Ravi Zacharias Ministry to Change Focus to Supporting Evangelism and Abuse Victims

By Bob Smietana
Ravi Zacharias
Ravi Zacharias speaks to students at the Zacharias Institute in Alpharetta, Georgia, in July 2018. (Photo by Gary S. Chapman)

The leadership of Ravi Zacharias International Ministry announced plans to lay off more than half of its staff and to reboot the organization to support victims of abuse.

“RZIM cannot — indeed should not — continue to operate as an organization in its present form,” CEO Sarah Davis told staff on Wednesday, according to an internal email. “Nor do we believe we can merely rename the organization and move forward with ‘business as usual.’ That, we are convinced, is not right for numerous reasons.”

Davis, whose late father founded the ministry, told staffers the ministry had lost significant financial support since the release of findings from an investigation into allegations of misconduct involving Ravi Zacharias, who died in May 2020 of cancer. The investigation found credible evidence of a long pattern of abusive behavior by Zacharias, including coercing massage therapists at a spa he co-owned to perform sexual acts.

After the release of the report, RZIM’s board, whose members remain anonymous, decided to stop accepting donations. The nonprofit hired Guidepost Solutions to investigate RZIM’s culture and practice.

The ministry also announced plans to transition from having a global team of evangelists and apologists to becoming a grant-making organization, which will support both evangelism and “the prevention of and caring for victims of sexual abuse.”

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Because of the new focus and declining donations, RZIM will lay off about 60% of its global staff, effectively immediately.

“Those of you affected by this will be offered the same financial consideration as those who participated in the voluntary redundancy in recent weeks,” Davis told staff. “No employee will be asked to sign an NDA, and we encourage any of you to reach out to Guidepost with any information you may have that may be helpful in the review, regardless of your status with RZIM in the coming weeks.”

RZIM had previously announced that it will change the name of the organization and also published contact information victims of abuse can use to report their stories.

Bob SmietanaBob Smietana is a national reporter for Religion News Service.



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26 thoughts on “Ravi Zacharias Ministry to Change Focus to Supporting Evangelism and Abuse Victims”

    1. I would hope no one would donate one penny. They should be ashamed to solicit donations. The whole thing should be shut down and forgotten. (I realize they stopped accepting donations at some point. That should be permanent.)

    2. Jacob, you are right. I just read this in CT. There was smoke way back in 2008!

      Top RZIM leaders in the US and Asia have known about allegations against Zacharias since at least 2008, when an Indian team member reported to the head of the Singapore board that Zacharias had been seen with a woman he wasn’t related to in a Singapore hotel. Zacharias was holding her hand and appeared to be intimate with her. Zacharias dismissed it as a misunderstanding, and the ministry did not investigate, according to internal documents obtained by CT.

      The team member raised the issue again in 2012, along with questions about Zacharias’s solo trips to Thailand, where Zacharias owned two apartments—one for himself and one for a massage therapist. The ministry didn’t investigate then either. The Singapore board instead launched a full inquiry into whether the team member was spreading rumors about Zacharias.

      “Directors agreed that derogative remarks of any kind by any of the parties must cease immediately as they do not glorify the Lord,” the Singapore board chair wrote in a 2012 email obtained by CT. “We are of the same conviction that brothers should reconcile where there have been misunderstandings. … The work of RZIM is making great impact on unbelievers and any public dispute will bring irreparable damage to parties concerned and the organization.”

      Similar arguments were made at RZIM’s other international offices. Team members in India, the US, the UK, and Canada told CT that when they raised concerns, they were dismissed. Leadership pointed to Zacharias’s reputation. He was considered above reproach and beyond question.

  1. Hey, wwjd?
    What would you do?
    By transitioning to an organization that seeks to help victims of sexual abuse isn’t she admitting responsibility and won’t she have to face her fathers sin and her part in it every day she reaches out to help a victim of abuse? That speaks louder to me than a one time public admission of guilt.

    1. Todd, they rebrand so the victims can’t come after them in the long run I guess. RZ will have nothing to do with the new organiztion so no one can come after them for the behaviors of the father. So sorry to victims! Those folks harmed have a small window of opportunity to get help and after they become the new, better version any other victim will be left in the dust. All while the Zacharias family still keeps earning 6 figure incomes each. They are wonderful poker players. And then so you still love them they will make believe they are helping abuse victims. I am going to guess that maybe 10% will go to that PR stunt and the rest of the money will go into pockets of loyalists and family. They will hand pick the most loyal to stay on within the organization and that means they will keep their mouths shut. The family still has an elevated platform to make money, control others and be powerful. They lost nothing in the deal. Like a negative sum game. Sad. Apples don’t fall far from the trees it seems.

    2. Jennifer Eason

      When do we get to the part where the entire board resigns? Resignation is the ONLY proper response to the gross negligence the RZIM board displayed in ignoring Zacharias’s secret devices and unorthodox travel arrangements. Resignation is the minimum response; far beyond that is real repentance, the only Jesus honoring response.

    3. I am not convinced that Jesus would want any of them to return to public ministry. Although I am not sure as I am working on the sanctification stuff.

      1. Lord, we want only what you want.
        God bless you Vance. Please keep working hard for Him. Thank you. I have been so worried about this, (the board). I am praying for His Will only.
        An RZ Survivor

  2. All those people losing their jobs through no fault of their own is so sad. Then they ask them to help RZIM by reporting to Guideposts. Why should they bother? They got screwed out of job. Everyone gets screwed except the family and few loyalists.

    So RZIM or whatever it is called will take in money and those in charge will still get their 6 figure salaries, trips, book deals, and influence while the rest of the schmucks take a hike. Wonderful news! The family won’t miss a heartbeat but everyone else is a loser. Welcome to the Zacharias world of charity. Tails we win. Heads you loose.

    The whole deal smells bad. It really shows me what the family is about and their lack of character. I am not buying anything from this family or watching anything they put out. Won’t give them one paisa. They don’t deserve it. Just when I think the Zacharias’ can’t go lower they do. They still will operate in secrecy. If ECFA blesses this they are smelling bad too.

    1. You are right and they are still not transparent even telling us who is on the board. Hiding things in darkness is always a red flag.

  3. RZ’s daughter Sarah Davis needs to be investigated and fired if she will not do the honorable thing and resign due to her many years of gross malfeasance and negligence as a top leader at RZIM, while she was also greedily collecting an exorbitant but in recent years secret salary, from donations, that she likely finds hard to let go of if she had to get a real job, which also applies to any other Zacharias family members and their cronies still involved with RZIM or whatever they plan to call themselves in the future.

  4. It’s beyond comprehension that an organization, led by a serial rapist/sex abuser and an anonymous board full of family members and enablers who looked the other way for years in the face of credible allegations, would think they could take the lead on “the prevention of and caring for victims of sexual abuse”? It’s so preposterous I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Close down everything, investigate to find more victims, pay victims proper restitution, expand investigation overseas, identify and investigate the board members and executive leaders, disclose financials over many years.

    1. Issac, you are right. Who would recommend a victim to this place? Are they talking about Ravi victims or any victim?
      As far as evangelizing, who would recommend this place to a seeker??? And what kind of evangelist wants to sign up with this group?? Is it just a ploy as some are suggesting? They will answer to the Lord.

  5. 1. Make the Board public.
    2. The Board resigns in disgrace.
    3. All the money is given to a third party to investigate and give to Ravi’s victims.

    Then, and only then, will anyone believe these secretive liars. Saying “Sorry” is just too easy. Acts 26:20

  6. Why are all those people losing their jobs while the Zacharias family continues to receive large salaries? Those who enabled Ravi Zacharias will continue to be supported and receive “provision”, but hard working people who were lied to repeatedly lose their jobs? Pffftt!

    1. All money is given to a legal and objective 3rd party to investigate and make restitution to Ravi’s victims.
    2. All family members resign.
    3. The NDA on Lori Anne Thompson is rescinded.
    4. The names of all Board members are made public.
    5. All financials are released and fully transparent.
    6. The organization is closed. Period.

  7. I agree with these comments. It’s beyond the pale at this point. Effective IMMEDIATELY this should be an organization that is 100% volunteer work to find victims and compensate them with whatever cash is on hand…until it’s gone. Then shut it down. That’s the only way that I would believe they are sincere…that they would work tirelessly without compensation to right the wrongs they indirectly helped perpetuate. No more donations ever. Think about it…previously given donations literally funded the abuses and now the family is going to reboot the family business to have ongoing jobs (after laying off everyone they don’t like)…jobs that are based on their patriarch’s sin/crimes???? It’s truly sickening. Of course even if they take the course I’m suggesting, I think they would screw that up too so maybe they should find a real, faithful ministry to give the remaining money to and shut down now.

  8. This looks to be a final attempt to keep the gravy train going for the RZ family members and inner circle. Also, a way to deflect further investigation of RZ in Asia and the enabling of it by the Board and Inner Circle.

    Sorry, but it will not work.

    They need to shut down permanently and dissolve. With all proceeds going the victims of RZ and any remaining funds given a real organization that helps victims. The remaining employees, board members and family members should then have to get a real job somewhere else.

  9. Caring for those suffering abuse?? Seriously? This would be like Bernie Madoff rebranding himself as supporting those cleaned out by Ponzi schemes. This would be laughable if it weren’t such a desperate and deceptive scheme to maintain their power, positions, and income levels.

  10. Those in the world watching this all play out must be thinking (even I, as a Christian, am), “Lipstick on a Pig”.

  11. “No employee will be asked to sign an NDA.” How about starting by releasing Lori Anne Thompson from hers? I wonder if the people running RZIM (or whatever it is now) understand the magnitude of their sin.

  12. Michele Veldman

    How about this, RZIM board…how about Proverbs 3 – trust in the Lord, do not lean on your own understanding, really acknowledge God and let Him direct your paths..get out into the world, board. Please stop this.

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