Welcome to Defenders Voice. This is Dr.Paul. Thank you for joining us today. Hope you are doing well. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking at every issue through the Word of God.
Today’s question is: Football player Derek Carrier filed a class action lawsuit against RZIM and Ravi Zacharias’ wife Margie. Why did this end like this?
NFL football player Derek Carrier and his wife Dora Carrier are suing Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Ravi’s wife Margie. Their charges are RZIM “deceived faithful Christians” and “bilked tens –if not hundreds – of millions of dollars from well-meaning donors.”
Derek Carrier and his wife donated $30000 dollars to Ravi’s ministry. They want their money back because Ravi used tens of thousands of dollars of ministry funds to pay four massage therapists. According to RZIM, one of the women said after she received the financial support, Zacharias demanded sex.
This whole thing brings a lot of dishonor to Lord’s work. The secular people deride us continuously, ‘you see, this is the nature of Christianity.’ Be that as it may, let us learn some spiritual lessons from these escapades.
Don’t pay money to settle a sin:
That’s very important to note. Never pay money to settle a sin. Never pay money to buy silence. Paying money for silence is a sinful way because instead of confessing and repenting of your sin, you would cover up a sin. We read in Proverbs 28:13
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy”.
If you cover up your sins, you will not prosper. If you confess it and forsake it, you will have mercy. Ravi started an extramarital online relationship with Lori Anne Thompson. She told Ravi that she was going to tell her husband about their relationship. That was a time for Ravi to tell the truth to the world and confess his sin. But Ravi did not do it. He responded with a suicide threat:
“You promised you wouldn’t Lori Anne. If [sic]. You betray me here, I will have no option but to bid this world goodbye I promise.”
Sexual sin is classified among the most heinous sins of all because through those sins, not only do we sin against ourselves, we also drag others into our sin.
‘You promised me you will cover up this sin, Lori.
You promised me that you will cheat on your husband, Lori.’
The great apologist gave a suicidal threat instead of confessing his sin and asking God for forgiveness. Instead of confessing his sin, Ravi followed his pride. He valued his popularity more than the Word of God. When his emotional and sentimental tricks did not work, he sued Lori under the RICO Act.
That is also unscriptural. Read Matthew chapter 18
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
For the sake of argument, let us say that Ravi felt that Lori sinned against him. Then, according to our Savior, he should take one or two others along with him and establish the evidence of two or three witnesses. Ravi did not do that. He told lies to his colleagues at RZIM. He told lies to his followers. He refused to hand over his personal electronic devices which he used for texting and other communications.
Finally, Ravi wanted to settle the matter with Lori and made her sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. If you have nothing to fear, why do you want silence from your accuser? Freedom of conscience and freedom of speech are bedrock Christian principles. Why would you deny them even to your accusers? That was also unscriptural.
Jesus Christ, our Lord warned us, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known”. (Luke 12:2)
All our secret sins will come out one day. Tiger Woods had an adulterous affair with Rachel Uchitel. He made her sign a non disclosure agreement, prohibiting her from talking about Mr.Woods with anyone. She got a 5 million dollars check in return. She is going through mental anguish because she has no outlet to tell the truth and to express her conscience. Secular unbelievers like Tiger Woods use NDAs to keep their mistresses and others in silence. That is not appropriate for Christians and Christian leaders.
By paying $250,000 dollars to Lori Anne, Ravi planted a big seed of his own destruction and of his family estate and of his organization RZIM.
“He paid $250,000 for just texting? What about me? He touched me inappropriately. I must be paid too”…..”He had sex with me and paid me only $50,000. I must be paid more too” More accusers came out against him after he sent the big check to Lori.
Had Ravi told the world, ‘Look, I sinned against God by having this online affair with Lori Anne Thompson. I confess my sin. I repent. Let Mrs.Thompson tell you her side of the story. I am not going to pay her any money’.
“He paid her nothing! He paid her nothing!” That message would have gone loudly to Ravi’s other victims. They might have come out for other reasons beside money. Now, They are all in negotiations with RZIM to get their own checks as compensation. By sending a big check to Lori, Ravi let the genie out of the bottle. He opened Pandora’s box. It’s not going to be closed any time soon.
Don’t use God’s money for your sins
Next truth we should learn from this fiasco is that we should not use the Lord’s money for our sinful activities. If you look into IRS filings from the good old days when RZIM was filing financial reports with the US government, you will notice that Ravi was making around $200,000 a year in salary. His wife Margie was making around $150,000 salary. Sarah Davis, Naomi and Nathan were also making salaries more or less around the same numbers. Beside his salary, all the expenses related to Ravi’s travel were paid by his organization. His expensive hotel stays, his travel assistants, their first class air travel etc.
So, Ravi was using Lord’s money for pretty much everything he had to pay for. We should not use our own money for sinful indulgences, let alone God’s money. When he decided to pay for his sinful activities, he should have paid from his own salary. The payments to women he was abusing were also paid by RZIM. That shows the greediness of Ravi.
Be transparent about Lord’s money
The ministry has an estimated $30-$45 million in donations but has not reported donations to the Internal Revenue Service since it reclassified itself as a church in 2015. At the time, it was receiving about $25 million in gifts annually. It’s a lie. RZIM is not a church. It is a Christian organization. But Ravi had no problem lying to the IRS reclassifying his ministry as a church. Be that as it may, once you don’t want to report your donations and expenses to the IRS, who are you accountable to?
Apostle Paul and other apostles always told the church how their collected donations were spent (Galatians 2:10). We read in Philippians 4:15-20, apostle Paul describing the generosity of believers towards him. He described what he got from the believers as donations. As believers in those assemblies read his epistles, they understood where he was receiving the donations and how he was spending them. So, other believers should know what we have been doing with Lord’s money. RZIM was not doing any of this. If you report to the IRS as a church, you should be acting like a church, giving financial accounting to other believers of the church. Which church RZIM was giving accounts to? None. That is a serious red flag.
Derek Carrier, his wife and others donated millions of dollars to Ravi’s ministry. It is fair and scriptural for RZIM to give an account of how they spent this money.