Recently, I got to sit down and chat with Brett Larimer about his experience volunteering for Joy Prom last year. Brett is an easy-going guy with a soft, humble drawl and a heart of gold. Like many of our Joy Prom volunteers and guests, the event changed him, and he was eager to share his story.
So Brett, tell me a little of your story – how did you end up at GFC?
I was raised in church. I remember I had to sit quietly through the service – I had to be very well-mannered, they were very particular about that. Once I grew up and got out into the world, I attended church sporadically here and there. My mother had been going here probably 10 years. She kept telling me I really had to come here because it was a wonderful teaching church. When we came, we were hungry, you know? And we’ve been spiritually fed very well. God really did bring us here. I found out I’ve known some of these people my whole life, but who knew they were going to be here? There are people in here I started the first grade with!
The people at GFC genuinely love Jesus Christ. I’ve never been anywhere like it, to be honest. It’s hard to put into words. I’m excited about coming every Sunday. Our daughter is just overwhelmed with the youth ministry – she’s in high school. The men’s ministry is just amazing. I’ve come to the No Regrets conference the past two years, and I’m really involved in a strong small group. We are where God wants us to be.
How did you initially hear about Joy Prom?
It was during the service round about this time last year. It just did this to me when I heard it [he grabs his chest].
My daughter Katie said to me, “Dad, we need to do this.” And I said, “We?” (I’d already decided in my mind, I’ve got to do this.) Anyway, she says, “Yeah, you’d be really good at it.” And I said, “Really? What would I do, paparazzi?” She said, “No, no, no, I’m the paparazzi.” So I did food service.
What do you think was the biggest reason why you wanted to volunteer?
I felt like I could share my faith, where people could see it. It’s hard for people to see the glow of Christ in you. I just thought maybe I could appeal to somebody – well, not me, but God could use me. I tried to do it for a little spiritual growth, too, because joy’s a real hard thing for me.
What would you say your first impressions of Joy Prom were when you walked in the door?
“….WOW.” I just wasn’t prepared for what I saw… It was like an Oscar event you see on TV – the red carpet is really the red carpet. These people at GFC go to such great lengths to show the love of Christ. That’s the only way I can put it. There was so much JOY in this place, it was hard to contain it.
It’s like… have you ever been to Disney World? The Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons… that’s the only thing I can think of that would even be majestic enough to compare it to. Well, when you walk in to Joy Prom… just wait. It literally looked better than that. I’m not trying to go overboard. When the guests walked in and I heard everybody holler… it was a roar, and I was all the way back in the kitchen. You just wait… it will blow you away.
Last year you volunteered as a food server at Joy Prom, and this year you’re going to be a shoe shiner. Why do you want to shine shoes this year?
I’m excited about doing this because it will keep me on my knees quite a bit. I’ll be praying the whole time. It’s a humbling experience, it really is. It makes you come outside yourself. To serve people with special needs… it just touches your heart. That feeling you get, that is how Heaven is going to be.
Some of these people had never experienced any of this in their life. It was like they were going to the prom for the first time. These were people my age, late 40s, early 50s, some even older.
Mainly why I want to do it again is because I need it, to keep my heart from getting hard. It’s really easy to get this hard heart. Everyone wants to fit in, right? So let’s take the analogy of the Joy Prom… you’ve got all of our guests, but who rolls out the red carpet for them in day-to-day life? When you see what Joy Prom is like, you go back to what Jesus did – heal the lepers, make the lame to walk, the blind to see.
If you could say anything to other GFCers who are considering volunteering for Joy Prom, what would you say?
Let God humble you to do this. Let the love of Jesus Christ come through you and bless someone’s life who hasn’t experienced that.
…I don’t know what else to say. I’m really trying to stay composed right now.
I don’t think there was anyone here that night that wasn’t affected. Pastor Rob came up and said to me, “Wow you look like you were really blessed by this.” And I just said, “You have no idea…”
Brett Larimer, as interviewed by Theresa Decker
Posted on Fri, March 14, 2014
by Theresa Decker filed under