Q: Dr. Winston, many know you as a pastor through your program on Daystar, but you were a decorated fighter pilot serving in the U.S. Air Force prior to entering the ministry. Tell us about that.
A: I served for six years as a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force and flew over 200 missions during the Vietnam War. I completed my military service at the rank of captain. My military training taught me many things, including discipline and teamwork and to seek excellence in whatever you do.
Q: What role did the historic accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen play in your decision to become a pilot?
A: They greatly influenced my decision. When I was growing up, most of Tuskegee centered around the military. We saw black aviators, like Chappie James, living in our community. I had the privilege of knowing many of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen because their sons and daughters were my classmates in elementary school. These men were larger-than-life heroes.
I remember my first airplane ride was with Mr. Charles A. Anderson, affectionately known as “Chief Anderson,” who was an instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen and was also the one who flew Eleanor Roosevelt for an hour-long flight when she visited Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in 1941. After my first plane ride, I knew I was destined to fly.
Q: In 1985, you left a successful career at IBM to go into full-time ministry. Describe why you felt led to make that decision.
A: I had planned to make a career at IBM, to one day become president of one of its divisions. I had done quite well at the company. But God had other plans. I had a call on my life. I knew God had called me into full-time ministry, but I did not have the strength, at first, to step out and leave my good-paying job at IBM. Oh, I had tried several times, but
until I could SEE my future, I was stuck in my present. Then, I heard a man of God teach on seedtime and harvest. Out of that, God gave me a seed (scripture), Mark 10:29-30. I began meditating this scripture and in a very short time, Pow! Light came! I saw myself preaching the gospel to 10,000 people…Not going broke. I saw myself leaving corporate and serving God full-time in a successful ministry. I saw what I call “a glorious future” and was able to let go of IBM.
Q: Today, you are the Senior Pastor of Living Word Christian Center and speak to over 20,000 members each week. Describe the small beginnings when you initially founded the church and how you’ve seen God’s faithfulness over the years.
A: I had men of faith who I studied, emulated and learned from; men like Dr. Fred Price, Bishop Arthur Brazier (now deceased), Charles Capp, Kenneth Copeland and others. I also had made a commitment to teach and walk by faith despite the affliction that might come.
My congregation is very familiar with our very humble beginnings when we started our ministry in Chicago. My wife, Veronica, and I moved to Chicago from Minnesota in 1988 with only $200. We had no place to stay, and a dear sister in the Lord opened her home to us until we could get established. Our first church location was a small storefront building in what was considered at the time one of the roughest areas of Chicago. And to top it all off, many of our family members thought we had simply “lost it.”
But God’s Word said, don’t “despise these small beginnings… (He) rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT) Veronica and I knew that we had heard God’s voice to start a ministry in Chicago, and we obeyed. Things didn’t look good in the beginning, but through it all, we remained faithful. Today, we have thousands of members attending each week; a partnership-based ministry, Bill Winston Ministries, which is spreading the gospel around the world through television, radio and other media; the Joseph Business School; a ministry school, and two shopping malls.
Q: Living Word Christian Center has a bold vision to win cities for Christ. How are you actively reaching out to the community in practical ways to share the love of God?
A: Our church sends out evangelism teams each week, when the weather allows, street witnessing. We have a program in place called Operation Save Chicago, a faith-based initiative to eradicate poverty and violence in Chicago by establishing a network of over 40 institutions to bring value back to communities through educational, vocational, technological and entrepreneurial training opportunities. We know that much of the violence in Chicago, the root cause, stems from poverty and lack of education or skills.
Our Joseph Center also offers:
- A General Education Development (GED)program to prepare those who didn’t finish high school to successfully take the high school equivalency exam;
- A very active prison ministry which includes a re-entry program to help people find jobs, housing and training once they are released from prison;
- A Small Business Development Center ( SBDC) to help small business owners grow their companies;
- The nationally accredited Joseph Business School that teaches entrepreneurship based on biblical principles; the school has 22 partnership locations around the world (on 5 continents) and online.
If we are to eradicate poverty systemic poverty we must go to the root. We know that slavery has ceased, but like a truck driving down a muddy road after the rain, the tire tracks are still there after the truck moves on. We are out to erase all traces of poverty, violence and low self-esteem.
Finally, about three times a year we have a feed-the-hungry outreach. We work with a school in an under-served or low-income neighborhood to use their location to distribute free groceries to needy families. With the help of about 75 church volunteers, we take a trailer truck filled with groceries (i.e., fresh produce and packaged and canned food) to pass out to families. We also have prayer teams on site to pray with people.
These are some of the practical ways we are showing the love of God in the community.
Q: Once they’ve accepted Christ, how is the church helping new believers lay a strong foundation of faith through discipleship?
A: We have 10-week new believers class (called Foundation Classes) that we strongly encourage every new believer in the church to take after their confession of faith in Jesus Christ and water baptism. We also help them to see their importance in the kingdom of God and how they are anointed for leadership in their respective fields.
Q: You’re known for having an uncompromising commitment to the Word of God. How has the Bible influenced your life and ministry?
A: The Bible helped me to clearly see two kingdoms and my responsibility to bring people off that demonic kingdom and bring them into the kingdom of God. It also imparts a revelation of God’s plan to me so that I can develop the faith to overcome anything to the contrary.
Q: Share a brief personal story where you’ve applied the Word of God in faith and seen the Lord work supernaturally in your life.
A: In the early days of our ministry when the church was located in a very rough part of Chicago, a woman came rushing into the church while some of us were praying before service. She asked to see the pastor because she had a desperate need.
I said, “I’m the pastor. How can I help you?” She explained that drug dealers had taken over the street where she lived selling drugs most of the day and night. Now all the residents were terrorized and afraid to send their kids out to play. I told her to join the prayer circle and let’s pray. I didn’t know how or what to pray so I prayed in the spirit (tongues) which the Bible calls “speaking mysteries” (1 Corinthians 14:2). Then I prayed that I might interpret (1 Corinthians 14:13) and, by faith, I received the answer.
The Lord spoke to me saying, “Take this bottle of anointing oil, bless it, and tell the woman to pour it down the middle of her street.” She gladly received the instructions and carried them out to the letter. A few days later she came back and testified. She said the drug dealers came back the next day, stayed for about an hour then left, and never came back. Praise God!
Q: As believers, what are some practical ways we can connect with the power of God’s Word to experience victory in our everyday lives?
A: First, we must understand that for every problem we have, there is a “Word” solution. That is, a scripture in the Bible that is the source of the faith you will need to be delivered. Second, we must know that faith is now and is based on something that God has already done, not going to do. And third, God’s Word is the only source of faith. Acting on God’s Word in faith makes all things possible.
Q: Using #AskDrWinston, people all over the world send in questions and you answer them based on God’s Word. What’s been the most challenging question you’ve received, and why?
A: Perhaps one of the most challenging questions has been “how can you love and forgive someone (or some race) who has hated and treated you, your family or your race so badly for so long?” The answer is you can’t. God has to love them through you. It’s a challenge sometimes to help people see past their hurt, pain and anger. Love is a person. It’s more than a human emotion. God just needs our willingness and decision to allow Him to love and forgive through us. With God ALL things are possible.
Q: This month, you’ll be speaking at the Southwest Believers’ Convention, which airs on Daystar July 30 – August 3. Can you give us a sneak peek of your message?
A: If the Lord says the same, the message will be about “The Anointing” and “how God is restoring the years.”
Q: For those who haven’t seen your program on Daystar, Believer’s Walk of Faith, what can viewers that tune in expect to hear?
A: They can expect to hear teaching and preaching about the kingdom of God, and how to live in this kingdom like they are on vacation 365 days out of the year. They will also hear how to possess everything Jesus died to provide for us.
Q: What’s next for you? Can you share what the Lord’s placed on your heart concerning future projects and events?
A: First, to raise up kingdom leaders to occupy the spheres of influence in the marketplace. Second, to train up and send out a spiritual army to fulfill their kingdom assignments. And third, to prepare the Body of Christ for Jesus’ return.
Be sure to watch Believers Walk of Faith with Dr. Bill Winston weekdays at 4:30pm ET right here on Daystar! You can find more information about his program by visiting his program page here.