God Calls Miller Back to MCC

By Mark Janssen

“Absolutely,” Dalton Miller says, “basketball and God can be a great mix. As a youth minister, I found one of the quickest ways to get attention, and a conversation going, was to talk about my days as a college basketball player. That can be an immediate hook. Basketball and God absolutely can go hand in hand.”

Smiling, he added, “I think God loves the game of basketball. It’s the greatest sport there is.”

Today, it’s Miller who is in his perfect life arena as he’s back playing the game he loves, plus learning more about God through a collection of on-line classes at Manhattan Christian College.

Quickly recapping Miller’s hoop career, the MCC senior was a four-sport athlete at tiny Hinton High School in Oklahoma, where he was a part of a graduating class of 30 and played basketballfor his father, Eddie.

Chuckling, Miller said, “I wouldn’t say we always were eye-to-eye on things, but he is a great coach and to someday be sitting on the bench with him as his assistant coach would be a dream job.”

Miller was a 15-point per game scorer overall, but to close out his prep career he averaged 25 per game in postseason play, which included a 42-point outing. That late flurry helped to create an invitation to play basketball at Southwestern Christian University, an NAIA school in Bethany, Okla.

After a year on the school’s junior varsity team, and another season on the junior college squad, Miller arrived at Manhattan Christian College for the 2015-16 season. As a starting guard, he netted 40 percent from 3-point range and averaged 10 points per game for the Thunder team that would place third in the nation.

Just prior to his senior season at MCC, Miller was called to be a youth minister at the South Plains Church in Levelland, Texas, which is located near Lubbock in west Texas.

Calling it an opportunity he couldn’t turn down, Miller said, “I was there only four months, but it was a meaningful time.

“I’ll never forget the night I made an alter call to a group of young people. No one responded at first, but then two kids who were not Christians at all responded,” reflected Miller. (Pausing) “What a feeling. I still get chills in my body thinking about that. It was the coolest feeling ever that God put some words in my heart, and they were heard that night. It was the first time anyone committed to Jesus due to something that came out of my mouth.”

Pausing again, he said, “What a feeling.”

It was also a time that Miller felt a generation gap between himself and young people who are engrossed in the social media world.

“It’s tough to relate … it is,” said Miller. “Social media can be a place to get inspiration and motivation, and be in contact with good friends, but it’s also a place where you can find trouble.With young people today, you have to go to their level and where their interests are even if you’re not interested. Just because they’re into rap music and you’re not, that doesn’t make them bad. You have to show an interest in them to get your message about God through to them.”

While challenged by the job, and calling it a four-month learning experience, the 22-year old Miller said, “I couldn’t argue with God and I think he was calling me to come back to MCC.”

Helping God was the fact that MCC assistant coach Jordan Strom also gave Miller a Facetime call to see how life was going.

Laughing at the call, Miller said, “He said he was just checking in on me, but I think there was more motive than that. He also mentioned coming back to play, and then he just happened to have a couple players around to get on the phone and encourage me to come back.”

Oh, and it didn’t hurt that Miller’s fiancé, MCC graduate Mikayla Holliday, was still living in Manhattan.

Now back with the Thunder, Strom says, “The big thing that he means to us is his leadership. He’s big time in that area. He just fits in with everyone and everyone likes and respects him. His dad was a coach and you can tell that by the way he plays. He’s just very committed with what we’re doing. He’s just been a great add for us.”

And, Miller is equally thrilled to be playing again, adding to his Bible and Leadership MCC degree, and being tutored by Strom and head coach Shawn Condra again.

Winning is always important and that feeling was missed, but so were the pregame messages from Condra.

“Coach gives a devotion before each game, which is something you just don’t get from other coaches and schools,” said Miller. “Here you get a basketball fix, but also a Godly experience on and off the court from coach. Even if you may be here for basketball first, all the guys listen to his pregame message and there’s the opportunity to hear something that may put a spark in your life.”

Miller continued, “Our coaches care so much about us. Sure, they want to win games, but they are also there to make you grow spiritually. They have certainly had an influence on my life. Coachh Condra’s not a preacher, but he certainly dives into the Word before each game.”

MCC Scoreboard

2/25/2021 | Mens Basketball vs. No. 2s Arlington Baptist College | L, 88-81 
2/20/2021 | Mens Basketball vs. No. 1 Barclay College | W, 109-90 
2/20/2021 | Womens Basketball vs. No. 5 Faith Baptist Bible College | W, 78-67 
2/19/2021 | Mens Basketball vs. No. 3 Faith Baptist Bible College | W, 93-70 
2/19/2021 | Womens Basketball vs. No. 7 Central Christian College of the Bible | W, 64-57