MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, November 21st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: our 2019 Daniel of the Year.
In Honduras, many people feel trapped by poverty, violence, and addiction. One man has devoted 20 years in the capital city—to helping some of the country’s youngest and most vulnerable residents.
REICHARD: WORLD Reporter Jamie Dean joins us now to tell us about our honoree. Let’s start out with a little history here: How many years has WORLD been naming a Daniel of the Year?
JAMIE DEAN, REPORTER: I looked it up just a little while ago, and this is our 22nd year naming a Daniel of the Year.
REICHARD: And remind us about the idea behind naming someone a Daniel.
DEAN: The designation “Daniel” comes from the Old Testament prophet Daniel, who is particularly well known for showing courage in the face of the lion’s den. Sometimes when we pick a “Daniel of the Year,” we choose Christians who have been physically persecuted for their faith. And sometimes we choose a Christian who has shown courage in other ways by persevering under difficult circumstances for the sake of the gospel over a long period of time.I like that sometimes the person is well known, and sometimes he or she isn’t well known at all. It’s sort of a reminder that Christian courage takes many different forms, and sometimes it’s a quiet courage goes unnoticed except by a few.
REICHARD: Okay, tell us about this year’s Daniel of the Year.
DEAN: This year, our Daniel of the Year falls into that latter category: someone with quiet courage who isn’t known on a grand scale. His name is Michael Miller, and he lives in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where he has run a Christian ministry called the Micah Project for almost 20 years.
REICHARD: How did you zero in on this ministry and this particular person?
DEAN: We started thinking about the migration crisis at the U.S. border, and how there’s been a lot of good reporting on that border crisis. But there hasn’t been as much on-the-ground reporting on what’s actually happening in the countries people are fleeing, and how Christians are helping people who remain in the country. Honduras is one of those countries. There are a lot of Christians doing good work in Honduras, and we decided to focus in on one of them.
REICHARD: What does Michael Miller do?
DEAN: His organization, the Micah Project, is a residential Christian ministry for street kids—boys in particular. In Tegucigalpa there are lots of young boys and teenagers who are living in the streets. Some are abandoned by their parents or other family members and some flee abusive or otherwise desperate situations. And as they start living on the streets, they often become addicts a very early age.
They usually begin with inhaling yellow shoe glue from empty Coke bottles. For less than a dollar, drug dealers will sell enough industrial-strength glue to keep a child high all day long. I saw this in downtown Tegucigalpa—little boys inhaling glue from empty Coke bottles. It’s unnerving to see 11 and 12 year-old drug addicts, with this vacant, faraway look in their eyes, and no one to take care of them.
REICHARD: How does Miller’s group help them?
DEAN: They hit the streets every week, and they start developing relationships with these boys. They find out where they come from, how they ended up on the streets, and whether they still have any family members somewhere in the city.Over time, and under the right circumstances, they’ll offer the boys a place to come and live. They have a social worker who gets involved with this, and they have a residential facility several miles outside the city called the Micah House. And they try their best to nurture a family environment for these boys. They’re not just giving them a place to sleep and food to eat. They are giving them a family to live in, and people who love them, and they’re teaching them about the gospel. The boys go to school—some for the first time in their lives, and they grow up in this Christian environment aimed at helping them overcome addiction and anger and fear, and helping them grow into Christian men who love the Lord and serve their neighbors.
REICHARD: In the story you describe some of the success stories the ministry has had, but I imagine all the stories don’t have happy endings.
DEAN: No, they don’t and Michael Miller is really honest about that. He said that a long time ago he stopped giving the missionary speech, where everything is shiny and good. They’ve had boys return to the streets, and in the last four years, they’ve actually buried eight boys they’ve either cared for or known from the streets.Honduras is a very dangerous place, and even though the murder rate has done down in recent years, there’s still so much gang and drug activity that is a constant threat to these vulnerable children. It takes a lot of perseverance to hang in there for 20 years, with so much trauma and loss. I asked Michael Miller what had changed most for him over 20 years of doing his. We have a clip of what he said:
MILLER: I have learned that I can’t save another human being. When I came in, in my twenties—and in your twenties you’re just confident you can change the world—I thought that if I was smart enough, loving enough and had enough resources, I could save lives. Thankfully, by the grace of God, he’s reminded me through many hard experiences that one human being cannot save another human being. That’s God’s territory. Thankfully, he has given us a Savior.
That’s so important because I think otherwise, a person like Miller could despair. But he says it’s been a really freeing concept: He works hard, he loves the boys, he points them to Christ, and He trusts God to do what He will do.And he told me that accepting that reality has actually made him better at what he does. Here’s what he said about that:
MILLER: I was uptight the first few years about the results, really wanted everything to be good and go well and all that, then as I’ve done this over the years and had to bury kids and say goodbye to kids in very difficult ways, I’ve learned that being a caregiver with a broken heart is much more effective than being a caregiver who thinks he has all the answers. It makes me more compassionate, it makes me more forgiving of myself and of the boys, and it makes me have to trust God, come what may.
REICHARD: Well, we will leave it at that. Jamie Dean is national editor for WORLD Magazine. Jamie, thanks for this.
DEAN: You’re welcome Mary.
If you’d like to read more about Michael Miller, and his ministry to youth in Honduras, Jamie Dean’s story is featured in the November 23rd edition of WORLD Magazine.