Ted Haggard to Host Regular Prayer Gatherings

Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard will continue to host prayer meetings every Thursday night in his home after drawing around 150 to the first gathering last week.

Haggard had expected 10 to 20 people to show up at his home in Colorado Springs last week for the first prayer meeting, which he set up to connect with friends and help people.

However, the charismatic leader-turned-salesman not only drew many more – including at least 30 people who he had never met before; he also drew a great deal of support – enough to convince him to make the gathering a weekly one.

"People treat me better now than they had at any time in my life," Haggard told a handful of reporters after the meeting. "They realize my frailty and my weakness."

"People love a good comeback story," he added.

It was just three years ago that a former male prostitute claimed Haggard had paid him for sex over the past three years and had also taken methamphetamines. In a letter to New Life members, Haggard called himself "a deceiver and a liar" and described his long struggle as a "repulsive and dark" part of his life.

With that, he said, "I desperately need to be forgiven and healed."

The highly-publicized drugs and sex scandal led to Haggard's resignation from the presidency of the National Association of Evangelicals and forced him out of the church he founded, New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

Since then, Haggard and his family have mostly been in seclusion, coming back out only this past year to promote "The Trials of Ted Haggard," which debuted on HBO late January and aired throughout the month of February.

"I died. I was buried," Haggard said last Thursday. "The sun didn't come up for me for a year and a half."

Though some have criticized Haggard for his return to the spotlight so soon after his fall from grace, Haggard said Thursday's meeting was a sign that there are many who "believe in the resurrection in me."

He also claimed that he has felt God's touch in his life more in the past three years than in the previous 30.

"I believe Jesus came for the sinner. God loves people like me," he said, according to the Denver Post.

Though Haggard initially said he had no intention to do what he had done with New Life Church, which started from his basement at the age of 28 and grew to become one of the nation's most prominent churches with over 10,000 members, the now 53-year-old father of five had told the Post, "We'll see where it goes."

"It's an exploratory meeting," Haggard said of the first gathering.

And although Haggard stated earlier this year that his intention was not to return to ministry, he did say that he was interested in making more public appearances.

"I think Gayle and I both want to tell our story to the degree that it's helpful to other people," he told CNN. "I don't know that that would mean a pulpit, but certainly I'd be interested in public speaking."

Haggard currently works as an insurance salesman and lives in Colorado Springs with his wife of 30 years, Gayle, and two of their five children.

In 2005, Haggard had been named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.

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