I was born in NZ in 1951 and raised on a sheep farm in North Auckland. Because we were some distance from the local schools I went to boarding school early in life and never seemed able to settle down until Norma and I moved into our home in Sunshine in 1986. That was 20 years of looking for something that always seemed just out of reach.
When I was 19 I moved to Australia with a mate. We worked in the bush of the Northern Territory as drillers for a period of time before travelling to Europe and the UK for a year. This was in the great age of adventure when thousands of young people started to travel the world in search of answers to questions we really didn't understand, but it didn't stop us from seeking.
From the UK I went back to NZ for about a year before heading back to Darwin where I got back into the drilling game. One of the guys I was working with was a Brit who had a dream to go back to the UK and buy a Thames Barge and restore it. We spent hours talking about yachts and sailing. It wasn't long before the dream of unknown landfalls and escape from the rat race absorbed me and I began to plan a boat of my own.
Maudie Kamara had come over from NZ and we'd been living together for a period of time. We planned to travel to Asia on the Hippy Trail and while we were there I planned to look for a boat that I could convert into something worth living on. We started doing drugs because it was what everyone else was doing.
In December of 1974 Cyclone Tracy rearranged our plans and we ended up in Melbourne where I worked with my brother Phil as a bricky's labourer and Maudie set off to travel the world.
I'd found an old timber yacht in a warehouse and began the long and laborious job of restoring her into a seaworthy vessel that would fulfill my dream of sailing back to Darwin and beyond. Dharma was 26 feet long, 9 feet wide, drew 5 feet and weighed 6 tons and by the time I had finished her she was a solid little sea boat. By now Maudie had returned from her travels and we sailed out of Port Philip Bay in March of 1977 straight into a storm that capsized us in Bass Strait but we eventually anchored in Darwin Harbour in October of 1979. During this time twin sons, Bronson and Kestrel, had been born and we were full-on hippies. I had been looking for an answer to life since I was 16 and I thought that this yacht would take me to Nirvana, but when I got there I found it didn't exist.
The much abbreviated account of my Christian conversion is that from here on things went really bad. The Age of Aquarius was just a dream, drugs were a major part of our lives, and the New Age was truly new. We got into the occult as we searched for answers to our existence but the devil foreclosed his mortgage on our lives by destroying our relationship and family. Sadly, Maudie and I went through a bitter custody battle until we finally agreed to have one child each and go our separate ways.
During this time of my life I called out in the desperation of near insanity to a God I didn't believe in to help me. My only recollection of that cry was that I was aware that I was calling to the God of Israel and the Bible and that I was prepared to abandon all and serve Him if He would only be real. He was and still is, and I am serving Him. God visited me that night in that boat on a lonely shore with a light that I couldn't escape, it was so bright that nothing would dim it one bit. It seemed like He was there for hours, but probably only seconds, and I knew that God existed and God the Father loved me.
However, instead of getting better, things seemed to get even more confusing. Up until now I'd been involved in all sorts of enterprises and people groups; in the live aboard sailing fraternity, the local band scene, a few bikers and dealing dope to all of them.
There were some Christians on a boat next to mine and they tried to convince me to become one of them but their arguments were no match for my experience, or so I thought. Beside which I had been dealing some fairly large amounts of drugs up until then and that was a pretty heavy scene, so I knew what the meaning of authority was when you were the man. I wasn't about to get too involved with a bloke who had let the cops arrest Him and kill Him when He had the power to blow them away; Jesus seemed like a loser to me. So I accepted that God was real and loved me but rejected Jesus as Saviour and God.
By this time in my life I was doing drugs just to get straight and one day I picked up a Bible and started to read it. An amazing thing happened; the peace that I'd been looking for all my life was suddenly all around me and inside of me. From then on I would read each morning to get straight for the day and each evening to get calm for the night. I carried that Gideons Bible (I'd pinched it out of a Motel room) everywhere with me right along with my dope which I found I was using less and less of. I read that Bible right through to Isaiah 54, the stories and truths were irrelevant, the peace was everything. On reading the first verses of Isaiah 54 that peace suddenly left me, that was pretty confusing.
This is when life really became interesting. I'd previously decided to sail my boat, along with 3 year old Kestrel, back to the east coast of Australia. I'd realized that I'd messed up big time and the idea was to try and get my family back together. On the morning of the day I got saved I'd been sitting on the deck while the sun came up over Darwin's Fanny Bay, trying to get some peace out of Isaiah 54 (this is the passage of Scripture that depicts Jesus as Messiah), when I was certain I heard someone say "Why don't you sell the boat and catch a bus". Now that seemed pretty logical to me and I said "OK". That in itself was amazing seeing as that boat was my whole life and meaning.
Later that morning I was in the process of talking to someone about selling the yacht when I happened to run into one of those crazy Christians. This bloke tricked me into saying a prayer that acknowledged Jesus as Lord and I was gloriously born again, just like that, my own private fireworks display right inside my head and heart, awesome. The best rush I'd ever had by a million miles, I was an instant Jesus junky. I'd gone a little loony when the love of God touched my soul, but I became the biggest fruit loop ever seen when the Spirit of God touched my spirit. All that new age, occult, drug minded Bible reading combined into some pretty weird doctrines, but God is faithful and it didn't worry Him too much as He just kept working with me. He still is actually.
I had a great introduction to the Jesus of miracles. The first miracle was when I went to swear that afternoon. I'd had an uncontrollably foul mouth and I was tightening a bolt when the spanner slipped and crushed my finger, it hurt something terrible and a huge blood blister immediately formed. I opened my mouth yell something disgusting and all I could say was "Praise God" which sounded so funny I fell on the deck and laughed, but the pain immediately left and the blood blister immediately disappeared. Weird but true, and pretty awesome. Miracle number two was that the desire to smoke anything at all instantly left me, I'd been smoking since I was 10 and couldn't kick the habit. Yachts don't sell; mine sold in 2 weeks for the exact amount I felt "the voice" said it would, miracle number three.
Miracle number whatever happened right about now as well. For about 12 months I'd been aware of a large growth in my body that I'd decided to ignore. I'd sailed a very small boat over some of the world's worst oceans, I'd jumped out of aeroplanes for the fun of it, I'd chased water buffaloes and ridden trail bikes all around the Top End, I'd done some pretty crazy and dangerous things in my life of 30 years, but I wasn't into the adventure of cancer so I decided to ignore it; it just grew bigger and more threatening. About two weeks after I got saved I gathered enough courage to speak to a nursing friend who made an appointment for me to see some bloke who took a knife to me all in about 3 days, the diagnosis was serious. Very grim for him to tell me that I'm going to die and I'm trying to convince him that I'm aware of how serious it all is. It's just that I couldn't stop grinning; I've finally found the reason for living and I'm going to die, it just seemed so ironic. Poor bloke, I wonder if he ever understood it all. The long and the short of it all is that they packed Kestrel and me up and flew us to Brisbane for free so that I could enjoy the pleasures of Chemotherapy etc. while I died.
Kestrel went to stay with Maudie in Caloundra and I was a day patient at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. I went along to a meeting at Christian Outreach Centre in Victoria St. and got gloriously healed when Geoff Woodward prayed for me. It really upset the doctors because half my tests showed advanced cancer then nothing.
Sadly I never did get my family back together, and Kestrel and I ended up in Gympie where I began work as a floor coverer and attended the local COC where I eventually became a Home Group Leader, Song Leader, Children's Church Leader, and whatever else needed doing.
I was standing on the main street of Gympie one day speaking to a church friend when Norma Rasmussen, a member of Gympie COC, walked across the street and I distinctly heard God say "Behold your wife". It seemed OK to me, but He hadn't told Norma, or perhaps she didn't hear; or maybe He just wanted me to woo her. A very strange courtship culminated in us being married on May 14th 1983. Norma was an innocent musician from a small country town and I was as opposite as it was possible to be, but God knew what He was doing.
In mid 1984 the Pastors of Gympie COC moved to the Dandenong Mountains in Melbourne's outer Eastern Suburbs to begin a COC there and they asked Norma and I to join them. I still reckon they just wanted a good keyboard player in Norma, because I was still a bit of a handful, although it was fairly obvious that we had the makings a great team.
We served under Trevor and Marilyn Holmes for 12 months before going to Brisbane to attend the 1986 Ministry Training School. I'd sensed God's call to Sunshine and heeded the call. It's strange how you'll change so quickly when God asks you to do something; years before I'd done most of my bricklaying in and around Sunshine and considered it to be the armpit of the world and I had no intention of ever returning. I've been here since 1986 and I think God smiles at that.
Norma, Kestrel, I and eight other people started Sunshine COC on Mother's Day 1986 with great expectations. The church grew to around 100 people in the first 12 months and we were on a roll, we had our own building, people were being saved all the time, miracles were happening on a regular basis; this Pastoring was easy. Eighteen months later we had 25 people left and Pastoring was totally soul destroying.
It was about this time that God fulfilled a promise He'd made to me on the day He healed me of cancer by reuniting my other son Bronson to our family. We home-schooled the boys through their high school years and it has been a huge joy to watch them grow up and succeed as the favour of God has led them. They both studied for the same degree and have always been employed together. Both are married to the most wonderful young ladies they could ever wish for. These four courageous and strong young people are a huge strength and inspiration to Norma and myself, they stand for Heaven and worship the King of Kings.
Over the last 24 years I have learnt that God is interested in me as an individual, not me as a pastor. Our vision for Melbourne West Church now evolves out of our relationship with Jesus as Christians. Our Mission/Vision Statement is "Transforming Individuals - Activating Faith and Service - Multiplying Lives and Churches". After all these years I feel that my heavenly Father has only just begun; it's hard work making disciples but it's a great thing to be discipled and out of that will automatically flow the reproduction of ourselves.
I am part of the oversight of Christian Outreach Centre in Victoria and look after churches in Ballarat, Geelong, Warnambool and Portland. Norma and I are privileged to work closely with Pastors Craig and Chris Anderson (Victoria COC Chairpersons) in any area we can.
I cannot emphasize enough the incredible strength Norma is in my life and the life of the church, she truly completes my life and the ministry God has for us. I often watch her and marvel at the time God spoke 'behold your wife'. Neither of us would be much of anything without each other and Christ.
On a more personal note I enjoy scuba diving and have recently got back into motor bikes. Both are something I enjoy immensely and they give me a great opportunity to mix with people outside the church. I have a small computer business that helps with our income and Norma works a day or two a week as well. We usually take our holidays away from the area we live in and like to visit the coastal towns up and down the east coast of Australia in our caravan. It is our time 'to escape from reality'.
When God has His hand on your life, you can be sure He'll look after you. All you have to do is trust Him and step out.
I was born in Gympie in 1958. My Dad was in the timber hauling business and Mum was a music teacher. Both worked extremely hard and provided well for my three older sisters and myself. I have great memories of our holidays together.
I went to Sunday School at the local Church of England. I enjoyed that and remember feeling close to God. I would talk to Him and ask Him for help. During my high school years I drifted away from church involvement. I left school at 15 and took a job in a local music store. The next few years had their ups and downs. Things on the outside were fine, but on the inside I knew something was missing.
I came to know Jesus personally when I was 19, through a great friend. It was in church a few years later that I met Larry. What an adventure life has been since then, a lot different than I ever expected! I admire Larry greatly. He has tremendously strong family values, loves a winning, positive attitude and takes great pleasure in "going about doing good."
One of the great joys of my life is music which I have been involved in all my life. What a blessing it is to work with and help people to progress, and as Area Chairmen we get the opportunity to move around Victoria and input into musicians lives.
Our sons Bronson and Kestrel have been an outstanding strength in the music, ministry, and youth work at Melbourne West Church over the years. They've been faithful, so too have the great people who work alongside us.
Names: Larry and Norma Blackmore
Children: Bronson, married to Gabby, and Kestrel, married to Skye
Grandchildren: Joelle Sarah Blackmore, Dylan James Blackmore, Ethan Lawrence Blackmore and Georgia Estelle Blackmore
Hobbies: Motor bike riding, scuba diving, computers, and gardening (sometimes). Norma: music, her kids and shopping (all the time)
Favourite food: Norma's cooking
Favourite saying: "Let's just love them"
Biggest influence: Norma, Bronson and Kestrel, Gabby and Skye, Pete Buckley, Craig Anderson.
Favourite scripture: Song of Solomon 4:9