- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2006

DENVER (AP) — There will be prayer and perhaps the laying on of hands. There will be counseling and a confession. And there will be advice, confrontation and rebuke from “godly men” appointed to oversee the spiritual “restoration” of the Rev. Ted Haggard.

After tumbling from the pinnacle of the American evangelical movement amid accusations he snorted meth and hired a male prostitute, Mr. Haggard has agreed to a rehabilitation process that could last three to five years.

“I see success approximately 50 percent of the time,” said H.B. London, vice president for church and clergy at Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian ministry in Colorado Springs. “Guys just wear out, and they can no longer subject themselves to the process.”

Those who fail “end up selling cars or shoes or something, and being miserable and angry the rest of their lives,” Mr. London said.

Mr. Haggard was president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and senior pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs until last week, when Denver prostitute Mike Jones said Mr. Haggard paid him for sex nearly every month for three years and sometimes took methamphetamine during the encounters.

Mr. Haggard denied having sexual intercourse with Mr. Jones, who says otherwise. He admitted buying meth but said he threw it away unused. He resigned from the NAE and days later was fired from his church after confessing to unspecified “sexual immorality.”

Mr. London, who is not involved in Mr. Haggard’s restoration, said the process will demand honesty from Mr. Haggard and determination from his overseers.

“It cannot be just a matter of friendship. It will have to become almost a confrontational relationship,” he said. “You’ve got to confess your sins and you’ve got to have a group of people around you who will not let you whitewash the issue.”

The process includes counseling, in groups and alone, and prayer. Each restoration is unique, with a program tailored for the needs of the participant.

The two men who will oversee the restoration — Jack Hayford of the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif., and Tommy Barnett of First Assembly of God in Phoenix — declined to comment on the specifics of Mr. Haggard’s program. It isn’t clear whether Mr. Haggard will try to return to the ministry at New Life or elsewhere.

“He says that he has committed his life to God and that he is looking for direction as to where God can best use him,” said Leonard Chessler, Mr. Haggard’s attorney and friend.

The Rev. Shawn Spear, a Brethren in Christ pastor in Hollidaysburg, Pa., knows at least part of what lies ahead for Mr. Haggard. After admitting he had an affair with a woman, Mr. Spear endured a painful yearlong separation from the ministry, went to counseling six times a month and worked to earn back the trust of his wife and his church.

It was brutal for his wife, Joy, as well. She said she suffered nightmares, had trouble sleeping and at times wanted to die.

Now they feel blessed: They say their marriage survived — even flourished — and their church accepted Mr. Spear back as minister.

“There’s hope,” Mr. Spear said. “There’s grace. There’s restoration.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide