Blog - Supporting Believers
Hospital Janitor Turns Job into MinistryThursday, November 06, 2008
His name is Daryl Miller. He has worked in the environmental services department of this hospital for 22 years. But he did not originally intend to work in this role. Here is his story:
“I was heading toward the ministry, so I completed regular Bible college and seminary training. But while I thought I was going to be a pastor, things did not work out that way. So I returned to what I had done to earn my way through school: janitorial work in this hospital. But I was not happy in this role. I tried hard to get into something else—anything else.
“Thinking I might become a chaplain, I enrolled in a clinical pastoral education training program in another hospital. During my second quarter there, I visited an older patient who had served as a pastor. As I spoke with him, I must have voiced some negativity about being a janitor and not in the ministry. He looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘But you are in the ministry.' God used his words to change my whole attitude. Suddenly, I no longer looked at the hospital as just a place to work. Since that time, God has used me in many ways in people's lives—ways I could never have imagined.
“One man (I'll call him Frank), a fellow janitor, had been an alcoholic. He had divorced his Christian wife. But some time after that, he had opened his heart to Jesus. In time, he married a wonderful Christian woman who also works here at the hospital. He and I did a lot of talking and counseling. I urged him to memorize Scripture. ‘No,' he said, ‘I can't memorize. My education ended in grade school.” But I persisted, starting him with a few basic verses. He found out he could memorize God's Word. As he grew, I discovered he had a real gift in dealing with people. Frank's job later required him to handle infectious waste, which resulted in him contracting hepatitis. But his testimony, even as he recovered from a liver transplant, inspired everybody.
“'Joe,' another man who still works at the hospital, had twice been jailed for domestic disputes. He never felt loved by his mother and hardly knew his workaholic father. His brothers were too much older to pay much attention to him. So he didn't have a lot of social interaction with anyone. But through the years I've worked with him, teaching him Scripture and helping him understand how things work here in the hospital. I provided him (as I did Frank) with a good study Bible.
“Not long ago, while walking down the hallway, I met ‘Judy,' an admitting clerk in the mother-baby unit. I knew her only slightly. When I asked how she was doing, she broke down. Then she poured out her story. Her son had died—most likely a suicide—just a few months earlier. I listened, prayed with her and did what I could to encourage and comfort her. I still check on her now and then to see how she's doing. I'm not sure whether she is a believer.
“In working with Judy and similar situations, I rely on other Christians in what I call the hospital ‘prayer chain.' As I make my janitorial rounds, I'll say to one believer after another, ‘Please pray for me. I'm not really qualified to help in this case. It's requiring more of me than I have to offer.' So whenever someone is helped, I know it's not me. Instead, it's God—using me and all these others who are praying.
“My work puts me into contact with many people, and that's where the momentum of this ministry lies. God has placed me where I can talk to others, learn their needs and ask, ‘Would you like us to pray?' On any given day, I can usually get to 10 or 15 believers in the prayer chain. All told, I probably know of 30 to 40 believers in the various hospital departments.
“My seminary training doesn't really enter into this hospital ministry. The Holy Spirit helps me find ways to break the ice. When I worked in the surgery area, I used to ask the surgeons: ‘What is the most amazing part of the human body?” Most answered with that part of the body they had specialized in. Then I would ask: ‘How can anybody believe all this just happened?” Almost all responded that they didn't know. But one surgeon said, ‘I know—God created it!' And of course, I had just discovered a fellow believer. In meeting people, I use a lot of humor. This place is so stressed that a little levity goes a long way.
“This ministry has blossomed in ways that have benefited my family. It's not unusual for me to return home and tell my wife and kids, ‘Okay, we need to pray for this or that person.' They know some of the people on the prayer chain by name—often because they have walked around with me while I work. Had I chosen my own way, I would now be pastoring a church. But this, not that, was what God wanted me to do. Knowing that, I need to do my work well. I'm here to serve—and that's what ‘ministry' means.”