Last night, I reluctantly went with my mother and one of her friends to listen to someone speak—share their testimony—at a church in South Carolina. Because I am often bored at these types of affairs—frequently dozing off (snoring is involved)—I fully expected to be nudged, poked, and prodded by my mother and her friend several times.
While we were waiting for the speaker to begin, I realized the person I would be listening to would be a slightly hunched, little old lady. Thinking to myself, “This is going to be worse than I thought,” I settled in for a long, boring night. The only thing I could think of to save myself from falling asleep—and possible physical harm—was the hope of being able to sneak out my phone, and start texting people.
I began the process of tuning her out when she began her slow approach to the podium. “Better to start now than after I start snoring,” was the thought going through my mind. When she seemed a little confused on how to operate the microphone that was attached to her head, I felt that all my negative thoughts about what type of evening it was going to be were justified.
The moment she opened her mouth my whole attitude about what I was going to witness that evening changed. It was not the fact that her childhood was something out of a horror story, nor did it have anything to do with how much her life had changed that caught my attention. For me, it was the simple hope she had as a child, which she still seemed to have—even as a slightly hunched, little old lady.
She grew up in world where she was not wanted; she was abused, and told how ugly she was. She was not hugged, she was not comforted, and she was constantly told she was unlovable. The only time people touched her was to hurt her.
Even as ancient as she was, she showed us with clenched fists and gritted teeth how angry she became as a child. It was as if she was determined to show all of those people just how ugly and unlovable she could be. From the way she described herself as a child, she was a mean, ugly brat who wanted nothing more than to lash out and hurt everyone and everything around her. After all, no one loved her, and no one wanted her.
There came a day when she was compelled to attend a “religious service.” She described how angry the beauty of the college girls who came to share their testimonies made her. She was so ugly, and they were not. As the beautiful college girls were leaving the room, one of them stopped, turned around, and told all the children gathered there that “Jesus loved them.” That little statement changed that ugly, mean, unlovable girl’s life.
From then on she held onto the hope and the promise of God’s love. She knew even if no human being ever loved her or wanted her, God did. It sustained her through many more years of abuse and rejection. It also turned her into a trailblazer. She and her husband were the first missionaries to the Dani tribe in Irian Jaya.
The name of this remarkable, slightly hunched little old lady is Dorie Van Stone, and she rocked my world.