For God's Glory
Dean was born on his grandparents’ farm in Rural Valley, Pennsylvania, and later moved with his parents James Kroh and Edna Balsinger Kroh to Mt Lebanon. Encouraged by the example of his godly mother he came to know the Lord as his personal Savior at the age of 18, and later felt the call to medical missions while studying pre-med at Wheaton College. After graduating with his M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1946, Dean served 18 months in Okinawa, Japan, as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps. In Japan Dean spent much of his free time encouraging new Christians and purchasing Bibles and tracts to distribute in a society that was struggling to find their way.
On returning to the States in February 1949, one evening at the Pittsburgh North Side Alliance Church Dean heard an impressive young lady speak about her challenging work as a missionary RN/midwife in the Belgian Congo. The doctor was indeed impressed with Esther Galbraith, just returned from her first term with the Alliance. Recounting what was to follow, Esther recalled, “The Lord led Dean to shorten the usual steps of a courtship.” When Dean proposed to Esther on a June evening, Esther replied, “My heart says yes, but I have to pray about it.” Dean quickly replied, “Ok, but I know what your answer is going to be.” Esther’s answer to prayer came the next morning during her devotions, where she resumed her reading in Jeremiah: “And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them.” Jer 32:39 KJV The vision and faith Dean and Esther shared would see them through more than 70 years of serving the Lord together.
Their calling and vision indeed were one, and on their wedding day on September 2, 1949, the couple received a telegram that from the Christian and Missionary Alliance that Dean had been appointed to the Belgian Congo as the first CMA Medical Doctor. On January 6, 1950, Dean and Esther sailed to Belgium, where they would spend a year studying French and tropical medicine. With the coming challenge of building and outfitting a hospital in a remote setting in the Belgian Congo, time was also spent procuring essential medical equipment, funded by generous donations from churches, individuals, and even the couple’s wedding gifts. In November, the couple were blessed with twin sons, Daniel and David.
In February 1951 Dean and Esther arrived at the Kinkonzi Mission Station where Esther had served her first term. Dr. Kroh did not have a background in all the skills required to build a medical compound from the ground up, but he had the quiet strength of the conviction of his calling, and undaunted, he began to design and oversee the construction of what would become the Kinkonzi Evangelical Hospital. In that first year of the hospital opening, the small staff of Alliance nurses and trained nationals would often treat more than 200 patients a day. Foremost in Dean’s mind however was that through the provision of medical care the love of Christ should show forth. A national chaplain was appointed to lead in personal work among the patients, and in Dean’s words, “it was a joy…to see God’s word exalted through a morning service and in the wards at the dispensary.” Over the next four terms that Dean and Esther served in the Congo (later Zaire, then DRC), the Kinkonzi Hospital would grow to 150 beds, including a maternity center, surgical unit, medical wards, dispensary, eye, and dental unit, with tens of thousands receiving medical care and countless thousands coming to Christ through Chapel Services and the personal witness of the staff. Dr. Kroh’s skills as a surgeon saved lives and eased suffering for thousands who previously did not have access to such care.
Dean had a true compassion for people, and would find a practical solution to ease suffering whenever possible. One day in his first term he was touched by the sight of a young boy in a village whose sole duty was to lead his blind grandfather throughout the day. He was struck by the thought that the boy would likely not ever have the chance to attend school while so occupied. That next furlough in the States, Dean took an Ophthalmology course specializing in cataract surgery. Back in Kinkonzi, the word spread that there was now help for the blindness caused by cataracts, and soon cataract surgery and eye care became a rewarding part of Dean’s work.
These were personally rewarding years as well, with the addition of two children to the Kroh’s Nest, daughter June, and son Dean. Dean and Esther lovingly raised their four children on biblical principles, through instruction in nightly devotions and by personal example. They also encouraged the children to appreciate the unique opportunities in their rich environment, and eagerly planned the European travel the family would enjoy when returning to the States.
In 1972, after an extended furlough in Washington, PA., Dean and Esther answered the call again. In cooperation with the Alliance, World Vision wanted Dean to design, plan and staff a Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh, the war-torn capital of Cambodia. While work was progressing on the hospital, Dean and Esther worked with the thousands of refugees who had fled to Phnom Penh for safety. Each day scattered rockets came into the city, maiming and setting fires, but the Krohs took the opportunity to bring Bible School students to their clinics to witness to the refugees, offering some hope to receptive Cambodians in the midst of their hardships. The fall of the city to the Khmer Rouge was imminent however, and in March of 1975, after the Krohs were given three days notice by the American Embassy to evacuate the city, they returned to Pittsburgh.
Dean and Esther then returned to work in the Alliance hospitals in Zaire and Gabon for eight years. In 1986 Dean spent two months working at the Site 8 refugee camp helping Cambodian refugees. Dean and Esther retired from the CMA in 1987. But still there continued to be opportunities to help others, and in 1988, at World Vision’s request, the Krohs returned to Cambodia to work for a year in the Children’s Hospital.
Dean and Esther entered the Concordia retirement center in Cabot, Pennsylvania in 1999. Reflecting on his life’s work in an interview with the “Alliance Life” , Dean once observed “What greater motive or goal could one have in the medical missionary field than to show forth the love of Christ through the care of a patient’s need?” Throughout his life Dean sought foremost to please his Lord and Savior, and always give Him the glory. And in Dean’s most trying and difficult last few years, God was indeed glorified in his life, and we know with assurance that he is now resting in the presence of his Lord.
Dean Franklin Kroh
March 11, 1922 - January 5, 2020
Our much loved husband and father, Dean Franklin Kroh was ushered into the presence of his Lord and Savior on January 5, 2020 at the Good Samaritan Hospice at Concordia in Cabot, PA. Doctor Kroh served as a medical missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance for 38 years, ministering to both physical and spiritual needs in the countries of the Belgian Congo, now DRC, Gabon and Cambodia.
Dean is survived by Esther, his wife of 70 years, son David Kroh, daughter, June (Gray) Kershner, son Dean Kroh, brother Laird L. Kroh, seven grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. Dean was preceded in death by his son, Daniel Kroh and his grandson, Ryan Kroh.
Friends will be received on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 from 2-4 & 5-7 pm at the Fox Funeral Home, Inc., 410 W. Main Street, Saxonburg, PA.
Services will be held on Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 11 am at the funeral home with Rev. Laird L. Kroh officiating.
Interment will follow in Saxonburg Memorial Church Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Great Commission Fund at cmalliance.org.
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