Ken Crowell was a visionary who devoted his life and efforts to bless Israel by providing employment for Israeli Jews, Messianic believers, and Arabs. God arranged for him to meet other men during his life who shared his vision of honoring the Lord by serving others in the world. Each man possessed a unique gift and talent that contributed to the realization of the vision they shared. Like Moses, the Lord had to prepare and groom Ken Crowell for the life He planned for him so this common vision could be realized. This is Ken Crowell’s story.
Ken and his wife, Margie, met in a high school algebra class; he was a senior, she a junior. They were both Christians. After Ken graduated he was drafted into the army and served during the Korean war from 1952 to 1954. During his time in the military he learned helicopter maintenance, a skill that served him well later on in his career. When he returned home, he and Margie married, and for the next fifty-seven years worked as a team together in service to the Lord.
To help pay the bills Ken held a job with the Los Angeles police department while he attended college. After graduation the couple asked the Lord to direct them to Ken’s next place of employment. They were led to Placerville, a town about four hundred miles north of Los Angeles near Sacramento. Here Ken secured a job with the Aero-Jet Corporation. Courses in drafting he had taken at the college, combined with the knowledge and experience he gleaned in the military about helicopter maintenance, made him a good fit for the job of draftsman that he was offered.
It was now the late 1950s. Ken borrowed a thousand dollars and bought a Bible bookstore in Placerville. It was about this same time that the state of California was building a highway through the area. They were selling condemned homes in the path of the freeway, and Ken bought one of them for $400. He disassembled it, moved it stick by stick and reassembled it next to an A-frame structure that housed the bookstore. They lived in the house and Margie ran the Bible bookstore. This made it possible to continue her ministry for the Lord and raise their children as they came along.
They lived and worked in Placerville for the next five years. In 1964 they heard a talk by the man who had founded Victor Bible Camps of Arctic Missions in Alaska. At his suggestion, he asked them to think about missions. Both thought Alaska would be a good place to serve. They knew they needed more education to be missionaries, so they sold the Bible bookstore and moved to Portland, Oregon. There they enrolled in the Multnomah School of the Bible. Ken was now thirty-three years old.
Ken took a job as an engineer with Techtronix in Portland, and for the next five years worked and went to school to earn his Divinity Degree at Western Seminary. Ken was looking forward to serving and living in Alaska, where he could also enjoy his avocations of hunting and fishing. However, in one of GOD’S OTHER WAYS©, both he and Margie began to feel a call to serve and work in Israel - not Alaska.
Margie thought it was because they were talking about and studying Israel all the time. Pictures in books looked like the land was barren. It was a lot different than the lush terrain of Oregon and California they were used to or the virgin natural areas of Alaska they had been planning on. Yet, God was changing their hearts. They seemed to meet more and more people who were Jewish, and they felt a pull to serve there. They researched opportunities for mission work in Israel, but many avenues were blocked and not available. They continued to pray about how they could use their life experiences and know-how as a vehicle to bring glory to the Lord and further His Kingdom in that country.
Around this time Techtronix was working on a project with the Israeli Air Force, and Ken had the opportunity to meet and talk with one of the Israeli officers visiting the company. Ken’s boss knew about Ken’s interest in Israel and suggested he have the representative over to his house for dinner. Margie went to great lengths to prepare a kosher meal, only to find out that the Major did not eat kosher food!
Ken told the Major about their strong interest in Israel and the Major said, “I don’t really care about your religious feelings, but we sure need good engineers in Israel. Would you consider coming as an engineer?” That question absolutely stunned Ken, as both he and Margie had thought only of becoming missionaries and had never considered going to serve the Lord in a capacity except that. If they wanted to go as missionaries they would be required to get missionary visas, and Israel was not issuing this type of visa at that time. When this question was put to him, Ken told the Major he would have to think about it.
After much thought and prayer, Ken told the Israeli officer that they would consider going to Israel, if the Major could find employment for Ken. The Major asked for Ken’s resume. Ken thought this was just a shot in the dark and that there would be almost no chance for a job to become a reality. He dismissed the job idea from his mind. But Ken did’t count on one of God’s Other Ways©.
Margie felt an “inner peace” about the prospect and felt that the Lord was calling them to Israel. She felt this so strongly that she began telling everyone they were going to serve in Israel and even mentioned it in their 1968 Christmas card. She said they would leave for Israel after graduation, even though she did not know exactly how since Israel had not issued visas for missionaries for two decades!
About three months prior to graduation from Western Seminary, Ken received a call from Motorola wanting him to fly to Chicago for an interview. Motorola was working on a project in Israel and needed an engineer. Ken went for the interview and after he returned home, Motorola sent him an envelope containing the job offer. The job was for a three-year project.
Motorola offered to pay relocation expenses, along with housing that included a refrigerator and stove. Since Ken was a Christian, they offered Sundays off, but Ken told them “No”; he wanted to be treated just like the Israelis and take Saturdays off. The job paid about one-third of what engineers were making in the United States, but it was comparable to what Israelis were paid. Ken accepted the job.
Because Ken had worked at Aero-Jet Corporation while they went to school at Multnomah and Western Baptist Seminary, they finished their college degrees debt- free. What they had accumulated over the fifteen years of marriage they just gave away to other students. Just two things were kept, a sewing machine for Margie and a bike that belonged to their son, James. It was 1969. They graduated on a Friday and were on a plane the next day, bound for Israel.
You won’t want to miss the continuation of this amazing story. When we meet again on Thursday you’ll read how, in one of God’s Other Ways©, the Lord continued to prepare Ken for His blessings on Israel.