The voice of God or an old man?By John E. Sharp
Orie O. Miller (1892-1977) had an uncanny way of spotting talent. With his panoramic view of church ministries, he was well placed to match talent with assignments.
Miller was an architect of Civilian Public Service and co-founder of Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Mutual Aid, Mennonite Economic Development Associates and more.
These vignettes are from interviews and stories collected while researching a biography of Miller.
— Paul Gingrich was a senior at Eastern Mennonite College when Miller came calling. After a prayer meeting where Gingrich was the leader and Miller the guest speaker, Miller laid a hand on Gingrich’s shoulder and asked, “Would you and Ann be interested in going to Ethiopia?”
The moment felt “like a shot of lightening, beautiful, positive,” Gingrich remembered. Nearly 60 years later he could still feel the sensation.
He ran home to tell Ann. It was an answer to their prayers. They hugged each other and said, “This is the call of God!”
— Hershey Leaman was a pre-med student at Eastern Mennonite College. As a volunteer in MCC’s Pax program in East Africa, he had become interested in medicine. When he returned to the United States, he began training to serve as a medical missionary.
Then Miller came calling. He remembered Leaman’s interest in medicine in East Africa and asked how it was going in college. Then he said, “You know, you seem to have gifts in administration… . Would you be open to considering redirecting your training into medical administration?”
Leaman dropped out of pre-med and studied medical administration. He returned to East Africa to manage hospitals and clinics and set up training programs for nurses and midwives in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Any regrets? None. In fact, he said, “The role of administration has been confirmed many, many times over my life.”
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