- (Photo: REUTERS/Phil McCarten)
Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard will appear on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" during a "Where Are They Now?" episode this weekend to discuss his life after falling from grace when he made national headlines for a sex scandal involving a male prostitute in 2006.
"I know a lot about shame. I spent four years dominated by shame. Then I realized that Christ was not shocked at my sins, that he had forgiven me for them, and that he had positive plans for my future," wrote Haggard in a recent blog post.
Once considered to be one of America's most influential evangelical leaders, Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., after Mike Jones, a gay prostitute, accused him of paying for sex and abusing illegal drugs. After initially denying the allegations, he admitted to sexual immorality and abusing crystal meth after a voicemail featuring him asking Jones for drugs was released. His revelation shocked the Christian community and after resigning, he wrote an apology letter to his former church.
"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," he said in the letter, according to nbcnews.com.
After spending time to rebuild his spiritual life and marriage, Haggard began St. James Church in Colorado Springs in 2010, alongside his wife, Gayle, and their children. He continues to pastor the church today. During a 2009 interview with Oprah, he admitted that he spent years struggling with his attraction towards men, and was torn between that allure and his passion for being a pastor.
"I loved the whole dynamic of serving people," he said. "But then I had this other thing inside of me that seemed so contrary to that."
Following his fall from grace, Haggard was required to submit to church authorities for a two-year period of healing and restoration while his wife remained at his side. In 2009, she released a book, Why I Stayed, a candid account of their trials, citing that forgiveness was the basis for her commitment to their marriage.
Haggard credits his family's forgiveness and support as the reason he was able to restore his life along with the realization that God still had plans for his future. He went from pastoring a megachurch in a $50 million campus to beginning his ministry again in a barn before purchasing an office building and auditorium for weekly services.
His story of redemption has been the focus of his new found life for the past few years. However, many still question his credibility as a pastor. The criticism he received during his period of restoration, and even now has allowed him to determine the "voice" of his life.
"I decided that Jesus' life was more powerful than my shame, and that those who said what Christ says should have influence over me, not those who wanted only to accuse and take advantage of me," he wrote on his blog. "It was a glorious process as the influence of Christ and authentic believers set me free to pursue God's plan for my life."
"Oprah: Where Are They Now" will air on Sunday, Sept. 1, on the OWN network.