Being so young themselves, receiving full custodial rights to a teenager brought drastic change to both Murphy and Kalah's lives. But the opportunity to leverage their influence and share the love of Christ has been well worth the challenge.

Jun 23, 2015   |  

Topic Salvation

Seeing Murphy and Kalah together, they have an obvious and deep connection. They share looks with each other that silently communicate mutual understanding—a result forged from their far-from-average life together.

Kalah grew up in a Christian home and found acceptance, loyalty and support while attending a middle school small group at her church. Through this group, Kalah experienced the true meaning of community and held those friendships dear as she got older. “Though we all live in different cities now, they’re still who I call ‘my girls.’ I see how much they’ve molded me. I could always go to them for support and godly direction.”

While Kalah was genuine in her pursuit of the Lord, she often struggled with perfectionism. “I never felt judgmental toward others, but in regard to myself, I felt I could not mess up,” she shared. “I hated it. Everyone would call me the ‘good girl’ and no one felt comfortable opening up to me.”

Kalah desired change. After transferring colleges and joining a sorority, she began to notice tremendous growth in her life. She started living out her faith in a way she never had before, surrounding herself with unbelievers while still maintaining a close group of Christian friends.  “I don’t think it changed the way I acted, but it changed how I saw and treated unbelievers,” Kalah said.

"Everyone would call me the ‘good girl’ and no one felt comfortable opening up to me.”

While Kalah experienced growth in her college years, Murphy walked a more painful path. Due to a tough relationship with their stepmother, Murphy and his siblings decided to live with their biological mother through most of grade school and high school. But when Murphy left for college, he wound up moving in with his dad in Houston. Yet, just three months later, he was standing at his father’s funeral.

Uncertain of what to do next, Murphy moved back home. He soon fell into a pattern, going from bar to bar with friends and making poor decisions. Then one day a friend invited Murphy to The Village Church. At first, nothing seemed to change. Murphy continued attending, but his life looked the same—until one night turned everything upside down.

“I went to the bar with three of my friends and drank way too much,” Murphy said. “While walking home, I decided to mouth off to some guys.”

The next thing he knew, Murphy was shoved hard from behind. His face smashed into concrete, scattering three of his teeth to the ground.

“I awoke the next morning still drunk from the night before. I remember looking in the mirror, breaking down in tears and asking God, ‘Why do I deserve this?’” Minutes later, Murphy felt a change come over him that was both instant and lasting. “I was saved that night.”

Without the bars and without the parties, Murphy began digging deep into God’s Word. Although he shed many old habits, he did not shed his friends. He remained cemented in his new faith and didn’t shy away from sharing it with them—much like Kalah, whom he met soon after experiencing salvation.

A month after meeting, Murphy and Kalah began dating. Life seemed to be turning around. But then the phone rang one winter day, and Murphy answered it to hear the frantic voice of his 16-year-old half-brother, Jack, who said their electricity had been shut off, leaving them with no heat. It was 20 degrees outside. Jack asked for Murphy to come and get him.

He did. And two days later, Murphy went back to pick up his youngest half-brother, Wink, as well. They had been living in deplorable conditions, and neither boy had been to school in over two years.

Murphy made a choice that would potentially change his entire lifestyle. He hired a lawyer, put on a tie and went to court. When his stepmother failed to show, he walked out of the courtroom with full custodial rights to Wink.

Two days later, Murphy proposed to Kalah.

Murphy made a choice that would potentially change his entire lifestyle. He hired a lawyer, put on a tie and went to court.

Despite the drastic change it meant for both of them, Kalah supported Murphy’s decision. “I knew we needed to do everything we could to help his brothers and prevent them from being placed in a bad situation,” Kalah recalled. “Having Wink around has been incredibly easy and natural.”

One of the largest weights of responsibility they now feel, though, is how much influence they carry over Wink—Murphy in particular. Like many fathers, Murphy is more aware than ever of what he models or says in front of Wink. He wants to set a good example for him.

However, despite an incredibly difficult childhood, Wink is thriving under the love and care of the Jacksons.

“He’s making top grades in his class, he’s really authentic and hasn’t rebelled. And, he just really enjoys being around older people.”  

Being so young themselves while raising a teenager is hard, but Murphy and Kalah look forward to their next stage of life. They hope to one day have biological children, as well as adopt. They dream of running a photography business together. But, for now, they are leveraging their influence on those around them, loving their friends and family well, poured out for the gospel.