The Story of the Cool Shade Miracle Church in Jamaica
Written by Sister D. Nugent of Cool Shade Jamaica after the passing of Floyd Larson, as “a tribute to our late founder, Pastor, Teacher and Friend"; a man of great faith and thus, of action.
This is the story of how Cool Shade Miracle Church was born.
"Thou shall guide me with Thy counsel and afterward receive me to Glory.” Psalm 73:26
Sunrise: February 8, 1920 — Sunset: January 21, 2000.
The late Brother Floyd Larson came to the mountain of Cool Shade thirty (30) years ago. Along with him came his wife, Sister Winnifred (affectionately called Sister Winnie). She predeceased him by some eleven and a half years.
The cry of their hearts, they said before leaving their native Canada, was like Caleb of old (Joshua 14:12): Lord, give us this mountain in Jamaica (which mountain was not revealed to them). But like the Lamb provided for Abraham's sacrifice, God was preparing the hearts of His people in this mountain of Cool Shade.
They were invited by some fellow-Canadians to a church in Kingston, our island's capital. There the door was closed against them. Of course, it had to be, for Kingston is a plain, not a mountain. They were then invited by the Senior Bergmans (fellow Canadians) to Heathfield, close to the township of Linstead. Their dwelling was situated close to a roadside, where they were able to see all who passed by. The rest of that story brings us to the history of the Larson's ending up in Cool Shade. Here the Great I Am opened a door great and effectual.
They did not waste any time after settling in. They began to preach the Good News of God's great love and His boundless grace in open air meetings and to all the passers-by. People were hungering and thirsting for the Word of God, and so they gladly and eagerly accepted the Gospel message. We then began to meet on the little verandah of their rented house for Bible Study. Their occupying this house was the beginning of miracles, as they were the first white people to live in this area. This house was the former home of a W.W.I. veterinarian, Charles Brown. He was called Christian Rest Brown because of a large sign at the entrance of his property which read CHRISTIAN REST.
He was a Godly man but was believed by many to be shell-shocked. He repeatedly spoke of white people coming into this mountain area and building a church, a school, and a community store, and that there would be a stone quarry to utilize the abundance of stone that is here. He also spoke of the ladies doing craft work. He spoke to whosoever would lend him a listening ear, so this was indeed no secret. It was in truth prophecy in which the Larson's were the KEY PERSONS. Christian Rest Brown was so positive that he said he would donate five (5) acres of this land for the building of a church and a school. This was not put down in writing, so his wife and eldest daughter decided they could give only half (1/2) an acre, on which site now stands the church and school where we are today gathered.
Brother Larson, being told by many of what was said before, called him "Prophet Brown" (the prophet died some four (4) years before Brother Floyd and Sister Winnie came on the scene.) Prophet Brown's wife and eldest daughter went to live in Kingston, leaving him behind with his eldest grandson. After the prophet's death, his grandson went to visit his mother and grandmother in Kingston, leaving his family behind. When the young mother did not see him return, she packed up and off she also went to Kingston with her three (3) young children. Thus, the house was vacant (though still partially furnished) and able to accommodate the Larson's. Brother Larson was given permission to build a temporary place of worship. He was desirous of having a baptism, but there was a snag here. All the new converts, except for one couple, were living common-law. He encouraged us to get married, showing from the Scriptures that marriage was an honourable estate, to which we all agreed.
Brother Larson asked where the nearest available place for a baptism was. He was taken to Springvale a district six (6) miles from here. He decided that this was too great a distance, so he determined to build a pool right on the spot. This was truly faith put into action. He acquired for himself all the necessary tools a good Jamaican labourer would need. It was a wonder and amazement to see this burly, brawny, white man sledging, digging, pickaxing, and shoveling away in the broiling March and April sun. Of course, those to whom he had been ministering the Word fell in and gave a helping hand; even some who had not yet responded. Very soon, a sizeable excavation was obtained. Then came time for the concrete work. It was dry season, but the people had a mind to work. Water was carried from the parish tank about a mile away on heads and on donkeys for doing the cementing.
Permission was asked of the person in charge of the tank for us to have few drums of water for the baptism, but this was refused. On Saturday, 18th April 1970, as the builder of the pool (the late Brother Nugent) drew the last stroke of his trowel on the pool, there came Brother Ken Stanigar with his truck from Linstead, laden with eleven (11) drums of water for our baptism which was set for Saturday, 19th April. During this time some of the converts were preparing to get married for baptism. The first couple were married April 14th and two (2) more couples on April 18th. These were all duly baptized along with the couple who were previously married on Sunday morning April 19th, 1970. Our very first baptism drew a very large gathering from this and surrounding districts. It was the very first baptisms to take place in this mountain.
Thus, was born the Cool Shade Miracle Church along with Sister Icylin Whyte, who was the instrument God used to bring His trusted, tried, and proven servants to His mountain which He committed to their charge as was stated before the new converts on the Larson's verandah. This was a cramping position as the numbers steadily grew, so a few of the men decided to go into the bushes to cut sticks. They erected the tent on Saturday, and we worshipped there the Sunday following. It was crude, but well-fortified, as Brother Larson being who he was had beforehand obtained sheets of zinc donated by Brother and Sister Stanigar a canvas from Alcan. This was our first Spiritual Home. There was always a great spiritual feast in that humble building, as our leader was an able and gifted teacher. There, right there, many preachers from Canada and the U.S.A. ministered to us the good word of God as Prophet Brown had said they would.
The church grew steadily. As news of the White Man's ministry spread, many more couples were joined in Holy Matrimony in late April and the month of May and were added to the Church before the Larson's left for home. We were all young believers, but he decided that seven brethren should be chosen by the congregation (as was the case in the early church). These were left to occupy while they were away.
They returned at the end of the year bringing their young daughter with them. While home they solicited the aid of a retired Canadian teacher (Sister Kathleen Winters) who started a Basic School in our Tent Church in 1971. Almost all the people of this mountain had accepted Christ as their Personal Saviour and Lord and were duly baptized in water. Some have moved, and some have gone to be with the Lord.
In 1972, Brother Larson got the present Church site leveled off by bulldozes and our tent was removed to this site while work began on our new building. The ladies got down to the business of breaking stones. This new building went up rapidly and was completed in record time with windows and doors all in place. Missionaries were always coming to minister to us. Some of them spent months with us. Brother and Sister Stanigar were with us occasionally. Sister Stanigar organized a group of ladies from her church who volunteered to come up and teach us handcrafts. We did hats and bags. This was in fulfillment of the prophet's word also. God's plan for this mountain.
Later on, the Azan's of Supermarket-fame came and ministered to us occasionally. When the Larson's came to this mountain almost all the young men were engaged in the cultivation of ganja. He counseled them that this was illegal, and they needed to be law-abiding citizens. He started a chicken rearing project among them, whereby they could help themselves and quitting the ganja growing. He also taught some of the young men the art of masonry, cutting and laying of stones.
On one of his yearly trips, he brought down a chain saw for felling trees and cutting timber. He brought down a small truck to assist the market people. This area is predominantly a farming community. He bought a small property in Mexico (further up the mountain), so that his members who needed land could farm there. He furthermore cut a driving road leading to that property and beyond. This road is a blessing to the people who live in Mexico.
Time and space would fail to tell of the activities of this great man of God. Brother Floyd Larson was a faithful and true servant of God. He was honest, kind-hearted, loyal and upright, full of hospitality and good works. He was a gentle-Gentleman who did not preach the word for filthy lucre.
He has fought a good fight, he has finished his course, and he has kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give unto him on that day. And not to him only, but unto all those who love His appearing (2 Timothy 3:8).
May those of us whose golden opportunity it was to fall under his ministry, so live by the Grace of God, that we too might receive from the Master's hand that crown of righteousness. And not only so but may we also be stars adorning the Larson's Crown. May his soul Rest in Peace.