This article is posted here at FGGAM with permission from the Cottonwood County Citizen Newspaper in Windom, Minnesota. What a BLESSING!
HE’S our thanksgiving
If ever there is a better walking, talking – and singing – billboard for Thanksgiving, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone more qualified than Gene Duerksen of Delft.
Over the past three decades, the longtime Delft resident has battled one medical issue after another, much of which has stemmed from the diabetes with which he was diagnosed in 1967, after graduating from Windom High School. Indeed, Duerksen, 65, has dealt with eye problems since 1982 (he is considered legally blind today), a kidney transplant 10 years later and, since 2000, a heart attack, West Nile Disease that took him within a whisper of death, a leg amputation, prostate survery and, just this year, skin cancer which is a result of the anti-rejection drugs he takes for his kidney transplant.
And through it all, Duerksen continues to be thankful, for the fact that he is still here today, that he can be an example of God’s power when one places his trust in Him – and even for his circumstances, as sometimes painful or challenging as they can be.
“I feel God has allowed this to happen so that we can show other people how great He is,” Gene says.
“I just want to be a testimony to the Lord of how thankful everyone should be for their circumstances and how God will take them through, if people would just be willing to trust Him.”
Duerksen turns to Philippians 1:29 to support his testimony: For to you has been given the privilege not only of trusting Him but also of suffering for Him.
“When suffering comes, we can either get bitter or better,” Duerksen maintains.
“Despite facing one health battle after another, I haven’t gone through depression,” Duerksen says. “I get a little discouraged, but I’m not depressed by that.”
His daughter, Lynn Stoneking, was driving Gene to St. James one day this summer when he shared with her that he was feeling his life was not as valued, now that he couldn’t do many of the things he used to do for his family. A hard-working laborer, Gene’s health issues have caused him to rely on help from his family and others.
And then Lynn reminded him that his worth shouldn’t be measured in only one type of manual labor. His responsibilities to his family have now changed. The things he once did for his family can now be done by his children, and where his value now lies is in being a grandfather to five grandchildren. Indeed, there are many days when “grandpa” can push the youngsters in the swing or simply cuddle with them and teach them songs while his children and their spouses tackle other chores around the farm.
She also reminded him that his value is in the prayer journal he has kept for almost two years. After diabetes took his lower left leg, Gene decided his ministry was done, until God told him to start praying.
And pray, he has.
He started a list of people and entities that need daily prayer. Everyone from his own family to the church to President Obama and even to the evil ISIS terrorist group.
The list numbers over 200 for whom he prays daily.
“And I don’t pray for just the sick one, I pray for the family,” Gene says. “That has been my ministry. Some days I think, ‘Why do I repeat it?’ But God says, ‘Come to me because I care (1 Peter 5:7)!’ ”
Every three months, he creates a new list, including many of the same people, issues and situations that need prayer while adding others. He keeps it all in a three-ring binder.
“And I’ll also call people on the telephone and pray for them over the phone because I can’t go see them like I used to,” Gene says.
And despite his setbacks, he and his wife, Margaret, of 42 years continue to be part of the ministry effort they started 40 years ago, Maranatha Ministries. While the ministry is now largely handled by their daughter, Lynn, and her husband, Thomas, Gene and Margaret still sing and share their testimony with Lynn from time to time locally and, of course, continue to pray for the ministry.
Lynn is one of the Duerksens’ four children. Their oldest daughter, Joanna (Bruce) Miller, lives in St. Cloud; Josh (fiancée Heather) lives in Windom; Lynn and Thomas live in a separate wing on the Duerksen farm and Phil (Candice) Duerksen live west of Delft. Gene and Margaret also enjoy being grandparents to five grandchildren.
Ask him what he’s most thankful for and he’s quick to point to his caregiver – his wife, Margaret.
“Margaret and I had three young children in elementary school,” Gene says of the time when his problems began.
“The support we received from teachers, the school, churches and the community – that’s what it’s all about. I’m so thankful for prayer.”
Gene says Lynn, in an August Facebook post, recalling her dad’s battle with West Nile a decade earlier, perhaps said it best about Gene’s and Margaret’s marriage.
“I can say that God didn’t randomly choose our mom to marry our dad and be his helpmate,” Lynn wrote. “Holding her masters degree in public health nursing, she has worked just as full-time and overtime caring for her husband and his needs as any nurse out there. It’s just part of her everyday life . . . their ‘new normal.’ I believe God knew exactly who dad would need to survive his life.”
And survive, he has.
Here at FGGAM we are so thankful for newspaper’s like the Cottonwood County Citizen that shine the light of Jesus and their community!
I am blessed that this is my hometown newspaper and further blessed that I write a devotional column in the Citizen! PRAISE GOD!
When I asked Dave Fjeld of the Citizen if I could post this at FGGAM, he said sure and he wanted the Citizens to get full credit, but I also think Dave wrote the article and what a great work he has done capturing this Godly story! Dave is such a Godly man.
God Bless the Cottonwood County Citizen and staff!