Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Atlanta Deliverance Tabernacle Pastor Larry Bryant displays his first published book, "The Sermon You Missed," at his Covington church. The book is for sale at Atlanta Deliverance, 3163 Corley St., or on Amazon.com.
As a young unmarried father, Larry Bryant lived a troubled life. He worked during the week but on weekends used drugs.
"I was on the streets and hanging out in bars and drinking," Bryant said. "I was not doing the right things in my life."
Then tragedy struck. Bryant lost his baby son to sudden infant death syndrome and everything changed.
He said he suddenly realized how precious life is and that he was living a life all about himself.
"I was self-centered and selfish," Bryant said. "Once (my son died), the pastor I had come up under in New Jersey nurtured me back to church. I finally accepted the Lord when I was 33."
Today he is the Rev. Larry Bryant, founder and pastor of Atlanta Deliverance Tabernacle in Covington. At the urging of friends and family -- in particular LaNae King, one of his church members -- Bryant has written his first book, "The Sermon You Missed." The 58-page paperback is filled with some of Bryant's best sermons. In the book, the pastor also shares his life story and encourages others to turn to God no matter how difficult their circumstances.
The book came about after King, a sophomore at Georgia State University, enjoyed her pastor's sermons and wrote down what he said as he preached.
Bryant said he had no idea King was writing down all of his sermons until one day she came to him and asked, "Pastor have you ever thought of writing a book?" He said he had not, but that since God had put this into her heart, he would do just that.
King served as editor of Bryant's book, which is filled with sermons of encouragement and wisdom that only come from experience -- much of it learned the hard way.
"The book contains encouraging testimonies about how people's lives are turned around by the word of God," according to King's mother, Sandra King, who is also a member of Bryant's church. "God is able to turn anyone around ... The book points out that oftentimes people look to different things and people for happiness, but fail to find that happiness until God's plan for them comes to light."
As a young man born in Georgia and growing up in New Jersey, Bryant's life received a jolt when his parents divorced soon before he turned 18.
"In my early 20s, I thought I knew everything," Bryant said. "I was using drugs. If there was such a thing as casual use, that's what I called myself doing. I was still working everyday. Marijuana and cocaine were the two I was mainly using. But from the point when I lost my son, God really turned me around. I started going to church about a year before I left New Jersey. I was ordained a minister before I left."
In 1999, Bryant moved back to Georgia and started a storefront church in Conyers. Seven years ago he founded Atlanta Deliverance Tabernacle in Covington, which is located at 3163 Corley Str. and where he and his wife of 25 years, Vera, minister to the congregation. The Bryants are the parents of a daughter who is a senior at the University of Georgia.
Bryant's book contains dozens of sermons with such titles as "Under New Management," "Disobedient Believers" and "Set Up To Succeed," among others.
When asked if he has a favorite, Bryant said one is particularly encouraging.
"It's 'God, the Divine Architect,'" he said. "It's very inspiring. The message comes from the book of Psalms. The message is that God Himself designed us and made us perfect in His sight. How He made us is flawless. The only flaw in ourselves is ourself. We're our biggest obstacle. That is because He gave us a choice and we have to decide which way we're going to go."
Byrant is now working on a second book, which is titled "Second to None."
"It deals with how God made us and how He made us the best because when God makes someone, He makes the best," Bryant said. "With that said -- simply that God made us -- we're second to nothing. Whatever our purpose is in life, it's second to none. It's the best if we follow the steps."
He anticipates the second book should be out in time for Christmas.
"The Sermon You Missed" is available for sale at the church or at Amazon.com for $14.99.
Meanwhile, the pastor/author continues to lead the flock at Atlanta Deliverance Tabernacle. The church meets for Sunday School at 9:45 a.m. followed by worship at 11. Bible study is at 7 on Tuesday nights.
Beth Sexton is a freelance writer based in Gwinnett County. If you have a story idea, email Karen Rohr, features editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.