A Christian College Scholarship Paves Murphy’s Way to Grace
For as long as she can remember, Liz Murphy had a dream of becoming a professional dancer. Her plan was to enroll in the ballet program at Indiana University, her mom’s alma mater.
But Murphy’s life seemingly turned upside down during her freshman year of high school, and those plans began to unravel. Her parents went through a painful divorce and she was unable to dance because of impending surgery on a severe hip injury. Everything that felt familiar and constant changed rapidly.
“I remember sitting in my room crying because I was so upset about everything that was happening,” said Murphy. And that’s when a contrary thought flooded her mind. “I felt a strong urge that I needed to go to church.”
Murphy, who didn’t attend church growing up, didn’t understand why she had this urge. In fact, she had been quite disenchanted by the few experiences she had at church, like the time she accepted her neighbor’s invitation only to find out that her neighbor was being awarded a sticker and a sucker for bringing a friend. Or the time Murphy attended a youth event where the pastor asked everyone to write down a friend’s name who was not close to Christ. Murphy sat there awkwardly. She knew her name must have been written the week before.
Despite her negative experiences in the past, that night in her room, Murphy had a deep conviction that would not go away – she knew she needed to go to church.
Finding a New Way of Life
That Sunday, Murphy and her mom found themselves in a pew of the church down the road and were met with what can only be attributed to the grace of God. “The message spoke heavily to what we were going through,” recounted Murphy. “We just sat there sobbing the entire time. It was such a powerful thing.”
Compelled by a message of hope that brought comfort like nothing they had ever experienced before, Murphy and her mom started regularly attending church. The church gave Murphy a New Beginners Bible. Within a few weeks, she had read it cover to cover. “I fell head over heels in love with Jesus at that point,” said Murphy. “I was so interested and intrigued. I think it was the idea that there is a Heavenly Father that is so loving and caring and consistent. I realized that church isn’t just about getting rewarded if you follow the rules. It’s about a relationship between me and God.”
After Murphy met Jesus, she dove head-first into living for him. She got baptized the summer before her sophomore year, and over the next several years, she became heavily involved with her youth group and began leading the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at her school.
Murphy’s mom knew how much her faith meant to her, so when a postcard from Grace College came in the mail, she encouraged Murphy to visit. Murphy hadn’t even considered Christian colleges because she knew they were considerably more than state institutions and had a preconceived notion that Christian college scholarships were not easy to come by. But her mom convinced her to go. “At the very least, you’ll get a free t-shirt,” she said.
But what Murphy experienced after the drive to Winona Lake was so much greater than a free t-shirt. “The moment I stepped out of the car, I knew I was home,” said Murphy.
Her tour guide was so intentional about getting to know her, she adored the quaint town of Winona Lake and the idea of getting to take Bible courses seemed too good to be true. She loved Grace so much, she came on four more campus visits and hung a poster of campus on her wall. Murphy’s heart was set. After years of wanting to attend IU, she saw a new path forward, and the destination was Grace College.
Needing a Christian College Scholarship
While Murphy’s mom was trying to be supportive, she was crunching the numbers. As a single parent, she couldn’t make any promises that it would work out. Murphy began praying that God would provide a way, but ultimately, that His will would be done, even if that meant surrendering her desire to go to Grace.
Around that time, Murphy was invited to attend the Presidential Scholarship Days, a chance at winning a significant Christian college scholarship. She continued to pray for the upcoming competition every night, asking the Holy Spirit to speak for her, and that her words would not be her own, but God’s.
On the day of the competition, Murphy felt unexplainable peace and had a deep sense that her prayers were being answered. At the dinner, she was seated at the same table as her academic dean, Dr. Cheryl Bremer, who took down Murphy’s name in hopes to have her work for the School of Education that next year. “I knew God was mediating all of that. It was such a good day,” she recalls.
A few days later, Murphy received a call that she had received the trustee scholarship – the top scholarship of the weekend which put her in the running for a full-tuition Christian college scholarship to be awarded in March. She continued to pray every night. “Lord, not my will, but yours.”
One day, Murphy noticed she had three missed phone calls from Grace College. “Could it be?” she wondered. She anxiously returned the call. “Hi, Liz. This is Dr. Mark Pohl (BS 04, MA 07), vice president of enrollment management at Grace College.” Murphy’s heart began to pound. “I was just calling to confirm your address,” he said.
Murphy cleared her throat, trying to hide her disappointment. Before she could utter a word, Pohl’s voice punched through the phone, “I’m just teasing you,” he went on. “I have the privilege of informing you that you’ve won our full-tuition President’s Scholarship.”
“I felt overwhelmed with God’s kindness to me,” said Murphy. Immediately, she called her parents and celebrated the great news – she had received a Christian college scholarship and was going to Grace.
Thriving on the Grace College Campus
Now, a year later, Murphy is enrolled as a freshman elementary education student. Just as she suspected on that first visit, she is thoroughly enjoying the Christian college’s community and Bible courses. Not to mention, she’s relishing lake life, but in an entirely unexpected way as a member of the bass fishing club team. One thing she knows for sure, none of it would be possible without a God who paved her path.
“As I reflect on my first year at Grace, I am filled with sheer gratitude and awe at the intervening hand of God in my life,” says Murphy. “He quite literally called my name when I was at my lowest point and adopted me into His great Kingdom. He gave me hope, a purpose, a new identity and a new life. He makes all things right in His time and has plans for us that are far greater than we could possibly think or imagine.”
Are you like Liz Murphy? Are you skeptical of how much Christian college scholarships have to offer? Check out our scholarships and grants page and be amazed at all of the opportunities to save money on tuition!
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