RZIM AFRICA

Dear Friends,

 

The boards and staff of RZIM Africa entities are devastated and heartbroken by the findings of the Miller and Martin investigation revealing that for many years, Ravi Zacharias did indeed engage in sexual misconduct and abuse [link]. For many of us, Ravi Zacharias was someone that we loved, respected and learned from. So this revelation has caused profound confusion, sorrow and pain. We have struggled individually and as a global team to come to terms with the reality of Ravi Zacharias’ abuse of these women, for us as a team in Africa, for the ministry, and for our public witness.  We commit to embracing the fullness of truth, as painful as that truth may be.

 

The courageous women who shared their devastating stories of abuse at the hands of power are bearing a pain deeper than we can ever know. While we all must deal with the ramifications of Ravi Zacharias’ actions, these women bear the wounds of those actions directly. These actions have added pain upon pain to the lives of women and the ripples of this pain have spread out into the lives of their families and communities. We painfully acknowledge that the image Ravi Zacharias presented to the public was different from the life that he lived in secrecy. The truth of the life of Jesus that Ravi preached so persuasively in public was different from the lies and deception that he spun around his own life in private. The hypocrisy of Ravi’s admonishments to us to live with integrity and his consistent requirements of us were vastly different from his own misuse of power to abuse and manipulate the women who have come forward. Given the extent of Ravi’s deception and abuse, we recognize that there may be many others who have suffered, and whose stories have not yet been told. We commit to doing everything we can to ensure these victims are heard should they choose to come forward, and to protect them from secondary trauma in this process.

 

Our scriptures are filled with lament – from the Psalms to Lamentations to Jesus’ cry from the cross. Lament is not simply about sorrow or grief, but an invitation to talk to God about pain and to commit to costly action to redeem and restore what is lost. 

 

 

Prayer

 

Merciful and Just God, we come to you in this time of need. 

Teach us to sit with the pain of the many women who have been broken and wounded by the devastating actions of Ravi Zacharias. 

Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord. Have mercy.

 

Teach us to sit with the pain of the continued brokenness of humanity which we see when men act in sinful ways, offending the image of God in the other, and abusing women sexually, physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord. Have mercy.

 

Teach us to sit with the pain wrought by the systems and structures of Christian ministry organizations that seem to lend themselves time and again to gross abuses of power, moral negligence, and ethical abandon. 

Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord. Have mercy.

 

We confess that we have chosen reputation over integrity, power over love, preservation over redemption, arrogance over humility, secrecy over truthfulness and devastation over life, serving our own sinful desires over honouring the God we claim to serve.

Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord. Have mercy.

 

 

Regarding the US Statements

 

While Ravi Zacharias is responsible for his own sin, we must also acknowledge and repent of our own wrongdoing. By believing Ravi Zacharias and forwarding the statement by the International Board of Directors alongside Ravi’s statement following the testimony of Lori Anne Thompson in 2017, we participated in slandering her and her husband Brad Thompson. For this wrong and for compounding their pain, we are truly sorry and are filled with grief.

 

We welcome the statement of repentance [link] issued by the International Board of Directors, and the commitments therein. We welcome the announcement that names of the board members will be made known.

 

It is our strong conviction that there must be a thorough and independent process of investigation into the organisation’s structure, culture, policies, processes, finances, and practices. The investigation should include a close scrutiny of how allegations against Ravi Zacharias were handled in all relevant years. We are grateful that Guidepost Solutions have been brought in with this investigative mandate. We are assured that they have been given full discretion and independence, including the ability to make recommendations of any restructuring or/and disciplinary procedures that need to take place in response to the findings of the investigation. We are hopeful that there is a commitment and process for the senior leadership team and all staff to cooperate and participate in a meaningful way. Our hope is that this investigation will ascertain the full extent of where we have gone wrong, will uncover all hidden areas, and lead us into further repentance, restitution and faithful response.

 

RZIM Africa – Next Steps

 

Over the last 9 years, our team of 13 speakers and 5 support staff have served on the continent of Africa as part of the global team of RZIM. Our expressed mission has been to engage faithfully with questions, objections, reservations and concerns about the Christian faith in a way that best serves our context. Through digital media, events, conferences, speaking engagements, television, social media and countless opportunities across the continent, we have sought to help the believer think and the thinker believe. Our commitment to the beauty and truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed.

 

In light of the gravity of these revelations we believe that it is necessary for the Africa team to take the following three months in which we commit to:

-       Pray for, listen to and learn from victims and victim advocates, seek their forgiveness where appropriate, and take steps that emerge.

-       Take much-needed rest and pastoral care for our team.

-       Actively lean into disciplines of lament.

-       Wrestle with a theological response and public witness around the themes of these revelations.

-       Continue to engage with our stakeholders in a spirit of humility and transparency as we seek to build on the trust that has over the past years been graciously extended to us.

-       Prayerfully seek God’s guidance on how best to continue with our mandate to preach and defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the Africa team, and the nature of our relationship with our founding organization moving forward.

 

We also recognize that our call to follow Jesus, live a life honouring to God, and our mandate to preach the Gospel were given to us by Jesus Christ, and these remain our responsibility until He returns or calls us home. He bore our pain, shame and sorrow upon Himself on the cross, and we all stand humbly before Him in need of forgiveness. It is the peace and love that He offers to anyone who will accept them that we preach, and it is to Him we turn on our own behalf and on behalf of all who have been hurt deeply.

 

As the Regional Director, I, Mahlatse Mashua, am at your disposal to clarify any questions that may arise in this regard. Please contact us at info@rzim.org.za

 

We have taken our website down in response to the devastating findings of the investigation into Ravi Zacharias’ misconduct and abuse.

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