Category Archive: God’s Promises

Darlene Diebler Rose

Darlene Diebler Rose and her husband, The Reverend Russell Diebler, went to Papua, New Guinea as missionaries. Her husband was the first missionary to go to an interior, unreached, stone-age people group. These natives believed the physical world existed only in their valley, and the spirit world existed on the other side of the mountains. A year and a half after her husband’s arrival, Darlene was allowed to follow him. When this 20-ish woman walked over the top of the mountain from the other side, the people realized she and her husband were real humans, like them, and not spirit people.

I heard Mrs. Rose on tape once. Her voice in itself was neither dramatic nor impressive. But her story. That was something else. Soft-spoken, her gentle voice evidenced her humility.

WORLD WAR II

When World War II broke out and Japan took over the island, Reverend Diebler was taken to a prison camp. As he looked down at his wife from the vehicle that was about to take him away, he said “Honey, remember that God has promised he will never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). And there were times she wondered if her God had left her.

Darlene never saw her husband again. Several months later, the soldiers returned for Darlene and the others in their compound. In the truck beds, the younger people grasped hands to encircle the older people in the middle of the truck bed to prevent their falling off the truck and down the mountain as the drivers drove as fast as they could on the curvy mountain roads.

In the camp where they were taken, separate from the one where Russell was, Darlene was selected as head of the Dutch barracks because of her fluency in Dutch, Indonesian and English. Every night they all gathered in the barracks while Darlene read scripture and they prayed together.

POW

Darlene, along with the other younger prisoners, often worked two or three jobs a day. They worked in soggy fields and got leg ulcers. They never had shoes, which made their feet strong. They “postponed” many meals while having to cook three meals for the soldiers daily.

Thirty-pound rats sometimes ate through her mosquito net and crawled into bed with her. Rats could smell death so the group had to set guards to protect the dysentery patients from them.

In November of 1943 the Dutch head of the camp came to tell her Russell had died three months earlier at Pare Pare camp.

“It was one of those moments when I thought my Lord had left me.” She turned around and said “God.” He answered, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2).

Darlene said, “All right.” And she experienced God’s peace that comes, not with hope fulfilled, but hope surrendered.

Later that day, Mr. Yamaji, the Camp Commander, called her into his office.

“You know, the news you heard today, many Japanese women have also heard. One day this war will be over and you will be able to return to America and dance and forget all this.”

Darlene said, “I know, Mr. Yamaji, but may I have permission to speak to you?” When he agreed, she continued. “I don’t sorrow like people who have no hope. I met someone when I was nine years old …” and she shared the plan of salvation with him. She knew that day Mr. Yamaji became her friend.

DEATH ROW

Darlene was taken to a former insane asylum and placed on death row. The Japanese said they had evidence (false testimony) she was an American spy, reporting on plane and troop movements. The judo chops they inflicted caused her to think her neck was broken several times. Guards would take her back to her cell and she would say “Lord, I can’t take this any more.” And He would say “My child, my grace is sufficient for you.” And she would begin to sing “He giveth more grace as the burdens grow greater …”

She got dysentery, so they took her off whole rice and brought her rice porridge. She saw white on top of it and thought “Oh, someone knows I love coconut.” When she took the bowl nearer the window she saw it wasn’t coconut, but worms. She became skin and bones, and very weak.

One day Darlene watched another prisoner very, very carefully slip to the end of the camp and pull down a bunch of bananas. Darlene could smell them. “Oh Lord,” she prayed, “if I could just have one banana I would be so grateful. But if you can’t get one into this cell, I will thank you for the rice porridge.”

One day Mr. Yamaji arrived from the other camp and smiled at her as guards opened her cell door. She clapped her hands. “Mr. Yamaji, it’s like seeing an old friend.” Tears came to his eyes and he walked away to speak to the other guards. Then he returned to her cell.

“You’re very ill. I’m going back to the other camp now. The women all wonder where you are.” This camp had told her former camp she was dying of tuberculosis, because they didn’t want others to know she was to be beheaded.

“Tell them I’m all right, that I am still trusting in the Lord. They will understand, and you will understand, Mr. Yamaji.” He nodded and left.

BANANAS

After everyone was gone, she realized she hadn’t bowed to any of the officials when they came to her cell–a major offense. Soon a guard came to the door and she thought she was being taken to another “hearing.” Instead, he brought in 92 bananas!

“Oh Lord,” she said, “I have no right to eat those bananas. Yesterday I told you there was no way you could get one banana into this cell.” He replied, “This is what I delight to do, above and beyond what you ask or think.”

EXECUTION HILL

Some time later, Darlene was taken up the hill to where the executions took place. The Camp Commander, out of her line of sight, read the list of accusations. “You are worthy of death.” He slapped the hilt of his sword and pulled it out to behead her. At that very instant she heard cars coming from all directions and yelling for this man. He went into the office, where she heard lots of excited talking. He came out of the office, grabbed Darlene and put her into a jeep. He placed two bottles of wine in her lap and said “These are from Mr. Yamaji.” Then the jeep took her back to the barracks.

“If you ever tell anyone what happened here I’ll get you the next time.”

Darlene begged God to keep her sane. She began to sing “Underneath me, in trusting resting lie.” Billows of peace rolled over her and the fear of death left her as God filled her with His presence.

Darlene survived four years, from age 22 to 26, in the women’s camp at Kampili.

BOMBED AND RESCUED

One day an American plane flew over the camp. The next day the prisoners saw many planes coming toward their camp from the East. They dropped their shovels and picks and watched silver things drop. The Americans dropped 5000 incendiary bombs on that camp. Everything began to burn. Darlene jumped into a ditch, but the Lord said “You borrowed a Bible from that little woman.”

Jumping out of the ditch, Darlene ran to her cell to rescue the Bible. When she ran back out she saw the camp gate was open so the prisoners could escape the conflagration.

There were 138,000 soldiers around that camp, running over the prisoners to get to their machine guns. At the end of the day Darlene was amazed she was still alive. She found another woman crying.

The woman said “My mattress burned.”

“Please don’t cry. We’re alive.”

“I know, but I didn’t leave my mattress in my cell. I threw it in the ditch where you were.” They looked and right where Darlene had been hiding in the ditch, the mattress was incinerated with a bomb casing lying beside it. “Oh Lord, it wasn’t the Bible you wanted to rescue. It was me.”

WAR’S END

Two weeks later the war ended. Mr. Yamaji pulled her in to help translate between the Americans and the Japanese. Some American soldiers hid her and flew her out, because there was no provision to remove the women and children from the camp.

At an Australian camp, she was asked if there was anything she would like.

“Yes, I’d like a shower.” (She didn’t think anyone had hot water, so expected cold water.) But the water was hot! The women showered until someone knocked on the door. “We have tea ready for you. If you’d like you can take another shower later.”

HOME

She returned to America alone at 26. Because she hadn’t heard from them since writing that she was coming home, she assumed her parents had also died.

She prayed for a Red Cross worker to help her find someone from the family who might be left. Turning a corner, she saw a Red Cross worker. Darlene told her she needed to find any remaining family in Ohio.

“What’s your name?” the worker asked.

“Darlene Diebley.”

“I’ve been on the ship all morning looking for you. I have three telegrams for you.” And they were from her mother and father, who were alive in Oakland, California. When she arrived at home there were many people from the church waiting to greet her. She didn’t know them but looked for two beloved faces. As she held her parents tight she thought, “What will it be like when someday those clouds will part asunder and Jesus will be there.”

RETURN

In 1949 Darlene and her second husband, Jerry Rose, returned to New Guinea to serve God, then moved to another calling in the Australian Outback in 1978.

Years later they retired to Tennessee, where Darlene was taken into the arms of her Lord and Master in February 2004. Jerry followed six months later.

Darlene said she knew something of the cost of following Christ. But she didn’t remember that. She said she would follow Jesus anywhere. “Those were the sweetest years God gave me because then He taught me He would never leave me nor forsake me.”

Darlene Diebley Rose’s audio testimony is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77AphiQbh9Q

And her book at https://amzn.to/3WvoGRo

Darlene found hope in God’s promises, and in her relationship with Jesus Christ. Where is your hope?

Covid Christmas

I tested positive for Covid yesterday morning.

Missed our Froese family Christmas.

My brother Arnold packed up and left quickly, since his in-laws in LA, whom he was going to visit next, have also been exposed. He should be safely home in Kansas tomorrow evening. We had a wonderful time with him and his girlfriend, Jenny, and I am so grateful we had two wonderful days together before I got sick (or at least got symptoms and tested positive). We are praying that neither Don, Arn or Jenny got infected.

So no energy for a post today. Just wishing you a joyous Christmas as once again, we wait for the return of our coming King, born in a manger in Bethlehem so many years ago!

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT! (Yes, I’m heading back to bed.)

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The Babe who is King of Kings

She arrived late Wednesday evening, this lovely grand-niece who is working in the Middle East. Don and I welcomed Savannah with open arms and hearts. As we spent the evening and following day together, she told us of the ways Jesus is moving in the Middle East: visions and dreams of Jesus, young people open to talking about faith in a conversational rather than confrontational way.

Savannah’s prayer? That people she met would see Jesus beside her, behind her, in her. She reflects his love and peace.

So one afternoon she and two friends sat at a random table in a Middle Eastern cafe. As they talked about faith, one of her friends said, “Isn’t that Jesus right behind you?” Startled, Savannah turned around to see a picture of Jesus on the wall behind her. In a public cafe in a M*slim city! What a unique way for Jesus to answer her prayer. And I expect He will be seen in other ways as well. (Story repeated with permission.)

Together, we delighted in God’s goodness and faithfulness.

After Savannah left late Thursday afternoon, Don and I drove to Bethlehem. Bethlehem AD, that is! Churches in Santa Clara, San Jose and Redwood City have built sets that look like Bethlehem might have looked at the time Jesus was born. As we walked through the set, we saw merchants hawk their wares, dancers celebrate, and stern Roman guards keep the crowds at bay. We met my niece, Janae and her four-year old, Titus, and Janae’s mother Sheila. Titus enjoyed petting the lovely calves and sheep held in pens. We watched a brief nativity scene showing the arrival of Mary and Joseph at an inn’s stable in
Bethlehem – “because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Shepherds and wise men entered the stable to worship this Christ-child, this God of all creation who came into the flesh of a human baby in order to grow up, die, and rise again. And he has promised to return for all those who receive his gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus! How I look forward to that day!

For more information on Bethlehem AD and where you can still see it, see http://www.bethlehemad.com/BethlehemA.D./Home.html .

So in the midst of the shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, eating, and special times with family and friends, let’s remember the God who stooped to our level, became man in order to redeem us, to bring us into his family and make us his friends!

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Galatians 4:4-5 ESV

I love the words of the Christmas carol, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” written by Charles Wesley in 1739. Listen to these excerpts:

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King:
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.

Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild (humbly) he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.

Consider the truth of who Jesus is, and come, adore him!

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Christmas is for Giving

Are you as happy about Christmas as I am? This morning Don and I walked into church a few minutes late. The Christmas music had already begun, and I felt uplifted, caught up in praise for the God who became man so I might know him personally.

John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And verse 2 takes it the next step … “He was in the beginning with God.

Tying that scripture together with others, “he” is clearly Jesus! Jesus is the final word of God to the world. Responding to religious leaders who said they were children of God, but didn’t believe him, Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.” (John 8:42) 

Christmas is historically a season for giving. We give because the greatest of all gifts, forgiveness and reconciliation, was offered to us through the birth, life, death and resurrection of a child that first Christmas. I was recently reminded of a Christmas season seventeen years ago when I needed to forgive myself, to let go of lingering guilt, to become reconciled within myself.

I wrote,

“Two years ago I said goodbye to the love of my life as the last breath left his body. The guilt I felt was not about what we’d call ‘big’ things. It was rather about the little things I could have done and didn’t. Last Sunday the pastor spoke about how our masks keep us from vulnerable openness and meaningful interaction with Jesus and with those we love. I realized one of my masks is people pleasing. Much of the guilt I’ve felt relative to Jerry’s death has to do with those areas where my people pleasing mask led me to take care of everyone else, sometimes to Jerry’s loss.

“On Thanksgiving evening two years ago, I left Jerry’s side in the hospital to take the wife of another patient to a Thanksgiving dinner prepared for us by loving friends in this Florida community, 3000 miles from home. As I told Jerry I would be back to see him later, he looked at me with disappointment in his warm brown eyes. With a tracheotomy in his throat, Jerry couldn’t speak, but his face left no doubt that he didn’t want me to leave. 

“I felt torn. My husband was in his fifth month of hospitalization following a liver and pancreas transplant. I believed he may have another three or four months in hospital before recovering sufficiently to be released. I adored him and spent most of every day with him.

“But the medical team encouraged me to maintain a life outside the hospital in the event Jerry didn’t survive. I was tired. I knew the other woman wouldn’t go to the dinner without me, and that these friends had prepared a special meal to minister to us. All good reasons; but reasons which led to a choice. Would I stay with Jerry, or go to that dinner to ensure my loving friends didn’t feel they’d made all this effort for nothing? I went.  

“I returned to the hospital later that night to find a five inch pile of clotted blood at Jerry’s side. His blood, oozing out of his vacuum-packed wound. Within moments doctors filled the room. I stayed until about 1 am when Jerry was stabilized, then went home for a few hours’ sleep. Three days later my sweetheart passed away in my arms after yet another surgery revealed he was bleeding uncontrollably internally and the surgeons realized they could not save his life. These last two years I have been unable, perhaps unwilling, to let go of the guilt I felt for leaving Jerry’s side for a few hours that Thanksgiving evening.

“That guilt–that sorrow over having left his side for a few hours that night– would not leave me. Hesitant to let go, unable to let go, I spent this second anniversary of my husband’s death in Carmel, where Jerry and I shared many wonderful, loving times together. I shopped in Carmel Plaza and watched the sky darken. As evening fell, the festive lights renewed my spirit. 

“Back in my room later, I pulled out my laptop and began a letter to Jerry. Six single-spaced pages and bucket loads of tears later, I felt released, at peace. While I knew God and Jerry had forgiven me for my felt failure to Jerry, I couldn’t forgive myself for sometimes letting others interfere with living out my love for him. I needed to tangibly spell out where I felt I’d failed and ask Jerry’s forgiveness. It was in recognizing my mask of people pleasing, in openly acknowledging where I felt I failed the man I loved with all my heart, that I was able to receive his forgiveness as well as to forgive and become reconciled within myself.”

If I am unwilling to forgive myself, I in essence say that what Jesus did at Calvary is insufficient to cover my badness. I live as if I have to add to the forgiveness He so graciously provided, and at great price

Because of this Christmas, I have a deeper understanding of the gift of the Christ-child, who came to forgive and to give me peace in relation to Himself. Once again I received a very significant forgiveness that resulted in peace where there was guilt; and joy in the knowledge of my husband’s love for me and mine for him, uncluttered by lingering guilt. But it’s only in vulnerable openness, in removing the mask of people pleasing, that I have been able to receive His forgiveness, recognizing it IS enough, even for me.”

In the midst of all the shopping, music, decorating, and family times, where do you need the gift of the Christ-child? I’ve received many of his gifts since Jerry’s death, including a new love and life with my current husband, Don, with whom I’ve now shared eleven Christmases, soon to be twelve. Do you need forgiveness? Wholeness? Peace? Wisdom?

Christ promises these to us as we come to him and wait on him, when he says 

“I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ES

As you look ahead to Christmas, may you feel the joy of Christ’s life-giving sacrifice to make us whole, whether in this life or the next.

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Blessed to Bless Others

As promised last week, I began to keep a gratitude journal. It’s been a wonderful start to most days. Whether it’s gratitude for seeing a good movie (we watched “The Chosen”, first two episodes of Season 3, on the big screen with friends Friday evening), for my husband’s godly response and leadership in a situation, or for rich times together with family and friends, writing what I’m thankful for sets a tone for the day. And I’m grateful for that!

This morning Pastor Tim taught from Psalm 67.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us…” (v. 1)

God’s grace is the root of his favor toward us. When Moses asked to see God, God told him if he saw God’s face, Moses would die. God’s holiness was too overwhelming for man to look on. So as He passed by his servant, God turned His face so Moses would not see it and die. And yet, His face shines on us. He is FOR us!

A OnePoll survey conducted in 2022 found that two of three Americans don’t think they’ll ever see positive change in their lives. And 51% of young Americans feel hopelessness.

So how can we be a blessing in this discouraged and hurting world?

What if those of us who choose gratitude express that in how we greet others, in reaching out to help in whatever ways we can, whether with food, repairs, car rides, or a smile and a kind word?

What if we focus on praising God for His blessings rather than complaining about what we’re missing? My cousin just told me about a PBS show her husband taped of Dr. Daniel Amen, who does brain imaging. (https://www.amenclinics.com/)  She said “A friend of his said she was writing a book on gratitude and would he please image her mind while she thought about all the good things in her life. He did and said all the right places were lit up in her brain.

“Then he suggested they do it again while she meditated on all her hurts etc. All the bad places lit up. Our designer knows how to make us run well!

What we think, our focus, actually changes our brain!

How does that make you feel? I am deeply thankful that He is FOR me, that He forgives and cleanses and has a plan for my life. While that plan may not look the way I anticipated my life would look, it is a plan “for good, and not for evil; to give you hope, and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

So when life is painful because of divorce, conflict within the family, chronic or terminal illness, loss, or a stressful job, God is still FOR us. He desires a relationship with every one of us, made possible by the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and by His resurrection life. We may also need the help of others to deal with specific issues–physicians, surgeons, therapists, pastors/priests–but those are using their gifts to bless us as well.

Victor Frankl was a highly respected psychiatrist in Vienna when, in 1942, he and his family were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where his father perished. The remaining Frankls were moved to Auschwitz in 1944, where his mother was exterminated. His wife died in Bergen-Belsen. Degrading brutality surrounded him, and Frankl theorized that those inmates who had some meaning, some purpose in their lives, were more likely to survive than those who did not. Frankl said this:

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

Jim Hill was a new Christian when his mother-in-law became gravely ill. While Jim was driving home from work he asked God why this was happening to her. He then said words just flooded into his head. Arriving at home, he grabbed a piece of cardboard and started writing down the words in his mind. The first person he sang the song to was his mother-in-law.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.”

Lyrics and music by Jim Hill (https://namethathymn.com/christian-hymns/what-a-day-that-will-be-lyrics.html)

And one day all things will be made right, and those who trust in Christ will live forever, rejoicing and delighting in God’s presence with no more sorrow, sighing, pain, sickness, or death. Only righteousness and peace and love.

That truth gives me great hope.

Can you share any ways God has used you to bless others?