Despise not the Day of Small Beginnings
Annie Wade strengthened her faith in Jesus Christ through a 700 Club broadcast in 1975. Like any godly mother, Annie was so excited about her faith that she desired to share this good news with her family. Just as He did for Cornelius of the New Testament, God provided a preacher for Annie’s family in the person of Timothy Longley – an elder in the Church of God in Christ. Annie had met Pastor Longley’s wife, Mother Hazel Belle Longley, while selling candy in the neighborhood. Mother Longley and Mother Wade shared conversations about the Lord. Mother Longley mentioned that her husband was a preacher. Like a modern day Lydia, Annie invited the Longleys to her home. She asked if they would hold prayer meetings there. The prayer meetings in the Wade home began on Wednesday nights.
It was not in Elder Longley’s plan to start a new church. At age 68, he was planning a move to California. However, God had another plan. The Wednesday night prayer meeting grew to a Bible study, and Bible study led to a revival which in turn led to the salvation of some of Annie’s children, grandchildren, and neighbors. It was the infancy of Crusaders Church.
To The Neighborhood
The new church was mobile from the beginning. As it grew, the church moved from the Wade’s home to a church in the Roseland area in Chicago, from there to 65th and Ashland, and from there to 54th and Halsted. In 1978, Ollie Wade, the late husband of Annie Wade, had a dream of a storefront church which they located on East 39th Street in the heart of the Chicago urban area. It was here Crusaders Church of God in Christ was officially birthed. The pastor was, of course, Elder Timothy Longley. Its founding members were the Wade Family. Out of this brood of Wades, God began to train up a young preacher, Coy Wade. He later served as Assistant Pastor of Crusaders Church and is now an apostle to the nations.
From The Neighborhood To The Nations
On July 29, 1979 a young man was listening to a preacher conducting an outside street meeting on 39th Street. During the preaching, God touched his heart and he invited Jesus to be the Lord of his life. Conveniently located nearby was the newly relocated Crusaders Church of God in Christ. The young man, John Eckhardt, united with Crusaders Church of God in Christ. He also united with his bride Wanda, the youngest daughter of Annie and Ollie Wade. John began to grow as an avid student of the Bible, holding teaching services on Monday and Friday nights.
In 1985, John Eckhardt planted the Joliet Faith Center in Joliet, Illinois (located about 50 miles outside of Chicago). During this same period of time, the ministry of deliverance and spiritual warfare was introduced to the church through Evangelist Melvin Smith. Many people traveled from Chicago to Joliet each Sunday afternoon to receive deliverance ministry. In 1988, Elder Timothy J. Longley went on to his heavenly reward; and John Eckhardt and Coy Wade became the leaders of Crusaders Church of God in Christ. Shortly thereafter, John was commissioned as Senior Pastor of Crusaders Church. Joliet Faith Center was turned over to the leadership based there, and John returned to take the helm of Crusaders Church.
A radio broadcast was birthed in 1985. Warfare prayers were read over the airwaves for the next five years. Many in the Chicagoland area began to seek out Crusaders for help in ministry as the church began to move into the arena of spiritual warfare. In 1989 the Perfecting the Saints television broadcast began on WCFC-Channel 38 in Chicago. This daily broadcast featured teachings from various authors and sponsored a Book of the Month Club, hosted by John Eckhardt.
To Jerusalem and Judea
In 1989, God placed it on our leadership’s heart to expand the ministry to the West Side of Chicago. A space became available for rent on Madison Avenue in Oak Park (a neighboring community of Chicago). Crusaders Church West (now Ruach Covenant Church International), a vibrant multicultural worship community, was birthed. This congregation continues today under the leadership of Apostle Daryl O’Neil.
To the Nations
In 1989, Crusaders also sent its first missions team to the nation of Nigeria in Western Africa. Pastor Eckhardt was accompanied by eight team members. There they spent two weeks preaching and teaching around the nation. This was to be the first launching of Crusaders’ apostolic teams. Since this time, scores of teams have now traveled across the United States and around the world.
Our first international church plant, Crusaders Ethiopia was begun shortly thereafter. A team of approximately 50 people from Crusaders joined in as it launched a nationwide apostolic conference in Addis Ababa. This ministry has grown to over two hundred churches, overseen by Apostle Eyob Mamo. Crusaders Churches have also been planted in Curacao and the Netherlands.
Apostolic and Prophetic Ministry
Early in the 1990’s God began to expose to our leadership the importance of the restoration of the apostolic, the prophetic, and Davidic worship ministry into the life of the local church. During this time, several key prophetic and apostolic voices imparted into Crusaders Church. Some of these voices included Kevin Leal, Tom and Juanita Bynum, Christian and Robin Harfouche, Bill Hamon, Dianne Palmer, Mary Alice Isleib, and Israel Houghton. God began to confirm the apostolic call of then Pastor John Eckhardt and Crusaders Ministries. So many more have been added to the list over the years, and we thank God for their impartation. One of the major messages of our church has been the restoration of apostles and prophets, embracing Davidic worship, and the demonstration of tangible evidence of the Kingdom of GOD in the earth.
The demand for training upon Apostle Eckhardt and teams from Crusaders uncovered the broad need for relationship of like-minded apostolic and prophetic leaders in the Body of Christ globally. The I.M.P.A.C.T. Network was founded by Apostle Eckhardt in 1995. It is an acronym for International Ministries of Prophetic and Apostolic Churches working Together. The I.M.P.A.C.T. network was launched as a vehicle for global apostolic reformation. This network allows leaders and churches to relate to one another horizontally, as well as to Apostle Eckhardt, and the leadership team. I.M.P.A.C.T. now has regional locations on three continents in over 35 nations with members from around the world, while supporting 600 ministries in the United States and other nations. Annually, several hundred gather to be infused and revitalized at our I.M.P.A.C.T. conference.
There is no place where…
Thirty years later, what began as a small Bible Study has grown to thousands. The voice of Crusaders Church is heard around the world by hundreds of churches and thousands of individuals, in scores of nations. Apostolic teams continue to be trained and sent out to teach, preach, and support local ministries and to pioneer new works in six of the seven continents. Apostle Eckhardt has authored more than 40 books, many having been translated into several languages and shared across the globe.