Elizabeth Leora Miller was born on November 3, 1923, in Edmonton, Alberta, into a Christian home. Her father read missionary books to the family, and thus her interest in missions was kindled at an early age. At thirteen she made a personal decision to commit her life to the Lord Jesus. Later she attended Prairie Bible Institute, graduating in April 1945. Betty then spent two years of study with Wycliffe Bible Translator, in Mexico. In December of 1949, she was accepted as a missionary with the SIM.
She arrived in Sudan (now South Sudan) on April 15, 1951 where she spent the next four years living and working in Doro. Betty studied both the Mabaan and Arabic languages. It was soon evident that she was gifted in linguistics when she managed to attain high marks and accomplished both of the courses in far less time than usually deemed necessary.
Betty worked in Doro with the Mabaan people until 1964, when the government of Sudan expelled all missionaries working in the southern part of the country. Between April 1966 and May 1969, she worked in Djougou, Benin.
Betty had to go on an early furlough due to her mother’s passing. She went to her home in Victoria, British Columbia, and worked for the BC provincial government as a secretary while caring for her elderly father. Even in her absence from Sudan, she did ‘back-translation’ (from Mabaan to English) for the New Testament and assisted in producing Mabaan scriptures on tape.
After her father died, Betty returned to Sudan in 1989, She returned to Khartoum working tirelessly again with the Mabaan translation with her informant and other members of the team. It was her great joy of being in Sudan when the first Mabaan New Testament arrived from the printers.
She always aimed for excellence in everything she did, and especially with her translation work. She showed much patience and perseverance in searching out the meanings and use of Mabaan words and became an expert in her field. Always conscious of the importance of sound theology, Betty was known to argue the use of a more specific word when she felt it better reflected the true meaning of the text.
Up until her retirement, she meticulously worked on the first Mabaan dictionary and helped another unwritten language group, the Jumjum, to start work on their alphabet and basic language information.
Many were amazed at Betty’s knowledge about many different subjects (nature, animals, history, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.). Her ability to convey information about them in a meaningful way was quite phenomenal. A gifted teacher, both verbally and orally, she loved to teach. She was known for her kind, gentle and generous spirit.
Betty’s love for God and her concern for both the salvation and discipleship of believers kept her committed to her God-given task. Now she has reached her heavenly home. If there is a section for the Mabaan-speaking people in heaven – you will find Betty there!
Condolences and shared memories may be offered to the family below.
Irene “Grace” Bayly