Paul Crouch, co-founder of the popular Trinity Broadcasting Network, has passed away at age 79.
Crouch's grandson, Brandon, tweeted early Saturday, "Today, my grandfather, #PaulCrouchSr went home to be with Jesus in heaven. Thank you for your prayers..."
TBN's Facebook page announced, "Dr Paul F. Crouch passed into the presence of the Lord on November 30, 2013. We are grateful for the life of this amazing servant of God."
Another note on the page said Crouch passed away at 2:32 a.m. Crouch had suffered for more than a decade with chronic heart problems.
The televangelist was hospitalized for congestive heart failure two years ago and received a pacemaker in 2012. He went back into the hospital in October and for awhile needed a ventilator to help him breathe. But he had returned home early in November amid reports he was doing better.
CBN Founder and Chairman Pat Robertson expressed sadness at his friend's passing. He said Crouch's ministry will have a lasting impact around the world.
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Paul Crouch, who was a friend for decades," Robertson said in a statement released Sunday morning. "Paul was a pioneer in Christian television; the channels and studios that Paul built around the world are an incredible achievement and will live on as a permanent legacy. All of us at CBN mourn his passing and our prayers are with the Crouch family."
TBN's Facebook page has been filling with words of condolence and memories throughout the weekend.
Preacher Arthur Blessitt, most well-known for carrying a large cross through many nations of the world, wrote, "I have been close friends with Paul and Jan since 1976. He was a true man of God and through TBN led millions to Jesus."
"Let's all pray for his wife Jan and all the family. His focus was always +jesus. Tears pour from my eyes," he continued. "I'll miss my friend but there is joy in heaven where millions of people are thanking him for sharing Jesus with them."
Several Christian leaders also offered their condolences and tributes to Crouch upon learning of the news.
"Paul Crouch changed the course of Christian history by building a Christian network that spreads that Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations of the world everyday," John Hagee, founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, said. "Our deepest sympathies for his loved ones today."
"Thanking God today for the life of Paul Crouch - a dear friend and mentor and a giant of the faith whose TBN Trinity Broadcasting Network helped bring untold millions around the world to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ...You will be missed but certainly never forgotten," Rod Parsley, evangelist and pastor of World Harvest Church, wrote.
Crouch and his wife, Jan, founded TBN in 1973, and the next year purchased the network's first station, KTBN-TV 40 in Southern California. It grew to become the most watched faith network in the country and the seventh largest owner of broadcast TV stations.
According to Crouch's bio on the TBN website, the network also reaches every major continent. It has 84 satellite channels and more than 18,000 TV and cable affiliates. He celebrated 40 years of TBN ministry this year.
In recent years, Crouch's son Matthew took over day-to-day operations of TBN while Paul Crouch, Jr. left for The Word Network, the world's largest African-American religious network.
Paul Crouch Sr. was born to Assemblies of God missionaries in St. Joseph, Mo., March 30, 1934. Crouch graduated from the Central Bible Institute and Seminary in Springfield, Mo., in 1955 with a degree in theology. He met wife, Jan, in 1957. His full biography can be found here.
Funeral services have not been announced yet.
The CBN family is praying for the Crouch family and invites you to share prayers and kind words of condolence in the comments below.