Tony Cummings spoke at length to international prophetic worship leader, songwriter and author ROMA WATERMAN
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Roma: Oh, my goodness! You're like an FBI agent! With 'Talking Eyes' I started touring with some American artists and that led up to 10 years of touring round the world with bands like dc Talk, Jars Of Clay, Michael W Smith, David Meece, all these names at the time, whenever they would come to Australia or New Zealand I was like the support act, I would travel with them. When I was about eight years in to doing that, we got invited to Nashville. Dc Talk had gone back and said to Forefront Records check out this girl. I just thought this is it, this is what you do. You do all this touring then you go to Nashville and you move over there. So we were prepared to move and do all that stuff. My husband and I flew over there to meet with some record labels and I remember my foot touching the ground when we got to Nashville and I heard the Lord's voice go, 'This is not for you.' I was still young, I was still finding my identity, I didn't really understand what I was hearing. And so I kept pushing, kept trying to do stuff. We'd been very successful in Australia but Australia's a small country and it's very hard to make a living doing Christian ministry so we found it very, very hard. We came back and decided to do a really big national tour around the country and I got really sick. I was on this tour and we'd funded it ourselves, it was a $20,000 budget. For us, 15 years ago, that was a lot of money.
Tony: Would that be around the time of your 'Fearless Courage' (2003) album?
Roma: It was about two years before I released 'Fearless Courage.' I'd released 'Talking Eyes' and 'Maskarade' (1995). I was touring but got very sick, I collapsed on stage. I came home, got diagnosed with fibromyalgia and severe endometriosis. I still remember the specialist saying 'You'll never be able to sing again. You won't even be able to have a normal life. So you'd better just stop singing now.' I was so exhausted, so fed up with everything because a lot of it I was doing in my own strength. I was doing what I thought was right. So for four years I lived in my pyjamas and was angry at God. I would sit and watch Joyce Meyer on the TV with my Bible and she'd talk about healing. I still remember throwing the Bible across the room. I was like, 'It's not working for me!!' You read the Bible and it says something about being healed but you're sick. It was like a fork in the road moment for me and I finally came to the place where I surrendered and I said, 'Lord, whatever my life looks like, I'm always going to sing for you. If that's just me sitting at the piano, that's ok with me.'
I actually started suffering severe anxiety during that time because my body didn't want to do anything. So when you're trying to sing and do things and your body doesn't want to cooperate it causes a lot of anxiety. I felt the Lord ask me to take a step of faith and I actually had a real encounter with him which is a whole other story. I had a supernatural encounter where he showed me that there was a battle going on for my life. After that I started to get a little bit better every day. I started to find that the pain was disappearing. I said to the Lord, 'I'll make a deal with you, God. Anybody that invites me to sing, the next thing I get invited to I'll say yes to it but you have got to make sure that nobody comes so that I can just ease my way in.' As you can see, my relationship with the Lord is a bit nutty. I got invited to sing at this little Baptist church in Melbourne and I thought that's safe, there'll be 50 people there. So I turn up and there are hundreds of people at this event. The organizers were delighted; 'This is the biggest service we've had in five years.' I was looking at them with this fake smile on my face thinking, Yeah! Great! God, we made a deal. You have not lived up to your end of the bargain. Anyway, I'm shaking in my boots. I'm thinking what happens if I get up there and I just can't sing and I pass out again, what is going to happen?
It was a very surreal night because I took this breath and I just let go and I said to the Lord, 'I don't care what happens, I want you to know that I'm not here for me, I'm here for you. I'm here to serve you.' I got up on that platform and to that point I had never experienced anything like it. I felt this complete rest in the Lord. I enjoyed singing; I felt at peace, I didn't feel stressed. At the end, as I came off the stage and they did the altar call, all these people came to the front to receive Jesus and I was confused. I said, 'Lord, I don't understand. That was easy, it wasn't hard. How can this be happening?' And I felt like the Holy Spirit just started to laugh and he said to me, 'This is what it is meant to be like when you partner with me.' That was the turning point. It was beautiful. God was so good to me 'cos I was frail in that season.
Tony: Take me back to the 'Fearless Courage' album.
Roma: That album was not meant to be for anybody. I just did that out of a place of rest and I started creating songs that were not radio friendly at all, that I didn't think anyone would like. For me, it wasn't about getting songs on the radio anymore, it was about just bringing glory to him, regardless of whether people liked it or not. It was a very freeing project and that's why it was called 'Fearless Courage'. It ended up being one of the biggest albums I've ever done, the album that gave me a lot of top, number one radio hits which is hilarious. Since then my heart has just turned towards the local church and releasing Heaven's songs through worship.
Tony: In 2009 you released a single which really expressed some of the circumstances which you moved through, "I Need A Miracle" .
Roma: Yes! I'm so impressed that you know this! I'm giving you all my sob stories today. Some of the after effects of having endometriosis are that I had about seven or eight operations and I was told that I probably wouldn't have children. So we were very blessed to have our first child, Angel we called her, Angelina, she's 12 now; but trying for a second one was almost impossible so seven years on I still wasn't pregnant. I'd had lots of operations, lots of treatment and I was very discouraged because - I think that's a hard thing for people who are in ministry too, because you have your own battles and you can see God moving around you but sometimes you're struggling with your own things going on.
For me, one of the things that was difficult was that a lot of people knew my story of not being able to have children, and I'm still trying for another one but no one knows this, and they're like can you pray for us because we've seen that you had fibromyalgia and you were healed we saw that you had a baby, can you pray for us? And after a while I was getting annoyed because I'm like: I don't want to pray for you! I remember praying for this one girl and I'm not joking, every single person that I prayed for in that season became pregnant. Every single person. And they'd ring me and say I'm so excited, guess what, I'm pregnant! And I'd be like yeah! Thank you Jesus! Of course I'm happy, I'm delighted but at the same time feeling so sad in my heart because I'm not seeing that miracle myself.
What do you do as a worshipper? You go to your songs. Your songs become your prayers and so that song was my prayer to the Lord in that season. 'I need a miracle/I need your hand to make a way to open up the heavens and come down/I need a miracle.' I wrote it as an act of faith and I'm blessed to say now that I have another child, a five year old son and his name is Asser, that means Christ the physician, Jesus the healer which we felt was very appropriate for him. We are truly blessed and God has been so good.
Tony: What's your husband called?
Roma: Ted. He's an awesome guy. He's an amazing guy, we're in ministry together. We've been married 25 years. We got married very young, I was 20 when I got married. He's coming with me to the UK. He's a football loving, true blue Australian. He's a preacher's son, that's how we met. He was the pastor's son of the church I grew up in.
Tony: When you say football, is that Aussie rules?