Meet Lucky Mbiko, the man at the helm of Christian television network TBN in Africa
Luckly Khayalethu Mbiko remembers a time when he was about eight-years-old and he was standing in the fields looking after his grandmother’s cattle and wondering if there was anything for him beyond the mountains he could see.
And then the Holy Spirit spoke to him. But it was only this year — after he was appointed managing director of TBN in Africa upon the return of the global Christian TV network to the continent — that he recognised who had spoken to him in the fields all those years ago.
As an eight-year-old boy from the rural Eastern Cape town of Bizana, Mbiko said he never expected to move away from the area but the Holy Spirit said to him it was time for him to start seeking his purpose in life.
His parents, retired schoolteachers and evangelists, who are passionate about Christ and about people, are still actively serving God in the area. Mbiko is the eldest of their six children and currently lives in Pretoria with his wife and children Luvo, 11, and Lilita, 7.
He said that while reflecting on ways that God had been using him as he sought His face, he had realised it was the Holy Spirit who had engaged him when he was a young boy.
“The Holy Spirit has a tendency to reveal these things despite time,” he said.
The Spirit of God spoke to him again after he completed his journalism studies at the former Technikon of Natal in Durban and he was working as a communications assistant for the mission organisation African Enterprise and freelancing for various secular newspapers.
“I was just trying to hone my craft of writing. And then [as the Holy Spirit spoke to him] I realised that I wanted to be involved with spreading the Good News and not just news.”
And except for one brief incident which he described as the biggest mistake of his life his career focus has been on the Good News.
Wanting to provide more money for his family in Pietermaritzburg he resigned from African Enterprise where he had advanced to radio programme presentation and production and took up a position selling expensive vacuum cleaners. He did well, selling eight machines in two months but he was never paid for this work.
During the vacuum cleaner detour he continued to freelance for African Enterprise and to attend weekly devotions there. A colleague and mentor Dave Hotchkiss tipped him off that Radio Pulpit was looking for somebody who had journalism and radio experience and could speak three languages.
He applied and after passing some tests was invited to an interview by the general manager in Pretoria. About half way through the interview the general manager stood up and said they were wasting time going through the prescribed questions as it was so clear that God had brought him there.
He joined Radio Pulpit in 2005 and said God worked supernaturally through him in the organisation as he received promotions, was used to transform areas of the operation, and spearheaded a successful broadcast licence application.
During a season in which he was focusing on improving the brand image and programming of Radio Pulpit he was introduced to Leon Schoeman who was busy with a similar mission on behalf of TBN Africa before it left the region for a while. Their hearts connected but they had no contact for some time because Schoeman moved to the United Kingdom to revitalise the TBN brand there.
In December 2014, at which stage he was no longer on the staff of Radio Pulpit but was consulting for them, he had an unsettling feeling while he was driving to Bizana to join his family. He sensed the Lord tell him to park the car and spend time in prayer. He obeyed and after a while he felt a peace and started driving again.
A short while later he received a call from Schoeman asking him if he was interested in heading up TBN in Africa which was relaunching the next month. He said he wanted to sit down with his family and pray about it.
“The whole year passed by with nothing happening and then towards the end of 2015 I received a call from Leon [who now heads up TBN in the UK] saying please come to Israel to meet with Mathew [Crouch, televangelist and president of TBN] for some form of an interview.”
He was not able to go to Israel because he had to represent South Africa at a digital migration conference in Tanzania.
Subsequently he was flown to London to meet Crouch who heads up TBN’s 30 networks around the world.
As Crouch questioned him Mbiko thought about his experiences in African nations in recent years and his sense that it was Africa’s time to take the gospel to the world – “and I knew that God was setting me up for this because TBN broadcasts in 52 countries throughout Africa”.
The former young cattle herder from Bizana said: “My motto in life is ‘Here I am God’ and God has really used me and I am glad. I am availing myself for God to use me even further because when I have him I have everything.”
Asked by Gateway News about his plans for TBN in Africa, Mbiko said: “What I would really love to do with TBN – what I feel God wants us to do – would be to take the gospel through the ministries of Africa to the whole world.”
He said he would also like to partner with credible ministries within Africa.
“I don’t care the race or colour. The passion that we have is for people who are passionate about Christ, who understand the simplicity but the power of the gospel – people who are not interested in merchandising the gospel.”
Concluding the interview he said: “It is a great challenge and I as an individual don’t want to be responsible for misleading God’s people by endorsing people who want to merchandise the gospel.
“It is difficult because people tend to look at you as if you are being judgmental and think that you are better but it also presents an opportunity to minister the gospel to those that are going astray. So it is both challenging and fun at the same time
“That is just my heart. The pure, simple, authentic and credible gospel of Christ. I tell you, if we are able to do all those as we broadcast, God will be smiling and say: ‘Well done good and faithful servant’.”