A Firm Foundation at Kennebec Community Church
With five children ranging from ages three to 17, and three of those children from previous relationships, the Millers’ blended family presented unique challenges from the very beginning.
John Miller describes the challenges openly, “One of the most difficult challenges was trying to co-parent with my ex-wife when it seemed every aspect of our parenting was completely different. My wife, Sabrina, got caught in the middle of it a lot, and that was challenging.” Sabrina says they were constantly fighting favoritism battles and differences about parenting. “We couldn’t overcome these challenges on our own,” she says.
Then, Sabrina went through an incredibly difficult year, battling depression, loneliness and anxiety. “I felt so alone and no one knew how to make me feel better. John and I really started to have some struggles because of me. I felt like a failure, like I wasn’t good enough for my family,” she says. The family was always fighting, so much that Sabrina even contemplated leaving.
John says he couldn’t help feeling frustrated and scared for their family’s future. “I was concerned my relationship with Sabrina would never get better,” he says. He realized they didn’t have a foundation to stand on as a couple. “If you don’t find something you both feel the same way about, it can be very easy to feel like you never agree on anything or don’t share any values.”
Maybe church will help?
One day while driving in their hometown of Augusta, Maine, John saw the green church sign for Kennebec Community Church (KCC). He mentioned it to Sabrina. “I wasn’t thinking going to church would necessarily be the answer to all our struggles,” he says, “but I knew it would give us some common ground—and not just my wife and me, but our entire family.”
They decided to attend KCC in December 2015. KCC’s friendly atmosphere made them feel at home immediately. John says they loved the humor and realism Pastor Dan Coleman brought in his message. “I felt an inner peace going there, even when life was difficult and things were not going great.”
Community and common ground
John heard Dan talk about the importance of community groups, where friendships are built and connections are made with other believers. John was eager to jump into a group, but Sabrina was hesitant.
Today, Sabrina still gets choked up when she talks about the community group. “I had never experienced that kind of closeness before. I’m a very internal person, and I don’t really know what to say to people if I don’t know them. But this group was amazing, so loving. I felt accepted,” she explains. And it came at just the right time.
The group became something the couple looked forward to together, and KCC also had a remarkable effect on their children. “The kids were attending the teen ministry at KCC,” John says, “and probably a month or two after they started going, my son was talking about how he might want to be a pastor, explaining, ‘Then I could definitely continue to be close to God.’”
Through the influence of KCC, John and Sabrina gave their hearts to Christ and decided to be baptized. “I was proud to be a leader for my family in committing myself to Jesus,” John says. “I hugged Dan when I got out of the baptism tank (something I’m sure he could have done without!).” Sabrina felt amazed as she watched John’s baptism. “I never thought this would be a step he and I would take together,” she says. “It brought tears of joy to my eyes.”
A new way forward
John and Sabrina say the struggles in marriage and family haven’t gone away, but what’s changed is how they deal with those problems. “We rely on prayer in the good times and bad,” John says. “We talk about what Jesus wants for us—how He wants us to handle situations and rely on Him.”
Sabrina says KCC grounds her, allowing her to remember what’s truly important in life. “I don’t want to run away anymore,” she says. Instead, she’s learning to find joy and peace in the journey. Sabrina and John are grateful to God for the mature Christians He brought around them to provide guidance, wisdom and encouragement. As John puts it, “He was taking care of us all along.”
John and Sabrina Miller continue to serve at Kennebec Community Church in Augusta, Maine. They now lead a community group, working closely with Pastor Dan Coleman and his wife Amanda to meet new people and grow alongside them. For more information about Kennebec Community Church and the Colemans, visit the Missionaries page at anniearmstrong.com.