By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
WATERPROOF – Larry Walters ran from God most of his young adult life, until an encounter with God during a revival service at Hill Ridge Baptist Church in Crowville brought the 35-year-old “roughneck” under conviction for repentance, and planted the seed for a call to ministry.
“The week of revival at Hill Ridge Baptist Church I had completed a 12-hour shift as a worker in the oil field and came home to find the pastor and the evangelist praying with my daughter, Melanie, moments after she accepted Christ,” said Walters, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Waterproof since 2012.
The home visit made a profound impact on him, he shared, explaining that he attended the revival the following night and “fell under conviction to ask Jesus into my heart.”
“At the last night of revival the pastor asked if there was anyone who wanted to say anything,” said Walters, who was honored during the 2018 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting as an Exemplary Bi-vocational Pastor of the Year. “I couldn’t not proclaim to everyone what God had done. I knew He changed my life and I surrendered to whatever He wanted.”
When Walters returned to the oil field, he boldly proclaimed Christ as his Savior despite the ridicule of co-workers, and the Holy Spirit eventually convicted some of them to follow Christ.
Within a year, Walters began teaching a Bible study on the same drilling rig.
He also sensed the call to ministry during a revival at Crockett Point Baptist Church in Crowville.
Pastor Joe Senn, who died in May 2016, helped connect Walters with churches that needed a pastor to fill in periodically on Sundays.
One of those congregations, Faith Temple in Delhi, asked him to serve as their pastor.
Walters initially declined because the church was not Southern Baptist, but the congregation insisted he come on board and changed its denominational affiliation and chose a new name, Unity Baptist Church.
Six years later, after a brief move back to Crockett Point Baptist to teach a Sunday school class, Walters learned First Baptist Waterproof needed someone to teach a six-week Bible study on solemn assembly.
At the end of the 2012 study, the church asked if he would serve as their pastor.
“We prayed about it and they voted me in,” Walters said. “That church has been a blessing to us. They show God’s love to my family and to others. I’m thankful to have a church like them to pastor.”
The church, which averages 40-50 people for Sunday morning worship services, is a predominantly rural congregation.
Most members do not live in Waterproof and drive 10-25 miles to attend and to take part in ministry efforts like Vacation Bible School and to volunteer at the Ferriday Storefront Mission, a ministry of Delta Baptist Association.
Walters also has a new line of work outside of ministry, serving as branch manager for a building inspection company with responsibilities in 14 jurisdictions in Louisiana.
“It’s a busy life for sure,” he said. “There are a lot of times you spend all night in the emergency room and then get up with just a small amount of sleep to go to your secular job. Sometimes that gets overwhelming, but God is always faithful to give us grace to do that. It’s about Him, and not about us, and our service to Him. That’s reward enough.”