2009 was a difficult year for Dion Miller. He was facing what felt like overwhelming challenges. He worked, but felt like his experience had been one dead-end job after another. His home life wasn’t much better, as his marriage was struggling, and he was emotionally absent, not just to his wife, but to their three children as well. To cope with the stresses of life, Dion often turned to drugs.
In November of 2009, Dion was driving while under the influence of drugs on I-85 when he was involved in an accident. The accident injured a six-year-old girl and her grandmother who were occupants of the vehicle he hit. Dion was also injured in the accident, and had to be life flighted from the scene. He learned while in the hospital what had happened, and upon realizing the damage he had caused, two things happened: he gave his life to Christ, and he knew there would be legal repercussions.
His first appearance in court was a shock to him. The prosecutor was bringing charges serious enough to warrant a 15-year sentence. Over the next 18 months, Dion awaited trial while his court appointed lawyer attempted to reach a plea agreement. The case was resolved when Dion agreed to a one year prison sentence followed by six months of rehab. That was 2011.
In 2012 Dion was released from prison and checked himself into Atlanta Mission, a mission partner of NAPC that, among other things, has a program to help those who are in recovery from addiction. Three months into his time at Atlanta Mission, Dion was invited to attend a mid-week Bible study at NAPC.
The first day I met Dion, I felt an immediate pull to his earnestness, humor, and self-awareness. He didn’t try to diminish or excuse his behavior, but he was also determined not to succumb to the trap of shame.
Dion soon became a regular at our Bible studies, and upon his graduation from Atlanta Mission, he moved back home to his family with renewed purpose and calling. Fearing the bumpiness of the transition, he asked me if I could get together with him a couple of times a month to provide accountability and friendship.
Fast forward three years to 2016.
Dion and I still met on at least a monthly basis. What started as accountability for him had turned into mutual encouragement and two-way accountability. At one of our coffees, Dion shared that he was grateful that he had better employment—he was now working as a driver for a tire company—but still needed to better understand how to manage his finances. I invited him to attend Faith and Finances with his wife, Renae.
Dion and Renae completed Faith and Finances and walked away with tools to build a budget, but more than that, they felt permission to dream again. Dion dreamed of earning his commercial drivers license, and Renae dreamed of home ownership.
NAPC offers a matched savings program to graduates of Faith and Finances through your generous gifts. In this program, individuals like Dion can receive a 100% match on money saved (up to $1,000 match) if that money is used to help increase the probability of employment, or measurably increases the family’s stability.
Dion approached the church with a unique request. Would we be willing to go above and beyond the program limits to help him obtain his CDL. He had done his homework. He had a provisional offer from a food distribution company who would give him a job that paid $1,000 per month more than he was currently earning and offer full benefits.
We eagerly agreed. That was in June of this year. Last month Dion earned his CDL. On October 1, he began his new job. Today, Dion is actively preparing for his future. His first long term objective is to save up a down-payment so his family can purchase their first home, and Renae can realize her dream.
When you give to ministry and mission at NAPC, you are a part of the fabric of Dion and Renae’s story and other stories like theirs. Without your tithe going to the ministry budget, we would not have the platform to lean into risk-taking mission. Without your above and beyond gifts to missions, we would not be able to meaningfully walk alongside others amid their unfolding, and redemptive stories.
Thank you for your faithful gifts. As you prayerfully discern your pledge to ministry and mission this week, I would ask that you give as generously as you can so all of us collectively can continue to come alongside individuals and families like Dion and Renae’s.
One last thing.
Last week I asked Dion what the biggest lesson in all of this is. The string that he sees going through his story is how God restores the years the locust had eaten. In 2009, his drug use and his license cost him his freedom. In 2017, God is using his commercial driver’s license to provide a new future for Dion. That is what the kingdom looks like, friends.
You can make your pledge to ministry and mission in church services this Sunday, November 5, or you can make your pledge now by following this link.
Matt Seadore, Executive Director of Ministry and Mission