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God Remains Faithful Following Tragedy

When a teen dedicated to serving Christ loses her life in a tragic accident, can God still show His faithfulness?

For most people, Feb. 27, 2015, is a day they likely can't recall. But for Tim and Denise Miller and their family, it will be a day they will never forget, for on that Friday, a dancing light in the form of their youngest child, Courtney, was taken from this world in a tragic car accident.

The Millers shared Courtney's story in a March PE News article, shortly after her death. The story revealed the passion and heart of a 15-year-old whose focus was on Christ and sharing her love for Christ with everyone she met. As repeatedly stated by those who knew her, she lived the kind of Christian life many wish they lived.

As the Millers continue to walk a journey of faith and grief, they share how they have experienced God's comfort surrounding them and His promises kept in amazing ways, especially in the dark times -- when the pain of loss becomes overwhelming.

A Glimpse Into Courtney's Life

Even though Courtney was an inspiration to many, her motivation, convictions, and passion to be Christ-like were perhaps deeper than most imagined. Following is an excerpt from a notebook that she regularly wrote in, which Denise recently discovered:

If only I wasn't so dazed by sin and blinded by desire, I might be able to see what was right in front of me. Be able to see the people crying out for somebody to help them. To help them get out of the trap they are in. The trap that Satan set for them. There are things I desire so desperately that I fail to see the needs of the people around me. Their need for love. You see, the problem with our world today is that we are too dazed by sin and blinded by desire, to notice those people that still need to be loved. Those who don't know what it's like to be loved. We sit too high on our thrones of sin and desire to see their struggle with life. To see the trap we have set for ourselves. "More, more, more, I want more!" is all we can think while there are people around us who only need an ounce. An ounce of love, and yet we can only think of ourselves and our selfish desires. When will our madness stop? When will we start thinking of others and their need for love, the love of God? 

Questioning God

It's been nearly 6 months since the loss of Courtney -- a seeming eternity to be separated, but also only a flicker of time in many ways.

The natural question, "Why?" seems doubly appropriate when it came to Courtney's death. Here was a young woman who served God with all her heart, felt called to missions, and, as one high school teacher recognized, treated wherever she went as her mission field.

Tim admits that at first he was upset and angry with God -- where was His hand of protection? But the more he prayed, the more God supplied the peace that transcends [surpasses] all understanding (Philippians 4:7). "God told me, "Trust Me… if you choose to let Me handle this, I will do great things."

Denise says that she questioned God as well. "I asked Him, 'What good can possibly come from this?'" she says, referring to Romans 8:28. "I just needed God to show me."

God Responds

God heard Denise's prayers and He held true to His promise to Tim.

Courtney lived her life in a way that took advantage of every opportunity to speak and demonstrate Christ's love to others. Her passion in life was to connect people, even in some small way, to Christ.

God has enabled that passion to continue to be fulfilled.

Since Courtney's death, Denise, a teacher, has seen students at Thunder Ridge treating each other with more kindness, the church reported several salvations and rededications to Christ directly attributed to Courtney's passing, and the family has seen students praying at Courtney's roadside cross.

The Millers have also received many letters and emails from Courtney's friends and classmates, confirming over and over how Courtney's life made their lives better, but her death has inspired them to make their relationship with Christ a priority. Her youth pastor shared how in life she greatly admired Courtney's passion for Christ, but in her death she has been challenged to "follow God relentlessly."

Even within the Miller family, Courtney's brothers, Jacob and Logan, and sister, Elly, tell of the impact she had on their lives -- daily demonstrating how to live a Christian life to the fullest, being a role model to each of them, and how she continues to be an inspiration to the family.

Elly, 20, says she and Courtney were not only sisters, but best friends. "As I watched Courtney grow, I realized she was different from everyone else. She didn't struggle with her identity like so many others did. She didn't give in to peer pressure. She knew she was a child of God and she lived like it . . . she did a lot of little things to make a difference in people's lives every day -- she knew there was something more for us beyond this life. [Courtney's life] encourages and inspires me to trust God with everything."

"I heard from the Christian camp Courtney went to every summer," Denise says. "They left her bunk open and the campers covered her bunk in pictures and flowers. She was only there one week out of the year, but she had that kind of impact upon their lives!" The camp also sent a packet of cards and letters from the campers to the family, which they now treasure.

An International Impact

But God wasn't done. Courtney's story was featured in PE News and was read and shared by multiple thousands around the world. Then AG Girls Ministries decided to use Courtney's story in its fall 2015 Sleepover packet for sponsors to share with thousands of young girls during this year's nationwide event.

Next came the truly unexpected. AG National Youth Ministries contacted the Millers. As Courtney was involved in her youth group, Fine Arts Festival, and Speed the Light giving, they invited the Millers to come and share a little of Courtney's testimony on stage during the National Youth Convention service being held in conjunction with the 2015 General Council evening service in Orlando the week of Aug. 3-7. More than 16,300 youth and adults heard Tim and Denise share a portion of Courtney's testimony in person, with more viewing online and through the archived video of the service (testimony begins at the 47-minute mark).

Although the pain of Courtney's loss is still very real, in the weeks and months since her passing, Tim and Denise confirm that God has been incredibly faithful in keeping His promises, even beyond their imaginations. He's taken the testimony of a young girl from a small, remote farming community in Kansas and set it before the lives of tens of thousands of people. And only time will reveal what else He has in store.

"There's still a big job out there and it's not done yet," Tim says. "For whatever reason, maybe God wants us to do the job. Courtney showed us how, our responsibility is to carry it on."


Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.