DAVENPORT -- A few hundred people congregated at the RiverCenter Saturday morning for messages of faith, forgiveness, love and hope at the 18th annual Quad Cities Prayer Breakfast.
The event, sponsored by Thy Kingdom Come Ministries, featured music performed by Wes Hampton, a Gaither Vocal Band member, and husband and wife speakers, Ted and Gayle Haggard.
Mr. Haggard is a former National Association of Evangelicals president and was pastor of one of the nation's largest churches until a 2006 "personal moral failure," as he has referred to it, led him to leave his church and national office.
The couple then founded St. James Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2010.
The Haggards participated in an interview-like discussion with David Pautsch, executive director of Thy Kingdom Come Ministries, answering questions about getting through their pain over the last several years, the role their faith has played through it all and more.
Mr. Pautsch's questions moved the couple to talk about the pain through the aftermath of the scandal that broke in 2006, which involved sex, drugs and a male prostitute, according to earlier reports.
Mr. Haggard said the couple knows God loves them -- it's "dealing with people" that is difficult. It's a wonderful joy "when someone is as forgiving as God is," he said, but when he was getting "cleaned up," the mess was "so bloody some people couldn't stomach" it.
Ms. Haggard aired her pain, too.
As his wife, "(I) struggled with that sense of betrayal and hurt," she said. She told the crowd that she lost friends, essentially everything they had committed their lives to, and their children lost their dignity.
But "going through all of that" produced growth, she said, and ultimately a "healthier," "happier" and "more intimate" marriage.
The pain was "worth it," she said, adding that she is in a better place than before.
For others who may face crossroads in the future, if God gives the grace to love and forgive, "walk through that door," she said. "It will be well worth it."
During the discussion, the couple explained that the Gospel isn't about being perfect.
"We all suffer from our human condition," Ms. Haggard said. The couple had built a family and a church together, and she wasn't going to let her husband's humanity undo or negate the man he is or what the two had accomplished.
The two said they look forward to the future with "hope" because of their faith. "I think I got that hope in the desert," Mr. Haggard said.
Mr. Pautsch asked the two how they would respond to someone who was struggling with their faith and the relevancy of God.
Mr. Haggard explained that Earth is not heaven. In heaven, there is no addiction, evil, hurt or betrayal. There is a lot of "hell on Earth," Mr. Haggard said, "but you can get a slice of heaven."
Earth, Ms. Haggard said, is a "tough place to navigate... I can't imagine going through planet Earth without that hope."
The couple urged the crowd to take care of one another, advocate and encourage one another.
No one is perfect or complete, Mr. Haggard said. "Even on the darkest, darkest day, we know that one day, the sun will rise again."