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My Story | Wanda Bam

My life is not a story that will ever make me a celebrity, but it is a celebration of every moment I trusted God to shake off my old self, driven by experience that leads to how I speak, think, understand my past, and my present that will affect my future.

My story starts when I was 8 years old. I remember moments of not feeling good about who I was. I always knew I was different. I always knew that there was more to what I wa, or where I found myself in each moment of my life. There are so many  experiences, most of them traumatic enough to keep you captivated through each moment of my recounting, but the question remains…how will this change your life? I will mention the highlights, but I would much rather share the lessons learnt and let you see the fingerprints of Jesus in each of those experiences. My prayer is that you will begin to see the fingerprints of God’s mercy in your own life. 

At the age of 8 I won a national singing competition– this is also where I learnt that my voice belongs to God, and He has called me for greater things. Later in my life I came to understand that the enemy is the thief of that exact calling, and he will do anything to destroy it, even if it leaves a battlefield of broken, scarred and even dead people behind. I had a dream of a happy marriage, a loving husband that would  protect and treat me like a queen. I would have a house full of lively, laughing and happy children, loved by parents who would walk a close path with God.

For the next 30 years, however, I experienced the complete opposite. My brother died in an accident at the age of 28 and that tore my world apart. I married a dynamic, super gifted man who loved me, but did not love himself enough to choose life. A marriage during which my children often saw and experienced the trauma of abuse, and violence despite the fact that we were in ministry. It started just after we got married and continued throughout my pregnancies,  even during  the time I was in ministry as a well-known award-winning artist. This led to divorce for the safety of my children and myself;  following this, my husband took his own life.

 In the years of battling to provide for my girls, and doing four jobs, the trauma of the past and survival became my fuel to move forward. I remarried, knowing that it was not God’s will. We lived a life of financial abundance and security, but this was short-lived. My children were once again exposed to the nightmare of unreasonable rules and discipline in a loveless marriage. The trauma of the past repeated itself, only this time with emotional abuse. I was a worship leader at a prominent church in Gauteng. On the outside we were a well-off, perfect family, but on the inside I was even more broken than before. The result was another divorce, with all the brokenness and scars it left on us all. I just want  to mention this as we need to understand how God thinks about divorce. When God speaks strongly against divorce in Malachi 2:16, He compares it to “violence”. In my situation, I had to see how the enemy gradually used violence to destroy my first marriage of almost 16 years! A husband, wife and two innocent little girls were “violently” torn apart over time. The effect of divorce is like being involved in an accident. Everyone is severely wounded. The truth is, however, that one by one we were placed on an operating table, so that the Physician of all times could operate, attach, heal where only He could. After my divorce with all its scars, the baggage I carried with me, and the suicide of the man I still loved, became my daily dependence on God’s forgiveness. This is also the dark side, the reality of divorce that many couples overlook when some of them simply divorce to get their so-called “freedom” back. Whether it is inevitable or not, regardless of the reason, the effect is real, it causes infinite pain. You are never “single” again, you are “divorced”. In divorce the circumstances are sometimes irreversible, but how I think about it and what I decide to make of it, can and must change.

During this period, my mom was diagnosed with a rare cancer and suffered for eleven years. My dad suffered a major heart attack, which led to two strokes and eventually caused his death after five years of suffering. At this time I also joined  the statistics of those women whose lives are threatened by the reality of sexual abuse, something which  left an incredible scar in my life. How could I have been so reckless?  I blamed myself for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I never spoke about it and kept it a secret from my family and everyone else. I had reason to be mad at God and mad at life. At that time  I just stopped singing, and I remained unable to sing or worship fully until 2020. I felt as though the anointing on my singing ministry had died. 

In 2014, God granted me the joy and fulfilment of a husband who still loves me unconditionally, who believes in my calling and has demonstrated  infinite grace and understanding on my journey to healing. He keeps me accountable and reminds me daily that I have to take responsibility for my own actions and decisions. I minister as a speaker on Radio Cape Pulpit 729AM in Cape Town, where  I have now been  appointed as Acting Station Manager. This is a journey of reliance on God and learning the lessons of trust, obedience and doing whatever God’s instructions lead me to do. In the Christmas of 2022, God affirmed my calling as a vocalist, and not only a speaker and author, I am practising my singing voice as I have to get back to my calling in the music ministry. It is like learning to walk again, but this time God is doing the walking and I am doing the following.

I wrote a book in 2014 that took me two years to complete, as it was  probably the most difficult chapter of my life. The words of my husband “You are a ‘survivor’ regardless of what happened”, led to the publishing of “Wildernis Wenke vir Vroue.”  In this I write every letter of my heart for you. What I share with the reader is honest, straightforward and sometimes maybe daring. It may bring you the relief that writing it brought me. I believe in your ability to also survive the wilderness in which you now find yourself. The English say it so beautifully… there where your “trial becomes a testimony”. The words of my husband, “I have so much belief in you, that it’s scary”, made me take a giant step in the direction of faith in my ability to survive. God has come to prove Himself amazingly as a lover of people, and has also proved that there is  good that lies locked up in everyone. He has so much faith in your ability to survive that He has created eternal life for you. With strategy, lessons and wisdom. He means what he says in Hebrews 13:5 “… I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

My message through this story leads me to a question that I am driven to ask every woman who may go through, or is currently going through, what I endured.

Are you carrying weights and crosses that had nothing to do with you? Is there a barrier to your healing? Are you stuck in your own system?

1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT) says “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”  I love using acronyms. Speak Understood Thoughtlike a child – SUT. To know where you might find yourself in this is putting your Systems Under Test. Do you have the courage to test your systems? Is it SUT that is stopping you from what God wants you to be? It is not about how you look or your outward appearance. You will  find that there are women whose features are less favourable than yours, but they are happy! You often complain about how God made your brows or eyes. Your eyes might look pretty, but they cannot see! People are loyal to their own dysfunctionalities. They will keep themselves in captivity because they are not willing to test their own systems. Is your system blocking the rain of abundance in your life? You might be living an immature inner life. You are reacting to stimulus like a child. Children who go through trauma will think that it is their fault. DO you still think it was all your fault? Are you blaming yourself for things that are beyond your control? Are you being victimised by you? There will always be a “BUT” in your life if you are not willing to do as 1 Corinthians teaches you. If your SUT is childish, you become nothing but a slave. You become a slave to the system you embrace. You cannot operate in His glory as you are still guided by your own slavery. God has appointed you as a king, but your SUT is still that of a slave. You are under people, instead of over them. You are following people that you ought to be leading! 

How do you change it? Feel it and resist it and put it away. A dysfunctional system is not you. It is not you and it is not me. It stops you from being the new you. You are stuck in immature thinking. So what now? You cannot put away what you cannot identify. It is a day-to-day and moment-to-moment process of putting it away. You must resist these thoughts. If you resist the “liar” he will flee! Control what you speak, think and understand. Speak to it. Change your thoughts and understand that you will need the Holy Spirit to change your thoughts and change your old system to a system that will move you forward, instead of a system pulling you back. So now, what do you hold onto? After all, this is all you knew and had. When I get scared I go back, I blame, I resent and I become the victim and not the victor. I believe in your ability to also survive and change the system in which you now find yourself – there where your “trial becomes a testimony”. God has come and proved Himself amazingly as a lover of people, as well as the good that lies locked up in everyone. He has so much faith in your ability to change that He has created eternal life for you – with strategy, lessons and wisdom.

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