Bishop Tudor Bismark Is an apostolic voice to the nations. Since 1989, he has been serving as an apostolic father and mentor to ministries all over the world. He and his wife, Pastor ChiChi Bismark, serve as the senior pastors of New Life Covenant Church in Harare, Zimbabwe – the headquarters church for Jabula New Life Ministries International. Bishop Bismark also serves as the Chairman of the Council of African Apostles, a wholly African initiative to bring the apostolic voices of the African Church to bear on uniquely African issues. In January 2017, Bishop Bismark celebrated his 60th birthday. Here, in his own words, he talks about his vision and overview of Jabula New Life Ministries International.
Initially, ChiChi and I didn’t expect our ministry, Jabula New Life Ministries International (Jabula International), to be active in so many countries and continents that we are in. When we began, our whole idea and philosophy was basically ‘Empowerment’ – in almost every sector of human life. At the very least, the first thing, in terms of pastoral care, was to create a living for pastors.
Secondly, we wanted to move pastors to another level of skill in their education. Thirdly, we desired that their living conditions would benefit and advance their children. Then fourthly, we wanted each church we planted and each ministry we were leading and influencing to have quality church, so that people would be totally enriched spiritually. That’s how we came up with ‘Transforming People… Transforming Nations’.
We realised that we would need a model, and decided to build the model with New Life Covenant Church (NLCC). We asked ourselves: “What do we want our ministries and churches to look like?” We sat down and came up with significant components. We then asked ourselves: “Are these ideas exportable? Will they work anywhere in the world?” After discussions and deliberations, we knew that, as long as the principles are there, they could definitely be exported to most parts of the world to become a virtual culture.
As a testimony, this year (2016) we have visited six different Jabula churches and attended two Jabula continental conferences (the Jabula Conference in North America, for pastors and leaders, and the Jabula Conference in the UK, which was for Europe and Asia). In all of those meetings, ChiChi and I saw just about everything we’d envisioned in the early nineties. We are actually seeing our vision being played out right now: in terms of empowerment; in terms of education; in the pursuance of higher education as individuals and corporately; in terms of the pursuance of leadership, as it pertains to family, ministry and business; and, of course, in terms of the quality of church. These were evidenced by the kinds of order, anointing, music and other things that were just phenomenal to see. Every single Jabula meeting we attended had exactly the same traits. So we are now beginning to see the fruit and the benefit of what we have preached and advocated since we began.
For the best part of fifteen years, ChiChi and I have been looking at succession. I’m about to turn sixty. When I was forty-five years old, I determined that when I turned fifty-five NLCC would have a successor or a pastor leading the church. We started the process of planning with that in mind, and decided there are three things that have to be right for succession to take place.
THE METHOD – That is, laying down various principles (theological, cultural, financial and others) for which succession should take place.
THE MAN – That would include a woman. What kind of an individual do we want? What does that person look like? What qualifications must he or she have? So then it’s finding, locating, developing and grooming the person. Of course, there are several models we looked at in the Bible. We looked at the Joshua Model where Joshua, at the time of his first mention in Exodus 17:9-14, was identified by God as Moses’ successor. God told Moses to record the victory at Amalek as a memorial, and ‘recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven’.
It took forty years to develop Joshua before he took over. The other model is the David Model. David had all of the principles in place, but it took many, many years to find a successor. That successor came through the most unusual way – through an illicit relationship with Bathsheba followed by repentance. But Solomon had all the components for being the man. Once you have decided on the person, you have to match that person to the right model.
THE MISSION – The individual who is the successor must not only continue with the mission, but must take it to the next level. So NLCC and Jabula International are now moving to where they will have leaders appointed to serve the ministry and take them to their next place of success. In a referenced case, in January 2016, we put into action our plan for Bishop Hugh D Smith Jr to be our successor at Jabula International. He has always been our man, and we have always been working towards the method, which we implemented this year. He will assume responsibility in 2017 and already he has been assembling four important elements:
- Staff and Personnel
Of course this is a global initiative, which he is doing very well with. He will not be changing our culture of empowerment or our culture of transformation (Transforming people… Transforming nations), but will be adding to these, because he is very skilled and very competent.
As far as NLCC is concerned, the succession process is ongoing because we are embarking on the construction of Kingdom Cathedral. It wouldn’t be prudent to appoint a successor in the middle of a construction programme, but once the building is finished, we have the method, we have the man, and we will be appointing the individual for the mission.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MY ASSIGNMENT IN AFRICA?
My passion for the continent of Africa is ever increasing – and on several levels. Our deepest passion that is driving us now is to see every country in Africa become a first-world nation. This is where the citizens of each nation have their basic human rights respected and observed; where their property rights are respected and protected, and where their rights for freedom of expression, which would include the way they would express themselves spiritually or religiously, is realised.
As a Christian, this is realised when we see Jesus Christ as the centre of almost every culture on the continent. That is my passion; I want to see our African countries thrive economically, where in every country there would realistically be a very strong middle class that would be the incubator for major entrepreneurs and significant businesses. I believe that will happen for Africa, where you would see us celebrate highly skilled, highly educated Africans; there we would be able to compete on a global level with the most advanced nations; and where we would see orderly elections and electoral processes where the results are respected (no manipulation of the electoral system and process). This would include adhering to provisions made within the constitution of a particular nation. We really want to see this. My passion for Africa is also to see very powerful men and women of God build significant, stable ministries that would empower their congregants and their respective nations. So we are going to be employing various means and methods to see this happen. We want to mobilise, more deliberately, significant spiritual key leaders on the continent, who would impact that process of empowerment.
1 – AFRICAN APOSTLES
My futuristic overview is primarily that I want to see, from an African apostle’s prospective, more participation – and we will. But also we want to begin to get other blocks involved. We are in collaboration right now with a number of significant apostles from the Caribbean, who host a similar block as the Council of African Apostles – the Caribbean Coalition of Apostles and Leaders. We are going to be working and sharing with them. We are also going to be collaborating with the International Coalition of Apostles, which is basically a North American idea, but has influence from apostles throughout the world. We will be collaborating with them in importing many of their ideas, but also giving them a lot of our ideas and sharing with them the significant apostolic models that are doing well throughout particular nations. We are making those available, so that the upcoming churches and leaders can adopt the various principles from these respective blocks.
2 – WOMEN
We are emphasising, very meticulously now, the need to empower women in every sector – economically, politically, educationally and, most definitely, spiritually. There are a number of challenges we want to take on as causes to empower women. That would include human trafficking, which is a major concern, and the abuse of women, which includes female mutilation. In some sectors, it is called female circumcision, but it is the mutilation of women’s bodies. Also we want to see, in terms of empowerment, women being given and afforded opportunities in business and trade. I don’t believe a nation can be significant and powerful without women being engaged at that level.
3 – EDUCATION
Africa still lags behind in terms of per capita education. For example, in the northern part of Nigeria, it is said that as many as four million children will not have a formal education. A lot of education in Africa is still at a very rural level. We are trying to break beyond that. We want to see more and more of our children having access to education, which of course includes simple things like energy, which would empower access to the Internet (and therefore accelerate their education process).
4 – HEALTHCARE
Services for healthcare in Africa are very, very, very limited – scant. Africans are still dying of preventable causes. Diseases like malaria and HIV continue to take lives. Diseases we thought were eliminated and eradicated, like polio and hepatitis, and tuberculosis, which we thought had been contained, are now expressing resurgence. We want to see a lot of that removed. The source most of the time is simply poverty. I want to see us move dramatically toward what the United Nations has termed Millennium Development Goals (MDG), now known as Millennium Sustainable Goals. On the top of that list of eight targets is the eradication of poverty.
5 – PERSONAL GOALS
For me, a personal peeve is tackling corruption head on. Our continent is seeing a lot of illicit activity, money which has been generated through corrupt means, being transferred out of Africa. This money could be used throughout our continent to give us a better Africa.
For more information about Bishop Tudor Bismark, Jabula Europe and Asia, and the Loud360 Reconciliation conference, visit www.Loud360.org.