As a 16-year-old, Larry Goodman never found himself thinking of God, let alone attending church. But one certain Sunday was different. One of Goodman’s high school friends invited him to come to church with him.
Photo by Hannah Hanzel
Larry Goodman, working in landscaping and maintenance at the Baptist Village of Oklahoma City, aims to make its seniors happy “like Christ has made me happy.”
It was that Sunday that Goodman felt the Lord’s presence during the sermon. Down the aisle with his buddy in tow, he gave his life to the Lord.
“It was the best day of my life,” Goodman said. “From then on, I just wanted to get involved with what the Lord was doing, whatever it was.”
Of all the different avenues to serve, he always found that gardening came the most naturally.
Goodman especially loved flowers – any kind. When he wasn’t working in other people’s yards, he was pruning his own garden. Over time, it became a given that he would go into some kind of landscaping and maintenance work as his profession.
Even after studying horticulture, Goodman never dreamed he would find himself living in and working at the Baptist Village of Oklahoma City, especially in his current capacity at the senior residential ministry. Every weekday morning, he gets up, throws on his work clothes, hops on the maintenance golf cart and works until noon. His primary responsibilities consist mostly of landscape care and maintenance.
After noon rolls around, Goodman clocks out, but rather than walk back to his on-campus apartment home, he continues working maintenance on a regular basis. Asked how he is able to work and then volunteer all day, he simply stated, “You can’t do this unless you just enjoy it. Everything I do here, I enjoy.”
Along with gardening and maintenance, Goodman specializes in assisting residents with their cable and phone systems. Through his service, he’s able to display Christ to them one-on-one. He lives out Baptist Village Communities’ (BVC) goal of “Serving God, Serving You, Serving Together” at its nine locations across the state.
Photo by Hannah Hanzel
Larry Goodman’s primary responsibilities at the Baptist Village of Oklahoma City are landscaping and maintenance, but once in a while he’s called on to help residents operate their cellphones.
“Larry seems to know the pulse of the village,” said Chris Finley, BVC director of chaplain services and its chaplain in Oklahoma City. “He seems to know everyone. In other words, if a resident is in need at the village, Larry most likely already knows about the need and has probably already attended to that need.”
When interacting with residents, Goodman often finds himself extending invitations to the on-campus church services and praying for them.
Mike Murphy, pastor of the church at the village, said of Goodman, “Every pastor needs a ‘Larry’ in their church because Larry never asks if he can help; he just anticipates the need and then takes care of it.”
During the summer, Goodman’s trusty 14-year-old sidekick Austin Knutson joins him on his tasks. Knutson’s mother serves as a nurse for Baptist Village’ on-campus licensed home health agency, Entrusted Hearts. A year ago, she came to know Goodman and asked if her son could join him in volunteer maintenance during the summer.
Since then, Goodman has led Knutson to the Lord and witnessed him getting baptized in the pool on campus. “He’s become like another grandson to me,” Goodman said.
Knutson is one of many people who come to the Baptist Village of Oklahoma City and is impacted by Goodman. Be it as a summer volunteer, a resident or a volunteer with the village’s Friends Team, Goodman always seems to make an impression. His infectious laughter and contagious smile brings joy to those he meets. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty either in the garden soil or in the hardships of his friends in the community. Many at the village would agree that Goodman is simply a good man bringing the good message of the gospel.
Goodman, with a grin, said one of his favorite things “getting people to smile and be happy. People may arrive happy or sad, and it’s easy to tell which is which. I just love to make them happy like Christ has made me happy.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Hannah Hanzel writes for the Baptist Messenger, baptistmessenger.com, news journal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.)