Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The Single Missionary Woman (Part 3): Joy Miller Allen

     Jule LeGrose Miller (1925-2000) produced a series of filmstrips in 1956 known as the “Visualized Bible Study” (a.k.a. “Jule Miller Filmstrips”), later transferred to VHS and then to DVD. This series has been effectively used around the world to lead more souls to Christ than probably any other evangelistic tool. On the Sunday before his death, Jule Miller reportedly said to his family, “there are millions of people today who are dying in their sins. If we will take the gospel of Christ to them, millions can be saved. We’ve got to tell them about Jesus! …. I want all of you to spread the gospel and bring others to Christ” <Sketch of the Life of Jule Miller>.
     Jule Miller and his wife Judy had 32 grandchildren. Following is the story of one of them – their granddaughter Joy.
The Preparatory Years
     Rebecca Joy Miller Allen is the oldest daughter of Robin and Ellen Miller of Columbia, Tennessee. Joy attended Freed-Hardeman University, where she met her husband Kyle Spencer Allen. Kyle served as president of Evangelism Forum (a club on campus for mission-minded students), and Joy was the secretary for the missions studies department. They both graduated with degrees in Bible and missions.
The Missionary Family
     In September of 2004, while living in Columbia, TN, Joy gave birth to their first child, a precious little girl named Celia Joy. In 2006 the young family moved to the nation of India to serve as long-term missionaries in the region of Delhi. While in language school in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, they agreed to care for a frail baby girl whose mother was dying in a nearby village. At nearly 4-months old, the infant weighed only about 5 lbs. (2.5 kilograms), severely malnourished and not expected to live. When the mother died, the baby’s destitute father asked the Allens if they would adopt the sickly child. He had four other children, and he simply could not take care of her. They agreed, and the little girl who seemed to have little chance of survival was aptly named Asha, meaning “hope.”
     With the loving care of a loving family, Asha did survive, and she grew, and she thrived. As the Allens sought legal guardianship of Asha, which is a very slow and arduous process in India, they welcomed a third child into their family in 2012, a baby boy named Ephraim.
Challenges, Struggles, and Tragedy
     Due to extreme prejudice against Christians in North India, the bureaucratic red tape seemed endless for the Allens, especially since converting to Hinduism was not an option for them. Their case went through five different judges; before a ruling was made by one judge, another was appointed and the grueling process had to start all over again. Then frustration turned to tragedy.
     On 17 Feb. 2013, after six and a half years of missionary service in India, Kyle Allen unexpectedly died at the age of 35 from what appears to have been diabetic complications. At the time Celia was 8, Asha was 6, and Ephraim was 11 months. The petition for Asha’s guardianship was in Kyle’s name and now had to be transferred into Joy’s name, hindering the lengthy proceedings even more. Finally, in October 2014, legal guardianship was granted. Now Joy was a widow, left in India to care for three young children on her own.
Missionary Service Continues
     With guardianship attained, the laborious adoption procedure begins. As far as Joy is concerned, just because of a tough environment and bitter circumstances, faithfulness to the Lord does not end, even as a single mother with three small children. There was never a thought of leaving India with her other two kids without her daughter Asha.
     Joy carries on the work that she and Kyle started together. She regularly hosts traveling Christians and non-Christians in her home, both Indians and foreigners. Despite persecutions and other risks that result from converting Hindus, she leads or is involved in a number of ladies classes and meetings around Delhi and other areas of India. She meets several times each month with Hindus and denominationalists for individual and group studies. She travels with her children throughout the year to places like Mussoorie, Mumbai, Pune, and Gujarat, visiting Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and members of the Lord’s church, influencing the unbelievers and encouraging the brethren. As she teaches women’s classes, Celia and Asha lead short devotionals for younger ladies. Joy also assists a Christian elementary school in the village of Arunanchal, organizing curriculum, securing supplies, and helping plan day-to-day operations.
What Does the Future Hold?
     Will the Joy Allen family eventually return to the United States, or will they remain in India? According to Indian law, Joy is required to take Asha to the States within two years of obtaining legal guardianship to fully adopt her. However, American immigration law requires Joy to remain in India for the same two-year period because, in their view, she has only recently been recognized as Asha’s legal guardian. While the aim is to prevent child trafficking, they have reached a proverbial stalemate. Joy and the kids are now waiting to hear from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for a ruling on whether or not Asha will be granted a visa. In the meantime, here is how Joy views the situation:
I have been so blessed to raise the kids in India. Raising them as third culture kids has, of course, been an adventure, but every day we have all been blessed to have opportunities to shine all our lights. I cannot say enough of the experiences that we have had here to grow in the Father and to share Him as we live our lives with the beautiful Asian people. We have seen His love, hope, and strength every day here in our home and on the streets of India. We continue to rely on Him in this journey and we know as [we] make plans to leave that He loves the Indian people even more than we do. It is very difficult to think of leaving India and her people, that we have come to think of as our family, behind. We have not only worked here for almost a decade but we have LIVED here, truly lived, and we are so honored to have had this experience. <Our Story
      Joy’s earnest prayer is that God’s will be done. If the door opens for their return to the United States, she plans to find a job and be as self-sufficient as possible as quickly as possible so that church funds can remain invested in world evangelization. If the door opens for them to stay in India, she will feel blessed and consider it a privilege to continue raising her children in an atmosphere of service.
     Please pray for Joy, Celia (11), Asha (9), and Ephraim (3), not necessarily for a specific outcome to their uncertain predicament, but for the will of God to be accomplished in their lives. From a missionary perspective, it is not simply a matter of “coming home.” They are already home. It is about seeking what is in the best interest of the family and their service to Christ. Let us encourage, support, and thank God for such champions of faith, of whom the world is not worthy (Heb. 11:39).
--Kevin L. Moore

*If you are interested in keeping up with the Allen’s extraordinary adventure, visit “Keep up with the Allen Family Adoption” <here>. 

**Since this article was posted, Asha's adoption has been finalized, and the family has moved back to the USA.

Works Consulted:
Allen, Joy Miller, “Our Story,” Facebook (18 Nov. 2015), <Link>.
---. Correspondence with Earl D. Edwards (13 Nov. 2015).
Allen, Kathryn, Celia’s Story Through the Eyes of Texas Grandma (Xlibris.com, 2014), <Link>.
“Judith Miller Obituary,” The Pasadena Citizen (Oct. 21–Nov. 3, 2013), <Link>.
McKune, Katie, “Adopting Asha,” YouCaring (10 March 2014), <Link>.
Matheny, J. Randal, “Missionary Kyle Allen,” Brotherhood News (28 Feb. 2013), <Link>. 
“Kyle Spencer Allen,” The Daily Herald (5 March 2013), <Link>.
“Sketch of the Life of Jule Miller,” Restoration History, <Link>.



Image credit: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=950899244973639&set=t.682937876&type=3&theater

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