"I thank God for praying children"

April 15, 2019

After a life of self-reliance, it took the persistence of his children before Darwin could look to God and admit, “I need help.”

By Darwin Lee

Darwin Lee was born on June 17, 1926, in Portland, Oregon, to Roger and Ida Lee. His mother died when he was six years of age, and then his father abandoned the family. He spent his early years on property in the Portland area and on Quail Lane in Roseburg. Although older siblings lived nearby and offered some oversight, Darwin and his younger brother mostly reared themselves.

During World War II, Darwin entered the military, but contracted rheumatic fever and spent eighteen months in a naval hospital. The doctors at that time told him to get a desk job and not to plan on having children. They cautioned him that he should not expect a long life because of the effects of his illness. However, God had different plans. Darwin married Maxine Lenz on August 30, 1947, and the two of them had seven children: three girls and four boys. In later years, they also enjoyed twenty-three grandchildren, thirty-nine great-grandchildren, and six great-great grandchildren.

Darwin was employed at Umpqua Dairy where he worked for over forty years, jumping in and out of a milk truck daily, carrying boxes and crates all day long, and never missing a day of work. After his retirement in 1988, he enjoyed working on his fifteen acres on Quail Lane in Roseburg, even mowing his lawn up until the last few months before his passing. Many family events were held there with Darwin and Maxine hosting. He loved being visited by his family up to the day of his death.

In 1975, Darwin was born again and spent the last forty-four years of his life serving God. He was a tremendous example of faith and an inspiration to all who knew him. He went home to his eternal reward on January 30, 2019. Following is his testimony in his own words.

My childhood was difficult. I was very lonely as my mother died when I was six years old, and I was by myself a big part of the time. My father was an atheist, and we did not go to church. I did not understand about God’s salvation, and did not want to. As far as I was concerned, Christians were just freeloaders.

After I married Maxine and our children were born, from time to time she wanted to go to Sunday school and take the children. I was against that. I figured the kids could make up their own minds about religion later on. I thought religious people were weaklings and that I was all right—after all, I was not a drinking man, and I worked hard and took care of my family. However, I had a vile temper and a foul mouth.

When my wife did go to church, she did not get any help or encouragement from me. Saturday and Sunday were the days that I worked at home. When the older girls grew closer to their teen years, I would tease them into thinking it was “sissy” to go to Sunday school. I told my boys, “You can go to Sunday school if you want, but it would be better if you would stay home and work with me and accomplish something.”

In spite of this, some of our children were saved and began attending the Apostolic Faith Church. Many people thank God for praying parents or grandparents, but I thank God for praying children.

My life was miserable. I was nearly fifty years old. My wife and I had been married for over twenty-five years, but we were not communicating much at all.

By that time, my life was miserable. I was nearly fifty years old. My wife and I had been married for over twenty-five years, but we were not communicating much at all. I felt hopeless, and I am sure that my children could see my unhappiness. They kept asking me to attend church, but I would reply that I needed to go to bed early because I got up at 2:30 a.m. to go to work. They continued to ask me, and finally I gave in and agreed to go.

Then one of my sons told me, “Dad, I want you to come to church and not say anything. Just be quiet and listen.” That was quite a request! When I studied the pastor, I realized that he truly believed what he said. After the service, he came back and talked to me. He was congenial and did not ask me for any money, which was what I expected him to do.

Because of my children’s persistence, I kept going to church. I was still pretty discouraged, and probably too thickheaded to absorb much. My son said, “Dad, keep coming to church and listening. The situation will be clear enough within six months.” I thought that was a pretty ridiculous statement to make; nobody knows what is going to happen in six months. However, I kept attending, and what I heard started to make a little bit of sense to me. Gradually, I absorbed more, and finally, I began going down to their altar and praying.

That March, we went to the headquarters church in Portland for their special meetings. On Saturday night they showed the film “Thief in the Night”—a dramatization about the coming of the Lord. It made quite an impression on me, and I prayed at one of the tabernacle seats. My first words were, “God, I need help!” I got that help, and I have been getting it ever since. The Lord came down and saved me, and I knew something real had happened in my life.

Things started getting better at home. My wife had been saved before I was, and God restored the love and warmth in our marriage. Through the years, God has taught us to lean on Him. It is a wonderful privilege to pray and leave our burdens with the Lord. I have found that God is available any time of the day or night.

I feel that in many ways God has given me a second chance—an opportunity to show them that I care and to show our grandchildren and great-grandchildren a lot of love.

My life is better than it ever has been before. My wife and I have been married for over seventy years now. I am thrilled with the love that I have for her and for my children. Thinking back, I realize that I thought my obligation was to discipline my children and teach them to work and be responsible for what they did. Now I see that I lacked patience and love in dealing with them. Even though our children are grown, I feel that in many ways God has given me a second chance—an opportunity to show them that I care and to show our grandchildren and great-grandchildren a lot of love. It is such a joy to see many of them serving the Lord.

It is wonderful to realize that no matter what a person has been or done, if he truly repents, Jesus Christ will save him and change his life. Serving Him is the best way to live!

About the author

Darwin Lee was saved in 1975 and attended the Apostolic Faith Church in Roseburg, Oregon, until his death on January 30, 2019.