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United Methodist teen publishes devotional

10/30/2003 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn

By Nancye Willis*

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) -- Last summer, while other kids were shooting hoops and playing baseball, 13-year-old Robert Murphy was writing his first book, a devotional for teens.

"I took the Scriptures from the Bible and put what they mean to me," he says modestly. It wasn't quite that simple, though, for a young man more accustomed to play than prose.

It took months for Robert, a member of Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church, to write Discipling for the Generations, a book filled with Bible verses, prayer and inspiration.

"I wrote them by hand," he says. "Then my publisher typed it for me."

The first thing he wants readers to receive "is just a warm feeling of glory and love from reading it."

His grandmother, Elizabeth Murphy, is proud of the 8th grader's effort. "He'd get started and then he wanted to go play basketball," she said of that literary summer. "I'd say, 'No, we need to finish this.'"

In fact, the devotional was the brainchild of Robert's grandmother, who knew he had a gift to share. "It's really something great to do," she says, to "be able to say it in the words and terms that everyone can understand, to reach other young people."

The self-published, 33-page paperback retails for $10, and features illustrations by Robert's 13-year-old cousin Tamarez Davis. Robert's 15-year-old sister Shenaric donated her typing and editorial skills.

The first page features a dedication to Robert's mother, who died in 2001. Writing the book helped Robert cope with his grief, according to his grandmother. It also seemed a natural extension for a young person who was always drawn to Scripture and prayer, she adds.

A recent summer enrichment program called Children's Entrepreneurial Opportunity (C.E.O.) Academy, helped Robert learn techniques to market and promote his work. He was expected to wear business attire every day, practice public speaking, and create a sales display for his product.

"Have you ever wanted a book that fills your heart and soul?" he would ask prospective customers.

His first book signing made him a little nervous, but he says, "I've learned that you can go really, really far with a book that's about the Lord." He's already been tapped to serve as a counselor for the camp next summer.

Inspired by his grandmother, Murphy is working on a second book he hopes will be published in hardback. He carries "Discipling for the Generations" in his backpack to school every day, and his grandmother says she refers to it daily also, "to carry you through your day."

As for Robert's long-term plans, he actually aspires to be a podiatrist, but he's proud to be a published author too.

More information about C.E.O. Academy's programs is available at the organization's Web site

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*Willis is editor for the Public Information Team at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn.

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