It’s ironic that I’m writing this memorial blog post on the day another of God’s faithful servants went home — the Rev. Billy Graham.
In the House of Refuge Newsletter dated March, 1996, then newsletter editor, Susan Moellinger wrote about the death of House of Refuge founder, Elmer Miller. In it she highlighted what heaven would be like when Elmer was welcomed home. I imagine a similar scene today when Bill Graham arrived…
“Picture a grand and glorious room filled with friends and relatives you hadn’t seen in many years. Other faces in the room look familiar, though you cannot place a name or remembrance to the face. But you feel you know them just the same.
Just above the heads of the filled room, you see a throne. Sitting on the throne is the most beautiful Person you have ever seen. Sitting on His right side, you see His Son. They are both motioning for you to come to them.
As if on cue, the people in the room make a path for you. Without even taking a step, you instantly find yourself in the Presence of the Almighty. You drop to your knees in reverence. Jesus comes to you and lifts you back onto your feet. He embraces you and wraps you in the warmth of his arms. Our Heavenly father looks into your eye and says, ‘Well done, my Good and Faithful Servant.’
There is no way of knowing if that is the way Elmer Miller [or Billy Graham] was greeted upon his arrival in Heaven. We can, however, take comfort in the knowledge that he is Home. He lived each day for Jesus and longed to take his place in Heaven.”
The same newsletter had portions of Elmer Miller’s eulogy. I’ll summarize his biography here:
Elmer Miller was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, on February 16, 1929. He grew up in Kansas and Michigan and spent his married life with Mim (Miriam Boyer) in Oregon, Indiana, Kansas and Arizona. He passed on March 4, 1996, in Phoenix, AZ.
“For most of his life, Elmer was a businessman working in sales and management. In the last eight years of his life, he worked for God as an advocate for the homeless in Phoenix. His great passion and goal was to be completely obedient to the Life-Giver, Jesus, and to be His light to all he encountered.”
Elmer lived by the following scriptures:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” ~Matthew 25: 34-40
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” ~Matthew 16:25
Elmer leaves behind a great legacy. You can see it in the faces and the lives of his children and grandchildren. Elmer gave them a heritage deeply rooted in a Love for Christ, as his daughter, Sandy, testified during the Memorial Service. You can see it in the people he touched. The message echoed throughout the sanctuary was proof of the work he accomplished. Elmer’s passion to become “a light for Jesus” was evident in the testimonies given by his friends. And, you can feel it at the House of Refuge: the sacrifices and giving of people to bring blessing to another’s life; the willingness to be obedient to God, no matter what the cost; to see His message spread and His love shared.
Elmer’s Unfinished Business – Finished
“While Elmer worked tirelessly to bring about a program for the homeless in Phoenix, Az, the work is far from done.”
At the time of his death, House of Refuge was in the process of expanding with 88 houses and the chapel complex of the old Williams Air Force Base in Mesa, AZ. This facility still exists as House of Refuge – Mesa. While is started out as a branch (House of Refuge – East), it’s now a separate entity and at the time of the separation we became House of Refuge Sunnyslope (HRS). The Mesa facility houses homeless families.
And we echo today what Susan wrote…
We are continually amazed at how God provides through the generosity of the supporters of this ministry.
(Funny, at that time, they had gotten a large van donated and we just got a van donated that we can use for food pickups and to transport residents.)
We have to walk together in the path that Elmer cleared for us, ready to touch the many lives that will be changed through the House of Refuge program.
Thank you for being [faithful] partners with us in this. We know you have been diligently praying and supporting this mission. Please continue to make [Elmer’s] dream a reality.
If we continue to serve Him, we, too, will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
By Giselle Aguiar, Blog and Newsletter Editor, House of Refuge Sunnyslope