An Interview with Darlene Zschech
Published on 16 March 2021
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During the filming of an episode of Friends of Planetshakers, in 2020, Pastor Sam Evans and Joth Hunt had the privilege of interviewing Darlene Zschech whose inspiring story encouraged many. Make sure to read Part 1 of this powerful interview.
Darlene’s story continues here as she shares her journey of overcoming a very difficult season in her life.
[Sam Evans]As people go through life, they may face very challenging moments. Not too long ago, there was a large obstacle that came your way in a form of a very challenging diagnosis which you have overcome. I would love for you to share that journey with us. I’m sure it would encourage us.
Darlene ZschechMy battle against cancer has been a journey over the last six years. I've got one more year of medication and am looking forward to that great day when I can get off that medication. It was a real shock hearing a cancer diagnosis over my life. My father died just short of his 51st birthday because of cancer. Mark's father died of cancer too so there was cancer in my family. When I heard the news, my husband and children stood together around me and were a huge support. I am really blessed. We did what we needed to do. I went and had surgery. We kept the news within the family until I'd come out of the first round of surgery. When our children were ready, we felt to do the journey publicly. And so we did. We kept that first few weeks just to ourselves and to our close friends because, to be honest, I didn't need the panic and drama. What I needed were people around me who would speak life, carry faith in God’s Word and be good for our kids. I wanted people who would just bring joy into the situation. So everyone’s different, but that's the way we chose to do it.
I remembered this beautiful thing that happened during that season. When I heard the diagnosis, we were going into all of our Christmas services. I'm so grateful because it kept my mind off the news. A dear friend of mine, Susanna, came up to me during that weekend and gave me this little green book which looked like a journal. She went on to share that over the last few months, the Holy Spirit had put on her heart to write scriptures and prophetic words on the love of God— especially for me. Holy Spirit said He would tell her when I would need it and this was the weekend to give it to me. So this woman who was dyslexic, obediently wrote down prophetic words, scriptures such as Psalm 91 and angelic visions she experienced. Each of them resonated the love of God for me. Unknown to her, there was a struggle within me. I saw God and I trusted Him because of the power of His Word in these scriptures.
Then God said to me, “I know you trust Me, but do you know that I love you?” I literally couldn't answer Him. I told Him that I thought I did, but that this didn’t feel like love. I didn’t know what to do with that. At the very next moment, someone put in my hand a journal filled with words from God Himself on how much He loves me. What a confirmation from Heaven!
Another revelation was when God spoke to me through the scriptures found in Psalm 23.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
The only way there can be shadows is when there is a source of light, but something is standing in its way. God’s light was there. He assured me,“I'm here. I'm not going to leave you, but we're going to walk through.” To be honest, I did not want to walk through. I wanted to be healed because I felt so close to dying every time in those chemotherapy sessions. It was a beast to overcome.
But God was so kind.
I met so many people in the belly of a chemo ward that I never, ever would have met. I believe that where you have a scar, you have authority. I found myself just finding people to pray with during my radiation sessions. Sadly, some of them died along the way, but I would be there with their families and stand with them. At the other end, I couldn’t help but say, “Thank you, God. Thank you for entrusting me with this awful and lonely lane.” I fell in love with our church family in those seven months of treatment. It was a long road to recovery before getting on my own two feet. Every day, without fail, someone from church would drop something at our door.
I was so blessed. Through that, we started something called A Thousand Meals which is now called Meals of Hope. This began because I met so many people in that cancer journey who didn't have anybody to care for them. Something within me said, “Not on our watch!”. So if someone’s going through any cancer journey, they can just email us. Our church family will be activated to bring food for their family— free of charge. Our heart is to show up and let them know that someone cares and is standing with them in faith and hope. What the enemy meant for evil, God is working it for my good! I'm just so grateful.
Even though the road has not been easy with all its bumps, I've seen the faithfulness of God again and again and again. I wrote a song entitled "In Jesus’ Name" . It sings, “God is fighting for us, pushing back the darkness. I will live and I will not die.” I wrote these lyrics before I was diagnosed with cancer. In the live recording of that song, I said, “I hate cancer and if you've got cancer, I'm declaring this over you”. A few months later, this very song was sung over me and ministered to me. How good is our God! Let me encourage you today and declare that God fights for you and Jesus is interceding for you— even while you're sleeping. God Himself sings over you (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV) so let God breathe hope into your soul once again. God sees it all— from the beginning to the end— even though we may only see a little part of the picture. He's got you. You can trust Him with your life.
[Joth Hunt] That is so powerful. This reminds me when I went through my own cancer situation two years ago. The week before I got diagnosed, I wrote the praise song "Only Way" which became the anthem of my soul throughout my cancer journey. I sang the lyrics,“You are the way, Jesus, you're the way. It doesn't matter what people say to me. I believe in you”, over myself!
Darlene, your story is so inspiring because it is evident that God is faithful and He's good in every single season. He will bring you out the other side even if it doesn't look how we want it to look. Our scars indeed become our authority. God has entrusted me with more authority as a songwriter, minister and preacher on the other side of the battle. All because of God’s faithfulness and kindness, bringing me through the journey. I would like to echo your encouragement to everyone. Even if you are in the absolute darkest valley, you are going through it and you're not stuck there! God will bring a breakthrough and He is going to turn it around for you. Let's keep having faith and keep believing.
Darlene Zschech It seems that things never turn out as we expected they would. God surprises us with great people and miracles when we continually seek Him. He is so good! One of the revelations for me has been the outrageous nature of grace. I was confronted with the great need of His Grace when I found myself on my knees by the side of my bed and I was crying out to God in my sickness. He met me there. At the bottom of your darkest and deepest moments, there He is. He finds us. Our weakness draws Him closer. It doesn't repel Him.
Paul said, “I'm going to boast in my weakness because I need to know your greatness”.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
I still can't fully say, “I'm glad I had cancer”. I still hate cancer, however, I am so grateful for the things that I have learned and am learning.
[Sam Evans] What I loved about your stories and reflections on your personal journey is the incredible love that you received from the Body of Christ. There's something so powerful when people of faith surround you, support and pray for you. That's what I love about the Church! These challenges in life somehow activate another gear for the Body of Christ to step in and step up to be these amazing people that they are. So that’s why we have to gather together as the Church once again. This is where we're at our best and most powerful, when the Church is together, supporting each other.
Darlene Zschech Yes, absolutely! That's the Body of Christ. That's who we are. You know, it's who God created us to be. It has been good to be able to watch church online, watch sermons and enjoy worship on YouTube from our favorites. But, if they're from another country, they won't be there at your hospital bed when you need them. We are planted in a body, in a family, in specific places. I can feel that push back from the enemy trying to disperse us— robbing the strength of the Body of Christ. Come on Church! Let us rise up and go back to the things we know to be true and hold tight to them!
In Hebrews 12, the Bible talks about the Earth shaking, but it also says, “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe”. It’s really simple: Get into God’s Presence and remind yourself not to get distracted by the shaking. Let the shaking do its work, be thankful and worship God.
[Joth Hunt] I'd love to ask you another question about worship leading. In our recent interview with William McDowell, we both agreed that as worship leaders, our desire for the Church congregation is to encounter and experience God's breakthrough in a meeting. How do you approach breakthrough in worship?
Darlene Zschech I expect breakthrough. As a worship leader, we can only do so much to lead people to encounter God. But what I love— and this is why we have to be so careful about our lyrics— is that it is God’s Word that is actually doing the work. One of the things I love about the song Waymaker is that it is just declaring who God is as you sing the lyrics:
“Waymaker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the darkness, My God, that is who You are”
As we bring our declaration and come into God’s Presence with thanksgiving and joy, our Father responds and brings the breakthrough. As a worship leader, I’ve been in places where I felt like we hadn’t been able to shift the heaviness we felt in the atmosphere. But I would be speaking to someone later in the day and hear them share how they were weeping in God’s Presence during that same worship session. How deceiving are our feelings and emotions? Who am I to say that the Word of God was not doing its work that morning? My job is to go by faith. It’s never about how I feel. All I need to do is to announce and declare that Jesus is here and exalt His name above it all. My job is to not allow my voice or the cleverness of the music to get in the way of the majesty of who God is, so that people can see Jesus. And once they see Him, they receive their breakthrough!
Even when I was sick from the chemo sessions, I would still lead worship as it was a lesson for my soul as well. Basically, I would say to my feelings, “You will not dictate the measure of my worship”. No COVID restriction is going to dictate the measure of my worship. Nothing has the ability to small down my worship unless I give it the power to.
Our emotions can so easily entangle us. If you're tired, disappointed or offended, do not let all of these things get in the way. Why? Because it will self-sabotage what God wants to do in your life. The Word of God is powerful. My job is to go in faith. Even if I don't feel 100 percent, God is going to do this. God only asks for faith as small as the size of a mustard seed. And so when I don't feel like I have enough faith, I go in obedience. He'll take my mustard seed and the Word of God WILL do its work. He is always faithful!”
[Sam Evans] We've had an incredible conversation. I know that people will be so inspired and encouraged when they read this. Once again, we want to honour you for the absolute legend that you are. We thank God for being loving, tender and a sincere woman of God, encouraging us with your stories and life. God bless you.
About Darlene Zschech
Darlene Zschech is an incredible woman of God with global influence. Through her anointed song-writing gift and powerful worship leading, she continues to inspire people to encounter God and worship Him with authenticity and passion. Though most recognized for her worship gift, Darlene is also a sought-after speaker and author, and currently pastors Hope Unlimited Church on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia (now expanded into India and the USA) alongside her husband, Mark.
Darlene’s longevity and fruitfulness of ministry service is a testament to her highly respected spiritual authority and faithful, life-time commitment to expanding the Kingdom of God by simply loving God and loving people. In her own words, “First and foremost, I am a woman who simply and wholeheartedly loves Christ and serves Him through loving my family, serving the Church and speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves”.
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