Someone asked me recently, “Why would you have Ted Haggard in your church?” My response was “Because we preach that God can forgive anyone for their sin.”
For the two or three people out there who may not know who Ted is. He was the most powerful Evangelical Leader in the United States three years ago. The head of the National Association of Evangelicals with 30 million members, an advisor to the President of the United States and the Sr. Pastor of a church of 14,000 members in Colorado Springs. Then came the scandal that rocked the church world. He was caught with male prostitutes. All the major news sources covered the scandal. Some like CNN and Larry King featured the story for months. HBO did a one-hour special on the Haggards. They have even been on Oprah twice.
My initial response to the story was one of disgust. I personally judged him very harshly and was privately critical. (Thank God I don’t believe in criticizing people publically or using the pulpit to bash people.) I know many of my pastor friends felt the same way, “Hypocrites like Haggard give us all a bad name.” So what changed my mind?
I saw an interview with Ted and Gayle at Steve Furtick’s Elevation Church. I respect Steve and was curious as to why he had Ted in. Their story broke my heart. I actually cried watching it. We always hear testimonies of people who were sinners then saved from their sin. “I was an addict, then Jesus set me free.” “I was hopeless and suicidal, then I became a Christian.” We never hear stories of fallen Christians being restored.
I decided to have them tell their story, a story of forgiveness. A story that is important for all of us to hear. First for those that think “It could never happen to me.” and more importantly for all the Christians out there struggling with a secret sin but who are too afraid of rejection to ask for help. There’s hope for you. We will help you get free and guard your dignity.
I can’t close this blog without mentioning the heroine of this story, Gayle. She had biblical grounds for divorce, no one would have blamed her for leaving but as she told Oprah, “I prayed and felt God told me to stay.” She shared that with God’s help she thought she could forgive Ted and with much counseling work to restore their marriage. Wow. She truly forgave “all sins against her” as scripture teaches.
Learn that we can all be FORGIVEN this Sunday at 10am. Then at the Women’s Meeting at 6pm, hear how you can forgive those who have hurt you. God Bless.
Note: I did check with Tommy Barnett’s church and a church in Texas that have been in charge of Ted’s counseling, inner healing and restoration. They fell he has done everything asked of him over the last three years. Ted isn’t restored to ministry as of the writing this blog. I will be interviewing them not having Ted preach.