The daughter of disgraced evangelist Ravi Zacharias, Sarah Davis, has announced she will step down as CEO of her late father’s organisation and start her own apologetics ministry.
46-year-old Davis is planning to launch a ministry called Encounter, according to Christianity Today. It’s reported to have a similar mission to that of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) – to carry “the gospel invitation to individuals and engaging in their questions so that they may encounter the love of Christ and enter relationship with him.” Davis’ organisation will also train and disciple “messengers of Christ’s love for their spheres of influence.”
However, Davis may not sever her ties to RZIM completely. Encounter is expected to share office space with RZIM in Georgia and may also receive funding from RZIM. It is also rumoured that Davis will employ speakers from RZIM for her new ministry.
Davis became CEO of RZIM in December 2019, shortly before allegations surfaced about her father’s sexual misconduct.
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While she admits to initially believing her father to be innocent, Davis later acknowledged the “serious errors” she made in her lack of action. She did not publicly comment when RZIM’s board released a statement confirming the allegations against Zacharias were true in December 2020 – seven months after his death. But in May 2021, Davis finally released a video statement apologising to victims.
“My goal and my heart were not to attempt to cover up the sins of my father …” – Sarah Davis
“I believed this man, my father, whom I loved and trusted more than anyone else, could not have done these things … But I was wrong,” said Davis.
“I made serious errors that only furthered deep wounds,” she added, acknowledging that she should have called for an independent investigation four years ago.
“My goal and my heart were not to attempt to cover up the sins of my father – or any sin – to further a call or a mission. I earnestly wanted the truth, but I recognise that the steps I took didn’t always show this.”
In leaving RZIM, Davis joins a long line of staff and board members who have also walked away from the organisation. These include the former (informal)* head of RZIM in Australia Dan Paterson, who also recently launched his own apologetics ministry called Questioning Christianity. Aussie Jordan Thyer who was speaker for RZIM for five years is now senior pastor at Providence Church, Midland, WA.
The former US head of RZIM, Vince Vitale, resigned in July this year, along with his wife Joanna, who also worked for RZIM. The Vitales wrote a public letter outlining their reasons for their resignation, after previously sharing a video apology and “confession” in February 2021.
An update from Vince and me: https://t.co/8HoWLEuROV
— Joanna Vitale (@Joanna_Vitale) July 28, 2021
RZIM’s operations have ceased in Africa and Canada, and its UK arm, Zacharias Trust, has made a “clear separation from the global RZIM organisation”.
There are currently only 12 members on the RZIM board, compared to 21 members at the time of Zacharias’ death – although some board members resigned because they believed Zacharias to be innocent.
The current head of RZIM is now Michael Ramsden, who previously served alongside Davis as the organisation’s president.
*Amended to indicate Paterson was informally the head of RZIM in Australia.