Megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., said Sunday that he won't be pulled into a street fight over allegations of sexual abuse and he vowed that his faith has been strengthened.
"In times of challenge, there are several things that come out. Your faith will be strengthened or weakened," he said. "My faith is being strengthened."
Long has not addressed the accusations directly, but promised Sunday that he would not let his legal troubles prevent him or his church from doing its work.
Earlier in the week, the bishop told his congregation, "I want you to pick up something that the older folk used to say, the more senior, and that is 'I'm going to run on,'"
Long acknowledged the sexual abuse lawsuits that four young men have filed against him, without talking directly about the them.
"I'm not speaking about individuals and all of that. This is spiritual warfare," Long said.
He said if he operated off what he saw in the media, he wouldn't have shown up.
"I'd be scared to show up," Long added. "I'd be scared to look at you. But there's something in me bigger than the situation."
Meanwhile, another one of the men who has filed a lawsuit against Long spoke recently about the allegations against the Atlanta pastor.
"There's only one way to God and that's the truth," said Spencer Legrande.
According to his lawsuit, Legrande was moved to tears when he heard Long speak. He said he went to meet Long. The bishop hugged him, and that was the beginning of their father-son relationship.
"I pray for him too, I really do," Legrande said.
Legrande's lawsuit describes trips to Africa with Long, and intimate sexual contact in several locations around Atlanta.
"Once God's time is ready for it to expose everything, it's going to happen, and I just pray," Legrande added. "I want people to know to keep praying, keep praying for our strength and for us getting through this."
Legrande said he did not know about the claims made by Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg, and Jamal Parris until he heard about them on the news.
He decided he needed to speak out too.
"I wasn't free til I came out with it," Legrande continued. "That's when my life's been much better. This last week has been free."
He didn't want to comment on the bishop's statements to members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. The young man said he is now at peace, and he's gaining strength from his faith.
"I pray for everyone, especially Bishop, especially Bishop, cause he knows the truth. He knows the truth," Legrande said.