Foreword by Donald B Crawford

 

They met by His will. They married by His grace.

They ministered of His love. Did they ever. Hundreds

of thousands of God's creations saw them, heard them.

Thousands were touched by them and their ministry.

They loved each other in a special way, and Him even more. They spent

their lives together witnessing and serving. It all began when a young man

heard the fiery torrents of Irish Evangelist William Nicholson. Confronted for

the first time with eternal choices, Percy B. Crawford accepted Jesus Christ

as his Lord and Savior, and devoted his life from that day forward to the

service of the Master. Off he went to study, first at Biola then at UCLA, then

Wheaton College and finally Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, soon to

become his home and the headquarters for his great work.

His ministry began small, at a Presbyterian Mission on Spruce Street.

But he knew early on his ministry would not be to the churched, but to the

lost, those who knew not Jesus Christ. Pioneer that he always was, he found

an unused Presbyterian Church, and from its balcony, rigged a diving board

which extended into adjacent Washington Square, and standing often precariously,

he fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel to any who would listen. They came, they

saw and heard, and he conquered. Many surrendered their hearts to Jesus Christ

as the Gospel poured forth from that diving board.

There was more from God, and soon there was born THE YOUNG PEOPLE'S

CHURCH OF THE AIR, a nonprofit ministry formed for the witness of the gospel

through radio. It grew rapidly, as people hungered to hear the message, and

soon coast to coast. All the while, this young visionary, evangelistic to the

core, preached wherever he could, holding revival services in many churches.

His notoriety grew as one who fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel, the reality of

sin and the ultimate destination as a result thereof, but much more importantly,

the saving love of Jesus Christ.

Through not much of a musician himself, Percy recognized the power and

influence of gospel music and at the right time, the Lord he loved led him to

Ruth Duvall, a young, talented, sensitive musician and pianist who soon became

his wife and spiritual partner for life. Together they formed a male quartet, a

Crawford trademark, and that quartet with so many different members

accompanied their ministry to the very end. Those spiritual six, God's servants

traveled everywhere, across the country and the world proclaiming the Gospel.

Tens of thousands heard their message, and accepted and believed. They

encountered a life-changing challenge from the head and heart of one of the

world's most powerful preachers. No one then or since was able to say more

in fifteen short minutes about life's most important things. The combined

power of the message and the man was mesmerizing. The Christ he loved

and served was alive and powerful in his every word.

Ruth and Percy had a vision for Christian camping, and they gave birth to

Pinebrook, Shadowbrook and Mountainbrook, summer camps in the Pocono

Mountains of Pennsylvania. There, in bucolic splendor, thousands experienced

the fun and joy of this life along with God's things.

Then came the King's College, for the next vision of the visionary was

Christian education. Belmar, New Jersey was the place of birth and then a move

to New Castle, Delaware, and from there to Briarcliff Manor, New York, and

today in part at the Empire State Building in New York City. Small it was, but

a big God led, and a special faculty nurtured chosen students year after year.

Those who went out to the world from its portals even today continue to change

the world. Then came the Pinebrook Book of the Month Club, and the Pinebrook

Bookstore, and the Youth on the March Fishing Clubs, and the magazine Youth

Today, all designed to provide high quality educational materials from a

Christian standpoint. An educated man himself, Percy Crawford fostered and

encouraged continuing Christian education any way he could.

Then came perhaps their finest mission. YOUTH ON THE MARCH, the first

Christian Evangelistic television program on the national network ABC, began

with the highest expectations in 1949. It started at 10:00 p.m., a time when

networks believed no one was watching. It quickly became a phenomenon, a

spirtual success story of the highest order. As with their radio ministry,

which continued, millions saw, heard and accepted the message of salvation.

This 30-minute God-Driven powerhouse proclaimed the Gospel in music 20

minutes, and in a 10-minute sermon, powerful to the core. The power of God

was spread the country over. Percy and Ruth, their quartet, their five

children, their King singers, their full orchestra and many other special

talents produced a program and a message never before seen or heard.

There was much more to their lives, much more. The Five D's, Don,

Dick, Dan, Dean and Donna Lee we their family and though apart often, were

together and bonded in ways that really counted. Loving times were spent at

Pinebrook, where for 12 weeks every summer, the fellowship of family and

friends happened day by day. There were sports of all kinds, a passion for

Percy and Ruth, and their family, whether football, basketball, baseball,

soccer and even tennis. The love of sports and physical activity was an

essential part of family, at the camps in the Poconos, and the King's College.

Running the race was important both spiritually and physically. We loved

them, miss them, and honor them.

Three of us present you with this tribute. We reminisced together,

caught and shared a vision for the project and did the best we could. Extracting

the best of four decades of ministry and messengers is difficult. We did our

best in word, picture and song. The pictures, priceless and personal, were

chosen largely by Dean Crawford, youngest son of Ruth and Percy, who spent

countless hours gathering, choosing, and remaking. The songs, in our view

the best and most representative of their great musical ministry, were chosen

by Ruth's dear brother, Dr. R. Fenton Duvall, by son and brother Dean Crawford,

and by me. May you with us reminisce and relive some of their most cherished

spiritual moments. Every song and every picture has such a spiritual meaning.

Each represents an era gone, recorded in history, but even today alive in the

lives of so many who heard, were changed and are themselves changing the world.

Ruth and Percy Crawford were marvelous ministers of the Gospel in song

and word, powerful personalities, warm and fun-loving human beings, loving

parents, faithful friends, honest and true in every sense. May you remember

them afresh and anew, and even more importantly than the messengers, the

message for which they spent their lives, the love, forgiveness and saving

grace of Jesus Christ.

Most respectfully and lovingly,

Fellow servants, brother and sons,

Donald B Crawford-R Fenton Duvall-Dean A Crawford


Painting by Shannon Percy Crawford