Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pastor Larry DeBruyn's Memorial Service

Now Posted on YouTube

The Memorial Service for our departed friend Pastor Larry DeBruyn was held on January 7th. The service was officiated by his lifelong best friend, Bob Gifford, who pastors the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Dale City, Virginia. The church people were doubly sad, as they had also just lost a longtime faithful missionary, Mrs. Doom; so viewers will note there are several mentions of her throughout the course of the service.

The service may be accessed at YouTube:

Pastor Bob Gifford opened the service with a beautiful sermon and moving tribute to Pastor Larry. He told anecdotes from their long friendship, as they both served the Lord in ministry. Pastor Gifford told how Pastor DeBruyn was obedient to the Lord at great cost to write on biblical discernment in the latter years. Pastor Bob's wife Jane then stood to read letters commending Larry's ministry while in the pastorate.
Pastor Bob Gifford remembering his friend Larry.

Warren Smith was unable to attend the service but, thanks to the technology offered him by Berean Call, was able to record a special message remembering his friend Larry which was played for the service. Lynn Leslie then read aloud the series of tributes mailed in (these are reprinted in our previous post). Some from Pastor Larry's mission workers also sent in video recordings which are included in the YouTube memorial service.

Sarah Leslie delivered a eulogy, recalling the story of Larry's prolific research and writing with the Discernment Research Group. She told of the vast influence of Pastor Larry's writing ministry across the world, both in writing and traveling to the mission field.

Gaylene Goodroad, who frequently writes for Herescope, and her husband Steve were among Pastor Larry's faithful parishioners. She related a moving story of how Pastor Larry ministered to her in a time of need, and spoke of what a blessing he was to their family. In introducing her Pastor Gifford commended the women who worked alongside Pastor Larry in discernment as 'Deborahs'.

The last part of the memorial service was an extended time of sharing and remembering Pastor Larry DeBruyn. Many stood up and spoke very nice things about this godly man. He will be sorely missed!
Church member Matthew Jenkins and Lynn Leslie
sharing a jaunty hat moment after the service,
along with Sarah Leslie and Gaylene Goodroad

Warren Smith wants our readers to know that his most recent booklet/tract, just published, is dedicated to his good friend Pastor Larry. What a fitting tribute!
Read Warren's booklet HERE
Over the years Pastor Larry DeBruyn contributed in one way or another to well over 300 articles posted on Herescope. Below is the written text of the remarks I made eulogizing Pastor Larry. Mention was also made of the term 'larrydebruynism' which we all used humorously to refer to his unique turn of a phrase that so often appeared in his article titles, subtitles, and writings on Herescope. By God's grace, and with the blessing of Pastor Larry's friends and family, we will be taking steps to preserve his work and publish his writings so that his ministry will continue to bear precious fruit.

Remembering Larry DeBruyn
By Sarah H. Leslie, Jan. 6, 2018

“Behold, bless ye the LORD,
all ye servants of the LORD,
which by night stand in the house of the LORD.”

(Psalm 134:1)

The Lord has removed a watchman who was standing on the wall. Larry DeBruyn was plucked by the Lord off the wall, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Pastor Larry was a night watchman who witnessed the impending darkness of demonic idolatry descending over the land. He faithfully and boldly sounded warnings about the dangers coming into the body of Christ. With his passing, Isaiah 57:1 comes to mind. The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.”

I will tell some of the story of how Pastor Larry came to be a globally renowned discernment and apologist writer. In 2005 the Discernment Research Group began publishing the Herescope blog. The history of this research group goes back to the mid 1980s when my husband Lynn and I banded together with a group of likeminded Christians to research the New Age and occult that was coming into the church. We first called ourselves the Iowa Research Group, and in the early 1990s we began publishing and sharing research with discerning Christians who were banding together on the Internet. Herescope had been the name of a monthly column in the magazine my husband and I had published in the 1990s called The Christian Conscience. We had spent several decades writing, publishing and standing against the occult, paganism, false doctrines, New Age beliefs, heretical doctrines, dominionism, and weirdness that was coming into the church.

Pastor Larry’s writing first came into my hands in the mid 1990s when he wrote a short article concerned about Promise Keepers, a topic that I had also written about – in retrospect it seems significant that I had written about its pagan mysticism, a subject that Pastor Larry would eventually become quite familiar with. I didn’t know who Larry was at that time, nor do I recall who sent me the article, but I remember it because it was noteworthy. 

It was our friend Warren Smith, whose Christian testimony is that he came out of the New Age movement, who first introduced us to Pastor Larry. We had known Warren since the early 1990s, and had gone on to publish the first edition of his two books Reinventing Jesus Christ and Deceived on Purpose.  Warren felt that Pastor Larry’s unique gifts and deep spiritual insight, as well as his scholarly style of writing, made him well-suited to our ministry’s particular mission.

Indeed, Pastor Larry found a comfortable niche with our ministry. He began giving us permission to republish the discernment articles he was writing. Many discerning saints appreciated his gentle but forthright style of writing. Pastor Larry took great pains to be well-documented and researched, delivering a clear pronouncement of biblical truth against the error. Many readers expressed gratefulness that he had written a credible and scholarly article they felt comfortable printing off and taking to their pastor and church leaders.

One noteworthy attribute of Larry’s personality was his clever wit and wonderful sense of humor. When we discovered that we both shared a love of satire we began to work together more closely. It all started when the late Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries and I were inventing new words to satirize the weird stuff going on in the evangelical church world. It was really a silly, quirky thing that we enjoyed doing, and it took the edge off of the dark horrors we were researching. Pastor Larry DeBruyn quickly joined in our hilarity, and added in the necessary theology to our posts. We ran a whole series on Herescope called “Neologisms for Evangelicals.” The favorites were our many deviations on the term Sola ScripturaPlura Scriptura, Sola Mystica, Sola Experientia, MantraScriptura, and so on. How I will miss those quick phone calls from Larry. He would dictate words for me to type in, but he would have to stop because he was laughing so hard he couldn’t speak!

During this process Larry and I discovered that we worked very well together. From that point forward we began to more closely research and write together. Meanwhile Pastor Larry was retiring from his pastorate. At first he was uncertain about his future. I remember when Pastor Larry called me, quite discouraged, feeling very meek that his life’s work wasn’t going anywhere. He loved his Eastern European mission work and wanted to go on more mission trips. He had become quite involved with Discernment Ministries and frequently spoke at our conferences. His articles were being read across the globe. Yet he felt disheartened, wondering if he was producing fruit for the Lord.

One weekend he made a special trip to Pastor Jeff Whittaker’s church in Niles, Michigan to meet a group of pastors from Australia. A short while later Pastor Larry was invited to travel overseas by these pastors to go to Australia and New Zealand. Pastor Larry was off on his global travels! While he was still healthy he also traveled to South Africa and taught at a Bible School in Zimbabwe. God definitely did not retire him.

Pastor Larry used his time not traveling to become a more prolific writer. Of the 940 posts we have put up since 2005 Pastor Larry either wrote or contributed significantly to over 300 of them. Over the years he always wondered how many “hits” we had on his posts on the blog, and then would quickly add in humility, “Not that it really matters.” But it did! Writing on the Internet sometimes feels like writing into a giant vacuum – is anyone out there paying attention, listening, heeding the warning, repenting? We very seldom see the fruits of our work. Plus, on Herescope the silly blog counter never worked right, and it didn’t keep track of visitors accurately. But I could access the real figures on the blog and I’d assure him that tens of thousands of people across the globe were reading and disseminating his articles. Knowing this, plus being blessed periodically by wonderful kind letters he received from readers, encouraged Pastor Larry to continue his tedious and painstaking work of research and writing.

Pastor Larry became a bulwark for the rest of us doing discernment work, particularly for Gaylene Goodroad and I. We were writing about some very dark heresies coming into the church. It is an odd quirk of the Lord’s that He placed we two women in Larry’s life, and him in ours. Gaylene and I both have powerful testimonies of coming out of the occult and eastern mysticism. Gaylene was involved in the martial arts and her testimony is written in an online booklet My Life inthe Way. My testimony has never been written, but I survived the hippie era where I was deeply involved in transcendental meditation and the occult, as well as having many other extraordinary life experiences. Pastor Larry provided us significant biblical counsel on how to write about these dark heresies. He also publicly affirmed our remarkable callings and took extra steps to cover us with his pastoral oversight.

Pastor Larry had a unique gift to walk the fine line between warring theological camps by standing on the firm ground of Scripture itself. He had a unique gift of being able to think through theology in a way that was not divisive but solidly biblical. We never saw him have a bitter spirit nor exhibit an attitude of contentiousness. He did not believe in attacking men, but rather focused his efforts on exposing the new (often repackaged old) bad doctrines coming into the church. Pastor Larry’s heart’s desire, often expressed to us, was to simply contend for the faith: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His shed blood on the cross for our sins, His death and resurrection, and His soon second coming. Pastor Larry was so meek that there were several noteworthy occasions when he was working on an article where he chose to set it aside when he learned that it might fuel a dispute between brothers, or cause more contention in the body of Christ. Always he strove for peace.

Early on in our discernment work we prayed for the Lord to raise up godly pastors who could stand with us as we watched and warned. Very few men have been willing, and even fewer have had the courage, to take on the ministry of discernment. This ministry truly is the “offscouring” of the modern church era, much disparaged and maligned, with few rewards and much grief. Yet, Pastor Larry entered this ministry and began tackling head-on some of the hardest issues facing the church. He had a willing heart to obey God in this difficult ministry, knowing he “wrestled not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Pastor Larry was very bold in his proclamation of the Gospel of Salvation. He saw all heresy as an attack on the Gospel and thus he stood firmly as a watchman on the wall to proclaim the truth against the error. This often meant he had to research the error, and as awful as that was, he would rejoice even more in learning what great blessing God had given us in His Son Christ Jesus. Towards the end of his life Pastor Larry often told me that God had blessed him with great insight into how the Gospel stands as a beacon of light and truth against all spiritual wickedness in high places. This emboldened him all the more and he was writing on this topic up to the very end of his life.

A year ago in December Pastor Larry’s health took a serious turn for the worse. I did not hear from him for many weeks and it seemed that he might die. At this same time we were experiencing a difficult struggle in our discernment work. I prayed fervently, then prayed and fasted, that the Lord might give us Larry for more time. About a year ago one day the phone rang. It was Pastor Larry. He started the conversation with, “I’m alive! I didn’t die!” He didn’t see my tears as I wept for joy, praising God. The extra days that God gave him to us were filled with much ministry work, a huge writing project against a new form of Universalism, and a great deal of joint research on a book he was writing against ancestor worship. The week he died I was in the midst of trying to track down a few quotations he wanted to use. It is our prayer that with God’s help these unfinished manuscripts will be completed.

We praise God for Pastor Larry’s life and how it enriched ours… and yours. 

“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another:
 and the LORD hearkened, and heard it,
and a book of remembrance was written before Him
for them that feared the LORD,
and that thought upon his name.
And they shall be Mine, saith the LORD of hosts,
in that day when I make up my jewels;…”
(Malachi 3:16-17a)