I’m not going to get this right, but I do want to share some thoughts regarding the allegations against the late Ravi Zacharias. Click here to learn more about him (pre-allegations) and his ministry. Anyone who heard Ravi speak or who read any of his books was most likely impacted in a significant way. Ravi had a way of communicating the gospel that some would argue was unlike anyone else in his generation.
I reached out to several trusted pastors, mentors, and friends and asked them, “How are you processing this news?” “This news” is best summed up by this article published by Christianity Today: Ravi Zacharias Hid Hundreds of Pictures of Women, Abuse During Massages, and a Rape Allegation.
The responses I got from those I reached out to were similar, so I am thankful for the shared emotions of heartbreak coupled with disbelief as well as anger. As I organized the most common responses, I found that nothing was a satisfactory answer for me…
“I’m not surprised…this happens all the time.” True, but are we jaded, and holding a low expectation of humankind? Can’t we do better?
“We are all sinners…no one is perfect.” True, but are we giving Ravi an excuse? Almost a pass for the abuse he allegedly inflicted on who-knows-how many victims? As Christians, we know we still sin, but can’t we strive for godliness?
“I’m heartbroken…one more reason for the world to hate Christians.” True, but is this lack of faith? Can’t God outweigh the actions of poor decisions made by influential Christians?
“I have to start with me…my own sin is as equal to Ravi’s.” True, but has your sin wounded potentially dozens of victims and literally wrecked their lives? Is it really the same?
Frustrated, I realized no one was going to have an answer for me. True statements and lots to remember about the power of the gospel, but this particular story has done something to me that no one has been able to explain. I had to first go inward and explore why this bothered me so much, and then I had to ask God to strengthen my faith and provide answers since no one else could do it for me.
Here is what He showed me – a never ending process of learning – that I hope encourages you as it does me.
There is hope and healing available to all. There has to be. Spend 10 minutes with women who have suffered abuse and your heart will break. What the women at NH have gone through is unthinkable. Too many details that cannot be repeated. The absolute worst of humanity – that was said just this past week at a devotional I was leading. Someone said she has seen and suffered the worst of the worst and yet survived. She believes God’s “slow work of healing” was intended just for her, so she can go and help others who are doubting their own recovery. You can’t explain that. No therapy (alone) can bring someone to the place of this kind of hope and forgiveness. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
I think what continues to overwhelm me is that if Ravi Zacharias can live a double life and exploit women all over the world, who is doing this in our backyard? How many more abusers are prowling and exploiting women that we do not know about? And how many victims—oh, Lord, have mercy—are trying to live their lives today in the silence of their pain? Jesus sees those who have been impacted by this kind of abuse. He dignified women who in His day and age were considered marginalized. The woman in Luke 8 is one of my favorite examples of this – Jesus calls a rejected and isolated woman daughter and heals her after 12 years of suffering. Like today, the community often rejected women like this. She was brave to pursue Him and He was faithful to meet her and heal her. Today, Jesus empowers the Church through the Holy Spirit to be a vessel offering His hope and healing.
There’s one more thing I want to say directly to anyone who has suffered from sexual exploitation: You are a survivor and I’m proud of you. The world is proud of you. People, literally complete strangers, give to ministries like Naomi’s House without ever knowing you or ever getting the chance to meet you because they believe in you as a human being and know that alone is worthy of dignity. People want to lift you up and be instruments to usher the healing power of Jesus into your life. You might grow weary – how could you not? But in that weariness, let your community carry you. We are all better because of your healing. We love you. You ARE brave.