My good buddy, Denver Miller rolls out of town tomorrow…that is if his car gets fixed. That fool and his car problems… but I digress.
I met Denver when I first became the middle school youth pastor at Calvary Albuquerque. He and a few other 8th graders sat on the front row as I taught through the Book of Mark. I remember seeing God’s hand on Denver’s life even as a little guy. The years went by and Denver and I became great friends. After all, we’re both Millers, our moms names are both Debbie, and most people think we’re brothers. We just let them think that (sorry if I ruined it for you just now).
As Denver rounded out his high school years, he began serving with me in the middle school youth ministry. We had some great times together – fun events, crazy games, spray painting his 1966 VW Bug neon pink & green for a youth group event, and even leading a mission trip together!
Much deeper than our outward appearance and our moms’ first names, Denver and I shared a heart for ministering to people. He’s one of those guys that’s a rare find that I just clicked with, kind of like Paul and Timothy. You know those kind of people? They’re rare. Hold on to them when you find them.
Denver became one of my closest friends and ministry partners and was the first person in Albuquerque that I told about this crazy idea I had about moving to Tennessee to plant a church. He wanted to go with us, but was undecided. He joined Jenn and I on a scouting trip in February of 2009 to this town that most people in Albuquerque had never heard of: Clarksville, TN. He was still undecided at that point, so we didn’t tell anyone that he was with us. That trip was the selling point for all of us, though. Jenn and I knew Clarksville was the place and Denver was in too. Nate and Jenn Witiuk had already decided to join us as well and were in the process of looking for housing and jobs while continuing life and ministry for a few more months in Albuquerque.
In June of 2009, everything changed. Jenn, Jenn, Nate, Denver, and I (“The Fab 5” as some have affectionately referred to us as) packed up everything we owned and moved to Clarksville, TN to fulfill the vision God had given us to turn this city upside down for Christ.
The last year of our lives has been a wild ride for sure! We’ve learned a lot together, prayed together, ministered together, and had a blast. Denver and I have been through some gnarly stuff together too, including floating sound equipment out of our flooded church on a door that we took off its hinges. We’ll never forget that!
Denver told me from the start that he was committed for the first year of the church plant and would be praying about staying or possibly going elsewhere. I was sure he wouldn’t leave but prayed quite often that God would confirm Denver’s calling to Clarksville.
Unfortunately for us and Awaken Church (I say that selfishly), God did not confirm that calling. Denver loves Clarksville, loves Awaken Church, and loves the people of Awaken, but feels like his one year has come and gone and the time has come to pursue his next step in life.
He and I have often talked about him planting a church (I’ll let him tell you some day where he’s thinking of going), and now is his time to continue to pursue it in another way: formal Biblical training. Tomorrow morning, almost exactly one year to the day that he moved here, Denver will be moving back to Albuquerque for a few months to see his family, save up some cash, then ship off to California for two years of Bible and ministry training at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, CA.
When he told me about a month ago that he’d be leaving, I didn’t get it at first. It didn’t sink in. Soon enough, though, it hit me. It hit hard. I was losing Denver and things wouldn’t ever be the same in our opportunities to serve together. Those first few weeks were hard between he and I. I questioned him a lot – his motives, his timing, etc. It was hard. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. Maybe a better word to describe it is “bittersweet.” The bitterness is apparent, but don’t miss out on the sweet…
Denver is leaving for a GREAT reason: he’s mapping out his life and preparing further for what he believes God is calling him to do. Paul and Barnabas, after lots of fruitful ministry together, split up in Acts 15 because they couldn’t resolve an argument. I’m so thankful that Denver is not leaving in this way. Denver is leaving on a high note – we celebrate and promote what he is doing. It certainly wasn’t an easy decision for him to make, but he feels it’s the right one. Although Paul and Barnabas’ split up was a bitter one, the good news was that instead of one ministry team going out, two went out. That’s another sweet thing about this. As much as I’d love to keep Denver around, now there’s the possibility of reaching double the amount of people in double the locations! Praise God for His plan!
Let me make this very clear: there is NO SIN, no DISAGREEMENTS, and NO HARD FEELINGS going on here. I’ve got Denver’s back in this decision and I’m excited to see where God takes him!
A few words to Denver…
It’s been good, bro. We may never serve in the same capacities together again, but we serve the same God. I’d tell you the same thing that Paul told young Timothy:
1 Timothy 4:12 – Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
I know you’ve said you’ve learned a lot from me, but I’ve learned a lot from you too. It’s been a privilege and you will be missed. This isn’t “Goodbye,” it’s “Seeya later!”
Love you, bro.