This year, the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles will hold additional meaning for Mr. Rand Millich, Regional Pastor of the U.S. Midwest. He was ordained into the ministry of Jesus Christ on the same Holy Day, fifty Feasts earlier. He and his wife Gloria serve 32 congregations in his region, and he directly pastors congregations in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. We asked if he would answer some of our questions about his personal experiences and the lessons he has learned over the last five decades. He was kind enough to indulge us, and this is the resulting interview. — Editorial Staff
Living Church News: Where and when were you ordained, and who performed the laying on of hands?
Mr. Rand Millich: I was ordained an elder on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, September 23. The year was 1968. I remember that year, not only for the ordination, but also for the time that Gloria (Newell) and I became interested in marriage! During that Feast, a fierce storm hit Squaw Valley. Many were camping out in tents and were soaked by the cold rain and sleet. My first anointings took place late that night as many suffered from illnesses due to that terrible weather.
There was a time in which we had different "offices" in the ministry. In several years I was raised in rank to a Preaching Elder, then, at a Feast in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to that of Pastor, by Mr. Richard Ames.
LCN: Since the beginning of this Feast will be your 50th anniversary in the ministry, are you and your family doing anything special this year?
Mr. Millich: Each Feast of Tabernacles is special in its own way. Gloria and I will be serving this year at two locations: Hilton Head and Panama City Beach. Part of our family will be with us. We're anticipating next year as the special occasion for our 50th wedding anniversary, God willing.
LCN: How did you first encounter the Work and God's truth?
Mr. Millich: At 15 years old, I sought out my first "high-tech" gadget—a pocket transistor radio with one ear bud. I read in the radio log about a "science fiction" broadcast called The World Tomorrow airing on KGO from San Francisco. The message was powerful. What affected me at the very start was the relevancy of the Bible—prophecy was "headlines written in advance." It certainly was not science fiction!
LCN: Did any particular doctrines stand out to you in the beginning?
Mr. Millich: The fact that I could prove God existed and that the Bible was inspired moved me to continue to listen. I began to write in to Pasadena for basic booklets—and eventually the Bible Correspondence Course. I wrote down the biblical answers by hand. If you know my handwriting, you would know that only I could read them! I began to learn about the Sabbath and annual Holy Days, as well as other basic doctrines. My parents were not yet part of the Church, so I tried to do the best I could in an imperfect way to obey God's laws.
LCN: What moved you to go to Ambassador College?
Mr. Millich: I didn't know there was a congregation near me in Sacramento, California. By this time, I was a senior in high school and needed to make decisions about what I would do after graduation. There was a series of articles about Ambassador College in The Plain Truth magazine. Imperial School was mentioned. I thought that getting a degree in education would be the best way to go—and assumed that I might end up teaching at some California school in Imperial Valley, California.
Another issue was facing the draft. I wrote in to Ambassador College and asked if I should join the Air Force first (and then apply for college) or apply for college first (and then join the Air Force). The answer came back: "What do you think that Jesus Christ would have you do?" I decided I would apply to Ambassador College first and then join the Air Force!
However, the main reason I desired to attend Ambassador was because the stated purpose was to "recapture true values" and that the "word of God was the foundation of knowledge." I felt that the college would emphasize character and beauty. I had attended what is now San Joaquin Delta College for the summer for a calculus class. The dorms were trashy and the students seemed very much caught up in selfish pursuits. I felt that Ambassador would be a much better atmosphere at my stage in life.
Now I realize that God was calling me and giving me an opportunity to serve in His Work and Church.
LCN: What was life like for you at the college?
Mr. Millich: Well, I was 17 years old. I had not attended any local church. I had not been visited by any minister. I was accepted "sight unseen." When my parents dropped me off at the campus, they weren't sure what I was getting into—and this was my first time away from home. I didn't know anyone. Randall Kobernat was the first student I met. He helped show me around and what to do.
Some of the experiences were quite different! We were served lamb for dinner. I was hoping that this was not a religious requirement for all meals! Although I had read about many teachings of the Bible, I had not fully understood how to practice them. So, virtually everything was new. It took some adjusting to fit in. However, that being said, I found the atmosphere positive and challenging. I truly felt the importance of being a student. I wanted to learn everything I could—and to verify everything from the Bible.
I had the blessing of getting to know older brethren attending Sabbath services. I was able to hear sermons and Bible studies from a variety of ministers. There was always the excitement of hearing Mr. Armstrong announce a new breakthrough in the furthering of the preaching of the Gospel to the world.
The various classes provided a solid Biblical foundation in various aspects of learning and life, and the social opportunities gave us a balanced and cultured way of dealing with various relationships and events.
I was later counseled by Dr. Meredith and was baptized by him on February 24, 1964.
As an "unskilled laborer," my first job on campus was as a custodian. Next, I ended up in Mail Reading. Later, I had opportunity to help process tithes and offerings sent to the Church. Then I worked in the Church Administration Department. I didn't know that I was being considered for sending out into the field ministry as a ministerial trainee upon graduation. I learned that at an assembly meeting when the names of those being assigned were announced.
My experience with Ambassador was very positive with no real regrets.
LCN: Do you have any memories you would like to share of Mr. Herbert Armstrong?
Mr. Millich: I remember Mr. Armstrong being warm and friendly at our first meeting during the student reception. Later, he and his wife, Loma, invited the new students into their home. He discussed many personal aspects of his life in a conversational manner. It revealed that he was an ordinary man, although certainly used by God in an extraordinary way.
One incident stands out in my mind. Mr. Armstrong taught the Principles of Living class. During the class on November 22, 1963, the red light indicating a phone call flashed on and off. Mr. Armstrong answered and all we heard was his end of the conversation: "The President? The governor as well?" He repeated that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. He then led the class in heartfelt prayer that God would be merciful and intervene according to His will. It helped me to realize that we should be concerned with everyone—not just those in the Church of God.
The illness of Loma Armstrong was quite significant. Both Mr. Armstrong and his wife demonstrated their faith and hope in the resurrection. As seniors, we prayed and fasted for God's healing. Whether Mrs. Armstrong was to be healed or not, both she and her husband had their minds on God's power and His purpose for their lives. I may not have this statement totally correct, but Mrs. Armstrong told the evangelists who were gathered at her bedside, "Don't worry, I'll be all right—go on and do the Work." Mr. Armstrong felt the same way.
LCN: Out of your 50 years serving in the ministry, could you share some of your favorite memories?
Mr. Millich: Let me say that each assignment, from the beginning of ministerial training to the latest one, has been special in its own way. I can still remember certain names and events in each of the areas.
I had the wonderful privilege of being sent to the "mother congregation" (Eugene, Oregon) as a ministerial trainee. I met individuals who knew Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong when they lived in the area, and they were able to recount stories of that time period. I saw many of the locations described in the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong. The congregation was very kind towards me as a single, "wet behind the ears" trainee sent from Headquarters. I learned much from them and continued to be a "learner." I suffered from a terrible allergy for days when I first arrived. I had never been anointed before. I asked the elder to anoint me, not knowing exactly what to expect. Within a few hours, the allergy was gone and has never returned. This was my first personal experience that God healed. I had met Howard Clark, who was healed in dramatic fashion before I attended Ambassador. I also knew a member in Utah who was healed of cancer as she was dying. Throughout the years now, I've seen many healings—with brethren, as well as in my own family.
It was in Eugene that I asked Gloria to marry me! And as soon as we were married, we were assigned to Idaho—our honeymoon was essentially driving from Pasadena back to Eugene, packing up and moving to Meridian, Idaho. As you can tell, our lives have been entwined with the Church of God and the ministry from the very beginning.
Being sent to Montana proved to be memorable. This assignment was the first time I was truly "let loose" on my own. My wife and I drove many hours over mountain passes, through snow and ice, through gorgeous and rugged areas to visit and strengthen brethren. I learned the importance of teaching sound, basic doctrine. I also learned quickly the importance of delegation, and training individuals to take on responsibilities. It was here that our son, Daral, was born just after the Last Great Day in 1974!
A later move showed that the Church Administration Department had a unique sense of humor. I was sent to Columbia, Missouri, to replace Dick Rand. Bob Dick replaced me in Indiana. So, the way it worked was Bob Dick replaced Rand Millich who replaced Dick Rand. I wonder how long it took to come up with this three-way transfer? By the way, our daughter, Tiffany, was born in 1984, just before we packed up to move to Missouri! What an interesting, stressful, joyful, difficult time!
In Kansas City, I've had a special joy in seeing the growth of ministerial trainees and elders coming through the area. They have been a help to me personally in serving the brethren—but also have gained experience in learning the more practical side of the ministry. They have shown particular strengths and talents that have made them capable of further service in the Church. When helping these men with better ways of doing things, I let them try it in their own fashion first. I'll usually make a comment such as, "That is one way of doing it!" I know the brethren have come to love them and appreciate them in a special way.
Through the years, my family and I have encountered serious and near-serious highway accidents on visiting trips. We've suffered life-threatening illnesses. We've sacrificed time and health in many situations. We've dealt with financial challenges and many moves. I would say that this is normal for the ministry. The ministry faces physical and spiritual hazards. Yet, we wouldn't trade this calling for the world.
LCN: If you don't mind, could you describe for us some of your experiences when the Worldwide Church of God began to split, and perhaps some of the lessons you learned?
Mr. Millich: I was serving in Mississippi for a very short time when the troubles in Worldwide made themselves fully known. I was trying to teach sound doctrine, but later realized I should have been far more emphatic in such times. I learned that there are situations in which we are not sufficient in our own strength. We must do what we can do, but leave the results in God's hands. Another lesson was to have full confidence that what we have proved from the Bible is always true—there is no need to doubt what God's word plainly teaches. We can trust God in the most painful of situations. God is true no matter what others may say or do. We must step out in faith and let God do His Work and will.
Of course, how could I ever forget the time when God led us to where the Church and Work were continuing under the leadership of Dr. Meredith? What a blessing it was to renew old friendships and to be given the opportunity to serve God's people again as a pastor. I personally felt that I grew more as a minister under the close relationship I had with Dr. Meredith and being exposed to his spiritual priorities and dedication to the preaching of the Gospel to the world. It is encouraging that God never fails in providing faithful leaders under His direction. I saw that with Mr. Armstrong and with Dr. Meredith—and I've seen that with Mr. Weston.
LCN: What do you find most satisfying about being in the ministry and serving God's people?
The most satisfying part of the ministry is observing and helping individuals to grow in the knowledge, love and service of God. Sometimes we enter their lives at the beginning of their calling—but usually well into it. We're involved in people's lives in youth and in older age. There is such a great blessing to see brethren overcoming human problems and weaknesses and growing in spiritual strength and stability. God does the work. My part is to encourage and assist the brethren to look to God the Father and Jesus Christ and to fully trust and follow Them.
LCN: What are some of the challenges?
Often, we share in the trials of member's lives—in life and in death. It is not always easy to know what to do or what to say to help or encourage. Their burdens become our burdens. We have the principles of the Bible. Yet, there are times when we still don't have all the answers—and realize that we must put the situation in God's capable hands. There is never a time when we "know it all." We continually learn from our mistakes, as well as our successes. We understand more and more how important faith and contact with God are in our lives.
LCN: After 50 years of serving in the ministry, what advice would you give God's people today?
I was sent out into the field ministry when I was 21 years old. I am now 72. In all of those years I have experienced many "twists and turns" of life, and I've seen that God has not failed in His promises and goodness. My advice is to remember. Remember the joy and reality of God when you were first called into the body of Christ, the Church. Keep in mind the baptism covenant you entered into. Recall that God has been and always will be true to His word. Keep in awareness that the perfect God uses imperfect people to do His Work. Learn from these experiences, but concentrate on how He causes all things to turn out for the fulfillment of His purposes. Remember the joy of your salvation—why you were born! In summary, remember the big picture—to be born into God's family for eternity!
LCN: Since it's Feast season, we'd like to wrap up with a Millennial question. What one thing do you look forward to most about the time after Christ's return?
One thing I look forward to is the time when all the earth will be at rest. What I mean is that we will all be in harmony with God, without Satan's wavelengths stirring up wrong thoughts, actions and attitudes. We will fully know and love God the Father and Jesus Christ and love our brethren with pure hearts and minds. We will be of the same mind in continuing God's great plan for us!