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Ravi Zacharias' family continue to defend late evangelist following abuse report

The family of the late apologist Ravi Zacharias have continued to defend him despite an independent investigation confirming that he engaged in sexual and spiritual abuse over a number of years. 

Nathan Zacharias, Ravi's son, has started a blog called "Defending Ravi", in which he takes issue with a number of the assertions made in the damning report by law firm Miller & Martin. In his most recent post, Zacharias takes issue with a piece of testimony from one of the spa workers who was abused by Ravi. As part of her testimony detailing incidences of sexual abuse and spiritual manipulation, the worker said that Ravi had told her she was his "reward for living a life of service to God". 

Nathan insisted that this remark would have been in relation to the easing of his father's back pain through massage treatment. He even went as far as to say that Ravi would have told his wife, Margie, that the therapists were "God's reward" due to their ability to keep him going in ministry.  

"Dad was in debilitating pain at one point, which Miller & Martin was kind enough to “accept” as real," Nathan wrote. "I’m still waiting to find out if they consider his cancer real too. But the pain was so bad that Dad had thoughts of coming off the road. The ministry was not thrilled with that idea and kept encouraging him to keep going. The only way he knew how was with the back treatments. They were the only thing that were providing relief. So when those proved helpful he told my mom himself that the therapist was “God’s reward” to help him keep going in ministry." 

Nathan said that "Miller & Martin and RZIM could have found that out had they bothered to interview my mom or involve her in the presentation by the investigators. But they didn’t". 

The report detailed that Ravi had elicited information about the spa worker's financial situation, before arranging "for the ministry to provide her with financial support". In exchange, Ravi then demanded sex from her. 

"According to this witness, Mr. Zacharias used religious expressions to gain compliance, as she was raised to be a person of faith," the report added. "She reported that he made her pray with him to thank God for the “opportunity” they both received. She said he called her his “reward” for living a life of service to God, and he referenced the “godly men” in the Bible with more than one wife. She said he warned her not ever to speak out against him or she would be responsible for the “millions of souls” whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged." 

According to the report, this spa worker's testimony revealed "similar behavior and escalation as the accounts of other therapists who would not have known each other and who treated Mr. Zacharias in different contexts over time". 

In his post, Nathan Zacharias attempted to undermine the validity of the investigation by claiming that those involved "told some people they believed my Dad to be guilty and had the evidence to prove it before they asked them any questions". 

"That means every person they spoke to that way was framing their answers and their experience with the idea of guilt in mind rather than objective observations," he added. 

Other posts by Nathan Zacharias show him going back and forth with Steve Baughman, the early whistleblower who runs the website "RaviWatch" and has been investigating claims against the apologist for a number of years.

"Ravi was a sexual predator, an academic fraud, and a man who led a double life," Baughman's website now reads. "He made false claims on his book covers about his credentials, deceived tens of millions of Christians about his education, led trusting minds to believe there were simple answers to complex questions about God, operated two massage spas, and sexually abused massage therapists in the U.S. and across Asia. Ravi was also a vicious man who brutalized those who threatened to expose him. This is all confirmed now." 

In an early post following the release of the report, Nathan said he was "deeply disappointed" with the way the situation had been handled by RZIM. He also claimed that his mother, Ravi's wife Margie, had been entirely left out of the investigatory process.

"I don’t know or care who decided what. I just care what the decisions were because cooperation was only ever a one way street," he wrote. "The last 6 months, Mom has refrained from speaking out publicly as a wife at RZIM’s request for fear it hurt their public stance, she handed over dad’s devices (it was not RZIM who did that) for examination, and taken other sacrificial steps at their request too.

"She wasn’t interviewed by the investigators. It would seem getting as much of a full picture of a man would benefit an investigation of areas of weakness, but I guess was outside the scope of the investigation." 

Nathan said that his mother had been "silenced and sidelined both personally and professionally, with no consideration or help given in return".

Margie has not issued any public remarks since the report was released. Another of the couple's children, Naomi Zacharias, who headed up the humanitarian arm of RZIM, has briefly addressed the revelations on Instagram.

"I love and miss my father, Ravi Zacharias," she wrote upon the release of the report last month. "I sat still and watched proof of real memories being deleted and disappearing from before my eyes today."

Zacharias added that her father's ministry "blessed innumerable people around the world for decades" and said she "personally cannot erase him any more than I can cut off a part of me and remain whole".

"I ask for time to process and respond to this report," she said. "Please keep the people and work of RZIM in your prayers." 

Another of Ravi's and Margie's children, RZIM CEO Sarah Davis, has yet to comment on the report. She has also deleted her Twitter account. 

RZIM has erased almost all of the content on its website, though it is unclear what its plans are for the future. Since the release of the report, RZIM Canada has folded and the UK arm, the Zacharias Trust, is cutting all ties with RZIM US and embarking on a process of renaming. 

 

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