Steve's testimony

I was born to Roger and Dolores Mills on March 12, 1953 (yes, I'm getting old) while my parents were students at the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music (GRSBM) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  After graduating from GRSBM my dad took his first pastorate in Fennville, Michigan.  After being there for a couple of years he took a pastorate in Charlotte, Michigan.  During our time there I was moved by what my dad had shared in his message.  I didn’t want to go to hell and so I made my decision to ask Jesus Christ to save me from my sins and come into my heart as my personal Savior.  When I was 12 years old, my dad baptized me.  While at this church (Charlotte) my parents felt the Lord calling them into full time missions and so we packed up and headed toward San José, Costa Rica for our language learning (1958) and then on to Quito, Ecuador where my dad served at H.C.J.B.  Dad had health problems which surfaced while we were there and the decision was made for all of us to return to the States (1960) for dad to undergo further medical evaluation.  The problems pointed to stress issues which led my parents to feel the Lord was closing the door for us to remain on the field and so dad continued in the pastorate until 1982.  During this time and while pastoring in Ypsilanti dad passed away from cancer.
 

While dad was pastoring in Cresaptown, Maryland I graduated from Allegany High School in Cumberland, Maryland in 1971.  That fall I began my Bible training at Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, PA.  While there I met a young nurse (Mary Jo Nietering) from Grand Haven, Michigan and on May 19, 1973 we were married at her home church of Calvary Baptist Church in Muskegon, Michigan.  We lived near Baptist Bible College until I graduated in 1976 and then moved back to Mary Jo's home town of Grand Haven.  I was employed by Radio Bible Class (R.B.C.) in their broadcast department shortly after graduation.


While working at R.B.C. the Lord began to renew my interest in medicine as I read through my wife’s nursing books.  The Lord opened the door for me to return to college (Grand Valley State College) in the summer of 1980 to care for my pre-med requirements to enter medical school.  While in my undergraduate studies, I met a surgeon at my dad’s church preparing to begin full time service in missions in Togo, W. Africa.  While at my new job in television for WGVU, I produced a video tape for Dr. Bob Cropsey on this small country in West Africa, Togo.  After I completed my undergraduate studies in 1983 I applied to several medical schools but was turned down by all of them.  I was encouraged by several of the schools to work on my masters degree.  So I continued my studies at Grand Valley State University in Human Anatomy and Physiology.  During my graduate work, I was accepted at Wayne State University medical school to begin in the fall of 1984.  At this same time I was asked by Dr. Cropsey to go to Togo and produce public health video tapes to be used in their soon to be opened mission hospital.  I had no peace about going to medical school and so turned down the opportunity to become a doctor.  However, I was deeply moved by what I observed during my visit to Togo.  After my return, I talked with my wife and we both felt that possibly the Lord was leading us to missions.  After praying at length for the Lord’s clear direction, we applied to the Association of Baptist for World Evangelism (A.B.W.E.).

 

After completing my Masters degree and after completing the month long candidate classes, we were accepted by A.B.W.E. and appointed to Togo for full time ministry (1985) .  I spoke with the doctors about what I might do.  With my masters degree, the doctors agreed that they could train me to be a Physician’s Assistant (P.A.).

 

In December 1987, we packed up our belongings and headed to Québec, Canada to begin our French language studies at Laval University.  We completed our studies in the spring of 1989 and moved to Togo that summer.  Our language studies weren’t finished and we continued our Éwé (ay-vay) tribal studies after settling into our new home in Kpalimé, Togo.  These studies were finished in 2 years and allowed us to carry on simple conversations.  When these studies were completed, we moved to the hospital to begin our full time ministry.

 

After our move to the hospital compound I was given the training to be a P.A. and Mary Jo began her ministry of working with pregnant ladies and did a pre-natal clinic.  In 1994, I was asked if I would be the hospital administrator.  So I took on those responsibilities as well as serving as a P.A.  However, it became very evident that I would be unable to wear both hats at the same time, so I hung up my stethoscope.  I continued in the administration until 2001 when a new missionary (Harry Ward) took over the helm of the hospital.  In 1998 and in 2002, I was asked by Dr. Cropsey if I would be interested in getting further training in surgery.  I then spent concentrated hours with visiting surgeons as well as Dr. Cropsey to help out with the increased surgical demands.  Since then I have served as a surgical P.A. (basically as a general surgeon) helping with the constant flow of surgical needs that have come our way without a full time surgeon being present.

 

In November 2005 I was asked by our regional administrator to step into the role of team leader/field coordinator.  So, in December 2005 I resigned from a full time ministry at the hospital in order to carry out my responsibilities as team leader.  I have however continued to help in an as needed basis in the surgical area.

 

Then in November 2011 I resigned this position of team leader and Business Manager.  What does this mean for us in the long run.  Only the Lord knows. Mary Jo continues to serve as the supervisor for the OR and overseeing the nurses in the Maternity area.

 

Mary Jo anticipates her retirement this coming year (2012) and are unsure how the Lord will lead us.  I am looking into the possibility of a medical disability due to loss of balance and Frontal/Temporal Dementia that has no ties with Alzheimer's.  As we have stated to many of you that the Lord called us to Togo and would need to lead us away!  This may be what is taking place in our lives.