The co-founder of a Satanist movement in South Africa has severed ties with the group after experiencing the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
Riaan Swiegelaar, who served as reverend at the South African Satanic Church (SASC), stepped down from his position in May after experiencing Christ's love, which he discussed in a Facebook live video on July 4.
"I'm doing this live video because many, more than 100 people, on WhatsApp and almost 200 on Facebook, are sending me messages wanting to know why did I leave the South African Satanic Church as well as why did I turn my back on Satanism," Swiegelaar said.
"To be very honest, I initially thought, 'I will slip out the back door quietly,' and I didn't really think that people would be this interested in why I am doing what I'm doing. I'm going to talk from my experience. I'm going to talk about my choices," he added.
As reported by CBN News, Swiegelaar got involved with Satanism about four years ago after serving in Christian ministry for 20 years.
"I got involved with Satanism because, at the time, it resonated with me, being very broken and sad without realizing it. I think the reason a lot of people resonate with Satanism is they come from a very broken place," he noted. "I have met thousands of Satanists over the last three years, and I'm not saying the intentions are bad; they are extremely broken and extremely hurt ... that's the one thing we all have in common."
In the video, Swiegelaar admitted that "only four Christians" have shown him what unconditional love is.
"I've never known unconditional love in my whole life, and up to today, there's only four Christians in my whole life that have shown me what unconditional love is. I want to thank those four people. Words cannot express what you have done for me," he said while holding back tears.
"To show someone love is everything. It is not a simple thing. You have showed me everything. You have showed me the love of Christ. I have seen it in you," Swiegelaar added.
What prompted Swiegelaar to leave Satanism was a recent experience with unconditional Christian love following an interview he did on the CapeTalk radio station in Mid-May, while he was still a member of the SASC.
He explained that a woman working for the station came up to him after the interview and showed him God's love in an unexpected way.
"I told her, 'I don't believe in Jesus, and I don't believe Jesus Christ exists' because I didn't. She came to me after the interview, after I said that, and she hugged me, and she held me in a way that I've never been loved," Swiegelaar said. "That's all she did. She just said it was nice to meet me in person."
A week later, he read her status on WhatsApp and discovered she was a Christian.
"I've never had a Christian do that," he explained. "I've never experienced a Christian show that much love and acceptance unconditionally ... after I said the things I said, she did that. That stayed with me."
The following week, Swiegelaar would experience the love of Christ while he was performing a satanic ritual by himself.
"I did this ritual, and I opened myself up, and Jesus appeared, and I was extremely cocky, and I said, 'If you are Jesus, you need to prove it.' And He flooded me with the most beautiful love and energy, and I recognized it immediately because that woman at the radio station showed it to me," he explained. "That's how I recognized the love of Christ."
He confessed that he did not feel worthy of God's love because of his homosexual lifestyle. In the past month, however, Swiegelaar shared that he's been having "real conversations with God, and the Kingdom of God is not a gated community; it is open to everybody."
At the conclusion of the video, Swiegelaar told his viewers that he will be posting written material about his newfound connection with Christ.
The South African Satanic Church, which was founded in 2020, issued a press release last week acknowledging Swiegelaar's departure.
"We, as the SASC Council, want to thank Swiegalaar for his contribution, both as the pastor and the co-founder of the SA Satanic Church," a statement reads. "We wish him success in all his future endeavors."
Photo courtesy: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Allexxandar
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.