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The 700 Club - November 19, 2021

“I remember hiding in the bathroom at school, eating saltine crackers--buttered saltine crackers for lunch—in the bathroom because I was so embarrassed that I wouldn’t eat it with the rest of the kids at the lunch table,” says Bobby Dorton.

Bobby Dorton was no stranger to poverty. Growing up in a small town in Alaska, he was raised by his maternal grandparents, a loving, hard-working Christian couple, who did the best they could with what little they had.

“I wanted to have something like these other kids had, like the new shoes, the nice clothes, not the stuff from the Value Village, like where I’d get my stuff. I didn’t feel accepted. I felt very different,” says Bobby. As he approached his teen years, his shame became his driving force.

“You really never see somebody making—working hard getting a bunch of money. What you do see though, is you see the drug dealers driving in the nice cars, driving with the pretty girls. And you're thinking, ‘Oh! I want that!’" says Bobby. “As I got closer to high school, I knew what I had to do.”

So, at 13, he bought some marijuana, selling it at a profit. For the first time, he had money in his pocket, and could buy and do whatever he wanted.

“All of a sudden now I’m not eating saltine crackers anymore. Even the high schoolers used to come talk to me and they wanted what I had and that made me feel really important,” says Bobby.

Then, his grandfather, a substance abuse counselor, discovered Bobby’s secrets, and told his now 16-year-old grandson if he didn’t stop dealing, he’d have to leave.

“I was like, ‘Really, Grandpa? What did I ever do to you?’” says Bobby. “You know. He goes, ‘It’s not what you did to me, it’s what you’re doing to yourself.’ It broke my heart to see my grandpa you know, with his heart broken like that. But I knew that I’ve already made that choice as a young kid that I would never live like him,” says Bobby.

Bobby, now a high-school dropout, spent the next fifteen years moving from town to town, chasing bigger profits, and selling harder drugs. He’d go on to father three children with three different women, never staying around for long. By his 30s, he was making tens of thousands of dollars a day.

“I was Bobby Dorton, and when people talked about Bobby Dorton it was like they were talking about a force to be reckoned with,” says Bobby.

What made him feel accepted, though, cost him his friends and freedom. Now a fugitive from police, Bobby was alone, unable to trust anyone. Then other things crept in that he hadn’t counted on—regret and guilt. You see, Bobby’s parents were drug addicts, and he was starting to see the role he was playing in helping people destroy their own lives through addiction.

“I would have rather have been that poor kid eating Saltine crackers than to sit there and watch people get high on drugs, that I’m giving them an overdose,” says Bobby. “I was so miserable that just wanted to die.”

Then one night, counting his cash alone, and riddled with guilt.... Bobby says, “There was a lot of hurt that I’ve caused. And I was like saying to myself, ‘Is this what I became? Well, if this is what I became I don’t need to be alive no more, and I picked up my .45 and uh and I-and I cocked it. My daughter calls at 4:30 in the morning, my daughter’s just a little girl at this time, right?” says Bobby. “She’s like 10 years old. She calls and she says, ‘Dad, something just woke me up and made me call you.’” Emotional, Bobby continues, “Yeah, I threw the gun.”

Bobby had no idea how to fix the problems he’d created. He even felt beyond the forgiveness of the loving God his grandparents had told him about. “I lived for so long in that-that dark lifestyle that why would He forgive me,” says Bobby. Still, he asked for help. “I prayed that God would intervene and stop me and-and do whatever He needs to do to get me,” says Bobby.

Just weeks later, U.S. Marshalls found Bobby and took him into custody. Taking a plea deal, he was sentenced to thirteen years in prison. One day, in solitary confinement for fighting, he asked for something to read. A guard brought him a Bible. Three days later, Bobby finally opened it.

“So, I started reading the book and talked about Paul being redeemed because like he was a Christian killer and he was forgiven,” says Bobby. “And now he’s an apostle. And I was thinking, ‘Oh, if-if a Christian killer can be forgiven, I can definitely be forgiven.”

Then Bobby felt something he describes as an electric shock. “Like tingles. And then all those feelings that I had of being tough guy and-and proving myself and all that, all those things left me; right then and there, it left me. I was so happy,” says Bobby.

When he got out of solitary, a Christian woman who worked in the prison saw Bobby reading the Bible and offered to pray with him.

“Jesus, forgive me for my sins and show me a new way to live; I have no control of the steering wheel no more, that you’re in total control of where my life goes from here on out,” says Bobby. “I trust in You and I believe in You and I-I believe that you have a better path for me one day to-to be better than I ever was.”

Not only was Bobby now living his life for God, he’d soon live as a free man. After serving less than five years of his sentence, he was released on early parole. Since then, he’s built strong relationships with his daughters and became a substance abuse counselor, just like his grandfather. He’s also started “Healing Homes,” a housing program for people coming out of addiction and incarceration. 

“When I surrendered to God is when I gave my all to Him,” says Bobby. “He gave me a peace that uh that I am enough. I-I know I’m enough.”

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