Bishop Tudor Bismark
MY first meeting with Bishop (T.D) Jakes was at a conference in Texas. What happened is in the early 90s, “I called it the mid-90s to 2008 — the conference era” when there were big conferences all over the United States.
There were ministries and churches hosting conferences, filling civic centres, conference centres and basketball arenas.
And at that time I started rising individually as a conference speaker and there is a magazine called Charisma Magazine and also TBN television that were hosting a lot of the advertisements. So I started appearing on conference advertisements with other speakers. And Bishop Jakes was there.
Of course, Bishop Jakes was rising at that time faster than any single individual in the conference world. He originally is from Charleston, West Virginia, his church wasn’t big at all but his conference speaking ability, just his preaching ability was massive.
The largest conference at that time was Bishop Carlton Pierson. He was hosting a conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, called Azuza in the Maybe Centre.
He was drawing the largest numbers and he was attracting the best speakers. That’s where Bishop Jakes became known to the world because he preached a classic.
And, of course, people had never heard of him and they were like, “who is this guy, where is he from?” And from there Bishop Jakes was in high demand.
At that time if you were invited to a conference, normally the conference would have one speaker who would speak on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
But to my knowledge Bishop Jakes’ gift changed a lot of that because the demand was so great. He would then start doing a Wednesday in one city, Thursday in another city, and Friday in another. And that changed the dynamics of conference speakers.
It became a multiplicity of speakers, but he became probably the key of conference speakers in our world. And at that conference in Texas we officially met. That week we were on TBN which was at that time the Christian television network. So they were doing revival type configuration, and I started on Tuesday.
I was doing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. And so they got a call that Bishop Jakes was available. So I did Tuesday and Wednesday, while Bishop Jakes did Thursday.
That’s the first time we sat down and talked.
But it wasn’t until four years later when Bishop Jakes invited me to speak at his pastors’ leadership meeting which was a massive risk for him because I was an unknown entity at that stage.
I was still coming up and that’s the service I preached “The blessing of a thousand times”. My prayer was three-fold, first – Father let this be successful for Bishop Jakes’ sake because he was taking a risk on somebody. If it was a flop his reputation which was ever increasing could have taken a dent.
Second, I said you know for Africa’s sake because unofficially I was representing the African continent because nobody from Africa had been given this level of a platform outside of Bishop Idayosa who had passed away.
Then third, for my sake because I would be known for the wrong thing if I bombed out. But in that meeting my relationship with Bishop Jakes in terms of preaching was almost consolidated.
And from that point I preached several times at the Potter’s House and at various conferences he has hosted. We have been at other conferences as guest speakers and you know it has always been a very good kojo-relationship between us.
In the history of Pentecostalism and again this is my view, I think Bishop Jakes will be in the top seven of all-time greats in the world of Pentecosts. He comes rated in my view higher probably because of the many worlds he functions in very competently.
First is the church world — one of the greatest preachers we have ever had in the history of Pentecostalism, arguably as a resource, a talent and a gift very few if any have come close.
As an entrepreneur in America, in the top 1 percent of African Americans in the business world and that entrepreneur gift includes now making movies.
No preacher, one or two have made movies in the past, but nobody has made movies on the scale that he has done.
As an entrepreneur in terms of media hosting his own television programme — (is) very unique. As an entrepreneur he mixes with some of the greatest in terms of people like Oprah Winfrey, and others in his own circle.
He serves as director and advisor to many businesses. He would probably not be deemed as a political activist, that’s another chapter all together.
But, suffice to say Bishop Jakes is someone who is advising presidents and can pick up a phone and speak a word into leaders. Not just his own president but others.
So even though you may not see him make a headline in the news in terms of television news, media or newspaper, he is there speaking in a balanced voice and has been a guide to many. He serves as a covering to many leaders, spiritually and otherwise.
So what we are getting here in my own words would be we are getting a superstar. Not in terms of celebrity, that too, but in terms of somebody that created a world.
We are getting somebody who has a world coming in here. It’s not just an anointing, we are getting somebody who has created a world, maintains a world and functions in a world
And going to bring us great exposure because Bishop Jakes has 15 million followers, that’s close to Zimbabwe’s population. So when you get somebody of that level coming in you got 15 million people plus their circles going to be looking at Zimbabwe when he comes, that’s huge.
Our expectation shouldn’t be just a good church service but our expectation would be the subsidiaries, the by-products from that which will be, hopefully, business contracts that will emerge from that.
I’m certainly hoping that Bishop Jakes will consider at some point using Zimbabwe as a backdrop to shoot a few movies. I’m hoping scriptwriters will get an opportunity to submit a script to him.
He talked in Nigeria about Nollywood and the impact it’s having in Nigeria and globally and looking at doing some business there.
In the green room we met Zan Asher, an anchor for CNN, and staff looks like it could be spurning off of that level.
And hopefully they can be a raising of a bar of things that we can attain just by him being here. We are not just getting a preacher; we are getting more than that.
It’s a real honour to be sharing a platform with him. I would have been there anywhere but being afforded the opportunity to speak on that level is quite frightening.
I would really have liked to be there to just listen because there is way too much pressure involved with that and there are others here, the likes of the great Ezekiel Guti who could be speaking on that platform. I don’t take it lightly.
It’s an honour to share a platform in our own country with Bishop Jakes, very few people get that opportunity. So I think the spotlight should be rightly fully on ZimPraise for their achievement of 10 years together and representing Zimbabwe well.
Second, for Bishop Jakes being here, one of the most legendary and iconic preachers in the last 100 years to be here.
For those of us in ministry we should take the example of Bishop Jakes which is the process. An unknown entity born into an environment of lack, Bishop Jakes personally would tell you that they were poor people.
But through hard work, working through the process, believing in yourself he has proved that you can come out of abject poverty, come out of a place where you are an unknown entity and using your gift/talent to rise.
And I think for us in the preaching world and even as entrepreneurs, Bishop Jakes is a sign of hope that we can be something meaningful and if there is any takeaway that should be a major takeaway for us as Zimbabweans.
Bishop Bismark is the leader of Jabula New Life Ministries International. He will be part of the line-up preaching during ZimPraise International Gospel and Music Festival set for September 5-9.
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