RECENTLY, The Church Newspaper news crew asked a Lusaka clergyman how he would describe Bishop Joe Imakando-the Presiding Bishop of Bread of Life Church International- and the man simply stated “he is not a photocopy of another but himself.”
And not too long ago, Prof Nkandu Luo- the Minister of Higher Education had this to say on Bishop Imakando: “This man deserves to be celebrated. If there are critiques seated in this church; in my church the Catholic Church, there is a place where we go for confession, I am inviting you to come and confess.”
It is against this background that The Church Newspaper decided to go on some kind of a fact finding mission whose main objective is to find out who is this man is and how his character, leadership qualities and unwavering faith in God has helped him to contribute greatly to the growth of Christianity in the country.
Bishop Imakando was born slightly over 60 years ago right here in Zambia and was bred just like any other average Zambian.
According to the Bread of Life website, Bishop Imakando answered the call of God to minister in 1976. Thereafter he attended the Bible College in Kenya and the United Kingdom.
The now father of four served as a Baptist Church Pastor for 9 years, thereafter he resigned to serve on the wider body of Christ as Executive Director for Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), an umbrella body that unites Pentecostal and Evangelical churches in Zambia.
The website reports that in 1990, Bishop Imakando had an encounter with God that transformed his life. The change was evidenced in his preaching and ministrations of God’s word.
2 years later while in Lagos Nigeria, God gave him a vision that led to the birth of Bread of life Church International.
Over the next 20 something years, Bishop Imakando saw the Bread of Life membership rise from just a handful to a vibrant church of over 12,000 members- making it one of the biggest churches in our country. He oversees more than 100 Local and slightly over 10 International Churches. He has now managed to successfully establish himself as an international teacher,preacher,speaker,author,church planter and advisor whose ministry has taken him to many countries.
In September 2013, the Bread of Life officially launched the Blessings Centre- an auditorium with a seating capacity of about 10,000. This multi facility infrastructure remains the biggest investment any Zambian church has ever erected.
During the launch, Bishop Imakando recalled how he and his church ‘fought’ for the piece of land housing the Blessings Centre in Emmasdale.
“We are a living testimony that the gates of hell shall not prevail over the church,” Bishop Imakando said.
With now a total 40 years in ministry, Bishop Imakando has influenced a lot of lives.
“When I joined Bread of Life,” narrates Monica Kangwa-a Bread of Life congregant, “I was a nobody. But that man’s teachings changed my way of thinking and looking at life. He told me about Jesus and how I can change my life if I followed His teachings in Bible. Today, I am a living testimony of the fact that if you learn from the best, you will become the best.”
Another one, Sylvester Jere says: “I think there is just something about that man. We need more of such men in this country. He has achieved a lot in as far as ministry work is concerned. He is great man who has had a lot of impact on my life and many others. God is using him to do great things and we are all benefitting.”
Bishop Imakando who also serves as the regional President of Association of Evangelicals in Africa responsible for 10 countries in Southern Africa and currently serves in the board of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) has further impacted greatly on other men of God within and outside Zambia.
Bishop Christopher Kabunda whom we referred to in the opening statement is one of them. Bishop Kabunda is the senior pastor of Family Fellowship Global Ministries which is based in Lusaka’s Northmead area.
“One thing that has never changed in him is his teaching style. You won’t find him using tricks to gather people but teaches the simple word in such a way that even a Sunday school child can get understanding,” says Bishop Kabunda in an emailed statement.
He adds: “While others are wide and shallow yet this man remains deep and wide. If a miracle happens in his ministry, glory goes to God and not him. It’s like he is not there but only Bread of life as the church is there. Other places, you see man first but at bread of life you see Christ not man. He has successfully disappeared so that God can appear in this nation. I would really like to be that. This is what happens when humility matures in a Christian leader.”
Further, the clergyman adds that unlike some pastors who are known to be ‘desperate publicity seekers’, Bishop Imakando has chosen to stay off the media.
“He does not play to the gallery but to Jesus. Despite all the successes he has so far attained, he has kept his voice away from feeble and temporal things of this nation which today are and tomorrow are not. You will not hear his name from shallow platforms in the nation unless the issue will endanger the morals of the nation. Even then, the motive is always right,” stated Bishop Kabunda.
And the Christian Coalition says Bishop Imakando’s successes should be used as a yardstick for measuring success in as far as ministry work is concerned.
Bishop Godwin Musonda who is the president of the Christian Coalition said in an interview that he personally has learnt a lot from Bishop Imakando’s wisdom and leadership skills.
“At church when I am preaching especially about leadership, I always give him as an example. He is a great man. People have tried to bring him down in the past but God has seen him through,” said Bishop Musonda.
The clergyman also paid homage to Bishop Imakando for lifting the credibility of Charismatic and Pentecostal churches in Zambia.
Said Bishop Musonda: “You see, in as far as Charismatic Christianity is concerned, our father (Bishop Imakando) has proved critics wrong. These critics thought this group of Christains are up to no good and not good for Zambia but he has proved them wrong and we are all enjoying the fruit of his sweat.”
The outspoken cleric however has a piece of advice for Bishop Imakando.
“I am his son and so I am not really supposed to be the one advising him. But I think let me do it because it is important. You see, I think Bishop Imakando and other men of God in his category like Bishop Joshua Banda, Bishop Nwaka on the Copperbelt, Peter Ndlobvu and others… I think they need to come up with a programme to mentor the upcoming men of God.
“What is happening now whereby some young pastors are behaving like they don’t have spiritual fathers is not good for Zambia’s Christianity. As our fathers, they need to mentor us because if they don’t, Zambia will only to fake prophets,” he said adding “We also want a situation whereby if the Lord calls them to rest, someone whom they mentored should take up their shoes.”
Bishop Musonda also advised Bishop Imakando and other senior men of God to help in uniting the body of Christ in Zambia which he said is very divided currently.
By and large, Bishop Imakando has contributed greatly to the growth of Christianity in our country. He has definitely won hundreds of souls for our Lord Jesus Christ and for this he deserves, as Prof Luo put it, to be celebrated right now when he is still alive.
If you are one of the few who has never been touched by the works of this great gallant son of Africa, be sure to catch him on ZNBC TV during his weekly Television outreach program “The hour of Blessing” which has turned out to be a favorite of many Zambians. There, you will get to listen to his simple, practical and extremely powerful messages. You can also ‘steal’ a bit of his wisdom through the books he has authored. These four touching books include “Dreaming your Destiny, “Prayer Our Secret Weapon”, “The Power of Favour” and “Key Ingredients to Success.”
And why not meet him in person together with his ‘better half’, Pastor Bernadette at the Blessings Centre one of these Sundays?
The Church Newspaper joins the rest of the country in celebrating the 40th anniversary of Bishop Imakando in active ministry.
We celebrate you mwe ba fyashi…pantu imwe patali!
– Church Newspaper