As Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church prepares to hold the Saturday homegoing service for Whitney Houston, several ministers across the nation sprang into action. Much like the death of Michael Jackson, the death of Houston has led many houses of worship to pray for the family of the deceased as well as to lend a more personal hand.
Bishop T.D. Jakes is one of them. The creator of The Potter’s House knew Houston’s mother quite well and also worked closely with Houston this past year, as they finished the remake of Sparkle, a movie also produced by Jakes. Though Jakes never counseled Houston as a pastor, he did work with her as a colleague.
Upon learning of her death, he was “speechless,” he says. But on Saturday he plans to give words of comfort. He has been personally invited to attend the funeral and to provide remarks. It’s a request he doesn’t take lightly.
“I’ve been invited to the funeral and to have remarks at the funeral,” he says. “You don’t know what you’re gonna say, but you know what you’re gonna convey. I knew her mother and of course met with her on the set of remake of Sparkle. I was honored to be asked to attend, much less say remarks.”
Prior to the request, Jakes checked up on the Houston’s and prayed for them.
“I called her mother and began to check on her,” he says. “There is a strong resilience in her to find a way to persevere, though you don’t know from day to day how that’s gonna be. She’s a woman of great faith and of great experience. When people see someone like Whitney Houston and they see her as such a superstar and they sometimes think that’s all there is to her. But she’s somebody’s child and she’s somebody’s mother. There are many people who knew her intimately and really mourn the loss like anybody would.”
For the fans that struggling to deal with the loss of several superstars, including Jackson, Don Cornelius and Houston, Jakes offers solid advice. Rather than buy the album or buy the movie after they’re gone, celebrate them while they live.
“Whenever a great artist dies, people rush out to the stores and buy their CDs and music and movies and that’s a very powerful thing to do,” says Jakes. “But wouldn’t it be great if we did that without people dying? I think it’s great to appreciate what we have as a people, and not to wait until something is gone to memorialize it. If you love somebody, tell them now. If you’ve got something to give, give it now.
“None of us knows from moment to moment how long we’ll be blessed,” he says. “That’s a wake up call for us."
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Senior Editor, EBONY Magazine