River of Love pastor Gordon-John Manche (Photo: Facebook) and former congregation member John Zammit (Photo: One News)
River of Love evangelical pastor Gordon-John Manche has reacted to the conviction of a member of his congregation for child sexual abuse by warning people of other “sins” that he claims are equally condemnable in God’s eyes.
“Pray for Johnny Zammit and for the children he abused, and forgive him if he hurt you and disappointed you,” Manche wrote on Facebook. “However, also keep in mind that this man’s sins are no more condemnable than other sins, such as adultery, pre-marital sex, lying, envy, wrath, refusal to forgive others, gambling, drunkenness, sloth, drug-taking, tarot card readings, gossip and slander, which are committed and tolerated by many so-called Christians. These sins are all condemnable in God’s eyes and those who truly want salvation would do well to repent as quickly as possible and realise that only our Lord Jesus Christ can save your souls.”
John Zammit, 70, was recently sentenced to three years in jail after pleading guilty to bribing two 15 year-old boys with food and money in return for oral sex. One News later reported that Zammit was an active member of River of Love and had once appeared on the TV show Ħabbejtek, which Manche hosts, as a representative of the fellowship.
However, Manche denounced the story as a lie, saying that Zammit was never entrusted to represent River of Love and that he hadn’t attended a fellowship session in a while.
“What Johnny Zammit is condemnable in the eyes of God and in the eyes of everything that is righteous and holy,” Manche said. “Sins are wrong, no matter who commits them, and if sinners don’t repent then they won’t only risk ending up in jail but in the abysses of hell.”
“While everyone commits some sins because we are weak and human, other sins – such as rape, child abuse, pre-meditated adultery, murder and shooting people – are pre-meditated and are signs that your heart is getting cut off from God and blackened and seized by Satan.”
He also hit out at the Catholic Church, describing it as an organisation packed to the brim with child molesters who operate with impunity.
“Johnny Zammit made a mistake but if he repents and asks God and the people he hurt for forgiveness then his sins will be forgiven,” he said, citing a Gospel passage. “Indeed, I admire how he had the courage to own up for what he did, unlike many other people who abuse innocent children but never admit to doing so.”