He has been described as one of Barbados’ most dynamic preachers.
With his trademark North American accent, Apostle T. Wayne Bishop grew from having a miniscule congregation at a small wooden house in Kew Road, Bank Hall, St Michael, to become founder of the New Covenant Ministries Church, a multimillion-dollar investment then known as the Dove Convention Centre in Country Road, St Michael.
But four years ago, the charismatic preacher became embroiled in a controversy as he quit the church and left for the United States amidst charges that he stole the church’s funds and left it broke.
Now, there seems to be a new beginning for the 49-year-old Barbadian from Two Mile Hill, St Michael.
In an interview with the NATION’S Associate Managing Editor Tim Slinger, Bishop breaks his silence on the issues and speaks about his plans for the purchase of the Globe Cinema building as his new worshipping centre, now called Revelation Word Christian Centre.
First, tell me about your plans for the takeover of the Globe Cinema building?
Bishop: Basically, I came back to Barbados and started the church about a year and six months ago. We started at Grand Barbados Hotel [but] they closed for renovations. We outgrew the facility and we’ve been trusting and believing in God for a bigger facility that would house the vision that we have for Barbados.
Sometime ago, I had service in this very building (Globe Cinema). About, probably, 15 or so years ago, I revisited a conversation with the ownership to look at leasing the facility in order to continue services here. We are negotiating the purchase of the building in order to look at it for a greater purpose and to erect more of a cultural centre in which we would have church services. We will have our services Sunday and during the course of the week.
It’s a great facility and great location and great building, historically and otherwise. My understanding with the history is that the Globe has been here dating back to the 1930s or 1940s and the present ownership acquired it back in 1956 – I wasn’t even born yet. It’s a great location and great place . . . .
Sunday coming is going to be our very first service at the location since the cinema aspect has been closed.
We are extremely excited about that . . . . We’ve got people from here and over to Bay Street and to Carrington Village; from Hindsbury Road over to Waterford and then, of course,
The City is in the backyard. So, we have a great harvest and a great feel for young people – a lot of people here that need the Gospel and need to be reached for Christ.
So, we have a great vision for this location and even a greater vision for the nation. And I think that’s what gave birth to what we are planning to do here.
This is a venue that holds over 1 000 people. How do you envisage filling it?
Bishop: Right now, we are having about 130 people on Sunday morning. After about 18 months, we are excited about that because when I return to Barbados, we started with nothing.
I had no congregation and no particular infrastructure and with the first service, I think we had about 35 to 40 people who attended.
We have been adding to the church in a tremendous way. Our present location at Tudor Street has totally outgrown its capacity. On Old Year’s Night, people had to stand up for service. We were there for about three months and we added 25 people each month.
You’re excited about your future, but let’s take a peep into the past. Numerous allegations have been levelled against you, including the theft of church funds. How do you respond to these negative issues?
Bishop: I’m almost kind of glad for the opportunity to discuss that. When I had moved overseas, there had been a lot of controversial things that were said about me. I was not here to defend it and I had no one to speak on my behalf. But I am aware of many of these accusations.
I have not heard one particular accusation or allegation against me or my previous ministry that has been accurate. One of the things said is that I had stolen the church’s finances and went overseas. It never happened! I never took a cent, a dime or a nickel or a penny!
When I resigned as the senior pastor of the church, I installed a pastor. The church had a trustee board of seven members and a financial officer. I challenge the financial officer and the pastor that was appointed at the time, to bring any of these allegations now that I’m back, because it’s simply not true. I had absolutely nothing to do with it.
What kind of effect has these allegations been having towards you since your return to Barbados?
Bishop: It had some effect to some degree in a negative way because people don’t like to know that a pastor – a servant of the Lord – has these kinds of accusations over their head. I’m human, and I like people to say nice things about me and like others, I’ve surely made mistakes.
It’s one thing for somebody to know of a mistake that we’ve made and is able to say, look, that’s a mistake that you’ve made. I’m man enough, big enough, Christian enough, to say I’ve messed up. I’ve done the wrong thing and apologized. But for this accusation and the several others that I’ve heard, nothing like that ever happened.
Who is Apostle T. Wayne Bishop?
Bishop: I think a lot of people know me for a long time. Years ago, I walked into the People’s Cathedral and gave my life to Christ. Reverend Holmes Williams was the pastor – a man that I have a great deal of respect for. I consider him to be my mentor. I started my church life at 14 and started to preach at 15 years old. By the time I was 20, I had preached in about 95 per cent of the Caribbean countries and in South America. I have also preached in the [Co-operative] Republic of Guyana.
I’m probably responsible for pioneering almost nine churches and also preached across Guyana. My name had been known.
As a teenager, I relocated to the United States and lived, ministered and pastored there for many years. I lived in Springfield, Virginia. In 1990, I got a call from God to return to Barbados and I left my job and brought my family to Barbados to start a church.
The first church was a wooden church in Hill Road, Bank Hall, St Michael. There was no electricity and when we started, probably about eight or nine people came to the service. In the later years, we were able to acquire the property at Country Road which we bought for about $1.9 million. We did many radio programmes and television spots and held a lot of national events [through which] many people were blessed and encouraged and came to know Christ as their Lord and Saviour. That’s a little synopsis.
After that, in 2004, the Lord spoke to me and I said it to our congregation that Barbados is going to go through in coming years a tremendous economic drought that would greatly and significantly hurt the economy.
I declared that to the congregation and said it to media outlets in different places. That brought about the desire to go to the United States . . . and when I left, I left with a team from the local church here to pioneer a church in the US.
I’ve pastored in Georgia, Tennessee and most recently in New York City. It was from there that I felt the tremendous call of God to come back to Barbados, sensing that the work was not over.
The mortgage we had at Country Road in one year moved from about $10 000 a month to $22 000 . . . and it was a tremendous burden to carry and I saw what the country was going to go through at the time. That was back in 2006.
What’s your vision for this new church – Revelation Word Christian Centre?
Bishop: We are believing in God to just touch a lot of lives through our ministry and to really be a significant force in the country – to make a difference in the lives of men and women. There [are] a lot of families out there that are hurting.
A lot of people that are going through difficult times and situations in their lives and we believe that the Gospel of Christ is one that can really significantly help people and make a difference in their lives.
I want to make a difference. I want to teach people how they can make a difference. I’ve been involved in Christian ministry, as I said earlier, from the age of 14 and I started to preach sermons from 15 years old. I’m 49 now – I’ve been in this a long time.
This is the life I know, and I’ve been born to do this: touching lives, touching families, raising up leaders. There are a lot of men and women today that are pastors and preachers in Barbados and other [countries] that came up under my ministry. I would want this church to become a healing station and a clinic for people both spiritually and emotionally.
Where are you going to get the money from to purchase the Globe Cinema which is estimated to cost about $4 million?
Bishop: Trust and faith and confidence in God. Remember, you are talking to a man who in his previous church acquired a building that was $2 million. I am acquainted as an administrator and as businessman [with] doing business at this kind of level and this kind of negotiation. But, of course, you would appreciate that trusting God has everything to do with it.
My life has been a life of faith; the Christian life is a life of faith. Many pastors and many ministers across Barbados have been able to do some tremendous things that was out of their natural, normal reach simply because they had faith and confidence and trust in God.
I count the fact that we are here (Globe Cinema location) alone as being a miracle and a step of faith. The growth that we have seen and the multiplication that we have seen, to add 25 new members each month, has been a tremendous sign of growth and that people are with us and are buying into the vision. We have some good friends who share in the vision. We are here to stay.
Do you think you will be able to woo back some of your congregation from the past church which ended on a controversial note? Do you think they will forgive you?
Bishop: If by any action, anything that was done or said or heard has hurt any member of my previous congregation, any member of the body of Christ, any national, any man or woman anywhere, I truly apologize and it was never the intent. Some people don’t want to believe the truth after they hear what they hear. But I truly apologize.
Sometimes when God has a good thing in store for your life, the enemy wants to destroy [it] by whatever means.
There ain’t no malice, there ain’t no hurt, I truly apologize. I am a Barbadian, glad to be one, and I am excited about being back home.