Al Gibson interviewed Bishop TD Jakes in Johannesburg during one of his visits to South Africa. Here are Al’s impressions on meeting this influential leader that Time Magazine has likened to Billy Graham.
They say that everything is bigger and better in Dallas. Well preachers sure do not come any greater in stature than TD Jakes, the founder of the Potter’s House mega church in Dallas, Texas. A giant of a man with incredible stage presence and a booming voice punctuated by bursts of organ music. Yet whose whispers penetrate deep into your heart as you listen to nuggets of truth coming one after the other. Each time he opens his mouth you hear something profound that you need to let sink in.
A best-selling author, renowned conference speaker and internationally televised pastor – yet when you meet him, you will find a humble servant who has overcome much personal pain to rise above his circumstances and bring hope and healing to others. Someone who says that his job security is intact since he ministers primarily to hurting, broken people. Despite having to overcome a speech impediment TD Jakes answers questions in articulate sound bites. Pearls of wisdom seem to roll effortlessly off his tongue.
I ask him how he feels about visiting South Africa, is it like coming back to his roots? It seems to me that just as Joseph as sold into slavery so he could later save his brothers from famine, so the African American people, who suffered the terrible injustices of slavery are being raised up today to bring freedom and emancipation to Africa. The Bishop agrees, he has come to bring a far-reaching message of the people of Africa standing together, no matter what separates them.
Many Christian leaders have visited “the Rainbow nation” to build up, motivate and uplift the African people and no one more eloquently than ‘The Bishop’. He has a way of transcending barriers and bringing people of different backgrounds together. His vision for unity amongst believers is a timeless message that we need to be reminded of constantly. “It’s time to stand shoulder to shoulder!
Standing Shoulder to Shoulder
Judging from the shouts of affirmation, boisterous dancing and general exuberance of the crowds, Bishop TD Jakes made a huge impact on South Africa. But perhaps the most profound image of hope this fiery Texan preacher left behind was a picture of two people of different races standing together in unity. One cannot forget how he called up a white pastor onto the stage to illustrate his point of how God is restoring equilibrium in the Church, how we are being raised up together, black and white, man and woman, to stand shoulder to shoulder.
Bishop Jakes believes God is restoring divine order to the Church, so that “every high place will be brought low and every low place will be raised up”, he says quoting the book of Isaiah, “until there is equilibrium”. This was his powerful message as his unique style of preaching shook congregations in South Africa. Speaking to capacity crowds in Johannesburg, he declared he had not come to preach his best three sermons, but to “deliver a divine package from God.” His messages were a major challenge for the whole Church to come together through real integration and provide a template for the world to follow. And, he assured, the result would bring revival we never dreamed possible.
In a message entitled “One New Man” Bishop Jakes used Ephesians 2:4-15 as a foundation. “But God hath quickened us, together with Christ… and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…. for He hath made us one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us… to make one new man, so making peace… that He might reconcile us unto God in one body by the Cross…”
“Jesus came to restore equilibrium, God’s divine order in the earth” he said, “and whenever God’s Spirit shows up He will always bring about an equilibrium where things have not been equal. The Spirit of the Lord brings balance, anything that is out of balance is chaos. There is something that happens when we stand shoulder to shoulder that we do not achieve when we don’t have balance.”
“When black and white, and male and female come together and we stop discriminating across race and gender, when the ‘haves’ stand with the ‘have-nots’, the high places will come down and the low places will go up. Not that the high places will switch with the low places, because you still do not have equilibrium then, but that every crooked place be made straight, so we stand shoulder to shoulder.”
Bishop Jakes says that the amazing thing about unity, is that God can take people who have nothing in common but the blood of Jesus and bring them together and make them one, achieving a new level of worship that only comes through equilibrium.
When the world comes into the Church, he said, they need to be told that the Spirit of the Lord has raised us up economically, academically, racially, morally, socially, and maritally and they need to see black men, white men, red men and brown men praising God together and rejoicing in the Holy Ghost, thanking God for his goodness. “When we do that we bring equilibrium and we show them it doesn’t matter who leads, but whose Word we preach.”
Bishop Jakes said that it is not easy to bring cultures together as one tends to dominate the other, but God is going to give us a real Pentecostal experience. The tongues that divided people at Babel brought people together at Pentecost. That Pentecost in the Old Testament was the ingathering of all kinds of harvest. “You cannot have Pentecost with just your colour or your kind. If you are going to have harvest, it is when devout men from every nation stand shoulder to shoulder under one anointing and each one of us though we are diverse in our characteristics can understand each other.”
He said that only God could do this, but what happened on the day of Pentecost, in one day, where 3000 diverse people were added to church, that this was the key to massive church growth. He said that there is only one Church, that Jesus only has one Bride. That there could not be a black church and a white church and a coloured church… that there is only one Church. That it could not be regional or geographical or confined to any colour or characteristic because the church is ageless and eternal like the God who birthed it, comprised out of the saints that were, that are and who will be.
“We are in the blood-washed, sanctified, Holy Ghost-filled, hand-clapping, foot-stomping, devil-chasing, satan-rebuking, cancer- casting-out Church of the Living God. It is not a black church, a white church or a brown church. It is called the Church of the Living God.
“Many of us are still thinking in terms of colours, cultures and denominations, when the Church isn’t that. The Church is a new thing. ‘If any man be in Christ He is a new creature’. When you are in Christ, you are a new thing!”
He said that people who did not understand this need for a new attitude could not really get behind the Church. Because they still had an old mind in a new place. That, if we are to be ready for what the Church is going to do in the 21st Century we have to get rid of our old mind. “You have to bury your old attitudes, every predjudice, every bigoted attitude, every stubborn, selfish, arrogant attitude in you, that is just part of your old man that needs to die and you need to rise up, walking in newness of life.”
Bishop Jakes shared that in order for us to be brothers we don’t have to have the same nose, same hair, eyes or skin colour, but that which makes us brothers is that we have the same father. That any time there is a dispute over paternity, all they do is take blood samples. We of course all have the same blood – the blood of Jesus.
“Let me tell you how powerful blood is” he said, “If me and my brother have the same blood type, as white as he is and as black as I am, if we have the same blood type, they can hook us up to the machine, and the same stuff that works in this black body will flow over to his body. Which is why when God got ready to redeem us he did not do it with skin, because skin would make you think you are better than me. He redeemed us with the blood because the same blood that delivers a coloured man delivers a black man, delivers a women, delivers a child. Thank God for the blood!”
Bishop Jakes warns that the devil had been fighting us because we keep looking at skin. And that as long as we look at skin we will never get together. “But I came to tell the devil – ‘Satan the blood of Jesus is against you’. There is power in the blood, it will never lose its power.”
Referring back to the early church, he said it had called the Jews out of their comfort zone, because they had to come out of their country and kindred to come into it, because although the Church derived out of it – it was not it. That the Gentiles had come from polytheism, and had to come out of worshipping their idols. That most of the struggles of the New Testament existed over culture, because God brought the Jew and the Gentile together and made them equal in the church.
“He brought the male and the female together and made them equal. He brought the rich and the poor together and made them equal in the Church.”
In perhaps the most profound insight into the ongoing need for racial reconciliation in the Church in a world where “even our clubs are more integrated”, Bishop Jakes spoke candidly about the full truth of the communion service and discerning the Lord’s body. He quoted 1 Corinthians 11:28-30, which says “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s Body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
Bishop Jakes said that when we look at the white man, and the coloured man and the black man, and we do not discern them equally to be the body then we do not discern the Lord’s body correctly. If we fail to recognise the Lord’s body, because we are looking at skin and not blood, and if we do not see each other in our hearts as equals, then we will be ‘weak and sick and many will die’ – because we have insulted our father – by rejecting his son, we reject Him.
He continued to say that the reason why we do not see the Church raised up in the magnitude that it should, is because we have been trying to do it in sections. That throughout the history of the Church we have always seen one race or gender being exalted above another. This is why we have not achieved what the Bible says we can. Jesus said that “Greater things shall ye do” but we have not seen this yet because we have not discerned the Lord’s Body correctly.
Also, discerning the Lord’s Body is not just looking out for our own interests, but those of our brothers. That in the book of Joshua, when the children of Israel were coming into the promised land three of the tribes who had already received their inheritance on the one side of the Jordan River said they were going to go over and help their brothers till they received their inheritance, because they could not rest until their brother’s got their’s because they knew that God saw them as one people, although they were many tribes. The greater blessing is when we all get it.
“God is not raising up one section of the Church and leaving the other behind. God is raising us up together. If you want to see revival in your house, let the husband and wife get together, if you want to see revival in your church, let the whole church get together. Let the blacks and the whites and the browns start getting together. The reason why God has not raised us up the way he wanted to is because we have been segregated. But if we ever get real integration, God can now raise the whole body up together.
“When we get equilibrium back, what you are going to see is us all raised together. But the real challenge is that some of you like those tribes of Israel have already received your blessing on this side of the Jordan, ‘I got mine, I am not worried about anybody else’ but if you do that you are not discerning the Lord’s Body. But if you say, ‘I got mine, but I can’t rest until you get yours.’ Then teach me everything that you know. Because if you do this, you discern me as the Lord’s Body. Wherever you see someone low, pull them up – that is the heart of God. There is something about being blessed that makes you want to share it.”
For more information about TD Jakes visit the www.TDJakes.org