James Leroy Crawford passed away peacefully at home on January 21, 2022. He was 86 years old.
James was born in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, on August 22, 1935, to Leroy and Beulah Crawford. He preached his first sermon at age 14. That same year he met Sammye Henson in Sunday School and said, “That’s the girl I want to marry one day.” James and Sammye got married on January 26, 1957, and she became his life-long partner in ministry. He died 5 days before their 65th wedding anniversary.
James graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1956, and then spent one year at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1958 he transferred to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and earned his Doctor of Theology degree.
The son, grandson, and great-grandson of Baptist preachers, Dr. Crawford served as pastor in Oklahoma, Illinois, and Texas before being called to the foreign mission field in 1968. James and his family left the US in 1970 to serve as missionaries in Venezuela. While in Venezuela, he pastored churches and served as President and Old Testament professor for the Venezuelan Theological Baptist Seminary. He also worked as a church planter and started several churches in the mountains above Caracas and along the coast. After 30 years of ministry in Venezuela, he retired and moved to Oklahoma City.
Not surprisingly, his “retirement” involved teaching seminary extension classes and pastoring Hispanic churches in central Oklahoma, as well as fulfilling a lifelong dream to write books that explored the human nature of some of the Bible’s main characters. Many people have enjoyed his wisdom, love of teaching, and humor through his historical novelizations of the lives of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel, the Apostle Paul (available in both English and Spanish), and even Jezebel. These departed from his scholarly works on Old Testament theology, and writing them became a joyful obsession in recent years.
The only thing that could begin to compare with Dr. Crawford’s dedication to Christian ministry was his love for his family, attested to by his wife Sammye; children Jim and wife Gina, Joyce McCartney and husband Mike, and Janet Austin and husband Randall, all who were loved and greatly influenced by this man whose life of faith and service was an example and inspiration to everyone he encountered.
James is survived by his wife and children listed above; sisters Sylvia Foster, Cecile Nichols, and Iris Bonds; grandchildren Cassidy, Chelsea, Rachel, Martha, Reed and Kate; and great-grandchildren Zadie, Declan, Adelind and Astrid.
A memorial service will be held at 10:00 AM on Saturday, January 29, 2022 at The Hill @ Quail Springs Baptist Church – Iglesia Bautista Central, 14401 N May Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73134.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Building Fund for Iglesia Bautista Central. Send all donations to: Iglesia Bautista Central, 14401 N May Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73134. In the memo line designate for the Building Fund.
There are no events scheduled.