When it comes to spiritual resilience, Dr. Juanita Bynum has endured a hailstorm of criticism. Most of it is regarding her public divorce to Bishop Thomas Weeks, who allegedly assaulted her in a public parking lot in Atlanta. Since then she has pledged to serve as a warrior and to give voice to those women who are suffering. After 18 months of surviving bouts of depression and the court of public opinion, Prophetess Bynum celebrated a milestone: she turned 50. Her manager and staff invited 300 of her family and closest friends to celebrate the occasion.The minister opens up about her “rebirth,” why she wore her wedding gown to her bash, and why she plans to wield her sword against domestic violence on her home soil.
ESSENCE.COM: Happy belated 50th birthday! We’re glad to hear you’re doing well and have made it through the storm. How was your celebration of life?
PROPHETESS JUANITA BYNUM: Words cannot express how truly amazing it was. It came about because I was in an unfortunate situation when I thought I almost wasn’t going to live to see 50. So I was happy to just be grateful for being alive. As time went on leading up to my birthday, I witnessed the transition I had gone through in 18 months [of my separation and divorce]. I was no longer the same person and had gone through a spiritual and emotional transition.
ESSENCE.COM: That’s definitely cause for a celebration. What finally motivated you to be reborn?
BYNUM: Just as if you decided to detox, the body must defend itself by getting rid of the internal and external toxins. When the body becomes overloaded it will fight to cleanse itself; if not the body will crash. When I was going through my divorce, I made a decision to cleanse all my body’s gates that led to the internal me. So I went cold turkey. I refused to listen or discuss anything, read magazines, watch the news, and when I left everything alone I finally saw the vision of who I was at that point and that’s when I evolved into a new person. My focus became my future, destiny and was able to define every aspect of my life and give it proper definition.
ESSENCE.COM: We understand that your Web site streamed your sacred ceremony live. How can those who missed it get an instant replay?
BYNUM: In the next two weeks the video, “The Redefinition of Juanita Bynum,” will be available online at www. juanitabynum.com. The cover art will be a picture of me in my old wedding dress ripped to represent the Juanita who was torn from a marriage. But I tell people it was the Juanita that was already torn, and so when I came into that ceremony, I knew that by the time I lifted that sword, I had to tell people to “stand up on your feet” and make the decision to “redefine your self.”
ESSENCE.COM: We are in a new year; is this recommitment to self one of your resolutions?
BYNUM: My resolution is not that I’m going to do something for the year 2009 but for the rest of my life. That’s when I started teaching again. I have taught and it literally transformed people within days. Now, there’s a live webcast of my seminar series online (juanitabynum.com) that starts next Tuesday, February 3. There will be a room full of 800 people. I also have a book coming out called “Accessing the Power Within: Why Did I Keep Going When I Should Have Given Up?”