Australian, Darlene Zschech, is a globally acclaimed composer, worship leader, pastor, author and speaker and is well known for her ministry work at Sydney’s Hillsong Church. However, she claims her biggest success is serving God and His people whom she loves with all her heart. Alongside her husband Mark, and with their daughters, son-in-laws and grandchildren, they lead Hope Unlimited Church (HopeUC) with locations in Australia, India and the U.S. Darlene is perhaps most well known for her worship song, Shout to the Lord, but she has composed numerous other worship songs including Kiss of Heaven, Change Your World, You Are Love, In Jesus Name and the album, Revealing Jesus, which she recorded with Grammy Award winner, Israel Houghton. In 2016 Darlene recorded a live HopeUC worship album, Here I Am, Send Me, where she collaborated with other top worship leaders. In 2018 she released, The Table, and in 2019, she recorded, I Speak Jesus, with Integrity Music writer, Dustin Smith.
Her passion is to train and encourage others in worship and in the Word of God and has penned six books which have been translated into 20 different languages, including The Art of Mentoring, Revealing Jesus (devotional), Worship Changes Everything, and The Golden Thread, as well as an online worship course, Your Ministry Mentor, designed to equip global worship leaders.
She and Mark have a passion to restore Hope globally but especially to Rwandans. Their ministry provided strategic hope and healing following the 1994 horrific genocide and has continued to expand into parts of Africa, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and India. Darlene says, “First and foremost I am a woman who simply and wholeheartedly loves Jesus Christ, and serves Him through loving my family, serving the Church, and speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Kathleen Cooke: We are all working through recovering from the global pandemic on many levels, but what is the single biggest thing that has God taught you during the challenges that COVID has brought?
Darlene Zschech: The big thing for me over the last 3 years is how God has shown me the importance of The Table. It’s the importance of the gather… that as we break bread together and see and hear each other that we make the time to celebrate Christ together in a way that is personal and intentional. And… that discipleship and authentic community will be what flows from lives that have the table at the Centre.
Kathleen: You have had great successes but lots of challenges too. When those out-of-the-blue challenges came your way, what did God teach you?
Darlene: FORGIVENESS… this has been a big one for me. When I was going through treatment for cancer, I had lots of time to listen to God speak in a new and often challenging way. I had to dig deep on my theology about healing and about God’s plans and purposes. One day, He spoke to me and asked me to trust Him with my heart in a new way. To do this, He asked me to forgive those I had held deep unforgiveness toward… which REALLY shocked me. I thought I was a very forgiving person. So… slowly but surely, the Holy Spirit gently led me through person by person what I needed to set free in my heart. This was a life changing few months for me. Not only do I believe He helped with the healing in my body, but He has literally brought me so much more freedom that I didn’t even know I needed.
You don’t need the other person’s permission OR forgiveness to offer yours. The Bible is beautifully straight on this issue in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Kathleen: What do you wish you’d learned more quickly in your life journey?
Darlene: OH… how I wish I had found my voice to say NO earlier in my life. I was so willing to be loyal to others, and to please others… SO looking for others to give me a sense of self, to give me affirmation, other than God Himself, that I shut down a piece of my soul to do so. If I could speak to my younger self, I would tell her to fight for what you TRULY believe in, don’t allow yourself to be bullied by those in authority, be unapologetic to do things differently, especially if others who really are not thinking about YOU, do not approve. BUT… I have watched God restore days that I thought were lost forever. Yes, He is a really good Father.
Psalm 139 was the chapter that was like a banner over my life from the moment that I accepted Christ and it is STILL the banner of faithfulness that God sings over me. For that, I am ever grateful.
Kathleen: We live in a culture of influence and trying to have authority and influence on other’s lives. What has God taught you about being an influencer?
Darlene: I think influence comes with a GREAT sense of responsibility… and it’s not just your seen life… it’s your unseen life. This is where your authority as a Christ follower comes from. In Matthew 5, Jesus talks about being an influence but toward the end of this scripture it reminds us that influence, in the end, is so that many may see and give glory to God.“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14 -16)
Influence is for service, not status. Allow God to use your life as high and wide as He desires… but remember what it’s all about. Gratefulness is the key to keeping your heart with all diligence. Stay thankful, stay on your knees, and stay HUNGRY for more of Him and less of me.