Interview with Tom Larmore, Senior Pastor
Tell us about your background and how you became a Christian.
When he got upset my uncle used to say, "I should have been a farmer!" I guess he meant that he was frustrated or not very good at his job so maybe he would have been better as a farmer. Living in the Midwest, an agrarian vocation of some sort could have been my destiny, but God had other plans. We lived in one of Iowa's larger cities, Cedar Rapids, so I was more of a city kid than a farm kid. And although our little family was surrounded by lots of 'God's country' as they call it, God had no part of our nice, but God-free, home.
When my dad came home one day claiming that he had trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior at the post office where he worked, all “heck” broke loose in our happy secular home. Dad tried to share this good news and changed life with us, but my mother, brother, sister and I considered Jesus more of a home-wrecker than the wonderful Savior my dad talked about. Tragedy struck soon after when a head-on car vs. truck collision killed my dad, nearly killed my mom, and put my brother and sister in the hospital. By God’s grace, I was not on that trip. Over the next couple of years as my mom went through multiple surgeries as a result of her injuries, we kids were bounced around from nanny to nanny and relative to relative, living most of the time with our very stern grandparents. When my mom recovered physically, we moved away to the farm country of southeast Iowa for a fresh start in New London and to be near my aunt and uncle.
It was in New London that my mother was introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior. By now I was a teenager-- feeling indestructible and angry at everybody and everything. I went on a sin-binge during my high school years that got me in trouble with the law in Iowa and the border states of Illinois and Missouri. Also, my mother married a nice Christian man (which made me madder) and both of them tried to lovingly reach me for the Lord Jesus Christ. I was not interested and fought even harder, getting into even more trouble until one horrible-wonderful winter night in late 1968 when I believed I was going to die. At first it seemed like just another gang fight, but this time I was on the losing end of a very bloody gang battle that left me unconscious, but spiritually awakened for the first time in my life. Seemingly confronted with dying, I was terrified of the possibility that I was slipping into a place that I didn't believe existed... hell! In time I recovered physically from the severe beating but I was haunted by that fear-of-dying experience and knowing I was destined for the flames of hell-fire.
A few weeks after my appearance improved, I went to a small, rural church out in a pasture where the people seemed to know the Bible and appeared confident about going to heaven after death. At Harmony Bible Church in Danville, Iowa, I found that God wanted to fix my broken life and soul. There, the Bible was taken seriously, believed, studied and applied to daily life and in their praises, prayers, and testimonies in church. I heard in practical ways how it worked for them. Shortly thereafter as I attended a Sunday service and sat in the back pew, God used Pastor Ed Davis to make me understand that Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, gave Himself for me on the cross, paying for all my sins and offenses against the Holy God of the universe. I understood that I needed to not only believe that with my mind, but I needed to receive Jesus by opening my whole heart and life to Him... NOW!
So on January 21st, 1969, right there in a little church in the corner of a farm field, I repented of my sin, prayed, and asked Jesus Christ to forgive me and come into my life. Since then, I have grown up spiritually by learning all I can about the Bible, its Main Subject-- my Savior, Jesus; its Publisher-- my heavenly Father; and its Author-- my indwelling Holy Spirit. God has also graciously chosen me to use the spiritual gifts of teaching, leading, admonishing, and serving for His glory with the rest of my life that He entrusts to me.
"Whenever I get discouraged or feel like giving up, I remember my uncle mumbling, "I should have been a farmer" and the Lord whispers in my heart, “that's what you are, a sheep-farmer for Me; My shepherd to care for and protect My flock until I come". I don't know when the Chief Shepherd will return and call His flock home or when my tenure will end, but I know life really began in a “flock”, in a church, in a pasture, in Iowa, where I met the Lamb of God and the Chief Shepherd wrapped up in one awesome Person, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Tell us about your Family
God has blessed us with a son (Nathan) and a daughter (Rachel). They are outstanding Christians married to great spiritual life-mates in Christ and the parents of my five grandchildren. My wife, Joyce, uses her amazing spiritual gifts of administration, creative arts, hospitality and technical skills in the church ministries at CBF.
Where all have you ministered previously?
From then until now, it has been "a tale of two cities" in our lives, ministering back and forth between Guam and the South Jersey area twice now.
How did CBF come about?
Christ's Bible Fellowship was started early in 2000 to provide expository Bible teaching for the island of Guam. The goal of biblically establishing scriptural leadership and doctrinally sound worship has become our foundation. God has grown us from about a dozen people to well over 500 people. Our unique biblical philosophy of evolving leaders from within the congregation to positions of leadership and ministry has produced strong leaders and a growing staff.
When you have spare time what do you and Joyce enjoy doing?
When we have the time, we love to be with or talk with our kids and their spouses, fellowship with friends, walk after dinner and watch mystery movies together. When I can, I also enjoy long runs, swimming in the ocean, walking the beaches and talking with the Lord as the sun sets or rises on this beautiful Island paradise.