ANAHEIM - He came. He preached. He conquered. Jim Bakker, the former PTL Ministries leader who presided over a multimillion-dollar TV ministry and later resigned amid a sex and money scandal that cost him five years in jail, talked to about 400 followers at an Anaheim church service Sunday.
"It's awesome to die and come back," the trim-looking Bakker said. He was guest speaker of the Way of Life Church.
Dressed in a crisp gray suit and black T-shirt, the invigorated Bakker preached against what he called "the gospel of money," lambasting temples as "shopping malls" in a speech steeped with doomsday references.
"If you fall in love with the things of this world, you will be disappointed," warned Bakker, his voice booming over the rows of the Freedman Forum Theater.
Bakker, who joined the International Dream Center helping inner-city youths in Los Angeles, apologized for his misdeeds and once lavish lifestyle and thanked the Lord for sending him to jail.
"My flesh doesn't want to live in the inner city because I don't like earthquakes," he said. "Jesus told me to move to L.A." Bakker also told the audience that he "still loves and will always love," his former wife, Tammy Faye.
Bakker resigned from the PTL, or Praise The Lord, television ministry in 1987. Two years later, he was convicted of bilking 116,000 PTL followers out of $158 million. He went to jail for five years, then went to live on a farm in North Carolina.
Sunday, the crowd gave Bakker a standing ovation. "I'm glad he's back. Not as high as he was, but he's back," said Emma Terrazas of Irvine, a church member. "Now he is the real thing. Now he's humble," she said.
After the service, Bakker signed copies of his recent book, "I Was Wrong."
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