Glenwood man changing lives across the globe through ministry
Darrell Dobbelmann, of Glenwood, is a humble man who has quite a story to share. It’s a story he wants to get out to all parts of the world. It’s not always an easy task, but it comes natural for a man who has lived “with a sense of destiny.”
By his own accounts, and in his own words, Darrell’s story “didn’t have a very happy beginning.” His father died when he was 9 years old. His mother remarried and, unfortunately, Darrell’s stepfather was an abusive man.
“We lived in a highly dysfunctional household,” he said. “I quit school when I was 17. I was kicked out of the house and lived in the garage of my mother’s rental property. I had no friends. I wondered why I was even here.”
As he lived in that rental property Darrell found a job with a “fairly promising future in plastics.” He studied and dabbled in Eastern religion, however, he struggled with his purpose and his happiness. “At 23 I crawled out of my cave,” he explained. “My brother came over and started telling me that Jesus loves me.” He said, “If you’d just turn around you’d see He’s always been behind you. You need to give your life to Jesus.” Darrell continued, “This may sound corny but I immediately had a vision. Up to that time Jesus had just been a religious figure to me. Now, I suddenly saw this vision. He had died for me, and He was saying, ‘I did this for you.’ It was an incredible moment.” And, Darrell’s life turned around.
“I got on my knees, and I said, ‘I give you my life.’” That moment happened in February 1973. “I began to see how the Gospel can change people’s lives. I started sharing my faith, and it changed my heart,” he said.
By 1975 Darrell had begun studies at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. It was also during this time that he met his wife, Ellie (the two have been married for 38 years). “As we forged out a new life I was lucky enough to have a gal who loved Christ from the deepest core. Seeking in the Bible, we studied how to be married, how to raise kids. I’ve had Ellie by my side through our entire ministry, pioneering our own way.” The couple rented the house Darrell grew up in and drove a 1967 Buick LaSabre as their family grew. “I had found stability for my family.”
And, he was witnessing how God changed lives. “I couldn’t get enough of it,” Darrell smiled. He and Ellie started a radio ministry, A Time Together. When the couple’s first child arrived in 1978 they were serving a church, and in 1983, “God called us again, and when He called, we left for Arkansas, for a three-month training course for Youth with a Mission (YWAM).” The family’s next chapter of ministry had begun.
YWAM has taken the Dobblemann family to Central America, Nicaragua and El Salvador. “We were like Pilgrims. We went door to door handing out the Bible. Guatemala was our YWAM home-base as we reached agnostics and atheists. People were scared. Why? Because the guerrilla troops killed anyone and all who they thought were Christian.” The troops did not stop Dobbelmann and his family. They traveled with caution, listening to guerrilla radio stations, trying to detour from any danger, still ministering to the people and bringing them Bibles.
It was in 1991 that Darrell started Dove International, a worldwide ministry. With Dove International, Darrell brought more than 7,000 people, mostly teenagers, to Mexico (mostly by coach bus) to spread the Word. While associated with Dove, Darrell also became an associate evangelist with Oasis, another world ministry.
“I had a four-year overlapping of the two, serving as president of Dove (still currently serves as president), and for Oasis, recruiting international trainers, teaching trainers, equipping Christians to share their faith, wherever they are and wherever they live, work and enjoy life,” Darrell explained.
Oasis reaches out to the neediest and most unreached part of the world. Darrell continued, “Jesus is new, and Christianity is new. Only 1 percent of the population is Christian. We train people on how to share their faith, to overcome hate, to teach faith with compassion and in a confident way.” With Oasis the ministry celebrates open-air festivals in India, Africa and other parts of the world. “We have built, and continue to build, churches and drill fresh-water wells in places without water. And now, we are training others to become ministers in this world effort,” explained Darrell.
Darrell has recently returned from trips to Guatemala and India, saying “I’ve used the term ‘changing nations’ for years, but for the first time I can tangibly see how it now is happening. The key is multiplying trainers! It’s the mantra of the New Testament (2 Timothy 2:2) and the mantra of the old! It was even the first commandment ever given: (“be fruitful and multiply”). The key is trust. Trust in God and trust in those we train. Entrust to faithful men who will go and do likewise.”
In Guatemala, after teaching at a Youth With A Mission training school for a week, Darrell traveled 12 hours to an area of Guatemala called the Petén, an area of monkeys, alligators, lush jungle and, “loving believers hungry to learn how to reap the great harvest of souls.” According to Darrell, “Over 200 showed up. These pastors and prospective evangelists all agree to train hundreds of other churches over the next year. It was like watching a physical miracle right before our eyes. Multiplication! And between this area and the other two areas of Zacapa and Escuintla, nearly 600 key leaders were trained — nearly 200 teams of trainers, with each team covenanted to train 12 other churches including their own.”
That is quite an impressive number. These teams will train nearly 2,400 churches over the next year. If each of those churches wins only 10 people, it would be 24,000 people saved. Added Darrell, “Sometimes that many people come to Christ the first day; 100 or 1,000 per church is more realistic. Then it would be 240,000 or 2,400,000! And remember, the key is multiplication. These trainers are training others to train more as they win the lost. Like I said, it was the mantra of the New Testament.”
From Guatemala it was off to India, visiting two states Darrell has never visited before. While in the first, Andhra Pradesh, a rural area where dozens of villages surround the town of 50,000, nearly all Hindu, Darrell led a gospel and healing festival.
Also, while on this trip, six new wells were dedicated, with the cost of each well at $1,400. “This is astoundingly cheap,” Darrell explained. Oasis has drilled over 500 freshwater wells in India. The newly dedicated wells were paid in part by partners in Paynesville, and one was paid for from partners in Alexandria and Glenwood.
Oasis Ministry also held 5 Star Evangelism Seminars in two cities in Karnataka and three cities in the state of Orissa. According to Darrell, “in Karnataka, there is a horrible expression of Hinduism where, through dedication to goddesses, little girls are prepared for prostitution. There are many “colonies” of hopeless women. These women are called the untouchables.” In Orissa, Darrell explained that he taught people how to share Christ with confidence and compassion, to those who (ironically) persecuted them. He said, “In Orissa, there are anti-conversion laws and much Christian persecution. This area has suffered much persecution in the past. Christian’s homes and churches have been burned.”
Oasis now sees hundreds of pastors and key leaders choosing (two) members from each of their churches, bringing them to the 5 Star Evangelism Seminars. In summing up the 5 Star ministry in a few words, Darrell said, “Together we will commit to learn confidence, compassion, and an ever-improving practiced discipline in sharing faith. We will provide structure, a team atmosphere, and our own faith sharing tool called One Minute Witness.”
As this humble man, with difficult beginnings, prepares to carry on more 5 Star Evangelism Seminars, Darrell will continue to share and grow Christianity to “as many as I can, all over the world.” He prepares to leave once again for Guatemala in December and India in February. The nations of Mexico, Nicaragua, and Brazil are on the schedule for 2014. “Prayer is coveted; the body of believers is growing.”
Tax deductible donations can be made on-line at www.doveinternational.org or sent to Dove International PO Box 97 Glenwood, MN. 56334.