Tribute to PE giant of faith and compassion, Derrick Darlow

Derrick Darlow

Derrick Darlow’s short, stocky frame and broad, beard-framed smile were a much-loved and familiar sight in areas of desperate need in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) — until his passing in September.

Together with his equally-dedicated wife Diane he pioneered mercy missions in the city, beginning in his Walmer home in the 1980s — until the neighbours complained– and growing into Jerusalem Ministries and the Human Dignity Centre which served, housed, restored and uplifted desperately needy people from the streets and Walmer Township.

Speaking at his memorial service last week, Iris Veto, a ministry partner in Walmer Township, summed up Derek well, describing him as “a husband to widows, a father to orphans, and a friend to the lost”. On reflection I would add “a lover of Jesus”.

Other Derrick traits that were recalled at the service included his love for his own children and grandchildren, his humility, his tenacity, his practical ingenuity and his no-nonsense tough love approach — no doubt honed during years of living with and caring for streetwise addicts. Some of Derrick’s “problem children” returned to the streets but many were restored and some were baptised in the pool at the mission house, White Lodge.

A remarkable story that was shared at the service was how he made a commitment to Jesus at a Gospel crusade at the age of 10, then went home and told his parents who attended the service that night and also made commitments.

Failing health in recent years forced him to retire from full-time ministry but he never stopped caring for and reaching out to people and to the end he dreamed of a new project — running a rehab centre on a farm in the Humansdorp area.

On a personal note, I was privileged to know Derrick as a dear friend. We did not connect often but what comes to mind when I think of the times we did is his hearty chuckle after sharing about some of the things that were happening in his life — things that would leave less stout-hearted and faith-filled people in tears.

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  1. I am genuinely grateful for this tribute. Derrick was a legend and will be missed by many. He would like others to take the step of faith as he and Andre have done, and do what God put on your heart. He will not fail you.

  2. I miss him everyday, he was a father, friend and colleague. I know he is happy where he is, smiling and telling stories and sharing testimonies as always, but I miss his stories. He was a friend to the lonely, he had a big heart just like his smile. We called him father Christmas because of his beard and generosity. I saw the gift of generosity in action through Tata Derrick. Yes I called him Tata because he was more than a boss to me, he supported me financially, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and physically. Little did I know that he was almost living me, he repeated these same words, “Tendai, don’t take this as a job, it’s a calling, if you think that it’s a job you will not survive in this environment.” The last three months I worked with Tata Derrick, he would come to my office just to remind me about servant hood. Thank you Lord for the opportunity of spending time with the giant of faith, a selfless man and caring soul. Hehehe please don’t let the Angels forget their duties because of your humourous stories Tata. Forever loved Tata Derrick Darlow ❤️❤️