Years of cult shame
Former MoBay church member revisits long period of manipulation, hurt he feltSunday, October 24, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James — It was seven long years of hell for a man who was shot and stabbed during last Sunday's human sacrifice rituals at Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries here.
So bad was his experience that he decided to share the manipulation he claims to have endured at the hands of the church's leader, Kevin Smith, during those seven “long years” that he was a member of the religious organisation.
Though he asked not to be identified by name, the victim spoke candidly in an exclusive interview with the Jamaica Observer, stating that it was his love for God that led him through the doors of the Albion premises.
“I was invited to this so-called church in 2014. I used to go to a church before because, my family and myself, we do believe in Jesus Christ and we want to find the truth. The church we used to attend, in a sense, we did not see where we were growing spiritually and it was like a cycle; people from the church, they were living a life that the secular world was living and we wanted more,” the man said.
He told the Sunday Observer that on his first visit to the “so called church” he had many doubts rushing through his mind, but, to not be judgmental, he ignored them all.
“When I went to the church that day, myself and my son's mother, I just did feel kind of off and uncomfortable. The pastor came up and I felt funny because of how he was dressed — it was the first time I was seeing a pastor dressed like that, but I tried to block out the doubts, because I wasn't there to judge anybody. I was there to see the difference in this church and the church that I was going,” said the man.
Both he and the mother of his child were called to the pulpit by the leader of the religious group, he told the Sunday Observer. This left the young couple in awe, as he “prophesied to them” and “revealed” that they were with child.
“He called me up and he called up my son's mother. That time my son's mother was about a month or two months pregnant, so he called us up and he was saying that she is pregnant, so I started to believe in him because her belly wasn't showing or anything. He blew on me and I fell to the ground, and it was like I was wrestling on the ground, I can remember that, and he said that he delivered me,” said the man.
They both continued to attend the services held by the religious group and, after just a month, he said, they were baptised and officially named members. That was when everything started to nosedive for the couple, he told the Sunday Observer.
“He told me a story, in front of my babymother, that [she] is a scorpion and all manner of evil. That caused a rift, so my babymother and I split,” said the man.
He added, “He was saying that my babymother is not the one for me to marry, and God has different plans for me, because her family is poor and all kinds of different things. So I started to believe in him from then on, because he told us things that only we would know when we were going to the church for the first time, so I believed in him so much.”
After the young couple split, the man said he was encouraged by the leader of the organisation to focus on his Christian journey.
“I remember he said that both me and him, we don't have to get married to any woman, we can focus on the kingdom of God and be the virgins in the kingdom of God. I was saying, well, maybe God just wants me to separate myself and focus on Him alone — wholly and solely. But, at the same time, I had doubts, so I always prayed and seh, 'God, if this is of you, show me the signs. But God did a show me whole heaps of signs and mi ignore them,” he continued.
One of the signs, he said, was when Smith shamed him in front of the congregation after he confided in the leader about his “slip up”.
“I am a human being, and I have urges, so one time mi slip up, to be honest, with my babymother and he disgraced me in front of the church after I told him about it, because what he made us all feel in the church [that] if you fall in sexual sin you have to come to him and confess it. And he brings it before the church and disgrace you. Then if he doesn't throw you out of the church, he would put you on probation for months,” he stated.
On top of the manipulation, the young man said that the congregants were also encouraged to be isolated from their families by Smith, as he claimed they were “obeah workers”.
“What he does, he pulls us away from our families by putting fear in us that our families are bad and they are working witchcraft on us. So, when he tells us stuff like this, automatically if you hear seh your family a work obeah you go wah pull weh from dem, because you go claim seh your family a wicked,” he said.
He added: “When we pulled away from our families then we started to trust and believe inna him. All of us were distant from most of our extended families because he told us that somebody in our family a work witchcraft pon wi.”
The man said that, on another occasion, he was discouraged against exploring a relationship with a woman congregant.
“I can remember one time I started to like this lady in church and told him about it, because he said if you like anybody we must say it to him first so he can tell us whether or not we should be with that person. And him seh mi must run from the girl because she is a demon,” the man said.