Riaan Swiegelaar, now a former "pastor" at the South African Satanic Church, took to social media this past weekend to share that the overwhelming love of Jesus recently inspired him to step away from Satanism.
"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 shared in a video he uploaded to Facebook on July 4.
The video now has almost 200,000 views.
"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."
Swiegelaar penned a long letter that he thought to post, but he opted to speak from the heart instead.
"I actually feel it's time more people just start talking, speaking their truth. So I'm certainly encouraging people to do that as well by doing this video," he said.
Swiegelaar, a professing homosexual who hinted that he was once involved in Christian ministry over 20 years ago, shared that he was drawn to Satanism four years ago amid great brokenness.
At the time, he was an atheist, and the commonality of despair from those in Satanism is what drew him to that community.
"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 said. "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."
While overwhelmed with emotion, Swiegelaar said he began to have a few experiences with Christians who, without judgment, showed him unconditional love.
"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," Swiegelaar continued as he named a few of those people.
"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," he added.
The former satanist revealed that even when he was a "monster" and an "ugly person," these people still showed him love. He described one of the instances that took place in May.
Swiegelaar was featured on the CapeTalk radio station to give an interview on behalf of the South African Satanic Church. During the interview, he boldly said, "'I don't believe in Jesus and I don't believe Jesus Christ exists.'"
Following the interview, the interviewer from the station approached him.
"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 gushed. "That's all she did. She just said it was nice to meet me in person."
"A week later, on WhatsApp, through her status, I saw this woman is a Christian. I've never had a Christian do that," he described. "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 turning point for Swiegelaar came when he had a divine encounter with who he believed to be Jesus during one of his Satanic rituals.
"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. That's how I recognized the love of Christ," he testified.
Because of his lifestyle choices, Swiegelaar shared that he did not believe he was worthy of God's love. Since his encounter, however, he has had "real conversations with God," and said he discovered that "the Kingdom of God is not a gated community, it is open to everybody."
While he is still learning of his newfound faith, Swiegelaar concluded his video by assuring everyone that he will continue to share his journey with Christ.
The Satanic Church of South released a statement following Swiegelaar's resignation and thanked him for his service to the church.
"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. We wish him success in all his future endeavors."