Murray is from the San Francisco Bay area. He had a successful career, was a skilled carpenter and owned a business. In 2008 Murray and his wife divorced. That same year the financial crash wiped out his business, his savings and his retirement. He lost everything, including his faith. “I felt spiritually empty.” Murray had been in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse for twenty-five years prior to that. He knew better but he started to drink again.
In 2016 Murray says his life was going nowhere. He wanted a fresh start. It had been many years since he’d seen his sister who lived in Connecticut. He got in his car and drove across the country to visit her and look for work. His plans didn’t work out so he headed back to California. A slight detour on his journey totally changed Murray’s life and the path he was on. He was going to visit a friend in Kentucky via Pennsylvania. It was the middle of January, it was cold and he had driven all night. He pulled off the highway near Charleroi, PA to rest. He thought he’d have a few drinks to help him fall asleep in the car. It seemed harmless to him. He was surprised to wake up to the sound of a State Trooper knocking on his window. Murray’s insistence that he wasn’t driving while drinking was ignored and he was taken to the Washington County Jail. He didn’t know anyone in Washington. He didn’t have any idea where he was or how he got there. His car was impounded with all of his belongings in it. Since he was from California, he was held without bail while he waited for a hearing. Murray spent the next seven months in jail before the charges were dropped. He smiles and says, “It was a good thing. I knew my life was a wreck. God helped me stop drinking.”
Murray said he embraced the opportunity to develop a strong relationship with God during the time he was in jail. “I feel like I was predestined to be there.” He attended Bible Study and met regularly with the chaplain. “I would rather have gone to seminary but God had other plans.” He felt a peace he hadn’t experienced in a long time. The spiritual emptiness he had felt was gone.
The charges against him were dropped and Murray would be released from jail. He needed a plan for when that time came. He heard about City Mission from the other inmates. They told him to write to Doug Bush at the mission. Doug responded to Murray’s letter and sent scripture and told him about the men’s program. Murray recalls, “Christ tells us not to worry. He said he’ll take care of us. When they let me out that back door I didn’t have a care in the world. I knew God was going to take care of me.”
Murray walked across the street that day to City Mission and stayed there for next five months. While he was at the mission he got his life together. He says, “I got a job with a great company who are Christians. I bought a car and got place to live.” He also started practicing what he already knew about recovery and made new friendships with other Christians.
For now Murray has decided to make Washington, PA his home. In closing Murray says, “I wanted the Lord in my life. Somehow I ended up here.” He goes on to say, “The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that I don’t always have to know why things happen. I just need to have faith. I was put here to do something, to touch someone’s life. It’s God’s will.”