I didn’t want to open this, https://mailchi.mp/rzim/2021-report-rzim?e=2f5e7a883d, because I was already pretty sure of what it would say: allegations confirmed. Some ask, what is the point of bringing all this out since Ravi is dead and cannot defend himself? When the real question is, how can we allow one man to hold so much untouchable power that these women had to wait until his death to finally be heard or to even feel safe enough to speak?
These allegations needed to be investigated and the results needed to be shared because though Ravi is dead, his victims are not. They needed to be heard because Ravi is not the only man to use “Christian fame” as his cover to deceive and abuse. That “fame” doesn’t have to be world renowned, it’s enough to keep women and children silent and shamed when it is the “fame” found in a one room church in the smallest town.
As my husband has spoken with our daughters concerning these matters of “grooming” by men his words to them have always been, “I will always believe YOU.” I am thankful my girls have been raised by a man who has not dismissed them when someone has made them feel uncomfortable. He has taught them to speak up and speak out no matter who it is and assures them that he has their backs always.
For me the bottom line remains that Ravi was able to live this double life because others in leadership wanted his admiration, respect, and approval more than they wanted that of the Lord. They feared Ravi’s disapproval and disappointment more than they feared the Lord. They were more enamored with him than they were with Jesus. They cared more about their own name and the name of their organization than they did about the name of Jesus. Those who saw red flags dismissed them and excused them not for the sake of the gospel, but for themselves.
This is both devastating and not surprising to me and that in itself is just plain sad. Since 2012 my eyes have been opened to so much and it hurts. However, I prefer to hurt and see than to be painless and deceived. I am simply just not as naive as I used to be and I have learned to recognize the signs and verbiage of redirection, dismissal, and placating quite quickly.
It doesn’t take me long anymore to recognize those in leadership that had rather allow abuse to continue in their church than have to actually deal with it. They just choose to sit back and hope that the issue will move on to another church and simply breathe a sigh of blessed relief when it does. They seem to convince themselves that God has removed the problem for them so now they can just act as though nothing ever happened. The abusers move on to abuse again and the victims are expected to forgive and forget.
When does it stop?
Even now as I read the comments and responses to the investigation report I see excuses, so many excuses. I see so many dismissals of the gravity of Ravi’s actions. Not only has he hurt the witness of the Church and the name of Christ, but he has broken the heart of his family. His wife and his children and his grandchildren have had their world’s shattered. This didn’t have to be so public. If someone would have held him accountable when he first started to walk in deception, if someone would have pushed passed the anger and threats, if someone would have just believed the women. If the women could have had the security that they would have been believed.
I was so excited to hear him speak at Passion with my two youngest daughters. I had looked forward to an opportunity to sit under his teaching in person for years. When I did, I noticed that something was off. He was not teaching from time in the Word and personal conviction, but was only repeating pieces of messages that he had shared many times before. I told my girls after he spoke that he must not be feeling well, because he seemed very distracted and disconnected. It was not long after Passion that the news came of his cancer. Having experienced the pain of cancer in my loved ones up close and personal, I thought this was my answer for what I was seeing at Passion. It never occurred to me that the reality was what we are reading now.
I heard him speak once in person from a stage and I had red flags. How did the people working with him and traveling with him not see these?
It is not fun coming before leadership and asking for answers. It is hard. It is hard because more times than not you will be dismissed, placated, and bombarded with excuses and justifications and sometimes even personally attacked, but come forward anyway. Speak up anyway. At least then you can walk away knowing you did something, you tried, you made your voice heard. I promise you that chances are very high that you are not alone and you are not the only one who sees, but somebody has to have the courage to say enough is enough. Someone has to refuse to not act like everything is okay.
And if you need someone to go with you. I’m here. I’ll go. I’ll stand with you.