Meet Greg and JoLynne Murphy from Washington State, USA.
In 1993 Greg and JoLynne heeded the voice of God, and with four small children in tow (all under the age of five) they travelled over 7,000 miles to New Zealand to complete a YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS).
Twenty-two years later they have led DTS outreaches to far-flung places such as Cambodia, Morocco and Mexico. Their enthusiasm for people, life and bringing the joy of the gospel to all corners of the world is evident; evangelising through their own brand of humour, a genuine love to build friendships and be a blessing to others.
Last month I had the privilege of interviewing them during their fourth DTS outreach in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
HOW DID YOU COME TO KNOW THE LORD?
Greg: I grew up in a Catholic home and so I always had a fear and reverence for God. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I started searching and trying to figure out what it’s all about for myself. Through my soccer team in college I met a guy who got saved and was radically transformed and he told me about the Lord and that’s how I got saved. Then shortly after that, over half of our team got saved within a few months. We went from zero believers to probably ten people on our team being saved. Our coach was a German guy that was really into the world and he didn’t know what was going on, but I’m sure it had an impact on him.
AFTER YOU AND JOLYNNE COMPLETED YOUR DTS DID YOU GO INTO MINISTRY?
Greg: We’re in ministry all the time. I have a business at home so I like to say that we do ministry with everything we do. We started a King’s Kids group in our town after our DTS and we went on missions trips with our church.
JoLynne: We invited people into our home, people that didn’t know Jesus and tried to help them find Him and we had a few people who got saved that way.
WHAT KIND OF MINISTRIES HAVE YOU DONE SO FAR IN BOCAS?
Greg: Drilled wells, helped install solar, played with a lot of kids and families. We go into villages just to meet people, have meals with them and hang out with them, sleep over with them and experience their culture. We’ve played a lot of soccer. Soccer is a great way to meet people and breakdown cultural barriers; we’ve played in Bocas, we’ve played in Panama City. We’ve done stuff in Bocas Town, you know street ministry, dramas and skits. Just today we met a guy in the village next door to help him nail his floorboards down, while the girls were playing with kids they just met. We’re still working on a dock next door and learning how to drill the wells was really good experience and really good to know.
SO YOU WERE LEARNING TO DRILL WELLS AS YOU WERE DRILLING THEM?
Greg: We learned from a lady named Cait. Cait travels all over the world drilling wells and doing sanitation, she was here for a month and she taught us how to do the wells. Then we went out to Isla Tigre [in Bocas] and drilled three of them ourselves.
SO FAR WHAT HAS BEEN A HIGHLIGHT IN BOCAS?
Greg: One of the highlights for me was this new guy that we met, Cándido. He was so nervous and so scared he didn’t think we would accept him. So for the next week he came every night for dinner and it totally broke that barrier and we’ve been working with him and hanging out with him at his house and when we helped him with his house I think it really broke something in him. He’s like a different person now, he comes up here and he’s just bright and he’s all excited to see us. So that was huge for me and last night he asked when we were leaving and I showed him the calendar and he said “I will never forget you”. I told him I will come back and that I want to bring some doctor friends and some other builders and people that can help.
FROM SPENDING TIME WITH THE LOCAL PEOPLE WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THEIR BIGGEST PRACTICAL NEED?
Greg: The kids are so full of joy but the parents are just shut off so many times. We talked to these guys one night, we showed the Jesus video in the village, until the battery burned out, but it was really neat because there were about forty or fifty people sitting down watching and fighting off mosquitoes and everything. They were so excited because no one does that in their village and afterward we asked if anyone wanted any prayer for anything and one family came up and said we have been praying for a couple of years that people would be more animated and have more joy, more life in their faith because they’re so cut off and that was their big prayer, to see more joy and laughter and animation.
WHAT IS THE MOST PROFOUND LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNED SO FAR ON YOUR JOURNEY WITH CHRIST?
Greg: God’s faithfulness. He is so faithful, He proves Himself to me all the time. Ephesians 3:20 is my favourite verse ‘He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all we can ask or imagine’. He blows me away with that all the time.
On my FaceBook it says ‘If you’re feeling down go be a blessing to someone else’. I was with a member of our team the other day, I don’t remember where we were but he didn’t want to be out doing what we were doing and when we started helping these guys, climbing up and down the hill carrying lumber and loving on them he said, “You know I feel so much better” and I said, “That’s the way God made it”. To get out of ourselves, to serve and give to others, that’s what we’re made for.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE THAT YOU HAVE FACED IN YOUR JOURNEY WITH CHRIST?
Greg: A sickness that my son had and we never knew if he would get well again. In crying out and screaming out to God for a couple of years, he finally started feeling better and went back to university and is doing really well and thriving.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE THAT GOD HAS CREATED IN YOU?
Greg: My perspective on people. I think I used to be a lot more critical of people and through the issues with my son, it was a mental illness he was dealing with through no fault of his own it was just the development of his brain, when I saw that it really changed my perspective on other people. It gave me a lot more compassion and understanding and empathy, especially toward people that are going through situations like that. We just have a whole new perspective on caring for them and having compassion for them. Before I would always say oh you can work yourself out of it, but sometimes they need help.
ADVICE FOR YOUNG MISSIONARIES AND CHRISTIANS IN GENERAL
Greg: What I said earlier, if you’re feeling down then go and bless someone else. I know that’s huge for me and my family. To be persistent and never give up, never give up hope, never give up on people.
JoLynne: Look around you, see what there is to do right where you are. Pick up garbage, do something that will get people wondering what you’re about.
Greg: There are so many opportunities. We came here with no contacts, with no outreach destination. The last couple of outreaches we’ve led that’s how it’s been and we just have to make it happen ourselves and I love that because it’s so exciting, because God knows what’s happening He knows what He wants us to get into and we just seek Him and go for it. Every day, like today, our schedule has totally changed. None of this was planned, but God totally led us. Like JoLynne said, just be open and see the opportunities, there are so many opportunities. Right now we only have two weeks left but we have tons of things and people to be with, we’re having a tough time trying to choose what to do right now. At first when we got here we’d just go out and see a house somewhere and just pull up and start talking to people and we’ve developed friendships that way. So just be open and see all the opportunities that are there.