If you’ve seen the film “Ocean’s Eleven” (either the original with Frank Sinatra or the remake with George Clooney) you were probably captivatingly entertained by the character of Danny Ocean, the leader/ gangster/con man/heist boss of the film.
You might wonder how a person so charming, witty, intelligent, streetwise and smooth could become so misdirected and live a life of crime. You might also wonder what happens to men like that when they meet the consequences of their actions (which never happens in the movies). And you might even wonder what a guy like that could do if he were transformed by the God that created him.
You might wonder those things, but I don’t. And that is because on our last concert tour of the spring, I had breakfast with Danny Ocean.
No, of course, not the real one. There’s isn’t a real one. No, I had breakfast with Jack Murphy, otherwise known as ‘Murph the Surf’. He pulled off one of the most notorious jewel heists in the country’s history, robbed banks, was convicted of killing 2 people and spent nearly 21 years of his life in prison. The guy is good-looking, funny, intelligent, charming, and a living whirlwind. We had Egg McMuffins and coffee at 6:00am before going into the Hutchinson, Kansas maximum security prison with him to meet inmates.
Jack (now 72) is with Bill Glass Prison Ministries, which has been working since 1969 to reach inmates for Christ. Jack was introduced to Christ by the ministry in 1974, and has been working with them full-time since 1990 (since his parole).
This all came about because blue sky nine was on the program to play music at a couple different prisons for a ‘Weekend of Champions’ event with the Bill Glass ministry. The event sent teams to 9 prisons in the central Kansas area and saw over 600 inmates trust Christ for the first time, along with over 400 that re-dedicated their lives to him. The other members of blue sky nine and I probably shared the gospel with 50-60 inmates ourselves after playing concerts as part of the outreach. We had a lot of great experiences – it was our first time to work with the Bill Glass organization, and we’re excited about the partnership. We’re definately looking forward to more work with them in the future.
But… my favorite moment of the weekend was when he was riding in our van with us as we pulled into the parking lot of a McDonald’s for breakfast. Amy (also from the band) was driving and we were pulling the equipment trailer, so parking is not always easy. But Amy tucked it right into a slot with no trouble at all, and Jack said:
“Wow – that was some nice driving! I’d rob a bank with you anytime”.
If you’re reading this it’s probably because you’re involved with us in ministry somehow – and I really do wish you could come along for some of these experiences, but I know that’s impractical (our van is only so big…). I hope you know that God’s kingdom is being taken to the ‘least of these’ because of your giving, prayers and sacrifices.
Even if we have to go to prison to do it.