Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
Jesus still lead on
Till our rest be won
And although the way be cheerless
We will follow calm and fearless
Guide us by Thy Hand
To our Fatherland.
These words by Nicholaus Ludwig, the early Moravian leader, have long been precious to me. The last two months were among the most difficult of my entire life. Moving from prison to prison, spending long periods of time in shackles while in transport simply isn't fun. "Diesel therapy," they call it. After 8 moves and 7 institutions in 47 days, Richmond Hall here in good 'ole Petersburg never looked so good! I arrived back here at Petersburg Low a week ago on November 2.
In Buffalo I faced some excruciating decisions. But the grace of God from your prayers and the sweet counsel of my dear wife enabled me to make it through. Until negotiations between the U.S. prosecutors and another party are completed, I'm not free to comment much. But it appears unlikely that I will face further charges, praise God!
My dear mother, Salina (Kanagy) Miller passed from this life on Oct. 2 while I was being held in the Niagara County Jail. There was no way to make it to the funeral. I wept much during those days. Praise God I was able to speak with her the evening before she passed on. And I was able to phone in to the funeral service and listen to almost all of it. We felt God's comforting presence very strongly in the midst of the pain. My mother was a very godly woman who touched many people through her quiet influence. She loved Jesus and believed in His transforming power for all who come to Him. She was a faithful wife and loving mother for almost 56 years. I felt her support very strongly during the trials of the last 5 years.
While on the rec yard on day at Youngstown Ohio, I saw coming toward me a kind, bearded face. To my great surprise, it was Brother Timo Miller! We had a joyous meeting! We slept in different units, but for two days we were able to converse over meals and at the rec yard. Of course we didn't talk about the legal case, but we were able to comfort and exhort each other in the Lord and pray together. That was a huge encouragement to me!!
I met many men. I heard their fascinating and often tragic stories. Pray that the Kingdom Seed sown along the way would bear much fruit.
Let's also keep all those involved in this case in our fervent prayers.
Your brother in Christ,
His time on the witness stand came at about 3:45 Thursday afternoon. He came in, looking good in his suit, which was sent for the occasion. Because of matters of faith and conscience, Ken chose not to testify. The judge gave Ken due warning of the consequences for his decision. As a result, he was charged with civil contempt, and the judge indicated that the prosecution may charge him with criminal contempt at a later time. At this point, there is no sentence handed down for these charges. Ken will remain in the area for the duration of the trial.
Although we are disappointed with the ruling, we are confident that God is still ruling over all. As a church, we go in faith, and support each other in these difficult times.
The trial of Philip Zodhiates is starting now in Buffalo, NY. See http://christiannews.net/2016/09/20/jury-selection-begins-for-trial-of-second-man-accused-of-helping-ex-lesbian-flee-country-with-daughter/
Ken has been taken from his post at the Petersburg VA prison and is in Buffalo, where he will be required to testify. Here's what he said in the last update, " Three years ago I was found in civil contempt for not testifying, and jailed for 40 days The prosecutor has made it clear that refusal to testify this time could mean substantial time added to my present 27-month sentence." He wants very much to be a witness for truth and the kingdom. We do not know if he will be testifying in the public court or in a closed session. I just heard that he is on for Thursday, and I don't know what time.
Another brother from here is also being called to testify, and he is under some of the same stresses. His wife is expecting a baby anytime now, and of course he wants to be able to stay home with her, but it doesn't look like his request is being heard at this point. There are others who are being put on the witness stand again. All of these people need our prayers very much.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
Buffalo, New York
Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
This week's cooler weather has been a huge blessing. At the end of July, we experienced what fellow inmates have been warning me about almost since day one---the hot, humid Petersburg summer. We have no air conditioning in the housing units, except for the TV rooms and I don't go there. Indeed the dire predictions weren't far off the mark. On at least one day the heat index reached 110 degrees. Even the outdoor rec yard was shut down. At midnight the temperature in our unit was 94. By morning, it had dropped to a "bone-chilling" 89.
What did Jesus say it costs to follow Him? "...He that forsaketh not all that hath cannot be my disciple." In this stunning declaration, Jesus confronts us with an exchange that must be made: "Give up everything in your life in exchange for Me." What kind of exchange is that? Is it reasonable?
I propose it IS reasonable, the most reasonable thing in the world--provided we have a proper grasp of REALITY.
Let's start with people, those dearest to us-- father, mother, wife, husband, children, "yea and our own lives also."
Reality check: We can't hang onto anyone. The dearest person on earth to me can be taken away in a heartbeat. My own life is fragile, like a vapor, or like grass which is growing in the morning, withering by afternoon.
What about other things considered to be important: possessions, wealth, power, pleasure, fame? Is it reasonable to exchange these for Christ?
Reality check: Everything in the above list is visible, tangible, enjoyable---and extremely short-lived. Nothing lasts.
"He calls for me to leave all for His sake
Lands, houses, family, loves--
But His call is to leave what is only
an ILLUSION of security." (Martha Kilpatrick in "Adoration")
Nothing is truly secure, except one thing--the thing Mary had. "One thing is needful," Jesus said, "and Mary has chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her."
In a world of empty promises, delusionary dreams, transient relationships, we have a Rock that can't be taken away.
Tears filled my eyes recently when a young boy sent me a card with these words scrawled on the inside:
Oft upon the Rock I stand
Faint of heart and weak of knee
But the Blessed Rock of Ages
Never trembles under me.
Those who've found the Rock testify that yes, to leave all in exchange for that Rock is a reasonable option; in fact, it's the only option.
This is good for me to remember in right now. My family and I are in another period of uncertainty. I'm being called by the U.S. Attorney's office in Buffalo, N.Y. to prepare to testify at the trial of a fellow believer also charged in the case. Three years ago I was found in civil contempt for not testifying, and jailed for 40 days The prosecutor has made it clear that refusal to testify this time could mean substantial time added to my present 27-month sentence.
Please pray for wisdom and grace as I face these decisions.
In the meantime, life here at Petersburg has settled into a rhythm. Your prayers have helped my family and me so very much.
I meet men of all backgrounds. The other day I was introduced to "Fidel" from Cuba. Another gentleman of Eastern European descent said Mother Theresa was his great-great aunt. Thank you for your prayers for these men and all of us poor sinners here.
God gives us many wonderful glimpses into His goodness. A special blessing has been extra time to observe the bees and butterflies at work among the flowers we planted on the compound and watching our giant sunflowers grow to 11-12 feet. (I've never before paid this much attention to the common sunflower!)
In several places on the prison compound, petunias are growing up through the grass in areas where new soil was hauled in last year. I scavenged a bunch of them and trialed some in a bed. They look like Wave Petunias. "Thank you Lord, they're just what I was wishing for!" Hopefully we can collect seed (forgive me, Pan American Seed--patent owner) and plant them around the compound next year.
I've recently discovered another one of life's simple blessings. A heaping teaspoon each of Maxwell House instant coffee, cocoa powder, coffee creamer and a packet of sweetener stirred in with 3-4 oz of hot water from our 205 degree hot water dispenser topped the rest of the way with ice from the ice dispenser makes a mocha worth comparing to anything from Starbucks. I must confess it's become a daily habit.
As you can see, my life here isn't so difficult.
I'm reading through the Martyrs Mirror right now and am almost ashamed at how nice I have it compared to people in prison back then and many around the world right now.
On pg. 570-571 there's a touching account of a young man Algerius, who was executed for his faith by being scalded with hot oil, then burned to ashes at the stake. From his dismal prison dungeon he wrote a letter to his fellow brethren before he died. He testified of the unspeakable joy Christ brought to him in that terrible place. He closed the letter with: "Written in the most delightful pleasure garden of the prison, called Leonia, the 12th of July, A.D. 1557.
May the Christ he died for
The Christ we live for!
Kenneth L Miller 08464-082
Federal Correctional Complex
P.O. Box 1000
Petersburg, VA 23804
I lay awake in my bunk for a long time last night. I must confess something.
I haven't been able to bring myself to write an update for a while. The reason? Whatever I say eventually gets read by many people around the world.
There are some really, really good writers reading this right now. What can I say by comparison?
Is my paralysis due to pride or fear? Probably a mix of both.
God knows I'm not saying this to give an appearance of humility. I simply have to admit I'm still battling against my native sins.
How we need one another's prayers! How we need to stay small and childlike! Otherwise, how shall we acquire grace? "...For God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
The desire of the human heart is to be great and rich. This is anti-Christ.
How can we break these chains?
The donkey who carried Jesus into Jerusalem might teach us. After people threw their cloaks across his back, and after Jesus took his rightful place, you no longer see or hear about the donkey in the gospel narrative. The donkey is hidden. Now you only see and hear the King riding in triumph.
We must channel our desires into becoming good bearers of Jesus like that donkey. To humble ourselves before Him, to break our hearts at the Cross, to let His Life and Light fill us. To remain hidden under His glory. To carry Him to the world so that multitudes might worship Him.
For the one seeking lowliness, to do the will of the Father is the most important thing. Rank, status, the "importance" of the assignment doesn't matter.
Therefore an "unimportant" act such as bringing someone a glass of cold water in the love of Christ might be a far more significant act than, say, giving $100 million to a worthy cause. Because the former action touches the heart of God and has a reward, whereas the latter, if done by selfish desire, has no lasting reward for the giver.
I must testify to the joy and peace of Jesus which has come as a result of your prayers. I love Bernard of Clairvaux's hymn: "Jesus Thou joy of loving hearts
Thou Fount of Life Thou Light of men.
From the best bliss that earth imparts--
We turn unfilled to Thee again!"
I will be frank again. I am as red-blooded as any married male. To sublimate natural desires for Christ's sake and by His grace live a life of celibacy and chastity in a sex-crazed world full of temptation is not only essential--it's possible. Bonhoeffer said it well: "Natural desire repeatedly mastered enriches the soul." I must lift my hands in worship to the Savior Who makes all things possible.
We must exhort one another, pray for each other and live in frank transparency with our victories and failures if are are to overcome sin in these days, and if we are to have any hope of offering Christ's redemption to the depravity all around.
The grace of God is still as potent as Paul said it was: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared unto all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously and godly IN THIS PRESENT WORLD." (Titus 3:11-14)
Life here at FCC Petersburg has settled into a routine. Right now we are adjusting to the warm summer days and nights. These block housing units (no air-conditioning) can begin to feel a bit like ovens by the end of the day. But there are plenty of fans and we have all the ice we want, which is a huge blessing!
A prayer request: An inmate I'll call "Henry" is in a severe trial. He's a very sincere brother who apparently was handed a sentence disproportionate to his offense; a gun charge that netted him 17 years. In the three years since he's been incarcerated, 3-4 family members have died. About year ago, his house burned down. His wife and daughter were not injured, but they lost everything. The insurance company has refused to pay damages even though the fire marshal ruled the fire was accidental in nature.
All this feels like the trials of Job to my brother and the years stretch out dreadfully ahead of him. Can we pray that his sentence would be reduced and that he could have the grace to face whatever comes?
Also, please keep praying earnestly for the ongoing legal case. I don't have much info, but apparently at least one other party is still going on trial in Buffalo in early fall.
Linda and I and our family once again wish to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support in prayer, visits, letters and finances.
Peace and blessings,
Ken Miller 08464-082
Federal Correctional Complex
P.O. Box 1000
Petersburg, VA 23804