Martins Antonio, a member of a South African pressure group called Speak The Truth who are organizing the March Against False Prophets in Johannesburg has admitted to being rendered a victim by fellow Christians for taking a stand against false and abusive men of cloth.
In an interview with Onward Christian Radio the organizer said:
“I have been abused verbally and I continue to receive all sorts of threats and nasty messages for speaking up against false prophets…and yes I have been called names by those who are uncomfortable with the truth.”
The vile threats follow after Antonio and his fellows belonging to a civic organisation named Speak The Truth are set for a protest march against false prophets. The group is expecting hundreds of people on Wednesday 14 of March to participate in the march which will start from Johannesburg Theatre Braamfontein at 10:30 am.
Of the march Antonio said:
‘The march is against false prophets who are wrecking havoc in the body of Christ, the church and breaking marriages and relationships. We are coming together in support of victims of sexual assault and harassment happening in some of these prophets led churches, a lot has been happening in these churches a lot of victims have been threatened and silenced but we thank God for those who are now standing up to say enough is enough this must now be exposed and stopped.”
The procession is expected to march to the Human Rights Commission where they will present a memorandum to Commissioner of S.A Human Rights Commission. Demonstrators are asked to dress in black.
It is such an enlightening development to finally see people standing up against the madness that is being perpetrated at the hands of the clergy. However, it is as well disturbing to see that the same people who are standing up for a common cause are being threatened by those who are so pro-prophets for doing it.
It is not a mystery that wicked and false shepherds have been around for a long time. If we have been a Christian for any length of time, we likely know that there are false teachers or wolves in sheep’s clothing whose purpose is to devour innocent sheep. It is even recorded in God’s Word.
It’s very sad and more evident through the apathy and cynicism some church attendees feel towards their denomination. Especially to those in leadership that allow mysticism, all forms of abuse, corruption, etc. to infiltrate their church.
However, the fault does not lay so much with the leadership as with the people who blindly follow and allow for abuse and other heinous practices to continue without question. We have laws in place in this country to protect and defend the abused, but instead, people put their pastor’s teachings above and beyond anything else and we still follow.
The role of the five-fold ministry holds a sacred authority. They are representatives of the church and God. They are held to a higher standard. Clergy often embodies the divine for people and are Christian role models, leaders, teachers and counsellors. The pastoral relationship can and should be a sacred trust, a place where anyone can come with the deepest wounds and vulnerabilities.
In cases of pastoral abuse, the victims are deeply betrayed by a person they had trusted implicitly. The tremendous losses incurred from this crime against the soul are far-reaching and devastating. The pastor loses his sacred authority and position and is alienated from God by his sin. He loses the trust of his congregants, his spouse, his children, his friends, his family and the community. The church and its congregants lose the safety and leadership of their church home and are left with feelings of deep betrayal and grief.
Sadly, the victims are often an afterthought in the whirlwind of emotions occurring in the congregation. Clergy sexual abuse victims feel lost in relation to God as well as within the human community of the Church. Victims may feel vulnerable and in need of help, painfully aware of their own invisibility, especially to those in authority; and at the same time, they may feel quite reluctant to call attention to themselves, and not altogether sure they want or can use help at all. At the centre of this internal drama is shame.
Shame experienced by the victim that often becomes chronic, loses its usefulness and becomes a crippling habit of self-attack. We have seen this even locally. The victims often lose their church homes because they are blamed for being the perpetrators that preyed on the pastor’s vulnerabilities. Many victims are unable to attend church, read the Bible, and feel such a disconnection from God, their prayers become silent anguish.
Often times, when a woman goes to her pastor for counselling, she is facing a crisis in her life. She is searching for spiritual guidance and is vulnerable. In cases where there is pastoral sexual misconduct, the pastor zeroes in on her vulnerabilities. The very reason she came to him can become the set up for her abuse, her personal issues play into the entrapment dynamic. The pastor’s own needs then come into play. Churches often not only blame her but rally behind the offender who abused his power.
So, what we are saying is, let us guard ourselves against such abuses and support those whose causes are justified, in this case, the South African March.