The Gift of Freedom: Alum Co-Founds Non-Profit

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Alumnus David Miller with children from the Child Freedom Coalition

From public servants to surgeons to Bible translators, BJU alumni follow all sorts of careers. David Miller, a 2012 University graduate, is co-founder and operations director of Child Freedom Coalition—a Greenville-based non-profit combating child slavery in India.

Preparing for the Future

Miller grew up around the University. His mother, Kris Miller, is a communication disorders faculty member and his older siblings attended BJU. He enrolled in the humanities program. “I was planning to go to grad school, and I wanted to have a really good mastery of English and history,” said Miller. The courses in the major also “heightened my understanding of human cultures” and gave him a “broad grasp of society.”

After completing his undergrad and getting married, Miller and his wife moved to Oregon, where he interned at a church. The internship required taking classes at Kilns College, a small graduate school. Once done with the mandatory internship courses, Miller decided to finish the program and get his master’s degree in biblical and social justice. Miller believes his humanities degree prepared him for the writing and reading demands of graduate school. “Even some of the background information I had from history and my exposure to English literature was invaluable in taking that next step up,” he said.

Partnering for Change

In 2016, the Millers moved back to Greenville, where David joined the staff of Artios Academy. While working there, he met David and Marcy Moorhead, whose children were enrolled in the academy. The Moorheads had been traveling to India since 2012. During their first trip, they met a group of pastors who had been traveling to different villages, spreading the Gospel and witnessing to the enslaved children of the area. “They realized they couldn’t simply go into these places and tell the children that Jesus loved them without rescuing them, without trying to free them,” said Miller. The pastors evangelized faithfully, leading to the conversions of rock quarry owners who released their slaves.

Two months after their first trip, overwhelmed by the bondage he saw, Moorhead left his 20 year-long career, founded Set Free Alliance with his father and started raising funds to help the pastors bring freedom to India.

When the Moorheads met Miller, his passion for service and his graduate experience fit perfectly with their mission. That year they joined forces. In February of 2019, the group branched out and created Child Freedom Coalition, a fundraising and administrative support organization, to continue financing the work of their Indian partners.

Breaking the Chains

In the last decade, the group of pastors has grown significantly. With the financial support of CFC and Set Free Alliance, the team has rescued 25,000 children from slavery. Over 12,000 of the rescued children who were kidnapped or lured into these situations have been reunited with their parents. Some of the children who were sold by family members or don’t have a home to return to are now under the organization’s care. The majority of CFC’s fundraising goes to the Sylom Children’s Home, which currently houses 1,200 of these children.

At the home, every child is provided with food, shelter and education. When they approach the program’s age out period, each child receives a scholarship to pursue vocational training in their area of interest. “Depending on when the children are rescued, that changes their ability to receive a formal education, so the vocational training element is very important in giving them a livelihood that breaks the cycle of poverty,” said Miller.

Offering Freedom

Release from forced labor and a free education are not the only things the organization facilitates. When the children are rescued, “they’re not told that they were rescued by the pastors,” said Miller. “They’re told that they were rescued by Jesus.”

Miller explained that in the eastern mindset, the physical and spiritual aspects of the body are not distinct, so when the children are offered the gift of physical freedom, they often become Christians. After graduating from the program, they preach and teach the Gospel in their places of work and service. “What we are seeing is a rebirth of Christianity in India,” said Miller. “It’s very close in some ways to the work that Amy Carmichael did a hundred years ago, seeing children rescued out of situations where there’s terrible abuse and seeing them come to know and follow Jesus and influence India for Christ.”

Working for the Cause

As head of operations, Miller uses his creativity to raise the funds that support the Children’s Home. He offers marketing support, organizes events and promotes the nonprofit at schools and churches. This past October, he was in charge of planning and leading CFC’s first 5K race. With 200 runners and walkers in attendance, the race collected $10,000.

For the holidays, the organization has opened a “shop for good,” which highlights ways people can support the home. From giving $25 for school supplies or $300 for a teacher’s annual salary to donating to the $50,000 medical center project—anyone can collaborate. Even the rescued children are contributing. Out of gratitude and a desire to set other children free, some of the youth who have graduated from the home have collectively given back as much as $500,000 over the last several years.

Though he never imagined being in his current position, Miller knows that the scriptural teaching he received at BJU “has a huge impact on my ability to push through the very difficult pieces of what God calls me to do.” He trusts that no matter the field, “God has called us to very big things that only He can really do. Relying on Him and the scriptural teaching that you’ve gotten at Bob Jones will assist you in your daily life.”