"My name is Bonnie Deuschle, a wife and a mum of five grown up children. I am a minister of the gospel, a songwriter, gospel artiste and an international speaker. Growing up, I had a rough childhood, and it wasn't always easy for my family. My dad was an alcoholic and he verbally abused my mum. I remember once seeing dad holding a knife to mum's throat. My parents ended up divorcing. Dad abandoned us. Sadly, he later committed suicide. Mum was left with the sole responsibility of raising my sister, Laura. Mum later remarried and life wasn't too bad for us as we managed to get through high school.
"After high school, I joined Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Oklahoma, US, where I majored in music and education. I competed in the campus beauty pageants and was crowned the 1978 Miss ORU Home Coming Queen as well as Miss Tulsa the following year. Music, however, was always on top of my mind. I had got a revelation from God that He had created me to praise Him. I had also learnt to play various instruments like the trumpet, French horn and piano.
“After university, I went to a Bible school where I met my husband, Tom, an African evangelist who ministered in Zimbabwe. In my heart, I had no qualms about following him to Africa. I felt it was part of God's plan for my life. Tom was a young missionary and evangelist who had been in Zimbabwe for two years.
"In 1981, I left behind a blossoming music career in the US to follow my husband to Africa. Earlier when I met Tom, we got engaged in three days and married in three months. This, however, is not advice I would give any young couple. I thank God Tom and I are together more than three decades later. It is a sheer miracle! “My advice to young people is take time to know each other before you decide to walk down the aisle. Do as I say, not as I did. I am a firm believer of premarital counselling and together with my husband, we emphasise it.
"I must admit that leaving a country where your loved ones live and heading for a strange land where you know no one was not easy. The culture shock is what no one prepares you for. I had to learn to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road, accustom myself to the culture, food and the people of Zimbabwe. The economic instability wasn't helping either. Not to mention I was trying to get a footing with a man I barely knew. My husband and I were still fairly new to each other and we were still working on learning each other.
"Today, I am settled in Zimbabwe with Tom, where we have been ministering for the last 31 years. I'm motivated when people know the truth about God. I've also had an opportunity to utilise my talent by expressing myself musically. I had a vision that our music would fly around like little birds. I'm glad to have been a part of 'Tambira', a gospel song that ruled the airwaves a few years back. Together with my team, I co-authored it and gave it a verse and a voice. I'm currently working on an album, 'Heaven Song', which will have Swahili infused in it. My five children are all supportive of our ministry, either directly or indirectly and my eldest painted the cover for our newest album, which will be my 19th. I chose Swahili because it is 'singable' and my family and I are very connected to Kenya. We also have Kenyans in our team, who help us to rework the lyrics to suit the audience. I have come to Kenya a few times while on holiday.
"Also, when my mum was ailing in the US, she had a Kenyan caregiver. Thanks to 'Tambira' -which was big — she recognised me and introduced me to her pastor, who was also a Kenyan, and I had a chance to minister in his church. They later helped me get some instruments and as such Kenya has a special place in my heart. We have a church in Kenya, Celebration Church in Nairobi, where we fellowship while visiting.
"Life will not always be smooth but one can learn to rise from the ashes and rise again. I have been through challenges — we lost our parents last year but God has been our refuge. I tell people that if you just sit on the sidelines and watch, you will never really get anything. Get involved and never give up!”