Had it not been for these years, I might never have known these dear people, from whom I was soon to be parted. The French have a saying, Partir c’est de mourir un peu, “To part is to die a little.”
A Missionary at War
Darlene Diebler and her husband Reverend Russell Diebler landed in New Guinea on August 18, 1938. It was their first wedding anniversary. Through many trials and tribulations, they were to begin a ministry deep in the jungles of New Guinea with the tribal people. But by 1942, the Philippines had been invaded by the Japanese and the Indonesian islands were next. The Dieblers and the other missionary families in the region were seized and eventually taken to POW camps. What followed for the next 3-4 years opened Darlene’s eye to the extreme suffering a Christian can endure. The only way to survive? To trust in an Almighty God to save and protect.
Faith in the Jungle
A quick aside before I get into my full review: I made the mistake of checking the Goodreads reviews on Darlene Diebler Rose’s book while I was in the middle of reading it this week. I was shocked to find that many of the reviewers felt Darlene’s faith and doctrine were “shallow” and no more than surface deep. There was even somewhat of a mockery in discussing how her memorization of Scripture did not save her. While this is true, I believe these readers missed the forest for the trees. Scripture memorization is an important and encouraging part of the Christian life. Dear reader, the faith of this precious women is a gift from God to us – an example of His gracious presence as we pray and meditate on His word even in the midst of horrific suffering. Do not always judge a book by the critical reviews!
Now for my review. 🙂
I am in complete awe of how God worked through Darlene while she was suffering in the Kampili POW camp. This story was incredible, and gave me chills similar to what I felt whilst reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The story grabs you from the very beginning and doesn’t let you go until you’ve traversed every valley and hiked every mountain top. The heart of a missionary sold out for the Lord is a wondrous thing to read about.
There is none of the usual troubling content, naturally, as this is a missionary auto-biography. However, the story written here is often dark, disturbing, and descriptive of the horrors suffered by Darlene and the other POWs. This is not easy to read, and I was frequently moved to tears. The physical and psychological beatings, trials, and tribulations are frightening at times, perhaps because one realizes that it was another human who inflicted this suffering on their fellow man. This is a true story and is not to be taken lightly. A consideration here: this is not a book for a young audience.
As for Darlene’s faith, we see her struggle on a daily basis. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of reviews proclaimed her faith as shallow and based on over-used Scripture references. I found this not to be true. I was greatly encouraged, even by her struggle. It is true that struggles can often display the shallow faith of the Believer who suffers, but this is not the case with Darlene. She believes as the psalmists do: she pours out her grief, hurt, anger, and pain before the Lord God and then rests in the peace and comfort that He provides through His presence in prayer and Scripture.
Speaking of Scripture, Darlene’s autobiography is filled with Scripture that she committed to memory years before she was on the mission field. Again, this is a portion of her book that was taken lightly and irreverently by other reviewers. Memorization of Scripture and meditation on the promises of God is not evidence of a shallow faith, in fact it displays just the opposite! I am challenged by Darlene’s example to continually meditate on Scripture and work hard to hide it in my heart now. How are we to know how long our Christian liberty will go on in this country? How do we know when the Bible will no longer be allowed in our homes and churches? Now is the time to bring Scripture into our hearts and minds through memorization!
To Read or Not to Read
Darlene Diebler Rose’s life gives us a rather intense study into suffering, grief, and the Christian life in the midst of unimaginable circumstances. The long and short of it is this: all things are possible through Christ!
To some that sounds trite. True, it is an overused verse, and is often used for silly reasons such as encouraging good performance in a sports championship. But if Darlene were here today, she would attest to the grace and strength of Christ as her only reason for making it through what we would consider to be hell on earth.
Let this be our hope: this earth is the worst hell we will ever endure. What a great salvation we have to glory in! But let us also remember this, as Darlene, Russell, and many other missionaries have: this earth is the greatest heaven the unbelieving will ever partake in. The hope we have should in turn remind us to seek out those who have not been saved that they too may join us in the worship of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
If you don’t have plans this weekend, let me help you. Go find Evidence Not Seen and settle in for a story that could change your life and your faith. You just might need a wake up call to the glory of your God.
Until the next time! 🙂
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