Bishop Eddie Long showed up at his church during the New Year's Eve service to tell the congregation that he will not be staying home despite his frail appearance.
Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, announced last September that he is going through a "health challenge." The announcement came weeks after he posted a video showing his drastic weight loss, which he claimed to be caused by a new vegan diet.
In October, he appeared at his church, declaring himself healed from his "health challenge." He proceeded to conduct a healing service for his congregants who are suffering from chronic pain.
During the New Year's Eve service, he told his congregation that the devil wanted him to stay home and not go to church.
He said that the devil asked him, "why you going to church? You need to rest. You're in recovery."
"I said, let me tell you something. I said if I was going for my ego, I'd lay here. If I was going trying to prove something, I'd lay here. I said God ain't through with me and sometimes you need to see the skinny Eddie and the big Eddie and all that. It ain't got nothing to do with physical appearance, it's what in your heart," Long narrated, as quoted by Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Long told the congregation that there was a time when other preachers were avoiding him because of his predicament. He said they are now running towards him because they want to learn from him.
"They're running towards me because they say now if God can keep him, teach me how to stand," he asserted.
Long and his church had repeatedly refused to reveal more details about his illness. There had been some speculations that he is infected with HIV.
In 2011, the bishop had been accused by four young men of using his position to coerce them into having sexual relations with him. Long reportedly took the men on trips to Kenya and enticed them with expensive gifts.
His attorneys denied the allegations and said that Long was trying to be a father figure to the young men by providing financial assistance and encouragement. He reached an out-of-court settlement with his accusers in May 2011.