MORGANTON, N.C. (BP)–After he got saved, it took Homer Murdock all of one day to lead another person to the Lord. He was 11, and he couldn’t wait to tell his best grade school bud, Sonny Smith, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
“I didn’t know what to tell him. I just told him something good was happening and he had to get him some of it,” Murdock recalled with a smile.
Fifty years later, Murdock can’t conceal that same exuberant, boyish — some say relentless — zeal for saving souls. If a couple of weeks pass without a convert, he starts to worry about his spiritual fitness.
“How many of you led someone to the Lord this week?” he characteristically and energetically opened a recent sermon at Hopewell Baptist Church, where he has been pastor since 2000.
For Murdock, however, it wasn’t a straight line from being the son of a preacher and the brother of two preachers to being a preacher himself.
“I wanted to be anything but a preacher,” he laughed, telling the story of the dramatic change that came over his rowdy father once he got saved and went into the ministry.
Always a faithful Christian because of his parents’ example, Murdock pursued other careers, first in industrial engineering and management, then in hotel ownership and car sales. All of those organizational and persuasive skills are now put to good use.
Entering the ministry seemed like a financially uninformed decision. But his wife of 42 years, Barbara, said she knew he always followed where the Lord was leading. So, in 1978, she went to school to get a teaching certificate to support them and their two children while he studied for the ministry.
While still in school, he pastored tiny Chestnut Grove Baptist Church in Little Switzerland, N.C., in 1980 for $100 a week. By the time he left five years later, the church was giving more to missions than its entire previous annual budget.
From there the couple headed to Trinity Baptist Church in Deep Gap, where he felt an even greater calling to the overseas mission field. After four years, he moved on to South Forks Baptist Church in Todd, where he thought he might like to stay forever.
It was where, in 1997, on his daily prayer walk up Big Hill Road, surrounded by the peaceful mountain beauty he loved, that God’s message landed clearly on his heart.
“I’m going to touch the world through you,” Murdock said God told him.
He came home and told Barbara and, from experience, she knew he would have to act.
“At the time we didn’t realize just how much that God was going to use us in different parts of the world,” she now says.
By 1999, Murdock assembled a board of directors to organize “Touch the World Ministries” (TTW), which shares the Gospel and does construction, medical and educational missions around the world.
A short time later, Hopewell Baptist Church came looking for a minister to lead them out of decades of stagnation, and he answered the call in 2000.
In four short years, the church increased its mission work by tenfold, with a missions budget of more than $104,600. Nearly half the church membership has gone on various missions ventures.
Although TTW (www.touchetheworldministries.com) and Hopewell Baptist Church are separate endeavors, the church membership supports each.
Each church family recently received plastic rice bowl banks, so that every time they sit down to eat, they can put money in the bank, and at the end of the month, the money will go into a fund to support Liberian orphans.
The AIDS-riddled and war-torn country is a target area for TTW, which plans to build an orphanage for 300 children and renovate 10 houses destroyed during the nation’s civil strife, with the aim of some of the children being adopted into Christian homes.
What does Murdock’s quiet and steadfast wife (whose baby, grade school and high school picture the pastor still carries in his wallet) say when he proposes such ambitious plans halfway across the world?
“I just said praise the Lord. If it’s God’s will, the money will be there. We’ve just seen too many miracles happen. As long as you’re in God’s will, God will help you,” Barbara said.
Construction is a big part of mission work done by the church as well. Teams built 50 homes in Mexico and has helped rebuild in several war-ravaged or disaster-damaged areas across the globe.
In October, a team of 15 headed down to El Salvador to build a home for a 76-year-old woman, her adopted daughter and her three children. A sister in Christ, she had been living under a leaky tarp. Murdock and team leader Jay Norman brought back video from a preparatory trip, showing the open sewers and poverty in the area. Most live in squalor, some because of earthquake devastation to the region.
Scenes of heartbreaking conditions in a dilapidated orphanage run by a goodhearted woman prompted one team member to turn to Murdock and say, “Next trip, an orphanage.”
How can such a small church do so many missions?
“You just do,” said Warren Norman, one of the church’s deacons.
In Murdock’s view, there is no other option but to respond.