This is Pastor Tim’s article that appeared in the Evening Leader on Monday, January 31, 2022
A man who was a very dear friend of mine died last week and I would like to tell you about him. Some of you who are reading this article may know him, his name is Tom Crowe, and he was from my home church. He was also an agricultural missionary to Africa. He and his wife, Sharon, are responsible for saving countless lives. Tom through his agriculture and Sharon through her nursing clinic. The village where they worked was a small village called Nyembo Umpungu, which is located in what is not known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 1996, I went to Africa to visit with Tom and Sharon and spent about 2 weeks there. It was a wonderful trip that changed my life. I had gone to the Philippines the year before and this trip gave me the chance to get to know the people of Nyembo.
I met a man they referred to as Pastor who had Polio when he was young and he was crippled. However, he was a huge fan of soccer and would play with the kids. He and I also rescued a litter of Kittens off of the top of a big shipping container. By rescued, I mean we brought them down to where the foot traffic was in the compound. This was to make sure the cobras did not eat them.
There was a runway cut into the jungle so that supplies could be flown in. My job while I was there was to chip away at the biggest ant hill I had ever seen in my life. It was hardened into stone and they found it as they cut down the trees to make the runway. They said since the trees had been cleared back that I no longer had to worry about boa constrictors. They had run into a number of these huge snakes as they were cutting down trees. They told me that if I encountered any snakes inside of the anthill, to cover my face and run the other way so that they didn’t spit in my eyes.
At one point, I was out there by myself working, filling a wheel barrow with chippings of the ant hill when I heard something. It was an engine. I thought that was weird because there were no roads, but the sound kept getting louder. It was almost too late that I realized that I was standing on the end of a runway and the engine was the approaching airplane. I dropped to the ground behind the ant hill and the plane (which I could not see because of the curve of the hill and the trees on the other side of the ant hill) blasted down the runway not 6 feet over my head.
When I got up to where they were unloading the plane, Tom told me that the snakes were smart enough not to hang out in the anthill because they didn’t like the plane. The villagers though I was one hilarious and stupid white guy. I couldn’t argue with them. Tom told me they were telling him how brave I was to be at the end of the runway when the plane landed. I couldn’t understand them and with the amount of laughing they were doing, I don’t think that was what they were saying.
One night while we were there, Sharon asked me to come down to the clinic, there was something I needed to see. A baby had been brought into the clinic with TB. The baby was very sick and the nurses were working diligently, but Sharon knew it was in vain. The witch doctor in the village did all he could to try to prevent the people from going to the medical mission. Many people would wait until it was too late for help. It was the first time I ever watched someone die. Sharon told me that ignorance killed this baby, not TB. I will never forget that for the rest of my life.
Tom Crowe has stepped into a great reward and it is no less than he deserves. In the many years they spent in Africa, they impacted more lives in the name of Jesus than most of us will be able to in a lifetime. I am a better person having grown up in the pew behind Tom and Sharon because they taught me that it isn’t talent or ability that changes lives. It is desire. A farmer and his nurse wife are responsible for saving thousands of live from injury, disease, and hunger all because they were willing to step forward and do something.
It’s a reminder that we all need from time to time and I am proud to say I learned it from the best.