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Jim Bakker Pretty Good Friends with Billy Graham

July 22, 2011 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

Jim Bakker, I was Wrong

Jim Bakker was asked in an interview while in prison…

Who was the biggest surprise visitor you had in prison? 


Billy Graham was the biggest surprise because he is such a busy man. A few days before he arrived he had been voted the most respected man in the world. I heard that on my little radio in prison.

He came just a few days before I found out that my wife was divorcing me. So I think it was God preparing me for that moment.

When he came to visit me I had the flu. I looked like a man who had slept under a bridge.

My hair was a mess and I had my old toilet-cleaning clothes on. My toes were sticking out of my shoes. I had just finished cleaning the toilets, and the guards came to get me. One of the guards led me across the compound, and I thought he was taking me to the lieutenant’s office.

I thought maybe I was in trouble. But then they said, “Didn’t they tell you. Billy Graham is here to see you.”

So I walked into the room and he had his arms outstretched and he embraced me and told me he loved me. We sat and talked, and when he prayed everyone else in the room prayed.

When you feel like you’re worthless, and then somebody like that comes, it really shocking. 

Ruth Graham Tells Jim Bakker to Take Billy’s Wallet

As soon as I was released from prison, Ruth Graham called the Salvation Army halfway house where I was and asked permission for me to go to church with her that Sunday morning.

When I got there, the pastor welcomed me and sat me with the Graham clan—two whole rows of them. I’d only been out of prison 48 hours.

The organ began playing and Ruth walked down the aisle and sat next to inmate 07407-058, telling the world that I was her friend.

Afterwards, she had me up to their cabin for dinner. When she asked me for some addresses, I pulled this envelope out of my pocket to look for them. In prison you’re not allowed to have a wallet, so you just carry an envelope.

She asked, “Don’t you have a wallet?” And I said, “Well, yeah, this is my wallet.”

After five years of brainwashing in prison you think an envelope is a wallet.

She walked into the other room, came back, and said, “Here’s one of Billy’s wallets. He doesn’t need it. You can have it.” 

The Grahams sponsored me, paid for a house for me to live in, and gave me a car to drive.

– Adapted from: Christianity Today (12/7/98)

You may ask.. I know who Billy is?..

But who is this Jim Bakker?

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker ran the PTL ministry (PTL stands for “Praise The Lord” but the press said it stood for “Pass the Loot”).

In 1986 PTL’s income was $129 million and included Heritage USA – a 2300-acre religious theme park, a hotel and a shopping mall in North Carolina and its own TV station on 1200 channels. 

Jim Bakker had an affair with the church secretary Jessica Hahn in 1980 and resigned in 1987 when it came to light that he had paid her about $265,000 in blackmail money over the affair.

After his resignation, it was discovered that the Bakker’s had been taking large amounts of money from the ministry fund, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries for Bakker and his wife, insurance, property and other fees.

The IRS  investigated and discovered that the couple had diverted $4.8 million for personal use.

Part of that sum came from fraudulent $1,000 partnerships, which secured each partner three days per year of free lodging at the hotel in Heritage USA. However Bakker took the money from so many partners that it was a promise that he was unable to keep.

Indeed the fraud was on such a scale that it was estimated that about 1500 people a month were being defrauded of their free time-share.

Jim Bakker was indicted for fraud in 1988 and sentenced to 45 years in prison and fined $500,000.

When the scandal broke, Bakker’s Christian friends quickly deserted him.

He became an outcast in the Christian world. And when he was sentenced, his wife Tammy Faye left him and then divorced him.

Six months into his sentence, Bakker was surprised one afternoon when the prison warden called him into his office. Bakker had a visitor: Billy Graham. When Graham came in, Bakker asked him why he had come to visit – because he knew that any association with Bakker would tarnish Graham’s reputation.

Graham replied that Bakker was his friend in good and in bad times – and now when things were bad, he would stand by his side.

And Billy Graham was true to his word.

Bakker’s sentence was eventually reduced, on appeal, to ten years and when he came out of prison on parole, he had nowhere to stay. 

So the Grahams invited him to stay with them.

On the Sunday following Bakker’s release, Ruth Graham took him to church with her. 

Disregarding what people would think about her, she stood up in church and introduced Jim Bakker to the congregation as her friend Jim Bakker.

The love the Grahams showed to Jim Bakker is very much like the love Jesus showed to a tax collector called Matthew in this morning’s Scripture’s reading.

Are we able to show this kind of love? Are we willing to show this kind of love?

fwd courtesy: samuel machado

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