Foundations are the structures we build the rest of our buildings upon.  As it relates to this article, what are the beginnings, the experiences, the life happenings that our local ministers have lived through that led them to be pastors or priests?  Finding out what those foundations are for the ministers of our community is the focus of this series of articles.


By Dale Fillmore

First Church of the Nazarene, Okmulgee


Richard Larabee

People often say, “Well, I am like this because of the way I was raised.  I am determined by the circumstances of my life.”  Richard Larabee, pastor of the Together Church in Okmulgee, is a wonderful example of the truth that we don’t have to be determined by our circumstances.

In some ways, Richard would seem to be a very unlikely candidate to be a minister.  His parents divorced shortly after he was born.  He moved 36 times before he 17 years old, with Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina being the main states of his residence.  He was switched around between different family members through those years.  He was in a very tough situation.  He was often hungry, mistreated, and without a real home.  It didn’t seem to matter whether he was with mom or his dad.  At one place, he was mistreated one way, in the other, another.

The only positive or spiritual influence in his life was when Richard stayed with his grandfather.  His grandfather sent him off to church camp and prayed the prayer of repentance and salvation with him.  Richard was only 9 at the time, and yet he seemed to sense God’s call to ministry even then.  However, some very difficult life circumstances caused him to question his faith in God and the church.  He was 17 when he had had enough and left home for good.

Richard met Crystal, his wife, at youth camp.  As Richard began dating her, he began to meet some genuine, transparent Christians.  That’s when he got serious with the Lord.  He began to sense God’s call on his life once again.  He felt led to be a bi-vocational pastor.  He says that he didn’t want to be a burden on anyone and wanted his ministry to simply be out of a passion to serve the Lord.

Richard married Crystal.  He left school.  He began to work in business and was involved in ministry the whole time.  He served as a minister of music and youth.  He attended Life Church for a while.  It was there that he gained a vision of churches working together, which is a passion he pursues here in Okmulgee.  He says, “I want to lead with love.  I want to lead people to Jesus and see the fruit of repentance in their lives.”

Richard decided, when he left home at 17, that he didn’t want to be determined by the circumstances in which he had grown up.  He wanted to change and, by the grace of God, he has.  Now his joy is leading people to Jesus and seeing them make life-changing decisions in their lives too.

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