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Matt Redman Speaks Out on Alleged Abuse Scandal at U.K. Christian Youth Festival

Matt Redman Speaks Out on Alleged Abuse Scandal at U.K. Christian Youth Festival

Worship leader Matt Redman has opened up about the alleged abuse he witnessed at Soul Survivor, a Christian youth festival he co-founded that was held annually in the United Kingdom from 1993 to 2019.

Expressing his concern and personal connection to the issue, the Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter took to Facebook this week to share his own experiences.

“I feel particularly strongly on this issue as I myself experienced first-hand the harmful behaviors that have been described,” Redman wrote. “I have spent years trying to fully heal from my time at Soul Survivor — and, painfully, I now know this to be the case for a lot of other people too.”

When he was 19, Redman co-founded Soul Survivor alongside Mike Pilavachi, who is currently under investigation by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team. The NST, responsible for preventing abuse within the church, is now actively looking into the allegations made against Pilavachi.

Earlier this year, Pilavachi was suspended from his role at Soul Survivor Watford, a church he had been leading. Subsequently, on July 11, Pilavachi resigned from his position as associate pastor.

“The Church needs to heal and… my continued presence will hinder that process.” Pilavachi wrote on Instagram. “I seek forgiveness from any whom I have hurt during the course of my ministry.”

Redman, in his Facebook post, revealed that he had initially attempted to trust the investigation process and had not intended to disclose his experiences on social media. However, Pilavachi’s resignation statement, along with some of the responses to it, compelled him to speak out.

In his post, Redman shed light on the severity and breadth of the alleged mistreatment.

“At this point in time, over a hundred people have reported being mistreated under Mike’s leadership, and the allegations cover a whole spectrum of harm — physical, psychological, spiritual, etc.,” Redman wrote. He also mentioned that he and his wife, Beth, had previously disclosed their own experiences of mistreatment, only to be “ignored, patronized or gaslit by the leadership at Soul Survivor.”

Redman denounced the lack of care and stressed the importance of accountability. He called on other victims to come forward, assuring them of his and his wife’s unwavering support.

“We send all survivors our deepest love and support,” Redman said.

However, criticism has emerged regarding the Church of England’s involvement in investigating one of its own organizations. Some victims, including Redman, accuse both Soul Survivor and the denomination of initially failing to take the allegations seriously. It has been alleged that Pilavachi’s behavior was an “open secret” for two decades, yet church leaders failed to take decisive action.

Soul Survivor Watford, in a statement issued on May 20, acknowledged the need for more decisive action. They admitted that steps should have been taken earlier, and they have since implemented corrective measures. Last month, the church suspended two additional staff members due to concerns regarding the handling of allegations that had been raised prior to the NST investigation.

According to media reports, the allegations against Pilavachi include grooming and abusing teenage boys and young men associated with Soul Survivor. Victims claim that the ministry leader coerced them into undressing before subjecting them to full-body oil massages. Lengthy wrestling competitions and emotional manipulation have also been described in their testimonies.

Some victims have gone as far as referring to Pilavachi as a “cult leader.” Others recount instances where he lavished them with praise only to later gaslight or completely cut off contact with them.

In his recent resignation statement, Pilavachi made it clear that he had sought advice to remain silent on the allegations and would refrain from making any further public comments.

“I have, on advice, made no comment on the allegations and will not make any further public comment as I do not believe it would be good for anyone if I took part in a trial by media or social media,” he stated. “I pray for God’s blessing on the Church it has been a privilege and joy to serve these past 30 years.”


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