Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

ANDRAE CROUCH - Through It All

  • 1999 12 Jan
ANDRAE CROUCH - Through It All
"Many of the songs I've written speak to me as far as telling me the process of how to get through things. 'Through It All' in particular, lets me know you have a lot of experiences in life and you must learn to trust Jesus."

by Mike Nappa

Being a gospel music legend doesn't mean you'll always have someplace to go when Thanksgiving and Christmas come around. Just ask lifelong bachelor, {{Andrae Crouch}}. This time last year he spent the holidays alone at home.

"Everybody thought I would be invited [over] by a thousand people," Crouch shrugs, "and so nobody invites you. I've become accustomed to that. That's the way it is right now. When it's Christmas or Easter or whatever, I don't celebrate those times most of the time."

Then a smile creeps onto Crouch's face, and he can't help but tell about the members of the Los Angeles church he pastors. "But the people here at church..."

He pauses before continuing, "I find that black people really love their pastor. They sure brought me gifts Sunday before [Christmas]. The kids buy me things-a little piece of art, clowns, stuffed animals and all kinds of stuff."

Though Crouch may not observe many holidays, his music has long been cause for celebration throughout the halls of the churches of the world. Few artists have accomplished more than he has over the last two or three decades.

Consider (deep breath!): Crouch has recorded 15 albums-and sold millions of them, won nine Grammy Awards, collaborated with artists from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson to Whitney Houston to {{Michael W. Smith}}. He's worked on musical scores for movies such as "The Lion King," "Free Willy," and "The Color Purple," been nominated for an Academy Award, performed for presidents and kings, and contributed dozens of songs to the church hymnal.

Not bad for a guy with no formal music training, who can't sight-read music, who had to overcome stuttering as a boy, and who continues to struggles with dyslexia. Still, Crouch maintains that the lyrics he wrote 25 years ago are as true today as they were back then:

Through it all/Through it all/I've learned to trust in Jesus/I've learned to trust in God

I've Had Many Tears and Sorrows

The words of "Through it All" were especially meaningful when first Crouch's mother, then his father, then his brother all died within a span of two years. "Probably the hardest time in my life," sighs Pastor Crouch. "Just getting through the gloom, the grieving part of it and trying to learn the reason why."

"Many of the songs I've written speak to me as far as telling me the process of how to get through things. 'Through It All' in particular, lets me know you have a lot of experiences in life and you must learn to trust Jesus."

Still, with his family members passing so quickly, Crouch readily admits he had difficulty at times trusting Jesus, feeling angry at God instead. It all came to a head one day during prayer. Like David writing a psalm, Crouch says he laid his soul bare before God, being very honest about his feelings of grief and loss.

"I thought I was just going to crack up," relates Crouch. "I said, 'Lord, you took my mother!' I just told him like that and I said, 'After all this, you took her so suddenly and it really grieved my heart.' I told him I thought that was cold-blooded."

Crouch says, "I knew I'd never, ever forget mother. I'd never smell her perfume. Never hear her voice. Never taste her cooking and never feel her warm body against mine. And it just got too big. It was unbearable. The tears would not stop because that was my mother. I loved her."

In the midst of that prayer, Crouch felt strongly that God was encouraging him to praise Him. He could almost hear God's voice saying, "You've written a lot of songs I've given you about praise and worshipping me in things--not for things, but in things."

Like a petulant child, Crouch admits he refused at first, praying "I cannot praise You going through this. I cannot do it. I don't feel like it." But after struggling inwardly for a half-hour or so, he finally gave in.

"I just started saying, 'Thank you, Jesus,' and 'I praise you, Jesus.' And then I felt strength come like a gushing well. The joy of the Lord came in the room and filled my soul. And probably for four hours I was jumping and praising God."

Through that experience Crouch says he learned a valuable lesson. "If depression comes for anything, learn to praise Him. I know I've written a whole bunch of songs about that, but I learned it myself. It's incredible-the power of praise."

I've Had Questions for Tomorrow...There've Been Times I Didn't Know Right from Wrong

After decades in ministry, it would seem natural for {{Andrae Crouch}} to look back instead of forward, to reminisce on the past and begin to take it easy. But Crouch remains focused on the future-the future of his church, his music, and his outreach to the people in his community.

He still carries with him questions about what tomorrow holds, and what God wants from him in the days to come. "I see [only] a portion of the picture," says Crouch. "I ask [God] every day what I'm to do and how to do it. Being a pastor of a church, you have to know everything about the church. And I don't know anything about it!"

"You know, my father knew everything about plumbing, about roofing, about electricity, about carpeting, about lights, about everything. I've been on the road so much that I don't know a Y plug from an X plug!"

Add to that the pressures of leading a congregation of 900 people into deeper spiritual territory, reaching out to local gang members and families in his community, presiding over funerals and weddings, and maintaining a presence in contemporary Christian music. It can be overwhelming, and Crouch freely admits he sometimes feels like Solomon when he first took over his father's kingdom.

Says Crouch, "That describes me to a 'T!' I admit I don't know anything and I need His direction. I've got a new song called 'Early in the Morning.' It says:

I need your direction/I need your protection/All I ask, all I ask/is for you to direct my path

"I don't want to move without God's direction. I don't go on yesterday at all. I need Him every day of my life to guide me."

For Crouch, part of following God's guidance is to reach out to the inner city neighborhood where he pastors. To make himself more accessible for that, he moved out of his spacious home in Woodland Hills, California, and took up residence in his father's two-bedroom home about eight blocks from the church. Still, he hardly spends much time there, preferring instead to sleep on the couch in his office at the church itself.

Reaching out also includes sharing his music with his church's community. So occasionally he'll load a PA system, keyboard, a few singers, and himself on the back of a flat-bed truck and drive down the street to a nearby park. There, Andrae will treat the quickly gathering crowd to a free concert followed by an evangelistic message and altar call. Afterward, everyone is invited to come to church to learn more about what faith in Jesus means.

"My greatest thrill is to see someone get saved," exalts Crouch. "To actually see someone repent and watch the Spirit of God just jump into their whole being. Their whole everything just changes. It seems like all of the sudden, they get oxygen! And that makes it all worthwhile."

But in Every Situation, God Gave Blessed Consolation

Watching people become transformed by the saving power of God isn't the only blessing Crouch can point to in his life. In fact, he sees God's blessing in every situation that comes along-even difficult ones.

As a younger man, he often faced racist attitudes when trying to minister with his music. Once he arrived to sing at a church with the Teen Challenge Choir. The pastor had planned to put Crouch up in a hotel, but when he saw that Crouch was black, he changed his plans, saying Crouch would be staying at the home of a congregation member.

That was fine until they got to the church member's home, a small farm just outside town. Crouch wasn't allowed to enter the main house, and was led to the barn where a makeshift apartment had been installed.

Still incredulous, Crouch remembers, "It was a chicken coop! And I looked into where the glasses were for in the kitchen and they had little rat tracings around them. I looked in the shower and there were roaches in the drain."

As soon as the pastor left, Andrae did too, finding a friend who would let him sleep in cleaner surroundings.

Years later, while touring with the Disciples, he made an appearance at a church in Fort Worth, Texas. They enthusiastically introduced him as "The writer of 'Through it All' and 'My Tribute.'"

Then he walked on stage, and the audience was shocked to discover he was black. So surprised, in fact, that the first four rows simply got up and left the concert.

Crouch laughs when relating these stories now, and quickly reaffirms, "You know, God brought us through it. I'm fortunate. Some people just haven't lived through it [racism] and they're closing themselves off to what God can do through anybody. It might not come out of a white package-it may be a brown package or a red package. If the blessing is in that and we don't receive it, the receiver is the one that is deprived, not the giver."

Through it All

Crouch isn't carted off to chicken coops anymore, but he still remembers God's faithfulness during those times and in the years that have followed. Reflecting on his phenomenal career and the widespread impact of his music, Crouch can only shake his head and offer this commentary, "I don't think I'm 'there' yet. I think there's a few more things that God's going to lead me through."

Then he offers himself the same advice he would give those under his pastoral care. "Just be faithful to God and he'll bless you. Just be faithful to God and love him with all your heart. That's really all I can say."

And that will surely get you through it all.