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.”
That makes one of us. Apparently his 'journey' is selective.
— Shirley Steward (@Stewarshi) April 28, 2021
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 . . .”
Thank you for your humility and vulnerability. I can relate to a lot of the temptations that you experienced regarding not wanting to believe it to be true of Ravi. I held him in such high regard. I’m still processing too but it is definitely pushing me to rely on Jesus’ grace.
— Karen Wistrand (@karenwistrand) May 21, 2021
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: