About a month and a half ago I sat down with Ted Haggard here in Colorado Springs. I used to attend New LIfe Church when Ted’s struggle was brought into the light. I have written several blog posts here supporting Ted and wondering how we as a church twisted the Bible into exiling a pastor and his family at the most difficult time in their lives.
It was interesting as Ted walked into the restaurant, he was embraced by a person who said how glad they were to see him, how glad they were he was back in town. As Ted sat down he said “It happens everywhere I go. People are so supportive and kind.”
A few weeks later Ann and I were invited over to Ted and Gayle’s home. There were 35+ people and after everyone had enjoyed a time of fellowship, Ted asked everyone to gather in the living room. As we all found what ever space we could to squeeze in, Ted and Gayle sat in the front of the room and Ted began to speak…
He said the reason we were invited was because this group of people represented a small handful of people who had reached out to them in one way or another in their darkest hour. He then said “I want to apologize to you all for the pain I have caused in your lives…”
Ted went on for several minutes in a sincere, heartfelt, gut wrenching apology. He took ownership of his actions and the pain it has caused in so many lives. I was in awe of his honesty, but I was not really surprised because since New Life lifted the ban on Ted speaking to anyone, he has been apologizing to any one who will give him the opportunity; he has been sharing very difficult details of his struggles.
Towards New Life Church for their actions; he was extremely gracious. He encouraged our support of Pastor Brady Boyd and the entire staff. He discussed briefly what had happened (from a church government standpoint). He did not second guess the overseers and he did not in anyway blame or condemn New Life Church.
Gayle spoke about what it had meant to her to have people reach out, the confusion of it all, being completely isolated from their church family, the struggle of being exiled from Colorado and from their family home. But most of all she spoke of the love she has for her husband. Gayle Haggard is the real deal, she is an incredible person who exhibits the very meaning of the love that Christ has for all of us, and she is very in love with her husband. It was an honor to sit in that room with her and see her strength.
Ted and Gayle are finally telling their side of this story. They have appeared on Night Line, Oprah, and several other TV shows. A few brave pastors, pastors who believe that God can do all things, have invited Ted and Gayle to speak at their churches…I am so grateful to the churches who are inviting this couple to share God’s miracle in their lives.
I struggle with judgment towards New Life Church…I cannot get my arms around how a church bans someone from their congregation. Ted is still forbidden from entering the church he founded…how do we tell someone you are not good enough to enter a church. What is that building for, if not for Ted Haggard? Why am I allowed to enter? Why is anyone allowed to enter? Some one will always come up and post some thing about how I don’t understand or I don’t know all the story…it is always interesting because they are the ones who have not listened to Ted’s side of the story, they are the ones who have not looked at the bylaws of the church to see if what happened was actually in the bylaws…they don’t want the truth.
I have fought the fight against Pharisees since I started back to my life three years ago; it is very lonely some days. Ted spoke about how wonderful every one is towards him out in public; this amazes me because my experience has been very different. In Colorado Springs it has been my experience the way to drop the temperature in a room of Christians, is to simply mention Ted’s name. Ann and I have lost friends over our support of Ted and Gayle…well maybe they were not really friends I guess.
Sexual addiction is like that, it scares people. Everyone has some “sex” in their closet and I think that is what makes this difficult. Several weeks ago I attended a church that had the guts to talk about addiction. I knew the pastor had struggled with pornography in the past so I was anxious to hear the sermon. To my surprise this pastor never mentioned that he had struggled with porn. He spoke all about how the church needed to be a safe place, but he never mentioned he had struggled…I was amazed and stunned.
I went up after the service, in private and asked why he did not share his own struggles? He said it was not the place to do it, that while several people already knew it, this was not the place. I then asked him “If you had struggled with alcohol would you have shared that; he replied “That is a very good question…yes, I would have shared that.” I think this speaks volumes about where we are in most churches with sexual addiction; we do not trust that God is bigger than all of this.
There is a group of people who do believe that God can fix all of this, a group who believes in forgiveness…it is all of you who come here and share your stories, those who share the shame and the triumph, the women who stand by their marriage, the men who want to change and put their families and their lives back together…I so appreciate all of you, you are the very reason Christ came to this earth and why he suffered such a brutal death.
Donny Pauling an ex-porn producer has been writing a great blog about his interview with Ted Haggard and I encourage all of you to read it at www.donnysramblings.com .
Ted and Gayle spoke at New Life Center in Albuquerque. The pastor Alan Hawkins wrote a blog post titled Reflections on Ted Haggard which you can find at http://www.newlifecity.org/node/159. It is probably the most incredible post I have ever read on all of this.
Last but not least, read for yourself. Go to Ted’s site at www.TedHaggard.com and read his side of the story of what happened at New Life Church and if you Tweet you can follow Ted at TedHaggard7.
Be informed, but most of all trust in God…with God all things are possible…families come back together, addictions are stopped, and God is glorified through the weakness of others just like you and I…and Ted.
God bless you all and thanks for being here,