Russell and Darlene Rose Deibler set sail as a newly married missionary couple in 1938 and landed in Batavia, Java, to minister deep in New Guinea’s jungles. The challenges began immediately, but their unwavering courage and faith in God allowed them to reach the island’s deepest inhabitants, the Kapaukus. They would be the first visitors the natives would ever meet from the outside world and the first to share the story of Jesus. God had called them to be a light in a dark part of the world, but they never dreamed of what it would entail accomplishing His plan. Darlene said in her book, Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II, “This was His appointed place for us at the time.”
Then WWII began.
When the war reached their tiny missionary station on the island, it wasn’t long before they were both taken as prisoners to separate camps (Russell to Pare-Pare and Darlene to Kampili) by the Japanese. On March 13th, 1942, Japanese officers came and took Russell in the middle of the day with only a moment’s notice, never to be seen again on this earth by Darlene. Russell’s final words would carry her through what was yet to come, “Remember one thing, my dear: God said that He would never leave us nor forsake us.” The Japanese would come for her a year later, taking her to a converted tuberculosis sanitarium. There she endured months of backbreaking labor, constant terror and multiple health challenges.
Incarceration would not be the worst of her challenges.
She was then wrongfully accused of spying, thrown into inhuman solitary confinement conditions and faced horrific torture by the Japanese. Flies, worms, dysentery, malaria, and beriberi, along with beatings during multiple interrogation sessions, filled her days and nights. Her most immense terror was keeping the fear of the unknown away. Fear of what could come at any given moment. Darlene called it the “spiritually unprofitable game of ‘suppose.” She knew her “supposes” would defeat her if she didn’t cling to God’s remedy – joy. God’s joy was what the enemy wanted to destroy because joy dispels the unknown and vanquishes terror.
The Japanese secret police wanted to crush her soul.
They want her to stop her endless rejoicing of God’s love that she showed to them and of His protection and provision. What others in the camp took to be a forsaken prison and death camp, she chose to see as a place for her to be a soldier for Christ. So, she soldiered onward. Darlene steeled herself and chose to cling to God’s promises. His promises brought hope – the eternal Hope. She would never succumb to abandoning her trust in her Lord and Savior no matter how inhuman her torture. God had called her to battle the enemies of the world, both seen and unseen. She chose instead to take on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) fully day and night.
When the war began, God revealed to Darlene a promise in Deuteronomy 33:12, which became the cornerstone of her faith, “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” The scriptures told her that there was an “unseen” world that battles for us. The spiritual world requires that we battle with our faith and trust in God so that the seeing world can see.
We fight not against what is seen but unseen.
Spiritual viruses are more deadly than physical ones. They kill our eternal soul. As we continue to battle an unseen but known enemy – COVID-19 and the destruction it has caused to our world, let us choose to fight the way Darlene did. To not give into the “spiritually unprofitable game of ‘suppose.” Let rest on God’s shoulders.