Cecil Murphey calls himself a serious Christian. His faith is the core of his life. Although he writes on numerous topics, many of Cec’s own books focus on prayer and the Bible. He enjoys serving and supporting other Christians as they grow in their faith.
Cec grew up with little religious education, and in his early twenties he faced what we sometimes call the existential questions: Who am I? What does life mean? Is this all there is?
Those questions led him to read a book he spotted in the window of a used bookstore in Waukegan, Illinois. That book, The Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas, centered on a doctor who gave himself unselfishly to others. Cec kept wondering what would motivate such a person. Douglas mentioned the New Testament as the doctor's inspiration. Still curious, Cec picked up a New Testament and started to read with the "begats" in Matthew, chapter 1. Months later he reached the middle of Romans. As Cec closed the Bible, he said aloud, "I believe this."
The following Sunday Cec visited a church for the first time since he was 11 years old. Within a year, he met Shirley Brackett in church, and married her six months later.
Cec was in the U.S. Navy when he met Shirley. After his discharge, he went to college to prepare to serve Jesus Christ. During the summer after his second year of college, a two-room Christian school hired Cec to teach grades three to six. The superintendent of a public school district had sent his daughter there because the school specialized in remedial reading. He liked Cec’s teaching style and hired him to teach sixth grade, even though Cec didn't have his degree. Cec finished college by going evenings and Saturdays.
After two years of teaching in the public schools, Cec and Shirley felt God's hands point them toward Kenya. They served in Africa for six years under the Elim Missionary Assemblies.
Most of the time Cec and Shirley lived in a remote area and Cec read many theological books, especially the writings of the puritans and reformers. By their sixth year in Africa, they knew it was time to return to the United States so Cec could finish his education.
Cec enrolled in Columbia, a Presbyterian seminary located in the Atlanta area. By graduating second in his class, the school awarded him a scholarship to pursue doctoral studies at Emory University. While at Columbia, Cec also enrolled at Atlanta University for an MA in education. Cec received his MDiv (magna cum laude) the same year as his MA in education.
Cec’s plan had been to teach on a college or seminary level after he received his doctoral degree. God's hands pointed him in a different direction.
During Cec’s first year of seminary, he preached one Sunday at a small Presbyterian church in Atlanta. At the end of the service, the session (board of elders) asked if Cec would be their part-time pastor until he graduated.
Cec sensed God's hands guiding him, so he agreed. The pastorate hooked him and he remained a pastor for the next 14 years. Cec never did finish his doctoral studies. (However, many years later Cec was awarded an honorary Doctor of Literature from The Richmond Virginia Seminary for his contribution to the field of writing.)
God's hand pointed Cec in still another direction. In 1971, popular writer, Charlie Shedd, came to Atlanta and taught a course on writing for publication. Charlie encouraged Cec to write. Cec sent out his first article in September, after 18 typewriter revisions, and sold it to the first magazine to which he sent it. That was Cecil Murphey’s beginning.
Cec remained a pastor for 14 years, ten of them in Riverdale, Georgia, in a growing, exciting congregation. He could have stayed there the rest of his career, except those divine hands made Cec know it was time to move on. In 1983, Cec resigned to write full time. That's what he’s been doing since.
God's hands still hold Cecil Murphey’s hands. That's what makes his journey exciting.