The lead pastor of Impact City Church in Pataskala, Ohio has apologized after a disturbing video showed a youth pastor asking children to spit on him, slap him and even cut him with a steak knife during a recent program about the Passion of Jesus.
In the video, students appear uneasy as they form a line in front of part-time youth pastor Jaddeaus Dempsey and begin to spit in his face and slap him. When he hands one of the children a steak knife, the kid thought he was joking.
"Are you serious?" the student asked Dempsey who told him: "I'm very serious."
The kid couldn't bring himself to cut Dempsey and handed the knife to the next boy in line. That boy reluctantly brought the knife to Dempsey 's back but did not draw any blood. Dempsey tells the boy to do it again until he sees blood. The video ends as Dempsey begins to bleed.
The incident upset the kids and their parents were outraged when they learned of what transpired. Two parents say their children will not be returning to the church and have asked the Licking County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the incident. They also want to know why other adults in the room did not step in to put a stop to it.
The church's lead pastor Justin Ross explained that the viral video did not show Dempsey sitting down with students afterwards and telling them why he asked them to hurt him, but added that it does not excuse his actions.
"After Jaddeaus allowed them to spit on him, slap him, and cut him, he sat them down and explained to them about this guy named Jesus, who thousands of years ago, he was put on trial for a crime that he didn't commit, and he was beaten, he was broken, he was whipped, he was crucified, and he died as an innocent man."
Ross says that the demonstration did not live up to the expectations the church had set and apologized for what happened.
“We exist to create an environment that is safe and predictable for students to come, connect with their friends and grow closer to God. Today we failed at creating that safe, predictable environment. We want to do better,” Ross told 10TV.
Dempsey also issued an apology for his actions saying that he is "deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused.”
“It was just not appropriate, and it was in bad judgment. I am so sorry for misrepresenting the community, the church, the parents, and the students -anybody that I hurt," Dempsey said in a video posted on Facebook. "This was not my intention. My intention was to just show them how much Jesus loves them and that I love them as a student leader for almost four years now. Tonight was an anomaly, and it is not normally what happens. Again, I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused.”