In Memoriam: Jack"Murf the Surf"Murphy
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
This weekend our very dear friend and fellow minister, Jack Roland Murphy, departed his mortal body; and in the twinkling of an eye, death was swallowed-up in victory. Within just a few short hours of falling ill, Jack transitioned from earth’s limitations to the endless splendors inside Heaven’s gate. Commonly referred to as “Murf the Surf” or simply “Murf” by friends far and wide, Jack Murphy is survived by his loving wife Kitten, three sons, Michael, Sean, and David, three grand children, and a multitude of friends who considered him as “closer than a brother”.
Jack Murphy’s life story is that of a man who defied the odds. Once labeled “America’s most infamous jewel thief”, Jack’s conversion to Christianity while in prison began his transformational journey from a life of crime into a legendary evangelist and prison reform advocate. For 33 years, ‘Murf” brought the Gospel of mercy and grace to incarcerated men and women in more than 2000 prisons, jails, and detention centers around the world. His greatest ministry achievements came from his encouragement and discipleship of those just released from prison. Jack would take them back to prison and gently push the unskilled speakers out in front of a crowd of inmates and have them share their testimony of God’s transforming grace with passion and conviction. Many new ministers were born – ones who might otherwise never have shared the Gospel once in their lives - through Jack Murphy’s leadership training and encouragement.
Jack Murphy will be forever remembered: not for his enormous talents and awards which were many, but for his welcoming smile, big bear hugs, and his heartfelt compassion. Most people only knew Jack’s bigger than life public persona: Champion Surfer, Jewel Thief, Felon, Artist, Transformed Inmate, Free Man, Christian Prison Minster, Violinist, and Story Teller Extraordinaire. But few caught a glimpse of Jack’s humble excursions into the woods near his home to feed and clothe forgotten homeless people or of the many others he touched by being the listening ear and companion in time of trouble. But, that was Murf. He never tired of casting out the net to rescue one more soul for the Kingdom. He exemplified the love of Christ with no regard for a person’s station in life. Until his last breath, Jack Murphy was about his Father’s business using his boundless enthusiasm and energy in service to others for the glory to God.
If Murf could say one last thing to us, it might well be the following words from the Bible.
This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, He’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 The Message
We sure love you Jack: so this is a bittersweet day. While we grieve this temporary separation, we rejoice that you are now face to face with the Savior and reunited to the company of so many dear saints you met along life’s way. Surely they ran to greet you and stood beside you as you heard these life affirming words:
Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’
Matthew 25:34-38 The Message
“Well done Murf! You’ve been a faithful friend of God and man. Enter into your well deserved rest; and we’ll carry on your legacy: sharing the good news of redemption around the world until we meet again.
Domenic and Charlie Fusco
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