Healthy Inspiration

Leading through laughter

Written by James Combs

Pastor Brooks Braswell is hilarious, and that’s no joke. 

One doesn’t have to be a professional comedian to employ laughter as an effective way of driving home a message. 

Just attend a service at First Baptist Church of Umatilla and watch Pastor Brooks Braswell address relevant topics with his signature sense of humor. 

He preached from atop a tree stand to bring “Camouflage Sunday” to life. He once wore a muscle suit to drive home the point of exercising faith. He’ll tell you he looks forward to going to heaven as long as there’s a Bass Pro Shop. And he even borrows a popular Florida Gators cheer to prop up his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide. 

“Two bits. Four bits. Six bits. A dollar. All for Alabama stand up and holler!”

Held up to the light of humor, even the most classical Bible stories are seen in a whole new way. 

“Here at First Baptist Church of Umatilla, humor is in our DNA,” says Pastor Brooks, who was came to the church in December 2007. “Humor is the gateway to the heart, and when you laugh, you listen. It opens up people’s hearts to receive my message.”

A funny, insightful, and energetic speaker, his messages are heard by an average of 1,500 people during the church’s three Sunday morning services. Families attend from as far away as Belleview and Ocala. 

“I liken our church to a good restaurant,” he says. “For some, the drive may be out of the way, but you’re willing to make the drive because there is going to be good food and a great atmosphere. Then you’re going to invite someone to join you next time. Our growth comes from the excitement of our church members.”

The church enjoyed a historic day on Nov. 18, 2018. More than 1,800 churchgoers attended an outside service, which was the start of a fundraising campaign to build a new 1,200-seat worship center. On that day, Pastor Brooks also excused the $320,000 debt owed to the church by the Jerusalem Worship Center, which had previously purchased an old sanctuary building from FBC Umatilla. 

Pastor Brooks owns goats, cows, chickens, rabbits, and a pot-bellied pig. 

“My exercise comes from feeding animals and working out on my farm.”

Pastor Brooks has baptized more than 1,200 people since December 2007.

One of Pastor Brooks’ favorite scriptures is Thessalonians 5:16-18.

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Jesus Christ.”

About the author

James Combs

Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County’s many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!

Leave a Comment