My Story

I recently joined a small group of other women in writing for a Facebook Bible study called Worthy Daughters. One of the things we were asked to do was to share our testimonies. It occurred to me that I have never done that on this blog. So, I thought I would just go ahead and share it here as well. I hope it’s a blessing!

Good Morning! My name is Rachel Miller.

Fifteen minutes after I was born, my dad held me in his arms and said, “Rachel, I love you, but you are a sinner and on your way to hell…” Of course, I didn’t understand anything he was saying, but his words that day are a testament to the burden that my parents had for each of their children.

My mother faithfully made sure that my sisters and I memorized Scripture. God used His Word to plant the seeds of understanding in my heart. During one of our Bible memory times, after a week of Vacation Bible School at the church my dad was pastoring in Illinois, I told Mom I knew I was a sinner and needed to be saved. I remember kneeling at Dad’s hideous, gold recliner and calling upon the Lord for salvation. I was baptized about a year later, and about two years after that I surrender my life to the Lord during camp at Triple S Christian Ranch.

In early 1988, my family, USA missionaries with BIMI, took part in a missions conference as part of our deputation trail. On the last night of the meeting, at the age of twelve, I surrendered to a call to missions that had long been growing in my heart. That night the Lord first burdened my heart with orphan ministry.

As time passed and I entered my high school years, things distracted me from that call. But the summer after I graduated, the Lord used Ecclesiastes 5:5-7 to get my attention, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for He hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed…”

That day I surrendered again to go wherever He wanted, to do whatever He wanted me to do. One year later, in the fall of 1995, I found myself on the way to Moscow for what I thought would be a nine-month missions trip. I had been there just over four months when the Lord made it clear that I should stay longer. That nine-month stay turned into twenty-two months, and for the next ten years God just kept taking me back. I was blessed to work with many different churches, orphanages, and schools, as well as in widow ministry and ministry among refugees. During that time, I began to see how vital churches were to successful work with orphans and how few churches were actually involved in the work.

In 2005, while back in the States for a short time, the Lord made it clear that I was not to return to my former place of ministry. I began prayerfully considering what the next step would be. My desire was to return to Russia as quickly as possible. Because I had gone to Russia right out of high school and most missions agencies require at least two to three years of Bible college training, I began looking into various colleges. I had just chosen one, when we received a call that my grandmother was in the hospital and the family needed someone to care for my grandfather. Upon my arrival in Ohio, however, it quickly became evident that my grandmother would no longer be able to care for the two of them. For the next 15 months the Lord blessed me with the opportunity of being their primary caregiver.

As my grandparents’ needs increased it became evident that I could no longer meet them sufficiently. I returned home to Montana at Christmas, and it was agreed by all that I should not return to Ohio. So once again, it was time to consider the next step. My heart’s desire was still to return to Russia, still to work with the children that the Lord had placed on my heart, and to get back to that ministry as quickly as possible. At the encouragement of my Pastor (and father) I enrolled in Mountain States Baptist College in Great Falls, MT.

The time at Mountain States was a great blessing, a time to learn and pursue studies that I had long desired to pursue. While there, the Lord opened a special door to work with a group of girls from our bus routes. The time spent with these girls and members of their families opened my eyes to the needs among the fatherless of America.

After college the Lord allowed me to take an extensive survey trip to work with an orphanage in Central Asia and to visit several ministries in Russia. As I went from place to place the burden the Lord had begun to lay on my heart while in college only grew stronger.

It was out of that trip and the experience of the years in Russia that Forbid Them Not Baptist Ministries was born. The burden of my heart is to help churches and missionaries start, strengthen, and maintain ministries to the fatherless of their communities—ministries that are centered around Christ, His Word, and the local church. God has blessed and opened doors to work with orphan ministries in four countries. He has also opened doors locally through my home church, and I’m excited to see a course on the Bible and the fatherless beginning to take shape.

Around the same time, the Lord began opening doors of ministry through writing and editing. This has been one of my greatest joys! I have been blessed to see the orphan ministry and the writing ministry overlap. Bible lessons taught in my local church and then in ladies’ meetings in Kenya became the basis for my first book. And a devotional that I developed while still in Russia became my second. Some women like to bake or quilt or craft and give these things as gifts to encourage others, I’ve never been especially good at those things. But I find a similar joy in sharing the simple lessons God has been teaching me in the quiet moments.

One of the orphans in Russia once asked me what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” I told her I wanted to be a magnifying glass. She looked at me like I was insane, and then asked me if I knew what that Russian word meant. I told her that I did understand, and that what I wanted more than anything was for my life to magnify the Lord—my desire is still the same.

“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:20,21

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Heroes Worth Having

I’ve been working on a special project for a few weeks now, trying to get it just right before I shared it with the rest of the world. But, then something happened that made me stop and think. In fact, two somethings happened.

Not long ago, I had a conversation with a child about heroes. I don’t remember for sure what started the conversation, but somehow that’s where we ended up. When I asked who this child’s hero was the answer was telling. Not about the child per se but rather about our society.

When I was growing up, heroes were people who accomplished great feats. Men and women who explored new frontiers. Inventors were heroes. Scientists, authors, missionaries, doctors, nurses, soldiers, firemen, policemen, teachers, astronauts, moms and dads—all heroes.

But things have changed. As I listened to this child’s description of their hero, I was saddened. I had never heard of this hero before. As far as I could tell, their greatest achievement was scoring 25 bazillion YouTube subscribers. I failed to see any cause for awe or inspiration in that achievement (maybe I’m just getting old), so I asked, “What is it about them that makes you look up to them?”

“Well,” the child faltered, “um, I guess they worked hard and were successful because of it. I guess.”

I am all for hard work, and I’ve made enough YouTube videos in my time to know that no small amount of work goes into it. But, what is being produced in this particular case isn’t hero material.

I had to ask myself, “How did we get to this point?”

* * *

Sunday morning, right in the middle of Sunday School class, my niece blurted out, “Well, that’s a strange name for a book, Aunt Rachel.”

Completely taken off guard, I stared at her for a moment. Then I said, “What book are you talking about?”

“That one. A Chance to Die. Right there.” She got up and came around the corner of the table, pointing at a book on the bottom shelf of my bookcase.

“Oh, that is a very good book!” The lesson came to a screeching halt as I stepped over to the bookcase and pulled the book out of its place. “This is a good book, it isn’t easy to read, but it is a good book.”

I turned the book so that everyone could see the picture of the woman on the cover. “This is the story of a woman named Amy Carmichael. She was a missionary.” I told them about Amy’s life, the children she helped, the daring things she had done, the difference she had made for Christ. By the time I was done, I was ready to read the book again.

“You know,” I told them, “when I was about your age, I read a children’s book about her. I still have it. If you ever want to read it, you can. She has been one of my heroes ever since.”

I thought about those two conversations off and on all afternoon, and I realized it was time to move ahead with my project whether it was perfect or not. Why? Because we need heroes—real heroes. The kind that inspire us to do more than we ever thought imaginable.

As I was writing this, I realized something about the people we held as heroes when I was a kid. They all have one thing in common. Every one of them was either willing to risk their own life or driven to save and shape the lives of others or both. Their career paths weren’t based on what they wanted for themselves. They weren’t about fame and popularity. The path they followed was a chance to make a difference, even if it meant their lives. They understood that some things are just as worth dying for as they are worth living for. They understood that comfort and security weren’t everything in life, and that without taking risks we never get very far.

These people weren’t superhuman. They were everyday, ordinary people just like us, but they were willing to lay down the things that most of us are not willing to give up. They went looking for a chance to die, so the rest of us could live.

So, what’s my project? I love to read about men and women like Amy Carmichael, whom God has used to accomplish great exploits. I’m often discouraged when I walk through Christian bookstores and can’t find a single biography on men and women of the past. For a very long time, I’ve wanted to host an online bookstore that would pull these great stories together to inspire us all to live a life that counts. Now, I’ve found a way.

The Fruitful Gardens Shop is an Amazon Associates store, which links to this blog. It pulls some of the best biographies, devotionals, inspirational writings, and even fiction all together in one place. (And, yes, you can find both “A Chance to Die” and the children’s book “With Daring Faith” there.) It is my hope that this shop will be a helpful resource and a source of encouragement and inspiration to you. I am still adding products and would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. I hope it will help us to seek out better heroes, and inspire us to become like them.

Who is your hero and what is your favorite biography? Please share in the comments below.

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