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Kroeze brothers mark 60 years of preaching and 40 years of television ministry
EVERETT — Doctors Johnny and Billy Kroeze come from a family with deep roots in the region, but even as they've become well-known throughout the world, their priority has not been promoting their own names, but spreading the word of God.
"There's a lot of Kroezes and Kleins in Arlington," Johnny Kroeze laughed, as he recalled how he and his brother Billy began preaching full-time 60 years ago, back then they were both still in their teens.
For the past 40 of those years, the Kroezes have been on television, preaching the gospel on a program that airs in all 50 states and in Canada, just as their radio programs have been broadcast in 100 nations.
"When we started out, it was black-and-white and recorded on these big, bulky tapes," Johnny Kroeze said. "We were on just one network back then."
The Kroeze brothers, who both married local ladies more than 50 years ago, have traveled with their wives almost as far as their programs have been broadcast. As a team, they've visited 50 nations, 49 states and 3,000 cities to minister to others.
"There's good people in all sorts of different churches, whether it's Baptist, Pentecostal or Nazarene," said Johnny Kroeze, whose South Everett Community Church is likewise an interdenominational church. "We've visited a lot of hospitals and asked if we could pray for their people. One year, we went to 32 countries in four months. It gives you a different sense of other people's needs. When you do something outside of yourself, something happens inside of you as well. Accepting Jesus Christ as your savior changes people."
While the Kroeze family has weathered its own storms during that time — including the 23 years that Johnny Kroeze's wife, Kowanda, has battled with cancer, and the 51 years that his son, Johnny, has lived with autism — the elder Johnny Kroeze is just as concerned with the spiritual health of the country.
"Our nation has gone through great changes, and a lot of our foundations have fallen away from immorality," Kroeze said. "The music has changed, but the old hymns are still good. We've seen the gospel replaced with other things, but our main emphasis is on the gospel, and the message that Jesus Christ is the only way into Heaven."
The Kroezes hope to reach even more people with what they see as an uplifting message.
"Even through dark places and tough times, there's always hope," Johnny Kroeze said. "If God brings you to it, God can bring you through it. I have more years behind me than in front of me," he chucked, "but I know that Christ is waiting for me at the end."
The Kroezes perform services at the South Everett Community Church, located at 1 W. Casino Rd. in Everett, at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sundays, where Bible classes are held at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays and 7 p.m. on Wednesdays for all ages, and at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesdays for adults. Their televised ministry airs at 8:30 a.m. on Thursdays and at 11p.m. on Fridays and Mondays on channel 20 on Dish Network, as well as on the Trinity Lutheran Network. For more information, call 425-353-2211.