June 7, 2007 Publishing Good News since 1884 Volume 124 Number 21

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Gainesville pastor’s wife: Traveling, teaching & treatment


 The Crawford Family includes (from left) Cade, John Crawford’s 10-year-old stepson; Tina and John Crawford; Freda and Gary Crawford; Bill and Christa Crawford Latham.

Courtesy photo

The Crawford Family includes (from left) Cade, John Crawford’s 10-year-old stepson; Tina and John Crawford; Freda and Gary Crawford; Bill and Christa Crawford Latham.

GAINESVILLE (FBW)–Freda Crawford, in the midst of treatment for multiple myeloma, renewed her passport and used it within two weeks of receiving the document. In her sixth year of struggling with cancer, Crawford is busy at Gainesville’s Westside Baptist Church, at the University of Florida, and with family members in Nicaragua.

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“I wake up every morning and pray that I will not waste the day the Lord has given me,” said Crawford, who has served alongside husband, Gary, for 25 years at the Central Florida church.

Crawford receives treatment at Arkansas Cancer Research Center in Little Rock. Diagnosed in 2000 with an aggressive form of multiple myeloma, Crawford underwent chemotherapy and stem cell transplants before her cancer went into remission in 2003. After a two-year respite, the cancer returned in May 2005 and this time was an even more aggressive type, according to Crawford.

Approved to enter a “very experimental” treatment program at that time, Crawford was removed from the treatment protocol when she received a diagnosis of breast cancer in September and underwent a mastectomy. Although initially disappointed that the experimental treatment was not an option, she says now that she is grateful for the breast cancer diagnosis, because if she had proceeded with the treatment having breast cancer, the disease would surely have spread throughout her body.

Since her surgery, Crawford reports her “cyto-genetics don’t look horrible,” and her doctors continue to tweak her medications.

She has resumed teaching part-time at University of Florida, where she received a PhD in science curriculum and instruction in May 2005. Every Tuesday Crawford teaches 22 elementary education students Science Inquiry and Methods in the morning and maintains office hours in the afternoon. Crawford terms teaching “another avenue of ministry,” although she admits the day’s schedule “wipes me out.”

“I am reminded on Tuesdays that I am physically not where I want to be – but I will be,” she said.

Crawford is a veteran of mission trips in China, Benin and Brazil, where her church operates Amazon Vision Ministries. Her heart, if not her presence, is on the mission field. Her husband, Gary, her mother, Alice Mangle, and her son, John, and his family were among dozens of members of Westside Baptist who traveled to Brazil in January.

The “Family Trip” included members ranging in age from seven to 87.

It was a family need that took her to Nicaragua in March, in spite of others’ “fear and trepidation.” Crawford’s daughter, Christa Latham, and Christa’s husband, Bill, are in the process of adopting a two-year-old girl and five-year-old boy.

Christa Latham, who became burdened for Nicaraguan children several years ago when she did short-term mission work there, cares for the preschoolers in an apartment in Managua, while her husband travels back and forth to Gainesville to work. Several family members have alternated traveling there to help with the children’s care.

“I can’t go anywhere on our church campus without somebody telling me they are praying for Christa and Bill, or praying for me,” she said.

The consistency of Westside’s prayers is an encouragement to its pastor’s wife. She told Florida Baptist Witness a Sunday night prayer group has continued in prayer for her “even six years out.” She regularly receives cards and notes of encouragement from church members.

The Crawfords will be honored by Westside Baptist for 25 years of service May 21. The couple has seen a new generation in the church, and now ministers to the teenaged children of teenagers they met 25 years ago, who are now median adults. She said the church family is her extended family, and she is grateful for the love of a congregation for her and her family.

“I cannot imagine a sweeter 25 years,” Crawford said.