Papa John aka John MurphreeI was "raised in the church." My mother was a faithful Christian and through her faithfulness the Lord led me to believe in God and that the Bible is His word and that Jesus is the Son of God who died to save us from our sins.

I would have to say that my years of High School and then in the Navy there were times when I didn't think much about God and his will. But when I got home from the Navy in 1946 I began thinking again about the faith my Mother had instilled in me.

In September, 1946, I confessed my faith in Christ and was baptized. My life was changed forever. Through the influence of Christian friends the Lord led me to enroll in David Lipscomb College. I decided to major in modern languages so I could teach French and Spanish but before the end of the first quarter God changed my mind and I followed a course to train to become a preacher of the gospel.

Papa John aka John Murphree and his lovely wife, Cornelia, on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.Another thing that God did for me was to bring Cornelia and me together. We were married in July, 1949 and went to our first church in Starkville, Mississippi, where we worked for five years and where our first two daughters were born. Through the years we served churches also in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Cornelia and I often talked about going into mission work. We would have a visiting missionary at church and then go home and get out the maps and think that some day we might have this opportunity. The opportunity first came when we were asked to help in some work in Montreal, Canada, in 1966. During this campaign we met a number of French speaking missionaries. Some of these missionaries talked with me about a need in Brussels, Belgium. Back in Chattanooga where we were working at the time our elders agreed to be our sponsors for a five year mission work in Brussels. I went back to study French for a year at the University in Chattanooga.

In 1967 Cornelia and I took our three children with us and moved to Brussels. We spent three years there before we came home for a short leave and then went back for the remaining two years. The Lord blessed our work there. We met many wonderful people and the Lord brought many people to Christ during those years.

Papa John in his canoe in Papua New Guinea.When those five years were over we accepted a work in Tullahoma, Tennessee, a church with a history of supporting mission work over the world. The time came when that good church sponsored us in mission work in Papua New Guinea. Our five years there were exciting and enjoyable. Hundreds of people were brought to the Lord. Four new village congregations were established. In Port Moresby a church building was built and the church where we worked grew to over 200. Missionary housing was acquired and national preachers were trained.

When we returned to the states from Papua New Guinea I was offered a job in my home county to teach French in the local high school. This is what I had first trained for when I started college in 40 years before. I taught there for six years before we retired in 1992. God has blessed us in many ways. I served as an elder in our local church after retirement for five years. We made several mission trips. I have been able to teach Bible classes and do volunteer work in a nursing home. On our last mission trip several years ago we went to Bucharest, Romania. We had planned for a stay of three months but we had to come home early due to illness.

We continue to be active in the church and God continues to bless us. Cornelia and I started out together in 1949, just the two of us. Now we have three daughters, six grandchildren, two sons-in-law, two grand-sons-in- law and two more grand-sons-in-law on the way. When we get together as a family we have grown from the two of us to 17 of us.

We give God the glory for the riches he has bestowed on us. Later I may submit some interesting stories about our adventures here and in foreign lands.

Papa John's photo of a long canoe in Papua New Guinea.

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