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Jim Bakker Watch

For those of you who might have wondered what ever happened to PTL’s Jim Bakker, here’s a report from Kevin Murphy of the Kansas City Star on Jim’s newest TV venture:

EVANGELIST JIM BAKKER | Disgraced TV preacher finds new life, ministry in Branson
Second act a revelation
With a second wife, a small studio and a few fans, the PTL founder and ex-convict is starting over. “I believe in second chances,” he says.

The Kansas City Star

BRANSON | The small band strikes up “Highway to Heaven” and the audience gathers around lunch tables for hot dogs and chili.

“Make sure you are smiling and clapping really loud,” an announcer says to the three dozen adults and children at the Studio City Cafe on a quiet Branson side road.

The group obliges as Jim Bakker — that Jim Bakker, the televangelist whose wealth and fame collapsed in scandal in the 1980s — steps onto the studio set for his daily television show. He’s tanned and balding, dressed in a casual shirt, blue jeans and sandals.

“Thank you for stopping by,” Bakker says, beaming. “This is always the nicest group of people.”

Bakker, who settled in Branson three years ago, has quietly rebuilt a following and his life.

He and his second wife, Lori Graham Bakker, are hosts of the hourlong “Jim Bakker Show” on about 50 stations nationwide, including Kansas City. It recently started showing on DirecTV. The show will move to a larger location south of Branson in about six months.

“It’s a miracle what’s happened here, it’s an absolute miracle,” Bakker told his audience. “I said I never planned on going back on television.”

Branson, in the heart of the Bible Belt and a major family vacation destination, may seem like an unlikely fit for someone whose decline followed disclosures of infidelity and fraud.

Bakker said he was stunned at his acceptance and how stars such as Andy Williams and the Lennon Sisters invited him to their shows.

“Andy Williams had me stand up and take a bow,” Bakker said. “I was a disgraced minister.”

Bakker, 66, said he ended up in Branson because local developer Jerry Crawford invited him to town, bought a cafe to use as a studio and provided the Bakkers a house.

Crawford said Bakker’s ministry saved his marriage 20 years ago and he was convinced Bakker, who spent five years in prison on fraud charges, could still help people.

“I wanted to give other people the same opportunity we had,” Crawford said.

Bakker said he didn’t know much about Branson, except that it was a show town and he was inclined to avoid the limelight, given his history.

“No one said anything about the past, it was all, ‘We’re happy you are here,’?” Bakker said. “I think a lot of people in Branson have had brokenness. There is really a spiritual undertone to Branson.”

Bakker cuts a relatively low profile in Branson, not advertising his show or trying to compete with entertainers. He considers the cafe to also be a church and the show to be a service with prayer, music and religious messages.

Cafe walls are covered with framed paintings of Jesus, which Bakker signs and sells. There also are reminders that Bakker once traveled in powerful circles. Pictures of him with Presidents Reagan and Carter, along with presidential letters to him, decorate back hallways.

At the height of his success in the mid-1980s, Bakker’s empire included a South Carolina theme park and condominium resort called Heritage USA. He owned several luxury homes and a Rolls-Royce.

He founded the PTL Club with his then-wife, Tammy Faye Bakker. They created their own network, appealing to all denominations, as their show reached 13 million households.

Then came revelations that he had a sexual affair with church secretary Jessica Hahn and that his staff tried to buy her silence. Bakker later was convicted on federal charges that he sold, for $1,000 or more, Heritage resort weekend time shares that he could not provide, although a later class-action civil suit by buyers was tossed out.

Bakker said he has many regrets.

“So many people were hurt; there were 3,000 people who worked for me and their lives were impacted by it all,” he said.

Four years after he left prison, Bakker met Lori Graham at an urban ministry in Los Angeles. They married in 1998 and took into their care five Hispanic children, now 9 to 16. They adopted the two youngest children and have custody of the three others.

Lori Bakker, 48, says she is a former drug addict who had five abortions.

“We come here as examples of restoration,” her husband said before a recent show. “I don’t know about you, but I believe in second chances.”

Bakker said he runs his television show on a shoestring. Waiters and some of the show staff are volunteers. A free lunch is provided to the audience, though donations are accepted.

Bakker pitches jewelry, paintings, flashlights and other “love gifts” to keep his television show going. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Lori Bakker spent months devising a backpack of items useful in surviving a disaster.

“Get one for grandma, get one for your neighbor, or take this list and make one for yourself,” Jim Bakker said on the show. They ask for a $150 donation for the backpack.

Bakker is not hesitant to say the show needs money.

“We’re behind, we’re always behind, television is expensive, air time is the most expensive part of it,” Bakker said.

The show is operated by the New Covenant Fellowship, a ministry Bakker founded about 10 years ago. As a religious group, the foundation does not have to file public reports of its finances with the IRS. The Bakker family declined to say how much the fellowship raises annually.

“It’s not a moneymaker,” said Char Graham, Bakker’s mother-in-law, who helps oversee finances of the fellowship and show.

Newspaper reports in 2002 said Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker owed more than $3 million in back taxes and interest to the IRS, which could seize any assets he personally accumulates. Graham said Jim Bakker has made some payments on the debt but it could top $4 million by now.

The Bakker family, along with the show, will relocate in about six months to a housing and retail development called Morningside that Crawford is building in Blue Eye, Mo., about 25 miles southwest of Branson.

The new setting will have more space for the show and for more Bible study and teaching, Crawford said.

Bakker’s success in Branson is welcome to his followers.

Roy and Marilyn Paxson of Tulsa, Okla., lost two memberships at the PTL resort but still think enough of Bakker to have traveled to his show for their 54th wedding anniversary.

“Anytime a man falls from grace for whatever reason, it leaves a stench,” Roy Paxson said. But, he added, “If the Lord forgives him, so do I.”

ON THE AIR
The Jim Bakker Show can be seen at 9 a.m. weekdays on KPXE, Channel 50, in Kansas City.

Where are they now?
• Tammy Faye Bakker married former Heritage USA construction contractor Roe Messner in 1993, still lives in North Carolina and is fighting lung cancer.
• Jessica Hahn lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., with Ron Leavitt, co-creator of TV’s “Married…with Children.”

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40 Comments

  1. This really shows that the TV “drug” is more powerful than people think. After Jim went to jail, he said he would never go on TV again. But that didn’t last long.

  2. I had the privilege of spending a weekend in Branson recently with Jim and Lori. I worked for Jim for nearly twelve years. I also worked for Dr. Falwell for four years. As far as Jim is concerned, I must ask you a question – what or how do you use your gifting entrusted to you by God once you screwed up? Is it all over for all of us if we fall? He has and cannot have any connection with any money matters in his new program so don’t even go there. The IRS is first in line. still after 20 years. Do you think God can restore people and use their mistakes to be more effective to minister the gospel? Have you watched a number of these new shows? Some of his most recent and regular guests are gary Smalley, Ron Luce, Josh Mc Dowell to name a few. Watch a few of his programs and then have an informed opinion.

  3. Praise the Lord for God’s amazing grace. Be very careful of throwing stones at Jim. Any of us could fall just as badly. The “TV Drug” comment from the first reply to this post is stupid (in my humble opinion). If your Christian plumber had a moral failure, went to jail, got out and went back to plumbing, you would not talk about the powerful “plumbing drug”.

  4. “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11)

    Here is the story of a rejected ministry team member being restored and even promoted! Many Bible scholars concur that the “Mark” of 2 Timothy 4:11 is the same John Mark whom Paul himself rejected years earlier in Antioch. Recall that both Barnabas and John Mark accompanied Paul during his first missionary journey into Asia Minor going as far as Antioch. But then John Mark abandoned the team in a region called Pamphylia as they journeyed back toward Jerusalem.

    After returning to Jerusalem and reporting to the church leadership all that God had done among the Gentiles, Paul and Barnabas were commissioned to take the Gospel back to Antioch and beyond. But after Paul and Barnabas had been ministering in Antioch for a while John Mark rejoined them. Here is the incident as recorded in Acts 15:36-39.

    “Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus…”

    Notice that Paul had developed such a strong distrust of Mark that he refused to have him on the team, even at the cost of losing the fellowship of Barnabas!

    Now, let us join Paul years later as the end of his ministry and life approaches. Paul is in Rome awaiting trial under house arrest. He writes to Timothy, who was left in charge of the ministry in Macedonia and Asia Minor,

    “Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:9-11)

    Notice the change in Paul’s opinion of Mark. Many of his close friends and supporters had abandoned him to Caesar’s justice. But now, a restored partner in ministry with Timothy has been personally requested by Paul to join him in Rome. Mark, once soundly rejected, is now restored to fellowship and make an essential part of Paul’s team!

    Jim Bakker was defrocked, lost everything, sent to prison and humiliated. In a similar context, consider Paul’s instructions to the Corinthian church about a believer who had fallen into gross sin, been punished, but was then to be restored.

    “The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.” (2 Corinthians 2:6-8)

    So, here’s the application. Jim Bakker seems sincere in his repentance and seeks forgiveness, restoration and fruitfulness. Paul urged that the community of believers in Corinth restore the sinner and “comfort” him. In the Greek text the word here translated, “comfort” is parakletos, the same word used by Jesus for the “Comforter” and the “Helper” in the Gospels. This word means to help, to aid, to encourage and to intercede on behalf of another. Thus, the entire community of believers was given a responsibility to participate in this man’s restoration and to intercede on his behalf. Now, to the extent we think that Jim has not always used pure methods in his efforts to enter back into his calling then we must ask ourselves to what extent we have not, as the larger community of believers, comforted, helped and encouraged him in his restoration.

    As for Paul, he encouraged and restored to ministry those who repented.

    Doug Sorensen

  5. Don! You don’t need to write a book. “Comments” means “comments,” not “sermons”…. Phil or his readers don’t have time or the inclination to read a book every time someone weighs in on a subject…. I’m sure Phil’s readers appreciate your interest, but keep it a bit shorter… 🙂

  6. its not over until the good lord says so .for many like me who have messed up once .Gods grace is still available for a’comeback’.GLORY BE TO JESUS SHAME TO SATAN . bro JIM move on . emmanuel nigeria.

  7. Jim isn't selling any pictures of Jesus he signed. Sorry. I know his entire product line.

    He is not raising money in a traditional way because he feels like he should not.  But to be on the air costs money.  He has an audience that loves him, and his show is part preaching and worship and part Christian QVC.

    So…who is that hurting?    You like him, you watch him, you want a flashlight, you order it. You don't like, change the channel.

    His audience keeps him on the air because he ministers to them.

    I knew him before he went to prison, and I know him now as a dear friend.  He is not perfect –nor and I–but he has changed in major ways.  He is a kind, nice man who has a heart for Christian TV and a longing to see new young creative blood take it to the next level.

    If you want to take a shot at him, be man/women enough to sign your name.

  8. Real simple folks, It would be more honorable for tvangelist to sell kool-aid on the steet corner, than to hawk selling a loving creators favor for a price…

    The community and natives, and the imports in Branson DO NOT EMBRACE HIM, OR HIS HAWKING HIS WARES. Nor do we embrace all of the other folks that have moved here with their hand out, begging for cash, and funds, and land and our precious time.  

    He does nothing for the community, does no volunteer work, donates none of his income or time to help local charitable organizations,or churches or missions or promote environmental or people causes,  and has refused to help those that are in prison when asked.

    His so called 'ministry'?  IT IS JUST BUSINESS, IT IS JUST COMMERCE. 

     What is offensive, that he , and other  beside begging preachers, just keeps trying  [ like carnival hawkers]  to beg money from the masses.  WISE UP!

    The people that live in the area would like nothing better than for him and his crew to go back to Heritage,USA.

    He is truly not needed or wanted in Branson, and Blue Eye is not far enough.

     Branson says to Jim Bakker and group, GO BACK TO HERITAGE AND FIX WHAT NEEDS FIXIN THERE.

  9. If you signed your name, your comments would have more merit.

    And if they were all truthful, they would have even more merit.

    First of all, what is honorable is a subjective statement, and an unsigned subjective statement is a worthless one.

    This is a free country, and Branson is a part of that country,and if that is where Jim choses to live, so be it. He is there because there are people of Branson who did invite him, embrace him and support him. No one in town is required to see his show or deal with him in any way.

    As far as the comments re what he does with his resources, the man is flat broke. He owes the IRS more money than you can imagine. He lives in a simple, middle class home, drives a leased Ford truck, shops at Wal Mart and discount stores like most of the country.

    There are thousands who enjoy his messages, have been changed by them and support him. That is their right and his. His is not a local outreach, it is a media outreach. For a man his age, its a lot to take on. As to if it is a ministry or not, I think it is to them to decide and vote with their dollars.

    At the same time, he and Lori are raising five children who were found in crack houses when their mothers were jailed for drug abuse. That takes a lot of time as well, and he and Lori are very active in their church school and church activities.

    I understand you don't like him. You have that right. But your emotional rantings, again unsigned, speak to deeper issues. I hope you face them.

    1. Yes, @ one point , they did want him in Branson. But when he called them a bunch of hillbill’s, they changed thier minds. His true colors are @ hand!!!

  10. Lets Let Jim and Lori alone so that they can continue to heal and bless the family of God. Pastor Bakker is a "New Man" with an even larger heart. The gifts that have been previously mentioned are simply "Love Gifts" or, "Thank You" gifts. Pastor Bakker really does not have to give anything to those who support his ministry, but he has a kind heart, and believes in giving back. Lets drop all the insults, as "The one without sin, cast the first stone". I think when we place these words in context, there is not a one, that can rightfully attack Jim Bakker, or make false allegations. There are many thousands of people that believe in Jim, his Message, His Vison, His Ministry and we stand behind him. I grew up watching Jim and Tammy on PTL. Watching his new show brings back fond memories. Heritage USA is now a powerful Five-Ministry home to the Christian community. Soon Branson will see the "Morningside" community and be greatly blessed. This comes from a leader, an man with a vison. In summary; The World is a Better Place because Jim Bakker is in it. Many lives have been touched and continue to be blessed by this Man.

  11. I am a native of the Ozarks and have been a resident of the Branson area since 1990. I admit that I was not thrilled to see Jim Bakker in town. I watched his show the first time looking for a reason to be offended. I never did find that reason. I am an end-time prophecy buff (my kids think I am obsessed), and I love it that a minister on tv is actually talking about the subject. Jim’s ministry has blessed me greatly. As directed by the Lord I support him with prayer and tithes as well as having to defend him to people. Jesus died on the cross for all our sins including Jim Bakker and Jim should be judged on the man he is now; not the man he was 25 years ago. A different person walked out of that prison than the one that walked in. Also his son, Jay Bakker, is an awesome young man that will lead many youth to Jesus because of his message of love and grace. Look up–Jesus is coming back soon! Are you ready to face him? Jim Bakker is.
    Thank you for your consideration, Leslie (Hillbilly Carol) Bieker

  12. C’mon Leslie. Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, and countless others, have been making a living on the “end time” thing for a seemingly “endless time” in itself. I’m happy Jim Bakker has been able to regain some semblance of the lifestyle he used to have. TV evangelists and those who have all the answers to salvation, etc., for everyone else (usually with some sort of financial stipend involved) are not my
    path to expressing my Christianity. I prefer a more ecumenical and (horrors!) humanistic approach to trying to do what I can towards more directly helping those whom I can. The “end time” has been coming for 2,000 years. The earth existed for several million years prior to this; some of us feel it will last perhaps as long into the future.

  13. The Christian side-show barker returns. He may not be preaching the false gospel of wealth but he is still misusing God's money. He will soon be living in a 2500 foot condo that he is buying at cost for $250,000. He is also encouraging Christians to buy luxury homes and condos at Morningside. How many Christian children in India must go without shoes so these wealthy Christians can misuse the money God gave them to give to others? Shameful. Paul said some Christians can have too much, when they don't give to others who don't have enough (2 Cor. 8:13-15).

  14. I don't know enough about this situation to make an informed comment.

    I do think God can restore someone and there's certainly been a lot of time passed and Jim paid his debt to society in part.  I don't know what he's done in terms of submitting to any spiritual leadership and discipline or if he is now ordained by or subject to some form of spiritual leadership in the form of a denomination or strong elders board or committee in his Church now, if it is an independent organization.

    It's certainly wise, I think, for Christians considering giving to his ministry or joined to the Church he leads to ask those sort of questions and if there's a reluctance to answer them or an attempt to hide things, that would be a clear sign to me not to join or give.

  15. I just ran across Jim and Lorri's show and what I see is a man that God took the travisty of his life and used to the good.  What a picture of God's restoring love.  As far as selling things.  We live in a monetary world and even Jesus had a treaury in order to support the ministry.  I would rather pay Jim money for a useful flashlight that some overpriced trivett that collects dust.  Why give Wal-mart all of our money to items we need, why not give them to one of God's kids.  I am not defending or building a case for; it just seems that we get so caught up in judging we miss God's message that He brings to us through His messengers.  That is all.  Just an opionion, so don't waste a lot of time rebuking me or applauding. It is simply an opionion and I choose not to gossip about, judge just keep those I come acrsoss bathed in prayer and that God's work and will be done in their lives.  The woman that was getting stoned was caught in adultry which means she was caught during the action.  Don't know about you, but I don't want Jesus writing in the sand to me…

  16. I BELIEVE THAT WE ALL WILL BE JUDGED FOR WHAT WE DO ON EARTH,NO ONE SHOULD JUDGE ANYONE,ONLY IF THEY ARE PERFECT,IN WHICH I DOUBT ANYONE IS IN THIS LISTING.. YOU CAN LIE STEAL AND PLAY THE GAME ,BUT IN THE END WHO IS THE ONE WHO WILL LOSE,IT WILL CATCH UP WITH YOU SOONER THAN LATER…

  17.  

    OCTOBER 16, 2009

    COMPARED TO OUR NEW OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND ALL THE CORRUPTION GOING ON WITH ALL OUR TAX MONIES, JIM BAKKER IS A SAINT……GOD DOES RESTORE PEOPLE AND I AM CONVINCED THAT DURING HIS INCARCERATION, GOD MADE HIM AN EVEN STRONGER MAN OF FAITH.  HE HAD TIME TO READ AND STUDY WHICH GIVES HIM KNOWLEDGE TO TEACH US.   THANK GOD FOR “SECOND CHANCES” OR MOST OF US WOULD NOT SURVIVE WITH JESUS CHRIST AT THE TIME OF HIS GATHERING IN THE CLOUDS.   GOD BLESS YOU JIM AND LORI AND KEEP UP THE GOOD

    I WISH I COULD HAVE THE PRIVILEGE OF LIVING IN ONE OF YOUR NEW APARTMENTS IN THE BEAUTIFUL OZRKS OF MISSOURI, MY HOME STATE.   I TRAVELED THAT AREA AS A VERY YOUNG CHILD AS MY AUNT OWNED A MOTEL IN ROCK AWAY BEACH….SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  18. He is STILL  a crook living off old peoples money and he only sells his wares to support a MINISTRY that does NOT exsist! He does NOT teach the bible…He sells stuff to support his life style. He is not bringing anyone to God. WATCH the show, all it is its a home shopping network and people on stage talking about what they had for breakfast. and SCARING people into buying stuff

  19. “Worked at Morningside” — I assume you drew a paycheck?  And now that you are gone/been run off, he is a crook?  What does that make you for working for him and taking his pay?

  20. Further more the man that Co-Authored I Was Wrong has been committing Adultery since 2002 on his wife!  He seduced a woman I know that is very sweet. He took advantage of her past and the fact that she as naive in the ways of Christian Men. It hurt her horribly and guess what he is still writing books he was NOT even asked to acknowledge his sin or anything in public like it says in The Bible. He gets to continue his life while the woman that he hurt will never be the same!

    We shall know them by their Fruits if they are nuts.. LOL

  21. I am thankful of what Jim & Laurie are doing when spreading GOD’S word.If there is one message you should get from JIM & Laurie is to prepare.oh yah remember to live in love

    1. When i was a set assistant, i said to Lori’s mom, Jim shouldn’t make her”Lori” cry before taping, am glad he stoped, now he just interrup’s her!

  22. “NEW”, adress- po box 253 McNeil, AR 71752 and check out “Youtube.com” John Collings Reel, my “Television Credits on “The Jim Bakker TV-Show”. This is for the woman who said that i never worked for Jim Bakker and said i am in “LALA Land”. Get your facts before you throw me under the “TRAIN”!!!

  23. “Tantalizing Quest 04240”, the book, $20.00 signed copy a Jim Bakker and john collings thing! John Collings 420 columbia rd 45   McNeil, AR 71752

  24. In anything in the end God is the Judge. If you enjoy the show continue2enjoy it. If not don’t complain just change the channel. We all sin and fall short of the Glory of God. B blest!

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