Contact Info Subscribe Links




A Man after God's own Heart

Remembering Dr. LaVerne Miley

by Don Robirds

Although the Scriptures attribute this title to the life of King David, I believe the words appropriately reflect the life of Dr. LaVerne Miley.

His mild manner, servant spirit, genuine humility, loving heart, deep faith, strong character, and total commitment to the Lord seem to validate the observation above. I have never met a man who garnered the deep respect and admiration of everyone, as he did. Through his faith he exalted the Lord without calling attention to himself. His son, Lynn, noted during the memorial service at Cofer’s Chapel in Nashville, Tennessee, he had never heard his father raise his voice, speak ill of someone, get angry or argue. 

Since his childhood conversion at age 10, LaVerne Miley marched to the beat of a different drummer. Though brilliant—finishing high school at age 14 while ranking third in a class of 124*—he never abused his obvious gifts. After earning a B.S. degree at age 18 he yielded his life to the Lord, answered the call to preach, and sensed God leading him to enroll at Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville, Tenn.

Following his studies in Nashville—where he met and married Lorene Norris—LaVerne felt God leading him to obtain further training at Northern Baptist Seminary. Upon completion of his studies he returned to FWBBC as a professor of Greek and science. During this five-year stint God dealt with LaVerne about becoming a medical missionary, and he immediately began to prepare.

Medical school took a leap of faith since, by then, he had a family to support. LaVerne listened to the Lord and obeyed, simply believing God would supply. And He did! He even sent a former medical missionary to supply medical school expenses.

With medical school and internship behind him, the doctor launched out by faith to find the spot in the northeast corner of Ivory Coast, West Africa, where he believed God wanted him to serve. The Lobi people of Doropo gripped his heart, and soon he grabbed theirs. A tribute to his faithfulness and his concern for these people, a hospital still functions to meet their physical needs. At least eight churches in that area owe their existence to the initial efforts of LaVerne and his family.

One of my fondest memories takes me back to a short stay in the home of LaVerne and Lorene at Doropo in 1978 (their last year on the field). While there, I was overcome by one of the most severe headaches I have ever experienced. Though greatly overextended by his around-the-clock hospital ministry, Dr. Miley took time to treat and comfort me without any outward sign of added stress.

When the Mileys felt the Lord leading them back to the United States, LaVerne again submitted himself to serve as a Bible college professor rather than enter the more lucrative field of medicine. During the next 18 years he touched the lives of hundreds of students, influencing many to consider ministry in world outreach.

The Free Will Baptist denomination owes a great debt of gratitude to this man even though he would not want it. Indeed, he was “a man after God’s own heart.” It was my privilege to be the co-laborer and friend of such a man.

Don Robirds retired from the International Missions staff in December 2003. He served as director of public relations for 32 years and now does freelance editing, writing, layout, and design.

*Taken from the book I Looked for a Man and Found One by Lorene Miley, Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tenn., 1983.


©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists