When did you first know you had a call of God on your life?
Andrew: I was raised in a Christian home but never knew God’s unconditional love for me. I always believed I had to somehow earn His love and approval. On March 23, 1968, at age eighteen, I had a supernatural encounter with God that radically changed my relationship with Him and my life. He poured out His love to me in a very tangible fashion. It was then that I truly understood what it meant for Him to love me unconditionally. I knew then that I would be serving Him full-time, helping others walk in this unconditional love I discovered.
Often, when people are called into ministry, there’s a general sense of the calling but not a specific direction. Was this true for you?
Andrew: When I first started out, I did whatever I could find to do. I just wanted to serve God. I ministered to people in Garland, Texas, until 1969, then I went into the army. When I came out of the service in 1971, I held Bible studies and ministered as a youth leader in a Baptist church.
I didn’t know exactly what I was called to do at first, so I tried everything. I was a music leader for a while and even did door-to-door evangelism. But I noticed a difference between when I taught and when I did any other ministry. There seemed to be a supernatural flow when I taught the Word. God confirmed what I was sensing in 1972 when I went through a tollbooth in Dallas.
You got a confirmation from God in a tollbooth?
Andrew: Yes. I was driving through a tollbooth in Dallas, and as I handed the tollbooth worker my money, God spoke to my heart and told me He had called me to teach.
So where did you go from there?
Andrew: Well, it was difficult at first, because I was so introverted. I was absolutely terrified to speak in front of people. But at the same time, I loved leading Bible studies! It probably took me four or five years to get to where I was comfortable teaching. I just kept pushing through because I knew that’s what God called me to do. Even though I struggled, I was convinced I was called to teach because of God’s anointing that was always present as I ministered the Word.
I’ve heard people say that you never prepare your messages. Is that true?
Andrew: I first started teaching Sunday school at my Baptist church. They decided I was too radical and didn’t want me teaching regularly, so they demoted me to a substitute. I got called at the last minute when the regular teacher couldn’t be there, so I didn’t have time to get a message ready. This is when I discovered I could teach on any verse with no preparation.
When I started leading my own Bible studies, I took a ton of notes and was always extremely prepared. But when I’d teach, I felt like I was fumbling. On some occasions I wasn’t able to prepare, and that’s when Scripture just flowed from me. I started realizing that all my studying, prayer, and note taking was ruining my ministry! God showed me that when I prepared, I ministered out of my own ability and intellect, instead of relying on Him. From then on I decided to never prepare another message.
You’ve spent the majority of your time as a teacher, but there was a point early on when you pastored churches. How did that come about?
Andrew: That happened pretty much by default. There was a group of Baptists in Texas who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and got kicked out of their church. They asked me to come teach them. They didn’t know where else to go to receive full-Gospel teaching. After a while, they wanted to start their own church. I told them I’d do Bible studies with them, but I didn’t want to pastor. But after about six months they started calling me “pastor” and giving me tithes, even though I told them I was not called to pastor. So I didn’t really have a choice unless I wanted to stop teaching them. I continued on as their pastor for two years. We met five times a week for Bible studies.
Jamie: It was a little much, to say the least!
Andrew: Well, the Bible says, “They met daily from house to house.” I gave them two days a week off!
Jamie, I take it you didn’t like being a pastor’s wife.
Jamie: No, not at all. I was definitely not called to be a pastor’s wife! It was just a very hard time. Our children were small, and I had to take them to all of the Bible studies—[looks at Andrew]—all five a week! Plus, I really didn’t like the small towns. And, we had very little money at that time.Andrew: Now, if I ever think about being a pastor full-time, Jamie always says, “You can be a pastor if you want, but you won’t have me as a wife!” But the truth is, back then, there were no Spirit-filled churches. If you wanted to teach along those lines, you had to either hold Bible studies or start your own church. My options were very limited.
How did Andrew Wommack Ministries actually get birthed?
Andrew: We left Childress, Texas, where I got my radio start on a country-and-western station in 1976. From there we went to Pritchett, Colorado, to hold a Bible study. While we were there God used me to raise someone from the dead. Everyone was so astounded, they wouldn’t let me leave. I kept saying, “There’s no way I’m moving to Pritchett.”
We stayed there for about six months. We started on a radio station in Colorado Springs and also started making cassette tapes of my teachings. People sent us donations from the radio ministry, but we couldn’t give receipts. That led us to incorporate the ministry, so in 1978 we officially became Andrew Wommack Ministries.
Why did you first decide to give away free tapes?
Andrew: Back when we were first getting started, we went to a Bible conference on prosperity. We desperately needed to hear this message, as we ran out of gas on the way to the conference.
That’s just a little ironic, isn’t it?
Andrew: Well, we had absolutely no money. I prayed over the car so it would start, and it ended up running for a whole week with no gas! While at the conference, we stopped by the teacher’s tape table. We knew we had to get these teachings, but couldn’t afford them. I promised God right then that if He ever gave me revelation that would help others, I would never deny them access to it because of finances. Of course, at the time, I had no idea we would end up giving away as many tapes as we have.
Jamie, how would you say that you and Andrew have changed over the years after all you’ve been through together?
Jamie: I really don’t think we’ve changed all that much. He’s pretty much the same person I married. I know that our commitment and desire to do what we’re doing hasn’t changed at all. Probably the biggest change with Andrew is just his approach to teaching. When he started, he’d try to teach everything he knew in two hours! Over the years he’s slowed down and become more focused with each message.
The biggest change for me has been my role in the ministry. I used to manage the entire ministry and got so overwhelmed. We tried to hire people early on, but I found myself always cleaning up behind them because things weren’t done correctly. It was almost humorous when we held a meeting somewhere. I led praise and worship, and Andrew would run the sound for me. Then we’d switch and I’d run the sound while he was preaching. We set up and manned the tape tables, we tore everything down…
Andrew: Yeah, and now we don’t do anything!
How has God used your marriage in the ministry?
Jamie: I think we balance each other out. With Andrew it’s, “Okay, we’re going on radio. Let’s start with five stations.” I’m more like, “Let’s see if one will produce first.”
Andrew: That’s true. If it was just me, I would’ve blown up a long time ago. Jamie is very deliberate and detailed. She’s not a risk taker like I am. She’s helped me take things slower. I probably would have destroyed us. It’s been a great balance. We still go back and forth on things today. Although, when I started on TV, which was potentially the most damaging risk we’ve ever taken because of the expense, Jamie was 100 percent in agreement with my decision. Her reaction actually surprised me.
Speaking of TV, would you say that was the biggest turning point for the ministry?
Andrew: As far as a positive turning point, yes, by far. The Lord woke me up in the summer of 1999, and I heard Him say, “Your time has come.” I got up and looked up scriptures with that phrase. As I started reading, God said, “You’re just now starting to do what I’ve called you to do. If you had died before this time, you would’ve missed your destiny.” He told me that starting on TV was just the beginning of our ministry. Sure enough, when we started on TV in January of 2000, everything exploded. Our audience response has doubled every couple of years since. Before television, our income was roughly $50,000 per month. Now we have to have $1.3 million every month just to break even.
Starting on TV was the riskiest thing we’ve ever done. For the first time in twenty-five years, we finally had money in our ministry savings account so we could actually start growing. I think we had $30,000 at the time. We needed $135,000 for TV. But it was a risk we had to take. Like God said, our ministry didn’t really start until 2000. All the time before that God was just getting us ready. I hear people say all the time that I’m an overnight success, because with the television ministry, it appears that way. But in reality, it was thirty-two years in the making!
How can you be sure you’re doing the right thing? How does God speak to you when you’re making decisions?
Andrew: I’ve never heard an audible voice, and I’ve never had a vision or seen anything with my physical eyes. I just see things in my imagination. I sometimes hear God in my sleep. He’ll give me dreams, or I’ll have a thought that’s so loud, it wakes me up. When we first went to Childress to hold a meeting, we ministered for three days, and I was ready to leave town. God woke me up in a dream and told me I didn’t do what He instructed me to do. I thought Childress was temporary, but He wanted me to move there. We started a church and stayed there two years.
If I’m seeking direction from God, I rely on Psalm 37:4—“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I trust that He’ll put His desires in my heart. An example of this is when I lost my desire for Seagoville, Texas. We had lived there for two years, and I was planning on staying there longer because I knew that’s where we were supposed to be. But during a time of prayer, God completely changed my heart. All of a sudden, I couldn’t stand the place. I just wanted to get out. It was totally different than what I had felt for two years. I spent the next two or three hours just praying in tongues. The more my mind stayed on God, the more I wanted to move. I knew it was God because I had been seeking Him.
Another way I test for direction is through confirmations. When I made the decision to start on TV, two of my minister friends came to me separately and said God told them it was time for me to start on TV, although they had no idea I was thinking about it.
How do you make sure what you’re hearing is really from God?
Andrew: You can determine vain imaginations by the Word of God. Any good imagination you have, if it lines up with the Word, it is God inspired. Man is wicked, and he will naturally think selfish, vain thoughts. So if the thoughts are of the flesh or the devil, it’ll violate the Word. If it doesn’t violate the Word, it’s from God.
How do you hear from God on a daily, practical level?
Andrew: In January of 2002 God told me I was thinking too small. It took me a while to understand fully what He was saying. But now when I have a decision to make involving different options, I always go for the biggest. I pray about all my decisions, and I believe God inspires me through all of them. I don’t think my decisions are strictly business decisions. Jamie and I discuss most of them, although she usually doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other. I try to sense God’s leading with everything.
What do you think is the most difficult part of your ministry today?
Andrew: Hmm. That’s a tough question..
Andrew: I can’t think of anything that’s really difficult about the ministry at this point. The biggest challenges I face are not within the ministry itself, but with outside forces that try to distract me. I have to battle that stuff because it causes me to minister out of my feelings instead of the Word. The ministry right now is a piece of cake compared to what we used to go through. We used to struggle just to survive. We weren’t certain we’d even be alive the next week. But now things are going well.
When you were struggling to survive, did you want to quit?
Andrew: In the beginning, definitely. There wasn’t enough evidence to prove we were on the right track. We went for nearly ten years without one positive sign that we were headed in the right direction. I think if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t do it nearly as well. I really think I would quit and give up. I don’t know how we made it through what we did, except strictly for God’s grace.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Andrew: I’d tell them to never do it the way we did it. I don’t think many people would survive. We didn’t have any mentors or any strong relationships. We were always the ones ministering but never getting ministered to. You can’t survive like that. One out of a thousand people would make it the way we started in ministry.
I’d also tell them that until their ministry gets to where it is self-supporting, they need to work a secular job. I always thought I wasn’t being faithful to my calling if I worked elsewhere. I knew God called me to full-time ministry, so I wouldn’t take a regular job. But that’s why we were always broke. I know if I had married anyone but Jamie, the marriage wouldn’t have lasted. No one would’ve put up with what I put Jamie through.
We started the Bible school to keep people from making our mistakes. I once dreamt that I had a machete and was going through a jungle, cutting down the thick brush ahead of me. I looked over my shoulder, and those behind me were expanding the path, making it wider. Then they poured asphalt, and pretty soon there was a four-lane highway. God told me that the way I came through, I had to blaze a trail when there wasn’t anything but thick brush. But I made a way for others to come behind me and take what I’ve learned and run with it. For us it was like someone threw us in the deep end and said if we lived, we’d learn how to swim. But it’s always better if you can take swimming lessons ahead of time.
Can anyone do what you’ve done?
Andrew: Anyone who’s called. I believe I have gifts—like a teaching gift—and insight into the Word that not everyone has. If you have similar insight and gifts, then, yes, you can probably do it. But you also must have God’s revelation and anointing. I do feel unique in a lot of ways. I really believe God has given me some things that most people don’t have.
Plus, I don’t think there are many people who would put up with what Jamie and I have been through. One of the main reasons we stuck with it was because we had no other choice. There was no Plan B, nothing to fall back on. If we surrendered to failure, thinking we missed God, there would’ve been no place for us to go. We knew if God didn’t get us through, we weren’t going to make it. But if you want God’s best, that’s what it takes.