Former pastor Ted Haggard recently opened up about the scandal that caused his downfall as the leader of a Colorado megachurch and that also led to his resignation as the president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
It has been two years, since a male prostitute accused Haggard of soliciting him for sex. The man also claimed he saw Haggard use methamphetamine. Now Haggard is telling his side of the story from the pulpit.
ABC News reported on their "Good Morning America" program Wednesday, that during two recent sermons at the Open Bible Fellowship Church in Morrison, Ill., Haggard claimed he was sexually abused as a child.
Haggard told the congregation that one of his father's employees had a "sexual experience" with him when he was seven-years-old.
"I didn't think anything of it and I tell you that not simply as an explanation, certainly not as an excuse," Haggard said.
But it was that early sexual experience that came to haunt him later in life. Haggard said he later became "a conservative Republican, loving the word of God, an evangelical, born-again, spirit-filled, charismatic, all those things.
"But some of the things that were buried in the depths of the sea from when I was in the second grade started to rage in my mind and in my heart," he said.
Apologizes to Family and Church Family
The former pastor also apologized to his family and to his former church family at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
Haggard said the scandal was very hard on his family.
"My wife - all my sin and shame fell on her. People treated her as if she had fallen," he said. "And my children - they all went through carrying my shame. And I am so sorry that I did that to my family."
Haggard said for a time he was suicidal. But now with the help of God and of his wife, Gayle, he's being transformed, he explained.
"I'm a stronger Christian than I've ever been in my life," he said. "I have a stronger marriage than I've ever had in my life."
A God-Given Opportunity
Haggard also said church leaders missed a God-given opportunity use the scandal to their advantage to openly display Christian love.
"I believe that he gives us opportunities every couple of years to communicate the Gospel worldwide through secular media and we
consistently blow it, " he said. "A congressman in trouble, that's the time. A family member gets himself in horrible trouble, that's the time!! A
preacher gets himself in awful trouble, that's the time!!!!," Haggard continued as he almost shouted to the congregation.
He ended his first public sermon in two years by saying he has become stronger as a result of the scandal.
"I thank God that He completes the work that He began in us," Haggard said.
Sources: The Associated Press, ABC News, Christian Post