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A Day’s March Nearer Home

01 July 2019 16:31

A Day’s March Nearer Home
Autobiography of J. Graham Miller
Edited by Iain H. Murray
Banner of Truth

J. Graham Miller was a New Zealander. In the course of his long life (he was born in 1913 and died in 2008, just a few weeks short of his 95th birthday) he also lived for many years both in Australia and in the New Hebrides. Not the least interesting feature of his autobiography is the glimpses we are given of these places far away which so few of us will ever be able to visit.

He was the son of a godly Presbyterian minister who at a time when vital biblical truth was being widely abandoned stood firmly for historic Christianity. Graham Miller was to do the same in the course of his own ministry. He was to become, like his father, a Presbyterian minister and held charges both in New Zealand and Australia. For a number of years he served as the Principal of a Bible College. Additionally, for two periods, he was a missionary to the Republic of Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides).

The autobiography of an earlier missionary, John G. Paton, has given many of us an unforgettable introduction to God’s work in the New Hebrides. But what of their later spiritual history? It is evident from what Graham Miller found when he first arrived in the early 1940s that the work of God had continued and spread. He was also to have the privilege of seeing it significantly prosper in the course of his own ministry. In later life he wrote a seven volume history of church planting on the islands. A day of national mourning was appointed for him when he died, so great was the esteem in which Vanuatu had come to hold him.

The chief attraction of the book is not Miller’s ministries but the man himself and his wife Flora. They were delightful Christians. The editor, Iain Murray, says, “I have counted the friendship of Graham and Flora Miller as one of the richest privileges of my life”. Their love for Christ, their devotion to his work, their commitment to his people, their prayerfulness are humblingly apparent.

Let me give you a little taste of it. Having retired from pastoral ministry Miller writes, “At last we have time to pray! How often in the busyness of church ministries have we excused ourselves! These burdens are now gone…our sense of priorities is more Scriptural, our self-centredness is yielding to the heavenly view of the vocation of the intercessor. It may well appear, in the unveiling of the life everlasting, that this last phase of our ministerial vocation is incomparably the richest, the least tainted with self, the most productive, the most enduring…[I]t has taken so long to learn” (p.247).

When Graham Miller wrote his autobiography it was not with a view to publication but for the interest of his family. We can be deeply thankful for the kind providence that has brought it now before a much wider audience.

David Campbell