The event will be a highlight of the weeklong Church of God Tennessee Camp Meeting. Murray’s presentation is open to the public at no charge.
Murray’s story has been featured in many venues, including Lifetime Television’s Emmy movie, “From Homeless to Harvard.” She is a best-selling author and speaker.
Jackie Walker with the Tennessee Church of God State Office is sponsoring the event.
“We are encouraging community leaders from the Cleveland, Chattanooga and surrounding area to join us to hear Liz’s testimony as we focus on those who serve in various agencies of ministry of care and compassion,” Walker stated. “Liz Murray is a shining example that a life of despair can be transformed into an inspiring journey of determination, hope, success and true grit.”
Murray’s life as a child was with cocaine-addicted and alcoholic parents, Walker explained.
According to a North Cleveland Church of God news release announcing Murray’s visit, “There was never food in the house, everything was filthy, drugs were everywhere and the welfare checks were spent before they arrived.”
Murray’s mother died of AIDS at age 41.
At 15, Murray became homeless — living on the streets of New York City, riding the subway all night, sleeping in stairwells with friends and routinely eating from dumpsters, according to the news release.
She was fending for her life, and in order to survive she often sought refuge while camping out in New York City parks and at all-night subway stations.
“She was determined not to be defined by her circumstances,” Walker said. “She had not attended school regularly. But, life on the streets taught her she must have an education. A dedicated teacher saw a ‘diamond in the rough.’ He cared. With a small number of other students, he invested a great deal of time mentoring those students and helped Liz see a life beyond the streets.”
Murray’s story continues as she earned a high school diploma in just two years and won a New York Times scholarship to Harvard University that “... turned her bleak circumstances into a future filled with limitless possibility,” Walker said.
Since completion of her Harvard degree, Murray is now working on a degree in counseling at Columbia University. She is the recipient of Oprah Winfrey’s first ever Chutzpah Award. She has appeared on many prime time TV interviews and is a popular inspiration to both student groups and business audiences alike in need of the motivation to overcome their own obstacles.
“When I heard her speak, I immediately began working to bring her to the meeting on June 20,” Walker pointed out. “I hope everyone makes an effort to hear Liz and invite anyone who is involved in reaching and helping those who seem hopeless. I especially invite teachers, educators, counselors, chaplains, youth leaders, coaches, foster parents and anyone who rescues and pours into the lives of others. We will honor those in attendance who are changing lives and creating futures.”
No reservation is necessary to attend the June 20 event.