My name is Kip Davis and I am the city planner for McCrory, AR. I just finished reading the winter issue of Whole Magazine. I was very excited to see a native of McCrory, Larry Freeman, on the cover and I have a story I would like to share with the readers.
One of my other jobs with the city is to head up the community service program. This means that I work with a lot of inmates and people working off fines for the city. I had a few guys show up at city hall one day and we were instructed to go to a residence and help clear off an estate.
When we arrived, I put the men to work and we began clearing the property. The men all worked hard and I talked with each of them. It is not just my goal to work the guys and have them do a good job, but to also try to help them set goals in life and know the Lord. As we talked, one man stood out to me above the others. He went by the name "Catfish." It was apparent that he had a lot of issues and had lived a very rough life. Catfish was as strong as an ox and did the work of three men, but he was also the butt of the other guys’ jokes. They teased him and put him down every chance that they got.
There was a lot of work to do on the property, so we were going to be there for a week or two. Each day, I would load the guys up in my truck and head out there. One morning we arrived early and were greeted by a very friendly man - Larry Freeman. He had put everything in his life on hold to come back to McCrory to help out after his father passed away. Right away we could all tell there was something different about Larry. In this time of loss, he was a source of strength and a bright spot to everyone.
As we worked together, Larry and I discussed the Lord and his plan for each of us. He motivated the men and encouraged them. As we spoke openly about the Bible, Catfish would butt in. "Ya'll don't really believe in God do you?" he asked. "It's all a bunch of made up stories."
This would have made some Christians temper rise to hear these words, but Larry was very calm and understanding. He talked with Catfish and tried to explain things to him in a way he could understand.
Over the next few days, Catfish would continue to debate and argue with us over our discussions of the Lord, but he was opening up to us and sharing a little more of himself each time. "Catfish, what is your real name?" I asked. "It's Ronald," he replied.
"Do you like people calling you Catfish?"
"No, I hate it."
"Well, from now own, we are going to call you Ronald."
He seemed to like that and he would smile each time we called him by name. One day, Larry and I were working and I guess we were concentrating on our work so the conversation was pretty quiet. Ronald stopped what he was doing and said, "Why aren't you guys talking about the Bible?"
"Did you want us to?" Larry asked.
"Yeah, I like hearing those stories."
So, Larry and I began to discuss the Bible and I don't think we stopped for the rest of the time we were out there working.
Long after Ronald had paid off his fine and moved on, I would see him uptown and he would stop by and tell me to pray for him and certain family members of his. He even told me he was reading the Bible at night, but his last words were always, "Have you seen Larry lately?" Larry was truly an inspiration to this young man and I believe another soul was won over to the Lord because of him and his ministry. It is an honor to have met and worked with Larry Freeman. He is truly an asset to the kingdom of God.
Kip Davis, City Planner
City of McCrory