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The pastor of the Christian group that went viral when Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., criticized them for singing worship songs on a plane ride back from helping Ukrainian refugees said the controversy he sparked was unintentional.
Jack Jensz Jr., an Australian-born pastor whose Philadelphia-based Kingdom Realm Ministries joined other church groups earlier this month in offering humanitarian aid to Ukrainians, posted a TikTok video of the plane incident on April 9. He told The Christian Post that he didn’t mean “to stir anything up” or get entangled in politics.
Omar tweeted out Jensz’s video a week later during Easter weekend, writing, “I think my family and I should have a prayer session next time I am on a plane. How do you think it will end?”
Her comment sparked backlash from many Republicans who attacked her for what they suggested was anti-Christian bigotry.
“It was actually just a post to share with our friends and encourage our friends that have been following our journey,” Jensz said.
“When [Omar] posted that, I just looked at it and I didn’t really give it too much thought. I didn’t really enter into any political debate,” he continued. “For us, we just came to share the love of God, we came just to reveal to people that Jesus loves them so much, and that’s our focus. Our focus wasn’t a political agenda at all.”
Jensz captioned his TikTok videos with, “Worshipping Jesus 30,000 feet in the air!” and “We are taking this flight over for Jesus!”
Jensz explained how the worship team obtained permission from both the air host and the pilot to sing their songs on the commercial flight out of Poland, and that they would not have done so without it.
Jensz also described the devastation he and his fellow Christians saw while they were ministering in Ukraine.
“I’ve never seen anything like this!” he recounted. “Walking down the lines, you have people throwing their children at you saying, ‘Please take them,’ and they’re just filled with great fear. These people have driven days to get to the border. These people are leaving war-torn areas where they’ve even seen their houses bombed. They’ve had to send their sons and fathers back in to fight the war, and so it’s just so devastating.”
Jensz and his group met with criticism from some on social media after Omar singled them out, but he noted that he has seen religious displays on other flights he has been on.
“It happens quite often. I think that we just shook the ground a little bit because it was a worship song. So it’s very out there in that sense. But I think that if you ask for permission and it’s granted and what you have to say is encouraging and uplifting and brings hope and light, sure! … We live in a beautiful, free country, and we’re free to express what we believe and what we stand firm on in our heart and if that’s bringing life.”