Many, whose lives have been broken by bad choices, will find comfort in John Murray’s story. John is a volunteer with Summit Church’s Jail ministry called reGroup, a program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous that helps inmates break the cycle of negative behavior. He is also the author of a new book, “God Verses the Bad Boy,” in which he interlaces his own tales of misspent youth with meditations from Scripture. His message – In every moment of your life, even the worst ones, God has always been there. Four years ago, when John joined the congregation’s Jail ministry, he was nervous that he wouldn’t understand the inmates he’d been asked to serve. Once inside, he instead felt an instant bond.“These guys weren’t hardened criminals,” John said. “They were guys who grew up like me. They had made mistakes similar to ones I had made when I was a ‘bad boy,’ but they genuinely wanted to get on a better path.” The church program provides loving support, prayers, and the sharing of personal stories about what first placed each person on their path. Through “God Verses the Bad Boy,” John shares his own timeline. John grew up in a housing project in the Bronx during the 1960s. One of eight children in an Irish-Catholic family, his challenges included an alcoholic mother who was institutionalized when he was still young. John’s book follows a cascade of childhood friends as they sneak into drive-in theaters, steal bicycles for their “biker” gang, and joy ride in a milk truck. On bad days, they are swatted by fathers, beaten by cops, and must abandon a makeshift raft that’s on course with a tugboat.
One day, a friend accidentally hangs himself. It’s such early trauma and lack of guidance that can lead to a title wave of bad choices, John said. His own turnaround wouldn’t come until years later, after a chance meeting with his “angel” and her gift of a Bible. Today, John hopes his childhood stories will show others they aren’t alone. Everyone has to go through trauma. And, if they reflect on the Scriptures sprinkled in between his stories, they may find a path to dealing with it. A portion of the sales from “God Verses the Bad Boy” will pay for providing copies to inmates.