Miranda Alese Rich of Silsbee, Texas, wanted no part of formal ministry. She’d even told God as much. Growing up in home where her pastor father, Tyra, she knew firsthand its challenges. And though she loved God deeply, she drew the line at becoming a pastor or chaplain.
While attending New Beginnings Church, in Evadale, Texas, she volunteered to work with the youth as a sponsor, which allowed her to be involved without the responsibility of full-on ministry. In early 2017, as part of a youth outing, she visited Girls’ Haven group home in Beaumont, Texas. The heavy burden she felt during the experience surprised her.
“Many of the girls deal with so much anger and hatred and pain over what they’ve been through,” says Rich. At the end of the outing, as she left the building, “I felt the Lord tell me I was going to do full-time ministry there,” she says. “And I told Him no way. Wrong person.”
Rich didn’t feel adequate enough to reach out to hardened girls. Born with spina bifida, a deformation of the spinal cord, Rich is a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. In addition, she had been adopted as a baby. Growing up, she carried a lot of resentment, anger, and unforgiveness toward her biological parents.
“I believed they had done things to me rather than for me,” she says. “And for years I let the devil torment me with those thoughts.”
Though eventually she forgave her biological parents and let go of her anger, she found herself facing those issues once again regarding ministry at Girls’ Haven. She sensed Satan telling her she couldn’t help girls forgive their tormenters because she had such a struggle herself.
But God didn’t put much stock in such a lie. That August, while attending a mission service at the biennial Assemblies of God General Council, Rich felt God speak to her once more. She again rebuffed the calling.
“I told God that I wasn’t qualified to tell those girls to do what I couldn’t do to forgive,” Rich says. “I couldn’t tell them to look past their hurts and ask Him to heal them when I couldn’t do that at their age. I didn’t believe I had the right.”
By the end of the service, she felt the Holy Spirit so strongly impress upon her this calling that she made her way to U.S. Missions chaplain Ron Skaggs, who prayed with her. During his prayer, she felt God directing her yet another time.
“He told me, The very thing that you thought disqualified you is what I have used to qualify you,” she says. “He showed me that my past was the thing He would use to get on their level.”
That convinced Rich to change her mind and embrace the calling wholeheartedly. The following day, she met with several U.S. Missions Chaplaincy Ministries leaders, who welcomed her questions and guided her next steps. Her contacts included Daniel J. Odean, national Correctional Ministries representative.
“Miranda was so enthusiastic about her calling,” Odean says. “She has a genuine burden for souls, and a contagious spirit. She’s an inspiration.”
Rich immediately began the process toward ordination, as well as pursued a bachelor’s degree in intercultural studies at Global University. And she headed to Girls’ Haven to begin her chaplaincy work there.
She embraced 1 Thessalonians 5:24: “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” Her authenticity and devotion impressed the young residents.
“These girls know Miranda is a safe place for them,” says Kellie Leal, a ministry colleague. “She offers them a support they don’t get anywhere else. They really see Christ through her.”
Once Rich forges a relationship with a girl, she can build a bridge for them to come to Jesus. Recently ordained through the Assemblies of God, Rich, 28, is now an institutional chaplain. But she hasn’t stopped with simply ministering at Girls’ Haven. She keeps her plate full as children’s minster at Caney Head Assembly of God in Silsbee. In addition, she is ministering with shut-ins at nursing homes, the Deaf community, Muslims, and others. Though her efforts seem widespread, she doesn’t see it that way.
“I’m not restricted to ministering just to one group,” she says. “I’m there for anybody who needs a chaplain.”
Photo: Miranda Rich (right) is grateful for the support of her grandmother.