I’ve paused today’s Valentine’s love post – I’ll finish it later though – because my heart is so heavy with the news about Ravi Zacharias that has just rocked the Christian community – and honestly triggered me in a very visceral way.
If you aren’t familiar with Ravi – or, if you’ve only read this story in the newspaper – it isn’t really fair to describe him as only an evangelist or some kind of traveling minister. Prior to his death, he was a Christian apologist that was respected as one of the greatest of the modern era.
(This is the point where I almost posted a clip of his work as example of how gifted he was – but I just can’t. He doesn’t deserve that – and his victims deserve better. So please just take my word, he was one of the most well respected apologists.)
To learn that he had been conducting himself in a questionable manner at all was so upsetting – as we all expected so much better.
Last fall, Christianity Today published a story reporting that he secretly co-owned massage parlors and was inappropriate with massage therapists there.
At that point, his non-profit organization, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, announced it was having a private firm investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct – and, from what I read, I expected that it was going to be ugly.
However, I had no idea what was coming. No one did.
The open letter from the RZIM Board, upon the release of the final report of the investigation, is both sickening and heartbreaking.
The report has made me absolutely ill.
It reveals years of deceit, manipulation, and sexual and spiritual abuse.
At its worst, it describes Ravi insisting a victim pray with him before he had coerced sex with her and telling her she would be responsible for millions of souls losing their salvation if she came forward and damaged his reputation.
The reports states, of this victim, “This witness reported details of many encounters over a period of years that she described as rape.”
Numerous reports over many years of exposing himself to massage therapists, molesting them, asking for sexual favors, traveling with one (while insisting he had “never been alone with a woman other than his wife” publicly), having nude photos on his phone and inappropriate messages, and using funds from RZIM to fund these activities and manipulate these women.
The report details him asking intimate and deeply personal questions when he met the women, to find out if they had histories of abuse and if they had financial issues, if they were vulnerable prey for him.
A total second persona.
Earlier today, I saw where one person began commenting on this situation by saying he was going to discuss Ravi Zacharias’s “moral failure.”
When we talk about someone in the ministry having a moral failure, we are talking about things like an affair or some kind of addictive behavior, something terrible a person has gotten into – and (under normal circumstances) that they want to seek forgiveness and help for and are sorrowful and want to make things right.
This is NOT a “moral failure.”
This is a freaking predator.
This is a long-term pattern of abuse with multiple victims.
This is an absolute piece of garbage.
There is nothing to say to redeem this situation.
He made many conscious choices to prey on women over many years and went to his grave unrepentant.
My heart is grieving for these women.
I am so terribly saddened for his family.
And the reproach he has brought on the body of Christ? Unspeakable.
There is NOTHING further from Christ than this behavior.
The Bible consistently speaks to protecting the weak and the oppressed against those who would harm them.
Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow. – Deuteronomy 27:19
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. – Proverbs 31:8-9
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. – Proverbs 14:31
Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the Lord will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them. – Proverbs 22:22-23
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27
Clearly, this is the heart of the Father. He always seeks to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Instead, Ravi not only abused them, he used his power as well as money from his Christian non-profit to do so. He manipulated them with false spirituality, gaslighting, and shame. He abused his position as one who had preached the Word to millions and leveraged that knowledge against his victims to silence them.
I still cannot get my head fully around this.
It is so far beneath contempt and so far from Christ that it is hard to believe it is the person we all saw for so many years.
Still, our hope is not in any person – but in Christ Himself.
Unlike fallible man, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
Thanks be to God.
My heart and my prayers are with the victims of this nightmare.
My heart is also with Ravi’s family. I know they are shattered as well.
Also, as this has brought to light so much awfulness, if it has been triggering in any way – or if you are in a bad situation – help is available.
A list of resources is at the bottom of this post. Please seek any help you need. You are worth it.
Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Grace and Blessings.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1.800.273.8255
NAMI 24 Hour Crisis Text Line – Text “NAMI” to 741741
Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741 (the same number as above)
Sexual Assault Hotline – 1-800-656-4673
Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
Love is Respect – National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline – 1-866-331-9474
National Human Trafficking Hotline – 1-888-373-7888 Text: 233733
https://www.nami.org/Home – NAMI is an incredible mental health resource. They can put you in touch with help within your community for many issues you may facing.
NAMI Helpline for mental health resources (if you prefer to contact them by phone) – 800.950.6264
http://www.aa.org/ – Alcoholics Anonymous, a traditional 12 step program if you are struggling with alcohol addiction or abuse. If you search, you will also find online groups available.
https://na.org/ – Narcotics Anonymous, also a traditional 12 step program. As with AA, there are online groups as well.
https://al-anon.org/ – a great resource for family members of those suffering from addiction.
https://www.celebraterecovery.com/ – Celebrate Recovery, a faith based 12 step program for those struggling with substance addiction or abuse.
https://www.hipsobriety.com/ – This is Holly Whitaker’s old website – but it still has a ton of great information if you are struggling with alcohol or substance abuse.
There is a wonderful Recovery community of women on Instagram. Check out: #hipsobriety #soberliving #wearetheluckiest #teetotaler #soberaf #soberlife #boozefree
Please do not hesitate to reach out.
Also, if you are in life-threatening crisis, please go directly to the nearest ER. They WILL help you regardless of insurance status or anything else. You are important and you are worth it.