Matt Murphy has always let his faith guide him. A stand-out football player at MC, Murphy was also recognized with the Football Outstanding Christian Award and Most Christ-Like Award, and served as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“It was a daily challenge to live a sincere life for Christ at MC,” Murphy says. “Many athletes knew if my faith and life were real or not. The daily challenge at MC was good preparation for living a holy life for Christ in all the world.”
Murphy is now pursuing that holy life for Christ just outside the jungles of the Amazon rain forest. Since November 2013, he and his wife, Bethany ’01, and their five (soon to be six) children have been living in Iquitos, Peru, where they will serve for the next year with the missions organization Amazon Xpeditions. Murphy trains indigenous pastors, missionaries, and leaders, who then go into the unreached areas of the Amazon jungles to win disciples for Christ. The work includes teaching night classes on the scriptures, hosting weekly evangelistic outreaches, and operating leadership camps focused on character building and teamwork. The Murphy family is also building their Spanish skills with the help of a tutor who visits three days a week; on a recent trip to the bodega (a small store), Murphy communicated his desire for popcorn to the shop owner through hand gestures and verbal “popping” sound effects.
"I hope that my family and I come to know Jesus more and show him more fully to the people here."
The gateway to the Amazon rain forest, Iquitos is the largest city in the world that is completely inaccessible by road; the only travel into or out of Iquitos is via plane or boat. The move has been both an adjustment and an adventure for the entire family.
“The biggest adjustment has been the overall culture change,” Murphy says. “The language, the food, the lack of Internet service, the heat, and the ‘Amazon time schedule’ have all been a challenge. It’s also been hard being so far away from family and friends that we love so much. In our months of living here, we’ve adjusted, but we still have much to learn.”
The Amazon is a long way from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where Murphy previously served at the Church of the Good Shepherd working with youth and young families. But from the Gulf Coast to the Amazon, Murphy’s goals have remained the same.
“I hope that my family and I come to know Jesus more and show Him more fully to the people here.”
While the challenges and adjustments have been great, Murphy is quick to say that the rewards and adventures have been greater. There is, however, one challenge he has yet to master.
“At some point, I will go to some remote village down river, and that’s when I will quietly ask God to protect me before I eat what is set before me.”