A New York City designer/actress, who is a Muslim, claimed to be the woman former Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz was in a relationship with and she said she had no idea he was a popular Christian minister.
In an interview with Sun, a 34-year-old woman, who was identified as Ranin, said she decided to speak out because she was greatly hurt after the megachurch pastor told his followers about his infidelity and she wanted to share her side of the story.
Hillsong announced last week that Lentz was fired from the global megachurch due to “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.” Lentz later acknowledged on Instagram that he cheated on his wife, Laura.
Ranin disclosed that she and the popular pastor were in a relationship for more than five months before they broke up, just last week.
“There was another person on the other side of his statement that got hurt,” Ranin said, commenting that his Instagram post about his firing was “offensive” as it implied that they “just had a fling."
“I wasn’t there for just sex, we both found comfort and a deep, special connection with each other," she said. "I am very hurt because we both feel the same way about each other."
"He loves me and I love him," she continued. "It was a love relationship that wasn’t planned. It wasn’t just a fling or just a sexual relationship."
Ranin, a professing Muslim, said they met in May at Domino Park in Brooklyn, New York. She said he approached her.
“I have no knowledge of the Christian world; I’m Muslim,” she stated, claiming she had no idea he was a celebrity pastor at first.
“He told me the most beautiful women come from the Middle East and we kept talking from there. We walked and talked more for a little bit and exchanged numbers."
Ranin went on to say that he shared his first name with her and “that his job was as a sports agent.” He reportedly told her that he did not want to give her his last name so she could “get to know him in person” first before looking him up on Google.
Lentz is often pegged a celebrity pastor in mainstream media because some of his friends and congregants included A-list stars such as Justin and Hailey Bieber, Kevin Durant, Selena Gomez, Kylie Jenner and others. He is also credited for baptizing Justin Bieber in the bathtub of former New York Knicks player Tyson Chandler.
The 43-year-old allegedly waited until later on in their relationship to tell Ranin he was married, she claimed.
Lentz has been married to Laura for 17 years and they have three children together.
She maintained that she did not know about his wife until after a few dates.
“He said he had absolutely never strayed outside of his marriage before and was feeling guilty,” Ranin, who is of Egyptian and Palestinian descent, continued. “But he told me that when he met me, God told him to tell me that I need to know my worth and there’s something special about me … whatever, whatever.”
She said they soon started to engage in sexual intimacy “a few times a week” for several months.
It all came to a head when Laura reportedly discovered that Lentz and Ranin were having an affair after seeing all of their intimate conversations on his work computer at the church, which was linked to his phone.
In his Instagram post that was shared after he was fired from Hillsong, Lentz wrote: “When you lead out of an empty place, you make choices that have real consequences. I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that. This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Hillsong’s founder, Pastor Brian Houston, first made the announcement about Lentz's termination in an email to church staff and members of Hillsong East Coast on Wednesday afternoon.
“I know this will come as a shock to you, but please know that this action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl,” Houston, whose church has locations worldwide, wrote in the email.
He went on to say how much he and his wife appreciate Lentz and his wife and all of their work with Hillsong over the past decade.
In his own post, the celebrity minister said he and his family gave all they had to serve and build Hillsong NYC over the years but now he will focus on rebuilding his family.
“I now begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife, Laura and my children and taking real time to work on and heal my own life and seek out the help that I need,” Lentz confessed.
“I am deeply sorry for breaking the trust of many people who we have loved serving and understand that this news can be very hard and confusing for people to hear and process. I would have liked to say this with my voice, to you, in person because you are owed that. But that opportunity I will not have. So to those people, I pray you can forgive me and that over time I can live a life where trust is earned again."