The former prostitute whose outing of New Life Church founder Ted Haggard led to his dismissal paid a visit last Sunday to the megachurch.
The Christian Broadcasting Network reports that Mike Jones was warmly greeted by members of the congregation.
“A couple of ladies cried when they were touching me,” Jones said. “I was thanked for exposing the church, for helping Ted Haggard. A couple of them said they hoped I get God into my life. And they all said ‘God bless you…'”
Haggard resigned last year as president of the National Association of Evangelicals after Jones alleged Haggard paid him over a three-year period for sex and sometimes took crystal meth (methamphetamine) during the encounters.
Haggard then was fired as pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church. He publicly admitted in November to unspecified “sexual immorality.”
In an apology to the church, Haggard had urged members to forgive and thank Jones for exposing deceit. Church members invited Jones to the church several times.
Jones, 49, told the Denver Post that after the dust settled from the scandal, his curiosity about New Life Church was piqued.
“I had read a lot about the church, but there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself,” Jones told the Post.
“It wasn’t to rub anyone’s face in it by any means. I was wanting to get some perspective, to see where they are coming from, what the magnet is.”
According to CBN, Associate Pastor Rob Brendle said he was aware that Jones would be attending the Jan. 28 service. And when he saw Jones in the foyer, he went to speak with him.
CBN reports that Brendle told Jones, “I believe that God used you to do this, and I believe that even though our church feels worse than we did three months ago we actually are better and I believe Ted is better now than he was. Living in darkness and secrecy is not healthy.”
The AP reports that Jones visited with members of a New York-based theatre troupe, The Civilians, who are researching a project on evangelicals. Church leaders knew about the visit beforehand.
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