I have been dreading this day. Ever since I received an email from Ravi Zacharias Ministries International in December 2020 confirming allegations of sexual misconduct by founder Ravi Zacharias, I have been dreading the day when the final report came out. On February 11, 2021, I received another email from RZIM stating that the investigation was complete and the final report had been made. And let me tell you, it is bad.
We all knew that it was going to be bad. If you read the initial report, the allegations that were confirmed at that point were absolutely horrible. The investigators warned in that initial report that even more serious allegations had been uncovered. So, yes, we were bracing ourselves for it, but seeing all of it written in black and white is simply horrifying.
I am writing this post to give you an update. In this post I shared my heartbreak over the news contained in that December email and initial report. I feel obligated to let you know that the final report has been made. You can read the response from the board of RZIM here and access the final investigation report here.
I am utterly at a loss for words. The magnitude and scope of Ravi’s behavior spans decades and continents. The term “sexual misconduct” seems woefully deficient to describe the depth of depravity he was engaged in consistently for many years. He was an adulterer, a sexual predator, and a rapist. He has shattered just as many lives as he has helped.
Besides the facts of Ravi’s behavior, one of the most disappointing things in the report is the response of the Executrix of Ravi’s estate to requests to make modifications to the non-disclosure agreement which one of his victims was forced into. Here is that interaction from the investigative report:
“Because both the notebook and the devices could contain evidence related to this
investigation, we asked the Executrix of Mr. Zacharias’s estate, through her counsel, to cooperate
with the investigation by authorizing Mr. Zacharias’s former counsel to give us access to their file.
The Executrix declined this request. We also asked both the Executrix and the Thompsons, through
their respective counsel, to agree to modify the NDA to allow us to speak to the Thompsons and
otherwise investigate this matter. The Thompsons would agree to speak with us only if they were
fully released from the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement. The Executrix
declined to release the confidentiality obligations in whole or in part for any reason.”
If that Executrix is a member of Ravi’s family, then the refusal is doubly repugnant. Now is not the time to cling to some kind of misplaced responsibility to Ravi’s privacy or wishes. Now is the time for transparency. Total, complete, thorough transparency.
In spite of the devastating facts of this entire situation, I want to say two things. First, I want to say that these women did not deserve this. They did not ask for it or want it. Ravi Zacharias was a predator. And every predator has prey. I am reminded of nature documentaries where you see herds of wildebeests innocently drinking from a watering hole on the African savanna oblivious to the many crocodiles quietly sitting beneath the surface of the water. After silently stalking prey for days, a crocodile will suddenly lunge out of the water and grab a startled but slow wildebeest. Make no mistake – Ravi stalked his prey. Read how each woman said that he lured her with kindness and understanding at the same time probing for information on past abuse as well as financial needs. He would meet their financial needs (with ministry funds) and then make them feel that they were indebted to him. He required payment through sexual abuse. It is appalling on every level, but none of it was their fault. As I said in my previous post, he used his position as a highly respected minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ to victimize women.
The second thing I want to say is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is still true. Ravi Zacharias has failed us, but Jesus has not and never will! I know that there are many lessons that we can glean from this situation, but something that keeps coming to my mind is, “This is how bad sin is. THIS is why God sent His only Son to die on the cross. THIS is why we need a Savior!” Because apart from Christ, every person can commit abominable acts.
By the way, at this point I cannot help but question the authenticity of Ravi’s salvation. I just cannot get around 1 John 3:4-6: “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” But that is between God and Ravi. Only they know where eternity began for him. However, based on Scripture and considering Ravi’s lack of repentance all the way to the end, there isn’t much comfort for those he left behind.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the saving power of Jesus Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Keep our eyes firmly on you and not on men. Heal the hearts and minds of those abused by Ravi, including his family and especially his wife. Heal and encourage those betrayed and disillusioned by him. Remind us of Your faithfulness and goodness. Thank you for being a loving and patient Father and Friend who will never, ever fail us. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
6 Comments Add yours
“The second thing I want to say is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is still true.”
Well said. Although this is being used to push back on that. Hard. Can we really blame non-Christians for thinking that way?
Ravi isn’t the problem. Don’t get me wrong, this is a huge scandal. I’m not minimizing it. But he’s only one man. This kind of thing happens every day, out of the spotlight, seen by few. But seen by enough.
The bigger issue is that there are a lot of us just like him. Not exactly like him, but close enough. People who talk the talk but don’t walk it.
Why would anybody choose to follow Christ if his own followers won’t follow him?
Of course, I’m painting with a very broad brush here. There are PLENTY of people who are following Christ faithfully. But any unbelieving skeptic would nod their head in agreement to what I’m saying here. It sticks, because there’s truth there.
I agree with you that a lack of practicing what we preach doesn’t nullify the truth of the Gospel. But it does tarnish it.
Our first response is always to point fingers at other people. Never at ourselves personally. The challenges facing the church are so great at this time. Ravi’s fall should be a call for each one of us to look in the mirror and ask the question: “Is Your name being blasphemed because of me?”
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Absolutely! Well said.
Satan loves to attack the body of Christ. No one is exempt. If you are doing good, he will work very hard to bring you down. This is just SAD!
While the public may want full disclosure and all hidden facts revealed regarding the Thompson sealed settlement, I do not think there is much to be gained and perhaps much to lose for the remaining family or Zacharias. The estate is legally liable for Ravi’s past conducts. What would you do if you were in their shoes?
I would want to make it right by reimbursing the ministry for inappropriate claims.
I would want to reconciled and reimburse the victims. But in what way? Usually it involves financial reimbursment doesn’t it. How much? Will it cause another set of victims?
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Those are all excellent points. However, sometimes there is a high cost to doing the right thing. I believe healing cannot begin for either the victims or the Zacharias family until full acknowledgement has happened. Money could never repay what the victims have been through. If the Zacharias family become “another set of victims,” then Ravi is 100% responsible for that and that should not factor into the decision-making process. Ravi built a financial and ministry empire on lies, deceit, and ,basically, human trafficking. Who would want any part of that?
I too was deeply disappointed and saddened at this news! I don’t think believers will be taken seriously in the world until more Christian leaders actually follow the whole counsel of God. This verse seems applicable in reference to the church (body of Christ on a small, or large scale) and teachers.
1 Timothy 5:17-21 17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
I John 1:8-9: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.