By Michael Miller
A matter of life and death gave Ginger and Joel Millermon a new direction in their service to the Lord.
Ginger and Joel’s outreach ministry focuses on helping women who carry heavy burdens through everyday life. Ginger sings songs, writes books, and holds conferences that give the good news to women that “there is hope through Christ no matter what your circumstances are.” She also provides worship music for events like conferences, retreats, and banquets, seeking to minister in any way she can.
Getting to this point was no easy task for the Millermons, but the Lord proved faithful all the way through a long, draining, and burdensome period.
Engaged in youth ministry in the 1990s, the Millermons were just starting to build their family. In 1996 they had an 18-month-old daughter, McKenzie, and Ginger was nearly six months pregnant with what they thought was their second child. Then they found out she was expecting twins and, four days later, Brennan and Jarrott were born several weeks prematurely.
“They looked identical,” Ginger says. “They were the same birth weight, 2 pounds, 14 ounces, but Jarrott’s lungs and airways had not developed well at all. He had very severe airway and lung disease.”
Brennan came home at 2 months old, albeit on oxygen and monitors, but Jarrott stayed in the hospital, eventually being transferred to Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado, 250 miles from the Millermons’ home in Paonia, Colorado. He had undergone major stomach reconstruction, had a feeding tube, and had a tracheostomy tube in his throat to help him breathe.
Most troubling of all, he was on life support.
“The doctors were basically giving up on him,” Ginger says. “In fact, they sat us down at Christmas when he was about 4 months old and told us that if he survived, he would have no quality of life—that he would never walk, he would never talk, he would have severe cerebral palsy and, if by some miracle he survived, he would be in an institution.”
The doctors asked Joel and Ginger to take Jarrott off life support and let him die.
“We looked at each other and said ‘No—he’s not brain dead, there’s still a lot going on here, and we’re going to wait and see what God does,’” Ginger says. “So we really at this point had to fight for him.”
Doctors said that even if Jarrott was left on life support, he might end up dying anyway. The Millermons gathered family, preparing for a funeral and praying for survival at the same time.
“Literally at the last moment, after just a real intense time of prayer for healing for him, God intervened,” Ginger says. “Jarrott came out of his coma and began to smile at us and interact with us in a way he hadn’t for weeks. Our doctors were just astounded.”
Jarrott still didn’t come home from the hospital until he was 13 months old, and even then he was on a ventilator with a tracheostomy tube and 24-hour nursing care for nearly four years. But he was home.
“That was a journey that God took us through,” Ginger says.
Sacrifices had to be made. The Millermons had to move closer to the hospital. They left the youth ministry they had been working in “and did whatever we needed to do to survive as a family.”
“Through that time, God again and again proved Himself faithful,” Ginger says. “The thing that I learned is that God is trustworthy and, even when your worst nightmare happens, He is faithful and He gets you through it. And even if we hadn’t gotten the answer that we wanted, even if He had taken Jarrott home, He would still have been faithful.”
The Millermons worked several jobs, lived on some savings, the help of their parents, and the generosity of fellow church members and even strangers.
“I just remember being in Denver at Children’s Hospital,” Ginger says. “People we didn’t know dropped off money for food and hotel expenses. It’s amazing how God provided through that time.”
Emerging from that time, Ginger and Joel followed their new vision for ministering to churches and eventually to women. Ginger began writing and recording songs of hope and encouragement, writing a book she titled Grace Thus Far, and shared their story at churches. Joel began to run their ministry office, booking and managing the travel schedule and running media and sound for their events. Eventually, the Millermons developed their own conferences:
- “Strength for the Journey”: Ginger reviews Biblical principles and Scripture that got her through the worst of the Millermons’ trials. “Our story is not unlike stories of many women I hear, stories of pain and a journey that sometimes seem hopeless,” she says. “My passion for women is to share the Gospel with both the saved and unsaved, that message of hope that there’s nothing impossible and that we serve the God of the possible.”
- “Living a Worthy Life”: Ginger walks women through Colossians examining “how we should live in light of what God has done.”
- “Faith, Hope, and Love”: This new conference celebrates the Gospel and what Christ has done for us. “When God looks at me, He looks at me through the robes of righteousness that Christ put on me,” Ginger says. “I need to live my life daily in light of that.”
Life has continued to change for the Millermons. In 2008, they adopted their daughter Shasmita from India. They found out about her in 2007 through an email from a friend about several little girls in the Indian state of Orissa who “desperately needed homes.”
Although the Millermons weren’t actively looking for a child to adopt, it wasn’t that far away from their hearts, and “this one little face jumped out at us.” They didn’t have money set aside for adoption, but “God really provided every penny,” Ginger says.
He also provided protection when Joel and Ginger went to India to pick up Shasmita. The day they arrived, August 25, 2008, Hindu radicals began a series of riots and attacks against Christians in the state of Orissa, killing some believers and causing as many as 50,000 others to flee. The orphanage was in Orissa.
“We ended up having to hide in our hotel for about 24 hours, being told that if we went out we would be harmed,” Ginger says.
The Millermons spent a lot of time praying, especially with another couple in the same hotel who were there to adopt a daughter as well.
“We would just literally sit in our hotel room together, the four of us, and just pray,” says Ginger, especially as they watched news reports of orphanages burning and not knowing if it was the one their girls were at.
“I remember telling Joel, ‘We came all the way around the world to rescue an orphan and I’m not sure we won’t leave three orphans at home,’” Ginger says.
What did happen that day, though, was that a man was adopted into God’s family—Rajeev, the Millermons’ Indian guide and interpreter.
“He was very curious about the Gospel and we got to share Christ with him,” Ginger says. “He came to know the Lord that day and his life has been radically changed.”
Eventually, the Millermons were able to sneak to the orphanage, which was about 25 miles away, while hunched down in the back of a car, meet Shasmita, and head to Delhi with her, where it was safer.
The family of six is doing well, now living in Hutchinson, Kansas, near Ginger’s parents. McKenzie, 18, has attended Bible college and is pursuing her own music career. The boys are 16 and in good health, although Jarrott has poor eyesight and is slightly developmentally delayed—but, his mom adds, “he has a real heart for the Lord.” And Shasmita, after going through a difficult period of adjustment, is very close to both of her parents and her siblings.
Balancing family and ministry demands is a challenge, Ginger says, but putting the two together has exposed the children to great experiences.
“Our kids have been all over the country,” Ginger says. “A couple of them have been to Africa with us and other parts of the world.”
Joel and Ginger homeschool some of the time and send the children to Christian school at other times, depending on their road schedule. When they need to leave the children at home, they get help from Ginger’s parents, who “have become a huge part of our ministry.”
That ministry continues to refresh and strengthen the hearts of women.
“They need to be reminded that there is hope and, no matter what their circumstances are, whether it’s a marriage falling apart or a prodigal child or a health issue, I want to remind them that we serve a God of hope,” Ginger says. “Romans 15:13 is one of my favorite verses. It says, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.’
“For me, it’s challenging women to keep the Gospel in front of them, and to be reminded that He’s a God of hope.”
For information on booking Ginger for an event, click here.