Evangelist says she’ll take on role of anti-violence advocate

She aired her dirty laundry on a national stage, first as a victim of divorce and dead-end affairs and now as a victim of domestic violence.

National Pentecostal evangelist Juanita Bynum, 48, went public with her pain Tuesday, sharing yet another chapter in her tumultuous life story.

The tough-talking pastor, who has survived a divorce, a nervous breakdown and life on welfare, broke her silence two weeks after her second husband, Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III, allegedly beat, stomped and choked her in a hotel parking lot.

Bynum appeared Tuesday night as a special guest on TBN’s “Praise The Lord” program, a Christian talk show featuring ministers, gospel artists and other newsmakers.


On the show, Bynum said she had no bitterness toward her husband.

She would not say anything negative about Weeks. “Nobody could give me enough money,” she said. “As long as he’s my husband I won’t break that covenant.”

Also on the show, she said the church would help people by preaching more about personal experiences such as her own.

While interviews other guests, an emotional Bynum said, “I came here tonight to declare that I can bear it, I can bear it, I can bear it.”

Before the television appearance, in a room with flashing cameras, Bynum said she has forgiven Weeks for the alleged attack and that her ministry will take a new twist because of the pain she has suffered.

“Today, domestic violence has a face and a name and it is Juanita Bynum,” said the pastor.

Weeks, 40, is facing charges of felony aggravated assault, felony terroristic threats and two misdemeanor counts of simple battery in connection with the Aug. 21 incident. The charges against him carry a maximum possible sentence of 27 years.

The bishop, who moved to metro Atlanta in 2006 to launch Global Destiny Church with Bynum, told his congregation that the devil made him attack his wife. Weeks was released on $40,000 bail from Fulton County Jail on the day he turned himself in to police. He is due in Fulton Superior Court on Friday.

Bynum said she was speaking about the incident Tuesday because she didn’t want her fans or colleagues to view her as a “damsel in distress.”

She said she intends to keep all her obligations to her ministry, including serving as host of an international talk show airing on Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Fans learned of her TV appearance on Bynum’s Web site and began showing up at TBN studios in Decatur about noon to get a seat.

Bynum initially had planned her news conference at TBN but changed the location to the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead. She stood poised with her hands clasped in front of her, wearing baggy jeans and a pink Daytona Beach sweatshirt. A diamond wedding band sparkled — from her right hand.

Bynum would not speak about the future of her marriage to Weeks. The couple wed in an elaborate ceremony in 2002. They had been separated for several months before the alleged attack.

“This is such a difficult moment for me,” Bynum said. “First, I want to go on record and say I forgive my husband and I wish him all of the best.”

The pastor said while some of her supporters have kept quiet about the incident, she does not intend to move on with her ministry as if the attack never happened.

“Relationships are what they are, [they] have their difficult moments,” she said. “… This has changed my life forever.”

Born in Chicago, Bynum was reared in the charismatic Church of God in Christ, a denomination that has a history of female evangelists. She married in her early 20s but within a few years divorced. After years of moving from being a beautician to a Pan Am flight attendant to joblessness and food stamps, she came into the Pentecostal ministry.

She gained popularity nationwide more than a decade ago for her messages of female empowerment and for her popular “No More Sheets” sermon on breaking free of sexual promiscuity.

Bynum said that after the alleged attack she was holed up with family feeling “weak and helpless.”

But Tuesday she said she won’t keep quiet on the issue of domestic violence.

“This isn’t a religious issue, it’s a social issue,” she said.

Bynum would not say whether she would participate in the prosecution of her husband or discuss her feelings about him. She said she is focusing on her new ministry. “Instead of a victim, I want to become an advocate,” she said.

Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA
Sep. 4, 2007
D. Aileen Dodd
www.ajc.com

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This post was last updated: Sep. 15, 2007    

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