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Welcome Home, Dave, Welcome Home…

 Another soldier, and brother in Christ was called home today.

Brother Dave Murph went to that far distant shore. The first words he might have heard were, “Welcome home my son, I knew you’d come. Welcome home, you’re here for good. Look around, was it worth the wait? Welcome home, step through the gate.” These were the first few words of the chorus to the song recorded by Dave and the Gospel Plowboys called “Welcome Home”.

Tonight these poignant verses touch my heart deeply. One cannot help to sit and listen to this beautiful rendition of “Welcome Home,” by the Gospel Plowboys and think of Dave.

His passing has touched me in a way I can’t describe in mere words.

To know Dave was to know true faith.

Seeing him and the rest of the Gospel Plowboys for the first time, a few years back, in person at the Denton Bluegrass Festival was a treat in and of itself. I had heard them on recordings and videos on YouTube. I knew that someday our paths would cross. On that peaceful May evening, I heard the band like never before, in person. That is when I came to know the real David Murph and what his calling in life was meant to be. His witness there on stage that evening was nothing fake, no façade of an image for the sake of selling something, it wasn’t an act, it was the real deal. With his hand raised in testimony as he spoke, there was no rush for the need of getting to the show, for the sharing of God’s Word was what he felt in his heart and on his lips. Standing underneath the stage lights, their crisp white shirts stood in stark contrast to the blue of their Pointer Brand denim overalls and red matching ties. There was a statement in what they wore which matched as much who they were as much as what they were about. They were truly living for God.

It was that same moving evening that Dave had found me. It seemed we both had wanted to meet for some time. God had finally put us together, and from there a friendship grew. Our kinship was in Him, and through our personal commitments to follow God’s plan, we had crossed paths, and as such, we had a common goal; to share His Word in all we did; Dave through the music I loved, and myself through my writing. That weekend we met and talked about all that we shared and what Dave had hoped would someday be an article that we would hopefully submit to “Our State” magazine. In my interviews with the band, I learned how they would always pray on stage before starting their show or performance, regardless of where they were. One evening, at a Fiddler’s Convention Contest, they debated whether to pray before their competition. Knowing that they could be disqualified for praying beforehand, Dave told me, “It didn’t matter if we won or not, we were there to lift up God, and that’s just what we did.” That evening, they were never disqualified, never stopped, for after praying, they went on to play the winning songs that they became known for, and never looked back. It was who they were, there to serve Him.

However, that article we worked on that precious weekend was not meant to be. One thing after another kept putting off our editing and publication request. They performed near where we lived at the time at Cumnock Baptist Church. Looking back, I didn’t realize it would be the last time I would get to see Dave. We never know when or where we’ll be called home, but I know in my heart, Dave was ready. A few months later, I called Dave after seeing Rita, his devoted, lovely wife,  post an update on his health; it concerned me. When he answered the phone, we picked up right where we had left off; a friend is a friend no matter the distance or time. He shared with me his battle with his disease and how he knew God would lead him through whatever this world would put in his way. He wanted to know where I was in my life, so I talked with him of my own personal leap of faith. That day I was literally driving down the road on the way to start my new journey as the Director at the Trail of Faith. I told him how he had inspired me to go further in my faith, and for that, I was forever grateful. Once more, my friend was doing what God had intended for him to do, lift up others through his message. Although he was suffering and battling the disease that eventually claimed his life, he was not complaining, nor discouraged. He only wanted to get better so that he could continue the ministry God had placed before him. We said goodbye hoping to meet again soon, but it never happened. Dave went on to get well that particular time and eventually he and the Plowboys would make it to the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival where I’m certain they found many more to whom they could share the faith. In the meantime, he and the Plowboys went on to record what would be Dave’s final album, titled, “The Gospel Plowboys – Welcome Home.”

The title cut says it all in a prophetic message that cannot be denied.

It wasn’t but just a few days ago that his wife Rita posted how he had become gravely ill. It didn’t seem right to know that a man my own age was so near death. It didn’t seem fair. He had so much more to give. But when the Father calls you home, you do not tarry, you do not delay.

As I walked home from Church last night, I could hear the sound of a lonesome whippoorwill calling. It was almost dark by the time I found the porch steps. The deep woods call of the lonely bird made me think of souls that had gone on and how in their journey to Heaven’s shore happens in the twinkling of an eye, leaving us sorrowful souls behind, alone in the dark to sing praises singularly until we too will one day be called home to sing in that Heavenly choir. Dave and our other bluegrass buddies like Randy Shumaker are surely there, jamming around that campfire along with so many who have already gone on, singing and rejoicing in the glow of God’s graces. They have so much to look forward to, and so much to share with us on the glorious day of reunion.

Somewhere I have the article that we started. I might find it and glean pieces from it that speak about Dave. Perhaps it will inspire me to write something, perhaps not; either way, there’s a wake in his passing that I cannot ignore.

A great man, a loving husband, a dear grandfather, and a brother in Christ has left us, and God has gained another angel.

See you soon Dave, until then, give God the glory and tell Him I said, Thanks.

Please lift up prayers for Rita and the rest of Dave’s family as they struggle through this time of loss and sorrow.

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