Faith and adventure. These are the two leading proponents of Zac Miller’s life, and they are always in the back of his mind no matter what he is doing.
Miller, a senior psychology major with a minor in sport psychology, is a cross-country runner at Northwest and has been running since elementary school. Running long distances grants Miller the opportunity to cover a lot of ground while enrolled in college, but the distance he travels at school isn’t enough to satisfy.
Miller says one of the best things to happen to him was a decision he made when he was 16. This decision was his choice to grow his relationship with Jesus.
“I was at Northwest for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp, and my friend Chance Dahle also made the same decision I did to give control of his life over to Jesus,” Miller said.
Dahle and Miller went on a trip over the summer where they managed to see Grand Canyon National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and Zion National Park.
Dahle, a parks, recreation and sport major at the University of Missouri, says others are attracted to Miller’s welcoming, caring and open nature.
“I like to say that Zac always looks as himself as third,” Dahle said. “In other words: he always puts God first, others second and himself third.”
Miller’s friend went on to explain how Miller’s drive has always been impressive, especially during harder times.
“I admire Zac’s perseverance,” Dahle said. “He has struggled throughout his running career, most specifically with discovering he had celiac disease. Through all the struggles and diet change Zac has remained positive and worked hard every day.”
Because of his love of traveling and helping others, Miller has taken every opportunity he has to travel; not only for himself, but now, for others too.
Miller has been to Haiti for vision trips (an experience designed to help those interested in the mission field experience specific projects) three times now, and he says being able to see the impact someone can make on the lives of others is life changing.
“Another great moment in my life was going back to Haiti on a vision trip for the second time in a year,” Miller said. “I went to Haiti with a ministry called Global Orphan Project, where they allowed us to see the work they were doing in Haiti, including loving the kids who live at the orphanages they support. It was so amazing to me that the kids remembered me from my first trip.”
Miller and his desire to bring happiness and change to different places isn’t exclusive to areas outside of the country. In fact, it isn’t even exclusive to places just outside of Northwest.
“I helped start up a new ministry here at Northwest called The Well,” Miller said. “We started up this semester and it has been a super encouraging experience. It was an idea that my dad had to create a new ministry atmosphere at Northwest Missouri State University.”
The Well’s mission statement is “creating a new normal.” To Miller, this means The Well is interested in offering college students a new way to experience life.
Every Wednesday meeting is ran entirely at Miller’s house, further creating a setting built on being comfortable and open.
“Our goal is to create a very welcoming environment and to create a space where people feel like they can be open and vulnerable and listened to,” Miller said. “We don’t want the ministry to be focused on doing “good works,” but on having an authentic relationship with Christ that compels us to love and serve others like Christ did.”
Miller’s compassion for others relates back to home life as well. Four years ago his family adopted a boy from Ethiopia when he was only 1-year-old.
“He was abandoned in a box on the side of the road and was found by a police officer who took him to a hospital,” Miller said. “He was then in an orphanage in a small village when we got matched with him. My parents had to take two trips to Ethiopia in order to get him.”
Miller says his now 5-year-old brother is someone he is extremely close with, so much so that Miller can only describe him as a blessing and his best friend.
“His name when we adopted him was Tariku Christian, but we legally changed his name to Zavier Tariku Miller,” Miller said. “Zavier is obsessed with the Chiefs, Royals and Mizzou Tigers and we are constantly playing sports together.”
The Well, cross-country, Zavier and his passion for compassion are all part of what keeps Miller traveling with an ambitious mindset. But his ambition doesn’t stop with trying to spread love.
In the past, Miller, with the help a friend, managed to start an apparel company. He says sales have been low recently, but it is something he would love to get back to considering how it relates to many of the other activities Miller is involved in.
“It is a company called New Creation Gear and is based on faith and adventure,” Miller. “It was very fun to do, but we just have not been selling enough recently to sustain ourselves. I would love to get it going again in the future.”
Along with this, Miller also used to dabble in writing hip-hop music as a hobby, though, this is something he only does occasionally now.
Pursuing new avenues of creativity comes naturally to Miller, and it is all thanks to his willingness to try and make a difference. To Miller, no act is too small to ignore, because sometimes a random act of kindness could make the biggest difference in someone’s day.
Miller has a favorite quote relating to this ideal. The quote is from Ann Voskamp, and reads, “It’s strange how that is: everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to do the small thing that makes just one person feel loved.”
He thinks about this quote in hopes of bringing positivity in the world, and many who have met Miller can agree he succeeds in his hopes with flying colors.
“It is a great reminder for me to do the small things every day that can make a big difference in the lives of others,” Miller said. “Too often we neglect the simple, small ways we can show love to others in our pursuit of something greater. Maybe what is greater is to give yourself away to others on a daily basis.”