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Darah Wilson grew up in a family that attended church.
“When I was really little, my mom got saved. My dad gave his life to Jesus shortly after that. In church I learned about Jesus, but it wasn’t until the age of twelve that my relationship with Him became real."
When Darah’s dad was diagnosed with cancer, Darah cried out to the God she had heard about in church. She pleaded with God to heal her father.
“The morning I found out my father had died, I was overwhelmed with an intense desire to run. I had hardly run more than a mile in my life... that morning I ran six miles… I wanted the physical pain to be more than the emotional pain.”
Darah had an amazing father. She would be the first to describe him to you as a super-loving and incredible man.
“A lot of people have ‘daddy-issues’ because their fathers were absent from their lives … that totally makes sense…it’s easy to have a negative view of a ‘Heavenly Father’ when your earthly father was a train wreck, but that wasn’t the case with me. In fact, for me, the pendulum swung to the other side… I had the most amazing father…I loved him so much… I didn’t think I had need for a ‘Heavenly Father’… but then my earthly father was gone and in his absence, it left a tremendous void… I soon discovered only God, my ‘Heavenly Father’ could fill it."
Shortly before her dad’s passing, Darah’s family had moved to Rhode Island, from Georgia. They had no family near by and realized they needed a church family.
“My mom found a church listed in the local paper and decided to go there. There were thirty people that attended this church… it became home to us. One of the things the church did was to encourage the young adults in junior high to choose a ‘sponsor’… someone committed to walk alongside them in a group setting, answer their questions about Jesus and help them through Bible studies… they ensured we knew what it meant to be a follower Jesus…"
Darah chose an older gentleman in the church, who was very kind, to be her sponsor. Feeling the loss of her father, she reached out to him as a father figure.
“I was so grateful Mike came alongside me, helping me to understand the life of Jesus… ultimately this is how I came to know the Lord as my own personal Savior… but that wasn’t all… as Mike got to know me, he also got to know my mom… and now he’s been my step-dad for the last seventeen years! He’s still one of the most influential people in my life… I know that my dad, who was there for my physical birth, would have so much love and respect for the man who then walked alongside me in my spiritual birth."
Darah’s step-dad was the first one in this small church to have a heart for global missions.
“When I was fourteen, I remember Mike telling me one day, ‘Darah, round up your friends, we’re headed to Mexico!’…I can remember the stillness on that bus like it was yesterday as we crossed the border for the first time... It was a life altering moment to realize there was so much more beyond the world I had always known. I grew up going on missions trips every summer from that point on."
Darah grew older and went off to college. She continued to love going on mission trips but her walk with Jesus was not strong. After college she made her way to San Diego, sensing God was calling her to a new start with Him. She soon was offered and accepted a job in the Human Resources Department of Rock Church. She would serve there for five years.
“Those were some of the most amazing but also challenging years of my life! I got to the point where I was doing so much in the ministry that I got burnt out. I was doing everything in my service to Christ out of my own strength but I didn’t know how to get out of that cycle. I wanted to pour out more, but I didn’t have any more to give…”
As Darah continued to work out her faith, she met a wonderful man, got engaged and quit her job in order to prepare further for marriage and move on to the next season in her life. When the engagement was called off two weeks before the wedding, she found herself in an extremely painful place, in need of God’s help.
“God brought me to where I knew I needed to step away and recalibrate my entire life. An opportunity to attend IMPACT195 was set before me, so I took it. One of the greatest things about that program is truly getting to press ‘pause’ and meet with Jesus five days a week, for four hours a day… in the worship, devotionals, Bible studies and classes, outreaches, on the mission trips and in the community, I reconnected with Jesus and He mended my broken heart…”
Darah flourished in the IMPACT195 program and confidently knew God was prompting her to consider missions as the next step in her life.
“My step-father’s influence and his heart for missions while I was growing up was starting to make more sense now… My time at IMPACT195 was coming to an end and I was asking God where He wanted me to go and what He wanted me to do with what had been invested in me… although I had never been there before, God started to stir my heart for Haiti… at the same time, the Rock’s first Rock Ambassador, Melissa, was living in Haiti… she had a strong impression that I was supposed to be there too… she reached out and we began to pray together for God’s leading. I would often cry as I read her blog and looked at the pictures of the orphans she was ministering to. God was giving me a burden greater than myself…”
Darah knew God was working in Haiti, so she decided to join Him. Her first trip there lasted nine months.
“It felt like home, pretty much instantly…”
Ministering in Haiti was an amazing experience for Darah.
“I felt like everyday there was a freedom to thrive! Things were very new with the Rock Church’s work there… it was the initial, groundbreaking, relationship-building season with the locals… we could perceive with every step that God had gone before us! There was such freedom even in the little things … you didn’t have to worry about your makeup or having your hair all done… every day was really just waking up and asking God what He had for you to do that day…”
One of her first weeks in Haiti, Darah and a few of her teammates headed to the countryside thinking they were just going to deliver supplies for a house-building project. God had different plans for them.
“We were making arrangements for houses to be built in countryside and headed out there by truck… it was a scouting trip in addition to dropping off the first bags of cement… we faced so much opposition that day… getting the materials took an extra long time, we got a flat tire in addition to other delays. We finally got to the top of this mountain amidst crazy roads, dodging rocks and what have you… then we see this group of people come flooding out of a house… they had a nineteen year old girl on a stretcher… apparently she had stopped talking, eating, her eyes were as yellow as tennis balls… whatever the infection was, it had overtaken her… she was at death’s door…”
Darah’s team dumped their cement, flipped the truck around and loaded the young girl on the stretcher into the back.
“I remember we all looked at each other and knew the real reason why God had brought us that way and for all the delays… we passed by at the exact time God wanted us to, so we could help this girl. I remember fanning her, shading her, laying damp bandanas on her and, most of all, praying over her… we did everything we could to try and control her severe fever in the back of the truck traveling on that crazy road… we were able to get her to the hospital… people in town asked us what we were doing and we told them why… it was because of Jesus. I visited her in the hospital every day for the next two weeks. She finally got better and returned to her family.”
The life experience Darah gained teaching English on a short term trip to Asia with IMPACT195 prepared her for teaching English in Haiti as well.
“It was funny because God had been speaking to Melissa about teaching English, at the same time He gave me this opportunity to teach English in Asia. Teaching these classes helped lay the groundwork of building relationships with those that would eventually be our students in a Haitian discipleship school modeled a lot after what our team had learned at IMPACT195 in the states.”
Living in Haiti may seem extreme to some but, for Darah, it became “life as usual."
“An initial group of twelve of us moved down there. Meals consisted of rice, beans, chicken and something the Haitians call plantains, which are like bananas, served up squashed and fried. I could tell you about adventures of large spiders in our showers, combating mosquitos, making do with little electricity, no hot water and even an episode with a mouse taken out by a frying pan… but our living conditions and amenities were incredible compared to the immense suffering right outside our doors.”
The love of God compelled Darah. Often she would find herself in the makeshift shelters of the locals and in the countryside ministering to people.
“There was a lady by the name of Natalia… Melissa had introduced us… she was a single mother of four suffering from kidney failure and a stomach that would fill with literally gallons of fluid that had to get drained every week. It was my privilege each week to buy her groceries, get her prescriptions and take her by taxi (motorcycle) to the hospital… our team prayed with her often… she loved the Lord so much… in her suffering, she would cry out to God… often following her cries we would see joy fill her to the point she would stand up and dance with Jesus… we had the honor of baptizing her shortly before her passing… her death hit our whole team hard, but it was such a privilege to stand by her sons and to help in her last weeks of life as she struggled even with the most simple of things… she is one of the most beautiful people I have been blessed to know and I’m grateful God sent us to comfort her until He took her home… ”
Darah’s team planted churches, ushered in salvations, saw God heal, started a discipleship school with thirty Haitian students and laid the ground work for a future orphanage and super food kitchen.
“If you would have told me four years ago what my life was going to look like, I wouldn’t have believed you! But I wouldn’t have it any other way…”
After a year and a half of serving Jesus in Haiti, God called Darah home to San Diego.
“The ministry in Haiti was taking off… I’d been seeking God for direction, asking Him to show me my role in it… but He challenged me with this one question, ‘Darah, what if it was the best thing for everyone for you to go home?’… I was shocked at the thought of leaving. It took me a few days to even share it with the team… but I obeyed and He has blessed me for it. I now serve on the Global Outreach Team at IMPACT195… I’m so grateful I get to use the experiences and equipping I gained in Human Resources as well as in the field to invest in the Global Outreach effort.”
When asked how we could be praying for Darah, she responded in cheerful reverence.
“Please pray heavenly wisdom for me… I need the mind and heart of Christ. I want Him to continue to put on my heart, the things that are on His heart so I can be an effective leader. I don’t ever want to do things in my strength, but to be empowered by Him… And I want God’s best even if it means giving up something good… Pray that God would be glorified through my life… I don’t know why He is letting me a part of His incredible work, but I am so grateful and it is such an honor.”