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DRAMA IN THE CHURCH: Temptation Ended His Marriage, Nearly Destroyed The Ministry Of Pastor Jamal Bryant (VIDEO)

Pastor Jamal Bryant’s fall from grace began with an extramarital affair that tore up his congregation and destroyed his marriage. I went to his mega church, the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, Maryland, to talk about the affair that ended his marriage, disrupted his congregation, almost destroyed his ministry; but changed him as a man and as a preacher.

MR. MARTIN (VOICEOVER): Pastor Jamal Bryant’s fall from grace began with an extramarital affair that tore up his congregation and destroyed his marriage. I went to his mega church, the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, Maryland, to talk about the affair that ended his marriage, disrupted his congregation, almost destroyed his ministry; but changed him as a man and as a preacher.

[ON LOCATION.]

MR. MARTIN: Several years ago, all of a sudden you’re on TBN –

PASTOR JAMAL BRYANT: Yes.

MR. MARTIN: — and folks are saying, “Oh. He’s the next.” “He’s the next great preacher.”

REV. BRYANT: Right.

MR. MARTIN: You’re being called by churches left and right –

REV. BRYANT: Right.

MR. MARTIN: — and here you are, a young pastor –

REV. BRYANT: Yes.

MR. MARTIN: — [of a] thriving, growing church. And all of a sudden, those temptations meet you head on.

REV. BRYANT: Well, I didn’t have a litmus test, you have to understand. I was a national televangelist since I was 29, and the whole world had opened up for me in every stage. I’m preaching in arenas, convention centers, mass – mega churches. I was quickly becoming a household name. So, nothing in my mind ever said, number one, I would ever get caught; number two, that – [chuckles] – my wife would ever leave; number three, that my church would tank out.

MR. MARTIN: Walk us through. What happened?

REV. BRYANT: I stepped, Roland, outside of my marriage and had an extramarital affair that ultimately ended in a divorce to an incredibly wonderful woman – not because anything was flawed in the marriage, or in her; but in my own immaturity for the level that I was getting ready to go into. And when that happened, I think I was one of the first – if not the first – I don’t want to take the honor – the first real black pastor to go through being castigated over the Internet. My oldest daughter is 15, and I had to go to Atlanta, where it is that she lives, because a teacher said something sideways to her, and she was absolutely traumatized.

If nothing else, this has been the most humbling process that you’ve got to keep reliving it and explaining it and dealing with it and defending it. And nobody really understands that when you’re in that public spotlight, you don’t have the opportunity to process in private.

So, when I went through a divorce, Roland, it wasn’t between just me and my ex-wife. It was 12,000 people who were members of my church going through it at the same time, whose heart was broken, whose expectations were absolutely dashed. I had members arguing to protect my name in beauty salons and in supermarkets, and it was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life.

I lost, like, 17 pounds going through the stress of it. Had to go through therapy for a year [and] watch my ministry really disintegrate in front of my hands while I’m still trying to salvage what was left of what I was going to do in ministry.

And I’ll never forget a critical conversation I said to my dad. I said, “Dad,” you know, this is it. There’s no way I’m going to resuscitate.”

My father was in Los Angeles at the time, was bishop over that jurisdiction. “Dad, you[’ve] got to get me a church in California. Get me outta here.”

And my father, Roland, asked me a critical question: “Were you preaching for applause? If you were preaching for applause and for people, it was a performance. But if you were preaching because of your calling, your assignment, the same passion you had when there were thousands is the same kind of intentionality you’ve got to have now that it’s been reduced to hundreds.”

And I went to that pulpit some days broken, battered, depressed, stressed the heck out. I didn’t want to be there, and just kept preaching. And I watched, slowly, but surely, God beginning to rebuild it: new families, new groups, an absolutely different congregation. But God has been faithful even when I was unfaithful.

[CUT TO PASTOR BRYANT AT THE PULPIT.]

REV. BRYANT: The last few years have been a ride for me. It’s – hallelujah. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve suffered a lot. I’ve endured a lot. I’ve grown a lot. I’m scared to even tell you what my life looked like three years ago, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that three years later this is where I would be.

But God was training me for destiny.

[BACK TO INTERVIEW.]

MR. MARTIN: Here, you preach one thing –

REV. BRYANT: Yeah.

MR. MARTIN: — and then you talk about – and I’m sure in your sermons you were –

REV. BRYANT: Yeah.

MR. MARTIN: — integrating your wife and children into those –

REV. BRYANT: Yeah, absolutely.

MR. MARTIN: — and loving and caring. And they’re saying, “Okay, I’m hearing one thing, but you did this.”

REV. BRYANT: Right.

MR. MARTIN: “I’m confused.”

REV. BRYANT: Yeah, and I spent a whole lot of time, one, Roland – because I’d never forgiven myself – and so I spent a whole lot of time bleeding in the emergency patient first unit, just trying to really be transparent to say this was not an attack of the enemy. The Devil didn’t make me do it – Flip Wilson – but – [chuckles] – this is what I did. All right? And because of that, how do we restore that?

And when I began to be transparent, an amazing thing happened. More men started coming to the church, saying, “Rev, I really respect that you didn’t blame it on the Devil, or spiritual warfare; but that you, as a man, made this mistake.” And people talked about how they saw persistence and determination to stand through it. And to see on several occasions my ex-wife come to church and worship; and to see my children, hearing from me, able to process in grace, even in the face of humiliation, has really had a great group to come back [sic].

MR. MARTIN: Let’s talk about your former wife and your children.

REV. BRYANT: Yes.

MR. MARTIN: You still speak very highly –

REV. BRYANT: Yes.

MR. MARTIN: — of your former wife.

REV. BRYANT: Yes.

MR. MARTIN: How did you have to help her heal, but also help your kids heal?

REV. BRYANT: Yeah. One of the critical things my ex-wife said to me is, “I didn’t divorce you because of the infidelity. I divorced you because I no longer recognized you,” that, “You went into a dark place, was mad with the world, and you were just worried about saving your career – not saving the marriage.”

And so I think I became a better person post the divorce than I was in the marriage. This journey has really been a process. She and I still are great friends and on two, different paths of life and are still able to operate in a meaningful way for the sake of friendship and parenting, but it was a necessary evil for me.

And I say this, what I say to a lot of younger pastors: if I had not gone through the divorce, I’m confident I would’ve [done] it again. And so it was my Damascus road wake-up call that, you know, you are not “Teflon Don”; that humanity can still touch you and can still impact you.

MR. MARTIN: Have you sat many young brothers and sisters down and said, “Look, this is what you’re about to walk into.”

REV. BRYANT: Yeah.

MR. MARTIN: “Let me prepare you for this,” because you wish somebody had sat you down and said, “Jamal, you[’re] ’bout to blow up, but let’s walk through this”?

REV. BRYANT: Yeah. I think that one of the difficult things is we spend years preparing for ministry, and nobody took the time to take years to prepare for manhood, or in some cases, womanhood. And I say to these young preachers, “It doesn’t matter if you have a thriving ministry if you have a miserable marriage.” You – you[’ve] got to make sure that that’s solid. And don’t marry for a church picture that you want somebody cute on the front row with a hat on. If they[’re] not making you happy at home, it doesn’t matter. It’s to make sure that that family life is your first ministry. If you’re not a priest to your home, it doesn’t matter what kind of preacher you are at the church.

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  • deidrap

    Roland, Jamal had an affair with a TEENAGE member of his congregation who he got pregnant. Is that the affair that’s the subject of this interview? If so, it seems very important to know what an abuse of power it was. Jamal needs to have a seat in a PEW, not in the pulpit.

    • AC

      Why didn’t he MENTION that piece of information. There is NO affair with a TEENAGER. Its manipulation and control over weak person. He needs to SIT outside for a bit. #ijs

    • DannyK

      I was not a teenager. If it was he would be accused of rape/sexual mollestation.

  • ten

    that’s y the black church is a joke and the black ppl have become so weak, the bible is very clear that if a person of authority behaves in an immoral way they are to be removed from that position because they are no longer fit to serve in a position of leadership, they ignore most of the bible, and just show up and tell the ppl wut they want to hear, look at Eddie Long, like jesus said in the last days there will be those who slip into the congregation and mislead the many down into their destruction, and that’s wut is happening in the so called black church wut a joke

  • SMH

    I’m so tired of the blk church using their “weakness” for sin as an excuse! You weren’t weak you are human! Didn’t Christ come to us as a human being? How about preaching a different message?! I am amazed at the lack of sermons on love, grace, and mercy. It’s amazing to me that most blk preachers speak on sin, sin, and more sin! I mean am I reading the same bible as they are?! Someone HELP me understand why this is so? The preachers themselves preach SIN and it’s never about the sin they are “in”. Are we not in need of the love, grace and mercy the bible speaks of??? Aren’t we all seeking a LOVE that comforts, forgives, admires, embraces our shortcomings? Is that wrong to ask for? Maybe if blk preachers stop preaching about sin and preach about a LOVE that is everlasting and forgiving we ALL will be able to live this life in the lens of Christ’s LOVE for all of us. I mean we are all here for the edifying of one another….this should be a prereq before any minstry license is given to anyone. We are so use to being torn down by our blk leaders in the church that we forget we are all weak and in need of a LOVE that doesn’t judge. I don’t believe a minister has any “right” to preach SIN! Jesus didn’t preach SIN he spoke about the LOVE our Father has for us. WE are so unfamiliar with it bcuz we don’t experience it from our blk pastors. It’s all about what we are doing wrong instead of what Christ did right….he gave us LOVE! What he did was wrong, but it’s not uncommon. It’s funny how a preacher who preaches Sin was exposed and desired forgiveness for his members. I just wonder if he gave his members the same forgiveness he is now desiring from them.

    • Tim

      SMH, This is the problem with preaching. You MUST preach on sin at some point in order to establish the need for a Savior. The problem is, so many are more grounded in preaching the law and the old testament, and this is a ministry of condemnation. The letter kills but the Spirit gives life. If we established the need for a Savoir and then introduced the Savior it might benefit the body more. My two cents.

  • Liea

    It’s not a blk church think jimmy swaggert Jim baker earl Paulk and the guilty list continue. It’s the weakness of humans. The apple in the garden always looks better than it tastes

  • AC

    He needs to be SET OUT the door. Preachers do things in the name of God then act as humans and sin. You can’t have it both ways. If you gonna SERVE God, then SERVE Him… Let God LEAD you and not be lead by the power of the people. Don’t put your selfish (flesh-ish) thoughts into it. All YA’LL preachers will have a HIGH price to pay on judgement day. I’m sorry ain’t gonna cut, just cuz u got caught.

  • Ray

    His story is what happens everyday. I’m a leader and leaders aren’t exempt from temptation and or failure. We all make mistakes. People can be such hypocrites. He needs to be celebrated. To me he’s a hero. #BounceBack

  • Hissweetthing

    I see people condeming him for his transgressions. It takes a man to admit he was wrong and not blame it on the devil like a like of us church folks do. We can say oh he’s a pastor he’s supposed to know better and that he’s called to a higher standard but these same people never want to acknowledge that he is still just a man. Doesn’t matter if you are a pastors, deacon or just saved member of the church we as children of God are all called to a high standard. Yet we all sin and fall short of the glory of God because we are not and never will be God. Regardless of our calling. All men don’t cheat but being a pastor does not exempt you from committing adultery. Some men preach about women throwing themselves at them to be First Lady or to take First Lady’s spot but don’t really understand the true power of a woman on a mission.

  • since1911

    He really did spin this into a fame contest. He said

    “..honor – I think I was the first real black pastor to go through being castigated over the Internet”

    “I had members arguing to protect my name in beauty salons and in supermarkets, and it was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life.”

    Interesting, so I think he sees himself as a “mega superstar” – a celebrity. Poor confused gullible blacks who hallejuah this celebrity to the bank.

    • Jacqueline

      Very good assessment. I concur.

  • ackeegrl

    he got caught……

  • Danny K

    The affair was not with a teenager – that would be sexual mollestation and rape, not an affair.

  • Danny K

    The affair was not with a teenager – that would be sexual mollestation and rape, not an affair.

  • Danny K

    The affair was not with a teenager – that would be sexual mollestation and rape, not an affair.

  • ChristianB

    Roland Martin,
    Thank you for hosting an interview with Rev. Jamal Bryant. Truthfully, Rev. Jamal Bryant should never serve as a pastor again. I hear in this interview a rational response people are sympathetic to; thus, such smooth talk is reminiscent of a liar and someone who has not trully repented. Yet – how many women did Rev. Jamal Bryant have an inappropriate and sexual relationship with, while married to his wife? Certainly, his divorce is not as a result of sleeping with one woman.
    Rev. Bryant knew better; he was raiased in the home of a popualr pastor; he attended a number of colleges in prepration for ministry; and Rev. Bryant personally preached hard against the same sins he committed and was mostly likely invoved in at the same time.
    Worst of all, Rev. Bryant’s unruly response to discipline suggests he has not repented. After staying away from the pulpit two weeks and declaring the church building is in your name does not reflect a man submitting to discipline. Rather – it reflects the wreckless behavior too often accepted in the black community.
    I Timothy 5:19-20 & II Timothy 3:1-9 must be considered in this matter.
    ChristianB

  • ChristianB

    Roland Martin,
    Thank you for hosting an interview with Rev. Jamal Bryant. Truthfully, Rev. Jamal Bryant should never serve as a pastor again. I hear in this interview a rational response people are sympathetic to; thus, such smooth talk is reminiscent of a liar and someone who has not trully repented. Yet – how many women did Rev. Jamal Bryant have an inappropriate and sexual relationship with, while married to his wife? Certainly, his divorce is not as a result of sleeping with one woman.
    Rev. Bryant knew better; he was raiased in the home of a popualr pastor; he attended a number of colleges in prepration for ministry; and Rev. Bryant personally preached hard against the same sins he committed and was mostly likely invoved in at the same time.
    Worst of all, Rev. Bryant’s unruly response to discipline suggests he has not repented. After staying away from the pulpit two weeks and declaring the church building is in your name does not reflect a man submitting to discipline. Rather – it reflects the wreckless behavior too often accepted in the black community.
    I Timothy 5:19-20 & II Timothy 3:1-9 must be considered in this matter.
    ChristianB

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