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  • Writer's pictureShari House

HSS - Darlene Deibler Rose {When God "Abandons" You}


Darlene Mae McIntosh was born on May 10, 1917, in Boone, Iowa. She was saved at the age of nine, and by the age of thirteen, she knew the Lord had called her into a life of missions work. While receiving training to work on the mission field, Darlene met veteran missionary, Russell Deibler, who had already served a 5-year term in the country of Indonesia. On August 18, 1937, shortly after Darlene’s 20th birthday, they were married. The couple had dreams and plans of opening mission stations in the unreached interior of Dutch occupied Papua New Guinea. In 1938, Darlene and Russell traveled to Holland for six months in order to learn the Dutch language and customs. Later that same year, they sailed to Indonesia, and arrived in Batavia, Java on August 18, 1938, the date of their first wedding anniversary.

Darlene was so excited as her hopes and dreams were coming to fruition. A few days later they traveled to Macassar where she and her husband were greeted by a small group of missionaries that they would be partnering with. Darlene’s first lesson in the native language was the very next morning, and she enjoyed getting to know the other missionaries on the compound and taking in all the strange and wonderful things a new country, a new culture, and a new way of life brings. By December, Darlene’s husband and a fellow missionary made their way to the Wissel Lakes region of Irian Jaya and set up the first mission post in that area bringing the Gospel to the Kapakau tribe for the first time. Darlene and the fellow missionary wife were required to stay behind until it was safe for them to make the long arduous trek into the interior. Darlene filled her time with language study and service to the church and school that had already been established at the Macassar station. She translated weekly Sunday school lessons for the children, supervised several teachers, taught Bible lessons in the school chapel, and assisted the wives of national workers with the kindergarten. Darlene found tremendous joy and satisfaction in all her responsibilities, but she longed for the day she could be reunited with her husband and, in her own words, “join the long line of intrepid missionary pioneers who had walked into the unknown to lift up His ensign on the mountains and lay a claim for the Lord.”

Over the next year or so, she and her husband were separated many months at a time while he was on expeditions further and further into the interior and worked on building them a home and setting up the mission station. The separation from Russell and the news that England and France had declared war on Germany were both cause for great concern, but Darlene had a strong faith and a close relationship with the Lord that brought her great strength. Finally, on January 23, 1940, Darlene started her journey to join her husband. As she was leaving, Dr. Jaffray, a seasoned missionary and her spiritual mentor said to her, “Remember, Lassie, for centuries the enemy has held these people in darkness. You will now experience satanic opposition such as you have never known. Until Russell’s first trip, no one had ever invaded his territory to challenge him, but don’t be afraid, for he is a defeated foe, undone by Calvary. Never forget that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world."

From a steamer, to small ships, to dugout canoes, Darlene was finally reunited with Russell. From there they had to trudge through the jungle trail, cross single log bridges covered in moss with deep gorges below, and survive the elements. Finally, as they were crossing the last summit, Darlene, the first woman to enter this remote area, got a glimpse of the Baliem Valley of New Guinea. She could see the people in the valley waving at her. They were as excited to meet her as she was to meet them. Darlene began to run down the mountainside to them shouting at the top of her lungs, “I’m home! I’m home!”

Russell and Darlene immediately set about constructing a building that would be used for a school and church. Darlene and her husband would daily go from home to home witnessing. Slowly they began reaching the natives with the Gospel one by one, and what a joy it was to their heart with each one who decided to trust Christ as their Savior. The future was bright in Darlene’s eyes. She and her husband were fulfilling God’s call in their lives, and her heart was knit with this place and this people God had called her to. Little did she know what lied ahead.

In the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Darlene and her missionary friends were captured by the Japanese military. The men were the first to be taken and sent to a prison camp. Russell’s parting words to Darlene were, “Remember one thing, dear: God said that He would never leave us nor forsake us.” Darlene had no idea that that would be the last time she would speak to her husband or that she would have to endure horrific things during the next four years before the war ended and she’d be free again.

Eventually the women and children were also taken to a different prison camp. Life in the POW camps was dreadful. There was often a meager food supply, and what was given was not enough to sustain the heavy labor the prisoners were expected to carry out. Prisoners were brutally beaten for small infractions, and diseases like dysentery and malaria claimed the lives of many. During Darlene’s imprisonment she tried her best to be a good soldier for the cause of Christ and strived to be an encouragement to the other women and children. She established a practice of reading a portion of God’s Word and praying as a group each night in the barracks where she lived. This helped to keep her barrack a calm center in the eye of the military storm that raged around them.

One day Darlene was called in to Mr. Yamaji’s office. He was the dreaded commander of the prison camp where she was located. He informed her that her husband had died on August 29, 1943. In that moment, feeling she had nothing else to lose, Darlene boldly proclaimed to him, “{Jesus} died for you, Mr. Yamaji, and He puts love in our hearts – even for those who are our enemies. That’s why I don’t hate you, Mr. Yamaji. Maybe God brought me to this place and this time to tell you He loves you.” Her words affected his heart and caused the strict commander to tear up. He quickly left the room, but from that time on he treated her with more kindness.

Darlene suffered much during her imprisonment, but nothing compared to the time she was summoned to the dreaded Kempeitai prison for solitary confinement and intense interrogation. The Japanese accused her of being an American spy and tried to get her to confess so they could execute her. She had to bear unspeakable things and eventually was forced to sign a false confession. Darlene was given her last meal and was taken to a room where she would be executed. She was surprised and her heart was comforted when the Lord brought to mind the song lyrics “I’ll live for Him who died for me!” A few moments later the Lord miraculously delivered her from death, and she was taken back to the prison camp. She would later find out that it was Mr. Yamaji who spoke on her behalf and stopped the execution.

Seventeen days after the truce had been signed aboard the battleship USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, and the war was over, Darlene found herself in a rowboat that was taking her out to a fly boat that would take her away from her island of captivity. Leaving the island as a widow of two years already, emaciated with a weight of just 80 pounds, and lacking even one material possession was a far cry from how she had arrived at the island eight years prior. Bitterness washed over her as large and daunting as the sea that surrounded her. In that moment she told the Lord she would never return to this place that had caused her so much pain. As she reached the flyboat and started to board it, she heard the sweet voices of the natives who had come to know the Lord and who had also shared in the indescribable suffering. They stood on the shoreline waving at her singing the song “God be with you, till we meet again . . .” Eventually Darlene would say of that moment, “Their song released the waters of bitterness that had flooded my soul, and the hurt began to drain from me as my tears flowed in a steady stream. The healing had begun. I knew then that someday, God only knew when, I would come back to these my people and my island home.”

The next few years Darlene spent recovering from her ordeal and telling everyone she met of God’s goodness and preservation. She was determined to return as a single missionary to the island God had called her to even though many people tried to discourage her from it. In 1946, some friends introduced Darlene to a Reverend Gerald “Jerry” Rose who had already been assigned a mission post in the primitive Papua New Guinea. The two fell in love and were married on April 4, 1948. In early 1949, Darlene and Jerry returned to the Wissel Lakes, the same area where she and her first husband had started their ministry. For the next 29 years Darlene and Jerry, along with their two sons, served together teaching, preaching, building landing strips, delivering babies, facing headhunters, and leading people to Christ.

In 1978, because of the political climate after the Dutch pulled out the country, Darlene and Jerry moved to the Outback of Australia to begin a new work with the Aborigines. Over the next 15 years, they were used of God to lead hundreds to the Lord and were instrumental in starting several indigenous churches. Due to their failing health, in 1993, they returned to the States. Darlene lived out her final days the same way she had spent her entire life – sharing the Gospel with those she came into contact with, encouraging fellow Christians in their walk with the Lord, and reminding everyone of the Lord’s presence and goodness to her. Darlene died on February 24, 2004, at the age of 86. She served her Savior faithfully all her years, and I can just imagine when she saw her Savior face to face Darlene shouting to Him, “I’m home! I’m home!” She is truly a woman of whom it could be said, “She hath done what she could.”

Her Story/My Story:

During that particularly hard trial when Darlene was forced to endure solitary confinement and interrogation, she felt many things – fear, discomfort, dread, helplessness, abandonment, anger, love, hope, grace, and even God’s presence. One day she happened to see a prisoner in the courtyard being snuck a banana through the perimeter fence while the guard’s back was turned. She had been living off a diet of maggot-infested rice gruel and the thought of being able to eat bananas caused her to send up a quick prayer to the Lord to somehow let her have just one banana. As quick as she was to pray, she was quick to despair that there was no way God would ever be able to get a banana to her through the prison walls. Every scenario she came up with seemed impossible. The very next morning Darlene could hear the guards coming toward her cell. She stood as best she could and prayed the Lord would help her to make a perfect bow so she wouldn’t be beaten. When the door opened, she saw Mr. Yamaji’s smiling face. He had come from the prison camp to check on her. He was disturbed by her appearance and seemed to speak sharply to the officers. After he left her cell, Darlene remembered that she had forgotten to bow to the prison officers. She knew they would be back any minute to punish her. Sure enough she could hear them coming down the hallway toward her cell, but when they opened the door, instead of punishing her, they gave her a large bunch of bananas from Mr. Yamaji . . . 92 bananas to be exact. Darlene was reminded yet again that the Lord had not abandoned her, and that nothing was impossible for Him. After the war when she was released and was headed home to the States, she made the statement, “I handed over eight long years of my life into the faithful, wise hands of a gracious God Who alone could help me to understand the mysteries of deep pain and suffering.” Every time she told her story of captivity, she would always say, “I’d do it all again for my Savior.” At the end of her life, Darlene could look back and see how many lives she was able to reach for the cause of Christ through the story of her suffering.

I have never had to suffer physically the way that Darlene did, and I don’t know what it feels like to lose a husband, but I know the heart pain that comes from going through a fiery trial where you feel the Lord has abandoned you or at the very least is silent toward you. I recently experienced this feeling when the Lord brought me to a trial that He is still bringing me through. For years I’ve wanted children. When it passed the time where I could have a child of my own, I began to hope that I’d be able to adopt a baby. Seven years ago, on March 18, 2012, I found out I was approved to adopt a child in Thailand. I just knew it would only be a matter of weeks before the Lord gave me my baby girl I had so desperately prayed for. In 2017, after years of praying and three failed attempts, I came to terms with the situation and accepted the fact that being a mother to my own child was not in the Lord’s will for my life. I proceeded to dismantle the nursery that for so many years had mocked me and caused me to doubt myself and my ability to know the Lord’s will for my life. I gave everything away except for a couple of things I couldn’t bear to part with. Having a peace in my heart, I crossed off the words “a child that will call me mom” that had been listed on my “miracles” prayer list for over a decade and never prayed again for it. For the past two years I have been content in that state.

On August 20, 2019, I felt prompted by the Lord to pray one more time for a child. I did so, although I was confused about it and thought it was unnecessary since I was fine to not have a child of my own and had been so for quite some time now. Three days later a woman, who was due in 4 weeks time, asked me to adopt her baby girl because she was unable to care for the baby. After counselling with many people and discussing all the legal matters with our Thai lawyer, I decided to step through the doors that the Lord seemed to be opening. Every time I was sure there was a roadblock, the Lord seemed to open the door even wider. Everything seemed to work perfectly. The mother was steadfast in her decision, the Lord worked miraculously on the legal side of things, and I began to prepare to bring a child into my home. As the days went by and I saw the Lord working mightily on my behalf to bring this about, my heart thrilled more and more. The baby came a week early on September 16th, and the Lord worked it out for me to be able to participate in every aspect of the birth. I was able to drive the mother to the hospital, hear the baby’s heartbeat on the monitor while the birth mom labored, help her through the labor, and be the first to hold the baby. After the birth, the Lord continued to miraculously open doors for us. God allowed me to secure a private room for us to use so we didn’t have dozens of eyes watching and wondering why this foreigner was crying so much over this baby. The birth mom had signed over her rights of guardianship to me and the social welfare representatives that visited us in the hospital had awarded me guardianship. I participated in a class that all the new parents had to take before leaving the hospital, and the Lord worked it out for me to be able to legally name her. It was a name that had such special meaning to me that I had chosen so many years ago to give to my daughter that one day I knew the Lord would give me.

The term “Gotcha Day” is a familiar term in the realm of adoption and the day that all those praying and hoping to adopt long for. It is the day that you are finally able to take your child home. My Gotcha Day was September 19th - exactly 2,741 days . . . or 90 months . . . or 391 ½ weeks since the day I first found out I was approved to adopt. As I walked out of the hospital that day with my baby girl in my arms, my heart swelled at God’s goodness to me, His kindness to me, His care for me. Here out of the blue God had given me the long desire of my heart. The birth mother and I had an appointment the following week after she recovered from her labor and surgery for her to sign over her final rights so I could officially adopt the child. I enjoyed every bit of that first week – the round the clock feedings, dressing my baby girl up in special outfits, informing my friends and family, taking her to church and showing her off, checking on her a thousand times to make sure she was still breathing, finding out she loved the pacifier and bottles I had chosen for her, cradling her in my arms and singing her a special song I wrote just for her, and so much more.

My joy quickly turned into a sorrow I have never felt before, and my life turned upside down when the following week the birth mother reported to the police that I had stolen her baby. Of course, we had many witnesses including doctors, nurses, social workers and official documentation that spoke to the contrary, so I wasn’t in trouble, but because she hadn’t signed her final rights away yet, I was forced to give my baby girl back. As I stood there with the police officers, our lawyer, fellow friends and the birth mom, I held my baby girl in my arms one last time and sang her her special song choking back tears. I kissed her cheek, breathed her smell in deeply and handed her back to her birth mom. It is hard to explain, but in that moment, surrounded by all those people, I never felt so alone, so abandoned, so betrayed, so mistreated, so angry. My constant prayer for the next 48 hours was two-fold, “Lord, please give me back my baby girl” and “Lord, please help me to remain faithful and not be overcome with anger and bitterness.” It has been two weeks exactly since that terrible afternoon. My baby girl has been away from me longer than she was with me. Each day I find I can bear it a little more but only through the strength of the Lord. I don’t yet know why the Lord allowed this to happen to me when I had previously been so content. I don’t yet have the blessing of looking back in hindsight, but I know one day I will understand it all, and I will be able to see God’s goodness and purpose for it.

Bible Study: When God "Abandons" You

Have you ever been there before? That terrible place where you feel all alone, where comforting words from friends and loved ones seem to have no effect, where the walls around you seem dark and there is no light to be seen, and even the Lord seems to have left you all alone. Sometimes we can feel like we are living in this dark place even when we know we are in the center of the Lord’s will. In this dark place our head knows what is right and wants to take the lead, but we often become overwhelmed by the shoutings of our heart and the feelings that the trial brings. At dark times like this it is easy for our emotions to unhinge the truths we normally live by.

During times like this . . .

  • it is easy for us to believe God is not good even when we know, “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” Nahum 1:7

  • it is easy for us to believe we don’t deserve to have to go through this trial because we love the Lord and have been faithful to Him even when we know, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12

  • it is easy for us to believe the trial will never end even when we know, “. . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

  • it is easy for us to believe that the only way out of the trial is to fight your way out even when we know, “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14

  • it is easy for us to believe that nothing good could come of the trial even when we know, “. . . knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:3-5

  • it is easy for us to believe that we are all alone even when we know, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me . . . ” Psalm 23:4a

God never abandons His children. He is always in the dark place in the trial with you. He is ever ready to comfort you, love you, and guide you out of the darkness.

Here are four ways to help you bring the “balance” back between what you believe in the moment and what you know to be true when you are going through a trial.

1. Strengthen Your Faith – Pray and ask the Lord to give you a faith that remains. Still your own voice and listen to His. Search the Scriptures or read good books about people who also went through fiery trials and find out how they remained faithful. Pray and ask the Lord to give you wisdom. Seek godly counsel.

2. Remind Yourself of God’s Promises – Search the Scriptures for times the Lord has clearly spoken to you or showed you a promise. Reclaim these promises. Write the words, “I still believe” next to the verse. Take time to praise the Lord for His goodness and mercy toward you. Take time to worship Him.

3. Separate Fact from Fiction – Look at yourself and honestly answer the question, “Is how I’m responding to this trial based on what I know to be true or what I am feeling in the moment?” Feelings of injustice, confusion, betrayal, fear and doubt will never help us to remain faithful in the trial or help to bring us through it. Take the time to write down things you know to be true about the Lord.

4. Act Presently on Your Future Perspective – Remind yourself of other trials where the Lord has brought you through. Looking at a past trial through the eyes of hindsight can help you in your present trial. Realize that a trial is just another opportunity to show great faith.

Serving the Master joyfully,



Copyright 2019



Rose, Darlene Deibler. Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II. California: Harper One Publishers, 2003. Print.

Audio of her testimony in her own words:

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16. Jan. 2022

That is an awesome perspective. But there may be a reason for the desire reawakened. There may be a child yet who needs you. When I lost my twins, my friend and midwife Lucy Butler said to me, consider this a preparatory exercise for the next delivery. My story isn’t the point, the point is your unfinished promise. But great things certainly lie ahead—along with great trial. And Jesus is coming!

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