Here’s a story about a unique religious experience. Bishop T.D. Jakes, a Dallas-based preacher, claims a congregation of 28,000. But that’s just his church.
There’s also his daily syndicated television show, his satellite links to nearly 300 prisons and the national tours. Now Jakes has embarked on yet another project to make him a household name.
With one enthusiastic yell, Bishop T.D. Jakes officially kicked off what he calls his first ever national gathering for the entire family.
Past extravaganzas have been aimed at adults, often with men and women in separate audiences.
“I hope that people will go away from Mega Fest understanding that Christians are multi-dimensional. That we’re not just churchy, that we don’t just worship. That’s part of what we do, but we also laugh and we interact and we fly planes and we stay in hotels and we like comedy and we like music, that we’re alive, that being a Christian isn’t the end of your life, it’s the beginning. It’s exciting to me,” Jakes said.
Jakes said Mega Fest could draw up to 200,000 people. There’s a circus, a gospel show, a Christian-based comedy concert, a celebrity basketball game with NBA great Magic Johnson – all billed as events where parents can feel comfortable with their kids.
It’s the family angle that brought the Jefferson clan from Alabama to Atlanta and the Carters from New Orleans.
Jakes has been compared to the Rev. Billy Graham a lot lately. “Time” Magazine called him that in their cover story three years ago. But this author of 26 books and leader of perhaps the fastest growing congregation in the nation said it’s no time to dwell on the similarity.
“Well, I’m deeply humbled by titles like that. I’m deeply appreciative to be recognized by what I do, not only because it’s a calling, but because I think that black preaching is an art. But I think far more importantly is to recognize that the focus of our preaching ultimately leads people to God, a relationship with God,” Jakes said.
June 27, 2004
Betty Nguyen, CNN