Samaritan Ministries in Ukraine


I’m living on the edge of eternity.

About two years ago, I was struck with a double-whammy. I had a triple-bypass (which ultimately failed) and kidney failure — all at the same time.

After the surgery. the doctor met me in my hospital room. “Mr. Miller,” he said, “I have good news for you and bad news. The good news is that you are alive. I didn’t think I could pull you through. The bad news is that you are dying. You have one to three years left. My advice to you is enjoy the time you have left and make the most of it. Only the Almighty God can help you now.” With that, he turned, and left the room.

I was shattered.

But after I got over the shock, I decided to take the doctor’s advice. I decided to pick up the broken pieces of my life and make something beautiful out of it. It took me almost six months to work through the process, but I eventually came to the place where I developed a plan for the rest of my life.

First, I decided to be real. I would not deny my feelings. I instructed my doctors and family to play it straight with me. I didn’t want any games. I knew it would be hard, but we would get through it. There are times now when I am so fatigued I can hardly pull my socks up in the morning. It’s the pits. I hate it and don’t hesitate to say so. But on the other hand, there are times when life has never been so good. I love it.

Second, I was determined to live until the day I die. I would put the emphasis on life, not death. Since I believe in the afterlife, I figured I couldn’t loose. Either way, what lay before me was life. I would make the most of the time I have left. I have not stopped living to the fullest. Every day, as strength allows, I spend the time with God, family, friends, and ministry, usually in that order.

Don skypes with Alex every Monday morning to give oversight to the growing work of SMU.
Third, I decided not to lose my sense of humor. I believe, as the Bible says, “A merry heart doeth good like medicine.” So, I because I have a strong faith in God and a natural sense of humor, I stay positive most of the time. I continue to joke and laugh a lot. If you come to our house, you will not find it a sad place. We are not feeling sorry for ourselves or catastrophizing. Instead, we are rejoicing in the Lord and the goodness of God.

Don and Nancy welcome Nadia Siryk, director of the Pulin Community Center in Ukraine to Portland, and invite her to pick blueberries with them.

Fourth, I determined to let suffering perfect my character. I think it’s fair to say, I have become a kinder and gentler person since I became ill; less critical and judgmental. A better husband, father, friend, neighbor, and Samaritan. In short, a better human being, and ultimately a better follower of Christ. It’s amazing how suffering and impending death helps one to get his spiritual house in order.

Don clowns with the “dummies” during the Lavender Festival, which drew between 9,000 to 10, 000 visitors this year.
Finally, I decided to be a good teacher and model of how to end well. All my life, I’ve been teaching people how to live, now I want to teach them how to die. So, I have been ministering to the dying and giving talks and interviews on this delicate and much neglected subject. Recently, I gave this interview at Living Hope Fellowship, where we attend church. You can listen in, by clicking on the link below:

Donald N. Miller
Founder of Samaritan Ministries in Ukraine.