Former Aussie head of RZIM "heavy-hearted" for those who looked up to Ravi Zacharias as sexual misconduct report imminent
The former head of Ravi Zacharias Ministry in Australia, Dan Paterson, says as he awaits an independent report into the prominent apologist’s sexual misconduct, he is “clouded by deep and complex emotions”.
The Washington Post reported its expectation that the report, conducted by independent lawyers at the request of RZIM, was expected to be released on Wednesday (in the United States). However, the report has not yet been made available to the public.
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A preliminary report into complaints against Zacharias has found “significant, credible evidence” that he engaged in sexual misconduct over the course of many years.
I feel relief that the harrowing dark night of those who have been abused and silenced will break, giving way to a time when they can feel seen and heard, which lights up a long path towards help and healing.
“Some of that misconduct is consistent with and corroborative of that which is reported in the news recently, and some of the conduct we have uncovered is more serious,” stated the interim report, released in December.
Writing on Twitter today, Paterson said that he felt “relief that the harrowing dark night of those who have been abused and silenced will break, giving way to a time when they can feel seen and heard, which lights up a long path towards help and healing.”
“I feel heavy-hearted for those who loved and looked up to Ravi, who now have wake up to a dark reality that months ago seemed so unthinkable. May their faith be purified by the Lord as it comes under fire, knowing that a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.”
Like many other Christians connected with RZIM, Paterson spoke of his disappointment in himself that he didn’t “push harder against the tides of submissive loyalty”, that he didn’t “demand better answers earlier”.
“There is no part of the evangelical creed that honours cowardice or sacrifices conscience. Lord, have mercy!” he wrote.
Continuing, Paterson wrote: “I feel grief over the state of our gospel witness, for now another public messenger of Christ, one who should have been a spiritual safe haven, has been exposed as a predator who took advantage of those in his care.
“May this dark episode spark an awakening in church structures, and may young ministers resolve now to never give an inch towards evil, choosing instead the humble path of accountability to steady them, and the redemptive path of early repentance early when they fall.
I now have to bitterly swallow my own affectionate endorsements of Ravi.
“I feel a profound sense of the fear of the Lord, knowing that one day I too will give an account, where like the RZ report, everything done under the shroud of darkness will be made known. Jesus comes to restore justice through judgment. Oh, how I wish Ravi repented here!
“I feel loss over the dissolution of Ravi’s example. Ravi modelled a ministry to which I aspired: dignifying doubters, glorifying God, and preaching to the heart and mind. Through print and podcast, then as my boss, Ravi became as a spiritual father to me, and a symbol.
“That spiritual father has now been robbed, and regardless of whether I have the relational proximity to lay claim to this right, I feel a sense of betrayal. As one who refuses to whitewash my past, I now have to bitterly swallow my own affectionate endorsements of Ravi.
“Finally, I feel profound clarity. Cynicism will not rob me of admiration towards those who in Christ are worthy. I want spiritual parents, and aspire to be one in the decades to come, so I will continue to open myself up to the possibility of pain.
“Still, since our fallible hearts are prone to wander, and so many leaders fall, this is a healthy reminder: At his best, Ravi was only ever an imperfect echo of the Good, True, and Chief Shepherd and Captain of our Souls. Jesus is our rock; all else is shifting sand.
“I feel all of this together, and refuse to let go of our Christian nuance, even amidst dark revelations. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Bind up the wounds of the broken, pray for those who broke them. Call forth justice, pour out mercy.
“This is the way of Christ.”