A maverick: Larry Webb's lasting legacy
Larry Webb served as a Nazarene missionary in Barbados, Bolivia, and Ecuador for more than 30 years until his retirement in 1998. However, his retirement didn’t stop him from continuing to be a Christlike influence in those same countries to this day.
Larry and his wife, Judy, have led nearly 40 Mavericks Work & Witness teams, mainly to Bolivia with a few excursions to some neighboring countries. Mavericks teams are made up of individuals from different churches instead of just one church. One single team could be made up of people from Idaho, Texas, Tennessee, Maine, and Minnesota.
Each person contributes $500 towards the materials and project. Mavericks teams have helped build many churches in Bolivia as well as one of Larry’s largest projects, Casa Nazarena. Casa Nazarena was inspired by a building Larry saw when visiting Palo Alto, California, for a Faith Promise Service. He saw a place across the street from the Stanford University campus called Baptist House.
“Students could drift in there between classes or at night on the weekends,” Larry told PLNU's Viewpoint magazine. “They had a popcorn machine and a Coke machine and IBM Selectric typewriters … But the most important thing they had was a passion for discipling new Christians. We are trying to replicate that with a Nazarene House — Casa Nazarena. The concept is that if you do something significant with the students while they are there, they will go out as dynamic Christians who will impact the world.”
While Larry’s goal was to impact those in Bolivia who had never heard of Jesus Christ, his passion for missions changed the lives of many Mavericks Work & Witness team members as well.
Pat and Becky McKelvey went on several trips and even took their then 14-year-old son, Sean, with them. They recalled the impact that the trip had on them and their son.
“Sean really did not want to go to Bolivia,” Becky said. “He was entering high school and needed to be at summer soccer practices and tryouts. We brought a few soccer balls, pumps and needles, soccer cleats and shin guards so that he could practice. Larry seized this small opportunity to create something with a special purpose. He encouraged Sean to go out on the neighboring field and start kicking the ball around.”
Eventually, most of the children in the city were out playing soccer with him, including the city’s semi-pro team. By the end of the trip, they were all friends, and they had brought attention to the church in the community. They exchanged shirts, a customary sign of respect between “opponents,” and to this day, Sean has the Cliza jersey framed on his wall next to the rest of his collection of jerseys from around the world.
“Without Larry’s vision and ability to capture the opportunity, those children of Cliza may have not been touched, and Sean may not have come away from Bolivia a changed person,” Becky said.
The McKelveys aren’t the only people with stories and memories from their Mavericks trip. Recently, Larry entered hospice care. In an effort to recognize everything that he had accomplished in his retirement, Work & Witness leadership at the Global Ministry Center asked for people to send notes of how they were impacted by Larry and the Mavericks. They’ve received nearly 50 pages of pictures and stories of life-changing memories that were created through the Mavericks.