Some Now Realize Swaggart Can Sin, Others Never Saw Him As More Than Human
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Missi Broussard says Christ saved her from a life of drugs, sin and barroom brawling through one of Jimmy Swaggart’s ministries.
Now Swaggart’s fall has shattered her belief in a man she had thought incorruptible, but she said her faith in God is unchanged.
″I had this image built of him (Swaggart). He could do no wrong,″ she said. ″Now I know differently. He can do wrong, he has done wrong, and he can do wrong again.″
Broussard said Swaggart’s confession to an unspecified sin didn’t sway her belief in God.
″Jimmy Swaggart did not change me. He did not have the power to do so. Jesus Christ changed me,″ she said.
She wasn’t at church Sunday because she would have had to leave halfway through the service, but she did go to a service Wednesday.
Usually, she said, about 1,500 people meet in the Crossfire building, which will hold about 5,000. ″This past Wednesday night it was packed. They had to pull out seats for people to sit in.″
Broussard, 21, said she will continue to attend co-pastor Jim Rentz’s services. But she doesn’t know what she will do when Swaggart, who reportedly paid a prostitute to pose nude for him and tried to cover up the scandal, returns to the pulpit.
″The Lord is the one who led me to the church,″ she said. ″If he wants to lead me away, I’m open for him to do so. But I’m not going to sway on my own opinion of Jimmy Swaggart to decide whether I go or stay.
″I really do feel like that speaks to most of the church. They’re looking to God now because they’ve learned their lesson looking to a man.″
Michael and Lisa Sexton never saw Swaggart as anything more than human.
″He’s a man, and all men make mistakes,″ said Sexton, who left his home state of Idaho last year to be closer to Swaggart and his ministry.
″I feel nothing but love in my heart for him and his family,″ said Mrs. Sexton, 21. ″He is a man of integrity for being able to stand there and confess.″
The Sextons met about seven years ago at an Assembly of God youth group in Idaho, where they began watching Swaggart on television. They began donating to his ministry about four years ago, and first visited his Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge 15 months ago.
″I felt the Lord wanted us to relocate,″ said Sexton, 27. He got a job at the Waterford 3 nuclear power plant in Taft. They moved last August to Luling and drive 90 minutes every Sunday to and from Swaggart’s church in Baton Rouge.
Sexton said he was shocked by Swaggart’s confession, but thinks it was a good thing.
″It needed to happen. I sense he was somewhat relieved, because he’s going to get the help he needs.″
And he said the sin doesn’t change the good done by Swaggart’s ministries, which feed thousands of children a day and provide medical care and other services to the poor.
″No one will ever know how many lives it (ministry) has touched,″ he said.
After Sunday’s worship service during which Swaggart thanked the congregation for their support, Irma Keel voiced faith in her troubled minister.
″I think Brother Swaggart’s a great pastor and I think God will bring him out,″ she said. ″You see, God forgives us for everything we do. He has the advocate with the father. He’s my brother in Christ.″
″You have to forgive and forget,″ said David Wilkerson, another congregation member. ″You have to go on in the Lord.″