Making Something Good of the Ravi Zacharias Scandal

Like so many others, the Ravi Zacharias scandal has really shaken me. However, I think that there’s some good that God can bring out of this terrible mess. If you’re not familiar with what is going on, then let me bring you up to speed.

Ravi Zacharias was born in India, and become a Christian as a teenager. He would eventually immigrate to Canada, and ultimately become a foremost voice in Christian Apologetics. He went on to write over 30 books, and became a much sought-after teacher and lecturer. I didn’t follow his ministry closely, but was fairly acquainted with him. I always admired his quiet, friendly style of teaching. Ravi died of cancer in May of 2020 at the age of 74.

Ravi’s ministry, RZIM, issued a release on their website on Dec 23, 2020, acknowledging that in August of 2020, they had first learned of sexual misconduct allegations against Ravi. In their December press release they were withholding full comment until the full investigation was complete, but admitted that the earliest indicators were suggesting that the allegations were true. That he had in fact engaged in sexual misconduct.

The four-month investigation was finally completed and the results were released to the public on Feb. 11, 2021. This investigation revealed that the late-Ravi Zacharias had used his position and power to abuse massage therapist in the United States, as well as in Thailand, India, and Malaysia.

A review of his devices showed images of young women in various stages of undress. The investigation also revealed that he had used tens of thousands of dollars of ministry funds to pay four different massage therapists for an extended period of time. The report cites one woman who told investigators that after he had arranged for the ministry to provider her with financial support, he required sex from her. She called it rape.

I can’t put into words how devastated I am over this news. It is obvious that his public life as a Christian leader was sordidly different than his personal life. He portrayed himself one way, and he lived another. This level of hypocrisy is revolting to say the least. And, we’re not referring to an isolated lapse of judgement. The investigation revealed that he knowingly engaged in this sinful activity over an extended period of time, and purposely hid it from those around him.

I want to encourage you to pray for the many victims in this man’s wake. Healing from those types of wounds is not easy. My heart goes out to these women, as well as his family members and closest friends. I feel betrayed by the man. I can’t imagine how those closest to him must be feeling.

In addition to the pain that he inflicted on his victims; I am broken over the shame he now brings to Jesus. How many non-believers will now look at both Ravi and Jesus in the same light? How many of his victims will reject Christ because of the abuse they suffered at the hands of a so-called servant of His? How many people will reject Christianity because it apparently was not able to change even one of its greatest leaders?

To those who ask those questions I want to first say that I hear you. I really do. I can understand why you would think that, and I can appreciate the hurt that prompts that type of thinking. But let me please say that we can’t blame Jesus when His followers chose NOT to follow Him. If a general gives an order that his subordinate does not carry out, we don’t blame the general. If a coach gives instructions to an athlete about how he or she is supposed to train, and they don’t follow his advice; which one is in the wrong? Likewise, when Jesus instructs His followers to love others without regard to self and instead, we choose to act self-centeredly, we can’t blame Jesus. It’s not Jesus’ fault when we choose not to act like He wants us to.

I want to try to seize upon this terrible thing and find a way to use it for some good. I want to direct my attention to any who read this who are in Christian ministry. I don’t care if its pastoring a church, running a soup kitchen, or just teaching Sunday School. You have a responsibility to Christ as well as those whom you lead to constantly examine your life. Paul said that if we judge ourselves, we would not be judged (1 Cor 11:31).

I believe that what Paul means is that if we continually examine our lives internally, and right the wrongs that we see, then we will not have to face ultimate judgement from the outside. However, if we fail to judge ourselves, we will NOT fail to ultimately be judged. And that won’t go well for us.

Years ago I had the opportunity to sit down with a pastor after he had been arrested for sexual misconduct. Currently he’s serving what amounts to be a life sentence in a state prison. He walked me back through his life and began telling me about some of the earliest violations that he had committed. These happened while he was the pastor of a small church. One thing I remember that he had shared with me was how at first he knew that what he had done was wrong, yet he didn’t know what to do with it. He was so ashamed of himself that he didn’t know how to reach out for help. He said that he felt like he had no where to go. So, he tried to fight it on his own. And he failed. Miserably. Not only did the abuse continue, but it began to escalate out of control. And his line of victims just continued to grow longer and longer. He told me that he felt as though he was sending out signals for help, and was hoping that someone would pick up on it and help him. But no one saw those signals. No one knew he needed help.

I would be a fool to think that there’s no one reading this right now who isn’t on a similar path. There’s a sin in your life that you know is either out of control, or may soon well be. Maybe it’s sexual in nature; lust or pornography, or you have a problem with medication or drugs. Maybe its gambling. Perhaps you’ve become violent in your own home. Or maybe it’s something else that you recognize is wrong.  I understand that you may feel that there is no way out. Let me just say that that’s exactly what Satan wants you to believe. If he can make you think that this sin is too deep, too dark, too ugly for anyone to touch, then you’ll keep it to yourself. And it will only get worse.

The alternative is to bring it to the light. I know that sounds scary right now. But what ought to really scare you is how you’ll fare before God when this goes under His light, and the voice of any victims are made clear before Him.

James writes that we are to confess our sins one to another that we may be healed (James 5:16). There is tremendous healing power in confession. We can often literally feel the burden being lifted off of our shoulders when we finally tell someone about what we’re carrying around. In some cases, confessing it, was all that was needed to bring healing.

And sometimes, we find that confessing our shortfalls to someone else is never as bad as we thought it was going to be. In fact, you may even find yourself empowered – for the first time in your life – in wrestling free from whatever has you in its grips. But that won’t come without confession.

If I’m describing a situation that you find yourself in. Please know that there is a way out. I’m not promising you that it won’t result in some type of pain or discomfort. It probably will. But you and I both know that it’s the right thing to do, and the right thing is often not the easiest. But it’s still right.

Please, I urge you, take this sad lesson from Ravi Zacharias, and make something good come out of it. Find a Christian who is healthy and strong and who can be trusted. And sit down with them and talk. Don’t expect someone to pick up on unspoken ‘signals’ that you may think that you are sending. Talk. Talk about what’s going on. Pull back the curtain and light the light shine in.

Please, for the sake of our Lord whom we serve, let’s deal with this.



Dane Cramer is a backpacker, follower-of-Jesus blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmakerPodcast host, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us , and has worked as an investigator for over 35 years.




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