Since the release of Miller & Martin’s final report on Ravi Zacharias, the fallout for RZIM has been significant. RZIM UK cut ties to the global ministry, RZIM Canada has disbanded, and the Christian & Missionary Alliance posthumously revoked Ravi Zacharias’s ordination. Some Christian publishers have decided to stop production of the apologist’s books or to edit Zacharias’s content out of their books. RZIM has announced it will be laying off 60 percent of its staff and will be changing its name. Instead of an apologetics ministry, it will now be a grant-making entity that focuses on evangelism and helping survivors of sexual abuse.
Reflecting on Naomi Zacharias’s Response
Many comments on Naomi Zacharias’s Instagram post convey empathy for her. One user said, “I am praying for you and for the entire family. You are so loved.” Another said, “I just want to say that I’m so so sorry for what you are going through. I think you are so brave and my prayers are with you and your family.”
However, many have found Naomi Zacharias’s response to the news about her father to be troubling and even hypocritical in light of her work at Wellspring. One Twitter user stated, “Safe to say anyone who pays tribute to a super-predator who trafficked and abused women but makes no mention of his many victims is, indeed, complicit.” Another said, “Naomi Zacharias had a ministry helping victims of sex trafficking, while not believing the women who came forward against RZ.”
Naomi Zacharias’s response can be seen as part of an ongoing debate among evangelicals regarding how ministry leaders should respond to sexual misconduct within their ranks. For church leaders watching these sad events unfold and considering the ramifications for their own ministries, the story of Pastor Jimmy Hinton, who lived out a similar situation, is illuminating. In his article, “Take It From Someone Who Reported Abuse in the Church: Get Outside Help,” Hinton shares how two years into being a full-time pastor, someone approached him with the news that Hinton’s father had sexually abused her as a child. “Never had I suspected my own flesh and blood—my childhood hero—of molesting very young children,” said Hinton.
When Hinton learned the news about his father, he said, “There was nothing inside of me that wanted to believe. Believing meant that I had to report my own father to the police. It meant that there was a strong possibility that there would be more victims in my church. It meant that the innocent, happy days of ministering to a joyful, innocent church were short lived. It meant that there would be a possibility of my dad spending the rest of his life in prison.”
The pastor did indeed find that his father, who was eventually arrested, had molested more children in the church. As the church’s pastor, Hinton had to face the parents of those children with the devastating news. Hinton’s story, while harrowing, shapes the advice he offers to church leaders regarding how to respond to sexual abuse allegations in their ministries:
Church leaders, hear me loud and clear—when allegations of abuse arise seek outside help. Seek the wisdom from people who have it. Don’t rally around the accused because you are friends with him or her and you think you know them well. Don’t minimize the allegations even if they don’t sound very serious at the time. Unlike seven years ago, there are invaluable resources out there today.
Hinton did not gloss over what reporting his father was like. “Take it from someone who’s been there—reporting someone you love is terrible,” he said. “There is no glamour in protecting the innocent from wolves. It’s not fun and it’s certainly not easy.” But he added, “Until we have people who stand up and do the right thing no matter the personal cost, the cesspool of abuse will continue in the church and the devil will win.”