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Standing by God's Man

by Betty Price

Harrison House Tulsa, Oklahoma

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

Standing by God's Man ISBN 0-89274-602-5 Copyright 1989 by Betty Price Crenshaw Christian Center P.O. Box 90000 Los Angeles, California 90009 Published by Harrison House, Inc. P.O. Box 35035 Tulsa, Oklahoma 74153 Printed in the United States of America. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. Contents and/or cover may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without the express written consent of the Publisher.

Standing by God's Man

Recently, someone gave me a poem which began: You might think it's an easy task And just a pleasant life. But it takes a lot of grace to be a preacher's wife. Yes, I would definitely say that it takes a lot of graceGod's gracenot only to be a preacher's wife, but to be a Christian wife. I am sure that if it had not been for the Christian training I received in my parents' home, and for my strong desire to please God, my life would have taken a different turn. But I thank God for the inborn wisdom (the world calls it "mother wit") He gave me to put and keep my trust in Him no matter what. Fred Price and I were married on the 29th day of March in 1953. During those first few months of our marriage, Fred got saved and was called to the ministry. We joined a Baptist church near our home. He was very serious about his call (God had spoken to him in an audible voice, telling him to 5

preach the Gospel) and spent much time studying the Bible, memorizing scriptures and attending church. He was going to school part time and working a regular full-time job to support his family. Since neither his parents nor mine were excited about Fred's going into the ministry, they offered us no help or encouragement. I had always loved God and being in church; consequently, I was very happy about the call God had placed on my husband's life, and I was willing to make any sacrifice to help him fulfill that call. Since we were not in a church that taught the full Gospel, we were not aware of Satan and his tactics. We also were not filled with the Holy Spirit; therefore, we did not have on the armor to combat the enemy. We worshipped and worked in that church for two years. Finally, Fred was hired as an assistant pastor. However, after a little over a year, he was terminated because he refused to go along with some things he saw going on in the church that he knew were not right. By this time, we had two children: our daughter, Angela, three months old; and our son, who was almost three years old. We were without an income. I had a friend who was also a pastor's wife and who worked for the Internal Revenue Service. She 6

was able to get me work there until Fred could find another position. These were trying times, but I felt that things would work out as long as we remained true to serving God. We didn't know then about faith and how to operate in it, so we lived on hope hoping that the tomorrows would be better than the days before. After some time, Fred took a job in the secular world. Shortly thereafter, we joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Six months later, the bishop appointed Fred to a small church in Val Verde, California. It had less than a dozen members and little possibility of growth because of its location. But Fred was faithful and pastored there for two years, while continuing to work at a full-time job. He was there from September 1957 to August 1959, with a salary of only three to five dollars a week. Every four years in the Methodist Church, the ministers elect a bishop. Fred did not feel led to vote for the bishop the church leadership was sponsoring, so he was not offered a continued pastorate. Once more, my husband found himself without a ministerial post. I continued to pray that Fred would find a permanent position, and felt that if we remained true to God, things would work out 7

for us. We later joined a Presbyterian church. Fred continued to go to college, since in order to pastor a church in the Presbyterian denomination, one had to have a degree. I encouraged him to make these changes in the ministry because I knew that he was earnestly seeking to find a place in which to serve God in all honesty and uprightness. Needless to say, it was a very difficult time for both of us. Actually, my desire was that we would not have to make any changes, but I did not voice this desire because I never wanted to discourage my husband in his efforts to serve God. During this entire time, we were struggling with our finances. We hardly had enough to keep our needs met, and there was never anything extra. I believe this was due partly to Fred's loss of jobs, his immaturity in handling the family's income and by his making unaffordable purchases. He often refers to something I said to him many years ago in response to his statement that he was doing his best to take take care of the family. I told him, quite unashamedly, "Your best is just not good enough!" He was shocked and hurt to hear me say that, because I never complained about 8

anything. But I had become weary of struggling to make ends meet and was tired of really never having enough. I mainly made that statement to get his attention. It did! I didn't want to be mean or unkind, but I knew that it was time that my husband got his financial priorities straightened out. I knew Fred's heart and that he meant well, but I also believed that the time had come for me to let him know what I was thinking. Many times, wives will just go along with their husband's foolishness, not wanting to "rock the boat"; however, there are times when the boat needs rocking if the marriage is to go on to smooth sailing. During this period in our lives, a great tragedy befell us. Our first son, Frederick III, was killed by an automobile while coming home from school. He was only eight years old. Fred and I tried to console each other as best we could and leaned a lot on one another during this time of our hurt. My husband particularly found it hard to get over this tragedy, but he knew and continued to say that it was not God Who had taken our son from us. Looking back now, we can see how the devil was trying to destroy us as a family. 9

There were occasions when I did not feel like being intimate with Fred because of the pressures of life, worrying about clothes for the children, food to eat, and the bills that needed to be paid. But understanding how important sex is in a marriage, I prayed to the Lord and asked Him to help me deal with this problem. I was determined that if the marriage did not work out, it would not be my fault. Even though I did not know how to pray in faith, I trusted God, and He helped me handle the pressures of daily living so that our sexual relationship was not affected. God is so gracious to His children and is concerned about every area of our lives, including the intimacy that exists between a husband and wife. Eventually, I persuaded Fred to allow me to get a job to help meet the family's needs. He really never wanted me to work because when he was a child, his mother and his friends' mothers worked, and the boys often got into trouble. He never wanted his children to come home to a house without someone being there. I convinced him that I had good child care, so he consented. He tried to discourage me from working by not helping me with the household chores. My working hours were from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., non-stop! After 10

one year and nine months, he had proved his point. I quit the job and vowed never to work outside the home again. However, I am working with my husband in the ministry now, but the circumstances are a lot different. For the next five and a half years, Fred did not pastor. He ministered in different churches by invitation on and off during these years. I could tell that he was not happy and was very frustrated. In 1965, one of his friends was leaving his pastorate to go into full-time ministry with the Billy Graham Crusades. He called Fred and asked him if he would take over his church as pastor. Fred hesitated at first because he had always envisioned himself as an evangelist. He said that he would pray about the matter before making his decision. I encouraged him to take the position because at the time he was not doing anything on a consistent basis as far as his ministry was concerned. So in June, 1965, we went to pastor West Washington Community Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. We had two children at this stageAngela, now eight years old, and Cheryl, who was six. Stephanie was born two years later. West Washington had nine members and paid $35 a week. Fred still had to work a full11

time secular job as well as serving as pastor. The little church began to grow slowly. Finally in 1969, it had grown to approximately 125 members, and in the fall of that year, Fred was offered a full-time position. We had our work cut out for us, so we thought. We talked of how we would now have the time to really work with the church. We discussed ways in which we could get out into the neighborhood and knock on doors to invite the people in the community to attend church. However, God had other plans. Instead of being happy, because for the first time since being called to the ministry we were in a full-time pastorate and could establish our own programs to build the church and enhance our worship service, Fred was still frustrated and unhappy. Some time earlier he had read a book by Kathryn Kuhlman called God Can Do It Again, and it had left his spirit restless, but he did not know why. In one of our prayer meetings he said that he felt like "a casserole dish with something left out, but you can't tell what it is." He attended a couple of the Kuhlman meetings, which seemed only to 12

make his hunger more intense. I, myself, did not understand what was wrong, but I sensed that my husband was right. In years past, he had expressed an interest in the supernatural, but at that time from what I understood of the supernatural, I felt it may not have been of God. Consequently, I discouraged him in that pursuit. We did not understand then that there is the supernatural of God and the supernatural of Satan. Back then, my teaching had been that anything of a supernatural nature was of the devil. I encouraged Fred as best I could, not really understanding anything about the Spirit-filled life. While at one of the Kathryn Kuhlman meetings, he saw a chaplain he knew, who invited him to lunch and gave him some books on the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Fred began to see what was the missing ingredient in his personal life and ministry.* He saw the need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but did not know how to receive, and so he became even more frustrated. My heart really went out to my husband
* Editor's note: Fred Price has since written a book entitled THE HOLY SPIRITThe Missing Ingredient (published by Harrison House) in which he tells about this particular time in his life.

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during this time. I felt such compassion for him in his search. I was frustrated myself because I could not help him obtain what he thought he needed, even though I felt a little embarrassed for him as he stood in the pulpit one Sunday morning crying, saying that if he did not receive the Holy Spirit, he would stop preaching. All during this search, I had to take care of things that Fred normally handled. He had his mind only on one thingfinding out how he could receive the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other tongues. We had invited several ministers and their wives over for dinner one evening, and Fred forgot to show up. I had to entertain them myself until they decided to go home. Within the next two weeks following the forgotten dinner, Fred finally received the Holy Spirit in accordance with Acts 2:4. This was the beginning of a brand new life for us. He came home and laid hands on me, and immediately I received the Holy Spirit and also began to speak with other tongues. He was so excited that he wanted to share this supernatural phenomenon with everyone he came in contact with. Approximately 80 percent of our congregation 14

received the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking with other tongues, and our services began to take on a whole new flavor. Most of Fred's friends, who were denominational ministers, talked negatively about him after he shared with them this phenomenal experience. But we stood together and did not allow the criticism to hinder us. We knew that a change had taken place, and we were not going back to the old ways again! The congregation began to grow and grow and grow. Soon we were cramming 300 people into a building that would hold only 158 persons comfortably. We put people in every room in the church. We discovered that there were many people who were just as hungry as my husband for the supernatural things of God. This all began in February of 1970. Shortly after Fred received the Holy Spirit, this same chaplain gave him some other books written by Kenneth Hagin. These books on faith, healing, and prayer were the key to Fred's learning how to operate in the Word of God. The power of God was in manifestation in our midst. People of every race were coming from everywhere, and we were growing rapidly. 15

Fred was receiving calls from all over the Southern California area to come and minister throughout the week. Of course, with the move of the Holy Spirit so evident around us, Satan, all too ready to defeat the work of God, had his counterfeits there also. Sometimes I would see people who had attached themselves to our ministry for the wrong reasons. There were occasions when Fred would not see it at the time. I did not like to have to tell him that these persons were not right, at the risk of being misunderstood or criticized by him. But thank God I learned to die to self, and I would not let things go until he, too, was able to see the wrong. I had learned through our trials and misfortunes how to pray, wait on God, and exercise patience with my husband. If he didn't see what I was trying to share with him at the moment, I just stood my ground, prayed to the Lord that He would open Fred's eyes and continued to point out things that I believed would help him and the ministry. I knew my husband's heart was right, and that if wrong, he would be the first to repent and make a change. I have never let the negative attitudes and lives of some people sour me against people on the whole, because I know that if you, yourself, are of 16

a right spirit, you will attract others of a right spirit as well. I also know that in the Christian world, there are more people with a right spirit than those with a wrong one. Of course, Satan will magnify the wrong, but if we will keep our eyes on what is right and make sure that our motives line up with God's Word, right will always win in the end. The most important thing that we learned during this time was to follow Second Corinthians 5:7: (For we walk by faith, not by sight). We have had many opportunities to become discouraged and give up, but we are compelled to Fight the good fight of faith...(1 Tim. 6:12). We believed God for a bigger building, and by the application of our faith, we saw it come into manifestation. The main sanctuary alone accommodated 1,400 people, and it had numerous buildings and rooms for overflow crowds. We moved there in November of 1973 with only 300 people. We had obtained a loan from a bank to finance the purchase, although we didn't qualify for it. You know that had to be God! For eight months we had to believe God to make the payments, because in the beginning we did not receive enough money in the offerings to cover the mortgage payments. Throughout this period and thereafter, Fred did not 17

need so much encouragement, only agreement, because he had learned to encourage himself through the Word of God. Multitudes of people began to come, and by the end of 1975, we had filled the sanctuary and began using the overflow auditoriums. In 1977, we were totally out of room again, ministering to approximately 4,000 people in two services. In order to accommodate the still growing crowds, we added a third service in 1983. We began looking for land in the Inglewood area of Los Angeles County on which to build a new church. We found a 23-acre plot, which was large enough to build a 10,000-seat auditorium. It was the only available vacant land left in the city of Inglewood. We sought to buy it, and all the forces of hell were let loose against us. The church board voted to put $100,000 down on the property, but before the deal could be closed, the city passed an ordinance that would not allow us to build a church on more than three acres of land. In addition, a promised financial commitment to complete the purchase transaction did not materialize, and, as a result, we had to forfeit the $100,000 down payment. Fred did not want to face the congregation alone in making the announcement, as he felt so 18

bad about the loss. He wanted to ask the executive board members (who help with making decisions concerning the temporal matters of the church) to stand with him, since they had voted for the $100,000 down payment to be made. I discouraged him from making this request of them. I reasoned that if he were making a positive statement, he would do it alone; so likewise, he should be the one to make any negative announcements. If we had not learned how to exercise faith in the goodness of our Heavenly Father, we could have become very discouraged, as we still needed property on which to build, and it looked as if there were none to he found in all of Los Angeles. But our God is faithful, and He had just the right piece of property set aside for us! Shortly after losing the $100,000, we heard that the 32-acre Los Angeles campus of Pepperdine University was up for sale, and had been on the market for approximately two years, with no takers. God gave us favor with the university's administration who agreed to sell the property to us for $14,000,000. They were also willing to work with us on the financing of the

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purchase. We bought the property in 1981, * and in 1989 we began holding services in our 10,000-seat, domed structurethe sanctuary of Crenshaw Christian Center, better known as The Faithdome! Praise GodHis Word works! We actually moved our entire operation to the property in 1984, holding three services and ministering to more than 5,500 people per Sunday. With the new sanctuary, we need to hold only one service each Sunday and will still be able to accommodate our ever growing membership. Fred has many things in which he could need encouragement, but he does not depend on me or anyone else to lift him up, because he has learned how to use his faith and ...look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). Sometimes my husband gets physically tired, and from that standpoint, I encourage him to rest. I am there to care for him, because sometimes after
* Editor's note: In the spring of 1989, Crenshaw Christian Center completely paid off the $14,000,000 owed Pepperdine University.

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ministering he is rather exhausted. From 1970 (that's when Fred says he really entered his ministry), we went from 125 members to over 16,600 in 1989, with 167 full-time and 49 part-time employees, and over 1,500 helps ministry workers. Financially, we went from $113 in Sunday offerings to an average of $123,000 per week in general offerings. We give God all the praise and glory for what has been accomplished and for the privilege of learning how to encourage ourselves and each other through the Word. I pray constantly that God will continue to give my husband an understanding heart to discern the good and the bad. I continually pray that God will protect him from any voice or spirit that is not right, but will surround him with people he needs to help him fulfill the ministry to which he is called, because he knows that he cannot do it alone. Also, I am now assisting him in the ministry with decision-making, counseling and answering mail. In a large ministry such as ours, there are many, many decisions that need to be made, so I share my thoughts and opinions with my husband 21

as he confronts the numerous demands placed upon him. I oversee the women's fellowship, which is the largest auxiliary at the church. I also work with other groups in the church, including our 24-hour-a-day intercessory prayer auxiliary, the alcohol/drug abuse program, a ministry to troubled teens, and wherever else I am needed that will benefit the congregation and my husband. Since Fred is unable, because of time constraints, to provide private counseling or to respond to phone calls requesting counseling, I do counseling at the church, as well as return phone calls on his behalf, along with the other eight staff ministers. Much of my time is spent in helping to raise and train our late arrival, "Little Fred," who at the time of this writing is 10 years of age. Our three daughters are now grown and working fulltime with us in the ministry. Finally, I want to encourage every pastor's wife in her role. From my own personal experience, I can tell you that you are able to handle the demands of being the wife of a pastor. I was very shy and did not like to be up in front of people at all! I wanted only to support my husband 22

from behind the scenes. But as the church grew and I grew in the Word, I knew that I had to become more public. Fear would grip me when I thought of speaking in public, but I wanted to please God. I stepped out in faith using Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Second Timothy 1:7 says: ...God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I confessed these verses each time I had to do something publicly until I overcame my shyness. I also spend time in the Word and in prayer so that when I do speak, the Holy Spirit had something to work with. I exhort you not to allow Satan to put you into a bag by telling you what you can't do. Don't worry about your ability to fulfill your role as a pastor's wife. Instead, commit yourself to do the will of God and spend time with Him by praying in the Spirit and in the understanding, and by studying the Word. Learn to depend upon the Holy Spirit to direct you as to when and how to be a leader and winner in your own ministry. Remember, every ministry is different, but whatever your ministry, you ought to be winning. I have lived Psalm 66:12: ...we went through 23

fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. And you can live it too!

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Additional copies of
Standing by God's Man

are available from your local bookstore, or by writing:

Harrison House P.O. Box 35035 Tulsa, OK 74153