by Ryan Thurman
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants
Remember those leading you, who spoke the word of God to you, consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
Who have been the people in your life that have helped shape who you are today? I have been thinking about this lately and want to write a few posts around this theme. It is a way for me to follow God’s instruction that we be a remembering people, those who remember God’s work of grace throughout history and specifically in our day and in our own lives. This is also a way for me to publically honor those God has so kindly placed in my life.
We live in a time where it is hard to maintain healthy relationships in our lives, from our own family, to our friends. We have been disappointed often by those closest to us and we are aware that we too have failed those we love most. But here is the mystery; although we are weak and frail God chooses to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God to others. The first person I want to write about is George Miley.
Defining event: Bosnia
It was 1995 when I first met George and Hanna Miley, I was nineteen, hungry to know God and find meaning to my life. I was not too far removed from learning that chasing after the pleasures of this world only lead to emptiness and heart wounding. I did not get to know them very well but it was through George Miley’s leadership that I had the opportunity fly halfway across the world to work with Bosnian Refugees fleeing the war. During this trip God revealed himself to me in a life-altering way and was significant in my choice to enter into vocational ministry.
Defining gift: Learning to pray
In the busyness of my college years and first few years of vocational ministry with Young Life I was not able to stay connected with George Miley but in 2003 my friend Billy Thrall invited me to his house to hear George and Hanna Miley share about the new work God was doing in the German region of Hanna’s birthplace. They were inviting a team to join them for several weeks in Germany to help establish this new work through prayer. Noleen and I were in our first year of marriage and were planning on moving overseas to pursue ministry and decided joining the Mileys would be a great way to start this new chapter of our life. I learned two significant lessons that summer. First, prayer is not just something you do to start a meeting or an attempt to get God to bless our self-made ideas and efforts. But prayer in its essence is about being with God, who is always with us but because we are the ones who leave God, prone to wander and to hide from Him we need to grow in the grace to come present, and stay present to him, throughout our day. Secondly, when we are with Him he will lead us step by step to establish His work in His way. Over these many years with George, my prayer life has grown by watching him live a life of prayer but even more by praying with him.
Defining moment: Saying the hard things
Over the years I have walked a lot with George, it is an important aspect of our friendship to walk and talk. In my early days of working with George in the context of Antioch Network we were at Paradise Valley mall doing our loops around the mall because it is too hot to walk outside in the Summer. I was sharing with him some personal things that were hard and not making sense to me. I will never forget sitting at Starbucks and watching George scribble in my journal a few concentric circles expressing the importance of living in reality. He was pointing out to me that there were crucial areas that I was not rooted in reality and needed to mature. This touched a deep nerve and was very painful and for many days I wrestled through anger, shame, and defensiveness. But George’s speaking of truth, as painful as it was, led to necessary growth in my life. Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.
Defining work: Ancient Wells
George has written many rich articles and a few books, If I had to choose one to recommend it would be Ancient Wells, it has been a faithful guide in my discipleship journey and we have used it a lot in our A2J community. You can read or download it by clicking here.
George would not be who he is today without his wife Hanna Miley. So I thank God for Hanna Miley! As I write this realize how it has been a while since I have thanked George for his friendship and investment in my life, I am going to do that right now. How about you, who is God bringing in to your mind?