Murray Rule Eulogy
William Murray Rule was born in Greenwich (in North Sydney) on February 16th 1921, the eldest child in a family of 4, 2 boys (Murray and Doug) and 2 girls (Joan and Peggy). It was a Christian family belonging to a Brethren Assembly known as the Glanton meeting. His father, John William Rule, an accountant had named him William Murray after his paternal grand father, as was the tradition in the Rule clan of the Scottish border country. His mother, Rosa, however, announced he would be known as Murray, and he has been ever since.
He was from earliest childhood a lover of flowers and all of God's handiwork, and also a lover of trains. His Hornby train tracks often went from the front door to the back, much to his tidy mothers consternation. He loved trains so much he learnt by heart all the stations in order of every train route in NSW. He never forgot these and he and his grandson Kris used to have challenge matches naming stations in turn.
The Great Depression hit just as his father had borrowed heavily for a second business. He was forced into liquidation and went interstate for some years until he could recover financially and pay his creditors. This left Murray at 11 or 12 as the man of the family and his aunt has told us that his mother had relied on him very heavily. Life was hard but their mother saw that they had their fun times going on picnics and to places within walking distance such as the Lane Cove National Park. Fortunately, too, at this time at the little Brethren Sunday School he gradually put his trust in Jesus as his saviour; he often sang a chorus from those days, "All my sins are laid on Jesus, I will serve and follow him."
He did well at primary school and went to North Sydney Boys High, which was a selective school, doing well enough in his Intermediate Certificate to win a Scholarship into the Public Service, where after a short time he transferred into the NSW Tourist Bureau in Martin Place, remaining in tourism until he resigned to train for PNG. When World War 11 broke out he joined the A.I.F being with the 5th division. After a time in Queensland went on to PNG, Dobodura, Lae, Finschafen, and finally over to the Halmaheras at Morotai where he was when the war ended.
As a youth he had been shy and not a mixer, which is hard to conceive , but once in the army, he learned to give and enjoy mateship and found some good Christian friends, especially in Morotai. After the war he was transferred to Newcastle to manage the NSW government Tourist Bureau, first at City Hall and later at David Jones which was then Scotts.
He often said, "I stood on Scott St and thought, I only know one person in this whole city and he's a very old man." Being Murray, that state of affairs didn't last long. A combined churches campaign was about to be held with an American Russian Jewish Christian named Hyman Appelman. At the launch meeting Murray was appointed campaign treasurer. He always said "They didn't know me from a bar of soap. I could've been a crook about to abscond with the funds." He didn't. He formed life long friendships. At the close of it five of the young men were led together and formed the first Youth for Christ in Australia. Their aims were to bring young Christians of all denominations together for one Saturday night a month and to help other young people to come to know the Lord. They met first in Tyrrell Hall and then in the Methodist Mission Hall in King St, now the Mission Theatre. The five fellows had wonderful early morning prayer meetings every Saturday morning. They used to pack the mission hall out every time and many young people were brought to Christ or strenghtened in those days.
The young men Ray Meade, Roy Glover, Roger O'Donnell, Ray Moore and Murray Rule. Ray Moore, Joan's brother, used to say to Joan, who was away teaching at the Wagga Teachers College, "There's this fellow called Murray Rule and boy does he get things done. You ought to meet him." When they finally did Joan says she was standing up on their back verandah one Saturday morning having just returned from the beach in an old T-shirt and her brother's old fishing shorts. Murray said he walked through the back gate looked up at this girl and realised, that's the girl God has for me to marry. He broke it off with his current girlfriend that night. It's a long fascinating story but they were finally married on 12th August 1950 in Parks St Methodist Church where Joan was a member. By this time they knew they were heading for missionary linguistic work in New Guinea. They applied to and were accepted by the U.F.M, now A.P.C.M and arrived at Lake Kutubu by flying boat—there was no other way in or out.
That was May 2nd 1951. They had both trained at the S.I.L and subsequently both got their Masters degrees in linguistics. Murray's thesis, a comparison of the Foi, Huli and Erave languages of the Southern Highlands of PNG was accepted and published as a monograph of Oceania. In their work among the Foi and elsewhere, Murray was a brilliant grammarian while Joan took responsibility for the phonetics and alphabet contruction. Although Murray and Joan were accepted for translation and literacy. Murray turned his hand to everything, as you do in a pioneer missionary situation. They saw a church emerge, Murray ran a bible-school (after he had built it), kept a launch going, kept an airstrip open, counselled inumerable people - you name it he did it.
It was during those earlier years at Lake Kutubu that his three children, Margaret, Stefanie and Richard were born. They spent their childhood years on the mission station. Each have fond memories of jungle treks, picnics on the lake and serious games of scrabble under the tilly lamp as a family. On many occasions they found themselves huddling under the small roof of the old launch or under a small thatched-roofed hut in the jungle for relief from a torrential downpour. Dad's smiling face from under his characteristic broad-rimmed hat was a constant source of encouragement. The children went off to boarding school from the age of 8 but would return home for the school holidays. They finally stopped making the regular trips back to P.N.G. after they completed their Secondary schooling in Australia. Each of them have settled and have families in Australia. He was very fond of his 8 grandchildren, Karl, Jamie, Kris, Josh, Hannah, Chelsea, Zac and Theo.
Murray and Joan were appointed the missions language consultants in the 1960's and this took them all over the Western Province and the Southern Highlands province as well as twice to Irian Jaya, working on some thirty six different languages. Murray was gifted in the learning and speaking of languages and was fluent in five different languages; in fact the Foe people said that he spoke Foe as Foe man! The new Testament in the Foi language was finally dedicated in September 1978 and much to Murray's joy and delight, the first edition was quickly sold out, the second edition was sold out and it's now in it's third printing.
In 1979, with the church functioning well, they were transferred to the Dauli Teachers College where Murray had four most fruitful years as chaplain, christian education lecturer and also because he spoke the Huli language fluently, the catering supervisor of the Huli kitchen staff bringing order, solvency and harmony into what had been a very unsettled situation. Then came the time for retirement. The morning Murray left Dauli, the entire student body walked out of lectures, formed a huge semi-circle and wept loudly.
Murray and Joan were able to make a memorable trip to Israel and then they returned to PNG where they had eight wonderful years in urban ministry in Mendi. They saw, among other things, the Mendi jail transformed by conversions among prisoners and wardens.
Since their return to Newcastle in 1991 Murray has been active in personal work and visiting, especially in the Merewether Uniting Church where he was a member of the evening congregation and an elder. He was also at St Phillips Anglican Church Waratah where they attended the morning worship. His heart remained in P.N.G. In 1992 the Chevron Oil Company, as a public relations gesture to the people of Kutubu, commissioned him to write a book, The culture and language of the Foi, which was published in 1993.
He has returned every year for four or five weeks to visit the Foi villages, encourage the church and teach at the CLTC at Banz. It was while up there this time that the lymphona flared up again. He insisted on finishing his lectures, the final week of which was a series for the pastors of all the surrounding churches. This was a first for the area and greatly blessed.
He was in a lot of pain however and came home in a wheel chair and straight to hospital where he remained, except for two wonderful days the week end before last, when he was allowed home.
His energy, evangelistic zeal, enthusiasm, love for the Lord and love for people was manifest to all. His heros were Daniel of the Old Testament of the Bible and John Wesley of eighteenth century England. He admired them for their totally uncompromising faith in God, their commitment to the Christian cause, their devotion to prayer and Bible study and their amazing courage in the face of extreme opposition.
We never knew a man who loved people the way Murray did. The love he had for the people of PNG was matched by the love they felt for him. His great gift of encouragement has blessed many. On our treks, when puffing up a mountain, he would be behind us, saying with warmth, "don't give up, your going like a champion."
He died just before 10 o'clock on Sunday evening making what he has always described as the "greatest space journey of all time ." But to those who haven't received Jesus as Saviour he would say don't delay, receive him now before it's too late. To those of us who are wanting to journey on with the Lord, he would say, as he always has, "don't give up, you're going like a champion."
My Personal Thoughts ... Richard Rule
I just wanted to add a few words as a personal tribute to a man who I have held in such high regard. Dad, in my opinion, ranks as one of the world's all time great Christian missionaries. I rank him with men like Dr Paul White, Eric Liddell, Hudson Taylor and Dr James Dobson and yet we all know that he was never interested in personal acclaim or recognition. After 25 years on the Foe New Testament he and Mum requested not to be acknowledged for the work they had done in its translation. Dad demonstrated through his life that he wanted all the glory to go Jesus.
There is so much I could say but time will not permit me to today so in closing I would like to say that we need more Christian men like him. I will carry the banner that my father held so high and I will love Jesus as he did. I want to see Australians come to know Jesus as my dad did. I am committed to the vision of spreading the Christian gospel as long as I live so that at the end of my life I will know as dad does that thousands of people know new life in Christ because of my witness.