Frequently Asked Questions
Guidepost provided confidential avenues for any survivors and witnesses, including any who had not yet come forward. At RZIM’s request, reporting lines were made available in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Filipino, Thai, Malay and Indonesian in partnership with Syntrio Lighthouse Services through RZIM’s website.
Guidepost reported, “We anticipated that we would receive additional allegations through the tipline about sexual impropriety by Zacharias…the tipline did not receive new substantiated allegations of abusive behavior”.
After one year of operations without new findings of abuse, the tipline will cease operations at the end of February, 2022.
How were survivors of Ravi Zacharias’ abuse compensated?
Financial redress was made to survivors based on the recommendation of our victim’s advocate, Rachel Denhollander. Maintaining the dignity and confidentiality of survivors has been a priority for us in the process and although recipients of compensation are free to disclose their payments, RZIM has agreed not to discuss amounts paid.
In addition to financial compensation, RZIM leadership sought to meet with and ask forgiveness of victims personally and met with those who accepted the invitation.
Was Ravi Zacharias confronted over the 2017 Thompson incident?
Yes. Members of the board and senior leadership directly confronted Zacharias regarding the Thompson allegations, asking many probing questions over a period of months. Furthermore, in January of 2018, a group of senior leaders spent three days with Zacharias asking questions about the allegations. He stridently maintained his innocence through a preconceived narrative of mistruths and denials.
Was RZIM’s culture determined to be “Toxic” by Guidepost?
According to Guidepost “We overwhelmingly heard from employees that they felt cared for by RZIM.” Guidepost added “the organization was staffed by highly-skilled individuals with diverse talents, and often credited RZIM with promoting an environment that allowed them to flourish… most of the RZIM employees still described the organization’s people and work environment positively.”
How did RZIM’s staff process the events of the past 18 months?
We invited in psychiatric professionals, mental health counsellors, victim advocates, theologians and pastors to address RZIM’s U.S. team directly. We also heard from survivors of sexual abuse, who shared their stories and hearts with us. We are greatly indebted to each of them for what we have learned and for the lessons that we will carry forward with us for the rest of our lives.
The entire US team was also invited to join any of three committees. The first focused on learning, the second on restitution and repentance, and the third on service. Each committee fed back its learning and action points to the team in weekly staff meetings followed by time in smaller groups to reflect, discuss, pray and repent.
Recognizing the severity and scale of the issue (with one in four women, and one in seven men, having experienced sexual abuse), the team made ongoing learning about trauma, predatory behaviors, institutional power dynamics, and sexual abuse one of the core priorities.
What resources and materials did you use and find helpful in this corporate process?
Many on the team found Diane Langberg's book Redeeming Power, Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church both helpful and challenging, along with her online lectures. Although not comprehensive, the team also worked through the following material.
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk – We sought to understand the ordeal that victims went through—and how victimization may occur in the first place—by focusing on this book and thinking through the issues of trauma and attachment.
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer – We wanted to explore, in the aftermath of a fractured community, what authentic community might look like moving forward.
God of All Comfort by Scott Harrower – We wanted to explore trauma, and healing from trauma, through a theological lens. This book offers a beautiful image of Christ, who responds to the unique needs of trauma victims’ so that they may have abundant life.
Blind To Betrayal by Jennifer Freyd and Pamela Birrell – We wanted to understand how and why certain warning signs were missed. This book also specifically discussed betrayal trauma, which helped give unique voice to the suffering of people hurt by religious leaders and organizations.
When Narcissism Comes to Church by Chuck DeGroat – We wanted to learn about the seeming epidemic of narcissism in the Christian world, what it actually is (i.e. not the caricature of a narcissist), and how it is implicitly and explicitly reinforced and rewarded in Christian circles through the “cult of celebrity” (the choice of charismatic personalities over, perhaps, less dynamic but more faithful and humble servants). We also learned that even with this difficult population, there is hope for them through Christ.
"The Integrated Pastor” by Todd Wilson – We sought to understand more deeply the extreme duplicitousness that can exist inside of each of us, and how we might stop it before it hurts others and ourselves. This is a chapter inside Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson’s (eds.) Tending Soul, Mind, and Body.Are any members of the Zacharias family currently employed by RZIM?
What processes were used to qualify benevolence grants?
All grant beneficiaries had to qualify for the aid received and were vetted by at least two or more employees outside the finance department. Inside the finance department, all employees participated in processing all grant transactions, which also required dual approvals for each disbursement. Zacharias recommended assistance to needy individuals, many of whom had no apparent connection to his abuse. It is only after finding out about the abuse that an illicit motivation was suspected.
Despite systematic accounting controls, due to the immateriality of these transactions and lacking any reason to question his motivations at that time, Zacharias' secret demands from certain victims who received financial aid could not be detected or prevented by finance staff. Moreover, the total of these grants amounted to approximately 0.03% of RZIM’s average annual global budget over the period examined by Guidepost.
Why did RZIM fail to correct the representation that stated "…and no ministry funds were used" in the December 3, 2017, CT article?
No one in finance was consulted prior to the release of the December 3, 2017, statement containing the words "…and no ministry funds were used." Although the very next day, the CFO raised concerns of this mischaracterization of the facts to several board members, those who weighed on the final decision concluded that it was an unintentional error and believed that amending Zacharias' personal statement would be an overreach, since it was not an official position of RZIM or its leadership.Why did RZIM pay for Zacharias’ legal expenses in 2017?
When the decision was made, board members earnestly believed in Zacharias’ innocence and that he and the ministry were being falsely accused in an attempt to extort five million dollars jointly from them. We understand now in hindsight that Lori Ann Thompson’s accusations about Ravi were true.