A church in Pataskala, Ohio apologized after a disturbing video surfaced showing a youth pastor asking kids to spit on him, slap him, and then cut him with a steak knife in an Easter message gone wrong.
"The illustration went too far," Justin Ross, the lead pastor of Impact City Church, explained in a video on Facebook, "and it was inappropriate for the audience that we had, that was students."
Part-time youth pastor Jaddeaus Dempsey says he was trying to illustrate what happened to Jesus leading up to the crucifixion, so he asked the students to spit on him and they lined up and did so. Then to slap him, as several students expressed that it was "enough," but then he picked up a knife and asked them to cut him.
"Are you serious?" a student asked, as screams are heard in the background. Dempsey responded: "I'm very serious."
One kid, holding the knife, says, "I cannot do this," and hands the knife to another student.
The next student brought the knife to his back as "light" as he could.
Dempsey told him to bring blood so the student tried again, saying he could see blood. Then the video stops.
Many students were taking videos and posting them on social media. One of them was posted by Lola Hatfield, who called it "disturbing."
WARNING: DISTURBING VIDEO CONTENT
Mandy, one of the parents whose kid was handed a knife, told 10 WBNS she was "appalled."
"I was disturbed," she said. "It was disturbing."
Mandy and her husband Josh rushed to pick up their son from the church and noticed he was upset and thought he was in trouble.
Josh told him he wasn't upset with him but "the things that happened here wasn't okay."
The lead pastor agreed, in a video apology, that the reactions to the incident were appropriate.
"Many of you were disgusted. Many of you were hurt by this. Many of you were very confused on why this would be taking place at a church and a youth event, and we agree," Ross said. "It was inappropriate for this audience and there's really no excuse for why it happened."
But he said the intent behind it, which was not seen on social media, is important to clear up.
"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."
The pastor explained that Jesus could've stopped it at any point but "chose to take the debt we call sin."
Jesus did it out of love, the pastor explained, adding that the youth pastor was trying to "share" in Jesus' pain.
Dempsey said some students felt bad and he told them it was completely his idea.
"It was completely my idea. Not Justin, not any of the other leaders, including my own wife, knew the illustration that I was about to perform," Dempsey said. "I crossed the line, and it was over the top and it was just not appropriate. It was in bad judgment. I'm so sorry for misrepresenting the community, the church, the parents, the students, anybody that I hurt. It was not my intention."
The goal was to show the students how much Jesus loved them, the youth pastor explained.
"In no way do we condone that students or anyone else should spit on someone, should slap them, or use a weapon to harm anyone or harm themselves," Ross said, "and we have a lot to evaluate to ensure that a situation like this doesn't happen again."