At the beginning of World War II, the Christian and Missionary Alliance had 476 missionaries in the field; 252 of those remained overseas during the war. When China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam became closed to missions, 121 Christian and Missionary Alliance men, women, and children were placed in internment camps. Among those was Darlene Deibler, a missionary in the Netherland East Indies.
In March 1942, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the island of Celebes and placed the Christian and Missionary Alliance team under house arrest. On 13 March, they came and took all the men to Pare Pare prison camp. Darlene grabbed a pillow case and filled it with clothes, a Bible, pen, and notebook for her husband Russell, who was already on the back of the truck. As Russell took them, he looked at her and quietly said, ‘Remember one thing, dear: God said that He would never leave us nor forsake us.’ This was the last Darlene saw of her husband.
In May, she and the remaining missionaries were taken to a prison camp in Kampili. Darlene, who was fluent in English, Dutch, and Indonesian, was chosen as the barrack’s leader. She helped organize the work details of the women and also began reading Scripture and having prayer each night with the women. In command of the camp was Commander Yamaji, who had a terrible temper and made unreasonable demands on the women. About a year after Russell had been taken to prison camp, Darlene heard he had died of dysentery. She briefly felt forsaken, but remembered that God had promised He would be with her.
Commander Yamaji then called her to his office and told her that many women in Japan had heard what she had heard. After the war was over, she would be able to have a life again and the pain would leave. Darlene took the opportunity to tell the Commander about Jesus, the Son of Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth. When she told him that Jesus had died for him and that Jesus said we were to love even our enemies, tears streamed down the Commander’s face, and he left the room. Darlene was later accused of being a spy and placed in solitary confinement with only a small amount of rice each day. She remembered that Paul had testified that God’s grace is sufficient, not was or shall be.
After the war was over, Darlene returned to the United States and married Rev. Gerald Rose; they returned as missionaries to New Guinea in 1949, where they worked among the Kapauku for thirty years. Whenever she told others about her prison experience, Darlene always said she would do it all again for her Savior.
He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’
This extract was taken from Her–Story: 365 Devotions from 21 Centuries of the Christian Church.