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Not I, But Christ: A Life Marked by Soul-Winning and Serving the Local Church

FT. LAUDERDALE—Larry Brister, lead pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church since July 2018 and active member of the Florida State Chapter of the Conservative Baptist Network, passed away April 11 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 71.

A husband, father of two, grandfather of five, great-grandfather of three, and a mentor to many, Brister was known for his vibrant spirit, compassion and dedication to serving those in the local church.

“As I look back on our almost 53 years together, I feel grateful for all the ups and downs of life that made us who we are,” said Ruth Ann, wife of Brister. “Trusting God and believing in His goodness has kept us in these troubling times [battling cancer for two years]. We know His plan is always perfect as well as His timing.”

Brister’s passion for preaching and evangelism fueled the gospel-centered ministry at the Florida Baptist church and his personal walk with the Lord.

Carol Vidal, Spanish pastor at the church since 2014, said Brister’s legacy was one of undivided “advancement of God’s kingdom.”

“Pastor Larry always identified himself with the advancement of God’s kingdom; he invested in church resources to reach people for Christ, and was passionate about developing church leaders,” he said. “He was a spiritual and intellectual life to be ready for the Lord. He was an excellent pastor and friend with always a wise word or challenge … a man of his word and with faithfulness, integrity and values.”

Clinging to a “Not I, but Christ” personal mission, Al Fernandez, regional catalyst for Florida Baptists’ Southeast region, shared that Brister’s life was a life dedicated to soul-winning and being an “inspiration” to others.

“Pastor Larry Brister was a hero of the faith. His dedication and passion for sharing the gospel of Jesus, even during the most difficult times in his life, was inspirational,” he shared. “The last time he attended the Broward Baptist Association pastor’s cohort meeting, you could tell he didn’t feel well. Yet, at no point did he complain about his circumstances but proceeded to share how God gave him the opportunity to share Jesus with the other chemotherapy patients. Pastor Larry Brister finished his race on this earth well and today he is receiving his eternal reward in heaven with Jesus.”

Brister’s legacy and unwavering passion for carefully unpacking the truths of God’s word, championing the local church, evangelistic fervor and everyday faithfulness will be a mark on his church family and all who knew him.

During a previous Florida Baptist interview, Brister noted that he will “continue to declare the glory of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ while I have breath in my body!”

And that he did.

This article was originally published on May 8, 2024 for the Florida Baptist Convention.

By Jessica Pigg


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