In the middle of this coronavirus crisis we heard about the death of one strong voice of hope in our world. Ravi Zacharias passed away May 19, 2020. He was a strong Christian voice of Christ-centered hope in the middle of a chaotic and troubled world. I would like to share a few thoughts about the life of Ravi Zacharias, who I am sure will go down in our history books as a person who made a major impact in the world and will continue to do so with the numerous books he has authored and the broadcasts and podcasts he has recorded through RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries). He had a voice that directed thousands of people around the world to hope in Christ. He was one of the most brilliant and humble men I have ever heard. Both he and Billy Graham—who also passed into eternity last year at 99 years on this earth—have made a huge impact for Christ in the 20th century, and in the 21st century as well.
Ravi Zacharias was born in Chennai, India, in 1946, and spent his teenage years in Delhi, India. At seventeen, at a very low point in his life and without hope as a skeptic, he attempted to take his own life. A hospital worker gave a Bible to Ravi’s mother and directed her to read to Ravi, John chapter 14. This his mother did, reading to him the gospel of John from the Bible in his hospital room during recovery from his suicide attempt. John 14:19 “because I live you shall live also” caught his attention. Those words burned something into his soul. He said, “I wanted to live but I needed a purpose to live, a new way to live.” He prayed, “Dear God, if you are the one who gives life as it is meant to be, I want it.” Ravi knew from that day life was going to be different and, as the saying goes, “the rest is history.” The Zacharias family immigrated to Canada from India in 1966. Ravi earned his undergraduate degree from Ontario Bible College, which is now Tyndale University. In the early years of Ravi’s ministry, he served in short-term mission work in South Vietnam, where he ministered to U.S. soldiers as well as to prisoner of war Viet Cong inmates. He later served under the Canadian Christian and Missionary Alliance, who sent him to Cambodia shortly before the Khmer Rouge communist takeover. In 1983, Ravi had an opportunity to preach at a Billy Graham crusade in Amsterdam. It was from that point where the name Ravi Zacharias became known. Ravi Zacharias Ministries was founded in Toronto and the vision for his calling as a Christian apologist was born.
The motto of Ravi Zacharias’s apologetic ministry is “Let believers think and thinkers believe.” He saw that people were not being challenged to think and his ministry vision was to get people thinking again. I, too, see that as a great need today. We are living in a world where people draw opinions based on hearsay and not on fact. People do not stop long enough to think and are too lazy or apathetic to dig up facts to solve problems. We have become a media brainwashed society. The media has a huge influence on the masses of people in our generation. The media front is, in my opinion, the greatest battlefield in our western world. We follow manuals and listen to mostly wrong Hollywood influences and draw our opinions accordingly. This is going to destroy us eventually if we do not wake up and start using our brains and thinking like God intended us to.
The reason I became a believer in Christ at 21 years of age is because I decided to think for myself and not go along with the crowd. I decided to see if I could learn what the Bible taught, so I tried to give the Bible a fair hearing before accepting or rejecting it. It took some hard work over the space of about 1 ½ years. I discovered real truth in my quest and it is, in my humble opinion, the truth the world so desperately needs today. I simply came to the point in my life where I needed to settle the question about who God was and even if there was a God. I started thinking and reading and the result is that I discovered real truth that I had totally missed out on. In 1978 I listened to a Billy Graham crusade during a few days off from flying as a commercial pilot in the arctic. On one of those nights, everything I had read in the previous months came together in the person of Jesus Christ. This is what Ravi Zacharias discovered as well when he was 17 years old, which opened up a brand new life and journey for him.
Ravi Zacharias had a ministry that took him into hundreds of universities and public forums around the world, where he intellectually challenged sceptics, atheists, and agnostics to think beyond the boundaries they had established for themselves. Throughout his over 50 years of ministry countless thousands of people discovered that truth is not just words but in a person who is revealed to those who are seeking truth. Jeremiah 29:13 says: “And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.”
I pray that the countless number of young people in Saskatchewan who have attempted—and sadly too many have succeeded—to take their lives could discover the truth Ravi Zacharias discovered: “Because I live you shall live also.” I watched the funeral service of Ravi Zacharias that revealed a life started off in the slums of India, and elevated later to become a minister of the gospel to bring good news to a troubled world including kings, presidents and to large crowds in some of the most prestigious universities around the world. Oh yes, in the slums of countries around the world too. He never forgot his beginnings.
If you go to CBN news and scroll down to Ravi Zacharias Memorial you will be touched by the memorial service where U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gives the Eulogy and numbers of other friends and family give tribute to a man who made a big difference in their lives because of his Christian testimony.
When I pondered this memorial service and the life and ministry of Ravi Zacharias to the world, I thought of the time I stood in Sandy Bay, Saskatchewan with the family of a young man who had just committed suicide. I had flown in with a doctor and had an opportunity to try and console the hurting family members. I thought, if only someone had been there to share the words “Because I live you shall live also” with them maybe we would have had another life impacting the world with the eternal message of hope. I also thought: if Ravi Zacharias would have succeeded in taking his life at 17 years of age, think of what the world would have missed. There are so many young lives trapped in hopelessness and despair, often from addictions and failed relationships. Perhaps, mothers, when you know someone who is struggling with suicide thoughts, go and find a Bible and read to them John chapter 14. I would encourage you to read the entire gospel of John. It reveals the eternal hope we can all have in Christ and the difference He can make in your life.
I encourage you to go to our web site www.pabaptist.ca for our Live Stream services during this Covid-19 isolation time. It may help you in ways you could not dream of. I’m sure Ravi Zacharias could not have imagined that those few little words—“because I live you shall live also”—were going to change his life to an amazing adventure that took him from Delhi, India to almost every country in the world sharing the truth revealed to him in that hospital bed at 17 years of age.