A Work of Grace

For years, Larry and Julie Root have had a stained-glass plaque hanging in their home with a promise from Lamentations 3:23. It reads, “His mercies are new every morning…” It reminds them that God’s mercies aren’t based on their works, but on His steadfast character. But they haven’t always believed that to be true.

Root family shares their testimony

Larry had graduated from the University of Michigan and Julie was still attending college when they met over an Elton John song. They had similar upbringings. In fact, their dads had walked to school together when they were young. They both also grew up in a religion where they were taught “works” were the pathway to heaven.

After dating for about six months, Larry moved to Virginia to take a job at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren. Soon after, he proposed to Julie. Once they married, Larry and Julie began their life together in a small trailer in King George.

God’s mercy was upon them, because soon Larry was placed in an office with three strong Christians. “They would take their Bibles out every day at lunch, they had scriptures on their screensavers, and they would talk about what they believed and why,” Larry shared. His office mates invited him and Julie to join their home care group and they began attending, building strong relationships with these families.

The authentic and active faith of his office mates and their spouses amazed the young couple. Julie fondly remembers their compassion during her mom’s battle with cancer. “I wasn’t comfortable praying out loud because that had never been a part of my experience, but when these new friends poured their hearts out to the Lord on behalf of my mom, I was so moved.” Larry added, “We discovered that prayer wasn’t some ritual, but a real conversation with our Heavenly Father. These families had such an impact on us.”

God would work through this small group of committed Christians to change the Root family forever. It was during one of these gatherings that Larry and Julie turned their lives over to Jesus Christ. When they shared with their families why they moved away from the religion they had grown up with, Larry explained, “We didn’t leave the church, we just moved closer to the One who IS the church – Jesus Christ.”

Larry and Julie continued to grow in their faith and became part of New Life in Christ Church in Fredericksburg. Julie homeschooled their four children until the oldest one began second grade.

Products of private religious schools themselves, the Roots wanted to place their children in a school that would reinforce the faith and values they learned at home and church.
Larry explained, “We wanted our children to have the benefit of a 3-legged stool. The first leg is what they are taught at home, the second leg is what they are taught at church, and the third leg is what they are taught at school. We wanted our children to develop a Christian worldview and knew FCS would help us with that.” After hearing about FCS from fellow church members, Gary and Andy Foss, the Roots were convinced that FCS was exactly what they were looking for.

To help pay tuition, Julie began driving a bus for FCS. She laughs when telling how it helped her kids to never be tardy, but it also provided her with an opportunity to minister to the students in her care. Julie allowed the love of Christ to permeate her bus every day.

Their children, Joe, Isaac, Emily, and Bridgitte are all graduates of FCS, and the Roots are grateful for the impact that FCS had on their lives. Julie shared, “Not only did they receive a great education, but they formed great friendships that are still going strong. They brought out the best in our kids and helped increase their faith.” Larry said, “FCS helped them develop a genuine, strong Christian worldview that would stand. We knew that once they graduated from high school, that worldview would be challenged and put to the test. If your worldview isn’t built on the Solid Rock, you will sink.”

Root Family wedding picture

Larry and Julie continue to serve the school as prayer warriors on behalf of FCS. In addition, as CEO of SimVentions, Larry has hired several FCS graduates. Larry also serves as Chairman of the FCS Board. “I consider it such a blessing to serve on the Board. It’s not a ‘have-to’ but a ‘get-to.’ We bathe every decision in prayer and seek God’s wisdom.” He began serving on the board in 2012 with, among others, the Fosses and Bob Duffy. “These were spiritual giants and we still feel their presence at our meetings today.”

“We look at our lives and can see where the Lord has guided our every step. We have relied on His word to light our path. Those steps haven’t always taken us on our plan, but rather His. We want to be obedient to Christ, not to earn our way to Heaven, but because of what He’s done for us. When we think about His mercy, we stand in awe of God’s goodness.”