Pictured above: Larry Brister (center) rings bell at treatment center where he shares the gospel with other patients.
LAUDERDALE—Six-hour sessions of chemotherapy, four dozen radiation appointments and countless medical procedures. This has been Larry Brister’s new normal for two years.
Since March 2022, Brister and his wife, Ruth Ann, have put their faith into practice for their church family as Brister receives the highest possible chemotherapy dose to what is considered to be treatable, but incurable cancer.
Brister, lead pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, is trying to suffer well. He would never ask for such a trial, but in some ways, he welcomes this cancer. With a passion for carefully unpacking the truths of Scripture, he is now getting the opportunity to do that in an entirely different setting—a treatment room.
Every time he enters the Oncology and Hematology Associates of West Broward, located in Tamarac, the Florida Baptist pastor sees other patients as an intentional gospel-sharing opportunity.
“God loved my fellow cancer patients so much that he dropped a pastor right in the middle of them,” he said.
Despite how he has felt throughout his cancer journey, Brister has made it a priority to be an intentional soul-winner. Referencing his gospel shares as “far too many to count,” Brister makes it a point to post updates for his followers and church members on social media to spur them to also look for gospel-sharing opportunities throughout their days.
I will continue to declare the glory of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ while I have breath in my body!
With a background in apologetics and a passion for sharing the gospel with every person, Brister noted that his “gospel shares from the chemo room” have reminded him of both the power of the gospel and the need for the gospel.
During his countless treatments, Brister has led many to the Lord, learned that no one declines prayer, and noticed that most patients are hungry for hope and have serious or difficult questions they want answered.
“Seriously ill people simply need someone to listen, and they never ever decline prayer,” he said.
Beyond using his cancer treatment as a gospel-sharing opportunity, Brister also has prioritized healthy church membership.
Convinced that “retirement” or relaxing due to age or illness is not supported in Scripture by the apostles or disciples, Brister is committed to showing up, gathering and leading his Immanuel Baptist Church family even when not always feeling well. Desiring to be faithful as long as he has breath, Brister noted the great support he has within the Southeast region church.
“I have trained a great team and associates who are more than capable of filling the pulpit when I am literally incapable of standing or sitting to strongly deliver a message,” Brister said. “That has happened a total of seven times, four of which I was in the hospital.”
As Brister and his wife cling to Jude 24-25 and as he settles in his mind that he will have treatments and gospel-sharing opportunities for the rest of his life, Brister reflects on the goodness of God.
“He is able. Period,” he proclaimed. “God has comforted and strengthened me and Ruth Ann through this whole thing. I am not worried or distressed at all.”
“I will continue to declare the glory of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ while I have breath in my body!”