By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
ORLANDO, FL (ANS – June 1, 2016) — Jan Crouch, co-founder of one of the world’s largest Christian broadcasting networks, died early Tuesday (May 31, 2016) of a massive stroke at 78 in an Orlando, Florida hospital.
“Alongside her husband, Paul, Crouch built Orange County-based Trinity Broadcasting Network from a vision he had while tooling down MacArthur Boulevard. The couple turned that vision into a religious empire spanning the globe, one with nearly $1 billion in net assets,” said the local Orange County Register.
“Trinity’s religious programming, designed to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and built on the credo “Have a need? Plant a seed,” can be seen throughout Europe, Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific islands, among many other locations.”
In its story, it went on to says that Jan Crouch’s death leaves the broadcasting network in the hands of her younger son, Matthew Crouch, who largely took the reins in 2012 after Paul Crouch Sr. fell ill. The senior Crouch died the following year.
In a statement on Trinity Broadcasting’s website, Matthew Crouch and his wife, Laurie, said they “just watched the transition of our precious Mother from this world to the next; watched her step into the presence of Jesus and into her heavenly reward.
“Those who battled for the Kingdom of God knew her as a fighter – someone who didn’t give up, someone who fought relentlessly to get the Gospel around the world,” the statement continued. “She has taken a piece of our hearts with her, but it’s so wonderful to know that Paul and Jan Crouch are together again, in the arms of Jesus.”
Jan Crouch, who had been hospitalized since falling ill on May 25, was was best known for her array of wigs and her giggly on-screen persona, but she also ran TBN with an iron fist and appeared to be able say who could or could not appear on any of their shows.
For several years, I was a regular on TBN’s JOY program where I would share stories about the persecuted church. My experience of Jan’s iron fist was when I was book to be on the flagship show, “Praise the Lord,” but strangely, on the morning of the show, I received a message to say that Jan had decided that she didn’t want me on as “there were already too many guests.” There will actually two – T.L. Osborn and Rosey Grier – so rather upset, I didn’t turn up, but then when the program began, I was announced as one of the guests.
So I called the TBN studio and was told to turn up right away, which I did. When my turn came, I shared the story of a Russian Christian prisoner called Alexander Ogorodnikov, who was on hunger strike and desperately needed to hear from Christians in America to tell him he was not alone. We managed to get thousands of letters sent to the labor camp and during Billy Graham Moscow crusade, after he had been freed, I actually met him and he thanked me for “caring.” It was a moving occasion.
However, the girl who told me not to come in for the show, was promptly fired next morning for apparently not telling the producer of the show.
For several years I worked as a writer with Brother Andrew – “God’s Smuggler” – and when he was in town from his home in Holland, I would often accompany to the TBN studios, and I can recall Jan’s rather strange sense of humor. She said to Andrew on one occasion, “Brother Andrew, we need someone who is black to do a 13-week Bible study series for us. Are you black?” He smiled and replied, “Well, I have a black heart,” to which she said, “You’ll do,” and he went on to record the series for them.
Generally, however, he never appeared to enjoy being on the “glitzy” TBN set, and one day, for a PTL show began, the guest host – a singing cowboy – greeted him with, “Hi there Brother Andrew. I don’t really know very much about you and so I am not sure what to ask you.” Andrew was not pleased and said, “Come on Dan, if he can’t be bothered to do his research, I’ll rather not be on the show with him.” However, I managed to calm things down and quickly scribbled a list of questions for the cowboy host, and the show went ahead, with Andrew completely controlling the conversation after a couple simple questions.
On hearing of her passing, Bishop Andrew Bills, CEO of The Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (HSBN) – http://hsbn.tv – told ANS: “In 1974, they began a great pioneering work by launching their television network with a single station in California which now reaches around the world. Paul Crouch died in November 2013.
“We here at The Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (HSBN) wish to sincerely express our condolences to the Crouch Family and the multi-millions of viewers and supporters of TBN.
“I personally wish to say ‘Thank You’ for opening the door for many others, like us, to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world via television, the internet and satellite.”
Jacqueline Yockey, the President and Chief Executive Officer of High Adventure Ministries, Inc. – a Global Broadcasting Ministry. High Adventure, has just sent ANS this message: “High Adventure partners love and respect for Jan Crouch… and we are planting a tree in our Jerusalem forest as a tribute for her life.”
Her obit reads: Janice Wendell Bethany “Jan” Crouch, was the daughter of Reverend and Mrs. Edgar Bethany, born on March 14, 1938, in New Brockton, Alabama. She grew up in Columbus, Georgia, “where she experienced the benefits of a rich spiritual heritage through her father’s ministry as a pastor in the Assemblies of God denomination.”
After graduating from high school, Crouch attended Evangel College in Springfield, Missouri, where she met Paul Crouch, a student at the Central Bible Institute. They married in 1957, and served in pastoral ministry at various churches while Paul worked in radio, and the emerging field of broadcast television.
In 1965, the Crouches moved to California with their two young sons, Paul Jr. and Matthew, to work in Christian broadcasting. They launched Trinity in 1973, and it has grown into the world’s largest religious broadcaster “through thirty-plus global networks broadcasting on over eighty satellite channels and tens of thousands of television and cable affiliates, as well as via the Internet.”
Photo captions: 1) Jan and Paul Crouch. 2) Jan Crouch with Oral Roberts. 3) Dan Wooding with Alexander Ogorodnikov in Moscow. 4) Bishop Andrew Bills and wife, Anne Marie Bills. 5) Brother Andrew and Dan Wooding. 6) Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren, who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and the author or co-author of some 45 books. Dan has one radio show and two TV programs all based in Southern California. Before moving to the US, Dan was a senior reporter with two of the UK’s largest circulation newspapers and also an interviewer for BBC Radio One in London.
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