“An Amazing Orchestration That Only God (and $2.2 Million) Could Have Done”

“My objection to the church isn’t that the preachers are cruel, hypocritical, actually wicked, though some of them are that, too -think of how many are arrested for selling fake stock, for seducing fourteen-year-old girls in orphanages under their care, for arson, for murder. And it isn’t so much that the church is in bondage to Big Business and doctrines as laid down by millionaires -though a lot of churches are that, too. My chief objection is that ninety-nine percent of sermons and Sunday School teachings are so agonizingly dull!”
Lewis, Sinclair. Elmer Gantry . Penny Books. Kindle Edition.


“I think it’s really rocked us, as a church to say that, my goodness, what does it mean of us that “the greatest Christian apologists of the 20th century” may have been a fraud?”
“Atheist Explains His Investigation of Ravi Zacharias” -Podcast by Julie Roys, October 7, 2020.


Note from editor: This post is extremely long. If you are familiar with the sexual abuse scandal  at the Sankey Samaritan Children’s  Home you may wish to scroll down to the photo of Ravi Zacharias and his friends and start reading from there.  Thanks. -TW

Ravi Zacharias died on May 19, 2020, and was eulogized by many as the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th century. I will leave that for others more qualified than I to decide. In today’s post I will focus on what I believe to be a deliberate effort by Ravi Zacharias and RZIM staff to assist in the coverup of sexual abuse that took place at the Sankey Samaritan children’s home, Lucena, Philippines. Supporters of Ravi Zacharias have asked others who have exposed his corruption why don’t they allow a dead man to rest in peace?  Steve Baughman answered that question very well on the Julie Roys podcast. He said:

“Well, Ravi’s dead, but the people he injured, and the people he misled are not dead. And many of them are still suffering. So if we’re talking particularly about sex abuse, I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be Lori Anne Thompson, or some of those women who worked with Ravi in the spas and were sexually abused by him, hearing Mike Pence get up on TV and say, “What a good man and a godly man he is.” And then having people say, “He’s now dead. So keep your complaints to yourself.” I mean, it’s really sort of dismissive of people he’s victimized. Also, I think that the fact that he spent decades misrepresenting himself by his qualifications. People still have his books. People are still buying his books. HarperCollins Christian publishing is still selling his books. This is an ongoing issue that really needs to come out. The man lied about his credentials, and he sold books based on that. And those books are still selling. So let’s be upfront about those lies he told. And finally, a lot of the people probably the most important thing may be that the people who enabled him in those deceptions are still in prominent places in Christian ministry, you know, and they’re not coming forward to talk about it. So we need to.”

This story is rather complex and involves numerous people so I will first provide the back story of what allegedly took place at the Sankey Samaritan Children’s Home. The following is an excellent summary which can be found at the Justice For Sankey website.

In January 2014, an investigation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division uncovered multiple allegations of sexual abuse against boys and girls at Sankey Samaritan children’s home, Lucena, Philippines. Sworn statements from Sankey youth detailed abuses such as girls paid to give the director massages, forced kisses, and multiple allegations of rape. The director and his son, both Filipino nationals, were arrested and criminally charged with sexual abuse and rape. Two former workers, not present at the time of arrest, were also named in sworn statements as perpetrators of sexual abuse.

The children’s home was funded through World Harvest Ministries, a nonprofit organization started by American missionary Tom Randall. Randall, who had been informed of the initial abuse allegations in November 2013, was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of justice.

World Harvest Ministries folded into Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, OH, where Randall was employed from 2013 to 2019.

Immediately following the arrest, Christ Community Chapel lead pastor Joe Coffey took action. He defended Randall and the two accused workers on social media, in the news, and from the pulpit, calling the missionary who had informed Randall of the abuse allegations a “friend gone bad.” He appealed to political connections for help, which resulted in Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s office contacting Filipino Ambassador Cuisia. Coffey said the ministry paid legal fees for Randall and the two accused workers.

Randall was released without charges. The two charged workers were released on bail. The former workers implicated in sworn statements were never investigated. After over two years of legal appeals and delays, the alleged victims exited the court process.

For five years, despite the alleged victims who stood by their statements during that time, Coffey and Randall publicly acknowledged only one girl alleging a kiss and later retracting her allegation.

In March 2019, Christ Community Chapel revealed that an internal review conducted by church member Suzanne Lewis-Johnson had been initiated six months previously. When approached, Lewis-Johnson declined to investigate the allegations against Randall, who had himself been accused of behaving inappropriately with underage girls and of molesting a teenage girl in the Philippines.

Nonetheless, the investigation report, released on August 4, 2019, concluded that the record “affirmed probable cause that abuse happened at Sankey” and stated that Tom Randall had been asked to resign in June 2019 for falsifying an email.

Tom Randall continues to work in ministry. In an August 2019 email, Randall told supporters he had resigned “to become completely independent again“ and would be starting a new organization soon. In December 2019, his new Board of Directors wrote asking for prayer against “attacks of Satan” and for “generosity in prayer and giving.” The letter denied the allegations against both Tom and the orphanage staff. “We are encouraging Tom to continue his ministry in the Philippines,” the Board, which includes megachurch pastor Steve Clifford of WestGate Church, wrote.

Conscience and integrity demand that all allegations of abuse are given a fair hearing. CCC has approached Sankey advocates to suggest a conciliation process under a non-disclosure agreement, but because of the number of open questions and allegations left unaddressed by the Lewis-Johnson review, we believe that a thorough and fully independent investigation is needed first. We continue to request a third-party investigation by a team with expertise in child sexual abuse. Our desire is for past victims to receive the support and counseling they need to heal, and for perpetrators and enablers of abuse to be prevented from creating more victims.


In the quote above the “Justice For Sankey” references accusations of abuse against Tom Randall. This reference links to an article published by Dee on this blog titled, “The Behavior of Tom Randall: Two Victims and One Observer Come Forward and Raise Red Flags.” This article was published on March 27, 2019. Tom Randall has continually denied being involved in any sexual abuse but I believe Dee’s article proves this is not true. Below is a lengthy quote from her article.

Who is Tom Randall?

Tom Randall was a basketball player. He didn’t make it in the professional leagues in the United States but was able to play pro ball in the Philippines. He eventually started Sankey Samaritan Children’s Home. He returned to the States, leaving Sankey in the hands of Toto and would visit off and on. He eventually became the Chaplain for the PGA. In 2013, as concerns regarding Sankey became heated, he left that position and became a pastor at CCC. He appears to be highly revered and well connected in many Christian circles.

1. The red flags surrounding the behavior of Tom Randall towards Priscilla (Mauk) Leighton.

I spoke with Priscilla for 1 1/2 hours. She is now married and living the Phillipines with her husband and children. Priscilla is the daughter of Joe Mauk. Priscilla helped me to understand the missionary culture. For example, most missionaries did not participate in cock fights or the gambling that surrounded these bloody fights but Tom did. She explained that Tom created his own culture and people would often say “That’s just Tom.”

 

I first remember Tom Randall from when I was about 10 years old (1991). He was a missionary who became a close friend of my father, Joe Mauk. As my parents’ close friend, Tom and Karen showed great interest in me and my sisters. But not all of us and not consistently. He showed us the greatest interest when we were teenagers. So, over all, we are talking about 20+ years of friendship between the Mauks and Randalls.

Being overseas missionaries in the Philippines, we did not have relatives nearby. However, unlike other many other missionary families, we never called people “Aunt” and “Uncle” who were not a sibling of my parents. I clearly remember the day that my parents met with us and we unanimously decided to call Mr and Mrs Randall, Uncle Tom and Aunt Karen. My family has no one else that close who bears that honour. Though everyone calls Uncle Tom, “Uncle Tom”, for our family, it was an honour only given to him.

My family’s ministries was two hours away from the missionary school that my sisters and I attended. It was a long ride over mountain roads. To help with the commute, we spent every Tuesday night with Uncle Tom and Aunt Karen. Aunt Karen was loving and practical, and so much like my mom. She was my mom’s best friend.

Tom and Karen were ministries partners with my Dad. They donated money to finish building “The Villa” as Caliriya. Half of the top floor was my families house, and the other half was Tom and Karen’s. The plan was that they would eventually spend more and more time out there. Uncle Tom wasn’t doing well with pollution and needed clean air.

Around this time, Uncle Tom started Sankey Samaritan Children’s Home. I remember by name and face the first kids to join. My mom and I would make regular trips to the home.. And Uncle Tom was always having groups of westerners over to help with the orphanage. Interestingly, I clearly recall that Tom’s reason for starting the orphanage was so that he would have a place to bring short term missionaries. Tom always did short term projects and there was some concern about him diving in to something long term. I also remember how odd it was when we were no longer welcomed at the orphanage and eventually, stopped going entirely. But this isn’t about the orphanage. It’s about Tom and me.

We spent Christmases together and Uncle Tom was always good for an adventure and great story. My parents had even told us that if they were do die, we would go to Tom and Karen. They were our Guardians. He would joke about my older sister, who’s a nurse, taking care of him in retirement. He just loved to buy me things. I think it’s safe to say he bought me whatever I wanted. When I was 12 and still getting to know him, he bought me a horse. I still remember the day that Dutches came to me in the back of a truck. But, Tom most especially loved to take me shopping. In 7th grade, the sister closest to me left the Philippines for college. Tom would make a fuss about her being beautiful and loved to buy her clothes too. As I grew older, his attention towards me intensified. He had a picture of me that he carried around in his wallet. I remember thinking that was kind of odd. Then he added a picture of Aunt Karen to the other side of his wallet. Friends from school would tell me they met uncle Tom and he showed them my picture in his wallet and really liked me. He called me “his princess” and was always complimenting my appearance. Since Uncle Tom didn’t have kids of his own, it seemed wonderful that he would treat me like a “daughter”. Though really, our relationship was not father-daughter at all.

In high school, Uncle Tom and Aunt Karen moved back to America, but still frequently visited the Philippines. He took me shopping for school clothes and I always had to try on the clothes for him to see.

When they were still living in the Philippines, I remember a girl my age (teenager) came to stay with him and Karen. She was from Australia and had a beautiful singing voice. She was also his princess and she and I hit it off. I think I felt connected to her because he called her “Princess,” too.

Once Christmas, my sister gave me a push-up bra. Tom thought that was interesting and made a few jokes about it. Later that week we were walking along and he pulled open my shirt and looked down. I pulled away and said “Hey…. what are you doing?” He said that he was just checking what kind of bra I was wearing. I thought that was weird, but since he was such an amazing man, I thought it was okay.

My parents were very strict with me and boys. I was never allowed to be alone with a boy and boys were never allowed in my room.

When I was a freshman in High School, just my little sister and I were making the two-hour commute to school with our driver. One morning, our driver tried passing on a hairpin turn and hit a jeepney full on. My knee crashed into my sternum and I felt like I was going to die. Our driver flagged down a jeepney and laid me on the floor. He took us to a “hospital” and called my parents. Uncle Tom happened to be visiting and immediately came to the rescue. Because we were Americans, some of the hospital people tried to keep us in and started claiming additional charges. Uncle Tom paid everyone off and got us out fast.

He was so worried about us. I was in a lot of pain from the crash. My sternum hurt. Uncle Tom was very into massages. Because he was sporty, it seemed logical he knew about injuries and massages. He insisted on giving a series “medical massages,” as he called them. I did not like this idea at all. It made me very uncomfortable, but, it seemed like what was necessary for healing. He was allowed in my room and would close the door all but an inch. My bed was behind the door. Before coming in he would tell me to take off my bra and prepare myself. I laid face-up while he massaged my stomach and chest under my t-shirt. I felt terribly uncomfortable but thought it was normal. I had never had a massage before so this must be what they are like, and people just love massages. He massaged around and around my breasts, touching everything but my nipple- therefore I thought nothing was wrong.

I never really thought about that again until 5 years ago when things came out about the orphanage. I was talking with my sisters wondering how Uncle Tom could allow something like that to happen. Then I reflected that as in adult now 32 years old, I have had dozens of massages, and not once did a massage person touch me like Tom did. So, I told my sisters for the first time. Then I told my Dad. He later told me that what made it even worse was Tom had asked his permission to give me a ‘medical massage’ and he had said yes. He had no idea that Tom told me to take off my bra etc.

Anyway, Uncle Tom continued to be a very special person. He gave me money for my prom dress and jewelry. Another time my best friend and I were going to a school party and getting all dressed up. He rented a hotel room for us to spend the night in with him after the party. And we did. My friend and I drank way too much iced tea at the party. We were up giggling in bed and needing to pee a million times. We wondered if he was awake in bed too and were very aware of his presence. It was uncomfortable but we got to stay in a really nice hotel room and only got to do that because of him.

I soon went off to college. That’s when our relationship ended. After all the attention, affirmation, and money, Uncle Tom was not interested in me anymore. I just didn’t understand it. I clearly remember my 3rd year of college. He was playing golf in Ventura. My boyfriend at the time, went to watch him play golf. We actually got engaged the following weekend. I was so excited to see Tom and could wait for him to hang out with my boyfriend and thought he would be so happy for us. However, he didn’t seem that happy to see us. In fact, it oddly felt like a break up. He told me that he had lots of princesses. Being the chaplain, he was giving a talk that night on the validity of scripture. He said he would introduce me to the group and I needed to introduce myself as Uncle Tom’s favorite princess. He said everyone would think that was funny because he had so many. I felt sick and couldn’t explain why.

After getting engaged, our parents and us agreed to have Uncle Tom officiate our wedding. He was our closest family friend. Then I never really saw him again. My husband and I bought a house in Chino California and soon had two kids. Tom was often preaching at a church 20 minutes from my house. I couldn’t fathom why he wouldn’t tell me he was there and never wanted to see me or my kids. Certainly, a close family friend, my Dad’s best friend, would let me know when he was 20 minutes away. One time my Dad told me what services he was speaking at and said I could try to catch him. I didn’t want to. He had clearly cut me off. I decided that he was my Dad’s best friend and under no obligation to be nice to me.

In June of 2013, my little sister got married. Of course, Uncle Tom was asked to officiate her wedding. It was just months later that the whole thing with Sankey broke out. Understanding how close he was to our family should paint a picture of how serious it was.

What I know now is that that was not okay. I also know that research shows that men who blur lines and take certain liberties with underage girls generally repeat the behavior. There is rarely just one girl. And, Tom made it very clear to me that I was not his only princess. For this reason, and this reason only, I share my story. I hope that if there is anyone else out there with a similar experience, we can share our stories together and know that we are not alone in the confusion and hurt. I hesitate to share my story because Tom is “such a great guy” and no one would ever believe me. But, maybe one of us just has to go first. And maybe I’m that one of us.


2. Miriam (Mauk) Bongolan’s Story

Miriam’s story is not as explicit as Priscilla’s story. I believe that this is due to the fact that Miriam describes herself as not being too touchy feely. She had been like that since she was a child. Remember what I said about grooming behavior earlier in this post. The grooming process is used by molesters to scope out who would be a good victim. What is a good victim? One who is willing to keep secrets and who hasn’t developed sufficient boundaries. Once again, most children do not have a well developed sense of boundaries nor fully understand what constitutes abnormal behavior, particularly on the part of those who they trust.

Miriam and I spoke at length. She is the sister of Priscilla and the daughter of Joe Mauk.


Miriam said that Priscilla was always the particular favorite of Tom Randall. However, Tom also gave her money to go shopping. One day, he took her shopping when she was in 4th or 5th grade. He told her to buy something special. Miriam picked out a $100 Barbie horse. This was an enormous amount of money in her mind. Tom said he would get it for her but she would have to give him lots of hugs and kisses. She thought he was joking but he wasn’t. During that day, he would demand another hug or kiss at random. Miriam was quite uncomfortable with these requests and would try to pull back from the hug or give a quick peck on the cheek,

She was in the same accident as her sister and her leg was injured. Tom sat with her on the couch and started massaging her leg, all the way up to her thigh, claiming it was a *medical* massage. She was quite uncomfortable and felt awkward until he stopped. One other time she was sitting on the floor and he moved up behind her and bent over to massage her head. Again she was uncomfortable. Apparently his wife Karen would also massage her neck which also made her feel uncomfortable.

Over time, the massages ceased. However, Miriam said that Tom was constantly giving massages to other people as well as handing out money. She said that she thought Tom also brought people to massage parlors which was a common thing in the area.

One thing that she didn’t understand was that, when Karen and Tom returned to the States, they brought a young woman back with them who became Tom’s personal assistant. She believes that this was Toto’s daughter. Apparently, Karen Randall did not like to travel with her husband because she would be alone at hotels. So, this young woman would travel with him instead. (The Randalls did not have any children.)


3. Pete from Lucena comments on Tom Randall’s alleged inappropriate behavior.

I believe that our readers will find this section rather interesting. In January 2014, a blog called Deep Thoughts posted a story about the arrest of Tom Randall. However, it was the comment section that is important. They were able to track down Pete and ask him to clarify his comments. Pete, who served in the US Navy, is currently in touch with folks who are concerned about this situation.

Understand that Pete’s comment was precipitated by a blog post dealing with Tom Randall’s arrest. Pete allegedly noticed what he deemed to be Tom’s inappropriate behavior with some girls from the home when they were in a resort pool. Carefully note the time stamp on Pete’s comments. They were written @ 4 1/2 years ago.

Then, a commenter named Megan, responded to Pete’s comments a few weeks later, complaining about Randall’s inappropriate behavior. Approximately 2 years later, a commenter by the name of Dan, added a comment about Tom Randall’s *laughable* behavior on the PGA Tour. We have been unable to contact either of these individuals to clarify their comments.

Pete was contacted by a person who has been concerned with the Sankey/Randall situation. The following is his email to her dated 3/25/2019.

To clarify, I met Tom Randall at a resort (Kamayan Sa Palaisdaan Hotel) in Quezon province about five years ago. The meeting stuck with me because I had heard about his sexual abuse case from a friend. Apparently Tom had come back to the Philippines and I happened to meet him that day at the resort.

I saw him and he stood out because he was a foreigner like me so I approached him and introduced myself. He introduced himself as Pastor Tom Randall of Sankey Orphanage and I immediately knew who he was. He also made a point of telling me about his basketball background and said he had played professional ball in the Philippines. He was quite gregarious in the introduction.

Later I saw him in the swimming pool with the young girls, maybe around 15 to 18 years old. He was embracing one of them, she was straddling him in an extremely provocative position and I immediately felt uncomfortable. It’s not normal for a mature man to embrace and hold a young girl in such a manner, it looked and felt bad and as a Pastor he should have had the sense that what he was doing was inappropriate.

It was too close, to intimate and definitely inappropriate by any standard.
It’s been five years or so now, but I still remember that incident.
Let me know if you need anything else okay?
Pete

Below is a quote from an article on the Ministry Safe website. It casts further light on the character of Tom Randall.

Tom Randall, who stands 6’ 5” tall and has a disarming gap-toothed smile, sure could tell a good story.

Like the story he repeatedly told about how he had been recruited by the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz, but turned down their lucrative offer so he could continue serving God as a roving sports evangelist. The Jazz story was a complete fabrication.

He told even more dramatic stories about the horrors he allegedly suffered in a gang-filled Filipino prison.  Randall claimed he experienced beatings and faced mortal danger throughout his three weeks in an overcrowded cell full of murderers, gang members, and a Muslim terrorist bomber.  He claimed that he had been unjustly detained, based only on false claims by a rival evangelist who had been a close friend for 30 years before turning on him.  He claimed he was the real victim, and warned that unless American officials quickly came to his aid, he would likely die a martyr for Christ.

These stories were fabrications, too, but they helped him become a social media celebrity, and gained the attention of U. S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who intervened to bring Randall home.

But the Akron Beacon Journal and the weekly newspaper Cleveland Scene told a different story.  In early 2014, officials in the Philippines arrested Randall, the founder of World Harvest Ministries, which operated the Sankey Samaritan Orphanage. Also arrested were the Filipino father and son who managed the orphanage and were charged with repeated sexual abuse of orphanage children.

Randall’s biggest supporter was Pastor Joe Coffey of Christ Community Chapel, an independent church in northern Ohio, where Randall had joined the staff a few months before the arrests.
“Sexual Abuse Claims Rock Ohio Church” by Steve Rabey, November 11, 2019


Here are some eye-opening quotes taken from the Internal Sankey Review Report by Christ Community Chapel. The complete report follows the quotes.

Thus, had NBI’s raid not occurred as a result of what RANDALL described as an act of malice by the MAUKS, it eventually should have occurred as a result of SANKEY’s own belated report. In fact, had the allegations been reported when RANDALL first received them, he may never have been arrested at all.

The committee’s fact-finding team visited SANKEY on March 4, 2014, to interview SANKEY staff, but per DSWD, SANKEY’s legal counsel objected.

The revocation of licensure was the culmination of more than a year of DSWD’s addressing unresolved concerns of SANKEY’s noncompliance with regulations. Among others, concerns included failure to deinstitutionalize, conflict of interest in oversight and governance, and inadequate case plans and record keeping for clients.

COFFEY told the congregation that then the raid happened. He explained, “In the Filipino government, the way they work with that kind of accusation is they take action first and then they start to ask questions and try to figure out later. So Tom, Toto and Jake are in prison right now while they sort it out to see if there’s any truth to the allegations.”

In fact, law enforcement had asked questions. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security had asked enough questions and gathered enough information that they forwarded a letter advising of potential human trafficking to the NBI. The NBI thereafter asked questions of a young man who recounted, not a rumor, but his own first-person account of abuse he said happened to him years earlier at SANKEY. And the NBI asked questions of someone to whom the two girls had made direct disclosures.

In 2014, COFFEY provided updates that charges against the LUCHAVEZES had been dropped. On Twitter, COFFEY tweeted, “News frm filipines.all charges dropped against toto and jake.raid deemed completely unjustified by judge #timeandtruth.” In fact, as noted under the Law Enforcement section, the judge did deem the warrantless arrests to be outside the scope of the warrant exception and initial charges were dismissed. However, new charges were filed on January 30, 2014, and the case continued to move through the court system for more than another two years.

CCC leaders advised of conversations and interactions with members and attendees that felt hostile as accusations of lies and coverup were received. Statements from CCC left the impression that there was no basis for RANDALL’s arrest, that the raid was unjustified, that charges were unfounded and that the victims had recanted. This was partial truth taken off track. All of it originated from one common denominator: RANDALL.

REDACTED advised reviewer that, after an update from CCC leadership in early 2019, he realized PERFECTO LUCHAVEZ, to whom funds were being wired at RANDALL’s request, was the same person as the accused perpetrator TOTO. REDACTED advised that he alerted senior CCC leadership who immediately instructed that transfers to LUCHAVEZ cease.

In addition, CCC transferred funds to attorneys in the Philippines to pay legal expenses for RANDALL, LUCHAVEZ and LUCHAVEZ. CCC also transferred funds to pay the bond for both of the LUCHAVEZES.

Inconsistencies between the established record and RANDALL’s statements became apparent during the review. Having relied on versions of events relayed by RANDALL, CCC leadership found themselves communicating false information as fact.

Ultimately, it was a member of CCC leadership to whom RANDALL acknowledged being deceptive.

Per DINARDO, she contacted the purported author of an email RANDALL had provided to support a narrative he had been telling. The purported author denied writing the email. Upon being questioned by DINARDO about the veracity of his statements, RANDALL acknowledged he had written the statement, justifying that it was the codification of statements made to him verbally.

DINARDO advised she brought the matter to the attention of JOE COFFEY and that COFFEY immediately recused himself, directing DINARDO to Founding Pastor JIM COLLEDGE.

Elder Chair JIM GAUL advised, “On June 3, 2019 the Elders of Christ Community Chapel requested the resignation of Tom Randall as a result of a clear violation of pastoral ethics. Tom Randall consequently tendered his resignation as a member of the pastoral staff of Christ Community Chapel as of the June 3rd date.”

RANDALL falsified information in the course of the review. That too is reflective of his original charges. It is unknown to what extent statements made by RANDALL originated fully with him and to what extent they relied upon information fed to him by PERFECTO “TOTO” LUCHAVEZ. Regardless, the record established the narrative he told was not credible, and it was not LUCHAVEZ who misrepresented RANDALL’s own actions and decisions. Misrepresentations appear to have begun before RANDALL was ever arrested, considering the accounts that COFFEY shared in his sermons.

The record clearly established and affirmed probable cause that abuse happened at SANKEY and that it was perpetrated, along with others, by TOTO and JAKE, whom RANDALL defended to his own detriment.

With the back-story having now been recounted in painstaking detail, I will proceed to layout Ravi Zacharias/RZIM’s involvement in this scandal. Below is a compilation of the major players in this story and how they relate to each other.  It may prove useful to refer back to it as a reference as I discuss the men involved.


According to an article on “Medium” titled The Evangelical Machine That Protected Tom Randall — Until Now, written August 6, 2019:

Ravi Zacharias is the founder and CEO of the eponymous Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, which in 2014 had a total revenue of over $24 million. RZIM has had a strong relationship with Christ Community Chapel in years past. In fact, RZIM was intending to hold its annual ReMind conference at Christ Community Chapel this week but recently postponed it. The Sankey Family Foundation, after which Tom Randall’s orphanage was named, gave over $2.2 million to RZIM in 2015, and over $4.3 million to Christ Community Chapel in 2011.

The video below shows pastor Joe Coffey introducing Sanj Kalra.  Coffey is the senior pastor at Christ Community Chapel (CCC) located in Hudson, OH. Sanj Kalra is a member of Christ Community Chapel and had converted to Christianity thanks in large part to the work of an assistant pastor from that church. In this talk, Kalra tells of how he lived a double life of a highly successful salesman of medical devices and family man while secretly living a life of sexual debauchery. Here is a brief explanation in Kalra’s own words, taken from a podcast he did with fellow RZIM staffers Jo and Vincent Vitale:

 I got saved 10 years ago, almost. I have an easy date and it’s a date that I never forget. It’s six, eight, ten. So that’s coming up in about a week. I was living a very duplicitous life and wanted to end my life. I didn’t find any meaning in it. And went to a church that I used to periodically attend and looked for an African American pastor that I had a connection with who I never met, but I felt they had a connection. God was pulling me towards this gentleman. And he ended up meeting me that afternoon and shared the gospel with me and I had never heard the gospel the way he explained it to me that day. And from that moment on, I wanted to let everyone know about Jesus. Everyone that was coming in my way, friends, family, neighbors, strangers, except for two people, which was my mom and dad because I came from a Hindu background and I was very afraid and worried about telling them. I come from honor, shame kind of culture and those kinds of things were going through my mind.

But it was a friend of mine who was actually a customer by the name of Russ Raymond from the Cleveland Clinic. He shared with me that I should be listening to a guy named Ravi Zacharias. And I remember that day he wrote it on a piece of paper and I went to a Christian bookstore and look for his book and I found his biography, Walking From East to West. And the only thing I wanted to do with that book was I wanted to turn it around to see if his picture was there. And it was a picture of Ravi and he was Indian. And I was so excited because he was Indian, I was Indian. And now I realized that they were at least two Indians that loved Jesus.

In the next video, taken from the same talk, Kalra talks of a man named David Myers who was friends with Ravi Zacharias and agreed to write an email to Ravi in an attempt to allow Kalra to personally meet Ravi, who Kalra had grown to greatly admire.

Sanj Kalra went on to work for RZIM and became the right-hand man for Ravi Zacharias, accompanying him on all his ministry trips. Shortly after Zacharias had died Sanj Kalra was interviewed by fellow RZIM staffers Jo and Vince Vitale.

In the interview that the Vitales conducted with Sanj Kalra they asked him how he first met Ravi. This was their exchange:

At the same time, my wife had a fantastic idea that maybe we should go and see Ravi speak live sometime. My parents lived in Ottawa, Canada, and then Kay and I lived in Cleveland, Ohio. And Ravi was speaking in Toronto. And so it was almost like a four hour difference in between us. So, I was able to write an email, at the time, Ravi’s assistant was Krin Baer, who’s on our team. He received my email and said, “Sure, love to meet you. No guarantees of meeting Ravi.” Sort of thing.

Vince Vitale: And did you just write into the general RZIM?

Sanj Kalra: Something like that. Yeah.

Vince Vitale: Yeah, wonderful.

Sanj Kalra: So from there, Vince, they knew that I was coming. We sat up in the front because I got there early. My mom walks with a cane, so they were able to put her up front. So the four of us sat there and I’m going to tell you something, Ravi did something that he’s never done since. I don’t know if he’s done it before that, but he had never done this since that evening. When Ravi walked out, I nudged my wife and said, “There’s the guy, that’s the guy I’ve been listening to.” And he was about 15 feet away. And he was introduced now after the first speaker, but he didn’t walk up on stage, Vince. What he did was he walked into the crowd. And he walked up to my mom and dad because his assistant told them that my parents had come a long way to see him. And he introduced himself and he talked to my parents for at least a minute, but he first talked to my dad out of respect, and then he walked back up on the stage and then gave a message and typical Ravi message, it was exactly for my parents or whoever was in the audience. But after that Jo, I got a tap on the shoulder from Krin that Ravi would like to meet us afterwards. So I was excited because I was going to get my book signed.

You may have noticed that the details of how Kalra’s meeting with Ravi was arranged changed from the video clip, filmed in 2015, to the podcast, recorded in 2020. . In the video, Kalra states he asked a friend, David Myers to write an email to Ravi to ask if he would meet with Kalra. In 2020 Kalra states the meeting was a result of an email he wrote to an assistant of Ravi’s. There is a third version of how the meeting was arranged. It seems that Sanj Kalra asked his pastor, Joe Coffey, to find someone who had influence with Ravi Zacharias to set up a meeting between Kalra and Zacharias. In the video below, Coffey doesn’t mention David Myers by name, but I suspect that is the individual he called.

There’s a good reason that Sanj Kalra changed his story and did not mention the name of David Myers. I was told Myers comes from a wealthy family and this seems to be true. I checked out Myers home on Zillow and it is valued at over $1 Million.

Myers, a former Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy teacher, was charged for soliciting who he thought was a 15-year-old boy he met on social media. Myers worked for Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy from 1995 until 2012. He returned to the school in 2014 as a volunteer and worked with the boy’s soccer team and theater programs.

In the video below, pastor Joe Coffey of Christ Community Chapel talks about Tom Randall’s arrest and how he then talked to Sanj Kalra to see if Hayden Kho could visit Tom in prison.

In the video below Ravi talks about his first encounter with Hayden Kho. Ravi says:  “After he told me the sordid reality of what he had come through I said I am not familiar with this kind of stuff but I know a guy who is, his name is Sanj Kalra. (Ravi’s assistant on his ministry trips!) I am going to be in Singapore in a few days, I’ll fly my friend in. You both talk. I believe he can help you a lot more than I can. Because he will understand where you’re coming from.

Here is a picture of Vicki and Hayden Kho getting married. Their wedding was, by all reports, quite extravagant. It was held in Paris and Ravi Zacharias officiated the ceremony.

In this next video, Hayden Kho talks about filming his sexual escapades. I find this very disturbing. If he did this without the consent of his sexual partner (which he does not make clear if he did) it would be a felony crime in the United States. It is also concerning that Ravi Zacharias seems drawn to handsome men with sordid sexual pasts. I don’t doubt Christ is able to save anyone, but I do wonder about the wisdom of placing a recent convert in front of large crowds to retell his salacious story of conversion. (I have clipped many of the details out of both Sanj and Hayden’s testimonies.)

Hayden Kho talks of the role Ravi Zacharias and Sanj Kaltra played in his Christian conversion in the video below. A comment I found interesting, knowing what we now know about Ravi, was Ravi told Hayden it was “very important for us to live in the truth.”

In the video below, Hayden Kho talks of the events that led to him visiting Tom Randall in prison.

In this video, Ravi Zacharius said he had known Joe Coffey for many, many years. That sounds like they were long time buddies, yet in an earlier video Coffey makes a joke about how he had been wanting to meet Zacharias for years and implies he never had, yet Sanj Kalra meets him shortly after becoming a Christian and they quickly become friends! Ravi’s comments about getting out of the hotel industry are also puzzling considering he spends, according to testimony below, 50% of his time on the road.

Ravi quote:
“That’s [Hayden Kho and Tom Randall’s stories] just an amazing orchestration that only God could have done. And when you hear that, you will know this was His doing. No human being could ever have conjured up this sequence of events and this connection of people to deal with an emergent situation when Tom was in the Philippines.”

I’m not sure I would credit God with orchestrating events so that 3 men who were allegedly abusing children could get out of jail.  But hey, a guy will say just about anything for $2.2 million. (The Sankey Family Foundation, after which Tom Randall’s orphanage was named, gave over $2.2 million to RZIM in 2015, and over $4.3 million to Christ Community Chapel in 2011.)

Finally, here are some interesting comments made by Ravi Zacharias in 2005. I think he may have been speaking about himself more than many Christians would care to admit.

Ravi Zacharias was interviewed in April 2005 by Major John Carter of The Salvation Army for a leadership class at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte, NC branch).

JC: How important do you feel character is in the realm of leadership?

RZ: Definitive. I think if character is not there, you are not only destroying the role that you are called to, but the message that you are carrying. You are in effect becoming a counterpoint to what it is you are propagating. When I think of character, I think of not only behavior, I also think of motive. Motive is key, that which drives a person to do this.

You see, the pulpit can become quite the show window for a person and it can become a big ego thing. You see it happening again and again, much more than you would want to or even thought it would happen. When I think of character, I just don’t think of obedience or of simply being aligned with the claims of God upon your life. I think of it as the very motive: What it is that drives you to serve and do what it is that you are doing?

My life is on the road. I’m away from home fifty percent of the time. How do I remain accountable in that? I don’t travel alone. In fact, the only time I am alone is when I’m writing, which happens maybe twice a year for a week. I stay in areas where I am known by the hotel personnel, so I am accountable in that sense. They know I’m a minister; they know what I do; they know my books; they know I’m preaching; they’ve heard my tapes, etc. I think that is important. I’m not alone.

Out of the fifty-two weeks of the year, there are maybe two weeks when I’m by myself writing. But here is the key: Deviant ways begin in the days of success when you do not have financial accountability to anybody. I think it is important to know that. When I’ve watched the lives of the big men who fell, there was a lot of money involved. The money became the means of procuring what it is that felled them. Yes, power, but money is a big thing.

I really think that today, as Christian apologists, that the biggest challenge to the faith is not an intellectual question. In fact, I have not heard an intellectual question to the faith that has disturbed me. I am more convinced than ever of the message of the Gospel. But the biggest challenge to the Christian faith is this: If the message that we have lays claim to a supernatural regeneration, then why is it that we do not see that regeneration more often? No other religion claims a supernatural regeneration. They may claim ethics and morality. Hinduism does. But we are the only ones who claim a new birth. Born of the Holy Spirit, our hungers have changed, our disciplines have changed, our behavior has changed. If it is a supernaturally engendered thing, why do we not see it more often? And if that is true of the common person in conversion, how much more true it must be of ones in leadership. So I believe character is essential, and without that, you cannot serve.

So accountability to me is when proclivities have resources, then possibilities become actualities. If you cut off the resources, you are in one way trying to stop the cash flow. I’ve watched fallen lives and I said money is key here. To me, accountability starts off with moral and doctrinal with your denomination. They are able to deal with me if I am not towing the line. Then, accountability to my executive committee, where they talk to me and ask me the questions they want. There is the accountability to my wife and children. An accountability on the road to where I don’t travel alone. I have a traveling associate who is with me all the time. He knows where I am twenty-fours a day, and I don’t go out at night on the road if I am not speaking. When I’m in my room at night, I don’t watch much television. If I ever do, it is either news or sports. I could go a week in a hotel room and never turn the television on.

These are measures one has to take because no matter how many exterior structures there are, if you are not honest inside, you will find ways to be dishonest. The structures in that sense are restrictions; they are not absolutes. To me the key is, Who knows where your checkbook is, who knows where your money goes? If your heart is in the right place, your fiscal accountability should be under some one else’s scrutiny, and I keep that under my wife’s scrutiny.

We have a great crop of young people coming up, but the problem is we have great temptations that stalk them, and so many of them go wrong so soon that we end up in salvage operations after that. If someone wants to go into ministry, my suggestion is: Find someone who can keep an eye on you early so that you don’t develop bad habits that are hard to change once you get into ministry. Bad habits are formed early. Once you develop bad habits, they stalk you even after you’ve entered ministry. How you deal with members of the opposite sex, how you deal with fatigue, the challenges to your capacity, and the parameters of your own capabilities. Find the right habits to respond, the habits of the heart, and they will stay the course with you in the long run.

“On Leadership and Calling: An Interview With Ravi Zacharias,” April 2005.


Further reading:

Internal Sankey Review by Christ Community Chapel

Former Cuyahoga Falls teacher arrested for attempting to solicit minor for sex

Pastor’s departure from Ohio megachurch leaves questions

Christ Community Chapel Members Refuse to Sign NDAs over Abuse Scandal

Deposed Pastor Tom Randall Launching New Nonprofit, Advocates Call on Portman to Investigate

Ex-megachurch pastor: I did nothing wrong in orphanage sex-abuse scandalJustice for Sankey

What Happened at Sankey?

The Tom Randall Orphanage Case: What happened in court?

Lie Exposed in Philippine Child Abuse Case: Updated – The Phoenix Preacher

Update On The Tom Randall Philippine Orphanage Scandal – The Phoenix Preacher

The Evangelical Machine That Protected Tom Randall — Until Now

Correspondence with CCC conciliation service (Sep-Oct 2019) – Justice for Sankey


Comments

“An Amazing Orchestration That Only God (and $2.2 Million) Could Have Done” — 74 Comments

  1. “Supporters of Ravi Zacharias have asked others who have exposed his corruption why don’t they allow a dead man to Rest In Peace?

    How about for starters that it affected others, revealing this allows the truth to surface and may encourage more needed sunlight in other areas (including to the benefit of anyone else affected or even victimized), and that it shows the need for transparency, accountability, and oversight in this professed Christian institution and others?

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  2. Wow. The fact that these stories are linked is indicative of the “christian” version of Qanon. Sort of… maybe not a good comparison but eerie nonetheless.

    Very good post and it is scary how deep this goes. Sadly, the Ravi quote at the end is very thoughtful and true. He very well may have been referring to himself. Maybe a cry for help.

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  3. I don’t doubt Christ is able to save anyone, but I do wonder about the wisdom of placing a recent convert in front of large crowds to retell his salacious story of conversion.

    You all know my opinion of such Spectacular JUICY Testimonies:
    “Pornography for the Pious.”

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  4. God help me, I find myself wondering if Ravi was drawn to Sanj after hearing his testimony of sexual perversion. I still think of the part in Steve B’s video where the woman from Ravi’s spa said that Ravi had both men and women to massage him, but he preferred the women. Oh my wicked mind. What more is to come out?

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  5. Leah Jacobs: God help me, I find myself wondering if Ravi was drawn to Sanj after hearing his testimony of sexual perversion.

    Like those Pastors with Pet Pedos they “counsel” for all the JUICY details?

    I have to ask for clarification on “testimony of sexual perversion”. In my experience, Christians define “perversion” so broadly (and so differently) as to make the term meaningless. Can yo be more specific re Sanj’s kinks?

    I still think of the part in Steve B’s video where the woman from Ravi’s spa said that Ravi had both men and women to massage him, but he preferred the women.

    As in “Swinging Both Ways”?

    “BISEXUAL – SPECIALIZATION IS FOR INSECTS”
    — button I saw in a local SF con’s dealer’s room some 20 years ago
    (“Specialization is for insects” is a line from Robert Heinlein, but despite his reputation in his later career I don’t think he meant that particular application…)

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  6. Joanne: Some questioned why he left the school and then only came back as a volunteer. Many students spoke of soccer team sleepovers at his house

    Same Myers as in the mug shot for going after same-sex jail bait?

    (Sleepovers at his house? Really? THAT OBVIOUS? Would like to know if there was only one bed in the house and the soccer team kids found their below-the-waist nightwear had gone missing. We had a sexual predator in early Furry Fandom who used that exact M.O. with the exact same target profile except it was room splits at cons instead of soccer team sleepovers. Always managed to book a single for some reason…)

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  7. Both Steve B and I (and others) thought long ago that what RZ said and wrote didn’t convince (in my case his manner and speech also). That is what the red flag was for a great many people. Why didn’t the rest of the public notice?

    Why do CM&A overstretch those whom they overpromote? Why doesn’t CM&A have HolY Spirit belieF? Why do people with Billy Graham style chins have to name their organisations after themselves? What did Billy Graham himself preach?

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  8. A number of commenters have remarked that RZ fulfilled the role of “conquering hero” in the minds of many admirers. It brings to mind the story in 1 Samuel about pre-kingdom Israel’s desire for a king to go before it in battle. We know how that turned out; all the kings, with scarcely any exceptions, turned out to be profoundly flawed and in the end they led the nation into disaster and exile.

    When will we stop placing our trust in human princes?

    I wonder whether YHWH regards it to be a “misuse of YHWH’s Name” to have outcomes wrought by behind-the-scenes human maneuvers attributed to Divine acts. Is that a kind of christian illusionism?

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  9. Todd Wilhelm: Or did he and his minder both need minding?

    I suppose that some adults do lose control when they travel. Others might travel in order to lose control.

    But travel is not the culprit.

    Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, sure. I get that. But going to Vegas will not flip a switch and make someone unfaithful, a gambling addict, a problem drinker, etc. Travel also will not change a person’s sexual orientation.

    A lot of fundagelicals have an exaggerated fear of new experiences—not even doing bad things, but just learning how other people live and think. I wonder if he isn’t relying on that fear to help justify bad behavior.

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  10. Julie Roys has two new posts about RZ and RZIM this week.

    1. Her opinion piece wherein she gives no quarter to those who whine about attacking a dead man and grieving family: https://julieroys.com/ravi-zacharias-allegations-highlight-secrecy-cover-up-at-rzim/

    Quote from near the end of this piece: “ In Cover-Up in the Kingdom, Baughman devotes an entire chapter to “Ravi’s Enablers at God Inc.” These “enablers” include Zacharias’ publisher, prominent evangelical seminaries, and some speakers at RZIM who surely noticed Zacharias’ deceptive practices.

    It’s a sobering chapter, but one every evangelical should read.

    We cannot say we stand for the truth and then look the other way when our favorite ministry or leader is implicated in wrongdoing. If we do, then the scandals in evangelicalism will only increase.”

    2. Exclusive: An Open Letter to RZIM from Brad & Lori Anne Thompson, wherein they blow up RZIM for violating the NDA recently and so they tell it all. https://julieroys.com/open-letter-to-rzim-from-brad-lori-anne-thompson/

    I love the ending paragraph by the Thompsons: “ Please be advised that while we are seeking both truth and reconciliation, we expect neither from RZIM. Should RZIM’s investigatory body wish to contact us directly, you may do so through our counsel, Boz Tchividjian at Boz@landispa.com.”
    BOOM

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  11. Michael in UK:
    Both Steve B and I (and others) thought long ago that what RZ said and wrote didn’t convince (in my case his manner and speech also).That is what the red flag was for a great many people.Why didn’t the rest of the public notice?

    I am curious-what was it about his speech and manner that you did not like or was a red flag to you. Also, you did not think he had good arguments? A lot of his arguments
    were standard apologetics but he used a lot of stories and I believe he was a smooth communicator. He had a certain charisma too. I did not follow him that much and knew of the credential scandal some time ago. That is why I was not totally surprised when this other news came out. He was just a man after all and sex, money and power are what usually gets these leaders-of course they all have enablers as well.

    Why do CM&A overstretch those whom they overpromote?Why doesn’t CM&A have HolY Spirit belieF?Why do people with Billy Graham style chins have to name their organisations after themselves?What did Billy Graham himself preach?

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  12. Friend: Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, sure. I get that. But going to Vegas will not flip a switch and make someone unfaithful, a gambling addict, a problem drinker, etc. Travel also will not change a person’s sexual orientation.

    I’m that person who goes to Vegas and then goes to the Bellagio’s art gallery and then has to be shooed away by the guards for wanting to get an up close and personal look at the paintings. (Seriously, not at the Bellagio, but at a traveling exhibit in Albuquerque, I freaked out guards by getting almost nose-close to a Manet and a Van Gogh. I still remember the weave of the Van Gogh canvas and how some of it wasn’t covered by paint.)

    I still wish I’d taken a picture of the fumi-e in the Kyushu National Museum, even though it was against the posted rules. But I didn’t.

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  13. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: I’m that person who goes to Vegas and then goes to the Bellagio’s art gallery and then has to be shooed away by the guards for wanting to get an up close and personal look at the paintings.

    We almost got kicked out of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe once when our toddler decided to take off his shoes and throw them around… My husband ended up taking him outside so I could finish looking at the art!

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  14. Headless Unicorn Guy: As in “Swinging Both Ways”?

    We should be careful not to go beyond the current evidence. Massage can be perfectly legitimate for muscle pain and Zacharias apparently had had back pain for many years. It is entirely possible he went in sometimes for the pain only and sometimes for a bit extra. We have not apparently heard that any male employees complain though we might.

    BTW I wonder if Sanj Kalra is fudging his family background much like Zacharias did (Zacharias’s family had been Christian for several generations when he was born but that isn’t obvious from most of his bios). Kalra states ‘I came from a Hindu background’ which isn’t the same as saying ‘I was raised Hindu’ or even ‘My parents were Hindu’.

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  15. I believe Ravi’s description of how careful he was while traveling not to sin, e.g. always having a traveling companion (as Todd insightfully asked, who’s watching the watchmen?), not being alone, rarely turning on the TV, as much as I believe his previous claim in his lawsuit against the Thompson’s that he was never alone with other women (read: except while sexually molesting them during massages or while sexting), that is, zero percent.

    I suspect Sanj Kalra and Hayden Kho, if they chose to come clean, would have some stories to tell about Ravi’s travel exploits that would not have made it into his crafted, deceptive public persona. How much were/are Sanj and Hayden getting paid?

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  16. oh… i was at the d’orsay museum in paris some years ago – saw a number of van gogh things

    (and monet, and degas… saw the ballerinas – i was shocked at how bright the colors were – not pastel at all)

    …and i saw something van gogh had done on what seemed like a scrap of cardboard — didn’t even have square sides, just a torn scrap.

    it was absolutely mesmerizing. and the painted images were beautiful on this torn scrap. could see all the brushstrokes —

    it was almost like it was in motion – you could feel the physicality and energy of the brush strokes just by looking at them. it was sort of a time warp moment, like being in his presence as he was painting.

    (well, i don’t think time is linear in the first place)

    a very profound moment.

    but then i heard, “MOM! Can we go now??”…for, like, the 6th time.

    unbelievable

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  17. i also love gustav klimt and maxfield parrish things, too. (haven’t seen any in person, though)

    the sculpture ‘ex nihilo’ at the national cathedral in DC is totally breathtaking. i’ve only seen it in photographs — but it’s enough to keep me riveted for…at least 10 minutes…

    i’m always up for art talk

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  18. Vance: I am curious-what was it about his speech and manner that you did not like or was a red flag to you. Also, you did not think he had good arguments? A lot of his arguments were standard apologetics but he used a lot of stories and I believe he was a smooth communicator. He had a certain charisma too. I did not follow him that much and knew of the credential scandal some time ago. That is why I was not totally surprised when this other news came out. He was just a man after all and sex, money and power are what usually gets these leaders-of course they all have enablers as well.

    Yes some was fairly good but I think he needed co-writers to fill in a few factual gaps / steer him away from non-enhancing extraneals. I didn’t take notes but it may have been mainly his seemingly overblown approach to a few of the OT prophecies. He would certainly have done better as a sermon preacher like John Lennox. As to manner I mix with people who are of mixtures / from unusual places so I have “radar”. I wasn’t convinced about the pronunciation of his surname in a country that (I assume) copes with surnames from anywhere, and where audio will make it catch on. Quite what has the CM&A been teaching to millions of its parishioners over the last 200 years? I think they had pressured him far too much. With hindsight, the signs should have made us get help for him to improve his gift. I’m appalled by threats, denigration and deviousness, assisted by the Thompsons’ former counsellor playing the “muslim card” (shades of the “baptist card” played in the run up to the JFK campaign). The Thompsons followed the standard reputable procedure in the documented case of the former pastor, as an editor must have plainly known. I’m not surprised this was so huge and so sad and I saw every dynamic that is now being documented, deployed in another colossal and frightening context (which a once editor would do well to draw an object lesson from).

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  19. Raswhiting: It’s a sobering chapter, but one every evangelical should read.

    Which means Evangelicals will forbid themselves to read it. Or even acknowledge its existence.
    “All Fake News(TM)”, “Lies and Slander from the Pit of Hell(TM)”, “Conspiracy masterminded by SATAN Himself to Slander(TM) a Mighty ManaGAWD”, “Bitter Bitter Bitter(TM)”…

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  20. Headless Unicorn Guy: Which means Evangelicals will forbid themselves to read it. Or even acknowledge its existence.
    “All Fake News(TM)”, “Lies and Slander from the Pit of Hell(TM)”, “Conspiracy masterminded by SATAN Himself to Slander(TM) a Mighty ManaGAWD”, “Bitter Bitter Bitter(TM)”…

    The human ability to live in denial is incredibly strong. I live with a family member who follows a certain celebrity with very different beliefs that my family member. The celebrity will say things on TV straight out that my family member disagrees with, and my family member refuses to believe the celebrity just said that.
    “They didn’t mean it.”
    “You misunderstood.”
    “I can’t believe they would believe anything like that (because I like them).”

    It’s really frustrating. And I’ll be honest, those were exactly the things said to me after I reported being assaulted. They didn’t mean it. You misunderstood. I can’t believe they would do that (so you must be lying).

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  21. ishy,

    I had already given up on the Ev movement by the time the RZ scandals began to burst into public awareness, and so was both not surprised that a “hero” of the movement would prove to have a seamy underside and not particularly invested at the time in learning the details. I’m catching up late, and the details are pretty breathtaking.

    Re: the cognitive bias you describe:

    The thought occurs that the loss of cultural influence that so grieves Evangelicals is a perfectly reasonable response of outsiders to what they see. To adapt Nathan’s prophetic word to David, if the churches give outsiders reasons to blaspheme (or simply to ignore) YHWH, the churches should not be surprised when that does happen. And they should also not be surprised if YHWH has something to say about it that is not to the self-perceived advantage of the churches.

    I vividly remember a warning given by a missions teacher, Don McCurry: “Never touch God’s glory”. It is perilous to arouse God’s jealousy for His own honor. Run away from individuals and groups that do that.

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  22. Samuel Conner,

    Nice summary… I am also struck by RZ fans being “upset” about us bloggers exposed, “gossiping” about all of RZ’s failings….. First, while i might have wondered about RZ for years, it took the “banjo atheist” to expose it…. Second, there are “victims” that need to be supported….

    I am so sick and tired of “fallen leaders” supporters scolding “us” bloggers…. RZ is the one going around claiming “Truth matters”, and defending not just Christianity, but moral positions of Christianity…. and the leads a secret life and lies about his credentials… LIGHT needs to be shined on this “stuff”

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  23. Jeffrey Chalmers: I am also struck by RZ fans being “upset” about us bloggers exposed, “gossiping” about all of RZ’s failings … I am so sick and tired of “fallen leaders” supporters scolding “us” bloggers … secret life and lies about his credentials … LIGHT needs to be shined on this “stuff”

    Standing for Christ sometimes requires believers to enter the awkward arena of calling out the misbehaving of faith leaders. Refusing to do so gives license to other imposters to behave the same way, knowing that their legacy would be preserved even if they were exposed. The pew is obligated to bring the pulpit into account to protect the Body of Christ from more harm. Pointing to the errors of fallen ministers and ministries is not gossiping, it is a step toward a much needed cleansing of the church.

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  24. Samuel Conner: To adapt Nathan’s prophetic word to David, if the churches give outsiders reasons to blaspheme (or simply to ignore) YHWH, the churches should not be surprised when that does happen.

    In Yiddish, this is called a “Shanda fur die Goyim” – a scandal before the Others that brings reproach upon and destroys the reputation/credibility of the Faithful.

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  25. Samuel Conner,

    “Never touch God’s glory”
    ++++++++

    i’m supposed to never touch God’s glory…

    so, i have some preliminary questions:

    1. what is God’s glory?

    2. It is apparently tangible — is it visible, too? (i hope so – like, if i can’t see it, any given time of day or night any part of me could cross over into it without realizing)

    3. what are some possible ways i might touch it?

    4. what would happen if i did touch it?

    5. what if I do it accidentally?

    *bonus question: what does it taste like?
    .
    .
    (some of the questions and answers overlap)

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  26. elastigirl,

    The question is too large to answer concisely and I’m not sure I can even at greater length. But the famous story of David and Nathan at least provides a thumbnail sketch.

    At least part of the purpose of YHWH “adopting” Israel as His “portion” (the OT seems to reckon that the pagan nations were assigned to subordinate powers — the “sons of God” mentioned in Dt 32:8 [NIV translates this “sons of Israel”, which doesn’t make much sense; why would pagan national divisions correspond to the number of Israelites?]) was to manifest YHWH’s righteousness through a righteous human nation governed by righteous laws. “What other nation has such righteous laws?”

    Israel’s king was responsible for the civil administration and so his own conformity to the laws had implications for YHWH’s reputation as a righteous god (using small “g” here intentionally; YHWH and the lesser beings, the “sons of God”, who are the gods of the pagan nations, seem to be in conflict**). When David flagrantly violated these laws (the “matter of Bathsheba and Uriah”), he called YHWH’s righteousness into question. YHWH was obliged to chastise David for his transgressions (and the following story in II Samuel indicates that David “harvested” the same kinds of things that he had “sown”) or otherwise His own integrity would have been called into question.

    David damaged YHWH’s reputation and YHWH was obliged to discipline David in order to vindicate Himself; if YHWH cannot even keep the king He has appointed under control, what good is He as Israel’s national Deity? I think that something similar is at work in other OT stories in which YHWH seems to, by present-day standards, “over-react” to a provocation that may not seem to us to be such a big deal (for example the story of Uzzah and the ark of the covenant).

    I would not advise to lose a lot of sleep over the possibility of “accidentally” besmirching God’s reputation. A well-developed conscience will tend to protect one from that, I think. The danger is when one allows one’s conscience to be lulled to sleep. That happened to David. It seems to have happened to RZ, granting the judgment of charity that at an earlier point in his career RZ was indeed a “God-fearer.”

    (** this is weird stuff by present-day standards. Ancient Semitic theology looks a bit different from what we are accustomed to. Michael Heiser’s popularization of the “Divine Council” concept may be helpful, or perhaps disturbing)

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  27. elastigirl,

    This actually kind of comes “full circle” with another concern that frequently appears in TWW posts: the problem of over-zealous discipline by authoritarian church leaders.

    In the one clear instance we have of Pauline thinking about church discipline, the person who had to be excluded from the group had done something that was scandalous even by the standards of the licentious outsider culture of the day. The reputation of the church was at stake, and by implication the reputation of the church’s Lord and God.

    The kinds of improper church discipline that are reported at TWW take place in response to “transgressions” against the internal control of the congregation by the leadership, not in response to things that are genuinely scandalous. And things that are scandalous get winked at or overlooked if done by celebrity leaders. It is hard to believe that this is pleasing to YHWH. The churches should not be surprised if their “stock” is declining in the eyes of the watching world.

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  28. Samuel Conner,

    thank you very much for the very thoughtful reply.

    so, you equate God’s glory with God’s reputation, then.

    all in all…… eh, i dunno.

    i tend to see “God’s glory” as a handy go-to term ancient writers of scripture resorted to for whatever they didn’t understand about the invisible supreme being.

    things haven’t changed much… except christian leaders toss it around like they know exactly what it means (as if they spend their time teleporting to & from Mt. Sinai, circa 1446 BC)

    they entertain me no end, there.

    but this is not you.

    I appreciate very much the time you took to put all that together.
    .
    .
    i think ‘God’s glory’ is simply what God is made of — so pure and good and all-powerful, God can’t help but radiate bright light.

    (as described in the bible, and also as a few people who have had encounters have described to me)

    sort of like how everyone has a presence about them — partly by their unique nature and partly by how they are responding to circumstances in their life.
    .
    .
    but i bet God’s glory tastes like warm homemade caramel syrup, then poprocks, then back to homemade caramel syrup…then poprocks again…

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  29. elastigirl: (some of the questions and answers overlap)

    I hail from the old Calvary Chapel days back during the wind-down of Vietnam.
    They had a whole Southern-Cali-beach-lingo way of looking at things that was almost Orwellian.
    For example, if you (generic you) did something laudable, you could not take credit for it; because all credit had to go ‘to the Lord’.
    It was exhausting to have God portrayed as an insecure cosmic narcissist who had to be always somehow ‘glorified’.
    You have no idea how emancipating it was to be finally free of all that happy horse poo-poo.

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  30. Samuel Conner,

    Indeed.

    Your previous comment about gods glory = god’s reputation, what you described sounded like accountability.

    Claiming to represent god and speak for god (and using god to enrich oneself) and then behaving like a ‘scallywag’ (not amongst the words I really wanted to say), yes, you can expect god to say “i don’t think so”.

    Especially when god’s collective representatives can’t be bothered to rouse themselves out of complacency. Keeping their spiritual hands clean is much more important than speaking out to insist their Christian leaders do what is honest and right.

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  31. elastigirl: Would she share her best chicken recipe?

    The problem is she uses recipes for cooking pretty much the same way Italians in Italy use traffic lights and lanes lines for driving: as potentially useful suggestions. I especially like her French chicken tarragon, but I don’t think hers can be copied. Her Italian baked lemon chicken is great. And so is her Hungarian Chicken Paprikash. She said you can google them to get close enough. You cannot go wrong with these classics, especially if you compare a few different versions.

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  32. elastigirl: Claiming to represent god and speak for god (and using god to enrich oneself) and then behaving like a ‘scallywag’ (not amongst the words I really wanted to say), yes, you can expect god to say “i don’t think so”.

    Isn’t that the original meaning of the Commandment “taking God’s Name in Vain”?
    God was saying “YOU DO YOUR OWN DIRTY WORK! DON’T DRAG ME INTO IT!”?
    Convenient how that Commandment has been redefined to mean cussing and cussing alone, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?

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  33. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    “I especially like her French chicken tarragon, but I don’t think hers can be copied. Her Italian baked lemon chicken is great. And so is her Hungarian Chicken Paprikash. She said you can google them to get close enough. ”
    +++++++++++++

    Wow, you actually had a conversation about these things! i bought a whole cut-up chicken — i’ll check these recipes out.

    a final question: are their cooking / recipe websites that she thinks are good?

    I’ve found some good ones on “A Taste Of Home” and Epicurious.

    just don’t want to waste time, here.

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  34. Muff Potter: For example, if you (generic you) did something laudable, you could not take credit for it; because all credit had to go ‘to the Lord’.

    I remember one devotional (“The Calvary Road”?) from the Sheperding/Rapture “Fellowship” I was involved with around that period. It went one better; not only did “all credit go to The LORD”, but your only credit allowed was “I Am Only a Worthless Slave”. Real Worm Theology there.

    It was exhausting to have God portrayed as an insecure cosmic narcissist who had to be always somehow ‘glorified’.

    Which is why Christians fall HARD for insecure narcissist Pastors, Superapostles, and politicians. They’ve been groomed to see such types as Godly.

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  35. I have many concerns about Ravi. I am glad they are being exposed here. However, I’m reading the blog less and less, because of the increasing left wing political slant. Keep Pence out of this. He is a good man that has better things to worry about, than to keep up on the latest regarding Ravi. Just because he is not aware of this issue should not mean you should be taking a shot at him.

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