Trinity Broadcasting Network aired a 3-hour tribute Sunday evening to its founding visionary, Paul F. Crouch, that included a fascinating documentary-style history of the media organization and short testimonials from many well-known Christian leaders. Wife and ministry partner, Jan Crouch, also spoke briefly about her husband, who died on Nov. 30, following a decade-long battle with degenerative heart disease.
"God called us on the same day to TBN," said Jan Crouch, relating an evening more than 40 years ago, when both realized at the same moment that they needed to start a TV station, "and I just always dreamed we would go home the same day. I never dreamed I would be left without his wisdom and his saying 'no' as only he could say," she explained, while momentarily giggling through her tears, "so lovingly, so lovingly sometimes. I never dreamed that one day TBN would be here and Paul wouldn't … Right now we just need your prayers and your love like never before."
The Rev. Franklin Graham, CEO and president of Samaritan's Purse, said during the television special, "TBN Remembers Paul F. Crouch 1934-2013," that he could not say or think about Paul Crouch without also thinking about his wife.
"Jan and Paul were a team and now half this team is gone, but I want to talk about the Paul Crouch that I knew," said Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham. "Paul loved the Word. Paul was a great friend to ministry and I'm talking about all ministry.
"Paul wanted to see the Gospel go to the ends of the earth, and he and Jan did that when they put this TBN together," he continued. "I don't think they had any idea or any clue at that time the millions and millions of people that they would be touching around the world every day with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Graham said the Crouches helped advance the Gospel in their lifetime, adding, "As we look at a generation passing we are reminded, and those that are coming behind, that we have a responsibility and that responsibility is to take that same Gospel that Jan and Paul have loved, that Jan and Paul have taken to the ends of the earth, we have a responsibility to take that to our generation and to set an example for our children and grandchildren coming behind us. I am so thankful for the life of Paul Crouch. I am thankful to God that he was my friend and that he helped Samaritan's Purse over and over and over again."
Evangelist Arthur Blessitt, who began the show as an introductory host, said the Crouches were "chosen by God to lead the great, pioneering historic outreach of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world."
"Paul completed a 40-year mission of building the world's largest television family of networks, like Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness preparing for the Promised Land," Blessitt said.
"Paul and Jan will go down in the annals of Christian history as perhaps the world greatest evangelist with more people being reached through the platform of TBN than any other platform I know in the world. They built a network for other preachers and teachers and missionaries and healing and the baptism of the Holy Spirit for others to minister, and out of that has come a mighty, mighty network and world harvest," he said.
Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen said that his personal observation about Crouch was that "he focused on the main thing that God called him to do, that was to build these stations and have a pipeline for the Gospel.
"He didn't look to the left, nor to the right. He didn't let critics talk him out of it. He didn't get discouraged and give up. He just kept on doing what God called him to do faithfully," Osteen said.
Pastor Jack Graham (not related to Billy Graham) said that when he thinks of Crouch he "can't help but think of his vision."
"The fact that he envisioned a television network that would span the earth, to preach the Gospel of Christ to people in nations all over this world way before his time and our time, Paul Crouch was able to see something that very few people saw, and that is the ability of media to get the message of Jesus to the world," Graham said.
The son of Assemblies of God missionaries to Egypt, Dr. Crouch was born in St. Joseph Missouri, March 30, 1934, TBN states on its website. "Feeling a strong call to Christian ministry," he attended Central Bible Institute (CBI) in Springfield, Missouri, earning a degree in theology in 1955. While at CBI Paul Crouch also received his first taste of broadcasting, helping to establish the college's campus radio station, KCBI-AM.
In 1957, Paul married the former Janice Bethany, and the couple moved to Rapid City, S.D., where Paul took a position as an announcer at radio station KRSD-AM, quickly progressing to become the station's program director, according to TBN. Before long he was promoted to head KRSD-TV, NBC's new Rapid City affiliate - "an important training ground that immersed Paul in the emerging field of broadcast television."
The TBN website chronicles more of the Crouches story:
Four years later the Crouches moved to California, where Paul was called by the General Council of the Assemblies of God to organize and operate its new Department of Television and Film Production, a position that gave him an opportunity to create and oversee a wide variety of Christian films and audiovisual productions.
In 1965 Dr. Crouch moved on to become the general manager of radio station KREL-AM in Corona, California, eventually purchasing a minority ownership of the station before leaving in 1970 to manage Christian stations KHOF-FM and KHOF-TV, owned by a church in San Bernardino, California.
In 1973 Dr. Crouch's leadership in Christian broadcasting began in earnest when he and Jan stepped out in faith to launch Trinity Broadcasting Network with one small, low-power station in Southern California. Over the next forty years, under Dr. Crouch's prayerful direction, TBN not only became America's most watched Christian network, but grew into the second largest television broadcast group in America and the world's largest religious broadcaster. Today TBN and its 26 global networks and affiliates reach every inhabited continent on 80-plus satellites and over 20,000 television and cable affiliates, as well as via the Internet.
Others who were seen on the broadcast expressing their thoughts on Crouch, included pastors Charles Stanley, T.D. Jakes, Jentezen Franklin, John Hagee, Pat Roberston, and more. At the personal wishes of Paul Crouch, there were no plans for a public memorial service.
On the Web: http://www.tbn.org/.