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Wife, Son Wish Swaggart Happy Birthday And Plead For Donations

March 15, 1988

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ The wife and son of disgraced evangelist Jimmy Swaggart pleaded with television viewers Tuesday to send huge donations to keep the $140 million-a- year Jimmy Swaggart Ministries afloat.

″The Holy Spirit is telling you right now to send a large gift of help to carry my word, my program and my message around the world,″ Frances Swaggart said on the ministry’s weeklong telethon.

″Don’t walk, run to that phone″ to make a pledge, Donnie Swaggart urged.

Tuesday’s pleas were made in the third day of a scheduled weeklong telethon aimed at raising money for the ministry. Tuesday’s show also coincided with Swaggart’s 54th birthday.

Donnie Swaggart, often sobbing, wished his father happy birthday and pledged ″I’ll never leave or forsake you.″

Donnie and his mother said that unless the telethon raises enough money, some of the ministry’s work in foreign countries will have to shut down. In earlier broadcasts they said that even the ministry’s regular daily television show may have to stop.

Swaggart said in a JSM publication that the ministries were about $14.7 million in deficit through February. The announcement is made in the March 1988 edition of ″The Evangelist,″ a magazine published by the ministry.

In an article outlining the telethon, Swaggart claimed expenses average $13 million a month. The article did not detail how the money is spent or explain how the deficit was created.

Swaggart has not participated in the telethon.

He voluntarily stepped down from his pulpit at the 7,500-seat Family Worship Center and his worldwide television ministry shortly after news reports of his alleged involvement with a prostitute. National leaders of the Assemblies of God denomination will decide later this month whether to discipline him for committing sexual misconduct.

Swaggart has publicly confessed to his family, church and television congregation that he had committed a sin but has not publicly revealed what sin he committed.

Published reports, however, have alleged that Swaggart was photographed leaving a seedy New Orleans-area motel room with a prostitute. It also is reported that Swaggart paid prostitutes to perform lewd acts while he watched.

Since Swaggart stepped down, the ministry has stopped work on one of its construction projects, laid off some 100 employees and canceled at least two ministry crusades.

Mrs. Swaggart and her son said record donations are crucial to keep the ministry alive.

″God is going to touch you to give the largest gift you have ever given,″ Mrs. Swaggart said. ″The last few weeks Satan has pressed his hand down strong to destroy″ the ministries.

Family Worship Center co-pastor Jim Rentz said news reports about Swaggart are ″not the truth. They are being sidetracked.″ He did not elaborate.

In the magazine article, Swaggart complained ″the news media is opposed to us. Most of the world’s religions are opposed to us. Sometimes I think every single denomination in America is opposed to us.″

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