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Marcia Murray photo from Winter Orientation 2013

Marcia Murray

Long-term mission volunteer in Congo
Serving at the invitation of the Presbyterian Community of Congo (CPC)
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About Marcia Murray's ministry
Marcia Murray is serving in the West Kasai province near Kananga, the capital of the province.  She is teaching statistics and English at the university-level technical nursing school, the Institut Supérieur Tecnical Médical (ISTM) at Tshikaji Station.  The station was founded as a Presbyterian medical teaching center with two nursing schools, ISTM and a secondary-level nursing and lab tech school, Institut Tecnical Médical (ITM), and Good Shepherd Hospital for practical training.  The hospital serves as a teaching hospital not only for the nursing students but also for internships and residences for doctors from medical schools all over the country.

With the beginning of the new school year in October 2013, Marcia will also be teaching English to students at UPRECO, the Sheppard and Lapsley Presbyterian University of Congo for theology and law at Ndesha, on the other side of Kananga.  By teaching at the university level, she says, "I will be helping to train future leaders for the church and for their country."

Country context
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country roughly one-quarter the size of the United States, has been ravaged by conflict. The havoc wreaked by the rebellion that ousted the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 and the following war to topple President Joseph Kabila have been aggravated by internal and regional inter-ethnic sentiments. After two civil wars the country is left with a devastated infrastructure and economy. People throughout the country struggle daily for survival. Despite these circumstances, the church in the DRC continues to faithfully bear witness to Christ’s good news through their multifold ministries.

Marcia is excited to see how vibrant not only is the CPC but also all of the Christian churches in the Congo today.  "Membership is growing," she says, "and new churches are being formed.  The churches administer schools of all levels from primary to graduate work as well as hospitals and health clinics all across the Congo!  The churches are involved with development projects to improve the living conditions for all, but especially for the poorest of the poor.  They are involved in education in the villages and cities about the rights for women and children that are in the laws but not widely known by the general populace. Unfortunately, it is a slow process and the lack of proper roads and transportation as well as lack of communication structures make it all the more difficult."

About Marcia Murray
Growing up on the mission field as a child of Presbyterian missionary parents in the Belgian Congo, Rev. Glenn and Betty Murray, Marcia says she always felt she would return and teach in the Congolese high schools that were just being started when she was in high school.  The need for formal education in the Congo was evident to her even as a child.

After undergraduate work at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and graduate work at the University of Texas in Austin, she did just that. She returned to the Congo in 1966 to teach junior high and high school math at Lubondai, Bibanga, and Katubue in the Congo and also at Remera in Rwanda.  She also worked as an administrator for the Health Center in Mbujimayi in the Congo (Zaire, as it was called then).  In 1983 she returned to the States for a furlough and then went to Haiti in 1984, getting back into the classroom.  She spent three years in Port au Prince as a high school math/science teacher.  

After graduate work at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Marcia taught math at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, and then back in Lubbock at Texas Tech until her retirement.   She always felt that after retirement she would return to a French-speaking country in Africa where qualified teachers for upper-level education are greatly needed.  In the end, she says, "I’m back where I started as a Presbyterian mission co-worker in the Congo, but now as a volunteer."

Having grown up in the Congo and worked there for almost 20 years, Marcia considers it "one of my “homes.” She anticipated the joy of seeing old familiar faces and places but realized that would also be a challenge to return.  "The country is not the same as when I left 30 years ago and I’ll have to learn how to adapt to all the changes that have taken place since I have been gone.

"But I love to teach and even though I am now retired from teaching, I still feel I can contribute in and out of the classroom.  There are a lot of wonderful qualified teachers in the U.S.A. who can teach there, but not as many in the underdeveloped countries of the world.  Although my French and Tshiluba are rusty and my grammar and spelling are non-existent in both, I can still speak them and for the most part understand them with a fair degree of fluency.  So I feel that I am called to work where I am needed and can perhaps make a difference in some students’ lives."

The 91st Psalm has always been a favorite of Marcia's: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (English Standard Version, verse 1).  "Over the years," Marcia says, "I have often been thankful for God’s protective and sheltering care.  He has protected me through evacuations from the Congo, military coups in Haiti, and hurricanes in the Virgin Islands, to name but a few."

The verses Marcia tries to live by are James 1:19–20: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (ESV).

Marcia is a member of St. Thomas Reformed Church in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.  She plans to change her membership to the Lukongo II Presbyterian Church in the Congo.

 

Birthday: October 7

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