There's nothing like a fake raid at gun point to get one's blood pressure pumping in overdrive. Glad Tidings Assembly of God, a Christian church in Middletown, Pennsylvania, is catching some attention -- and heat -- after staging a fake armed assault to teach teenagers about the "persecution of Christian missionaries."
Following what church leaders apparently hoped would be a teachable moment, a 14-year-old who says she was bruised in the incident has filed a report with police. Last Wednesday, Glad Tidings' youth group was "kidnapped" at gunpoint, hooded, interrogated, herded into a van and brought to the pastor's home where the teens were forced to see the faith leader assaulted and covered in what the young girl claims appeared to be blood.
The goal? To teach the teenagers just how dire the situation is for believers in other parts of the world. But while the intentions may have had noble roots, some of the details are raising eyebrows. The girl who launched the complaint, a visitor to the youth group who has asked to remain anonymous, described the incident in an interview with WHTM-TV.
"They pulled my chair out from underneath me, and then they told me to get on the ground," she explained. "I had my hands behind my back. They said, 'Just do as I say, and you won't be hurt.'"
At some point, the faux kidnappers -- one of which was reportedly an off-duty police officer who was allegedly using a real, unloaded gun -- told the 17 teens under siege that it was all a hoax.
Glad Tidings' pastor, John Lanza, claims that the church is "so saddened" over the girl's feelings on the matter. The faith leader says he merely wanted to cue them into what life as a Christian missionary in foreign countries might be like.
"It was a youth event, to illustrate what others have encountered on a regular basis," Lanza said. "If anyone was ever uncomfortable, they would be removed."
Local police are currently investigating the incident, as most of the parents and teens reportedly weren't notified before it unfolded.
"I would find a way that we could continue to keep the shock value, but I would find a way to inform the parents (beforehand)," Lanza explained, saying that he would like to try to keep the program if possible.
The pastor also said he would like to apologize to the young girl and her mother -- but doesn't feel it's possible to do so until the police investigation concludes.
(H/T: Daily Mail)