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TD Jakes' rise to international prominence - From ditch digger to fisher of men
published: Monday | November 24, 2008

Bishop Thomas Dexter Jakes of The Potter's House leads thousands of worshippers in Communion at the Texas Round-Up For Jesus at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, in November 2001. The service was held in patriotic spirit for those who lost their lives on September 11. - contributed photo

T.D. Jakes is a charismatic speaker and preacher whose sermons are broadcasted internationally over television and satellite television. He is also a prolific author and has written over 30 books, many of which have been featured on the New York Times best-selling list. Jakes is also a songwriter, a playwright and performer. He founded a Christian record label Dexterity Sounds as well as a theatre and movie production company.

Jakes was born on June 9, 1957, in South Charleston, West Virginia, to Ernest Jakes Sr, a janitor and entrepreneur, and Odith, an educator. Even as a child he was known in his West Virginian neighbourhood as 'the Bible boy'. He was also told he would never be able to preach because of his bad lisp. Shortly after his father's death from kidney failure, Jakes decided to go into ministry. In 1979, with very little funds of his own and with only 10 initial members, he founded Greater Emmanuel Temple of Faith as a storefront church in Montgomery, West Virginia. Jakes maintained his day job, digging ditches in order to support his ministry until the church was able to support him. During its first 10 years, the church grew to over 1,000 members. In 1982, Jakes turned to full-time ministry.

Family and Heritage

In 1995, when he was 38 years old, Jakes started his television ministry. In 1996, Jakes founded The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, with about 50 families that had relocated with him from his former congregation. In its 12-year existence, it has grown to more than 30,000 members. Both Jakes and his Potter's House church are unrelated to the Potter's House Christian Fellowship, a Pentecostal denomination founded in Arizona in 1970.

In 1981, he married Serita Ann Jamison. They have five children together (Jamar, Jermaine, Cora, Sarah and Thomas Jakes Jr). Jakes is a strong advocate of abstinence and has made appearances on the subject ranging from 'Good Morning America' to 'Dr Phil'.

For the 2006 PBS programme African American Lives, Jakes had his DNA analysed; his Y chromosome showed that he is probably descended from the Igbo people of what is now Nigeria. According to his family history, it was also suggested that he was descended from the Igbo people through his paternal grandmother.

Awards and Accomplishments

Jakes has received numerous honours, including 13 honorary degrees and doctorates. He has also received Grammy and Dove Award nominations for gospel album Live at The Potter's House. PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly named Jakes among America's Top 10 Religious Leaders. Time magazine featured Jakes on the cover of its September 17, 2001 issue with the provocative question: 'Is This Man the Next Billy Graham?'

Jakes' church, The Potter's House, is very active in ministry and outreach, both locally and internationally. The Potter's House sends drug and alcohol counsellors to the inner city, volunteers to the elderly, to prostitutes and victims of domestic abuse.

Jakes hosted several popular national conferences, including, 'Woman, Thou Art Loosed', 'ManPower' and 'God's Leading Ladies'. Recently, Jakes combined those into a single event called 'Megafest'. Jakes regularly draws capacity crowds at his conferences and ministry events.

... visits Jamaica Dec 9-11

Bishop T.D. Jakes is scheduled to visit Jamaica from December 9-11.

On the first two days of his visit, he will conduct outdoor meetings at the National Stadium. He will, on day three, conduct a leadership seminar at the Hilton Kingston hotel before leaving the island for another destination.

Tickets for Jakes' meetings at the National Stadium are being sold at $1,000 for bleachers and $2,000 for grandstand. Currently, the tickets are available online at or by making email contact at


✓ Can You Stand To Be Blessed?

✓ Naked And Not Ashamed

✓ Loose That Man And Let Him Go

✓ Loose That Man And Let Him Go

Work Book

✓ Positioning Yourself To Prosper

✓ Reposition Yourself: Living a Life

Without Limits

✓ He-Motions: Even Strong Men Struggle

✓ Help! I'm Raising My Children Alone:

A Guide for Single Parents and Those

Who Sometimes Feel They Are

✓ Ten Commandments of Working in a

Hostile Environment

✓ Promises From God For Single Women

✓ Woman, Thou Art Loosed: Healing

the Wounds of the Past

✓ The Lady, Her Lover, and Her Lord

✓ Maximise the Moment: God's Action

Plan For Your Life

✓ So You Call Yourself a Man?: Finally

Devotional for Ordinary Men With

Extraordinary Potential

✓ God's Leading Lady

✓ His Lady

✓ Daddy Loves His Girls

✓ The Greatest Investment

✓ Mama Made the Difference

✓ T.D. Jakes Speaks To Men

✓ Before You Do: Making Great

Decisions That That You Won't Regret


✓ Woman Thou Art Loosed (based on Jakes' novel of the same name)

✓ Not Easily Broken (based on another Jakes' novel).

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