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Remembering C. Russell Deibler

A History Of
C. Russell Deibler

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Ladjangiroeweg 77
Makassar, Celebes
Netherlands East Indies
December 5, 1938

Dear Christian Friends:
"Thou crownest the year with thy goodness" Ps. 65:11

It would appear after such a long and eloquent silence on our part that we have learned well one lesson during our furlough and that lesson is, "how not to write to one's friends". In our "travelings oft" we have greatly neglected our correspondence but promise to do better in the future. We are grateful to the Lord for every contact we were privileged to make and every opportunity that was ours to speak of the Lord's work, during our 100,000 miles of traveling for Him in the homeland. May we remind you now of your promise to pray for us?

Almost a year ago, in a drizzling rain in the New York harbor, we waved our last goodbyes to the friends in the homeland and turned our eyes toward Europe. After a most pleasant ten day sea voyage across the Atlantic, we arrived in Holland in early February. We were met at the steamer and entertained in the home of a member of the Alliance committee in Holland. We spent six months there in the study of the language and acquainting ourselves with the customs of the Dutch people. Holland is indeed a most beautiful and picturesque little country, though the quaint costumes, which we always associate with the Hollanders, are now found only in certain farm communities. Beside the study of the language, we were afforded opportunities to speak in various cities of Holland and also in Belgium. The Lord richly blessed this ministry and we were reluctant to leave the many friends made during our brief stay in Holland. Having been urged to come to Makassar to assist in the Bible School, we left Holland the middle of July. Enroute to the Indies we traveled overland through England and France and boarded a Dutch steamer at Marseilles, southern France. Port Said, Suez, Colombo and Singapore were a few of the ports of call.

We disembarked in the Indies on the date of our first wedding anniversary. We are happy that for this term of service, we have united lives to give to His work. "One shall chase a thousand, two put ten thousand to flight". May the Lord give us just such an increased ministry. When we arrived in Makassar, the headquarters of the work in the Indies, we were met by a goodly number of the missionaries, some of whom had already arrived for the pending conference.

We were glad to be among the people and in the work to which the Lord had called us. Mrs. Deibler, as a new missionary, was receiving her first impressions and seemed to like them. We began immediately to help with the work here in Makassar. I taught in the bible school and also had a happy ministry in the Tabernacle. I had to take some lessons in language having forgotten much in the years of my absence. Mrs. Deibler began immediately the study of the language and had made surprising progress.

Following the return from furlough of Dr. Jaffray, the conference convened early September in our mountain retreat at Benteng Tinggi. Those were blessed days of fellowship and much did we learn from one another about missionary work. The conference appointed us, together with Mr. and Mrs. Walter Post, to open a new work on the island on New Guinea. How glad we are to answer this new challenge and take the Gospel to yet more distant tribes that have never heard. We rejoiced at conference with the missionaries who brought reports of additional fruit from Borneo and to be sure we have not forgotten those five blessed years spent among the Dyaks. However, our eyes look farther afield to the greater challenge of New Guinea and pray that what God hath done for the Dyaks He will now do for the Papuans.

Permit us to write a few lines of our early interest in the untouched tribes of New Guinea. We recall in the early days of the work here in the Indies of hearing Brother Jaffray speak of neglected New Guinea. While home on furlough, we attended an illustrated lecture given by the leader of an expedition to New Guinea. Many of the coolies on that expedition were our own Dyak Christians of Borneo and it was of great interest to us to see their faces flash on the screen, however, we were stirred to think that these natives of New Guinea had never once heard the Gospel. Later we wrote Brother Jaffray, who had just returned from a survey of the island, of our desire to take the Gospel there. The leading proved to be of the Lord and a letter from Brother Jaffray to us, suggesting that the Lord might lead us to New Guinea, passed our own in the mail.

New Guinea is the second largest island in the world. The half of which is governed by the Dutch and forms a part of the Netherlands East Indies. The eastern half is under British rule. Our remarks deal entirely with Netherlands New Guinea. The northern part of the island as well as the southern section has been somewhat evangelized, but much of the vast interior is as yet unexplored. We are planning to occupy a point inland from the southwest, endeavoring from this location to reach the tribes inhabiting the area surrounding newly discovered, inland lakes. Only a few years ago, the villages of these people were, for the first time, sighted and photographed from the air. We have made application to the government for permission to open missionary work among these Papuan tribes.

Mr. Post and myself plan to leave Makassar early in December, and the ladies, who for the present are remaining in Makassar, will join us later. There being no steamer connection to the part of the island which we hope to reach, we shall have to depend upon a government steamer traveling that way. Upon reaching the coast, we expect to join an expedition and travel thus to the newly discovered lake, many days trek inland. So little is known of the Papuans, yet they too are His other sheep who must hear. We hope to be able to write you more of this advance into new territory very soon. We covet your most earnest prayers.

Your letters are greatly appreciated and until we are able to establish quarters in inland New Guinea, our address is:

Ladjangiroeweg 77
Makassar, Celebes
Netherlands E. Indies


Your and His,
"The Deiblers"

December 1938- The Pioneer

C. Russell Deibler

After an absence of almost three years, I am happy to write you again through the medium of The Pioneer, and to state simply that it is a joy to be again in the land which the Lord has chosen for me. About two and a half years were spent in the United States, during which time I traveled about one hundred thousand miles on business for Him, and in the interest of missions. Another six months was spent in Holland in the study of the Dutch language. I am thankful to the Lord for the 'helpmate' He has given me, and pray that He may choose to use our united, yielded lives here in His service. We covet your most earnest prayers.

December 1938- The Pioneer
C. Russell Deibler

After an absence of almost three years, I am happy to write you again through the medium of The Pioneer, and to state simply that it is a joy to be again in the land which the Lord has chosen for me. About two and a half years were spent in the United States, during which time I traveled about one hundred thousand miles on business for Him, and in the interest of missions. Another six months was spent in Holland in the study of the Dutch language. I am thankful to the Lord for the 'helpmate' He has given me, and pray that He may choose to use our united, yielded lives here in His service. We covet your most earnest prayers.

The Pioneer


Rev. C. Russell Deibler

"Because of him many went away, and believed on Jesus". John 12:11

Djalong-Ipoei, (pronounced, Ja-long Ee-poy) was the most striking Dyak I have ever met. In all of Dyakdom, I think he had no peer. He was the stoutest Dyak I have ever seen, in fact, the only corpulent one I have ever known. Furthermore, he had a striking personality. At our first meeting, I could readily understand why he had been chosen in preference to others to reign as "chief of the chiefs" in this far hinterland. He had a sharp intellect, and always grasped things long before others of his kin. He had a splendid sense of humor, upon which I often played just to hear the peal of laughter that escaped him. I learned to know him intimately, and valued his friendship. Many hours have I spent with him, discussing things spiritual, and how I have marveled to see his growth in grace. His heart opened to the light of the Gospel, as a flower to the warmth of the sun. Ja-long was an outstanding character even in his youth. Often have I heard him tell of his escapades on the rivers, and in the jungles. He was an adept at manning a canoe in the rapids, and that in itself made him an envied one among his race. Because of his shrewdness, he laid by more possessions than others, and became the richest Dyak I have known. Once he told me of a head-hunting expedition in which he participated. He, with other young men, decided to raid a camp in the Malays who were trespassing on their domain, for the purpose of cutting rattan. The old men of the village incensed the younger men by calling them women, so they set forth to prove their strength. First, they decided to attack the camp at night, and behead the transgressors while they slept. Ja-long was appointed to carry a bundle of oil-saturated rags to the centre of the camp, and light it, the others were to follow at his heels. Finally, they abandoned this plan, fearing lest they might kill one another on the ill-lighted battle-field. However, the next morning they attacked the camp at dawn, and took twenty heads out of a possible sixty. The others fled in disorder into the fastness of the jungle.
Ja-long knew not his own age, but I presume he was a little more than two score years. Some years ago he was elevated from being the chief of a village, to be "Chief of the chiefs" over the villages of his tribe. About four years ago, the Lord used Mr. Fisk to point him to Christ as his Saviour. The Lord graciously flooded his soul with His peace and love, and the chieftain returned to witness to his own people. Through his testimony the majority in his village were won to Christ, and through his influence many other villages were reached with the Gospel.
Ja-long was but a "babe in Christ", but how rapidly he grew! Often have I visited other villages with him, and marveled at the clearness with which he "gossiped" the Gospel. He was always talking about the Lord, and he had a very clear comprehension of the plan of salvation. It was my privilege, toward the end of his earthly life, to spend much time with him. On one occasion, after I had taught of the greater value of heavenly possessions as compared with earthly ones, he came to me much troubled at heart. I instructed him as best I could on the subject, though I did not advise him to divide his earthly gains among others. However, some weeks after that, I heard he gave freely of his possessions to those that were needy of his people. On another occasion, after speaking from a passage in Matthew concerning anger, Ja-long came to me again. He said he had a son who was somewhat dull, and seemed never to do the thing expected of him. This son was rather a trial to him. What should he do about it? Knowing his past life as I did, I could not but marvel at the grace that had wrought such a change in his heart and life. From a life of fear and superstition, to one of love and trust in a Heavenly Father is a long way for a simple soul to travel but Ja-long traveled it rapidly. He made mistakes, and had some faults, but how marvelous was the change in his life. He had been ailing for some months, but was never bed-fast until a week before his death. There is no way of knowing the cause of his death, but I am of the opinion that he died of diabetes. His passing was sudden and unexpected on the morning of Aug. 18th, yet it was as victorious as was his life. His last act was to rise from his mat, and stand before the assembled village, to admonish them never to forget, and ever to believe on the Lord Jesus. Saying this, he fell to his mat and expired. What a beautiful end, and how bravely faced, by one so recently saved from a life of fear and superstition. It can be truly said, that "because of him many went away and believed on Jesus". Would that we might all be as zealous and as true witnesses for our Lord as was our late brother, Ja-long Ee-poy, a chief of earthly chiefs, and a Prince in Israel.

December 1938-The Pioneer


Our Mission's Conference has just closed as we go to press. It was the testimony of all, that it was the best Conference we have ever held in the N.E. I. The closing day, Nov. 18th was a never-to-be-forgotten All-Day-of-Prayer. Some fifty very definite requests were held before the Lord in faith. We believe that He is pleased with our pioneer policy, as we are lengthening the cords of our Gospel tent to the north, and east and west.

Two senior missionaries and their wives were appointed for the first time by our Mission to Dutch New Guinea. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Post and Mr. and Mrs. C. Russell Deibler were set apart to go to the newly discovered Wissel Lakes region, inland from the southwestern coast of Dutch New Guinea. Here thousands of hitherto unknown Papuan peoples have recently been sighted from the air. Our missionaries hope soon to sail to the coast of far away Dutch New Guinea, to a small town on the coast called Oeta, and then up a newly opened trail for five days to the Wissel Lakes. Your prayers for them are requested. The two men go first to prepare the way, and their wives will follow later. There will be more about New Guinea in our next issue of The Pioneer.

December 1938

In early December, Walter Post and Russell left by interisland steamer from Makassar for New Guinea. Enroute they stocked up with supplies at Ambon before continuing their journey. Ambon was the seat of the government controlling the Spice Islands. They reached the tiny town of Oeta two days before Christmas. Post returned by steamer to Ambon by steamer when the missionaries learned that there were not enough carriers available to accompany both of them into the interior, Russell decided he would go it alone. The day after Christmas, the Ambonese government official took Russell, his ten native carriers, and supplies in the government launch upstream, with a cane in tow, to the first series of rapids. From this point the supplies and canoe had to be portaged around the rapids. They reached the base camp in the late afternoon of the third day. Darlene said,"Remembering what I had read of the trail, I commended Russell and the carriers continually to the Lord for strength and safety."
I wouldn't have chosen the separation from Russell, but the Lord had promised me, when I responded to the missionary calling, "Go,.I am with you always"!