Wednesday, 17 September 2008

In Memory of Rev. Dr. J. Graham Miller

Today has been declared a national day of mourning in memory of Rev. Dr. J. Graham Miller who passed away on Saturday 6th September.

Graham Miller and his wife, Flora arrived in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in 1941 as missionaries of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. They worked on the island of Tongoa (in the Shepherd Island group) until 1947. From 1947-1952 Graham was the principal of the Teachers' Training Institute on Tangoa Island, Santo. This institute trained mission teachers for work in villages throughout Vanuatu.

During their time on Tongoa, they worked towards the independence of the local church. Upon its inauguration in 1948, the Presbyterian Church of the New Hebrides chose Graham Miller to be its first Moderator. Graham, a trained lawyer, had drafted the constitution of the church.

Graham and Flora returned to Vanuatu in 1971 to assist in establishing the Presbyterian Bible College at Tangoa on the site of the former Teacher's Training Institute. During this time he was heavily involved in the movement towards the independence of the nation. He helped produce the nation's constitution, and assisted in the meditations with Great Britain, France and the Untied Nations.

Upon leaving Vanuatu this second time in 1973, Graham Miller served as the Pastor of St. Giles Presbyterian Church in Hurstville, NSW. While there he wrote the Live books, a seven volume history of the church in Vanuatu. This account is told not just from the perspective of the Western missionaries, but from that of the many Polynesian and local missionaries who carried the gospel throughout Vanuatu. The people of Vanuatu "for many generations to come, will praise God for the privilege of looking back through Mr Miller's writing and learning of the firm foundation on which the Christian Church of the New Hebrides was built".

Graham Miller was deeply interested in the life and culture of man Vanuatu. He would engage many in conversation, listening with rapt attention. Our current Principal at Talua, Pastor Fiama Rakau, often refers to Graham Miller as a "man of prayer" who was "devoted to the word of God" and a "man to emulate". He is a beloved figure in Vanuatu, an elder both in the church and the state.

Olfala Nato, man Malekula, father of Pastor Masia (who lectures at Talua) and Mama Jenny (wife of another lecturer at Talua), was an old and dear friend of Rev. Dr. Graham Miller. Over the last few years, Graham Miller has never been far from his mind and he has asked again and again, has my friend Graham Miller died yet? No, he would be told. Not yet. On Saturday 6th September, however, the answer was yes. He has. He has gone to be with our Lord. On Friday, 12th September, Olfala Nato also went to be with our Lord; confident in His love and confident also in the company of his beloved friend.

Information drawn from foreword and afterword to the first volume of the Live Series; the book, 'they Served in Vanuatu' and personal communication with Ps. Andrew Williamson.  Quote is from Kami Shing who wrote the forward to the first volume of the Live Series and the photo is also from this volume.


Anonymous said...

Nelson said...

Thank you tumas long Missionary Dr. J. Graham Miller from pipol blong Tongoa long Shepherds Group. Mifala i priveledged blong save kat Rev. Miller olsem Missionary mo work we hem i mekem, especially olgeta "Live" books we hem i writem, oli stap olsem treasure long pipol blong Tongoa.

I had the opportunity as a young Lad to witness his visit to Tongoa in the 80's but not until later did I recognize the immense work this man of God had done for Tongoa, Tangoa and Vanuatu.

God bless his soul.

Anonymous said...

Would you know of Dr Miller's list of polynesian missionaries to the New Hebrides?

Rachael said...

I am not personally aware of the list, or whether such a list exists. I wouldn't be surprised if he made one when he did his research for the LIve Books, but if he did and how to get hold of it, I couldn't say. Sorry.

Rachael said...

There is a roll of Missionaries other than Polynesian and local islanders from 1839-1880 in the back of the first volume of the Live series. I cannot find a similar roll of Polynesian or local islander missionaries in either the first or second volumes.

Rachael said...

But a very quick flick through volumes 3-7 show all sorts of lists of one sort and another. THere are probably records in these books of the sort that you want, but not one comprehensive list.

David Kendall said...

You can hear some audio messages from him on the Christian Library Australia Web site

PAKOA said...

Dear friends,

Mi grandson blong late William Tariliu of Bongabonga, Tongoa.

My grand father blong mi used to work with late Missi

Miller and only aunty for her name is Mary Flora, teem name blong wife blong late Missi. Amen

Melta said...

Hi Rachael,
My name is Leipakoa Martha, I am the grand daughter of Leipunua Marie of Bongabonga, Tongoa that has been married to Shem George that used to work closely with our late Missi. My grand-ma is the daughter of late William Tariliu of Bongabonga Tongoa her twin sister is: Leinangisu Ere. Speaking of you, my father's name is : Pakoa Mala and he mentioned that you must be Sophie's daughter. We have been blessed by the work that Rev. Dr. J. Graham Miller has done and Live books that he has written is such a lovely souvenir that will always be remembered in our hearts and generations to come. May God bless his soul. Amen

William Pakoa said...

Thank you Lord for a live in 2015,Again a Big Thank you most of all to the Lord for the Plan hehad invested in the Late Rev Dr J Grahram Miller's live and his family and is still today that you continue to keep the gospel alive in this part of the world that is still touching us from today's generation.Amen & Glory to the most high!

My name is William Pakoa Tariliu.I'm one of William Tariliu's grand children.My Grand father is the eldest son of William Tariliu,Pakoa Manaika.I was birth given William and again lately our Chief's name Tariliu.I am currently a Lay Pastor at Bethel Bible Church in Vila,Vanuatu
Today am still looking to find more about my Great,Great grand Father William Tariliu.Any guidance you can help me out with
would be very much appreciated.

Again thank you for your time in reading through my comment and may the Good Lord richly bless you all.Amen!