Sarah Davis, Ravi Zacharias’ daughter and the former CEO of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), has left RZIM to launch a new apologetics ministry.
Two weeks ago, Davis filed articles of incorporation with the state of Georgia for a new nonprofit corporation, called Encounter, Inc. The stated purpose of the organization is “carrying the Gospel invitation to individuals,” “engaging their questions,” and “training and disciplining messengers of Christ’s love for their spheres of influence.”
Davis was appointed CEO of RZIM in 2019. And she has remained at the helm of the organization throughout the unfolding scandal of her father’s sexual abuse, and allegations of abusive and deceptive leadership at RZIM.
An investigation into Ravi Zacharias’s abuse also uncovered financial misconduct at RZIM. As first reported by The Roys Report, RZIM funded a sham ministry, called “Touch of Hope”—a fake humanitarian effort, which funneled money to four of Zacharias’ massage therapists.
In May, Davis apologized for her leadership failures. And she claimed that an independent investigation commissioned last February would help RZIM learn from its errors and incorporate “better forms of accountability.” Now, it appears the investigation by Guidepost Solutions may not become public.
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According to Christianity Today (CT) and sources who spoke with The Roys Report, the RZIM board moved early on to limit the scope of Guidepost’s investigation and keep its findings private.
Guidepost reportedly finalized its report over the summer. But to date, that report has not been made public.
The Roys Report reached out to RZIM and Davis for comment but did not receive a reply.
News of Davis’ new ministry was immediately met with criticism by Ruth Malhotra, former public relations manager for RZIM.
“I’m disappointed to read that Sarah Zacharias Davis is launching a ‘new’ ministry . . .” Malhotra tweeted. “Sarah Davis continually drove key aspects of RZIM’s destructive actions which enabled leaders to operate without accountability, silenced victims, maligned internal dissenters, & allowed ministry resources to be severely misused—all actions which significantly harmed many people.”
Furthermore, the notion that Encounter is a "new" effort is hardly the case in practical terms:
-Former RZIM CEO is in charge [Sarah Davis]-Former RZIM speakers comprise the team [@AlyciaWood88 @Biopologetics @lou_phil_life]-Office in @RZIMhq Building
-Same attorney as RZIM…
— Ruth Malhotra (@RuthMalhotra) October 18, 2021
Similarly, Carson Weitnauer, a former RZIM director, challenged the notion that Encounter is a “new” effort, noting that Davis remains in charge, Encounter’s office is housed in RZIM’s building, and Encounter likely is funded by RZIM’s donors.
“If it walks like a duck, acts like a duck, and quacks like a duck, but wants to be called a chicken, what is it? It is a duck . . .”
If it walks like a duck, acts like a duck, and quacks like a duck, but wants to be called a chicken, what is it?
It is a duck.
The new name and the new legal structure do not change that this organization is effectively RZIM.
— Carson Weitnauer (@CarsonWeitnauer) October 18, 2021
Meanwhile, the future of RZIM remains uncertain and its board remains anonymous.
Since 2015, when RZIM reclassified as an association of churches, the organization has not published IRS form 990s, which name board members and salaries of top executives.
According to CT, RZIM’s board has dwindled to 12 people from 21 at the time of Ravi Zacharias’ death. Some have left because they remain loyal to Zacharias and wanted RZIM to defend him. Some left in protest over the limited scope of Guidepost’s investigation and the board’s reluctance to seriously review RZIM’s culture.
An executive committee of five board members are reportedly making key decisions today. The committee includes Christopher Blattner, William Payne, Casey Cook, Paul Kepes, and Peter Sorensen—all longtime financial supporters of RZIM and defenders of Zacharias.
The highest ranking official at RZIM now is Michael Ramsden. Like Davis, Ramsden released a video months ago, apologizing for his role in RZIM’s scandal.