Date of Birth: March 22, 1929
Date of Death: September 02, 2020
“What a mighty God is He who can use such a weak instrument as me!” Faithful is he that calls you, who will also do it. –I Thess. 5:24 Eldon Louis Miner passed from this life and went to live with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at 91 years old. Eldon is survived by his wife of 72 years, Dorothy Fern Miner, six children, twelve grandchildren, nineteen great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. Eldon was born on March 22, 1929 in Marshfield, Wisconsin. As a result of the Great Depression, his family moved to Glendale, AZ in 1944. Not long ago when Eldon, known for his great sense of humor, was asked about his growing up years, he responded, “I never grew up!” While he rarely took himself seriously, there were two things he always took seriously: his loyalty to his family and to his God. After a stint with the U.S. Marine Corp, 1946-1948, Eldon married Dorothy Fern West, whom he met at the little church they both attended, Glendale Baptist Tabernacle. Together they moved to Oakland, California, where Eldon attended Western Baptist Bible College and they started their family. Since Eldon hoped to minister in Bolivia, he also studied at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Oklahoma. Because of his impaired hearing, however, he was advised to work with Native Americans to see if he could learn another language. Eldon and Dorothy moved their growing family to Flagstaff to help in an outreach to the Hopi workers at the Army’s Navajo Ordnance Depot, where Eldon became employed. While there in 1955, he met a Hopi woman married to a Navajo man. They invited Eldon to go with them to Shonto on the Navajo reservation. Thus began his long-time friendship with Jack and June Smith as well as the Navajo people in the Shonto area. It wasn’t until 1962, after moves to Hanover, Illinois and Texarkana, Texas with the U.S. Ordnance Ammunition Command, that Eldon and Dorothy followed God’s call to ministry on the Navajo Indian Reservation. When the Chief of Surveillance asked Eldon why he should release him from his contract so that he could move to the reservation, Eldon told him. The U.S. Ordnance Ammunition Commander’s response was, “If God has called you to that work, I can’t stand in the way.” Even higher officials in Ordinance Ammunition Command responded the same way. Later a check arrived from Ordnance Ammunition Command as a performance award. Something unheard of before! In many ways, the seven years Eldon and his family lived on the Navajo Reservation were tough years, especially in terms of physical comforts. The family, which grew to include six children, learned to live frugally on rarely more than $200 a month. Life there began in a small trailer with no electricity. In winter, temperatures would reach as low as 20° below zero! Eventually an old CCC barracks house was moved to Shonto and converted into a home. Eldon not only served as a Christian minister on the Reservation, he also regularly transported people to hospitals 50 or 75 miles away for medical care. He was even known to deliver babies in route. He also conducted burials for Navajos who died. Most Navajos were fearful of spirits of the dead because they believe the spirits lingered behind and could do grave harm. In terms of love and fellowship those were blessed years. Dear friends from Shonto remained life-long friends. Eventually, unsound decisions and policies imposed by Arizona Indian Mission managers led the Miners to heed a call to Mexico following an invitation from United Indian Missions Mexican Field Director Allan Livingston. In 1970, following a year of Spanish studies, Eldon was invited to serve the ethnic Tarascan people of Michoacán. With their three youngest children who remaining at home, Eldon and Dorothy moved to Michoacán. After struggling to speak some Navajo and having learned Spanish, Eldon began learning the Tarascan Indian language and culture and improved his Spanish. Bible translators in Cherán asked the family to move there and to help with outreach to the Tarascan people. After coming back to the U.S. and visiting churches and friends to raise support, the family moved back to Michoacán. Adapting to the Tarascan culture and having made close friends among Christians there, Eldon conducted services and Bible studies primarily in private homes. He was encouraged by Tarascan friends to take the gospel to other Tarascan towns. When Eldon accepted this invitation, he faced many challenges, primarily from the existing religious hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. He also encountered armed men engaged in territorial and sometimes religious conflict. The social and religious reality of much of this area was such that civil authorities depended on priests to keep order. The environment so strongly affected their children in the early 1980s, that the Miners moved back to Arizona for a time where they worked in a Spanish ministry in Arizona. Eldon and Dorothy also conducted Gospel outreach to farm workers and other local Hispanic people, as well as to places in northern Mexico. There they became acquainted with the Mayo congregations of a growing church. The need for prepared pastors and Christian workers was apparent and Eldon and Dorothy were led to move from Phoenix to the Mayo area. Congregations were growing along with the need to prepare ministers to serve in their native cultural and economic environment. Too often those who went to study in Bible training institutions in the cities did not return to minister to their own people. This situation is what led Eldon to establish the TEE (Theological Education by Extension) studies to equip people for ministry in the Mayo area and in other places. Some students are now pastors and missionaries. After eleven years of living in the oppressively high heat and humidity of coastal southern Sonora, Eldon became ill and moved back to the U.S. eventually settling in Florence, AZ. He continued to make trips to Mexico for conferences to encourage those serving the Lord and to coordinate the TEE studies. Eldon became a volunteer chaplain in the Pinal County jail and in a state prison in Florence ministering in English and Spanish and to Native Americans. A Navajo and many Hispantic inmates turned to the Lord for salvation. In all, Eldon’s life of ministry spanned a period of almost 70 years, an almost unheard-of span of time. During a return trip to Shonto several years ago a group of Navajo friends talked among themselves, then turned to the Miners and told them they had been assigned to Navajo clans. Eldon was delighted. “It was like being adopted,” he said. “Much of my heart remains there.” In 2017, Eldon and Dorothy moved to Glencroft, a facility for the elderly in Glendale, Arizona, and back to their home church, which is now about 90% Hispanic. Even then, Eldon did not stop working. His passion for ministry led him to occasionally teach classes and preach. Eldon was blessed to continue limited ministries until his recent hospitalization in August 2020. Even when he was severely weakened, Eldon engaged in his ministry of intercessory prayer, which he reminded others was a vital and unlimited one. In summary, those who knew Eldon Miner remember him as a humble, loving, gentle and generous man--always faithful to his God.
Service information is pending.
Charitable Contribution in Memory of Eldon Miner to UIM International https://www.uim.org/