John Murphy was on a routine training jump at Fort Bragg when it happened.
He’d just gotten home from a deployment to Afghanistan a couple of months before. John was a proud soldier who was so eager to serve, he dropped out of a full Army ROTC scholarship at Michigan State so he could go straight into active duty.
John grew up with godly parents who loved the Lord and who loved him. But he was a nominal Christian at best. His entire identity was wrapped up in performance, in being the best. Nothing was beyond his reach because he was driven and had always worked hard enough to make whatever he wanted happen.
Then, just two months after coming home from Afghanistan, a routine training jump went terribly wrong. He suffered a “cigarette roll.” That’s what they call a malfunction where the parachute comes out but doesn’t deploy.
In that moment, he admits that his wife and his family weren’t at the top of his mind. It was this: “I just got back from a deployment where I could have died a hero, and I’m about to die here – on a training jump.”
That’s how tied to performance John’s identity had become.
He survived the fall, but it broke his back and shattered his identity. He lost his career and was unemployed for months. His wife, newly pregnant, was forced to work 12-hour days to provide for their toddler and to cover the rent for their meager 700-square-foot basement apartment. The final straw was when his former military unit deployed without him and experienced heavy casualties.
For the first time in his life, John wasn’t able to make whatever he wanted happen. He was depressed. He was lost. He agreed to go to church when his father invited him, but John saw no hope for his future. That’s when he encountered another first – the Spirit of God opened his ears to the Gospel. The message he’d heard for years suddenly resonated. He heard how salvation isn’t about what we do. It’s about what God did.
Tomorrow is Veterans Day, so today we want to honor our servicemen and women and our Lord by hearing from a man who fought for his country, bears the scars to prove it, and who has dedicated his life to the Lord.
John is sharing his story with us on our broadcast, “Serving My Country, Loving My Neighbor.” It’s an inspiring testimony of what God has done in his life. He opens up about how he clung to God through unbearable trials and found a passion to reach people he formerly hated, to the point he thought of hurting them. He’ll share how he the love of Christ empowered him to love his enemy.
John is a former airborne infantryman in the U.S. Army and is now pastoring at Veritas Church in Fayetteville, N.C. You can hear our conversation on your local radio station, online, or on our free phone app.