Evangelical Pastor Stabbed in Neck by Worshiper on Live TV Forgives Attacker

(Photo: MailOnline video screencap)Despite receiving dozens of stitches, pastor Valdemiro Santiago (pictured with his wife, Juliana) says he wants to forgive his attacker following the stabbing in a video posted on January 8, 2017.

An evangelical pastor in Brazil was stabbed in the neck during a televised mass at a church in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but survived after being rushed to the hospital, and has since forgiven his attacker.

The MailOnline reported on Tuesday that 53-year-old Valdemiro Santiago was conducting mass on Sunday morning when he was stabbed in the neck by a worshiper at the church who was reportedly upset over a previous service by the pastor. Santiago was rushed to hospital where he was given 25 stitches, and later discharged.

Bishop Jorge Pinheiro, who witnessed the attack, told AFP that the pastor was stabbed with a 35-centimeter knife as he was leaning over to embrace a young man.

"We are in shock," said Pinheiro. "We could never have imagined that such a thing could happen in a church - to see the pastor holding his neck with blood flowing from it." 

Twenty-year-old Jonathan Gomes Higino was taken into custody by police after he was quickly overpowered by security forces.

The motives behind the attack are still being investigated, but according to a statement provided by the 8th Police District, Higino accused Santiago of provoking him during a World Cup service in July, where he said "Let us crucify him."

Higino is expected to face attempted murder charges over the stabbing.

Santiago delivered a video message after the attack, however, where he said that he forgives the young man.

"My life isn't mine. It's God's, and what he tried to do was against God. I am thankful for your prayers, your care, and your love, from the pastors, the wives, the sons," the pastor said.

"Still, I am going to keep fighting to liberate this guy. Whoever sent him to do this must be very frustrated right now. God will bless you," he added.

There are many different beliefs within Brazil, as the CIA Factbook points out, with 64.6 percent of the population belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, and various Protestant denominations making up another 22.2 percent, while Spiritist beliefs make up a minority of 2.2 percent.

Brian C Stiller, global ambassador of the World Evangelical Alliance and senior editorial adviser for The Christian Post, wrote in a September 2016 op-ed that the South American country "is a labyrinth of Christian leaders, churches, movements and missions which would keep a researcher occupied for months just to locate and identify."

"Here in the heart of South America is a people settled within uncommon vistas, loved by God and undermined by sin. A picture of God's perfect yet marred creation," he added in a post analyzing the complex faith structures in Brazil, and also suggested that it has the potential to become a "new force" in Christianity.

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