April 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Mennonite pastor who helped a girl and her birth mother escape the United States to evade her court-imposed lesbian “mother” has been freed after serving almost 24 months in a U.S. federal prison.
Kenneth Miller, a pastor with the Beachy Amish Mennonites of Virginia, was convicted in 2013 of having helped Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella (both unrelated to Kenneth Miller) to flee the United States. They left the country in late 2009 to evade court-imposed visits to Lisa’s former civil union partner, Janet Jenkins.
According to a website created by Kenneth Miller’s supporters, the pastor was released from prison on March 6, and “was given a grand welcome at our church by flashing lights, sirens, and a shower, courtesy of the Amish Auxiliary of the Stuarts Draft Volunteer Fire Dept.”
“We held a joyful and praise-filled welcome home service on Sunday,” the website added.
Kenneth Miller served his almost two-year sentence after he exhausted his appeals following his conviction in 2012 of “aiding an international kidnapping” for helping Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella to cross the border into Canada, where they took a flight from Toronto to Nicaragua in 2009.
Lisa and Isabella’s flight from the U.S. apparently was motivated by Lisa Miller’s deep concern that her daughter was being traumatized by her visits with Jenkins, and that her spiritual well-being was being threatened by Jenkins’ lesbian lifestyle, concerns she expressed in an extensive interview with LifeSite in 2008.
Pastor cheerfully accepted his sufferings for Christ
Miller bore his punishment with equanimity, writing inspiring letters from prison regarding his faith in Christ and the value of his suffering as a “prophetic protest” against the evils of modern society.
“As non-resistant bearers of the Truth, we should not sit by as ‘the quiet in the land’ while society around us falls into ruin,” wrote Miller from prison. “Rather our lives should be a prophetic protest, an exposé of Satan's tyranny, and we should not hesitate to oppose His lies with the Truth, by word and action.”
When his scheduled early release in December 2017 was canceled, Miller called it a “bitter pill,” and noted that God had not answered his prayers and those of his supporters asking God to bring about his early release. He would have to celebrate Christmas in prison, but expressed his thanks to God for his relationship with Christ.
“Sorry, dear friends! It appears your prayers weren't answered,” wrote Miller on Christmas day. “I admit some tears were shed into my pillow one night.”
“Or… were our prayers answered? Is it O.K. with us to get a ‘No’ from God? What is evidence of strong faith? Getting what we prayed for? When our prayers aren't answered in the way we wish, can we still be happy in God? Isn't that evidence of strong faith too?”
Meditating upon his sufferings, Miller concluded, “I'm not in prison on this Christmas morning, I'm free!” adding, “And I remembered that years ago I had given up my freedom to Christ. This means the Federal Government couldn't take from me what I had already given away.”
Miller has reportedly used his time behind bars to testify to fellow inmates regarding his faith in Christ and to lead Scripture studies.
He seems to be at peace about his decision to help Lisa and Isabella to escape her mandatory visits with Jenkins and has spoken highly of Lisa, whose reversion to Christian faith he sees as deeply genuine.
“It was obvious to me that Lisa Miller was a woman of great faith,” wrote the pastor in 2013. “Her appearance and demeanor demonstrated that she was at peace with God and at peace with herself. The expression on her face reflected an inner joy that was even more remarkable in light of the difficult situation she was in at the time. It was evident to me in the short time I was with her that here was a woman who walked with God.”
Pastor risked more prison time by refusing to testify against others who helped Lisa Miller
Before his entry into a federal prison in 2013, Miller had already served forty days in jail for refusing to testify against others also accused of aiding Lisa Miller and Isabella in their escape to Nicaragua. He has since been threatened with more prison time for his refusal to testify.
Besides Kenneth Miller, another Mennonite pastor, Timothy Miller (also unrelated to Lisa and Isabella), has also been convicted of aiding Lisa Miller in her “kidnapping” of Isabella, although he was given credit for time served while awaiting trial, plus one year of probation. Another individual, Christian businessman Philip Zodhiates, has been convicted of “international parental kidnapping” and has been given a sentence of 36 months in prison. He is currently appealing.
Isabella was conceived by Lisa Miller through artificial insemination while in her civil union with Jenkins, who is not biologically related to Isabella. Isabella was never adopted by Jenkins, and Jenkins’ name was not included in Isabella’s birth certificate. Nonetheless, a Vermont court declared Jenkins to be Isabella’s “mother” after Lisa Miller left what she said was an abusive relationship with Jenkins and returned to the Christian faith of her youth.
Following their breakup and Lisa Miller’s repentance of her former homosexual lifestyle, she began to fight the visitations imposed by the court. Although expert testimony was submitted as evidence that Isabella was traumatized by the visits with Jenkins, the court refused to cancel the mandatory visits. Following the decision, Lisa Miller chose to flee the country with Isabella, who was then seven years old. The whereabouts of the two are now unknown.
Nicaragua Mennonite community persecuted for sheltering Miller, but defiant
The Mennonite community in Nicaragua, which is believed to have received Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella into their ranks, reported in 2012 that it has suffered persecution from Nicaraguan authorities, but remained defiant and even willing to suffer death to protect Isabella.
“Brethren and neighbors have been watched, interrogated and threatened,” and, “In some churches Sunday morning services have been watched and videoed,” wrote the Mennonite “Nicaraguan Brotherhood,” adding, “A house of one of the brethren was searched without a search warrant.”
“Some excommunicated brethren said that they were offered free visas, a trip to the states, study offers and easy ways to become a police officer if they would help find her. The policeman also suggested they rejoin the church but work as spies for them,” write the Brotherhood.
The Nicaraguan Mennonites said that they forgive their persecutors, but will stand firm in the defense of Isabella, who “has become an innocent victim of an ungodly agenda.”
“Her wellbeing has not been given much or any consideration. According to the Bible we believe that God has given Lisa sole responsibility to care and protect her own daughter since she has no known father. According to the Bible it is a war between good and evil, a battle between God and Satan. As congregations we stand united in this spiritual warfare against evil.”
They added that they are willing to suffer imprisonment or death in the cause of protecting Isabella.
“The fact is that suddenly we find ourselves having to choose between obeying God and man made laws,” they write. “We have chosen to obey God. We are willing to give up our rights, go to jail, or even die, for the cause of helping anyone become free from a sinful life and helping that person to live in obedience to God’s Word.”