Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Joseph Hilliard Murray retired in December, 1980, as painting foreman of the Durham City Schools maintenance department. What makes that simple statement so remarkable, however, is that in 1959, the doctors of the Veteran’s Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, told Brother Murray he had 60 to 90 days to live. His body was being ravaged with cancer. But he survived.
Here is Brother Murray’s testimony, taken from an interview with Pastor John Clark on the Pioneer Broadcast radio program on February 2, 1980.
Pastor John: Tell us what it was like when you first felt something was wrong.
Bro. Murray: I was in Florida, working in the orange groves picking oranges, and later on, I got a job driving the truck. I first started losing my appetite, and everything I’d eat would come back. I couldn’t keep anything on my stomach. Then, all of a sudden a big knot came in my side, and I was just disabled. And I would go out at night and pray and ask God to make things right in my life again. And God did take the pain away. Then, I got on a bus and came back to North Carolina to find out what was wrong. I went to our family doctor down at Zebulon, North Carolina. And he told me something was terribly wrong, and he sent me right straight to Veteran’s Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, to find what my trouble was. And I knew I was dying. I knew unless God undertook for me, I would be gone. I had lost down to 156 pounds, and since the Lord has healed me, I’ve gained back to 210 pounds.
Pastor John: What happened when you arrived at the Veteran’s Hospital?
Bro. Murray: They said, “Let’s make some tests and see what it is.” They took me down to the x-ray room to make tests of this tumor that was in my side. But while I was lying on the stretcher waiting to be taken into the x-ray room, I had a vision of an angel coming and taking me by the hand and leading me down a little pathway. In our little walk down this lane, he set down in the pathway a bucket of the clearest liquid I’d ever seen. And he took a cup, and he dipped in this little cup and poured it on my head. And when he did, I came out of my dream, or my vision, whatever I was having, and I was lying on the hospital bed, still waiting for the stretcher to roll me down to x-ray. But I knew that he had anointed me for my healing.
Pastor John: What was the diagnosis?
Bro. Murray: They said it was malignant and there was nothing to do but cut it out. And they brought papers around for me to sign that they might operate and take it out. But when they cut me open and found that I had so much cancer involved in my vital organs, they wired me back together and told my sister and my mother that about 60 to 90 days would be it. But God has brought me out and the doctors were amazed that I came out of the trouble I was. . .
Pastor John: But tell me what went on. What did you spend your time in the hospital doing?
Bro. Murray: Oh, I got down to business with God and started praying. The night that I was first in there, I remember that moon shining through that big window, with three other patients in that room. And I got down on my knees and I asked God, without screaming out, without disturbing anybody, just poured out my heart to God and asked God to restore me to my satisfaction and my peace with Him, no matter what it took, to get me back where I needed to be with God.
Pastor John: Was there — and you needn’t go into any details now — but was there a reason you feel that this thing happened to you?
Bro. Murray: Absolutely. I think, maybe, deep-rooted in my system was an unforgiving spirit. I had been involved in a certain situation in the past, and I could not forget it and I could not forgive. When you get bitterness in your spirit, and you cannot forgive somebody for something you think is wrong, even if they’ve mistreated you in some way, if you don’t get that bitterness out of your heart, something will come upon you. I went to our pastor and talked it over with him. And he said I’d have to forgive or I’d die and go to hell. And I said, “I guess I’ll just have to die and go to hell then.” And I walked out of the room, but in a few minutes, I came back with tears in my eyes, crying because I could not live with that attitude. I had to forgive myself and forget that I’d even said that. And I wanted forgiveness for even making a statement like that. But I think an unforgiving spirit was the deep-rooted trouble, John.
Pastor John: In the hospital, did you have a day or a specific moment that you released whatever this was inside you?
Bro. Murray: Yes, it happened. I walked up to the chaplain. I asked him if they had some Bibles in the hospital. He said, “Yes, son. We’ve got some down in the chapel on the fourth floor. Go down and get one, and read it!”
And I started reading about Lazarus being sick. And there’s something else I want to point out. Our pastor, Brother George Clark, during the time I was reading this story, on his desk in his office had been reading this same story and had written it down: “He whom thou lovest is sick” (Bro. Murray started crying here), because he thought so much of me.
Somebody came to Jesus and told him of Lazarus, “He whom thou lovest is sick.” Jesus didn’t get excited; he stayed two more days where he was. And when he came to the tomb, Lazarus’ sister said, “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.” But she said, “I know whatever you ask God, He’ll do it.” And when he came to the tomb where Lazarus was and called him by name and said, “Lazarus, come forth!” And Lazarus came forth, wrapped in his grave clothes. And Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go!”
That’s when my faith caught, and I jumped out of the hospital bed and ran to the next room where there was a black preacher in the bed in there, and I said, “Man, it’s not too late for us!” I said, “We’re not even dead yet! And Lazarus was dead four days, and God called him by his name, and he came forth out of the grave. There’s still hope for us! We’re not dead yet!” Glory to God! That’s what set the spark off, John, right there. And from that time, the cancer was gone.
Pastor John: Praise God!
Bro. Murray: Amen!
Pastor John: When did the doctors find out that the cancer had disappeared?
Bro. Murray: Well, I went on through the radiation treatments they’d scheduled for me, until August 6th of that year and was discharged from the hospital. But I had to go back on certain occasions for checkups. And they examined me and found that no trace of cancer was in my body. They examined me at the Veteran’s Hospital first; then I was examined at Duke Hospital, but no cancer was found.
And they had put me on total disability, and I was drawing a check from the government for a non-service connected disability. And they took me to Winston-Salem, the government hospital, after I had recovered so completely, examined me, and still found no trace of cancer. My check stopped, and I went to work, and I’ve been working ever since, about 20 years now.
Pastor John: Was there any response from the doctors?
Bro. Murray: One of the doctors at the Veteran’s Hospital said, “I wish all our patients would respond to our radiation treatments the way you did.” And I told him, “Well, I think there was more to it than that.” And he said, “What’s that?” And I told him, “Faith in God.”
Pastor John: Amen.
Bro. Murray: But they had to do their part, and so I’m happy to be out from under all of it.
Pastor John: Let me read you this scripture and you tell me what you think about it.
Bro. Murray: Go right ahead.
Pastor John: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.”
Bro. Murray: Yes, amen. That’s what I was quoting to myself when I fell asleep on the x-ray table and the angel came. And when I woke, the doctor passing by said, “Boy, you’re really taking it easy.” And I said, “Yes, I never felt better in my life.” For the greatest peace had come over me since I had that visitation from an angel. And I feel it right now surging through my body. The peace that that angel brought! I think about that now sometime. I did for a while go back to that room and just sit down in that room just to remind myself of what happened in that room. And I’d always get that feeling. I’d go there and sit down, just relax in the hands of God. I could feel just what I felt in that bed when that angel came. Glory to God!
Pastor John: Do you think God’s lost any of His power?
Bro. Murray: Oh, if we can just believe it, God can do anything right now that He’s ever done for anybody else, and to a greater degree if we can just believe it to that greater degree. Glory to God! God is not limited in His powers. He can do for you, if you’re out there today and you’re sick and you have lost all hope and doctors have given you up, there is still hope for you right now in God. God can deliver you of anything that’s out there bothering you right now. It may be terminal in the eyes of men, but God can still take care of it.