our Hearts was a lifeline for Maria because storms started to rage around her. Her husband was unfaithful and left the family for a time. When Maria welcomed him back, he led the family in a difficult move.

Maria: He left us, and then he came back. Then when he came back, he said, “We’re moving to Pennsylvania.” So we moved to Pennsylvania.

Dannah: And there those storms continued to rage.

Maria was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The doctors said the cancer came about because of an infection her husband gave her, a result of his unfaithfulness.

Nancy on radio: There is no tower in the world that is strong enough to be our refuge when the attacks come if we haven’t run to God. He is the only Tower that will be left standing. After all men and nations and kings and wars have done their devastation, there is one place that will be left standing. One refuge—and that’s the refuge of God. The name of the Lord is a strong tower.

While we’re running from other problems and other things that are crumbling around us, we need to be running to the strong tower, that is the name of the Lord.

Dannah: Around this time, Maria noticed something about her sons: They sang all the time.

Maria: And the boys said, “When we moved, there were no more people to play with. There was only cornfields.” So they went down in the basement, and they started singing together. I would take them to Sunday school, and they knew all the Sunday school songs, and we would sing them at home. If they were riding their bikes, they would be singing together.

Maria’s boys singing:

Rescue me. Won’t You rescue me.
Rescue me. Won’t You rescue me.
And we’ll walk into my destiny when You rescue me.
Won’t You rescue me.1

Maria: And now the oldest one left for college. The school would ask my boys to sing.

Dannah: Even though her sons were making joyful music, the storms continued to rage. Maria needed her husband’s support while she got treatments for cervical cancer, but instead of taking care of her, Maria’s husband left for good.

Maria: The last time that he left was harder than the other times because I had trusted him back. There were times when I would just sit and cry, and those boys would hug me and say, “Mom, Mom, remember Jesus is the one.” They would hug me and say, “He will help us. He will help us.” I just ran to the Word of God. It just lifted me up and still does. And He said, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Dannah: During this time God used Revive Our Hearts to get His Word into Maria’s heart. She found the biblical truth very practical for knowing how to keep going day by day. She says without Revive Our Hearts . . .

Maria: I don’t think I would have made it. I didn’t know how to do it. I needed someone tangible to teach me how to go 1, 2, 3. You know what I mean?

Dannah: Maria was convicted that God was calling her to be faithful to the vow she had made to her husband, even though he had abandoned the family.

Maria: Two days after he left, I got on my knees and I said, “I want to keep this ring because I’m a woman of one man. You know my husband, but can You make me a eunuch so I don’t look at anyone ever?”

And my son, the son that’s a pastor in California, said, “Mama, eunuchs are only boys.”

And I said, “No, He can do that for me. This way I won’t look at anyone.”

Dannah: Maria watched God answer prayer. She went back to her doctors and got a clean bill of health—no cervical cancer! She was able to tell her doctors about God’s power to sustain her through these storms and to heal her. 

She knew her sons needed to see God provide forthemas well. They knew God designed them to have a momanda dad. She remembers them asking her:

Maria: “Momma, what are we going to do without a daddy?”

And I said, “I know that the stats are that a Spanish woman with this many kids, you’re all going to be criminals. But we’re going to show the whole world that Jesus will not allow this in our family.”

Dannah: It was around this time you began to teach a series on Revive Our Hearts called “Seeking Him.

Nancy, can you describe that series?

Nancy: Yes. I took time to teach through some basic truths of what it means to seek the Lord and how we can walk through a journey of experiencing personal revival in our lives. Some of those foundational principles are: humility, honesty, repentance, holiness, and purity. And then Tim Grissom and I also wrote a workbook called Seeking Him, leading people through that process of personal revival.

Dannah: Well, Nancy, that series and that workbook came at just the right time for Maria. 

Maria: Just the word, the sentence, “Seeking Him,” helped me to picture myself going to Jesus, getting on my knees and saying, “This is what I have, and this is what’s going on. I need You to fill me up.” And He would. Then I can continue. I don’t fall apart.

Nancy on radio, “Seeking Him”: When those negative feelings do come, don’t wait for them to grow, to fester, to build up. But turn immediately to the Source of grace—grace—grace. Put away all bitterness. Instead, forgive one another. See to it that no one fails to receive the grace that God wants to give.

Dannah: Investing in the Seeking Him workbooks took a level of sacrifice for Maria. 

Maria: I always lived on what the Lord provided because when my husband divorced me, I lost my insurance.

Dannah: She had limited income, but Maria not only wanted a Seeking Him book for herself, she also wanted to give copies to all her sons and the band members who had joined their group.

Maria: I put some money together in January, and I bought it. I bought eight or nine books. I bought the CDs.

Dannah: Around this time, Maria’s sons sensed God calling them into a full-time music ministry. When they played concerts, they wanted to interact with the crowd and invest deeply in their lives. They invited their mom to come along and help offer counsel to the audience. They said this:

Maria: “You come with us and you mentor the girls.” And that’s what we did. I traveled with them everywhere, and I would minister to the girls.

Dannah: And Maria brought those Seeking Him CDs and books on tour. This family had a lot of time together to go through this Bible study together.

Maria: We would do it in the car. So as we were touring, going to different churches, we would study Seeking Him.

Nancy: That reminds me of how I first met Maria.

We were at the Revive ’19 conference a few months ago. I was in a meeting with Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partners, and someone in the audience asked, “Is Seeking Him good for men as well as women?”

And from another part of the room, Maria spoke up and said, “Yes! It is! I’ve gone through it with my six sons!”

Well, that study had a big effect on those guys.

Maria: They told me, “Mom, can you teach the girls?” And so I did.

Dannah: Those six boys and members of their band were looking for godly women to date. They wanted Maria to teach Seeking Him to their potential spouses.

Maria: When they started dating, they asked me to do it with their girl friends.

Dannah: Maria still has her original copies of Seeking Him.

Maria: I’ve taken them to England and wherever we go. It’s the old set. It’s so ugly looking!

Nancy: Well, the good news for Maria and everyone else is this year we re-released Seeking Him with a new design.

Dannah: And I’m so excited, Nancy, because you taught this material on video. It’s perfect for small group use. Or maybe like Maria, many of our listeners want to lead their family through the study.

It had a huge effect on this family. They’re still in ministry and some of them are pastors.

Maria: I have three pastors. Two pastors in England, and one is an associate pastor in California.

Dannah: And Maria’s daughters-in-law use the resources from Revive Our Hearts to minister to women in their churches.

Maria: And so all the girls abide by that. They listen to Nancy devotedly every day and teach it. My daughter-in-law who is married to the head pastor in Birmingham teaches it every other Friday. They keep buying the different studies to teach to the women at the church.

Dannah: And now Maria is investing in a new generation as she and her grandchildren listen to Revive Our Hearts together.

Maria: My little girls—I have nine little girls and all the boys. Most of the girls are in England, and I have eleven grandsons. They all know about Revive Our Hearts. We read to them, and whatever book she mentions, we buy it. We read it. We teach. And, of course, the Word of God is special, the Bible.

Dannah: And God is working through Maria to even reach her extended family. Recently, she went to Columbia for a family reunion and was prompted to share the gospel.

Maria: I went to visit, and thirty-nine members of the family came to know Jesus. So I ministered to them.

Dannah: Remember the clip we heard at the beginning of the program? These boys wondered how they could go through life without a father? Now we know the answer.

Maria: “Mama, what are we going to do without a daddy?” 

And I said, “I know that the stats are that a Spanish woman with this many kids, you’re all going to be criminals, but we’re going to show the whole world that Jesus will not allow this in our family.”

That was twenty-some years ago. Now, they are still good men who are living for Jesus. They’re humans that make mistakes, but they love Jesus.

Dannah: Oh, wow! I am so grateful for Maria’s example. Instead of complaining or giving up when the storms of life came, she began focusing on others, investing in kids, and now her grandkids, and now as her children serve the Lord, that investment is being multiplied the world over. It’s just amazing to think that Revive Our Hearts played a role in investing in Maria.

Nancy, your teaching and your books helped her. They helped her through those storms. They helped fill her up so she could pour into others.

Nancy: It was a whole team investing in Maria over those years. We have dozens of staff who are involved in making the program and these resources available.

There are those who have given over the years to keep Revive Our Hearts on the air. Maybe you’re one of those who’s given to support this ministry.

In those early days when Maria turned on the radio and received hope and truth from the Word of God, that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of listeners like you. So if you’ve given to Revive Our Hearts, you’ve played a role in Maria’s story.

Dannah: Even though Maria struggled financially as a single mom all those years, she still wants to give to Revive Our Hearts so more women can hear the truth of God’s Word.

Maria never received child support from her husband. But not long ago she met with someone in the Social Security Administration. They helped Maria access funds that were rightfully hers based on her husband’s contributions, and here’s what that Social Security administrator said to her:

Maria: “Oh, girl, you’re gonna make it!”

So as of last year I started getting something every month. So now I can give.

Dannah: When Maria started getting Social Security, one of the first things she did was become a Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner. 

Nancy: Wow! That makes me think of that widow in Jesus’ day who gave all she had to live on—so little—but Jesus said, “She has given more than all these others.”

And I know I’m inspired by Maria’s example. Perhaps you are as well. Would you ask the Lord how He might want you to get involved in helping to support this ministry? 

Typically, close to half the donations we need for the entire year arrive during the month of December. So in order to encourage more women like Maria in the coming year, we need to hear from our listeners in a big way. 

Dannah: And to encourage others to get involved, some friends of this ministry have stepped forward with some special encouragement. Doubling every gift between now and December 31, they’ve provided a substantial matching challenge.

Nancy: And the ability to meet that challenge this month, even to exceed it, will enable us to continue our current outreaches and to speak to more women in the year ahead who need this message.

We’re asking the Lord to work through our listeners this month to meet the entire challenge and even beyond if that would please Him.

Dannah: We hope you’ll want to be a part of this special matching challenge. To do so, you need to make sure you provide your gift by December 31. To do that, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.

Nancy: Now, are you ever tempted to look at the next generation of teens and young adults and assume the worst? Do you ever think they’re just all so lost? Well, our guest tomorrow is going to challenge that thinking. Get good news about the next generation tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you tell a gospel story through your life. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1Universal Royal “Rescue Me”

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About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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