Taylor McMurray wasn’t ready to graduate from college in May.
“I was scared to go out into the world by myself,” Taylor says.
So many of his plans had derailed: An ambitious childhood dream of playing Major League Baseball, and even a modest post-graduate internship in Ft. Myers, Fla, was cancelled after discovering a torn labrum.
So Taylor turned to His plans.
After meeting Minnesota FCA state director Glenn Martin at the University of Northwestern coffee shop, Taylor decided to apply for a summer internship.
“I wasn’t very connected to the FCA and had never gone to a camp before,” Taylor says, “so I was extremely surprised that I was offered the internship.
“But looking back, I can see God’s hand in it all.”
A baseball player at the University of Northwestern, Taylor interned at the Decorah Sports Camp at Luther College in Iowa, and he opened his heart to God. He was one of the huddle leaders who helped nearly 1,000 students at 21 different camps throughout the state this summer make a first-time decision to accept Christ into their life or re-dedicate themselves to Christ.
“That weekend was a huge turning point in my life,” Taylor says. “I thought that leading a huddle would give me the opportunity to impact these kids with the help of Christ, but it was the other way around.”
Sharing his story
On the first day of sports camp, Taylor gave a five-minute testimony, explaining the impact of growing up in a household with an alcoholic father. Some nights, Taylor’s father didn’t come home. The other nights, Taylor’s father would usually come home drunk.
“That was tough,” he said.
After the session ended, Taylor walked to his dorm room and invited God to use him for His glory at the camp.
After wrapping up his prayer, Taylor walked to a common area, where many campers and huddle leaders were playing games. He saw one of the campers in his group, and he took the open seat next to him. Taylor struck up a conversation with a 16-year-old camper on the other side of him.
The 16-year-old said he appreciated Taylor’s testimony and hinted at some of his own struggles.
Surrounded by a lot of people, Taylor asked the camper if he wanted to speak more privately in the study area.
“What’s going on?” Taylor asked.
The 16-year-old openly shared his life story, mentioning that both his parents were alcoholics and that he struggled with depression.
But the 16-year-old said Taylor’s testimony and prayer encouraged him.
“To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed,” Taylor says.
Taylor responded to the camper, but he doesn’t remember anything he said.
“God was speaking through me the whole, entire time,” Taylor says. “I remember certain aspects, like using scripture, but I couldn’t tell you what scripture it was or what I was relating it to.”
On the final night, after the chaplain’s message, he invited anyone who wanted to accept Christ into their life for the first time and anyone who wanted to rededicate their life to Christ to join him up front.
The 16-year-old camper was among the ones who answered the alter call.
“I was smiling from ear to ear,” Taylor recalls.
Then the chaplain called down coaches who wanted to rededicate themselves to Christ, and Taylor headed up front.
Tears streamed down his face.
“I was overfilled with joy,” he says. “It was then that I realized how powerful our God is.
“That night is one that I will never forget.”
Later, the 16-year-old tracked down Taylor and relayed a heartfelt message.
“I want to thank you for saving my life,” he told Taylor.
Taylor was overwhelmed.
“I was so filled with joy that God would use me to do something like that. and I was so happy that my camper had finally found hope in his life,” Taylor says. “All I could do was thank God. I was so happy!”
Trusting God and moving forward
Glenn Martin is humbled by Taylor’s story.
“At our summer sports camps, huddle leaders are the key ingredient,” Glenn says. “Obviously, we need campers and we need coaches. But without effective huddle leaders, camp is a dud.
“It is not surprising that while Taylor came to serve, he was blessed,” Glenn adds. “This is frequently how God works. When we come with an open heart willing to bless others, God ends up blessing us.”
Taylor, a centerfielder, originally started his college career at Bemidji State. But he transferred to Augsburg then Northwestern.
He’s currently working as an assistant manager at a hat store, but Taylor developed a knuckleball – a baffling and difficult pitch to master – and may try out for the St. Paul Saints.
His priorities, however, have changed.
“It’s been my dream my entire life to play professional baseball,” Taylor says. “But God is my No. 1 priority now, not baseball.
“He’s connected some dots that I didn’t see and think were possible.”