Charisma: It seems that Larry wanted to make things right. Why didn't things turn around for the better?
Lea: Things started to spiral because Larry went into a deep depression. While in Tulsa, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which can be triggered by stress. Unfortunately, medication was inadequate to deal with the problem.
Though Larry was very depressed, we would get him dressed, and he would get on a plane and go preach. Whenever he would stand up in the pulpit, the anointing would be there, and he would preach like a man from another world.
Charisma: Were you concerned that he was in the pulpit at that point?
Lea: We didn't know anything but ministry, and it was the only thing that gave him life.
Charisma: Looking back on it now, do you wish someone had encouraged him to take time out for healing and restoration?
Lea: At that time I don't think it would have made any difference, because very few people--even those in the medical profession--understood bipolar disorder. But now in the charismatic church we need some kind of plan for restoration because we don't do it very well.
The thing about the ministry is, it's difficult for a wife or husband who is having trouble to ask for help. Who are they going to go to? They can't go to their congregation, and unfortunately the friendship level among leadership isn't always trustworthy. You tell someone you're in trouble, and it's going to go all over the world.
Charisma: Why did you move to San Diego in 1994?
Lea: Larry got a call from a pastor there who was ready to retire and asked him to come and take the church.
Charisma: When you arrived in San Diego, how was your marriage?
Lea: It was hurting. Larry had just been through a major nervous breakdown, and we were both totally spent.
By the time we moved to California the bipolar condition had swung to the opposite extreme--moving from a "fetal" position to a "grandiosity" position. On this end of the spectrum a bipolar individual's conscience is weakened. Their behavior can be horribly destructive.
It took a while to get the right professional help and medication, and by then negative patterns were already established. Bipolar disorder is no excuse for sin--but people without this disorder don't usually go to these extremes.
On the other hand, if you look at it from the spiritual side, any individual who would impact the body of Christ with such a deep message is a real target for the enemy.
Charisma: You and Larry were in marital counseling for several years. Why wasn't it successful?
Lea: Larry had met someone else, and his heart was divided. We moved back to Texas in 1998. I really thought it might help, but it didn't.
Charisma: It seems that his teaching on prayer would have affected his own life more deeply.
Lea: Actually, I believe what he learned to appropriate in prayer saved his life. The revelation that the Lord gave him on prayer was the only thing that gave him any sense of sanity or stability.
Charisma: Larry soon filed for divorce, and in April 1999 it was officially over. How did you feel?
Lea: The summer after our divorce I thought I was going to die. I had hoped that Larry and I might get back together--but shortly thereafter he remarried.
Charisma: Who stood by your side?
Lea: I had some wonderful friends who didn't budge an inch...intercessors [who] saved my life. What's amazing is that the Lord took me right through this healing process in about six months. Those around me knew it was real; the work was so thorough. I was able to deal with my own issues, forgive and genuinely love.
Charisma: During this crisis what did you do to occupy your time?
Lea: During the divorce, I went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth and studied counseling. After the divorce pastor Benny Hinn called and asked if I would like to sing for his crusades. He graciously gave me the opportunity to travel with his ministry for over a year.
The opportunity to minister in that arena again was tremendously healing. To be in that anointing was life itself.
Simultaneously, I began an intensive study of the book of John. The revelation of Jesus during this time was the most profound experience of my life.
Charisma: What is your personal feeling about divorce?
Lea: I hate it. It is terribly destructive for everyone involved. But my greatest source of grief was knowing the negative impact this would have on the body of Christ.
I was absolutely, totally against our divorce. I loved Larry. I did not want it and did everything I knew to keep it from occurring. It's one of the few things in Scripture God says He hates.
It doesn't mean Larry and I aren't compassionate and kind toward one another or the children. Our lives are being redeemed. It doesn't mean Jesus isn't a great Redeemer or that He won't redeem your life from destruction. But there is a huge cost, and nothing will ever be the same again.
For a limited time, we are extending our celebration of the 40th anniversary of Charisma. As a special offer, you can get 40 issues of Charisma magazine for only $40!
NEW from CHARISMA: Do you want to encounter the Holy Spirit and hear God speak to you? Increase your faith, discover freedom, and draw near to God! Click Here