LOS ANGELES, Jan. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The news late last week that Andraé Crouch had gone home to heaven brought my family and me both deep grief, along with a flood of warm memories about the Gospel Music legend that we always referred to affectionately as "cousin." I think my father, Paul Crouch Sr., came up with that nickname for Andraé, for the obvious reason that he and our family shared the same last name. But in reality, the bond went much deeper than just a name.
The close friendship we enjoyed for over forty years first began in the 1970s when Andraé, already known around the world for a string of songs that have since become Gospel Music classics, started appearing on TBN, the fledgling Christian television network my parents had launched. Andraé and my parents quickly discovered that they had more in common than just a name. Like my mom and dad, Andraé had a deep love for the Word of God and for spending time in His presence, and I can recall times when they — and whoever else was in the studio at the time — would spend precious moments around the piano after a program taping, with Andraé leading everyone into the presence of God.
Over the years Andraé was a frequent guest on TBN's Praise the Lord program, blessing, inspiring, and calling us higher with such favorites as "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power," "I've Got Confidence," "Jesus Is the Answer," "My Tribute," and "Soon and Very Soon."
But Andraé wasn't just a TBN guest — he was a lifelong family friend with whom we shared many lasting memories. When Laurie and I were married 30 years ago on August 25, 1985, Andraé graciously accepted our request to sing at our wedding. In fact, one of the songs he sang that day he penned especially for the occasion — while riding in a car on his way to the ceremony! Of course, it's a gift we have treasured ever since.
A few years later, when Andraé was installed as pastor of the church in Los Angeles started by his parents, I had the honor of directing his installation service. It was a deeply moving day that re-enforced to me the special call this man of God had on his life — not just to write and sing beautiful worship songs, but to lead individuals and families to the foot of the cross.
While Andraé is probably most well-known for his fifty-plus years as a Gospel Music legend, it's no secret that he also worked with some of the biggest names in pop music, including Michael Jackson, who regularly called on him for help in the recording studio. Once several years ago, when Andraé was helping Michael on a project that included Michael's hit song "You Are Not Alone," Andraé invited Laurie and me to be part of the choir for that number. I remember spending most of that day trying not to get thrown out of the session for singing a sour note or clapping out of time. But I really started to get nervous when Andraé and Michael walked into the control booth and, a few moments later, Andraé stepped out and motioned for me to join them. Thankfully, that turned into the most memorable part of the day for me, as Andraé gave me a personal introduction to one of the most legendary pop singers in history. That's who Andraé was — down-to-earth, unpretentious, generous, and inclusive.
These are just a few of the many memories I have of the friendship my family and I had with Andraé Crouch. Above everything else, what I will remember and cherish about Andraé was his life as a true worshipper, and how, for over fifty years, he used his remarkable gifting to lift people the world over into the presence of God with some of the most anointed Gospel songs ever written.
Yes, we are grieving for the loss of our friend and brother. But today I am certain that there are a pair of Crouch "cousins" in the halls of heaven enjoying a very special worship service together. Andraé is sitting at a full-size concert grand piano leading out, and right at his side is my dad, joining in a chorus of their eternal "tribute" to Jesus —
" … With His blood He has saved me,
With His power He has raised me,
To God be the glory for the things He has done."
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SOURCE Trinity Broadcasting Network