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Airing his struggles

Local pastor doesn't mind sharing his triumph over drugs. Hence his participation in Oxygen series 'Preachers of L.A.'

September 25, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • Pastor Jay Haizlip of The Sanctuary Church will be featured in an upcoming special on the Oxygen Network called "Preachers of LA."
Pastor Jay Haizlip of The Sanctuary Church will be featured… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Jay Haizlip has nothing to hide from his thousands of ministry members at The Sanctuary church in Westminster — or from television viewers, for that matter.

The 49-year-old former professional skateboarder has shared with parishioners his story of overcoming drug addiction, and soon everyone can get a glimpse of his life in an upcoming Oxygen documentary series, "Preachers of L.A."

The show, which debuts Oct. 9, will follow Haizlip and five other bishops, ministers and pastors in their everyday endeavors.

"I think it's time for the church to be transparent and show I'm a real person," said Haizlip, who lives in Huntington Beach. "The way I am on the platform is the same way I am behind closed doors. I'm not a different person at home than I am in public."

At a time when reality shows depart from, well, reality, Haizlip said there is a need for on-air honesty.

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"People need to see that we're relatable, that God has helped us, and he can help them," he said. "I hope it breaks down the stereotype that people maybe have in their mind concerning God and church. A lot of people can express an opinion of what God and church is about, but if they're not willing to be transparent and honest, I've discovered that the majority of the time they really don't know why they think that, and it's not ever based on any personal experience they've ever had."

Haizlip became a born-again Christian in 1990 after battling drug addiction.

The pastor, who grew up in Alabama, had a lucrative career as a skateboarder. But with his fame came exposure to drugs. He started smoking marijuana at an early age and by the time he was 15, in the 1980s, he snorted his first lines of cocaine with a neighbor.

"I remember thinking, 'Here's a beautiful lady, this is a multimillion-dollar house, I'm already being sponsored by these companies, I'm smoking weed just about every day. So what could be so wrong with this?" he said. "Looking back at that moment, that's when my addiction got a hold of me."

Haizlip moved to Hollywood and began to lose his possessions to drug dealers and arrive at work loaded. He decided in the late 1980s to move home and sober up.

"I left Hollywood thinking that if I go back to Alabama, I'm going to escape all of these people I'm hanging out with, doing coke with," he said. "I'm going to Alabama, and I'll just smoke weed and drink. Of course that didn't work because the problem was in me. I get to Alabama, and I continued my addiction."

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