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Haggard's 'restoration' won't come easy

By Delia Gallagher and Rose Arce
CNN
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Ted Haggard says he's about to embark on a process of rehabilitation known as "spiritual restoration," an ancient practice that could take years to complete.

The practice originates with St. Paul, according to some evangelical Christians. "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted," Paul wrote in the biblical book of Galatians.

Haggard has been in turmoil ever since he was accused of extramarital relations with a male prostitute and was forced to resign as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and senior pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

According to Rev. Rick Busby, head of Busby Ministries, a ministry of spiritual restoration, in Augusta, Georgia, the steps involved in spiritual restoration include submitting, admitting, restitution and being humbled.

Haggard must agree to submit to an oversight committee, usually three to six men, who will meet with him once or twice a week for several hours. The process, depending on the sin, Busby said, can sometimes take years.

But the process can't begin at all until the sinner has owned up to his sins.

Pastor Steve Sjogren of Coastland Tampa Church in Florida said sexual sin "is not just one sin, it involves a variety of sins like lying, cheating and hypocrisy."

In a letter to his church, Haggard admitted to being a "deceiver and a liar." He earlier acknowledged that he had paid a Denver man to give him a massage and sell him crystal meth. The man, Mike Jones, says Haggard paid him for sex.

Sins on that level can take a long time to address, according to Rev. Tom Pedigo, a former evangelical pastor who went through restoration himself.

"Usually in the first few months, the person is numb," Pedigo said. "The minister doesn't confess to everything at once, because he is so embarrassed and filled with shame. The restoration team knows what needs to be accomplished to break down his defenses."

Pedigo is author of "The Restoration Manual: A Workbook for Restoring Fallen Ministers and Religious Leaders." Here are some of the 500 questions the manual suggests asking:

  • Do you have peace with God right now?
  • Does any kind of sin inwardly or outwardly have dominion over you?
  • Do you desire to be told of your faults?
  • Have you participated in any sin that led to your downfall this week?
  • What thoughts are dominating you right now?
  • Has there been anything that we've asked you that you've lied about today?
  • Suggested questions for dealing with sexual sin include:

  • What fantasies are you dealing with this week?
  • How do you overcome them to keep from acting out on them?
  • Is there something we need to know that you have not told us?
  • Part of the reason the oversight team is made up of men, according to Rev. Pedigo is because questions dealing with sexual sin must be very detailed and a male pastor may be inhibited responding to women. In Haggard's case, the accusation is he had sex with a man, a practice he and his church have condemned.

    Together with the overseers, the pastor must make a list of all of the people who have been affected by his sin, including his wife, his children and the man or woman with whom he has committed the sin.

    In a process called restitution, the pastor must then go to each of those people, face-to-face and ask for forgiveness.

    "A pastor should fall on his knees and go to those very people in that church and make a public statement and say to them I ask for your forgiveness," Pastor Busby said.

    The wife should be a focal point of this process, said Pedigo. "The wife is often left out of the process, but she has hurts, brokenness and bitterness, and there must be healing for her too."

    Finally, the pastor must be humbled, Busby said. "From 2 Peter, 'Humble yourself that he may exalt you in due time.' You must get under God's hand."

    A pastor used to preaching before thousands, for example, might be sent to preach in a congregation of five people. Right now, Haggard is not preaching at all.

    "Humbling is part of God's plan," Busby said. "The high and mighty God has brought down, but they can then be a powerful testimony."


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