The thoughts and emotions took me by surprise. They seemed to come out of nowhere as we slowly climbed the rocky road off the highway and made it to the top of the hill. As I looked below I could see our destination. The
National Training Center just north of the city of Chihuahua. Rancho Siloe. I could see the staff and student houses that were laid out with thought and care. The mechanic/carpenter shop that was the hub of all the building projects. And then the large multi-purpose building, which was his last and greatest task. For many years Monte Miller and his wife Gail worked day and night, seven days a week, to see this land become a training center for New Tribes Mission. They hosted hundreds of groups, mostly from the U.S. and Canada, that would come to help. Monte was the project manager, the brains behind it all. Not only did he keep all hands busy, (a huge task if you have ever had 25 young people looking for something to do) but he got to know each person and became a friend and a mentor. His heart for reaching the unreached moved him to not only finish the training center facilities, but to also challenge each individual to find their part in what God is doing around the world. ….And now he is gone.
As we began the descent to the property my heart was filled with sadness. I really didn’t expect it. This was our first time returning to the training center since he passed away. The memories came flooding in. We spent more than 20 years as co-workers and friends. We worked together, played together, travelled together. We did life together. Our lives and ministry were intertwined. Our children grew up together and felt welcome in each other’s homes. Those days would never be repeated and life will never be the same.
Monte’s life was characterized by his service to others. He was always ready and willing to help whoever was in need. And he loved to laugh. I think that will be what I will miss most about Monte. Without a doubt, Monte and Gail together could keep a room in stitches. They loved to tell stories and they loved to laugh at themselves. I am amazed at how they could take an everyday event and make it in to a hilarious story. They drew people in and made everyone feel at home. Their door was always open
In July of 2014 Monte was diagnosed with Leukemia. He was a physically strong man. Extremely strong. We all thought that he would conquer this disease and add it to the repertoire of his accomplishments. But that was not God’s plan. And God’s ways are not our ways. About 9 months later Monte was ushered in to the presence of His Lord and Savior, whom he loved and served. As the song says, “I can only imagine” what Monte must be experiencing. I would love to see him lifting his arms to the King of Kings or dancing in His presence. (Monte was not the charismatic, lift your hands kind of guy!) We rejoice that he is able to see Jesus face to face. We know that he has accomplished what God had purposed for him. His feet have walked every inch of this ranch. His fingerprints are everywhere. We see his workmanship, we feel his passion, and we miss him.