Even the seemingly insignificant can become significant.
Prolific author Cecil Murphey shared that belief with Campbell University students during a worship service in March.
“You’re insignificant,” an energetic Murphey told a crowd of nearly 600 undergraduate students. “No one knows who you are, but someone can come along and let you know you can do it.”
Author of 112 books including 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper, Murphey’s role as a ghost writer has helped others share their inspiring tales, some of which he relayed to the audience.
“God gave him this moment,” said Murphey about Piper. “And because of this moment, this man can be used by God.”
Piper “died” after a car accident in 1984 and came back to life after spending 90 minutes in heaven, according to Murphey’s account.
Piper’s story intrigued junior English major Michael Tyndall, who played guitar and sang before Murphey took the stage.
“You don’t really hear stories like that today,” said Tyndall. “It reminds you of the miracles in the Bible.”
Murphey used characters from the Bible to illustrate the importance of unsung heroes.
“Does anybody know the boy’s name who gave Jesus his lunch?” Murphey asked. “That’s funny. Me neither,” he said after a long pause, adding that no one knows the name of the boy whose offer of five loaves and two fish is told in John 6. The boy remains anonymous, despite the fact Jesus used his gift to miraculously feed over 5,000 people.
Murphey also humorously discussed how seemingly insignificant experiences can significantly change a life.
As a child, an episode with his Sunday School teacher scared Murphey away from church for years.
“One time my Sunday School teacher said, ‘God has his hands on you,’” said Murphey, vigorously imitating how his teacher shook him. “I said, ‘No, you have your hands on me!’”
Years later, Murphey learned the impact of this teacher on his life. At a reunion she told him she knew God had something special for him.
“What you don’t know,” she said, “is I have prayed for you every day since you came into my Sunday School class.”
Terry Tucker, administrative assistant in the office of the campus minister and a religion major, felt Murphey’s personal story “gives hope for students because it shows the importance of prayer.”
Murphey maintained his animated demeanor during a question-and-answer session later that evening where he discussed many aspects of his writing career. Murphey has worked with the likes of renowned surgeon Ben Carson and evangelist Franklin Graham. However, his most intriguing story wasn’t about a famous person, but an elderly death row inmate who admitted to murdering someone with rat poisoning.
“She had a conversion experience while she was awaiting trial,” said Murphey, who spent six weeks with her prior to her execution.
He was almost a priest and psychiatrist in the situation, listening to her deepest confessions. “She told me she was ready to die in peace,” he said.
Murphey said he really gets to know his subjects through simple conversation, but maintains his true passion is still writing and he spends six days a week fulfilling his passion.
“I wake up every morning and I think, wow, I get to write today,” he said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Johnson is a rising senior and journalism student at Campbell University.)