Frank Miller’s marker board at Church 4:18 is loaded with notes, reminders and Bible passages.
“I have to get it out of my mind and onto that board quickly as possible or I forget it,” said Miller, the church’s interim pastor and youth pastor.
A favorite Bible passage of his, Ecclesiastes 3:11, has a prominent place on the board.
“It says ‘True, God makes everything beautiful in itself and in its time, but He left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to.’”
Miller has faced a number of challenges in his 30 years.
The greatest came when he suffered heart failure when he was 17. That moved him to help other heart patients at what was then Muskogee Regional Medical Center.
“My mom was in nursing and works at the VA hospital, so I was interested in that field anyway,” he said. “It really piqued my interest. I decided I can do something to help others, even if it was as a cardiac monitor tech.”
Miller worked at MRMC for two and a half years and the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center for five years. Then he felt called to go into ministry full time.
Miller, who was reared in a strong religious family, wears his faith on his arms.
“Cross Carrier” is tattooed in bold yellow-orange graffiti letters on his forearms.
“I have a big cross on my back,” he said. “I had that eight years. Almost all my tattoos are religion themed. I just always thought they were a great expression of art.”
Meet Frank Miller
HOMETOWN: Warner. Lived in Muskogee for seven years.
CAREER: Worked as a cardiac monitor/technician. Currently interim pastor and youth pastor at Church 4:18.
EDUCATION: Warner High School, class of 2001. Chrio School of Ministry through his church.
FAMILY: Wife, Stephanie; son Blade, 8; and daughter, Maybre, 5.
CHURCH: Church 4:18.
HOBBIES: “Hunting, exercise. I go to Strictly Fitness. Anything with my children. I spend time with them, and we do all kinds of crazy stunts.”
ends before it began
As a senior at Warner High School, Frank Miller had his heart set on a football scholarship at Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas.
Then his heart gave out.
“I was out running and I had severe chest pains,” he said. “I went to the doctor after a couple of days. They worked me over, gave me blood tests, everything looked great. Probably a week later, the doctors called my mom on the phone and said, ‘We need to get him to the doctor’s office immediately.’”
Miller said the doctors diagnosed a severe case of cardiomyopathy, or “a grossly enlarged heart.”
“The heart was not squeezing as effectively, not putting out blood,” Miller said. “They were kind of dumbfounded, finding it on someone this young.”
He took medications and started working at MRMC as a monitor in its cardiac unit.
“I was getting ready to work, and I sort of passed out. They took me to the ER, and that’s when they put the pacemaker/defibrillator in,” he said, recalling the defibrillator as “a nightmare.”
“Mine was one of the ones they had a huge massive recall on for deficient battery issues,” he said. “It was shocking me unnecessarily. And when it shocks you, it’s like being kicked in the chest by a mule. I was shocked 33 times over a two-year period.”
Three years ago, Miller went to a church service in Eufaula.
“The guy preaching pulled me up on stage,” Miller said. “They prayed for me, prayed for my heart. I felt that night I was healed.”
Doctors later said the heart was functioning normally and was regular size, he said.
A calling at
a young age
Miller recalled preaching his first sermon when he was 15.
“My uncles and aunts were Assembly of God preachers,” he said. “My family was either preachers or nurses. My uncles and cousins always influenced me into my ministry.”
Miller said he thought ministry was something “God was putting in my heart.”
“I didn’t know what area, but I really had a heart for young people,” he said.
Miller’s brother and mother invited him to come to Church 4:18 several years ago.
“And I fell in love with it,” he said. “People were extremely friendly, it was comfortable, loving. It just felt like home.”
The church’s name is based on Luke 4:18, which quotes Jesus as saying: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me to release the oppressed, preach the good news to the poor, set free the captives and give sight to the blind.”
“The church’‘s motto is ‘Not your average church,’” Miller said. “It’s a church built more on following the teachings of Jesus than following the rules of religion. It’s not a stuffy church. It’s about people loving Jesus, people loving people.”
Miller said he first was called as the church’s youth pastor. Four weeks ago, he became the interim pastor.
“I got all the responsibilities as senior pastor,” he said. “I preach all the Sunday messages, hospital visitations, home visitations, all the financial responsibilities, make sure all the bills are paid, all the counseling.”
He said the church, which has about 150 regular attendees, is doing well.
During this time of year, Miller hears another call — a call of the wild.
Late October marks the start of muzzleloading deer hunting season, which is a new hobby for Miller.
“I would not say I’m a big hunter,” he said. “I really killed my first buck last season. My wife makes fun of me, said it looked like Bambi. It was a five-point buck. But ‘if it’s brown, it’s down.’ That’s my motto.”
Miller said he does not consider himself a trophy hunter. He’d rather have the deer on his plate than on the wall.
“My uncles and cousins were big hunters, and they would always bring the meat — deer steak, deer chili, deer jerky, deer sausages,” he said, adding that he likes venison’s “gamy” taste.
“It’s got its own flavor. It’s a little bit tougher than steak or beef,” he said. “I just love the natural taste of it.”
Miller said he had hunted “off and on” over the past four years.
“Last year, I really, truly put time in it,” he said. “I went to deer camp by Camp Gruber with my brother-in-law, Jamie. He’s the one who got me hooked on it.”
Miller said muzzleloading is his favorite way to hunt deer. He said his brother-in-law built a muzzleloader.
“It kicks hard,” he said. “I nearly broke my nose. Jamie laughed at me. He saw blood trickling from my nose.”
Muzzleloading is more challenging than rifle hunting, Miller said.
“There is not quite the range (as a rifle). You have to get a little closer. It’s not quite as accurate,” he said. “It’s heavier than a rifle.”
Miller said rifle hunting is so simple, “you can hit a deer from 400 yards away.”
But muzzleloading is not as challenging as bow hunting, he said. “I would like to get there someday.”
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
“I guess I moved up here to look for job opportunities. Nothing kept me in Warner.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
“I like that it’s small enough to have community feeling but large enough to have luxuries. I’m proud of the city for some of the things they have done. I didn’t realize how proud until I saw how they’re paving Okmulgee Avenue.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
“A QuikTrip. I love QuikTrip, and I always hear rumors of a QuikTrip coming. I’d like to see them finish the road work. I’d like to see some life pumped back into the mall.”
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING IN MUSKOGEE?
“Interim pastor and youth pastor at Church 4:18.”
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
“I like to spend time with my family. We make up games, go on fake zombie hunts, go to football games.”
WHAT OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE?
“My mother. Seeing what she’s done with her life. No education, she went back to school and got a nursing degree. She got a bachelor’s in nursing and a master’s in nursing. Both my parents have been heroes of mine.”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
“Probably just being part of this church. Becoming part of the staff here is one of my fondest memories.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?
“It’s a great place to raise a family, a city with extremely friendly people. It’s a place you can just call home.”