The unnamed ministry board of Abdu Murray, former senior vice president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), is reportedly challenging the conclusion of a group of leading Christian apologists that Murray is “disqualified” from ministry.
The apologists—William Lane Craig, Sean McDowell, Mike Licona, Debbie Licona, and Paul Copan—said they invested about 1,000 hours investigating Murray, former RZIM CEO Sarah (Davis) Phillips, and President Michael Ramsden. The group concluded the former RZIM executives had abused and deceived their former staff and were unrepentant for their actions.
However, the board members for Embrace the Truth, the ministry of Abdu Murray, this week reportedly released a statement to The Christian Post (CP), refuting the apologists’ findings. CP did not name the board members. It also did not link to a copy of the ministry’s complete statement.
“We find the characterization of Mr. Murray as an individual who has ‘not displayed godly sorrow nor demonstrated the fruit consistent with repentance for their actions,’ to be wholly unfounded, if not absurd,” the statement read, according to CP.
“Mr. Murray has readily and publicly admitted his own failures and shortcomings, including his trust in Mr. Zacharias and his role in initially defending him against allegations that were later proven to be true. Moreover, Mr. Murray has proactively sought the forgiveness of certain parties that suffered hurt at the hands of Mr. Zacharias, and then subsequently himself, and he has spent numerous hours in conversations with the board, his senior pastor, and various other spiritual advisors to learn from these experiences.”
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The Roys Report (TRR) called Embrace the Truth Wednesday and requested a copy of the board’s complete statement, as well as the names of the ministry’s board members.
Dominique Cochran, who answered the phone for Embrace the Truth, said the ministry would respond to TRR’s requests by email. When Embrace the Truth did not respond by email, TRR sent two follow-up emails, which additionally asked for the name of Murray’s church and senior pastor.
To date, Embrace the Truth has not responded.
However, according to documents filed with the state of Michigan, Embrace the Truth has three directors, the minimum required by Michigan. They are Abdu Murray, Michael Kern, and Brian Wassom. Kern and Wassom have served on the ministry’s board for at least a decade.
A co-founder and longtime, former vice president of Embrace the Truth (formerly Aletheia International) is Mickey Badalamenti, discipleship pastor of Rockpointe Community Church in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
It’s not clear what relationship, if any, Badalamenti still has to Murray and Embrace the Truth. TRR reached out to Badalamenti for clarification but did not immediately hear back.
The other officer with Embrace the Truth is Murray’s wife, Nicole Murray, who serves as both treasurer and secretary.
According to CP’s article, Embrace the Truth claims that Murray has reconciled with several offended parties and his ministry has “paid all the costs associated with those efforts, including counseling and reconciliation.”
“Certain individuals have accepted his heartfelt apology, and those relationships have graciously been restored in a God-honoring manner,” the Embrace the Truth statement reportedly reads. “Understandably, other relationships are still in the process of being restored even as Mr. Murray continues his genuine efforts to do so.”
One of those who apparently has warmed towards Murray is Sam Allberry, an author and former speaker with RZIM. He tweeted in response to CP’s article on the board’s statement: “I’ve been grateful for the evidence of deep repentance I’ve seen in Abdu’s life in recent months.”
I've been grateful for the evidence of deep repentance I've seen in Abdu's life in recent months.
— Sam Allberry (@SamAllberry) November 16, 2022
Similarly, Xandra Carroll, a former RZIM speaker who worked for Lighten, tweeted what appeared to be support for Murray and critique of the apologists.
“My heart is breaking,” Carroll wrote. “Some of our most respected apologist voices have forsaken the Apostle’s Creed. We can no longer link arms and recite together: ‘I believe in the forgiveness of sins.’”
However, former RZIM spokesperson Ruth Malhotra, who claimed Murray and other RZIM executives had bullied and harassed her, tweeted: “Calling our brothers and sisters in Christ to repentance before they are restored to ministry is not cancel culture. It’s gospel culture.”
Calling our brothers and sisters in Christ to repentance before they are restored to ministry is not cancel culture. It's gospel culture.
It's what love requires of us.
— Ruth Malhotra (@RuthMalhotra) November 16, 2022
Also, in a statement sent to TRR, Malhotra wrote:
Abdu Murray was a key architect of Ravi Zacharias’s false narratives at RZIM, while also bullying those who raised important questions and concerns. His abuse of power over several years harmed many people, including—at times, especially—me.
I have not heard anything from Abdu since I went public in 2021. His silence to me—while he’s out there relaunching his ministry and releasing his new book—has caused further pain and confusion.
I’ve come to understand that while forgiveness is unilateral, reconciliation requires both parties—and godly sorrow and repentance on the part of the oppressor are necessary for relationship to be restored. I’m grieved that most of RZIM’s senior leadership have not demonstrated this posture nor have they reached out to me; but I still believe in the possibility and beauty of reconciliation and continue to pray for that to become a reality.
Likewise, Carson Weitnauer, former RZIM director and founder of Uncommon Pursuit, told TRR that Murray has rebuffed his attempts to reconcile.
Weitnauer told TRR that from June through October, he initiated and engaged in a “mediation process” with Murray. Weitnauer said he had two conditions: that Murray write and send a letter “acknowledging how he hurt me (which I promised to keep private)” and that Murray publicly acknowledge those issues later.
Weitnauer said Murray wrote the letter, which the mediator said she was authorized to read. But the mediator said Murray was unwilling to send the letter or confess the wrongs publicly, Weitnauer said. As a result, Weitnauer said he didn’t want to hear the letter, but added, “Despite the pain Abdu has caused me, I continue to pray and hope that we will be able to reconcile.”
Of the three former RZIM executives deemed “unfit” and “disqualified” by the apologists, only Murray remains in public ministry. Sarah (Davis) Phillips launched an apologetics ministry last year, called the Lighten Group, but that ministry recently announced it’s shutting down.
This article has been updated to include Malhotra’s statement, which was sent after our initial publication, and to clarify the mediation process between Weitnauer and Murray.