Abdu Murray Sean Josh McDowell
RZIM Executive Abdu Murray speaks with apologists Sean and Josh McDowell on Friday, May 21, 2021.

Abdu Murray Apologizes for Defending Ravi & Discrediting Victims, but Major Questions Remain

By Julie Roys

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) executive, Abdu Murray, on Friday broke his months-long silence regarding Ravi Zacharias’ sex abuse and the role Murray played in defending Zacharias and discrediting his victims.

In a YouTube video with professor and apologist, Sean McDowell, and his father, Josh McDowell, Murray apologized for believing and supporting Zacharias and for not listening to victims earlier. But Murray maintained that these “extremely regrettable” actions were not deliberate, but instead the result of an inadvertent blindness.

“I think we sometimes equate the impact of the person with the value of what they’ve done for me or for someone else, and then somehow blind ourselves to the negative impacts they’ve had too,” Murray said. “So, someone says something—accuses them—they’re disbelieved because, ‘How dare they touch the Lord’s anointed?’ . . . And I would say that I’m certainly guilty of that in this instance.”

Murray also revealed that he’s sent a handwritten apology to Zacharias’ victim in the 2017 sexting scandal, Lori Anne Thompson, which he read during the podcast.

“I’m sorry that I left unchecked the false narratives about your motives for exposing what (Zacharias) did, and how that fostered a perception that you are the predators, and he was the prey—when in fact the opposite was the case,” Murray said, reading the letter. “It must have been awful to live with . . . that lie and reversal of truth.”

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Murray also apologized that even after Thompson’s account was published at The Roys Report last September, “I looked for any reason, frankly, to discount it. I didn’t just pull it out of the hat. I tried to find reasons to discount it even when . . . what you had written planted seeds of doubt about Ravi’s innocence in me.”

However, Murray’s alleged blindness and naiveté contradicts an extensive 26-page document published in February by former RZIM Public Relations Manager Ruth Malhotra. In it, Malhotra accused RZIM senior staff, including Murray, of creating and managing a coordinated effort to suppress the truth about Zacharias.

She said Murray even suggested that the organization hire an ex-cop who was “rough around the edges” to discredit the massage therapists who accused Zacharias of abusing them.

In the video, Murray denied ever wanting to hire a “rough ex-cop.”

Murray admitted that he asked Brian Kelly, the former attorney in Zacharias’ lawsuit against the Thompsons, about hiring a private investigator to research the women. Murray said that in response, the lawyer said the only investigator he knew was a “rough Atlanta ex-cop.”

Yet, Murray insisted that he told other RZIM leaders that he did not recommend going that route and that “the other person . . . misheard or we just remember it differently.”

“I just want to be clear, I never advocated for trying to silence or intimidate victims,” Murray said. He conceded, however, that his “tone may have made it difficult for victims to come forward.”

Murray also told WORLD Magazine in March that RZIM did “background checks” on five people associated with the spa allegations.

In addition to addressing these specific issues, Murray also talked in the video about lessons he’s learned from the Zacharias scandal.

Murray admitted that he overlooked the extensiveness of Zacharias’ travel. Murray said Zacharias traveled 200 to 240 days/year, despite RZIM requiring that all other speakers sign a covenant limiting travel to no more than 100 days/year.

Murray also noted that at RZIM, Zacharias was both the chairman of the board and the CEO, which gave him a lot of power.

For the past few months, Murray said he’s taken a pause from ministry and has been reading books on abuse, like Dr. Diane Langberg’s book on “Redeeming Power.” Quoting Langberg, Murray said Christians must remember that “people are sacred, created in the image of God. Systems are not.”

He added, “We really cannot, in ministry, afford to elevate ministry above people, or certainly above Jesus. And I think that we have this mentality in ministry that somehow ministry is itself sacred, that ministry somehow is itself untouchable.”

The responses to Murray’s interview and recent actions have been mixed.

Several weeks ago, Lori Anne Thompson acknowledged Murray’s letter to her in a tweet and said, “I am grateful for the progress he has made. It’s a process.”

However, Shirley Steward, a woman who says Zacharias pressured her to get an abortion when she was a teenager, responded: “That makes one of us. Apparently his ‘journey’ is selective.”

Similarly, after the interview with the McDowells, Steward tweeted that Murray had called her a “liar about the abortion” and is “insincere & remorseless.”

I reached out to Murray an asked him about Steward’s allegation, but he did not respond.

Steve Baughman, the attorney who years ago reported that Zacharias was lying about his credentials, stated in an email to The Roys Report: “One of the most revealing things about (the) McDowell interview was the lack of concern with Ravi’s massive credential fraud. Abdu joined RZIM in 2015, the same year I discovered and began publicizing the bogus credential claims. There was massive evidence that Ravi was a man of bad character.”

Baughman also noted that Zacharias claimed in 2017 that he never spent time alone with women. Yet, many people knew he was getting private massages and that Zacharias had a personal traveling masseuse and an apartment for her in Bangkok.  “The McDowells didn’t ask Abdu about how he missed all that,” Baughman noted.

Yet, many others responded very positively to Murray’s interview.

“Thank you for your humility and vulnerability,” tweeted one woman. “I can relate to a lot of the temptations that you experienced regarding not wanting to believe it to be true of Ravi . . .”

Another woman, Debbra Stephens, who’s an author of Bible studies, tweeted: “Prayers for healing, grace and forgiveness.”

And Ken Shadel, someone who states on his Twitter bio that he’s a Colson Fellow, tweeted, “Looking forward to having you back defending Biblical World View!!”

Yet many questions remain following Murray’s interview.

In February, after the release of the Miller & Martin report finding that Zacharias had sexually abused numerous women, RZIM hired Guideposts Solutions to conduct a thorough evaluation of RZIM. Yet, to date, there’s been no release of information regarding Guideposts’ evaluation.

Also, in March, RZIM said it would lay off more than half of its staff and reboot the organization to support victims of abuse. It remains unclear, however, whether Murray—and also RZIM President Michael Ramsden—are still receiving paychecks from RZIM. Zacharias’ daughter, Sarah Davis, remains the CEO of the organization.

I reached out to Murray and RZIM and asked them to answer these questions, but neither responded.

RZIM also has not named its board members.

Abdu Murray’s interview with Sean and Josh McDowell:

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22 thoughts on “Abdu Murray Apologizes for Defending Ravi & Discrediting Victims, but Major Questions Remain”

    1. Barry Macleod

      I am so tired of all around carefully worded legal apologies. Murray must understand the profound hurt and disappointment RZIM and all concerned caused. I personally am shocked still and almost speechless regarding all that went on.

  1. Frannie Christensen

    Just a frew observations. Abdu is not taking time off from ministry. He said in the interview he is writing a book about race and Christians. He is going full steam ahead and seizing on revelant cultural hot topics for a book. Josh McDowell said in a previous youtube interview with his son that he believed Ravi’s extensive traveling lead to problems and I thought Abdu just parroted that response. I felt it was planned. Abdu also worked with the McDowells in the past so I don’t believe they asked hard hitting questions or asked follow up questions well. I thought it was a soft ball interview. I am sure that happens when the interviewer has an emotional connection to the subject. Not finding fault.

    I personally didn’t find AM sincere or credible. This interview just didn’t change my mind one bit or get me to move in another direction at all. Abdu Murray seemed to look around a lot when answering questions like he was trying to remember what to say rather than answering spontaneously. He often said he was just beginning this journey or he wasn’t an expert when pressed to elaberate on his responses to questions. OK.. so does that mean when he gets further down the road he left the door open to change his answers as part of “his growth”? He choked up a bit at the very end but I didn’t see tears coming from his eyes. I also had a problem with AM blaming his culture for his mistakes concerneing RZ and RZIM. I wondered if he was following his culture or the Bible for his behaviors? That confused me and I thought it was just a convenient excuse. We all could blame our culture for sin or our gender or our upbringing or our birth order or a host of other issues.. AM also seem to equate RZ’s sin with past slavery which is no where in the Bible. Correct me if wrong. He said that many Christian men (authors) owned slaves in the past and we never banned their books so why ban RZ books? If AM’s next book goes along those lines I think I will pass. AM doesn’t know the difference when it comes to sin and just bad mistakes. How can AM confront someone if he doesn’t realize it is sin? Identification is the first step in providing solutions in my mind.

    Josh McDowell revealed that he was a childhood victim on one youtube interview with his son. I wonder if the McDowells will give the victims equal time? Would that not be the fair thing to do by allowing each side their time to tell their story? I am sure they could hide their identity if victims wish. Will Abdu Murray agree to have reliable Christian reporters interview him as a follow up? I think he would get more crediblity if he agreed to that. I believe his interview left more questions on the table rather than clearing the subject up.

    1. Adrian Jackson

      I’m confused about your statement on slavery. Are you saying slavery is not as bad as sexual abuse?

      1. Frannie Christensen

        Adrian Jackson, are you saying slavery is as bad as sexual abuse? Sexual immorality is sin in the Bible. I was talking about equtating sin with slavery. That is not condoning either. Abdu Murray seems to think that if we keep the books of slave owners on the shelves we should also keep the books of Ravi Zacharias on the shelves. Should we do that? Can we defend that postition from Scripture? I would be interested in hearing how we justify that according to the Bible. I am asking for someone to clarify that position.

  2. Valencia L Paulus

    It has to be so difficult to accept behavior of this magnitude from someone you love and respect. It’s devastating enough from afar. There are so many lessons to be learned. It is a journey! I pray for Abdu and everyone on the team to sincerely repent of their blindness, seeking God’s grace and forgiveness. It will not be an easy task to bear one’s soul before the throne and see complicity. Then there is the burden on the victims side…to not bear hate or bitterness but leave judgment or vengeance to the Lord who proves all things just. I’m thankful dear Nabeel was spared this whole ordeal. I pray for his family who dearly loved him and the heartache and horror brings upon them.

  3. I am not so sure that Abdu would grant an interview with an interviewer who has no skin in the game. There is conflicting evidence, but I would ask, who has the most to lose? Maybe he will answer Julie’s questions and be more open to explain some of these vexing questions. Maybe he would be willing to come on her talk show?

    Surely, he had to know something was amiss when news started appearing concerning Ravi’s credentials? But to my understanding, leadership defended him. It was only after things got too hot did they half-heartedly acknowledge that not being clear on his credentials could lead to confusion. Just some thoughts.

    It is difficult to see repentance when so much is still left in secrecy. I do not know his heart but I do hope the leadership will be more forthcoming in the future. He did apologize and that is a step in the right direction. I must admit it is hard for me to be positive when so many have been terribly hurt.

  4. Mark Zimmerman

    Murray spoke of a need for transparency, but lots of aspects of RZIM remain as transparent as mud, not only related to RZ running rampant for years with leaders covering for him, but also concerning such things as RZIM’s failed leadership structure and secretive board, financial aspects about exorbitant salaries and misuse of donor funds, and bullying into silence those who presented concerns.

    Murray, trained as a lawyer, was not just blindly naive when he somehow supposedly missed all kinds of objective evidence against RZ, including fake credentials, incriminating texts, and an abusive lawsuit of lies trying to silence the Thompsons, but was purposefully abetting of RZ’s sins, even after they were not secret anymore to outside laypeople who were paying attention.

    Murray states near the end, “My awakening in this area has come at someone’s expense, and I regret that but it is an awakening.” Actually Abdu, it’s not just someone’s expense, but innumerable people’s expense (figuratively and literally), starting with all of RZ’s countless victims, and including those around the world, both believers and unbelievers, who were negatively impacted by your failures as a highly-paid leader to do what needed to be done in multiple ways. And, to the extent all this detracted from the good news of Jesus and His glory, your failures came at His expense.

    Abdu, if you have started to develop a conscience and spine, you could use them to call out the falsehoods of remaining Ravi defenders, like a few in his family, as well as helping expose the other abuses that went on at RZIM for years. But, that might actually cost you something, unlike belatedly covering your tracks now.

  5. Rev. Warren "Chip" Roy

    I am accepting his apology as sincere. I confess one of the regrets I have had from my past is when people have come to me and apologized I didn’t accept their apology because I felt they were insincere in their apology. I have learned that it pays to accept the apology.
    And I understand that sometimes we have to discuss issues. Example one of the last apologies like that I have a great regret of not discussing one needed issue. So I understand that well.
    But I really believe in accepting apologies. We MUST forgive. And we don’t do it for the sake of those who wronged us. No according to the Bible we do it for our sake(Matt.6:14&15; Matt.18:15-35; Mark 11:26&27;
    Luke 17:1-4; Eph.4:31&32)!
    One other thing about this. I have zero problems with him being “blinded” regardless what other facts maybe pulled up. Why? Easy. I remember years ago somewhere in this great nation there was a preacher who I used to like. Some things were going around about his morals.
    I used to defend him. I was blinded by what was going on because one of the men who was bringing out the stuff on the man had some severe issues in his personal life himself!
    But finally the truth came out! That man was truly involved in some horrible sins!
    Because of my own blindness in that situation I will give Abdul here the benefit of the doubt. I really believe he could have been blinded for whatever reason!
    To me the issue at hand is not Abdu Murray. I do forgive him for defending Ravi. I have no trouble doing so. I actually have no troubles accepting what he said as being blinded.
    And before you judge too quickly think about some of the preachers who have fallen that you may have defended one time. Would you want to be treated that way because you were blinded by someone? That you thought that man was innocent for years until one day it comes out otherwise?
    I hope you all will read about Abner in 1 Sam.3. How he changed sides and went with King David.
    I hope you not treat Abdu Murray like that of Joab! Grant it I am aware that Joab had a personal grudge!
    However many will read this now and still doubt that Abdu Murray is sincere. And will act like Joab to him.
    Please don’t. While you may not murder him with a knife you may murder him with your tongue!
    God bless you!

    1. I completely agree that we should be quick to forgive. However, remaining in a position of leadership is another thing entirely. So is the continued lack of transparency at RZIM. Given the tens of millions of dollars RZIM took in over the years, both Abdu and the organization owe the public answers.

      1. According to this RZIM attorney, I and other victims and their stories were “red flags”. He did address LA T. He was covering his hind end about that. He knows exactly how to do it. He had to get some big guns on each side of him. Priceless.
        I do not believe that Ruth lied or was misinformed about his reaction to my initial forthcoming with the truth of RZ. He wanted us destroyed l. I wasn’t disappointed. I expected nothing less, nothing more. 100% predictable.
        An RZ survivor.
        VickiBlue

      2. Rev. Warren "Chip" Roy

        I hope you will reread my reply especially the first part of my comments. I am not denying that there are questions that remain. Or even further apologies.
        I think it is bothering me the way some are judging Abdu Murray’s motives. I think I read Matt.7:1-5 a lot different than most. I believe it is a warning about judging a person’s motives rather than actions. And I don’t like the way some are judging Abdu’s motives! Only God knows that(Psa.139; Prov.15:3).
        As far as further apologizing. I believe that he does. And as far as financial accountability.
        I am with you there.
        I hope if you don’t remember The PTL Club scandal that broke out in 1987. Look at all that happened following that. Jim Bakker went to prison and I think didn’t some others go to? I believe that very same thing may happen with the Ravi Zacharias scandal.
        Things like sex scandals in the Church world take years and years to “resolve” and I put “resolve” because I am of the camp that according to Prov.6:32&33 things like that basically never are resolved.
        I personally believe that the Ravi Zacharias Scandal is much worse than the PTL Scandal. I was not shocked or even surprised by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. I was Ravi Zacharias though now that I look back and see how he dealt with the Mormon issue I shouldn’t have been.
        I won’t be shocked how far this goes concerning Ravi Zacharias. I am wondering when the lawsuits will fly and yes even possible arrests and prison terms.
        This situation with Ravi is only beginning if you ask me and it will be going on for years to come.
        One thing I will say and close. I hope this situation with Ravi Zacharias will serve as a warning for preachers like me. If I ever pastor again and I know of some gross immorality going on it MUST be dealt with NOT covered up! The Apostle Paul in 1 Cor.5 told how such situations need to be handled!
        Because he dealt with it in 1 Cor.5 we read of the man’s repentance in 2 Cor.2!
        God bless you.

          1. Dear chip, AM indirectly threatened my action of speaking up. I must try to know his true motivations at this point. I lack trust for him and this business he is in (RZIM) and it’s late head. It is prudent for me to question his motives. I only want the Lords’ will.

  6. One of my concerns would be about how he omitted to say that his initial response to the spa allegations was to hire the lawyers who had defended Ravi in 2017 – it was only when this approach was challenged that then he hired Miller Martin

    1. Frannie Christensen

      Sheila, my understanding, from comments on other threads from workers at the organization, was that leadership/family didn’t want to have any investigation. It was the underlings that pressed and pressed for it. Someone can correct me if I am wrong. To be honest I don’t think there has been a fair investigation into all this and we probably will keep getting facts even a year from now.

      RZIM has passed from just a Christian ministry to an organization with legal issues now. There are much different consequences than a simple “I forgive you”. When RZIM got Miller and Martin I think many people saw that as they are lawyering up and coming out with guns blazing. A lot is at stake now. Most of us average folks have not dealt with lawyers and court issues. We are looking at this from a different lens than AM, RZIM and the Zacharias family. AM is well versed in what is going on and the advice the lawyers are giving.

      Please keep in mind that RZIM got a lot of PPP money for salaries to keep all those at the top employed. They were allowed to get COVID funds because their giving dropped due to scandals not because COVID lowered their coffers. While many of us, and RZIM staff, were out of work the leadership didn’t miss a heartbeat. They are survivors that is for sure. All of them land on their feet!!

  7. Mark Zimmerman

    Murray follows an all-too-familiar script among failed so-called ministry leaders, e.g. James MacDonald, Bryan Loritts, and Phil Johnson, trying to retain their platforms and income streams, doing a slow-pitch softball interview with a friend, who offers affirmation throughout. Meanwhile, Murray lamely pleads (implausible) ignorance and admits only to what is already publicly known of the seedy underbelly of RZIM.

    The McDowells, by doing such a weak interview, discredited themselves. It should also be asked of them, “Where were you when all the info about RZ’s lies and gross sins were public knowledge?” They should have joined the few brave public voices years ago in calling out RZ, thereby possibly averting at least some disaster, and maybe even aiding RZ’s own repentance. The only tough question they asked was an awkward one that no one wanted to know the answer to, i.e. when Josh mentioned sex life in the context of asking what RZ’s and Margie’s relationship was like.

    One need not even judge Murray’s motives: the facts of what he did and didn’t do for years speak for themselves. Like a Phil Johnson, he ran interference and tried to squash any dissenters trying to expose a lying, abusive, highly-paid (by donations) head of a nepotistic business.

    Murray is thoroughly disqualified from being anywhere near ministry leadership now. That he is still at RZIM demonstrates the rot that is still there. That he thinks this a good time to be writing a book about race relations shows how clueless he is about the magnitude of his failures in being complicit as a well-compensated, donor-supported “expert” and “leader” at RZIM.

    1. Kimberlee Linn

      As an extensive childhood victim of sexual abuse/assault as well as a victim of a pastor who was grooming me (but I broke free) I find the RZIM leadership infuriating and nauseating. Their inability to see the wickedness of what RZ did appears clouded by power, prestige and money.

      Anybody ever heard of discernment? Wisdom? Accountability?

      Don’t tell me for a second that RZ’s extensive sexual escapades didn’t overflow into the RZIM organization. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

      It would be absurd to believe that his wife, kids and leadership “had no idea”. In my humble opinion there is zero chance he didn’t make inappropriate comments and say coarse things regularly. His life was a sexual abyss of dark perversion and manipulation.

      As far back as I can remember anytime I saw a picture of him I got the creeps. His countenance did not portray a tender, representation of Christ. In my spirit I knew something was very wrong. That’s called “discernment” folks (freely given only by the God I spend time with) and I’m guessing I’m not the only one.who saw it too. I had no desire to hear him or read anything from him.

      Sadly our culture has made people with a big following something of super stars. His phony credentials are all part of his disgusting life. Scripture seems pretty clear where he is now, since he lived, breathed and continued his lifestyle of sexual perversion to his death and never repented of anything.

      Thankful he’s gone or his victim list would be miles longer. What a depraved pretender. RZIM “leadership” are not leaders. They are part and party to his sexually depraved life.

      Refund the money to all who donated and get a job at Walmart and find out what the real world is like. Anyone interested in evangelism can live among hurting people and share Christ. Otherwise I fear for your souls too.

  8. Brian Patrick

    I don’t care one word about what the serpents at RZI”M” have to say now that they have all been PROVEN as liars and gangsters.

    I want to know where the two McDowells were, among so, so, so many others–it is extraordinarily difficult to believe that they didn’t know the truth about Golden Boy Ravi, far before we did–and likely far before Baughman did.

    I will repeat what I have said here and on Facebook–95%+ of “apologetics” is a scam. It is a way for “Christians” who can speak relatively well and recite facts to avoid getting real jobs. Anyone with a reading comprehension above grade 5 and some iota of charisma can read off facts about history and world religions. I dare anyone to show me where the Apostle Paul outlined such a thing as a spiritual gift of sophistry.

    We are all to be witnesses for the Great Commission and that’s that. Anything beyond that is man-made garbage and hucksterism.

    1. Kimberlee Linn

      Couldn’t agree more Brian.

      It’s all about the money. The organization should refund every cent to each donor and close up shop. Let them sell all that they own and I imagine there are buildings and investments around the world. This organization is why the world says “Christianity? NO thanks!”

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