A life dedicated to the Lord and the service of others
Harold Crowter was first and foremost a preacher of the gospel, sent out to preach by the church at 'Rehoboth', Coventry, in 1954, and serving many Strict Baptist churches and individuals around the country until the last few months of his life. He was a Pastor for thirty-two years at 'Ebenezer', Old Hill, in the West Midlands, remaining happily in membership after retirement. He was a dear Christian friend to many and a loving husband for fifty-six years to Mary who steadfastly served the Lord with him.
A MAN OF THE WORD
A man saturated in God's Word and a man of prayer, from late youth Harold walked closely with the Lord. Very aware of the battle within his own sinful heart, it led him to exult in the grace of God to such a sinner. He was given a rock-like faith and his life illustrated the effectiveness of putting on the whole armour of God. He inherited a gracious and loving disposition, an eloquent way in prayer and preaching enriched by the King James Version, and a perceptiveness which helped him so often to say exactly what was needed.
Harold was a convinced Calvinist, doctrines precious by application. Never only theoretical, he spoke of things which he had handled, tasted and felt, and his ministry was rooted in human and spiritual experience. A large man - described as a gentle giant - and a large character; out of the pulpit he had a rich humour, with lively conversation and memorable stories for all ages. He was characterised by a warm, kind interest in every individual, whatever their age, state or status. Among children of several generations he was popular as 'the sweet man' because he always had a pocketful to share!
Living as a teenager through the Coventry Blitz, three years in the barrack room on National Service and a successful few years in industry until he left to devote himself solely to the ministry, Harold had an understanding of Christians living or working out in the world. Deep unhappiness gave him insight to the broken hearted. Critical illness gave him empathy with the sick and dying. Living in financial dependence on the Lord for himself and his family led to many amazing experiences of God's providence. He preached, prayed and counselled from the heart. Having left school at fifteen, he regretted his lack of formal education, but natural intelligence helped and he educated himself with a voracious appetite for commentaries, the Puritans, Banner of Truth books, the counsel of godly men and women, and of course chiefly his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Bible.
Harold took every opportunity he could to serve. God opened his eyes to the sole authority of the Bible and freed him to appreciate the true work of the Holy Spirit wherever he found it. Though used in the conversion of many, perhaps his main service was to build up and encourage God's people, of all ages, for whom he had a warm, sympathetic and practical love. He was a fervent lover of peace, avoiding conflict save where duty compelled him, and always sought to promote peace between individuals and in the churches.
THE DOORWAY TO HEAVEN
Harold's last illness, with liver cancer, was a remarkable experience for those who had contact with him. He felt the Lord wanted him to 'tell it to the generation following' and witness to the dealings of the Lord for the encouragement and building up of others. 'My bed is my pulpit now', he said, and so it was. He was in a state of wonder: 'I had no idea my death could be so peaceful.' 'I can honestly say that I have no fear of death at all.' 'All the things I've preached, well they are all true!' He anguished over the poor world, groping in the dark without Christ, but was all the more thankful that he had been chosen: 'Poor world, rich prospects'. He looked back over life and saw how the Lord had prepared him for the exact service he was to give and rejoiced in the wise providences of God. But more, he rejoiced in the mercy and grace of God in Christ and the difference the cross makes. The prospect of death held no fear, as the doorway to heaven, and he could scarcely wait!
To the many who visited Harold's bedroom it was the threshold of heaven. On 19 February 2011, surrounded at home by all his family, he gradually, quietly, stopped breathing and the trumpets sounded for him on the other side. His death was precious in the sight of the Lord. As he loved to say, slowly and with such anticipation, 'I shall see his face for ever, and ever, and ever, and ever and ever'. To the praise of his glory we thank God for such grace in the life and death of a sanctified sinner, saved by grace alone through Christ alone, and set apart to be made a blessing to many.
Harold's funeral was held on 5 March 2011, at Ebenezer, and the committal at Cave Adullam, Blackheath. Several hundred bore testimony to the goodness of God in the life of this much-loved servant and rejoiced to know that 'the end of that man is peace.'
This tribute by Frances Barker, one of Harold and Mary's four children, is taken with permission from Grace Magazine, May 2011.