Vince and Joanna Vitale Zacharias Institute
Vince and Joanna Vitale, who respectively are the director and dean of the Zacharias Institute, have announced their resignation from the apologetics ministry. (Source: video screengrab)

Director And Dean of Zacharias Institute Resign ‘Humbled’ and ‘Wrecked’

By Sarah Einselen

Vince and Joanna Vitale, who respectively serve as the director and dean of the Zacharias Institute, today announced they’re resigning from RZIM “to allow ourselves to be deeply formed by all that we have been humbled by and wrecked over in the last year.”

The Vitales apologized in February for perpetuating the “lies” of Ravi Zacharias and hurting his victims. The ministry Zacharias founded, RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries), has been embroiled in a sex abuse scandal involving its late founder.

The Zacharias Institute is RZIM’s training center and offered apologetics courses. The Vitales also served as RZIM speakers.

Three other RZIM leaders—CEO Sarah Davis, President Michael Ramsden, and Senior VP Abdu Murray—have also apologized, but appear to remain employed by RZIM. There’s been no update, either, on the third-party investigation RZIM commissioned into the organization’s culture, policies, and practices in February.

Today, the Vitales said in a joint statement on Facebook that they’d be resigning effective “next week.” They’ve been convicted, they said, of the need to repent personally and mimic Jesus’ concern for victims. They said they also want to begin “a path of introspection” to understand how subconscious desires might have influenced how they acted, or failed to act, when Zacharias’ victims came forward.

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They had acknowledged in February that they failed to listen to Lori Anne Thompson in 2017 when she reported Zacharias’ abusive and predatory behavior toward her.

“God was leading us to take seriously what we personally needed to repent of—to spend far more of our prayers, thoughts, and words on our own mistakes and failures than on those of anyone else,” the Vitales wrote today. “As we have pressed into repentance both individually and with colleagues, God has graciously made that process deeply freeing. . . .”

The Vitales said they believed “RZIM’s response to the grave abuse that occurred was critically important.”

Jesus’ “concern for victims is so great that he was willing to face isolation and injustice in order to be present with victims and secure justice for them,” they noted.

The Vitales have “had the opportunity to speak directly into significant decisions” impacting victims, they said, and were involved in “seeking to make rightful restitution” to Zacharias’ victims.

The Roys Report asked Thompson and two other victims what steps RZIM had taken to make things right.

Thompson said the institution has paid direct costs stemming from her abuse, including legal expenses, loss of income, and counseling fees. She didn’t ask for restitution beyond her direct costs and none further was offered, she said.

“I’m content with the outcome for us,” Thompson said. She noted RZIM was morally but not legally obligated to pay any of the expenses she and her husband incurred.

Another of Zacharias’ victims, Vicki Blue, and her attorney Boz Tchividjian confirmed they’re negotiating a settlement with RZIM and things are moving in a positive direction.

But Shirley Steward said the organization hasn’t contacted her or made restitution. She has said Zacharias pressured her to get an abortion when she was 17.

In their letter, the Vitales said they hoped to reenter ministry work “at some point in the future.”

“We will always deeply grieve the suffering and the ways in which we contributed to it, but it is our prayer that the grief we carry from this will serve as a lasting reminder of our duty to care for the many whose wounds are far deeper than our own,” they wrote.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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19 thoughts on “Director And Dean of Zacharias Institute Resign ‘Humbled’ and ‘Wrecked’”

    1. Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight)

      “We will always deeply grieve the suffering and the ways in which we contributed to it, but it is our prayer that the grief we carry from this will serve as a lasting reminder of our duty to care for the many whose wounds are far deeper than our own.”

      1. Why do they want to tell us about their “deeply freeing” experiences and about how their “unconscious desires” played a part? We are not their therapist. Too much about them. I think a simple statement of repentance is preferred

  1. Are there people who love and magnify the Living God in their hearts, minds and life who could have the spirit of discernment ? Might this public confession regarding one who cannot defend himself and yet defended the faith could be ‘designed in hell.’ While caring for the victims, which is important, do we care for those who loved and valued what Ravi taught? May the kingdom of God come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven

    1. We should love and value what the Lord taught. The truth is God’s word. Let His will be done. Amen.

  2. I hope the various ministries of RZIM can continue on, because they were filled with many good hearted Christians doing excellent work. I am saddened that these ministries have been impacted by the failure of the top level leadership in the organization. This must be such a trial for people on the front lines there. I hope the ministry as a whole can be relaunched and the good work they have done in the areas of apologetics, the work that Naomi was doing, etc, can go on.

    I know that on the internet people love to say everything should be burned to the ground, but we should not confuse the Godly and Christ-honoring people and worthy mission being done at the ground level with the issues in senior leadership

    1. Dear Mr Allen. The work of the Lord continues. He will supply His ministers that are true to His bride.

    2. Mark, this is a bad idea you are suggesting. There is a time when apologetic ministries must end. This is one of those times.

    3. Brian Patrick

      Mark Allen,

      What “Godly work” did the international rapist RZ and his team of sycophantic grifters accomplish? How many people were sent to heaven by his long-winded religious speeches?

      Burden’s on you.

    4. Frances Christenson

      A ministry that was built on lies is just a ministry built on lies. How can it stand if the foundation was build from fraud from the start? RZIM is not the only organization that God can use. There are many others. God won’t miss a beat. Trust me.

  3. Brian Patrick

    Cry me a river for these actors. Jesus will say “Depart from me, I never knew you.” They totally didn’t know what the old man was doing? Color me skeptical, to put it mildly.

  4. I applaud them for stepping down. They did the right thing. Now what about Abdu, Michael and Sarah? They have talent and can find secular jobs. Can they live without being in the spotlight?

  5. This was all good enough until they could not help themselves but to say that they plan to get back into the ministry business again. During a resignation is no time to talk about a comeback. It speaks of pride and is the opposite of repentance. It also shows that they care not about what the Bible actually states clearly about requirements for being in the ministry. You have to have a good reputation that is real. Their reputation is down the tube for good. Better to just admit that you were in the wrong business all along and you plan not to try to stage any comebacks. The world actually has much higher standards. There are things that people do in other businesses that they do not ever come back from. The pagans are more righteous than the so called Christians.

    1. Ralph wrote: The world actually has much higher standards.

      Read the news. Have you missed the long line of celebrity business and Hollywood folks involved in the worst kind of sexual and financial scandals imaginable. Good night, we’re talking sex abuse islands and hundred million dollar yachts. The Evangelical churches can’t hold a candle to the organized sex traffickers, school teacher sex abuse plague, porn industry, or underground dark web pedo groups. Do churches have leadership scandals, sex scandals? Sure. But are they routinely killing, beating, caging or hard-drugging their victims like sex traffickers? There’s no comparison with the sex scandals in Evangelical churches.

      And remember, what these pastoral leaders were doing was clearly opposed to Christian teaching. These folks preached about it and knew it. That’s why they were so secretive. In Hollywood, politics, and business, the practices were open, sex for advancement, etc. It was the culture; no secrecy or shame was involved. Many are coming forward to say they feel badly now because they knew so-and-so was doing this stuff for years. There was public joking about sleeping with directors at awards ceremonies. There are outtakes of horribly offensive sexual remarks to underlings that everyone knew about and did nothing about.

      I’m not trying to minimize the pastoral scandals, but they don’t compare with Hollywood, politicians, or business in scale or scope. The pagans have the big money and big-time power. Few Evangelical pastors are in anything like that situation.

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