Matt Redman claims 'significant' abuse at hands of Mike Pilavachi

Matt Redman opens up in "Let There Be Light".(Photo: YouTube/MattRedman)

Worship leader Matt Redman and his wife Beth are opening up about their experience under disgraced Soul Survivor founder Mike Pilavachi. 

The '10,000 Reasons' singer said that Pilavachi "often" wanted to wrestle him and that if he and his wife offended him in some way, they were subjected to "silent treatment" that lasted "months and months and months". 

Redman said that on one occasion he was ignored by Pilavachi for three weeks because he added an extra song to the worship list without checking it with him first. Beth said that when they were still dating, they were "frozen out" by Pilavachi after they went to the cinema without telling him.

Redman says he has forgiven Pilavachi but that their years in ministry together have taken their toll. 

"I'm still working through all that happened. I was subjected to significant emotional, spiritual and physical abuse in a situation that I didn't know how to get out of. I've spent years trying to heal from that time. I've forgiven Mike, but I still feel the impact today," he said. 

The pair first met when Redman was just 13 years old and attending St Andrews Chorleywood church, in Hertfordshire, where Pilavachi was a youth worker at the time. 

They went on to co-found the hugely successful Soul Survivor youth movement that saw thousands of young people converted to Christ at a time when the wider Church was struggling to reach them. They travelled the world together with Pilavachi preaching while Redman led the worship. 

In the documentary, Redman credits Pilavachi with freeing him from sexual abuse at the hands of his stepfather after the vicar helped him go to the authorities but he says that this led him to have an "undying loyalty to [Pilavachi] for sure" and that this in turn stopped him from walking away sooner.

Looking back on his experience as a youngster with Pilavachi, he said, "I was probably seeing him every day, I would think. And then he started to counsel me about my sexual abuse. Which, looking back, I don't feel awesome about because he wasn't a trained counsellor.

"He'd actually been an accountant just a few years before and, you know, I was telling the deepest, darkest things and he was asking me for the details of what happened. The real problematic thing to me about that is he would often wrestle me afterwards.

"Wrestling was definitely his thing. I know a lot of people who were physically wrestled by Mike, and it was quite often in a hidden room in the church or it would be around his house away from everyone."

He said that at the time he tried to rationalise it by thinking that "maybe this is a youth leader trying to break the tension and it's what youth leaders do"

"Sometimes it could go on for 20 minutes, it was like full-on wrestling," he continued.

"But obviously this is a youth leader. This is an adult, this is hidden away from everyone. Looking back, I really don't feel good about it. And especially as sometimes it happened straight after we'd been talking about the details of the sexual abuse that I'd suffered."

Redman shares his experience in the new documentary, Let There Be Light, out now on his YouTube channel.

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this story, call thirtyone:eight on 0303 003 1111, or the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056.