An Interview With Stephanie Fast
In popular culture, Little Orphan Annie lights up Broadway, singing about how wonderful it will all be “Tomorrow.” In literature, Oliver Twist smartly asks for “more porridge please.” These orphans are truly cute and their less than ideal situations are at least tolerable. Now, in a remarkable new memoir, She is Mine: A War Orphan’s Incredible Journey Of Survival (D & S Publishing, September 1, 2014, 224 pages), Stephanie Fast holds up a global mirror of truth–terrible and searing as it is–about the millions of young orphans who have no bright tomorrows to look forward to, and who are suffering horrifically right now due to the ravages of war, disease, famine, and other global catastrophes.
Unwanted by her mother’s people because of her bi-racial identity, Stephanie (the American name she would be given) was–unbelievable as it seems–completely abandoned at the tender age of four at a train station and left to wander the war-torn Korean countryside. Cruelly persecuted and tortured, she eventually wound up on a garbage dump, covered with boils and dirt, lice-infested, worm-ridden, and cross-eyed from malnutrition. Miraculously rescued, Stephanie still faced many other horrendous experiences before she caught the attention of a childless American couple at nine years old. Even then, her emotionally dead effect took years to overcome.
The miracle and uniqueness of this book is that it is written from a young girl’s point of view. We follow this tiny half-Korean, half-American, nameless, homeless, rootless child, and experience what she endures in a way that is deeply moving. Ultimately, this book is a testament to the human spirit and to the good that exists alongside the evil. It is also a testament to the power and ability of faith to heal the wounded heart.
LD: Please welcome author Stephanie Fast to I & R this week. Stephanie is on a blog tour and we are one of her stops! For those who aren’t familiar with your work Stephanie, can you tell us a little about yourself?
SF: I am involved in solving the world orphan crisis along with every other organization that has a heart for children who are vulnerable. I believe there is a solution and if everybody puts their heads together we can help every child. I spend my time educating and inspiring people to see what an orphan truly experiences. I use my life story to paint a picture. Whether it is my story 60 years ago or an abandoned child today in any war-torn or poverty-stricken country, the stories are the same.
LD: Tell us about your book.
SF: My story, She Is Mine, is written from a child’s perspective. I tell my story to spotlight the crisis of the orphan epidemic around the world. As you read my story, your heart and your mind will take you to those places where children have to fend for themselves. My hope is that every reader will say, “What can I do?”
LD: What inspired you to write this book?
SF: I speak domestically and internationally. Wherever I go, I have orphans and adoptees that come up and say, “You are telling my story!” Although the details of orphan lives differ, I realize that their hearts, emotions and trauma are the same, and everyone is trying to find an answer to, “Why?” Sadly, most children across the planet do not get the opportunity to share their stories, much less start the healing process necessary for them to experience how joyful and rewarding life can truly be. I often remember, with great sadness, the boy I wrote about in the book who could not take life anymore and threw himself onto the fire. I wrote this book of survival and redemption because I believe that is God’s desire for every one of His creations.
LD: That’s very sad. Hopefully, your book will bring hope to those who need it the most. Tell me, how were you saved?
SF: Due to the trauma in my life, it took me many years to truly believe that God loved me as He loved the rest of the world. In my late teens, I realized that I needed to choose God over all the lies that I believed in my head. I took a leap of faith and said, “God, if you’re who my mom and dad say you are, please come and show yourself to me!” And guess what, He did! For many years, I could not cry because I realized that tears would result in more abuse. When I said, “Jesus, come into my life,” God opened the floodgates. He began to heal me and cleanse me. All the bitterness and confusion seemed to dissipate at that moment, and although it has taken many years, there was a conviction deep within me that said, “Jesus is the One from whom I receive healing for my spirit, soul and body.”
LD: Amen! Do you volunteer in your church or community?
SF: I am involved in my community by volunteering in a correctional center for women. I also mentor post-adoption children and their parents. My husband and I have served as missionaries in Japan, in Christian school work, as youth pastors and as associate pastors.
LD: What is your favorite Scripture verse and why?
SF: There are many Scriptures that are very precious to my heart, but the essence of my relationship with God is based on Psalms 138:7-end of chapter (paraphrased). These verses say though the Lord is on high, He looks upon the lonely but the proud He knows from afar. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble you preserve my life, you stretch out your hand against the enemy of my foes. With your right hand you save me. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your love, Oh, Lord, endures forever. Do not abandon the works of your hand.” Psalms 139 (also paraphrased) is also special to me. God has searched for me, God knew me, knew when I was sitting down, when I was rising up. God perceived all the thoughts that were going on inside of me and He knew me inside and out. Even if I did not understand that God was for me, this Scripture reveals to me that before I even cried out for help, He knew all about it. Father God hemmed me in from behind and before. He had His hand upon me, too wonderful for me to conceive! Wow—He was there all the time, even if I didn’t see Him in my pain. I love verse 11 to verse 18: “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me. Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, Oh God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.” I realize that there is no way we can outsmart God. He knows us from the beginning of time. He searches us and He knows us. There is no anxiety because He is in control.
LD: The key is letting Him be in control so the anxiety and fears ease over time. Do you ever get discouraged? If so, how do you overcome it?
SF: Discouragement is a part of life. Over time, I have come to realize that the Word of God is true. As I am filled with His Spirit, over and over again, and rely on the truth of His Word, I have learned to let go of my own expectations and have learned to totally lean on God’s Word and direction. Through my relationship with the Holy Spirit, I practice often the art of forgiveness, of letting go, releasing judgment and bringing blessing to those people and to those situations that might derail me.
LD: What books do you enjoy reading?
SF: I love reading biographies, autobiographies and historical fiction.
LD: When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
SF: I am working hard toward my next book, Spirit of Mine, which I plan to release next year. I am convinced that this second book needs to be written to complete the story that God has written about my life.
LD: Thank you for stopping by Stephanie. I pray you have great success on your tour! If you want to touch base with Stephanie you can contact her at the links below.
About the Author:
Every life faces challenges, with some a lot more painful, and even in some cases incomprehensible. Such is the case with Stephanie Fast’s early life. After being deserted by her mother when she was just four or five years old, she was left helpless and vulnerable, nearly succumbing to a premature death. Unlike many destitute children in her situation, Stephanie refused to give up. She sensed she had a higher purpose, and fought with every ounce of her being, through hardship after hardship, just so she could survive.
Though Stephanie’s story takes place during the Korean War, her struggle is timeless. Every day, thousands of human beings around the world either abandon their children, or have their children kidnapped from them. Many of these abandoned children are left to live their lives in extreme poverty on the street, usually facing an early death, and the kidnapped others are often sold into the global sex trade to live their lives as slaves for the wealthy.
Stephanie is truly a bright light who shines out of the depths of this kind of hell. She persevered against all odds so that she could tell the searing truth of her story and of the collective orphan experience, to be the “witness” to a reality to which many of us would prefer to turn a blind eye.
Today Stephanie is widely known for her inspirational speeches. Her candor, warmth and honesty in the face of what she endured moves audiences to tears. But what moves them the most is her determination to become part of the solution and show them how they can too!
Ultimately, Stephanie Fast is a believer in the essential goodness of human nature: many loving souls came to her rescue, and for her this created a mandate to rally caring souls to join her in rescuing other children.