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The Life & Times of Thomas L. Craft

Now available! The new biography of Thomas Craft - Pastor, Leader, Mentor.

Comments from readers

Dannie Hood

Dannie Hood

This book is more than a biographical outline of a great man. It is more the treasure map of a dreamer. From the dusty ventures of his farming days to the remnants of ministries he helped place throughout the world, we step into the world of an Original. It is evident that his story is most importantly fueled by the River of God coursing through his life. As you read this book, you will laugh, cry, and walk away inspired to be something beyond the ordinary.

Larry and Pam Sims

Larry and Pam Sims

Want to say how much I enjoyed reading Bishop’s book. His constant sacrificial life and his story are great inspirations for the generations that follow. The book presents a concise and amalgamated picture of his ministry and its influence on the United Pentecostal Church International and the world. Through JCM, his trademark TLC imprint has been left on so many young lives, only eternity will or can tell the whole story.

Martyn Ballestero Sr.

Martyn Ballestero Sr.

Once in a lifetime God may allow you to meet a man like Bishop Thomas L Craft. No one ever met him or heard him and walked away the same. He is truly a Pentecostal treasure and an unchanging landmark on the Gospel Highway. What a Burden for souls! What a Vision!What a Passion! What an Accomplishment for the Kingdom! What an anointing! What a Godly man! What a Preacher! What a Friend!

Daryl Clenney

Daryl Clenney

Other than God’s Word, rarely does a book affect me the way this one has. I don’t know if I have ever been so inspired and convicted at the same time; convicted for not doing enough and inspired to do more.

A D & Edith Spears

A D & Edith Spears

The book ANTHOLOGY is story long overdue.The viewpoints about TLC bring the past into the present. His effect on lives from Jackson and around the world is amazing. The memories we hold are priceless.

Video reviews

O. C. Marler

Samples from the book

Take a look at a sample of some chapters from the book.

Chapter 1: The Man

Thomas L. Craft is not, by any means, a common man. He does not symbolize a group, class or type. He is unconventional, uncustomary and nonconforming. After God, he depends on common sense and instinct to chart his course.

Tommy has never minded being the first to try something new if he thinks it might make a difference in his city or the world. While some were satisfied pastoring their local churches, Tommy Craft’s vision reached beyond the borders of the local assembly and Hinds County, Mississippi. With God’s help, he believed he could reach the world from one place. So he bought a Bible college, called it Jackson College of Ministries, and hired the best instructors to train young people from across the nation for ministry.

Between the First Pentecostal Church, Jackson Christian Academy and Jackson College of Ministries, it required great sacrifice to maintain eighty employees and an average expenditure of $8,000 per day for over twenty

years. But Tommy believes that great giving precedes great revival.

Chapter 2: The Beginning

On October 30, 1931, a son was born to Alfred and Melrose Craft. Thomas Lynn Craft would be a public servant, but a servant of a different stripe. This nine pound baby boy would grow up to be called a servant of God.

Thomas Lynn, later shortened to Tommy, would become a minister, crisscrossing sweeping continents preaching to people of all nationalities, colors and religions. At home in the states, this unselfish servant would teach, train and send out preacher after preacher into far-reaching corners of the earth.

There was no possible way Alfred and Melrose could have known on October 30, 1931, the immeasurable affect their eldest child would have in the kingdom of God.

The Craft side of the family is mostly public servants. The family abounds with schoolteachers and law enforcement officers. Tommy’s uncle was sheriff of Vernon Parish, Louisiana, for thirty years. His cousin, Sam Craft, is currently the sheriff of Vernon Parish.

Chapter 3: The Pastor

In 1953 twenty-two-year-old Tommy felt God leading him to start a church in Iraan, Texas. It was in Iraan that he set a pattern for his entire pastoral ministry. Beginning with Iraan, there has never been a time that Tommy has not personally answered his home, office and, later, his cell phone. No matter how large his churches grew, he determined he would be there for his people.

“I never curse the phone and always take my calls. Being available when my people need me is the least I can do,” Tommy says in a serious tone. “How can a pastor rely on voice mail and texting and not miss something important? It could be hours before he checks his voice mail and many older saints do not have access to texting.”

After church Tommy stands where the people can see him and he talks to whoever comes to him. Everyone does not need to talk, but they take comfort when they look around and see their shepherd standing among them. When someone is not asking for guidance or for prayer, he walks among the people smiling, speaking and shaking hands.

Chapter 4: The Missionary

Although Tommy was never appointed as a missionary or resided on foreign soil, for forty plus years he was active in foreign missions, both on the field and off. He made many trips to preach crusades around the world.

When possible, Tommy attends Global Missions board meetings in St. Louis by special invitation from Global Missions Director, Bruce Howell. “As I moved through my time of working as a missionary, then as regional director, and now as Global Missions Director, there is no one that helps me any more than T. L. Craft.”

Tommy is a natural missionary. He adapts easily into foreign cultures and he sincerely cares for people of all
races. “Wherever I went in the world, as soon as I walked to the pulpit, I felt immediately connected to the people. I don’t know why that was,” says Tommy.

Tommy believes in order to connect with different cultures you have to tell them what they know so you can tell them what they don’t know. “For instance, if someone was talking to me about space science, they would have to
start with what I know about it. If I were preaching in Israel I would start with the tabernacle. Then I would
bring it down to Jesus, who was the son of David. The Jews know about the tabernacle and they know about David.”

Choose a chapter

  • Chapter 1: The Man

    - Thomas L. Craft is not, […]
  • Chapter 2: The Beginning

    - On October 30, 1931, a […]
  • Chapter 3: The Pastor

    - In 1953 twenty-two-year-old Tommy felt […]
  • Chapter 4: The Missionary

    - Although Tommy was never appointed […]

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About the author


Penny Watkins

Penny Watkins was a pastor’s wife for 28 years. Her husband, Carlton Watkins, was a Texas District UPC board member until his death. Carlton and Penny were instructors for the Ministerial Advancement Program… a three-year training program required for Texas district local, general and ordination ministers and wives. She is a speaker, teacher and published author of four books.

Penny has one child, Tiffany Smith (wife of Pastor Bradley Smith), three grandsons (Jordan, Drew and Carson), and one granddaughter (Lindsey).

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