Archives For Darlene Deibler Rose

The inner fire

Renee Ann Smith —  October 19, 2011 — 20 Comments

“In everyone’s life, at some time, the inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner fire.” ~Albert Schweitzer~

C. S. Lewis

Corrie ten Boom with Billy Graham

Darlene Deibler Rose

Jim Elliot

J. R. R. Tolkien

Elisabeth Elliot

Amy Carmichael

Who would you add to this list?

Darlene and Russell during the happy days of language study in Holland

A continuation of Evidence Not Seen, the memoir of Darlene Deibler Rose.

Following Pearl Harbor and the sinking of two British warships, the Japanese attacked, invaded, and occupied island after island—Guam, Wake Island, Hong Kong. They surged onto the mainland through China, Korea, and French Indochina. They conquered the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, and the Malay Peninsula. Then they began work on the Netherlands East Indies. Russell and Darlene Deibler occupied a guestroom at the mission headquarters and waited to see what would happen next.

Darlene writes of her first meeting with the Japanese: “On March 5, while working in the garden, I was attracted by a noise in the yard and looked up to see a Japanese soldier wearing black tennis shoes rounding the corner of our house. The soldier pointed his gun, with fixed bayonet, at me, motioning me toward the house. As I was being propelled reluctantly forward, Russell, the Jaffrays, and more soldiers joined me and my escort.”

“We were herded into the living room. While we stood at attention (a soldier with a gun pointed at your back tends to make you do that), the commanding officer announced that we were prisoners of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Russell was standing in his customary way, with his hands in front of him, the palm of one

Soldiers taking prisoners

hand resting on the back of the other. It would have been impossible for him to be holding anything in his hands, but the posture nevertheless infuriated one of the officers, who snapped a brisk command in Japanese.

A soldier strode forward, raised his sheathed bayonet, and began to beat Russell’s hands again and again. Russell dared not resist. I was appalled. Finally, another missionary said, ‘Russell, they want you to put your hands down at your sides.”

“I was helpless with anger . . . This senseless maliciousness had its desired effect; we were greatly subdued.”

“Finally, making preparations to go, they impressed upon us that we were to have contact with no one outside the premises, nor were we to leave the conference grounds. If we did we would be shot!”

Those men were just the harbingers. Eventually, the Japanese troops completely overran the island, and the city officially surrendered. At first, the folks at the missionary headquarters seemed safe enough. They spent their days cooking, eating, studying the Bible, praying, gardening, and walking the perimeter of the property. But soon the day came when the trucks arrived to take the men.

Vehicles of war

When Darlene heard the neighbor men being herded into the trucks, she ran to her room for a pillowcase. Into it she put Russell’s Bible, a notebook, a pen, shaving gear, clothes, and a few other items. Once finished, she dashed into the yard searching for Russell. Then she saw him—already in the truck with the other POWs.

She felt terrified for him and feared he would be executed. Darlene said, All the other separations we had endured gladly, for those had entailed the cause of Christ’s kingdom. But this—this was different. The thought of this separation was excruciating.”

She writes: “I handed Russell the pillowcase and looked into the face that had become so dear to me. A cry of protest, of fear, strangled itself in my throat. I swallowed hard and clenched my fists.”

She decided she would not give the soldiers the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Russell leaned over the tailgate and very quietly said, “Remember one thing, dear: God said that He would never leave us nor forsake us.

The truck started with a jerk and disappeared down the road.

It was Friday, March 13, 1942.

Darlene remembers: “When the sun set and the night came on, the full import of my loss hit me again. Russell was gone.

Mounting the steps into God’s presence, I prayed and He came to me with the gift of remembrance of a little girl saying, ‘Lord, I’d go anywhere with You, no matter what it cost.’

Was that just an expression of childish enthusiasm resulting from an emotion-packed presentation of the mission field?

‘I meant it then, my Lord, to the level of my understanding. With greater understanding I confirm to You tonight, it is still anywhere—I leave the costing to You.’

He took my hand, and together we walked into a future yet unknown. But from that moment, the sting was gone from the wound.”

Soon after the surrender of the city, the soldiers forced entry into the main house and

Trying to survive in the ruined city

stockrooms to take what they wished, leaving no food supplies behind. Darlene’s trunks of wedding presents were also dragged into the yard and the locks forced. Whatever the soldiers didn’t want, they scattered about the drive.

Darlene testifies: “Bit by bit treasured keepsakes and souvenirs were being wrested from me. I was being taught to live so that my most treasured mementos took the form of beautiful memories stored in the file of my heart, where moth and rust—and soldiers—could not corrupt or destroy.”

The remaining occupants of the mission, several women and one older man the Japanese left behind, entered a period of privation. The soldiers gave them no rations, but the people they had led to the Lord risked their lives to bring them food (sometimes flying ants fried in coconut oil!) and, as often as possible, news of Russell and the other men.

Being on their own in the midst of a conquered city, took its toll in other ways. One night Darlene hopped out of bed, thinking to kill a rat which had found its way into the house, and came face to face with a Boegis bandit. With one fluid movement, the bandit extricated his knife from his belt and held it in striking position.

Surprisingly, Darlene rushed at him! And even more surprising, he turned and fled, down the hall, across the porch, and over the mountainside with Darlene in hot pursuit. Until she saw his comrades emerge from the jungle. She stopped dead. He yelled something at his companions, and they all ran away together.

Darlene recalls: “From that night on we slept with clubs at the foot of our beds and small milk-can squawkers under our pillows, but we never had to use them. We heard bandits return several nights after that, but they never again entered our house. It wasn’t until after the war that I learned why. I had suspected the gardener, who was Boegis and knew the layout of the house.

When I asked him why they had never entered the house again, he answered incredulously, ‘Because of those people you had there—those people in white who stood about the house.’”

“The Lord had put His angels around us. He had delivered.”

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them. Psalm 34:7

If you’re new to this series, follow this link to read part 1 of Darlene’s story. (Part 1 will then lead you to succeeding episodes.)

Darlene and Russell Deibler, 1938

Mounting the steps into His presence, I prayed and God came to me with the gift of remembrance of a little girl saying, “Lord I’d go anywhere with You, no matter what it cost.” Darlene Deibler Rose

As a young bride, Darlene Deibler accompanied her missionary husband to the Baliem Valley of New Guinea in hopes of ministering to the tribal people. Instead she ended up in a Japanese prison camp for the duration of World War II.

She relates the details of those eventful years in her poignant memoir, Evidence Not Seen.

1938: New Guinea
After six months of language study in Holland, Darlene and Russell Deibler landed in Batavia, Java, on August 18, 1938, the day of their first year wedding anniversary. From there, they traveled by steamer to Macassar, the capital and chief seaport of Celebes, where they began making preparations for their final destination: New Guinea.

However, they didn’t leave until two years later. During those two years, Russell and Darlene borrowed various living quarters and were often separated. At last the day arrived when Darlene and Russell Deibler, along with fellow missionaries Walter and Viola Post, left to follow the trail through the Baliem Valley to the Wissel Lakes of New Guinea.

1940: The Baliem Valley
Darlene writes of entering the Kapauku’s territory for the first time:

Darlene crossing one of the precarious vine bridges

“Cresting the summit, I looked down into the valley and saw men, women, and children running out of their gardens or hurrying out of their huts. All were heading toward the mountainside. Half of them yodeled, ‘Hoo!’ and then the answering ‘Hoo!’ echoed back on octave lower from the rest of the crowd.

I raised my hands, waving to the people. My cheeks streaked with tears, I started running down the mountainside, singing at the top of my lungs, ‘I’m home! I’m home!’”

Darlene loved it all: being with her husband in that isolated place, the precious Kapauku people, and the little house Russell had readied for her.

She describes her house: “Then Russell took me home, our very first home. It was beautiful to me. There were two rooms: a living room and study-bedroom with woven

Darlene in the home Russell made for her

bamboo-mat walls and floor. The bed was made of pit-sawn planks, as was the counter across one side of the bedroom.

What a wonderful idea, using isinglass for windows to keep out the cold and let in the view. Russell had chosen a lovely spot for the house, on the hillside looking across Lake Paniai to the tree-clad mountains behind which the sun was just setting. The magnificence of the sunset mirrored on the lake was breathtaking.”

The natives were amazed at Darlene’s thick, curly hair and blue eyes and eagerly responded to her enthusiastic overtures of friendship. One little Kapauku boy decided to adopt her. She discovered him one morning juggling hot coals in her kitchen. He said his job was to start the fire for her and that he was called Imopai. Darlene immediately responded to his wide grin. Then he explained that his mother was dead. Therefore, he must be her boy now. Darlene and Russell took him in.

Russell with four young friends

During their months in the Baliem Valley, they taught school, held services, and faithfully shared the Gospel. Many times a day Darlene found herself saying, “Thank you, Lord, it’s so wonderful to be here.”

Then came the day when Russell set up their battery-powered radio and tuned in to the BBC. He and Darlene heard the shocking news that the Nazis had invaded Holland. It was the tenth of May, 1940, Darlene’s twenty-third birthday.

The war escalated quickly. Submarines and U-boats began operating in the Indian Ocean, the Java Sea, and the Macassar Straits, affecting their peaceful islands. The missionary board decided to close the outpost where Darlene and Russell were serving.

Russell was sad to leave, but Darlene recalls that she and Imopai were more than sad, they

Darlene holding fresh greens, a precious gift

were devastated. She considered him her boy and had loved him as a mother.

Before she left, she tried once more to explain God’s love to Imopai.

When she was finished she asked, “Oh, Imopai, do you understand?”

“He had been staring at his hands. Suddenly he looked up, understanding showing in his big brown eyes. ‘Yes, Mama, I have listened. Jetoti, Jesus, died for me.’ We bowed our heads while Imopai prayed and God heard.

When they left, Imopai accompanied Darlene over the first mountain range.

She says in her memoir: “Finally I sadly said, ‘Imopai, you must turn around and go back.’ I held his hand in a tight clasp. I could say no more. Tears were too near the surface. He stopped, and I walked on down the valley.

When I turned around, there he was, standing on the mountainside. I saw the little boy, so alone, silhouetted against the afternoon sky. I could tell he was crying. Feeling he was too old to cry, he wiped his face with an angry gesture, then brushed the tears off on his hip.

Finally he called, ‘Mama, egaa kedaa! Return, quickly!’

At the bend of the trail I looked back. Imopai was gone. Sitting down, I wept for my boy, my son in the faith. ‘Dear God, please take care of him, until I can come back.’”

And only God knew when that would be.

Follow this link to read Part 1 of Darlene’s story (which will also lead you to Part 2).

“Viewing those eight years from this far side, I marvel at the wisdom and love of our God, Who controls the curtains of the stage on which the drama of our lives is played; His hand draws aside the curtains of events only far enough for us to view one sequence at a time.” Darlene Deibler Rose

As a young bride, Darlene Deibler accompanied her missionary husband to the Baliem Valley of New Guinea in hopes of ministering to the tribal people. Instead she ended up in a Japanese prison camp for the duration of World War II.

She relates the details of those eventful years in her poignant memoir, Evidence Not Seen. For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting episodes of Darlene’s inspiring true story on this blog. May her testimony touch your heart as it did mine!

If you missed part 1 of Darlene’s story, follow this link. When we left off Russell had convinced Darlene to meet him for dinner . . .

Russell and Darlene sat in the hotel lobby and talked. He was enthusiastic about missionary service and sincere in his respect for her. And she couldn’t help but admire his dark brown eyes and thick, wavy hair and . . . his hands. There really is something special about his hands, she thought.

Darlene was beginning to understand why her girlfriends had drooled over Russell Deibler, exclaiming, “I’d give my right leg to go out with him!”

In the middle of the conversation Russell asked, “Do you have any prospects of marriage?”

“I don’t plan to marry,” Darlene replied promptly.

Russell smiled and rose. “We’ll talk about that later. Shall we go somewhere for dinner?”

They ate at a Chinese restaurant, while keeping up a running flow of conversation. Then Russell laid down his fork with a sense of purpose.

The look in his eyes made Darlene feel shy and uncertain and very young. To fill the silence, she said flippantly, “A penny for your thoughts.”

“Would you really like to know what I’m thinking?” he asked.

Suddenly, Darlene wasn’t sure that she did.

“I remember meeting you a year ago in Boone,” he said. “You were wearing a lovely brown dress and hat. I could tell you exactly what you said in your speech. I looked up to see your face when you turned to leave the platform, and the Lord said, ‘That’s the girl for you.’”

Darlene drew in her breath as he continued, “That afternoon I vowed I was going to marry you.”

“But you don’t know anything about me,” she protested.

He proceeded to prove her wrong. He’d spent the intervening months visiting with her parents and married sister and friends from Boone. They’d spoken of her in detail.

“I know this is sudden,” Russell said. “But I want to come back in the summer and see you.”

Darlene was silent on the way back to the hall. The meeting was underway when they slipped into their seats. After they were settled, Russell bent his lips to her ear, “Look around.”

Confused, she craned her neck to view the crowd behind them.

“No, look this way,” he said, laying his hand over hers.

Darlene wrote in her memoir:

“I looked up into his eyes and something happened within me. I knew in that instant that I loved him deeply and purely, though I said not a word.

What did I know of this man? I needed to know him. But more importantly, I needed to know God’s will regarding any future relationship with him before I admitted any love for him.”

She returned to college, and they wrote letters back and forth. Somewhere along the line “Dear Miss McIntosh” became “My darling Darlene.” Eventually, Darlene confessed her deep love for Russell.

Russell had won Darlene’s heart, but they faced a few remaining obstacles. One was the age difference between them. Darlene was only nineteen, and Russell, thirty-one. And they had to secure the approval of two sets of parents, assorted relatives, and Russell’s mentors from the mission board. So they wrote many letters, saw each other as often as possible, visited with the families, interviewed with the mission board—and prayed! . . . The outcome?

It was a beautiful wedding.


Return to this site for part 3 of Darlene’s story, coming soon!

Follow this link to read part 3 of Darlene’s story.

“Everything had happened so fast and without the slightest warning. Russell had said, ‘He will never leave us nor forsake us.’ No? What about now, Lord? This was one of the times when I thought God had left me, that He had forsaken me.

I was to discover, however, that when I took my eyes off the circumstances that were overwhelming me, over which I had no control, and looked up, my Lord was there, standing on the parapet of heaven, looking down.

Deep in my heart He whispered, ‘I’m here. Even when you don’t see Me, I’m here. Never for a moment are you out of My sight.’” From Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose

As a young bride, Darlene Deibler accompanied her missionary husband to the Baliem Valley of New Guinea in hopes of ministering to the tribal people. Instead she ended up in a Japanese prison camp for the duration of World War II.

She relates the details of those eventful years in her poignant memoir, Evidence Not Seen. For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting episodes of Darlene’s inspiring true story on this blog. May her testimony touch your heart as it did mine!

1936: The First Meeting
Darlene McIntosh first saw Russell Deibler at a Young People’s Rally in Boone, Iowa. The tall young man was the main speaker and easily held the attention of the teenage crowd. His sincerity and passion for Christ impressed her. She sensed that his presentation challenged many hearts.

Darlene, who was in the midst of missionary training at St. Paul Bible School, had also been asked to share a testimony at the rally. After her speech, she hurried down the aisle to meet a male friend at the door when a woman waylayed her and insisted on introducing her to the Rev. Russell Deibler. It was the briefest of meetings. A few quick words and she was on her way. Rev. Deibler was older, established as a speaker, and soon to return to the mission field. Darlene barely thought of him again.

1937: A Second Chance for Russell
The following spring Darlene attended a series of special meetings to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. She saw that Rev. Deibler would again join the speakers for the evening. At the kick-off luncheon, Darlene noticed handsome Rev. Deibler going out of his way to notice her.

His brown eyes met hers often. He would nod and smile as if they were old friends. For some reason, this annoyed her terribly, and she did all she could to avoid him.

Just when she thought the coast was clear, another matchmaking mama insisted on re-introducing her to Russell. The matron then promptly disappeared, leaving Darlene with no polite recourse but to carry on the conversation. Russell began a lengthy story of his visit with a married pastor friend.

Fine, she thought. What does this have to do with me? Then Russell explained that on his first night in the other man’s home, he’d discovered a picture of Darlene displayed on the family piano. Russell had been delighted to discover the friend’s wife was Darlene’s sister.

Darlene was not impressed.

Russell, who could inspire a crowd with eloquent words, seemed at a loss when it came to attracting the attention of one lovely young woman. In his search for a topic to keep Darlene interested, he mentioned letters he’d been receiving from an anonymous girl.

Darlene assumed he was accusing her of impropriety. “Mr. Deibler, I have never written an anonymous letter in my life nor do I intend to,” she fumed and walked off while he was stammering an apology.

Of course, Russell Deibler sat right in front of her on the platform that night. And in spite of her annoyance with him, she had to admit he spoke fluently. Her heart responded to his message.

At the end of the meeting, Russell headed for Darlene. With a hmph of disgust, she whirled on her heels and lost herself in the crowd. He caught up with her at the college bus and gripped the hem of her coat to prevent her from boarding.

When she reluctantly turned to him, he gave her a determined look. “I want to take you to dinner tomorrow evening. I’ll meet you at the front door of the theater at 6:30.” Without waiting for a reply, he walked away.

That’s what you think, she sputtered to herself. First you insult me and then you want to take me to dinner. Anonymous letter, indeed!

She stewed all the way home. But for some reason, when 6:30 the next evening rolled around, she was there at the theater door.

Russell and Darlene sat in the hotel lobby and talked. He was enthusiastic about missionary service and sincere in his respect for her. And she couldn’t help but admire his dark brown eyes and thick, wavy hair and . . . his hands. There really is something special about his hands, she thought.

Darlene was beginning to understand why her girlfriends had drooled over Russell Deibler, exclaiming, “I’d give my right leg to go out with him!”

In the middle of the conversation Russell asked her, “Do you have any prospects of marriage?” . . . to be continued.

Follow this link for part 2 of Darlene’s story!