Who is Kenneth Eugene Crowell? I say, “is” even though he recently went on to be with the Lord, because he IS even now, with his Heavenly Father. I say it also because Ken is a man who left a legacy that lives on in the minds and hearts of millions of people.
Almost every believer in Israel knows the name Ken Crowell, but many don’t know what the Lord did through this man. Many people abroad have not heard of Ken, so I want to honor this great man of God and share his story with the readers of Oasis Magazine.
I am the founding elder of Kehilat Poriya, part of the Tents of Mercy network of congregations since 2005. But long before that, I was a partner, employee and friend of Ken Crowell. Ken was called by the Lord to come to Israel in 1979 and start a Christian-owned company to do three things:
- Bless the nation and people of Israel with exports and jobs.
- Provide jobs for Messianic believers in the Land.
- Help launch Messianic congregations.
His first company was called Galtronics and it made antennas for Motorola’s walkie-talkies. There were no Christian-owned companies in Israel at that time and there was much religious opposition to this idea. Ken was not Jewish and could not get citizenship – on top of that he had no money. It was a HUGE challenge he was taking on. The company was called “GAL-tronics” after Psalm 37:5, which in English is usually translated “Commit your ways unto the Lord, trust in Him, and He will accomplish it.” In Hebrew, the first word is “Gol…” which literally means, “Roll” as in, “Roll your ways onto the Lord.” Ken knew that if he did not learn to roll his ways (and problems) onto the Lord and trust Him, he would never succeed.
In 1983, when my wife Terri and I made Aliyah from the USA, Galtronics had around thirty employees and an annual turnover of about $500,000. In 1984 I went into a partnership with Ken to start a new company called Galadon, which exported communion products. In 1985 Ken asked me to join the Galtronics team and in 1986 I became the Business Manager and later, CFO.
Early on in his years in Tiberias (The Israeli home of Galtronics), Ken started a small congregation. It was called “Peniel,” after the place where Jacob wrestled with the Angel. This congregation has continued to grow; today it is the largest Messianic congregation in Israel, with Ken’s protégé, Daniel Yahav serving as the pastor. Peniel has since started three more Messianic congregations in the Tiberias area.
Ken eventually founded or helped found six companies, each of which had a ministry purpose and which together have influenced, literally tens of millions of people. Galtronics became a supplier to the global cellular telephone industry and today has over 1,000 workers and markets tens of millions of dollars worth of products worldwide. It is estimated that over 2,000 Israelis have had employment at Galtronics over the years. In 1991, Galtronics received the Knesset’s prestigious Kaplan Prize for being a blessing to the nation and people of Israel.
Galadon still produces communion products and is currently operated by a fine Arab believer in Nazareth. Another of Ken’s start-ups, Galcom, produces solar-powered fix-tuned radios, which are given away in remote areas of the world. They receive only one station—the Christian station in that area. At least eight million people have been benefited by these radios. Still another of Ken’s start-ups, Megavoice, produces audio Bibles in hundreds of languages, for the billions of people in the world who cannot easily access a print Bible. Over six hundred thousand audio- Bibles have been distributed, at no charge. Over six million people have had an opportunity to hear the Word of God through these sophisticated, rugged and simple devices.
Ken helped found “The Galilee Experience” on the Sea of Galilee waterfront in Tiberias. This enterprise helps Christians around the world connect with Israel and the Jewish roots of their faith and has served over 400,000 tourists to get more from their visit to Israel. Not only that, “The Galilee Experience” has presented the Gospel in a powerful way to over 25,000 Jewish Israelis. This was actually a vision the Lord gave me. Ken backed me up in every way until the vision was brought into reality.
To add to all these accomplishments, Ken founded “Galilee of the Nations Music”. This record company has distributed over one million inspirational CDs, many of them with worship music from the Land of Israel. I was involved in the startup of all six of these companies as well as a member of Peniel for 15 years. I know personally the struggles entailed in each, and the wonderful work each one does. All of these enterprises still exist and are carrying on the work and ministry the Lord intended when He called Ken to start them.
In spite of his outstanding accomplishments, Ken never took credit for himself; he ALWAYS gave credit to the Lord for everything. He also never did things for his own personal gain. Whenever possible he gave the ownership of his companies to the Lord (via non-profit organizations), or to others who helped establish or finance them. When he died, Ken owned his modest home in Tiberias, but almost nothing more. Ken was a very humble person, probably the most humble, and thankful man I have ever had the privilege to get to know. Ken was a man of great faith, great character and great obedience. His humble, faithful and selfless obedience to the Lord bore great fruit.
In the formative, rapid growth years of Galtronics, even though he was the owner and president of the company, as a true “Servant Leader” Ken shared the authority and responsibility of running the company with a team of four men who operated by consensus. I had the privilege and challenge of being one of those four men. In recent years, Ken and I became even closer and we considered each other as best friends. We had lunch together every week. During the last six months of his life I was with him almost every day.
Ken had a blood disease called Mylofibrosis, which attacks the ability of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. This caused a progressive weakness and anemia – over the last few years Ken was visibly slowing down. Six months ago he became so weakened that he was bedridden in the local hospital and then in a nursing home. He was not in terrible pain most of the time, but he could do nothing and had no control over his life. It was his desire to be taken home, and the Lord answered that prayer. On Wednesday, January 25, 2012, between 1:00 and 1:30 AM, Ken Crowell went on to be with the Lord.
I had the privilege of being with Margie, Ken’s wonderful wife when she heard the news at 3:00 AM that morning. Behind the sorrow and tears, she experienced relief and joy that Ken is free at last, and in a much better place. She too, has great faith and great dependence on the Lord, but she needs our prayers now as she passes through the mourning period for her life partner of 57 years. It was always “Ken and Margie.”
In addition to his business and ministry accomplishments and exemplary marriage, Ken leaves behind a wonderful family legacy – 3 children and 10 grandchildren, all of whom are serving the Lord – as well as 3 great-grandchildren. Those of us who knew him personally will miss him greatly. Those whose lives have been impacted by Ken and Margie are surely numbered in the tens of millions. Even now Ken Crowell must be hearing the words we all long to hear: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Editor’s note: Johannes Englehardt is a long time friend of the Tents of Mercy network. In February of this year he invited a delegation from Tents of Mercy and Shavei Tsion congregations to participte in a special conference in his home city of Düsseldorf. Here is his story.
In 1988 Düsseldorf and Haifa joined together as “twin cities”, agreeing to cultural exchanges and political friendship. This was a positive move towards building relations between Germans and Israelis but God had something even better planned for us. In November 2001, Eitan Shishkoff, visited Düsseldorf, the state capital of NRW (North-Rhine-Westphalia). The following spring, Leon Mazin came our way to continue this spiritual “bridge building”. For me and my family these encounters were the beginning of a strong personal connection to Israel. It was the first seed of personal relationship between Yeshua believing Jews and Christians of both cities. It was the impetus for the establishment of our ministry, “Bridge-Haifa Düsseldorf eV” in April 2002.
Day of Prayer “NRW for Israel” in Düsseldorf
In 2007, we inaugurated the annual “Day of Prayer for Israel”. This event is held at different locations in North Rhine-Westphalia. This year we had the privilege of hosting the Day of Prayer, “NRW for Israel”, in our city. We invited eight Messianic Jews,
young pastors and youth leaders from Tents of Mercy and Shavei Tsion to participate
in this day of prayer – especially as bridge builders towards the young generations.
On Friday evening, we had a Shabbat celebration together with our Israeli guests
in a local Christian Highschool. Liliya, from Tents of Mercy lit the Shabbat candles. We
sang and prayed together and we sensed in our spirits that Yeshua, the King of Israel, was in our midst.
When Pastors Dima L. (Shavei Tsion) and Avishalom Tekle (Tents of Mercy), spoke the blessing over the wine and the bread, we felt the love and presence of our Creator and our Saviour Yeshua. We realized that we are all bound together in expectation of His second coming as King of Israel. We had a splendid time of fellowship on this Shabbat evening – a good start in anticipation of our day of prayer.
On Saturday, Christians and Jews, young and old, Israelis, Germans and expats from other nations gathered to prayer for Israel. The aim of the conference was that prayer for the country and the people of Israel would become a priority in our country. This includes in particular, to strengthen the existing ministries for Israel and Israel Prayer groups in North Rhine-Westphalia. Our expectation was to see local believers take the initiative, to be “watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem”.
Framed in praise and prayer, accompanied by refreshing flag dances, our guests from Israel were introduced to the assembly. A diary of a Survivor of the Holcaust was recited and we remembered the crimes of our ancestors, especially those committed in the city of Düsseldorf. These included slander, persecution, expulsion and the murder of many Jews. Walter Tholen, who grew up during that time, asked for forgiveness on behalf of us all. Some of us gave testimony of how God has touched and opened our eyes to his beloved nation of Israel. Others presented their specific ministries for Israel. I greatly appreciate that members of many different Christian congregations, denominations and diverse nationalities of many parts of the country participated in this prayer day.
School Partnership with Haifa
The Free Christian Highschool Düsseldorf not only provided us with a lovely auditorium for the event but was also involved in the activites: “Since the beginning of this year there is an official school partnership with Israel,” said Dr. Ulrich Marienfeld, head of the school, “and we expect a group of Ironi Gimel School
students from Haifa to visit with us in March.” Students under the direction of Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Heinrich took care of the catering of the participants and Herm-Dieter set up a first class cheese counter.
Comments from Participants
Ulrich Freischlad, an active supporter of the prayer day, said: “When we pray together
as Christians and Jews for Israel, then we trust that God will act, even for His people and lead Israel to the conclusion of its God-ordained history.” He also stressed that the organizers were committed to awaken an awareness of the Israel mandate among local Christian congregations.
“Interest in the land and the people of Israel is far from being alive in all churches and congregations”, noted visitor Elke Sauer. “There are so many Christians who do not understand how important it is for Israel, but everyone counts who prays for Israel. Many are not bold enough to show it. – But Israel is in my heart. As a Christian, it is a duty to pray for Israel and the Jews, that’s why I’m here. ”
The highlight of the event was Avishalom Tekle’s message and the prayer time that followed. Avishalom: “I believe that in our relationship, God put a potential of blessing. God still has a common purpose with our nations and we are aware that this is what we are doing today. That is, to build relationship, to restore the foundations of our relationship back again. Our destiny is to be connected – not separated.” And in the context of Isaiah 58:12, Avishalom declared: “From generation to generation God will build a new foundation. We pray that God raises up a new generation and that He shows us how we can serve each other.”
After Avishalom’s message the conference split into seven well-attended prayer groups in order to interceed for Israel in the context of Avishalom’s exhortation. We were encouraged to move forward with this new relationship that the God of Israel is forging between us.
The event concluded with a worship-service led by Düsseldorf ’s Jewish-Messianic
congregation, “Beit Hesed”. Dima L., from Shavei Tsion spoke, “When I received the invitation to visit Germany, I didn’t know why I should come to this country, but when I came here and I’ve seen that fire in you, how you pray for Israel and how
important it is for you. When I saw this love, I understood that we are not alone in Israel.” Dima Siroy, pastor of the Düsseldorf Beit-Hesed-Congregation petitioned our Heavenly Father: “Bless these young people, and bless us through them!”
God is Building Relationships
We see clearly that the visit of our friends from Israel was a great blessing for us here
in North Rhine-Westphalia to deepen and enlarge our existing relations – far beyond the day of prayer. The prayer day was followed by invitations to our Israeli guests from several congregations in the country. We believe this is a sign of the expansion of our relationship with one another. The following day, in the city of Cologne, Avishalom spoke to an Ethiopian congregation and Andrey G. gave a testimony.
“NRW for Israel”
The organizer of the prayer day, “NRW for Israel” is an initiative of committed Christians and Messianic Jews from North Rhine-Westphalia. In the past six years we have come together as a group – working and praying. The role of Messianic Jews within this group has advanced. As a result of true partnership, fear and suspicion has been overcome. Rather, Jews and Christians have experienced joy and gratitude that the Messiah has removed the dividing fence (Eph. 2:14). We can clearly see that theological, national, and cultural differences are fading when we unite in the name of Yeshua to worship the God of Israel and to pray for His land.”
A young man of the Jewish-Messianic congregation in Düsseldorf, commented: “It was great … Next time – and there must definitely be a next time – we should spend far more time with our guests from Israel. A night of prayer for the youth would be cool, and even more worship and prayer during the morning session. “ May the God of Israel answer this young man’s request and add His blessing to our “Next Time”.