Much-loved Port Elizabeth pastor and Kingdom pioneer Jimmy Crompton achieved one of his life goals when he passed away unexpectedly on Sunday after 53 years of fruitful ministry.
“He said that a boeing goes at its highest speed just before takeoff — that was his goal — he wanted to go as fast as possible until he had to go to heaven. He had no intention of slowing down,” said his son, Advocate Richard Crompton in an interview this week.
Speaking of the family’s shock at the sudden passing of the 77-year-old senior pastor of the Word of Faith Christian Centre after a short illness, he said he had earlier that day watched a daily devotional recorded by his dad two weeks before. “He was full of life and energy and vitality and now he is dead.”
Pastor Jimmy is survived by his wife, Mariana, Richard, his daughter-in-law, Heather and his grandchildren, Michael, Jaimie and Aaron.
Richard, who has served at the church alongside his father over the past two years, said they are planning to host a big celebration of his remarkable life in the church carpark in Mangold Park at 11am on Friday November 27.
“It’s going to be like our drive-in service. There will be a big screen — we are going to get videos and livestreams from Rodney [Howard-Browne] and Bishop [Don[ Meares and Harvey Campbell and all his many friends around the world,” he explained.
Part of Pastor Jimmy’s legacy is being a spiritual father to many people in Christian ministry around the world. The son of a missionary couple who met while his father, Basil, was driving evangelist Smith Wigglesworth around South Africa, he has mentored and impacted people who went on to have international ministries — such as the late prophet Kim Clement and Dr Rodney Howard-Browne.
Richard recalled how international prophet Ed Traut, who came to faith in Jesus under Pastor Jimmy’s ministry “used to joke that he got saved four times because at that stage my dad was a real hellfire and brimstone preacher. The legend goes that the smoke used to rise up out of the altar area because of the ferocity with which he would preach. And Ed Traut said he knelt down four Sundays in a row just to make sure!”
Growing up in a home where prophecies, miracles and evangelism were normal, Jimmy loved Jesus from an early age. But after he was baptised in the Holy Spirit at the age of 18 he developed a passion for unashamedly preaching the Gospel to those around him — a passion that remained with him throughout his life.
In 1967 he took over from his father, Basil as the senior pastor at Bethel Church in Cape Town. Three years later he met Mariana and they were married in the same year.
In the late 1970s he became the senior pastor of a congregation in Newton Park, Port Elizabeth.
In 1977 Pastor Jimmy began pioneering Gospel movie outreaches at local cinemas. Richard said although the movies they screened may be considered comical by today’s standards, “they had an incredible effect — people came from all over — and thousands came to salvation”.
The movie meetings also marked the church’s multiracial beginnings — making their church one of the first in the country to open its doors to all races. Their decision to defy the laws of apartheid resulted in police shutting down their outreaches on multiple occasions.
Pastor Jimmy and his congregation were ejected from their Newton Park building in 1983 when their denomination started a court case against them.
The case was rooted in a deep divide. Pastor Jimmy opposed the denomination’s strict legalistic values — such as prohibiting women from wearing makeup, and requiring them to wear hats during services — and their opposition to opening the church to all races.
In a turn of events, Pastor Jimmy and his congregation were able to build a new church and pay for the building within a year, in addition to paying for his and the denomination’s court costs. The building of the new 2 000-seater church started in 1984.
“We are humbly proud of our record of being a pioneer in multiracialism in PE and now we have planted 20 other churches — just in the metropole,” he said.
Led by Pastor Jimmy’s wife, Mariana, the church also pioneered Project Hope, an NPO which aims to alleviate poverty in the metropole’s northern areas. Project Hope currently cares for 500 children a week.
Richard said during the recent pandemic lockdown period his father got a permit to distribute food and the church spent R300 000 — mostly from donations — and supplied 20 000 meals.
Always outspoken, he was a critic of some of the lockdown restrictions on church services which he considered irrational and discriminatory and part of a worldwide trend of governments turning against Jesus.
He launched a legal challenge against restrictions which limited attendance at his church’s drive-in-services to 50 people and which allowed them to use only 5% of their floor space.
But when his legal bid failed he urged people to attend church the next Sunday, when multiple services in limited numbers of 50 or less people would be held.
“If I have to, I’ll preach 10 times on Sunday.
“You need to come and serve the lord. We need to ride this storm and we pray that it will end shortly,” he reportedly said, adding that the church would obey the law.
Richard said that his father always had a heart for touching the city for Jesus, which over the years led him to host many top international speakers and worship artists at the church — and to serve on the organising committees of campaigns by prominent visiting evangelists.
Last year his habit of bringing influential visitors to the city had a decidedly civic purpose. With gang violence escalating in the northern areas, he invited Mexican pastor Poncho Murguia who is accredited with having transformed the murder capital of the world through the Gospel — to share his testimony and insights with local Christians and with police and prison authorities.
“After Pastor Poncho’s visit my father immediately started a ministry in St Albans prison which was only stopped by lockdown. Until then he was going into maximum security every week ,” said Richard.
And still going like a boeing at takeoff last month he took up the cause of Port Elizabeth Dutch Reformed Church pastor Dr Chris van Wyk who was facing persecution from a section of his own denomination because of his biblical views on sexuality.
Shortly after hearing of Van Wyk’s situation and meeting him for the first time, he called a meeting of local church leaders to give Van Wyk an opportunity to share on a hate speech case against him. The case was subsequently withdrawn.
At the meeting Pastor Jimmy called on leaders to stand with Van Wyk, saying: ”Our biggest problem is disunity. Let the courts and the media see the Church standing together. If you attack my brother, you attack me. The Bible says when one weeps we should weep with them, when they rejoice we should rejoice with them.”
Commenting on his father’s response to Van Wyk’s struggle, Richard said: “A lot of people run away from tensions and problems. Dad would run towards them if he could help people.
“Because he went through such a deep trial with his own denomination he had such tremendous care for pastors when they were in need. So, that’s why he did what he did for Chris — and to stir the Church up because he felt we were entering a period of persecution if we didn’t wake up.”
Pastor Jimmy’s life story and testimony has been published in an inspirational book titled My Only Fight With The Devil. An e-version of the book is available from Amazon and the book can be ordered by calling Word of Faith Christian Centre at 041 3994400 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.