When Chrystalla Larson was a girl growing up on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, her family never graced the doors of their Greek Orthodox church save for Christmas and Easter. But she never forgot her grandmother’s words.
“She kept telling me that Jesus is coming back one day, and when the trumpet blows, all of His followers are going to be changed and meet Him up in the sky. And that kind of scared me, but I had that picture in my head.”
Years later, her grandmother’s words would come alive in a new way.
In the small village where Chrystalla (known as Chris to her friends) and her six siblings grew up, her devout grandma and the women who taught Bible stories to the elementary-aged children on Saturdays were their primary sources of knowledge about God.
Chris’ parents were hardworking, but the family was poor. They spent much energy providing for the family’s needs and dreaming of a better life for their kids. That path, her parents believed, involved education and access to better opportunities.
In 1972, four years of emigration efforts paid off when Chris, then 15 and the second oldest child, along with her dad and two of her siblings, began a new life in the United States. They settled in Colorado, where Chris’ aunt and uncle lived.
Two years later, her mother and the remaining siblings joined them, leaving their life in Cyprus behind.
After high school, Chris enrolled in a business school in Denver, where she learned accounting. Her first job after graduation was as an accounts receivable clerk at a large plumbing company, where she met and began dating Larry Larson. Three months later they were married.
“Very, very quick,” she recalled. Larry, she said, is the entrepreneurial, risk-taking type. She’s the deliberate number cruncher. Their strengths complemented each other’s. But as with all young married couples, there were disagreements, too.
One in particular proved significant. Larry was set on starting his own water treatment services company, but Chris was concerned about the risk involved. One day Larry paid a visit to his father-in-law, and when Chris learned her dad saw things Larry’s way, she finally relented.
“In April of 1979, we had our first job,” Chris recalled. “And in nine months, we made so much money we didn’t know what to do with it.”
They were off to a good start, but the growing business brought new challenges and a decade of ups and downs.
In 1983, the Larsons had the first of two sons, Jason. Today, both Jason and his younger brother, Christopher, are involved in the business, C&L Water Solutions. But back then, being a wife, mother and helping grow a fledgling business brought plenty of stress and worry to a woman who had no real spiritual anchor. Larry, who had received Christ at a Christian camp when he was 12, had never really grown in his faith. They were both just trying to figure out life on their own.
Meanwhile, when Larry’s brother, who was a Christian, learned Billy Graham was planning to hold a Crusade in Denver, he urged Larry and Chris to go. He told Chris that 22 years earlier, in 1965, Billy Graham had held a Crusade in Denver, and it was then that he had invited Christ into his life as Lord and Savior.
“He told me that his life had never been the same. So I said, ‘OK, we will go. What do we have to lose?’”
Chris doesn’t recall anything about the sermon Mr. Graham preached that night in 1987, but when he extended an invitation to receive Christ as Savior, she knew God was beckoning her to come to Him.
“I just stood up and went down very fast,” she said. “My heart was just beating so fast.” A Crusade counselor mentored her until the Larsons found a church home, Grace Chapel in suburban Denver.
Not long into her journey as a new Christian, Chris’ study of the New Testament brought to mind those words from her grandmother about the return of Christ. “I thought, Oh my, Grandma was right. That’s exactly what’s going to happen. Eventually, two of her sisters became Christians, as did her mother, at age 71.
For Larry and Chris, their approach to business and personal finance changed. To calm any anxieties, Chris began drawing on Scriptures such as 2 Timothy 1:7, which says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
“At one time those worries might have ended in an argument. Now they end in prayer,” she said, adding that forgiveness is a key element.
“Chris excels in this department,” Larry said.
They began giving to their local church—a modest amount that Larry questioned at first. Their business had been running with a significant monthly shortfall that year. But the Larsons started giving, and within a short time the Lord provided a new business contract that covered their shortfall.
More than 30 years later, C&L Water Solutions has two offices in Colorado and one in Utah, with some 95 employees serving the water and sewer infrastructure needs of dozens of cities and water districts.
As their business and their trust in God grew, the Larsons’ financial giving to their church and to ministries such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which they have long supported, also grew.
“I am a recipient of that blessing the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association offers,” Chris said, “and I would like to see many others come to that place in their lives where they are ready to receive Jesus, because it’s only Heaven or hell, and there are still so many people who need to choose Heaven while they can.” ©2022 BGEA
The Scripture quotation is taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Photo: Courtesy of Chris Larson