As a Pentecostal Christian who had been seeking God’s supernatural leading in her life for decades, Betty Miller says she wasn’t surprised when the Lord gave her a word in 1993. The word was marketplace. The meaning wasn’t immediately clear, but she had learned to wait for answers.
“God spoke so strongly through the Spirit, I knew the meaning would come,” says Betty. “So I go out to the mailbox one day and there’s a piece of junk mail. I started to throw it away but noticed on the side it said the next great move will be in—and here’s the exact phrase—‘the marketplace of the Internet.’ Marketplace. That caught my eye.”
According to the mailer, an author had recently used a newfangled thing called the Internet to sell thousands of books in one week. This grabbed Betty’s interest. The Lord had prompted her years earlier to write a book about the overcoming life of faith. But she’d never been a writer and didn’t have a strong educational background. She felt inadequate for the task. “But God was saying, ‘It’s time for you to write.’”
Their Christian Lives
If you know people like Betty and her husband, Bud, all this makes sense. They are blood-bought, Holy Ghost-filled, Bible-quoting believers who pray the promises and seek God’s specific direction in everything they do. Their faith is alive, vocal and unabashedly happy. Like everyone, they have trials, but they take all those to the Lord. It’s their unrestrained joy as much as their ministry that Life:Beautiful honors because these folks are the real deal when it comes to living by faith.
By the time God spoke “marketplace,” Bud and Betty had been pastors for 13 years at Christ Unlimited Fellowship in Dewey, Arizona. Both had been believers since they were teenagers, but were supercharged with faith after they were swept up in the charismatic movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Embracing the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they never looked back.
A Brave New World
When Betty showed Bud the mailer promoting a conference about the Internet, he was intrigued. So he called the meeting organizer and discovered the man had suffered a severe back injury in a motorcycle crash. He was in pain.
“I told him that we believe in healing. So I asked if we could pray for him right there,” Bud says. “Well, the Lord healed him right over the phone. He got pretty excited, you know, and said, ‘Forget about the cost on this conference, if you want to come, it’s free for you.’”
So the Millers entered the computer world at a time when most people their age were focused on retirement. Looking back—Bud is now 85 and Betty is 75—they see humor in how little they knew about what they were doing. But they also see the hand of God in it, and that’s all they really needed.
Shortly after arriving in Denver for the conference, the Millers were greeted by the organizer. He was over-the-moon enthusiastic about his healed back and what the couple could do on the Internet.
“What you need is a domain name,” he told them.
Bud said, “Great. That’s really good to know. What’s a domain name?” It’s the unique name of each website that the owner must purchase to register. It becomes the centerpiece of a web address.
The couple wanted a name that was relevant to their ministry. Jesus.com was mentioned, but someone else owned it. The Millers finally settled on Bible.com, which reflected their vision of a website where visitors could read and study various Bible translations and Christian commentary.
“So we paid $50 for Bible.com,” Bud says.
Later, they learned that the rock band Grateful Dead had owned rights to Bible.com until just before the Millers bought it. The band had once turned down an offer for $100,000 for Bible.com. Then in 1993, they simply quit paying the fee and they lost the name.
“Somebody once asked me why the Grateful Dead would have even wanted Bible.com to begin with,” Bud says. “Well, you sure know it wasn’t to give glory to God. That isn’t hard to figure out.”
Building the Site
The early days of Bible.com were feverish. “We were the most unlikely people,” Betty says. “We had no idea about computers. We had no one in our church who really did. So we had to totally rely on God. He brought us people to help us. And God protected us. We didn’t know about things like security. For eight years the Lord protected our site and we didn’t have anyone hack us or steal from us.”
As the website ramped up, Betty also began pounding out her first book, The Overcoming Life, on a typewriter—she didn’t trust computers yet. For a guide to writing, she carefully studied a Billy Graham book, copying the general structure.
Meanwhile, the website was slowly getting off the ground. During the first couple of years, the site experienced the first day when 1,000 people visited. By 1997, the site had 300,000 unique visitors. The following year, it was half a million. Soon more than 2 million unique visitors viewed it in a year.
“As best we can come up with in Google analytics, the site has been looked at by 155 million people through the years,” Bud says. “You don’t know what they did at the site, but you know they were exposed to the Bible.”
Adding a steady stream of features, articles and studies, the website grew to 10,000 pages of material focused on the Bible and Christian living. Outside of the Bible itself, most pages were filled by Betty or Bud.
Bible.com flourished for 17 years under the Millers’ direction, but in recent years they felt the Lord moving them out of this ministry. They sold the domain name in 2012 to YouVersion.com, operated by another digital missions group that offers the Bible to all who will receive it.
“They fit in the vision of what we were doing. So God led us to sell to the YouVersion people at that time,” Betty says. “They have many more people with Internet background to help it reach its full potential. So we’re very happy about it.”
As part of the deal, Bud and Betty retained all the content they developed for Bible.com. They opened a new website, BibleResources.org, which was built with material transferred from Bible.com. The new site offers Bible links, studies and helpful articles about living the Christian life. Here’s what you’ll find:
- From the King James Version to the New English Translation, links are available to more than 30 Bible translations in more than 140 languages. There are also audio versions of many Bibles.
- Free downloads of Bibles are offered in English, Russian, Chinese and other languages.
- A section called Bible Answers covers dozens of topics, including abortion, baptism, the blood of Jesus, capital punishment, Christmas, demons, divorce, forgiveness, gambling, hell, mercy killing, sex before marriage, suicide, tattoos, the Ten Commandments, UFOs and vegetarianism.
- A yearlong devotional written by Betty has 365 encouraging articles based on the Book of Proverbs.
- For those who want prayer, there’s a Prayer Room with an email link so readers can send in requests.
- There is also a store offering Betty’s books and other materials for sale.
In addition to the new website, the couple is developing an app where readers will be able to download Betty’s Daily Devotionals. The Millers have also hired their granddaughter to help them spread Bible content through social media.
“A few years ago,” Bud says, “God was dealing with me about this mobile app business. When I saw how cool it was, that you could put a Bible in your pocket and carry it around, I was sold. God told me to go where the people live. Today, they live on their mobile apps, cell phones and iPads. That’s how you spread the Gospel.”
Bud and Betty Miller plan to continue in ministry and also devote time to their four children, seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
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