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. . . I’m not going to let you stand here by yourself, Bishop, let you carry this load alone. Last night, my wife and I spent a lot of time. . . . We spent a lot of money to come here. Y’all know (looking at the crowd) we spent a lot of money to come here.” [“Yes!” replied the audience.] “And, um, last night, the Lord told me in light of all that I’ve seen; my wife and I agreed to write you a check to the Potters House for $10,000.
With this act of generosity from a member of the audience, Dallas-based Pentecostal Bishop T. D. Jakes lifted his hands and walked back and forth across the floor of the stage. The announcement had come seemingly as a surprise, a spontaneous gesture in the midst of the bishop's plea to his audience for financial support. Bishop Jakes's comments were directed toward the primarily American donors gathered together that morning in Soweto. The need he spoke of was specific. South Africa, like other African nations, is experiencing a crisis of clean water. Women and children walk miles to collect water from polluted streams. Those in remote areas of South Africa, like persons located in similarly isolated regions of India and other countries of the “developing” world, are in a quandary. “If you don't drink it, you die. And, if you drink it, you die,” in Jakes's words. Added to this, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has devastated many in the country, especially in neighboring Swaziland, the second stop on the bishop's tour. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has left countless children orphaned and thousands of others without sufficient medical attention or even proper medical diagnosis. The work of responding to this crisis, Jakes insisted, should come from the Christian church.
Father, touch in this place. Heal in this place…. Don’t anoint our masks…. Touch who we are, where we live. Touch the places in our lives that people don’t even know exist…. Release an anointing in this place because somebody in this room is in trouble. Somebody’s mama is in trouble. Somebody’s wife is in trouble. Some mother of the church, some first lady is in trouble – encumbered with duties and responsibilities, functioning like a robot, but bleeding like a wounded dog. I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus … that the spirit of the Lord God would permeate this place and resurrect our evangelists and our missionaries and our ministers. And, raise up mamas and raise up wives and raise up our sisters that have been slain by circumstances.
Bishop T. D. Jakes, Azusa Conference 1993, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Commanding women to be “loosed” from their burdens and circumstances of affliction in his nearly canonical sermon, “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” Bishop T. D. Jakes momentarily evoked for the listener in his opening prayer splintered images of women’s despair and possibilities for their redemption. In 1993 this sermon catapulted him to international fame. Ministering in an obscure auditorium on the campus of Oral Roberts University, Jakes would eventually package and redistribute this message, through the power of satellite broadcasting, to national and international audiences. What began as a small Pentecostal movement turned into a worldwide phenomenon.
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