Stories by Religious Affairs Editor
\nSouth African gospel music star Loyiso Bala was never the patient Christian who waits on God as he does now. The 35-year-old co-hosted the Permican Awards Ceremony held in Harare on September 20 and later spoke of his life-changing childhood experiences in a chat with The Sunday Mail Religion.

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Orphaned in childhood, Bala says he always relied on himself.
\nHowever, turning to God and swopping his music career for Bible school saw him depend on God more and more.
\nHe was at the deep end.

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Bala says: “For every single stage of Christianity, there is a challenge. So, for me, it was the fact that I have always been a ‘really good planner’.
\nIn other words, I would sit down and forecast where I wanted to be, say, in the next year. I would definitely go for those things (I had planned) and have three to five-year plans.

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“As Christians, it is not plans we follow, but vision, and you have to practise patience. Being patient and fully dependent on somebody else, that being God, has been a challenge because I learnt to be independent my whole life, especially growing without my parents.”

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He continues: “And now coming into Christianity, I have to learn dependency and that has just literary turned my world around, even just going up there (on stage).

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“It’s like: ‘Am I really nervous?’ I am because I am fully dependent on God and the Holy Spirit, on Him showing up and doing everything and me taking the backseat. I have always been a hardworker; now I have to practise stepping back, just listening and following. That has been a challenge.

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“I could wish to go back to my R&B and Pop stuff since I did it really well and made a lot of money, but I can’t.
\nThis is what God has called me to do – to serve (Him). So, I have to be patient and know that He is going to supply every single one of my needs.”
\nBorn in Eastern Cape, Bala received Christ at the age of seven.

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He was to leave home to study classical music, and developed a passion for song-writing.
\nHis first fan mail came from a girls’ college in Bulawayo where he had showcased his R&B talent during a tour.

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He then joined the Kwaito group TKzee and went on to produce major albums, scooping five South African Music Awards along the way.
\nHis career peaked in 2010, earning him an ambassadorial role in President Nelson Mandela’s 466/64 campaign and opportunities to interact with world famous personalities like talkshow host Oprah Winfrey and businessman Richard Branson.Though this was the life many crave, Bala felt otherwise.

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There was no meaning in it and something had to give.
\n“It was around that time that I just felt, ‘Okay cool, I am sure this is not what I was meant for.
\nThere is more meaning for my life and I am going to find that meaning.’

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“And, of course, the closest meaning that I knew was Christianity. So, I literally took a break and went to Bible school for an entire year to learn about worship. It was at that time that I dedicated my life to Christ.

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“Because I am a song-writer, and I started writing based on my experience. These were gospel songs. It was at that time that I felt I had a calling to gospel music. I left everything else and dived in. My wife and I got some money to do my first gospel project.”

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Bala also says: “I mentor a few artistes who are into Rock, R&B and Pop. Obviously, they must be Christians first because I believe that, as the Bible says, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord. In other words, I believe God is raising people to take over kingdoms that Satan had stolen from us; to take over the sounds that belong to God.

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“So, when people start to judge you because of your kind of music, know that you are not doing it for them, but for the lost. We should never get in the business of somebody else and their God. All we should focus on is our business with our God.” On Zimbabwe’s gospel music, he says: “What I love about Zimbabwe gospel music is the fact that it has so much of Zimbabwe in it, whereas in South Africa, we still do a lot of foreign gospel.

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“So, this is encouraging for me. I have been coming to Zimbabwe since 1994 when I was 14 years old. I came with TKZee, then at times just to see friends and most of them have moved to South Africa now.

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“Also, my manager at the time who is now the CEO of the South African Music Rights Organisation is from Zimbabwe. When he used to manage me, we used to come here a lot. And then I came about three years ago and performed when Mafikizolo was here.”