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OC PR alumna returns to Oklahoma City after years of mission work in Zambia

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Originally published by Eagle PR, a student-run PR firm at Oklahoma Christian University. Read the original post, or learn more about PR at OC.

Jana Miller served as the family visit coordinator for the Haven in Zambia.

Oklahoma Christian University alumna Jana Miller recently returned to Oklahoma after serving more than seven years as a missionary in Zambia, Africa. There, she worked as the family visit coordinator at The Haven. The Haven is an in-home orphan care ministry under the umbrella of the Zambia Mission Fund. Miller worked diligently to support the goal of reunification for both the child and the adopting family.

In Zambia, she comforted families and provided the best possible solution to get orphans safely back to families. She helped lift up families and create a better environment so that each child could flourish in a healthy environment.

Associate Professor of Communication Josh Watson was Miller’s adviser while she studied public relations at OC. He noted that she landed great jobs after graduation, even working at OC as a marketing and social media specialist before turning to mission work. However, Miller felt called to serve at a unique point in her life.

“Everyone that knows Jana enjoys her laugh and her heart for others,” Watson said. “She was so great at The Haven because serving others is a natural part of her identity. She has inspired many OC students that she has never even met.”

In the spring of 2020, Watson also worked with his Eagle PR students to help raise funds for the ZMF’s Namwianga Mission during Zambia’s historic drought and famine. The students’ work was meaningful, but it had to be cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were still able to help feed many people, and that work was inspired by Jana’s example and service,” Watson said.

Miller has moved back to Oklahoma City to use her skills with a local organization. OC is proud of her example of service. On Oct. 29, Miller will be honored at a fundraising dinner for the ZMF at 6 p.m. at OC (along with fellow missionary and OC English alumna Meagan Hawley). Those interested can RSVP at Miller will also speak a women’s brunch that morning with the Edmond church of Christ. Registration for that is available online.

Below is a feature story about Miller from the Edmond church of Christ that was written by OC Journalism alumnus Bobby Ross a few years ago.

Growing up in the small farming community of Lockney, Texas, Jana Miller — Edmond’s newest missionary — learned to love her neighbor.

Really love her neighbor.

“No one ever said, ‘This is how you love your neighbor.’ They just lived it,” said Miller, 28, an Oklahoma Christian University graduate who recently moved to Zambia to work full time with The Haven, which provides temporary, home-based care for orphans.

Miller attended the Edmond Church of Christ for 10 years — first as an Oklahoma Christian student and later as a faithful member of the Pathfinders class. She regularly joined the campus ministry’s spring break mission trips to the small mountain village of Aquiles, Mexico.

For a young woman from rural Texas, those trips helped nurture a love for mission work.

“I still vividly recall the first time I worshiped in Aquiles and fully realized what it was like to be a part of the global community worshiping the same God on the same day and how powerful that was,” Miller said. “It doesn’t look the same or sound the same, but we’re all serving and praising the same God.”

‘The Holy Spirit kept whispering’

Five years ago, two of Miller’s best friends decided to serve at The Haven. She instantly decided to go, too, and ended up spending nine months at the Namwianga Mission, which includes The Haven.

After that, Miller traveled to Zambia three more times and began to dream — and pray — about what it would be like to live there.

“There were many times when I would try to push those thoughts away and label them ‘crazy,’” she said. “But the Holy Spirit kept whispering to me in those moments, reminding me of the ways God was working through The Haven and the ways he could work through me if I let him. The door in Zambia stayed open for the past several years, which doesn’t happen very often in life.

“Luke 12 says, ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.’ Sometimes, that means you end up on a different path than the one you imagined. But if you are stepping out in faith, the Lord can take away your fears and use whatever you are giving him.”

Almost all of the children served by The Haven are under age 4. Most end up at the home because their mother has died, and other family members are unable to care for an infant at that time. The Haven arranges to care for the children during the years they are most vulnerable, with a goal of reuniting them with extended family.

“Families are encouraged to visit as often as possible, and our end goal is for our kids to have a home with family in their village,” Miller said. “The Haven is Zambian run and could not happen without the love and work of 45 women who work as Aunties, providing day-to-day care.”

‘Pure religion’

James 1:27 says: “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted in the world.”

Providing financial and spiritual support for Jana Miller’s mission work in Zambia is just one way that the Edmond church heeds God’s call to serve the marginalized and vulnerable, specifically orphans, preaching minister Randy Roper explained.

Other examples include the congregation’s annual mission trip and ongoing support for Hope for Haiti’s Children and its assistance with Jochebed’s Choice Home in Indonesia.

“All provide global opportunities for us to practice pure religion while reaching children in desperate need,” Roper said. “God uses our efforts — through going and giving — to help children have a safe and nurturing place to grow up and to grow in faith.”

‘More blessed to give than receive’

In Haiti, short-term missionaries from Edmond stay at an orphanage in Thomazeau.

“A big part of how we serve the orphans there is simply by interacting with them,” Edmond member Brian Eastman said. “They don’t get a whole lot of individual attention.

“For those of us who have been to Thomazeau multiple times, it has been such a treat to come back and feel like they remember us, but also to see how much they have grown and learned since we saw them last.”

Besides the one-on-one interaction, the Haiti mission teams conduct Vacation Bible Schools at two orphanages serving 90 children and donate sweat to improve the living conditions at Thomazeau.

In the past, the group has purchased new mattresses for the children and a new freezer for the kitchen.

“I believe it is a very important mission for us as Christians to help orphans,” Eastman said. “As Christians, we are told to look after the orphans and to defend them. Our theme verse for our trip this year is Acts 20:35, which stresses that we must work hard to help the weak and that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

‘A real picture of what Christ does’

Back in Zambia, Miller said she sees her efforts as “a beautiful and real picture of what Christ does for us.”

“He guides us through the difficult times with the promise to make us whole and provide his children a place to thrive in our church family,” she said. “There isn’t a child that comes through The Haven that doesn’t learn that God made them and loves them and can provide for them.

“As they go back with their families, they are given a Bible, and we talk with the families and pray with them. Anytime someone asks why we are helping, the answer is always, ‘Because we love Jesus, and he calls us to help.’”