Shot, stabbed but strong
Member chronicles bloody events that led to mayhem at controversial MoBay churchSunday, October 24, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
A member of Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries has shared a graphic and chilling account of last Sunday night's events at the church that spiralled into the killing of two congregants in what has been described as a human sacrifice ritual.
The bloody incident, during which a third congregant was shot dead by police as they tried to enter the building in Montego Bay, has shocked the country and earned the organisation's leader, Kevin Smith, condemnation from local and international religious groups who have described what happened as demonic.
The Pathways member who related the events to the Jamaica Observer asked not to be named as he was ashamed that he had placed his trust in Smith — who appointed unto himself the title 'His Excellency' — even during the mayhem that ensued when the throats of his fellow congregants were slashed and he was stabbed and shot in the back.
Now regarded as a victim of a cult, the man said he no longer trusts members of the clergy. However, his faith in God remains firm.
“I got two gunshots in my back and I got a stab wound in my back, but I am still giving thanks because it could have been worse. God had to allow this to happen for us and the world at large to see this man,” he told the Sunday Observer in an exclusive interview last week.
“It has brought me to a point. I have not given up on God, I cannot forget God, and I will never forget God, because if it had not been for the true and living God I would be on a cold fridge right now waiting to be buried. But when it comes on to pastors, priests, evangelists, and prophets, I do not believe in them, and no one can get me to believe in them. This has pained me. It has pained my family. It has destroyed a lot of persons' lives,” he said.
Giving a chronology of Sunday's events, the man said he was at home with his wife and felt an urge to pray. He did so, then fell asleep. When he awoke, they set about cooking dinner.
“I heard my wife running to me and it's like she was crying. She a seh 'Come, come! Yu see wah deh pon Facebook? His Excellency seh wi must come to the church now! The flood is coming.'
“Mi start run up and down like mi a idiot. Mi run go get a pullover and I got this green pants and I put that over my yellow shorts as I was running out. After that she said that he put up something else that we should wear full white,” the man related.
He recalled that earlier Smith had posted instructions to his flock to turn their cellphones off, wrap them in foil, and leave them at home.
“So we got to the church but by the time I was there trying to put on my shirt I heard him [saying] 'I am God. Come in the ark. Come in the ark,' So everybody a run. My wife and everybody run weh gone lef me inna the church,” he told the Sunday Observer.
“And when him seh 'Who is this that comes before me?' everybody have fi declare dem name and then him seh, 'Close my door behind me.' Then him seh, 'Cover your heads, you cannot look on God.'”
He said Smith then instructed them to throw out some of the food stored in the building.
“He told a little boy to take out one of the best drinks, then mi just hear 'splash'. When I looked on the ground, a wine dropped so I stepped back. He said, 'Yes, it is finished... whoever is on the other side of the wine cannot enter into the kingdom this way.' The only way we can enter in the kingdom is through blood,” the victim related.
He said after that an attempt was made to slash his throat, but he ran. He speculated that it was at that time that he was stabbed. However, he admits that he did not feel the injury because he believes garlic was on the blade of the knife.
Eventually, the victim said, he went back inside the building because his wife and children were on the inside.
“When I was there I felt something warm rushing down my back… and when mi touch my back a bare blood. Blood just a flow, so I started to think quick, like how can I stop this blood... and a thought just came to me to wrap myself in the sheet that I had, but the sheet weh mi did have drop, and mi tek mi time and screechie go up deh and tek it up,” the man stated.
“I was so worried and I thought I was going to die, but my wife and my son and daughter were inside the church, so I had to figure out a way how to get there. I was saying that if I die in the process I wanted to ensure that my family and the others were safe. At the same time, I was praying for mercy,” he told the Sunday Observer.
“I could not find any evil in my heart against them, even though I got stabbed. I couldn't find any anger or bitterness in me.”
“After that he [Smith] was looking around the place and he asked, 'Who is there before me?' and we declared ourselves. He said to me, 'Yuh deh ya? Come to me, my son',” the man related.
He said that he approached Smith, but did not go too close to him.
“I kneeled in front of him, saying 'You are holy, I am not able to approach your presence.' I was following the voice I heard in my head that was telling me what to say to him.
“He said, 'You guys, come on the inside,' and we went there. I was at the back and he said 'You cannot enter in here in your Babylonian garments. You have to strip naked,' ” the victim alleged.
“We all took off our clothes. A female was there and three of us as males were there. Some other guys who were inside, he told them to take off their clothes and a female police officer that was there, he told her to take off her clothes. Then we put on gowns because he had baptismal robes, but then he said we should take off everything,” the man said.
“By that time, everybody was on the outside, only a few of us were inside.
“My wife looked at me and asked if I was okay. He called a boy and told him to go get ply and batten the windows because when the thing hits, the place is going to be extremely cold.
“There was a little bit of confusion because the persons on the outside were crying out 'Yoshua! Yoshua!' and that drew his attention to go out there, and he said, 'Unnu can put on unnu clothes, man, because unnu nuh inna the presence of God. Unnu show me seh unnu doh have no pride before me.'
At that point, he said, a series of bizarre events unfolded, during which Smith asked a sick male member of the church “Do you believe that I am the resurrection?” to which the congregant replied “Yes,” after which Smith told him 'I will make you whole.'
Following that exchange, the victim said, Smith made comments that raised a red flag in his mind.
“But, at the same time, I could not move because... everybody was still rooting for this man.
“By this time the police were on the outside and I was wondering to myself why the police were not coming in, and he was saying to me and another guy 'You realise how the police are driving past?' he said 'They cannot see us…cover yourself with the sheet, they cannot see.'
“He then said, 'If I be Elijah, I call down fire from heaven to consume these 50' and mi deh deh a wait fi see the fire drop fi real. Mi a tell you the truth, because I still had some belief in this man that he is a man of God. I still believed that he was God manifested in the flesh,” the man told the Sunday Observer.
He said that it was after that that Taneka Gardner's throat was slashed on the basis that her blood was not clean.
“She did not scream. All I can remember hearing was like blood was rushing down in her windpipe and I could hear her choking on her blood. But she did not scream or anything, and I think the reason for that was because the knife had on garlic so she wasn't feeling it,” he said.
“I was in panic mode with so many things rushing through my mind, but at the same time I believed that when she died he was going to raise her from the dead,” the man said.
He also said that Smith, believing that his throat had been cut earlier, told the other congregants that he [the victim] was a living testimony that he [Smith] “is the resurrection and the life”.
According to the victim, a female member of the congregation examined his throat and, upon realising that there was no wound, was obviously shocked.
Just after that the shooting started.
“He said to me, 'This is bigger than what you think. This is not physical, this is spiritual.' I started to turn... [and] I heard 'pow, pow'. I could literally feel the fire from the gun,” the victim said. He did not say who he believed had shot him.
“I fell to the ground. I want you to believe this part when I tell you — people might say a foolishness or a duppy story mi a talk — when I fell to the ground, I literally saw my body lying on the ground and I stood over my body looking at it and there was just a rush and I found myself back in my body. I jumped up quickly and I made a sound and he looked at me in awe and he said to me, 'You are immortal. You cannot die because, remember, they tried twice to kill you and you did not die,' ” the man said the pastor told him.
He said some time later police and soldiers entered the building.
Since the incident, he said, people are of the belief that he had died.
“They thought I was dead. Even now a lot of persons in the community that I am from, they all think I am dead. All my family thought that I was dead. It wasn't until last night (Wednesday) that I called some of my family and I told them that I am alive,” he said.