“Everything I do is part of my ministry. If you are a Christian, you are an ambassador of Christ. People should know by our conversation and how we treat people that we love Jesus. They should see Jesus in us,” he said.
In addition to multiple volunteer positions, including the Florida State Board of Missions, Bush works as a consultant for businesses and non-profit organizations. He advises in matters of administration, business re-engineering and feasibility studies. His 30 years of experience in business management began after he received a bachelor’s degree in social work at University of Georgia.
Bush advanced through the ranks in several corporations, including Burger King, where he headed up Whopper College in Atlanta for four years. The food industry’s long hours, however, proved difficult for a young man “preparing to get married,” he said.
Bush met his future wife, Phyllis, at 15 while on a high school trip to Williamsburg, Va. The two teenagers, one from Georgia and the other from North Carolina, successfully maintained a long distance relationship, and married 10 years later. While working in Atlanta, he regularly “traveled up the road to see her,” he said.
“The Lord blessed me with the greatest blessing He could give me,” he said. “We had a really great marriage with no big arguments or cross words. We loved each other and the Lord kept us strong,” he said.
Phyllis Bush died in May 2013 after a battle with cancer. Her husband of 35 years said he is slowly recovering from the grief of her passing.
The Bushes moved to Tallahassee in 1979 from Massachusetts when a job transfer offered a move closer to their extended families and away from frigid winters. He managed the food operation at Florida State University for several years. Whatever his job, his convictions remained the same, he said.
“You have to be the same guy in church and in the business arena. I’ve walked away from business opportunities because I didn’t believe people were being honest. I don’t bite my tongue, and I have no problem telling them what the issues are,” he said.
The couple and their son, Thomas II, attended Smith Chapel Apostolic Church, where Tab Bush was an ordained bishop. Along the way, Bush earned a master’s degree in biblical studies at Gulf Coast College and Seminary, and a Ph.D. at Florida State Seminary, both in Tallahassee.
The Bushes continued the tradition of church involvement begun by Tab Bush’s parents, the late Otis and Roberta Bush of Augusta, Ga. They insisted Tab, his four brothers and sister be involved in all aspects of church life - Sunday School, B.T.U. (Baptist Training Union) and worship services. Tab Bush served the church as an usher and junior deacon.
“Church was the majority of our social life. Our parents wanted us to be good kids with good values. We spent so much time in church that it was hard to get into trouble,” he said, adding, “We did get into some mischief, though.”
In 2002, Tab and Phyllis Bush joined Beulah Missionary Hill Baptist Church in Gretna. Bush’s “very best friend,” Matthew Carter was selected as pastor of this church, and “I couldn’t let him go there by himself,” Bush said.
Carter served as pastor several years, and remains a member of the church. Pastor Marcus Smith, 33, has served the 500-member congregation 18 months. Smith said Bush “brings a wealth of knowledge” to the church, especially as the church is purchasing 28 acres one mile west of the church campus with plans to build a family life center and cemetery.
“He mentors me as I continue to grow in the ministry,” he said. “In the church, he is resourceful in linking up with the Gadsden Baptist Association and other local churches to achieve a community model of ministry.”
Bush serves the church as missions director. His responsibilities include preaching in the absence of the pastor, winning souls in the community and “trying to get the young people to go out and minister in their community,” he said.
“I do whatever is needed to help the church,” he said.
Along with his church responsibilities, he serves as volunteer chaplain with the Red Cross and with Big Bend Hospice. He has served on the Florida State Board of Missions since November. Although he said he is just learning the ropes of the work, he looks forward to “building coalitions and working together to achieve goals.”
Bush, 61, said he is content “to stay behind the scenes.”
“At this point in my life, I want to support the work, but give the headline stuff to somebody else,” he said. “I love the Lord, and all I do is just my reasonable service for all He has done for me.”
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