Dr. Murray Murdoch teaches the next generation at Cedarville University. He is passionate about history and even more passionate about Jesus. When he started working at Cedarville, he was completing his doctoral dissertation and his wife, Ruth, was expecting, so it was not possible for him to go to Selma and meet with the masses to march, but he wanted to. That is the kind of man he is. Seeing the need, he is always willing to help others.
When Cedarville converted the Civil Rights Tour to a class for academic credit, Dr. Murdoch became the instructor and began visiting the many places he has been teaching about for more than five decades. The class includes instructional sessions including the chronology of the right to vote movement to the debunking of the Curse of Ham theory. He leads the group with a true sensitivity to individuals’ needs. Sometimes the group just needs to sit and think about what they have observed as we have just walked through a portion of history. So if sitting is what we need to do, we sit.
One of my most memorable moments with Dr. Murdoch was crossing the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma the first time. The bridge was named after a Confederate general who was also the grand wizard of the KKK. This is the bridge known for the infamous “Bloody Sunday,” when minorities wanting the right to vote were beaten and clubbed by those in authority, while the live cameras of CBS News showed this horror to the world. It was a hot day when we planned to cross the bridge, and I was worried that it would be too physically difficult for Dr. Murdoch. I had already started forming a contingency plan. I suggested he ride across the bride in the van. He looked at his wonderful wife and said, “Ruth, someone needs to tell this man I’ve waited 50 years to cross this bridge, and I’m going to walk it under my own power, even if you need to carry me across!” Well, walk it he did. This is now his third trip across the bridge, and it never gets old seeing him lead the way while singing, “We shall overcome.”
A story about this great man would be incomplete without mentioning the sweet relationship he has with his wife, Ruth. She is a wonderful friend, a great co-laborer, and one of the funniest people I’ve ever met! Ruth thinks about others before herself, and it is a blessing to see the two of them living out their lives together. They are a wonderful example of what life together is supposed to be like.
Dr. Murdoch has been asked when he will retire. I love his answer. “You retire to do all the things you love doing. I’m already doing that!” Dr. Murdoch’s cultural sensitivity and a keen sense of timing make traveling with him a blessing, and I enjoy following him into the flame, the flood, or wherever else the Lord may take us.