Inspirational journey: Pastor holds special place in hearts of many

Larry Joe was always the same Larry Joe no matter what … and here’s the story.

Larry Joe DeWitt believed he could withstand anything this world dealt him. You see, Larry Joe never let his faith falter because he believed in Jesus Christ. He often spoke of what Jesus went through on this earth and found great comfort in this when he faced adversity in his own life.

When Larry Joe lost his parents, he was the same Larry Joe. When he lost a job he loved, he was the same Larry Joe. Through liver disease, through cancer, the same Larry Joe. No matter what came at him, he was the same Larry Joe.

And as I recently reflected on that, I understand why he was always the same Larry Joe — for us.

He was an encourager of everyone and a man who believed in all of us. He was not going to let his life be defined by the battles he fought. His life is defined by the battles he fought for us.

The last sermon I ever heard Larry Joe preach was just a couple of weeks before he left Scottsburg Christian Church. It remains my all-time favorite sermon by anyone I’ve ever heard.

That morning, during the hymn of invitation, I got cold chills through my entire body as he spoke about Jesus Christ. His words still have a special place in my heart and thoughts. And from the stillness of the church that morning, I believe many others felt the same way.

“If ever there has been a man with a fishing pole in his hand happier than Larry Joe DeWitt, I’ve yet to meet him.”

His voice was so warm and full of love as he described Jesus standing there waiting for us to come to Him.

“I can see Jesus right now standing there on the shoreline,” he said. “His hand is stretched out to you. He’s waiting for you right now to bring your problems to Him. He’s been there all of your life, and He’s still there. Will you take his hand today? Will you walk with Jesus? He’s right there. He’s waiting on you, and all you have to do is step toward Him and take His hand, and He will walk with you forever. Will you walk with Jesus today?”

Friends, brothers and sisters, I believe in my heart that Larry Joe DeWitt is walking with Jesus today.

DeWitt died Sept. 9 after a battle with cancer. He was 55.

P.S.: When Larry Joe first went in the hospital this last time, he sent me a picture of a MoonPie and wrote, “I sure could use one of these right now.”

Mike Barrett is a local resident with an interest in history. His Backroads Indiana columns regularly appear in The Tribune. Send comments to