Larry Lea says he has made mistakes, but he insists that his calling from God was never revoked.
For Larry Lea, now remarried and living in Southern California, the future holds hope even though the last decade has seen the destruction of his ministry and first marriage. In an interview with Charisma, Lea says his life and ministry broke down because of a loss of prayer support after the PrimeTime Live exposé by ABC-TV in 1991.
The intercessors he had raised up through his TV ministry permitted the prayer protection around him to come down, he says. He also says that in the early 1990s prayer leader C. Peter Wagner publicly apologized to him for Christians' failure to support him in prayer.
Lea told Charisma that although the Ethics and Financial Integrity Commission of the National Religious Broadcasters gave his ministry a "total clean bill of health," his attempts to resume ministering were thwarted because most of his friends from the Church on the Rock movement had decided to no longer fellowship with his ministry.
The events triggered an episode of bipolar disorder similar to what he had suffered as a teen-ager. "The cumulative effect of the loss of church and ministry, [along] with real depression triggered by the IRS pounding," led to a divorce, he says. For that, Lea, who remains president of Larry Lea Ministries, offers these words directly to fellow Christians.
"I haven't known how to say, 'I'm sorry,' to all that I offended," he says. "I sincerely pray that you will ... forgive me as Jesus and Melva have. This marital failure has been a great offense to many of you in the ministry, [and] for this I deeply apologize." Lea adds he doesn't "know completely" what caused the failure and why years of counseling didn't work.
He refuses to answer questions about the "divided heart" his former wife speaks of, and he cites their divorce contract, which states they would not discuss the details of the divorce for the sake of their children.
"I mentioned that Jesus and Melva have both forgiven me of all the things I've done wrong, and I rejoice and praise God," he says. "Whatever my part, it has been openly confessed to God, and it has been forgiven."
Lea has been remarried for close to three years and says he has preached almost weekly around the world for 10 years. For four years he has been what he calls the "apostolic overseer" to a church in Sherman, Texas, where he preaches once a month. Lea and his wife, Leah, live in Dana Point, California, because Lea says he "felt a strong sense that God would greatly use me in California."
Throughout his interview with Charisma, Lea repeatedly emphasized Romans 11:29, which says the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. "I have an anointing to build, but I'd rather build through others now," he says. "I now interpret my future ministry as a ladder holder, not a ladder climber."
When asked what mistakes he made, Lea says he took on too much responsibility and didn't live a balanced life. "In the late 1980s I had so much on my plate," he says. "When I got hit I had no reserves left."
He also says he delegated too much and should have been more detail-oriented with his ministry's business affairs. Of his depression, he says he knew how to deal with it because he had gone through it as a teen-ager. He was on nonaddictive antidepressant medications until recently.
"I don't think the church understands depression," he says. "If you had diabetes, I wouldn't consider you sinful for taking insulin. We now know conclusively that certain imbalances in the brain cannot be stabilized by all the prayer in the world. The brain is an organ in the body like your stomach or heart. I've gotten the best medicine there is, and the best prayer there is."
He faced a different challenge in November 2000 when he was diagnosed with fast-moving cancer. He received prayer from Benny Hinn during a crusade, and doctors have said he is cancer-free.
Through it all Lea confesses optimism. "The best thing is, I'm at peace with God, myself and my future," he says. "I sleep great at night and wake up doing what I've always done--go somewhere and pray every day. It's a great time in my life. The sadness and sorrow are being taken out."