The Letter D

Mr. and Mrs. Dinnen (L) with Mr. and Mrs. D. (R)

Mr. and Mrs. Dinnen (L) with Mr. and Mrs. D. (R)

I’d like to introduce you to the giants of faith in my life. :-)  These people are my spiritual grandparents and great-grandparents.  I am genetically related to Mr. and Mrs. D (I call them Uncle Irl and Aunt Lois), but both these lovely couples have had a huge impact on where I am in life (albeit at times from a very great distance).  Mr. Dinnen went to be with the Lord several years ago, but the other three are still as active as ever in the Real War – prayer.  And, wow, can these people ever tell stories!!!

Stewart and Marie Dinnen, natives of the great British Empire, were married after World War II.  Stewart was an engineer by training, and Marie, a nurse.  They planned to serve the Lord together on the mission field.  The Lord had other plans. :-)  From what I remember and have heard and read, they did spend some time as ex-pats, ministering in the name of Jesus.  However, their agency decided that Stewart would be the perfect leader to develop a new sending base.  Stewart and Marie spent time leading the Worldwide Evangelism Crusade’s Glasgow, Scotland Missionary Training College (MTC) and with Norman Grubb at WEC’s North American headquarters in Ft. Washington, PA before heading up WEC’s MTC in Tasmania beginning in the 1960s.  It was during their time in Ft. Washington that they met and became life-long friends with Uncle Irl and Aunt Lois.  The Dinnens have two daughters, and Mrs. Dinnen currently resides in New Zealand.

Aunt Lois is my Dad’s aunt, the youngest sibling of my grandfather.  She was born and raised in the Philadelphia area, and married Uncle Irl (a native of West Virginia) in the early 1950s.  Aunt Lois came to know the Lord as a result of seeing His hand clearly upon her life in a miraculous way after the birth of her second child.  She heard Norman Grubb speak at a Faith at Work conference and she and Uncle Irl subsequently became involved in the ministry of WEC.  Uncle Irl, a chemist, met the Lord while studying and then taking a difficult exam during his doctoral studies.  Uncle Irl and Aunt Lois became the youth leaders at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church and later at Bethlehem United Methodist Church, both in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  They also became involved with Young Life and saw many lives changed by the power of the Gospel.  Mrs. Dinnen became a mentor of sorts for Aunt Lois, and both couples continually held each other up in prayer.  Although they were on opposite sides of the globe, they wrote, talked, and visited as often as possible.

As their children grew up, Uncle Irl and Aunt Lois found their ministry growing and changing as well.  The highschool fellowship they led morphed into a college and career fellowship, and their home became a second home to students from both West Point and the Naval Academy (and everywhere in between).  The D’s home was the place to be on Friday nights! :-)  Singing and fellowship were followed by testimonies of how God was at work in tangible ways in day-to-day life, then the guys and girls split up for Bible study and teaching.  The evenings would finish out with square dancing in the barn and a trip to Betty’s for home made ice cream.  My Dad was a part of this group following his graduation from college in Ohio in the late 1970s.  In January of 1979, my Mom was brand new to the area and had only one “lead” for fellowship – the suggestion of a college friend who had been in Young Life to look up the D’s on a Friday night.  That was a suggestion that changed my Mom’s life.

As you may well imagine, a large group of young Christian singles will gradually convert to a large group of young Christian marrieds, and the D’s fellowship was no exception. ;-)  I have aunts and uncles from the fellowship “family” all over the globe.  Last I asked, 30 couples, including my parents, met at the fellowship and eventually got married.  (These are the people that tell the most interesting stories about my parents. :-P)

Anyhow, because we are related not only through fellowship in Christ but also through flesh-and-blood, I had the opportunity to grow up knowing the D’s quite well – and, in a roundabout way, I knew the Dinnens.  I had no idea how the Lord had used the Dinnens and the D’s when I met Mr. and Mrs. Dinnen (the only time I remember meeting them) sometime in the early 1990s.  All I remember is that Mr. Dinnen had the neatest trick of unscrewing his thumb and then neatly screwing it back on again – no blood or anything!  I also remember Mrs. Dinnen coming to our home and playing with us on the swing set in the backyard – and learning that while her accent sounded British, it was actually Tasmanian.  That was a geography lesson in and of itself!

Over the years, I learned why my Mom prayed for over a hundred families by name every day.  It was because Mr. and Mrs. Dinnen prayed for our family by name every day.  Mrs. Dinnen still prays for me (and my family) every day, and I have had the great privilege to exchange letters (the old-fashioned, stamp-on-the-envelope, Air-Mail kind) with her several times as I travel this path to “missionary-hood.”  Her wisdom and insight have been a great encouragement to me, as have the books she and Mr. Dinnen have written.

Uncle Irl and Aunt Lois still live nearby.  I keep in touch via email with Aunt Lois almost daily, and have been out to visit them several times in the past few weeks.  She regularly supplies me with the Dinnens’ books and Mrs. Dinnen’s Bible studies.

What a joy it is to be able to say, “I have a beautiful inheritance!” (Psalm 16:6).


Further Reading – Stewart and Marie Dinnen

Real Guidance

How Are You Doing?

Sacking the Frontiers of Hell

Rescue Shop Within a Yard of Hell

Faith on Fire

You Can Learn to Lead

Learning About Union with Christ

*Note: Most of the Dinnens books are out of print in the US.  You may have to dig around a bit on the internet or pay a visit to WEC in Ft. Washington to find some of these titles.


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