A Humble Calling – Diane Miller

Author: David Davolt
Published on: July 20, 2021

Diane Miller was born in 1941 in Bend, Oregon, the youngest in a family of four. Two brothers were 10 and 12 years older, and her sister was just 10 ½ months older. She grew up first in the small town of Sisters, Oregon (pop. 300 in the 1940s). Her father died when she was three. When her mother remarried, they moved to Cascade, Idaho. When the marriage ended, the family moved to Emmett, Idaho, and her paternal grandmother moved in with them. The girls attended a Baptist church there, and her brothers went to a Lutheran church with some of their high school friends. Her mom had attended church as a child on her own but was baptized and fully committed her life to Christ at the Baptist church.

The girls were trained by mom to share the workload and to be frugal when they shopped at the grocery store. Her mom would say things like, “We can’t afford to buy ice cream this month.” When Diane and Marilyn helped with the janitorial work and did it well, they earned an allowance of $5.00 a month. Diane recalls when John F. Kennedy became president, and there was talk of a poverty scale that she realized they were actually considered poor by that measurement. She never felt poor, though they didn’t even have a car until after her maternal grandmother died and her mom inherited hers. TV was another thing they didn’t have, although they enjoyed watching at their friends’ houses when it became popular in the 1950s. They didn’t really miss these things that they didn’t have. Though they had little money, the church and a relationship with God became much more important, and God always provided for all their needs, both physical and spiritual.

Diane’s brothers moved back to Oregon, and the youngest one was in a serious accident. They all moved back to Sisters to help out. The only church in town was the Sisters Church of Christ; Diane and her mom and sister Marilyn found hope and family there. They lived there from Diane’s 4th-grade year to the summer after her sophomore year of high school. Her mom took a job at the Christian Children’s Home in Boise and became active in First Church of Christ at 18th and Eastman (the founding church of Boise Bible College). She and her sister finished high school at Boise High in 1959. During this time, they both were baptized into Christ at Warm Lake Christian Camp. Her mother went on to work for 11 years at the Children’s Home, first as a house mom and later in the kitchen and as a secretary.

A Sunday school teacher planted the idea of attending Bible college in Diane’s head when she was a young teen. It ended up being quite natural to attend Boise Bible College, as the college was meeting at their church, and Kenny Beckman was a great teacher and the best recruiter ever! She took an Archaeology class from Mr. Beckman offered at night during her high school years. As a result, she and Marilyn both signed up to take classes in 1959.

Diane set her goals early to complete a Bible college degree and an Elementary Education degree at Boise State College. Her goal was to teach missionary children someday. It took until 1968 to graduate from both Boise Bible College and Boise State College. Marilyn, on the other hand, finished school early with an “MRS” degree. She married Ron Poe, then a Boise Bible College student and ultimately a graduate, in 1963. She faithfully served alongside Ron in ministry until his death in 2020 from complications due to COVID.

Many people influenced Diane at Boise Bible. It’s hard to pick just one, but if she had to, Mr. Beckman stands out. His very understandable teaching, along with his personal interest in all of his students, made him easy to respect and learn from. Diane recalls that she was strongly influenced by his teaching in “Best Friday Night in Town,” a special time of intense Bible study for high schoolers, followed by vigorous volleyball games. Besides Kenny’s, one of her favorite Boise Bible College classes was OT History, taught by Dick Nichols. Classes taught by Bill Humphreys were also very valuable; he taught her to write clear, short papers. To this day, she remembers some of those principles, and she tries to keep her correspondence letters minimal. Bob and Joan Ballard bring back many good times; they were dorm parents for a time, and they too spent time getting to know students and helping

She made many lifetime friends while at Boise Bible College: Dick and Maxine James, with whom she was in classes; Rick Deighton and family, with whom she worked in her early missionary years in Germany; and Judy (Carstens) Miller, her first forwarding agent. Recently Diane had the unexpected privilege of meeting Todd and Connie Aebischer. Connie is the daughter of her longtime Boise Bible friends, Vernon and Ellen Landreth. The Aebischer’s are serving with Mission Aviation Fellowship in Mt. Hagen, Papua New Guinea, and were in Madang for medical reasons when they came to join in a Sunday evening sing n’ share time. It is amazing how small our world is when we meet friends across the globe. Diane visits her sister Marilyn in Reno, Nevada, on her breaks. They always try to spend time with two former Boise Bible students—sisters who were preacher’s daughters—Judy Harmon and Carolyn Osborne. Their husbands died some time ago, and the two live together and have traveled to various countries. Carolyn’s husband, Jack, was the brother of one of her college roommates, another lifetime friend, Arita (Osborne) Fleenor, who still lives in the Boise area. Boise Bible College has been the source of many lifetime friendships, even for someone who has spent most of her life overseas.

When asked how her Boise Bible experience enhanced her life and ministry, Diane replied,

“One of the important things I learned at BBC was the importance of a regular daily devotional life, and that has helped sustain me through the years. There was also a lot of good, solid Bible teaching among leaders who were great role models and challenged us both by teaching and example to follow Christ more closely. Another important lesson stressed both in my family and emphasized at BBC was that of sticking to a task and not giving up when things get hard. I have had the opportunity to pass on some of what I gained at BBC to my former students by example and in our daily devotional times. I have also taught Sunday school and other Bible classes for children both in Germany and in Papua New Guinea, and continually try to apply Christian principles in my life and keep growing in Christ.”

Life After Boise Bible College

​After graduation from Boise Bible College, Diane attended Ozark Bible College to get some missions courses that were not available at Boise Bible at the time and then taught for two years at the Christian elementary school in Springfield, Illinois. Then she worked two years at the Sangamon State University library in Springfield and volunteered at the Christian school, teaching PE and tutoring students. She pursued going to Zimbabwe to help teach missionary kids, but it didn’t work out. Then she applied and was accepted to pursue a degree in Library Science at the University of Illinois. Just about that time, she received a request from former classmates at Boise Bible, Rick and Della Deighton, to come to Germany and teach their children. After much prayer, she skipped the Library Science degree and went to West Germany in the fall of 1973. She taught Randy and Sandy and helped with some secretarial work for Rick and Della and teaching Bible classes for German children. When the Deighton’s left Germany, she stayed and moved to Karlsruhe to help tutor some other children and worked at a Christian coffee house on the military base. Her last couple years in Germany were spent in Landstuhl with the Christian church there, teaching children’s Bible classes and doing secretarial work. After ten years in Germany, she came back to the United States to visit.

On that visit in 1983, she took a semester of study in Dallas, Texas, to prepare to serve with Pioneer Bible Translators. She returned to Germany for the summer to conclude her work there and then went to Papua New Guinea in January of 1985. She was once again teaching missionary children. The PBT main office in PNG is in Madang. She was assigned to work with the Beasley kids in Manus, about 180 kilometers from Madang. When the Beasleys returned to the US, she served other families in the PNG villages where they were working. One family was the David Parrish clan; David is now the President of Summit Christian College in Nebraska.

She led a nomad life for a time, teaching in a village for a month, leaving lesson plans for a month, and then moving on to another village and more kids. She helped various kids for a time, and she would help Martha Wade and others conduct retreats for the PBT kids. In those early years, PBT used radios to communicate each day with the bush teams. One of the fun activities she enjoyed was encouraging kids to write creatively and share the results on what they called Ked Sked. She still has some of those Kids Kundu Newspapers. (Kundu is a drum carved out of wood with lizard skin pulled over each end used to send messages). She intends to send them to the now-grown “children” after she retires.

Diane could write a book or two describing all her connections and how God netted together opportunities and networks with many people over the years. Besides a break in 2000 for a few years to return to Oregon to care for her aging mother, she has served with PBT since 1985. When she was getting ready to return in 2009 and waiting for visas, she spent five months in Tanzania teaching PBT kids. Today, she is happily retired from teaching and has been helping in the Publication Office for several years. When she first arrived in PNG, she spent time with Martha Wade, who has invested over 30 years in translating the Bible for the Apal people with a team of others. Martha and the team are nearing the finish line to complete and see the Scriptures printed sometime next year. Once they’re done, Martha and Diane hope to travel to the US together. At that time, Diane plans to officially retire and move to Boise to live at the Boise Christian Retirement Home on 36th Street, where she lived with her mom and sister as a high school student when it was a Children’s Home. You can bet Diane will not be sitting around in a rocking chair in retirement—she will be looking for kids to tell stories to, or perhaps she will be serving meals in the kitchen. She will turn 80 in September of 2021 with no intentions of slowing down too much.

When asked what she would say to high school students about preparing for a life she said,

”I would encourage young people to spend at least a year in Bible college regardless of their chosen career to become well-grounded in the Scriptures, and BBC would definitely be among the schools I would recommend. They may even find, as many have, that once there, they wish to expand their plans to include more time in school in preparation for the expansion of their ministry for Christ. Like former students such as Doyle and Galen Farnsworth, Larry Bucy, and Don Hardenbrook, some older [we call them non-traditional at BBC] students, including some already in established careers, might also want to attend and prepare for some type of ministry.”