Ravi Zacharias: A Personal Conversation, Pt. 2

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Pic: Ravi and his son, Nathan, at our home

Once again, we have the privilege to hear from Ravi Zacharias via an interview I did with him.  Though done years ago, his answers are timeless, interesting, and applicable for us.  This time, we take personal and insightful look into his life and ministry.

For those of you who missed Part 1, Click Here .  Ravi was a precious friend and hero who has had an immeasurable impact in my life as well as thousands of others.  He was widely considered as the finest and most impactful Christian apologist/evangelist in the world before his passing on May 19, 2020.

We have used the last two weeks to honor his life and legacy and to help inspire you to have a greater perspective on life and your calling in Christ:

Ravi: A Poetical Sketch – A Tribute to Ravi Zacharias by Daniel Hsieh

Ravi Zacharias: A Personal Conversation, Pt. 1

Ravi Zacharias: A Singular Life (1946 – 2020)

Ravi Zacharias Buried in Casket Built by Prisoners

A MUST WATCH! – Ravi’s Memorial

Enjoy and glean from this titan of the faith! – Arthur

Arthur:  You said at Founders Weekend (an annual weekend retreat for close friends of the ministry), with respect to the ministry, that God gave you a vision without giving you omniscience.  I knew what you were saying because if you really knew what lay ahead, in your human mind, you would have been overwhelmed and felled before you even started.  But what was it that you did see?  I’m sure you never envisioned the grandness of the impact that RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) would have.  What was it that you were looking to do when you started the ministry?

Ravi:  The need.  I saw the need .  That’s about all I could see . . . that the need was incredibly vast to reach the mind and that we were going to be committed.  What I did see in my mind were university open forums, businessmen’s luncheons, international conferences where we are reaching the thinker;  and so I very clearly envisioned these audiences coming in large numbers to listen to a defense of the Christian faith but I did not envision, say, the growth of the radio ministry, the growth of our team, . . . the marvelous opportunities that have come are extraordinary.  I mean we have a full time staff of 18 here (Atlanta), 14 or 15 in Madras (India), and now with Oxford (England), and Canada . . . we have contained growth in our planning.  We have made every effort to limit growth.

[Note: It was in 1984 that Zacharias founded RZIM, which today has 16 offices throughout the world in the United States, Canada, Peru, Kenya, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Austria, Spain, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, and the Middle East. Through its global team of more than 90 full-time speakers and nearly 300 employees worldwide, RZIM seeks to impact the heart and intellect of society’s thinkers and influencers through evangelism, apologetics, spiritual disciplines, training, and humanitarian support.]

Arthur:  That’s a new approach!  Everyone else seems to strive to do it the other way (i.e. strive for growth rather than limit it).

Ravi:  (chuckling) This is the truth.  People sort of chuckle at it in our meetings but I think one of the most difficult decisions in life is to know when you are at your maximum and not to go wider but to go deeper.

Arthur:  That’s something I came away with at Founders.  Let me tell you that that has been so profound in my life.  Not only the messages but the people I was around . . . talking to different people and listening to the testimonies, I was there humbled . . .  It was kind of scary for me because I had never thought in such grand and deep terms.  It seemed that everyone I was meeting had that kind of deeper vision for ministry.  I was kind of scared because I think, as you would say, Aslan is on the move;  something was going on in my heart, like I was approaching a next step [in my spiritual life] or something.  That was so enriching.  We appreciate that (being included) very much.

Ravi:  I appreciate that, Arthur.  That was a special weekend, no doubt.

Arthur:  Back to the ministry, how did it come about that the vision came to mind.  [Weren’t] you in the business world before you were in ministry?  How did God bring you to this point?

Ravi:  When I came to Canada (from his homeland, India), I worked in the hotel industry.  I trained in catering technology and hotel management.  My whole goal was to be in the hospitality and hotel industry.  I enjoyed that very much and still miss it a lot because I like the hospitality industry, my focus mainly being food and beverage management;  but after working in it for two years, there was no doubt in my mind, that as each day was going by, God’s voice was getting clearer and clearer.  By that I don’t mean an audible voice but a tug at the heart to get myself into theological training and into ministry because that was where I was most fulfilled – in sharing my testimony or speaking to audiences.  It was very obvious to me where it was going but I just did not know what form it would take.  I knew it was going to be ministry but I didn’t know whether it would be as a missionary or an evangelist.  I just did not understand those terms very well, coming from India. . . .  I finished my undergrad and then worked full time for the Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) for one year.  I then felt I needed graduate level education in philosophy if I was to truly wrestle with the questions people were asking.  I did my graduate level work at Trinity and after that became a professor for the Alliance . . . When I finally left the professorship to form RZIM, it was with the goal of reaching the thinker and training men and women to be able to think again for the glory of God.

Arthur:  Going back to [your early life], you were converted in India.  You said you were very sick or something?

Ravi:  Well, I was on a bed of suicide when I was 17.

Arthur:  Oh, that’s right. Was it really that meaningless or seemingly so at that point?

Ravi:  I think so because of the kind of culture in which I lived.  There’s a lot of pressure to do well in your studies and if you’re not going to do well, there’s no hope.

Arthur:  The Chinese kids that I work with have a strong feeling of that.

Ravi:  Exactly.  I talk to them here at Georgia Tech.  I’ve had them come to the office.  A Chinese youngster understands that very well [and] an Indian youngster understands it very well.  There’s a great similarity because of the size of our nations and the emphasis that is placed on scholarship, and then limited opportunities . . . it’s not good enough to do well, you have to be at the top of your class.  That’s the pressure.  If you don’t make it, there’s a lot of shame.

Arthur:  That’s right. So, you said your mother brought the Word in to you?

Ravi:  Yes, somebody brought a Bible into the hospital room –  a friend of mine whom I didn’t know that well – and he gave her John 14 to read to me.  In the hospital room, when she read it, that’s when [I made my commitment].  I had heard the gospel before but I didn’t have full understanding of the terms.

Arthur:  When she was reading the words, did something happen?

Ravi:  When she came to the verse when Jesus said, “Because I live, you shall live also” I said, “Lord, I don’t know exactly what this means but if this means that You’re the giver of life, then I want it, and I want Your life because the life I have I do not want.  I will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of truth if You will just change my life for me.

Arthur:  Afterward, then, was there an immediate difference?

Ravi:  Yes, an incredible difference.  I left the hospital room a brand new man.  I got involved in Bible studies with Youth for Christ and they became my nurturing agent really.

Arthur:  You told me in your letter to me last year that you thought the Chinese people had a special role in God’s plan in the next century.  What did you mean by that?

Ravi:  Well, I think they are a very, very uniquely gifted people.  If you look at the Chinese culture, there’s almost nothing, in terms of human capacity, that they as a culture do not possess.  [They are] incredible artists, very competitive in athletics, very gifted musically.  They know the diligence of thinking [and] scholarship – the Chinese scholar and so on.  They’re very, very gifted in business acumen and learning to make the best out of difficult situations.  They have an incredible survival instinct . . . through thick and thin, somehow they have managed to keep the home fires burning.  There’s a lot of courage in Chinese culture . . . If the gospel takes hold in China, I have no doubt that they will be the agents of change in the twenty first century . . . the key is going to be how the gospel takes root.

Arthur:  Are there any plans for RZIM to (minister in China)?

Ravi:  I think so, Arthur, I think so.  We generally wait for things to come about naturally;  we seldom construct a specific plan but the way God has opened up doors for us in the past, I think something will happen because of the impact we had in Hong Kong and in Singapore.

Arthur:  In your last statement here, what is your life’s passion or purpose?

Ravi:  Oh, to receive the divine accolade, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”;  I think to win the applause of God rather than anything else;  that God would be pleased with my life, that is my goal without a doubt.

Arthur:  Ravi, this has been a great time for me.  Thank you so much!

Ravi:  Oh, I appreciate that, Arthur.  We appreciate you, too, very much.  Give our love to Sandra . . . and thank you for taking the time.  It’s good to talk to you again.

Arthur:  You and your family have a great Christmas.

Ravi:  You too, my brother.  The Lord bless you.

A MUST Watch! – Ravi’s Memorial

Video: Inspirational memorial service for Ravi Zacharias

Hey TD,

I’ve told you before how I actually find memorial services very meaningful and powerful, often more than weddings.  I always come away from a memorial service having learned something about how life is to be lived and how to improve the way I live my life.  Well, that was especially true today as I watched the memorial service of my hero and friend, Ravi Zacharias.  Even though I know more about Ravi than most, I came away still being amazed afresh and so richly blessed by his life.  It was transcendent.  Sandra said she felt like Heaven touched earth.  We both came away so amped up to live our lives fully for the Lord.

Friends, you need to watch this.  Don’t skip around and skim through it.  That would be almost irreverent.  Imagine yourself as if you were actually there, like you actually knew him, and just take it in.  Listen carefully, lovingly, compassionately, and feel for his family.  Immerse yourself.  Absorb.  Learn.  Glean.  Observe and pay attention.  There is so much to take away.  You will be the better for it.

Sandra and/or I would love to talk with any of you about Ravi, his memorial service, or anything the Spirit may be doing in your life.  Just reach out!

“Because I live, you will live also.” John 14:19

– Arthur

 

 

 

Ravi Zacharias Buried in Casket Built by Prisoners

“Our hope is as certain as Jesus’s grave is empty,” said Sam Allberry in solemn graveside service.

“Our hope is as certain as Jesus’s grave is empty,” said Sam Allberry in solemn graveside service.

Ravi Zacharias was laid to rest on Thursday, May 21, in a private ceremony in Georgia. It was a largely overcast day with glimpses of sunlight piercing through the clouds, a reflection of those who were mourning below with glimpses of hope piercing through the mournful occasion. His family gathered to honor not just the leader of a global ministry or an evangelist-apologist who crisscrossed the globe in the service of Christ, but a loving husband, a nurturing father, and a loyal and generous brother. Sam Allberry, who officiated the service, rightly reminded all that this is not the end of Ravi’s story. Hovering over the whole ceremony was the confidence of the words that had saved Ravi’s life 57 years ago: “Because I live, you will also live” (John 14:19).

Allberry gently ministered to the family through his message of hope and assurance in Christ during the graveside service. He explained that the Christian’s hope is grounded in the assurance of Christ’s life and faithfulness. Since Christ lives, we know that Ravi lives. In that sense, the grave is something of a painful deception. Ravi now rests cradled in our Lord’s earth not as one who has been snatched from life, but as a dear saint ultimately liberated to life everlasting in the presence of his Lord and Savior. Using an analogy fitting of a man who had spent his life spanning the globe, Allberry described the grave as an airport transit lounge visited before one reaches their final destination. We know it is not the final destination because it was not Christ’s final destination. “Our hope,” Allberry said, “is as certain as Jesus’s grave is empty.”

Ravi passed away on May 19 after a short battle with cancer at the age of 74. He died on his mother’s birthday. He is survived by his wife, Margie, their three children, and five grandchildren.

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The love that many around the world felt for Ravi through his lifetime of work was present in the very receptacle in which Ravi’s body now rests. Ravi’s message of hope in Jesus Christ resonated with many, especially those in prison populations around the world. He developed a special relationship with Louisiana State Penitentiary, known widely as Angola Prison, inspired by his friendship with the late Chuck Colson, a leading figure in prison ministry and the man who first urged Ravi to put his Harvard Veritas lectures into the written form that became his second book, Can Man Live Without God?

Ravi visited Angola a few times over the years, most recently in June of 2019. It was an incredible experience he wrote about in a June 8 Facebook post:

“In the ante room to the execution room is where the sentenced man has his last meal. A prisoner has painted two paintings that grace the wall there. One is Daniel in the Lion’s Den, meaning, “God might still rescue you.” Next to that is another one: Elijah going up on chariots of fire. One way or the other, God will be there for you. …

Even in a dark place, the Gospel is shining with grace and power. That is the only hope for the world because we are all prisoners of sin, and only the cross has the answer and the freedom.”

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The prisoners at Angola held a very special place in Ravi’s heart. In a beautiful example of the Grand Weaver ever-present in Ravi’s life and death, it is these very prisoners who lovingly crafted the casket in which Ravi was buried.

Ravi wrote about his request to be buried in a casket fashioned by Angola inmates in his most recent book, Seeing Jesus from the East (Zondervan, 2020). With great insight, he wrote of the inspirational lessons one can learn from these dear brothers in Christ. Ravi did not know that his words would be full of so much meaning for his loved ones just a few months after they were penned. “These prisoners know that this world is not their home,” Ravi explains, “and that no coffin could ever be their final destination. Jesus assured us of that. Such is the gospel story.” He expands on this message later, writing “The story of the gospel is the story of eternal life. My life is unique and will endure eternally in God’s presence. I will never be ‘no more.’ I will never be lost because I will be with the One who saves me.”

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These sentiments were felt throughout the service, which began with the reading of God’s word in John 11:25, 26; Romans 8:38, 39; and 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 17b, and came to a close in the Anglican committal prayer

We have entrusted Ravi to God’s mercy,

and we now commit his body to the ground:

in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life

through our Lord Jesus Christ,

who will transform our frail bodies

that they may be conformed to his glorious body,

who died, was buried, and rose again for us.

To him be glory for ever.

Amen.

Ravi Zacharias, a friend of Christ who tried to end his life after 17 years and was given 57 more by and through God’s grace, has finished his race and entered Eternal Rest. As God rested from His works, Ravi now rests from his as well (Hebrews 4:9, 10). At the conclusion of this solemn graveside service, as Ravi’s casket was lowered into Georgia’s red clay soil, Allberry could not help but to reflect on those famous words attributed to George Herbert, “Death used to be an executioner, but the gospel has made him just a gardener.”

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Photos by Elizabeth Lauren Jones Photography.

Margie and the Zacharias family have asked that in lieu of flowers gifts be made to the ongoing work of RZIM. Ravi’s heart was people. His passion and life’s work centered on helping people understand the beauty of the gospel message of salvation. Our prayer is that, at his passing, more people will come to know the saving grace found in Jesus through Ravi’s legacy and the global team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Story courtesy of RZIM Canada

Ravi Zacharias (1946 – 2020) – A Singular Life

Video of Ravi’s message to Sandra on her 50th a “few” years ago

Hi TD,

A few days ago, I posted “Ravi: A Poetical Sketch” – A Tribute to Ravi Zacharias alerting you to the fact that Ravi’s departure from earth would soon be near.

It is with profound sadness that I inform you of his passing on May 19.  Ravi was one of the most unique and singular lives I have ever witnessed, known, and loved.  His battle with a rare form of cancer, sarcoma, lasted 2 months before he was sent home on May 8 to spend his final days with his family and close friends.

A giant and hero to so many across the globe, his reach and effectiveness for Christ to both the world’s highest leaders as well as the world’s most destitute had few parallels.  He cared for the person first, regardless of status or stain.  His life and ministry demonstrated his whole-hearted love for God and for the individual clearly and compassionately.

Ravi was a real hero to me and has influenced my vision for life and ministry, as well as my character, as much as anyone has over the last few decades.  For him to have called me “a true friend” is an honor.  I owe him so much.

This video he recorded for me for Sandra’s 50th shows some of his humor, warmth and kindness as a person.  Though traveling and focused on speaking (he was on the road defending Christ and the Gospel over 250 days a year, criss-crossing the globe several times), he was happy to record this for Sandra.

Please pray for his family – his wife, Margie, his children, and his 5 grandchildren as they process their loss.  Though mourning, his daughter Sarah writes,

“Today my beautiful father is more alive than he has ever been. We thank God for him and recommit our lives to sharing this truth with all who will hear, until He calls us to our eternal home.”

We’ll be posting more on Ravi’s life and ministry in the weeks ahead in order to help strengthen your confidence in the Gospel and your winsomeness to the world.

– Arthur

Here is the official obituary, as well as some personal reflections from Sarah:

Obituary: Ravi Zacharias

Obituary: Ravi Zacharias (1946-2020) - chvnradio.com

When Ravi Zacharias was a cricket-loving boy on the streets of India, his mother called him in to meet the local sari-seller-turned-palm reader. “Looking at your future, Ravi Baba, you will not travel far or very much in your life,” he declared. “That’s what the lines on your hand tell me. There is no future for you abroad.”

By the time a 37-year-old Zacharias preached, at the invitation of Billy Graham, to the inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam in 1983, he was on his way to becoming one of the foremost defenders of Christianity’s intellectual credibility. A year later, he founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), with the mission of “helping the thinker believe and the believer think.”

In the time between the sari seller’s prediction and the founding of RZIM, Zacharias had immigrated to Canada, taken the gospel across North America, prayed with military prisoners in Vietnam and ministered to students in a Cambodia on the brink of collapse. He had also undertaken a global preaching trip as a newly licensed minister with The Christian and Missionary Alliance, along with his wife, Margie, and eldest daughter, Sarah. This trip started in England, worked eastwards through Europe and the Middle East and finished on the Pacific Rim; all-in-all that year, Zacharias preached nearly 600 times in over a dozen countries.

It was the culmination of a remarkable transformation set in motion when Zacharias, recovering in a Delhi hospital from a suicide attempt at age 17, was read the words of Jesus recorded in the Bible by the apostle John: “Because I live, you will also live.” In response, Zacharias surrendered his life to Christ and offered up a prayer that if he emerged from the hospital, he would leave no stone unturned in his pursuit of truth. Once Zacharias found the truth of the gospel, his passion for sharing it burned bright until the very end. Even as he returned home from the hospital in Texas, where he had been undergoing chemotherapy, Zacharias was sharing the hope of Jesus to the three nurses who tucked him into his transport.

Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias was born in Madras, now Chennai, in 1946, in the shadow of the resting place of the apostle Thomas, known to the world as the “Doubter” but to Zacharias as the “Great Questioner.” Zacharias’s affinity with Thomas meant he was always more interested in the questioner than the question itself. His mother, Isabella, was a teacher. His father, Oscar, who was studying labor relations at the University of Nottingham in England when Zacharias was born, rose through the ranks of the Indian civil service throughout Zacharias’s adolescence.

An unremarkable student, Zacharias was more interested in cricket than books, until his encounter with the gospel in that hospital bed. Nevertheless, a bold, radical faith ran in his genes. In the Indian state of Kerala, his paternal great-grandfather and grandfather produced the 20th century’s first Malayalam-English dictionary. This dictionary served as the cornerstone of the first Malayalam translation of the Bible. Further back, Zacharias’s great-great-great-grandmother shocked her Nambudiri family, the highest caste of the Hindu priesthood, by converting to Christianity. With conversion came a new surname, Zacharias, and a new path that started her descendants on a road to the Christian faith.

Zacharias saw the Lord’s hand at work in his family’s tapestry and he infused RZIM with the same transgenerational and transcultural heart for the gospel. He created a ministry that transcended his personality, where every speaker, whatever their background, presented the truth in the context of the contemporary. Zacharias believed if you achieved that, your message would always be necessary. Thirty-six years since its establishment, the ministry still bears the name chosen for Zacharias’s ancestor. However, where once there was a single speaker, now there are nearly 100 gifted speakers who on any given night can be found sharing the gospel at events across the globe; where once it was run from Zacharias’s home, now the ministry has a presence in 17 countries on five continents.

Zacharias’s passion and urgency to take the gospel to all nations was forged in Vietnam, throughout the summer of ’71. Zacharias had immigrated to Canada in 1966, a year after winning a preaching award at a Youth for Christ congress in Hyderabad. It was there, in Toronto, that Ruth Jeffrey, the veteran missionary to Vietnam, heard him preach. She invited him to her adopted land. That summer, Zacharias—only just 25—found himself flown across the country by helicopter gunship to preach at military bases, in hospitals and in prisons to the Vietcong. Most nights Zacharias and his translator Hien Pham would fall asleep to the sound of gunfire.

On one trip across remote land, Zacharias and his travel companions’ car broke down. The lone jeep that passed ignored their roadside waves. They finally cranked the engine to life and set off, only to come across the same jeep a few miles on, overturned and riddled with bullets, all four passengers dead. He later said of this moment, “God will stop our steps when it is not our time, and He will lead us when it is.” Days later, Zacharias and his translator stood at the graves of six missionaries, killed unarmed when the Vietcong stormed their compound. Zacharias knew some of their children. It was that level of trust in God, and the desire to stand beside those who minister in areas of great risk, that is a hallmark of RZIM. Its support for Christian evangelists in places where many ministries fear to tread, including northern Nigeria, Pakistan, South African townships, the Middle East and North Africa, can be traced back to that formative graveside moment.

After this formative trip, Zacharias and his new bride, Margie, moved to Deerfield, Illinois, to study for a Master of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Here the young couple lived two doors down from Zacharias’s classmate and friend William Lane Craig. After graduating, Zacharias taught at the Alliance Theological Seminary in New York and continued to travel the country preaching on weekends. Full-time teaching combined with his extensive travel and itinerant preaching led Zacharias to describe these three years as the toughest in his 48-year marriage to Margie. He felt his job at the seminary was changing him and his preaching far more than he was changing lives with the hope of the gospel.

It was at that point that Graham invited Zacharias to speak at his inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam in 1983. Zacharias didn’t realize Graham even knew who he was, let alone knew about his preaching. In front of 3,800 evangelists from 133 countries, Zacharias opened with the line, “My message is a very difficult one….” He went on to tell them that religions, 20th-century cultures and philosophies had formed “vast chasms between the message of Christ and the mind of man.” Even more difficult was his message, which received a mid-talk ovation, about his fear that, “in certain strands of evangelicalism, we sometimes think it is necessary to so humiliate someone of a different worldview that we think unless we destroy everything he holds valuable, we cannot preach to him the gospel of Christ…what I am saying is this, when you are trying to reach someone, please be sensitive to what he holds valuable.”

That talk changed Zacharias’s future and arguably the future of apologetics, dealing with the hard questions of origin, meaning, morality and destiny that every worldview must answer. Flying back to the U.S., Zacharias shared his thoughts with Margie. As one colleague has expressed, “He saw the objections and questions of others not as something to be rebuffed, but as a cry of the heart that had to be answered. People weren’t logical problems waiting to be solved; they were people who needed the person of Christ.” No one was reaching out to the thinker, to the questioner. It was on that flight that Zacharias and Margie planted the seed of a ministry intended to meet the thinker where they were, to train cultural evangelist-apologists to reach those opinion makers of society. The seed was watered and nurtured through its early years by the businessman DD Davis, a man who became a father figure to Zacharias. With the establishment of the ministry, the Zacharias family moved south to Atlanta. By now, the family had grown with the addition of a second daughter, Naomi, and a son, Nathan. Atlanta was the city Zacharias would call home for the last 36 years of his life.

Meeting the thinker face-to-face was an intrinsic part of Zacharias’s ministry, with post-event Q&A sessions often lasting long into the night. Not to be quelled in the sharing of the gospel, Zacharias also took to the airwaves in the 1980s. Many people, not just in the U.S. but across the world, came to hear the message of Christ for the first time through Zacharias’s radio program, Let My People Think. In weekly half-hour slots, Zacharias explored issues such as the credibility of the Christian message and the Bible, the weakness of modern intellectual movements, and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Today, Let My People Think is syndicated to over 2,000 stations in 32 countries and has also been downloaded 15.6 million times as a podcast over the last year.

As the ministry grew so did the demands on Zacharias. In 1990, he followed in his father’s footsteps to England. He took a sabbatical at Ridley Hall in Cambridge. It was a time surrounded by family, and where he wrote the first of his 28 books, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism. It was no coincidence that throughout the rhythm of his itinerant life, it was among his family and Margie, in particular, that his writing was at its most productive. Margie inspired each of Zacharias’s books. With her eagle eye and keen mind, she read the first draft of every manuscript, from The Logic of God, which was this year awarded the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) Christian Book Award in the category of Bible study, and his latest work, Seeing Jesus from the East, co-authored with colleague Abdu Murray. Others among that list include the ECPA Gold Medallion Book Award winner, Can Man Live Without God?, and Christian bestsellers, Jesus Among Other Gods and The Grand Weaver. Zacharias’s books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into over a dozen languages.

Zacharias’s desire to train evangelists undergirded with apologetics, in order to engage with culture shapers, had been happening informally over the years but finally became formal in 2004. It was a momentous year for Zacharias and the ministry with the establishment of OCCA, the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics; the launch of Wellspring International; and Zacharias’s appearance at the United Nations Annual International Prayer Breakfast. OCCA was founded with the help of Professor Alister McGrath, the RZIM team and the staff at Wycliffe Hall, a Permanent Private Hall of Oxford University, where Zacharias was an honorary Senior Research Fellow between 2007 and 2015. Over his lifetime Zacharias would receive 10 honorary doctorates in recognition of his public commitment to Christian thought, including one from the National University of San Marcos, the oldest established university in the Americas.

Over the years, OCCA has trained over 400 students from 50 countries who have gone on to carry the gospel in many arenas across the world. Some have continued to follow an explicit calling as evangelists and apologists in Christian settings, and many others have gone on to take up roles in each of the spheres of influence Zacharias always dreamed of reaching: the arts, academia, business, media and politics. In 2017, another apologetics training facility, the Zacharias Institute, was established at the ministry’s headquarters in Atlanta, to continue the work of equipping all who desire to effectively share the gospel and answer the common objections to Christianity with gentleness and respect. In 2014, the same heart lay behind the creation of the RZIM Academy, an online apologetics training curriculum. Across 140 countries, the Academy’s courses have been accessed by thousands in multiple languages.

In the same year OCCA was founded, Zacharias launched Wellspring International, the humanitarian division of the ministry. Wellspring International was shaped by the memory of his mother’s heart to work with the destitute and is led by his daughter Naomi. Founded on the principle that love is the most powerful apologetic, it exists to come alongside local partners that meet critical needs of vulnerable women and children around the world.

Zacharias’s appearance at the U.N. in 2004 was the second of four that he made in the 21st century and represented his increasing impact in the arena of global leadership. He had first made his mark as the Cold War was coming to an end. His internationalist outlook and ease among his fellow man, whether Soviet military leader or precocious Ivy League undergraduate, opened doors that had been closed for many years. One such military leader was General Yuri Kirshin, who in 1992 paved the way for Zacharias to speak at the Lenin Military Academy in Moscow. Zacharias saw the cost of enforced atheism in the Soviet Union; the abandonment of religion had created the illusion of power and the reality of self-destruction.

A year later, Zacharias traveled to Colombia, where he spoke to members of the judiciary on the necessity of a moral framework to make sense of the incoherent worldview that had taken hold in the South American nation. Zacharias’s standing on the world stage spanned the continents and the decades. In January 2020, as part of his final foreign trip, he was invited by eight division world champion boxer and Philippines Senator Manny Pacquiao to speak at the National Bible Day Prayer Breakfast in Manila. It was an invitation that followed Zacharias’s November 2019 appearance at The National Theatre in Abu Dhabi as part of the United Arab Emirates’ Year of Tolerance.

In 1992, Zacharias’s apologetics ministry expanded from the political arena to academia with the launching of the first ever Veritas Forum, hosted on the campus of Harvard University. Zacharias was asked to be the keynote speaker at the inaugural event. The lectures Zacharias delivered that weekend would form the basis of the best-selling book, Can Man Live Without God?, and would open up opportunities to speak at university campuses across the world. The invitations that followed exposed Zacharias to the intense longing of young people for meaning and identity. Twenty-eight years after that first Veritas Forum event, in what would prove to be his last speaking engagement, Zacharias spoke to a crowd of over 7,000 at the University of Miami’s Watsco Center on the subject of “Does God Exist?”

It is a question also asked behind the walls of Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola Prison, the largest maximum-security prison in the United States. Zacharias had prayed with prisoners of war all those years ago in Vietnam but walking through Death Row left an even deeper impression. Zacharias believed the gospel shined with grace and power, especially in the darkest places, and praying with those on Death Row “makes it impossible to block the tears.” It was his third visit to Angola and, such is his deep connection, the inmates have made Zacharias the coffin in which he will be buried. As he writes in Seeing Jesus from the East, “These prisoners know that this world is not their home and that no coffin could ever be their final destination. Jesus assured us of that.”

In November last year, a few months after his last visit to Angola, Zacharias stepped down as President of RZIM to focus on his worldwide speaking commitments and writing projects. He passed the leadership to his daughter Sarah Davis as Global CEO and long-time colleague Michael Ramsden as President. Davis had served as the ministry’s Global Executive Director since 2011, while Ramsden had established the European wing of the ministry in Oxford in 1997. It was there in 2018, Zacharias told the story of standing with his successor in front of Lazarus’s grave in Cyprus. The stone simply reads, “Lazarus, four days dead, friend of Christ.” Zacharias turned to Ramsden and said if he was remembered as “a friend of Christ, that would be all I want.”

Ravi Zacharias, who died of cancer on May 19, 2020, at age 74, is survived by Margie, his wife of 48-years; his three children: Sarah, the Global CEO of RZIM, Naomi, Director of Wellspring International, and Nathan, RZIM’s Creative Director for Media; and five grandchildren.

By Matthew Fearon

RZIM U.K. content manager and former journalist with The Sunday Times of London


About RZIM

Founded in 1984 by Ravi Zacharias, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) brings the gospel of Jesus Christ to millions around the world. RZIM focuses on evangelism, apologetics, spiritual disciplines, training and humanitarian support. The organization’s goal is to touch both the heart and the intellect of the thinkers and influencers in society by tackling some of the toughest questions about faith and providing thoughtful answers. For more information visit RZIM.org.

Ravi Zacharias, Now with Jesus

Ravi Zacharias, Now with Jesus | Zacharias Trust | RZIM Europe

On January 4, my dad recited a stanza from this hymn from the late Richard Baxter (1615-1691):

“Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.

If life be long, I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad
To welcome endless day?

Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than He went through before;
He that unto God’s kingdom comes
Must enter by this door.

Come Lord, when grace hath made me meet
Thy blessed face to see;
For if Thy work on earth be sweet
What will thy glory be!

Then I shall end my sad complaints
And weary sinful days,
And join with the triumphant saints
That sing my Savior’s praise.

My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.”

None of us could have imagined just two months after reciting that last stanza that my dad would learn he had cancer and he would experience the realization of this more than 300-year-old hymn so soon. Today we affirm, as my dad recited and Baxter penned, “But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all, and I shall be with Him.” My dad, at 74, has “join[ed] with the triumphant saints that sing [his] Savior’s praise.” We who knew and loved him celebrate his life, and more importantly, his Savior.

It was his Savior, Jesus Christ, that my dad always wanted most to talk about. Even in his final days, until he lacked the energy and breath to speak, he turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done. He perpetually marveled that God took a seventeen-year-old skeptic, defeated in hopelessness and unbelief, and called him into a life of glorious hope and belief in the truth of Scripture—a message he would carry across the globe for 48 years.

His thoughts and conversations in recent years and his final weeks were saturated with gratitude for this team of evangelists, apologists, and staff that he called family: RZIM—Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He spoke of our evangelists’ tender hearts and their love for people. Some have said my dad blazed a trail when he began commending the Christian faith and addressing life’s great questions of meaning nearly five decades ago. As one friend dear to him remarked, he has also paved that path, desiring that his teammates around the world would continue so untold millions might know the same Jesus he faithfully served—the one he now sees face-to-face.

My dad’s humility, grace, tenderness for people, and above all love for the Lord are forever imprinted on my mind, my heart, and my life. His love for our family will be impossible to replace until we join him in heaven one day. Ravi and Margie just celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary. My mother was entirely committed to my dad’s calling and to this ministry, believing God called them together. I cannot recall even one moment when I saw her commitment to this calling weaken, because she always placed unwavering trust in the God who called them and in His purposes. We experienced God’s kindness and faithfulness in so many ways as we felt Him journeying with us in bringing my dad home. For this we are at peace and filled with deep gratitude to God for the innumerable expressions of His love. Naomi, Nathan, and I are deeply grateful for your continuing prayers for our mother, Margie, and the many expressions of love you have shown to her and to us.

Soon our family will gather for a graveside service. In the days ahead we will provide details for a memorial service to be held in Atlanta and streamed around the world.

The Gospel of John records these words of Jesus: “Because I live, you also will live” (14:19)—seven words that changed the trajectory of Ravi Zacharias’s life some 57 years ago. It is a verse etched on his grandmother’s grave stone and will be etched on his too. Today my beautiful father is more alive than he has ever been. We thank God for him and recommit our lives to sharing this truth with all who will hear, until He calls us to our eternal home.

With deep love and gratitude, and on behalf of Margie, Naomi, and Nathan,

Sarah Davis

Margie and the Zacharias family have asked that in lieu of flowers gifts be made to the ongoing work of RZIM. Ravi’s heart was people. His passion and life’s work centered on helping people understand the beauty of the gospel message of salvation. Our prayer is that, at his passing, more people will come to know the saving grace found in Jesus through Ravi’s legacy and the global team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

On January 4, my dad recited a stanza from this hymn from the late Richard Baxter (1615-1691):

“Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.

If life be long, I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad
To welcome endless day?

Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than He went through before;
He that unto God’s kingdom comes
Must enter by this door.

Come Lord, when grace hath made me meet
Thy blessed face to see;
For if Thy work on earth be sweet
What will thy glory be!

Then I shall end my sad complaints
And weary sinful days,
And join with the triumphant saints
That sing my Savior’s praise.

My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.”

None of us could have imagined just two months after reciting that last stanza that my dad would learn he had cancer and he would experience the realization of this more than 300-year-old hymn so soon. Today we affirm, as my dad recited and Baxter penned, “But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all, and I shall be with Him.” My dad, at 74, has “join[ed] with the triumphant saints that sing [his] Savior’s praise.” We who knew and loved him celebrate his life, and more importantly, his Savior.

It was his Savior, Jesus Christ, that my dad always wanted most to talk about. Even in his final days, until he lacked the energy and breath to speak, he turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done. He perpetually marveled that God took a seventeen-year-old skeptic, defeated in hopelessness and unbelief, and called him into a life of glorious hope and belief in the truth of Scripture—a message he would carry across the globe for 48 years.

His thoughts and conversations in recent years and his final weeks were saturated with gratitude for this team of evangelists, apologists, and staff that he called family: RZIM—Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He spoke of our evangelists’ tender hearts and their love for people. Some have said my dad blazed a trail when he began commending the Christian faith and addressing life’s great questions of meaning nearly five decades ago. As one friend dear to him remarked, he has also paved that path, desiring that his teammates around the world would continue so untold millions might know the same Jesus he faithfully served—the one he now sees face-to-face.

My dad’s humility, grace, tenderness for people, and above all love for the Lord are forever imprinted on my mind, my heart, and my life. His love for our family will be impossible to replace until we join him in heaven one day. Ravi and Margie just celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary. My mother was entirely committed to my dad’s calling and to this ministry, believing God called them together. I cannot recall even one moment when I saw her commitment to this calling weaken, because she always placed unwavering trust in the God who called them and in His purposes. We experienced God’s kindness and faithfulness in so many ways as we felt Him journeying with us in bringing my dad home. For this we are at peace and filled with deep gratitude to God for the innumerable expressions of His love. Naomi, Nathan, and I are deeply grateful for your continuing prayers for our mother, Margie, and the many expressions of love you have shown to her and to us.

Soon our family will gather for a graveside service. In the days ahead we will provide details for a memorial service to be held in Atlanta and streamed around the world.

The Gospel of John records these words of Jesus: “Because I live, you also will live” (14:19)—seven words that changed the trajectory of Ravi Zacharias’s life some 57 years ago. It is a verse etched on his grandmother’s grave stone and will be etched on his too. Today my beautiful father is more alive than he has ever been. We thank God for him and recommit our lives to sharing this truth with all who will hear, until He calls us to our eternal home.

With deep love and gratitude, and on behalf of Margie, Naomi, and Nathan,

Sarah Davis

Margie and the Zacharias family have asked that in lieu of flowers gifts be made to the ongoing work of RZIM. Ravi’s heart was people. His passion and life’s work centered on helping people understand the beauty of the gospel message of salvation. Our prayer is that, at his passing, more people will come to know the saving grace found in Jesus through Ravi’s legacy and the global team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Galen Jee (1950 – 2018) – My Pastor

Galen Jee

Galen giving some pre-marriage counseling to Arthur and Sandra during TD in the ’80’s

Hello TD,

It is with deep sadness that I must inform you that Pastor Galen Jee, our English Department pastor for about twenty years, passed away suddenly yesterday from cardiac arrest.  He was doing what he loved to do – walking in nature and capturing it in photographs.  An avid and talented photographer, he loved capturing God’s creation.

I want you all to know that our English Department wouldn’t be what it is today without the foundation-laying, seed-planting, and personal investment into people that Galen and his wife, Eunice, provided.  What God has done in our congregation in the years since he moved on from our church has been built upon the foundation that God had Galen and Eunice lay; it’s a foundation that was committed to the gospel rather than gimmicks, to people rather than programs, to integrity rather than ingenuity, … to a saving God rather than to self-glory.  This is absolutely true.

Often times, people embellish the facts and persona of someone’s life after they have passed on, out of deference and respect, and sensitivity to the surviving family.  Galen would not have that, nor would want me to do that.  Anyone else who was under his care and leadership would whole-heartedly affirm what I just wrote above.

Pastoring our congregation during the heyday of the “seeker sensitive” church growth movement in the ’80’s and ’90’s, Galen felt the external pressure to grow our numbers more quickly, which forced him to look within and to continually check himself in order to stay faithful to our Lord and His Upside Down Kingdom, where measures of true success rarely look like what we think it looks like (even church goers).  Having his success as a pastor often gauged by others according to the metric of numeric success, Galen stayed faithful and true to what he knew the true church to be, Christ’s Bride; not a platform or a stepping-stone for feeling good about oneself and achieving some sort of self-worth and self-satisfaction through serving and through church-y “success,” which he rightly knew was still, in fact, worldly.  He wouldn’t do that.  He just wanted to be found faithful and obedient, plain and simple.  That was success.

Personally, it was Galen who not only was the official English Department pastor when I arrived at MBCLA, but who became MY pastor.  He saw a young, unchurched, worldly high school graduate and met with me in my home before baptizing me not too long afterwards (announcing to the congregation that I graduated from Marshall HS rather than my alma mater, South Pasadena HS).  Over the ensuing years, he saw something in me, investing in me and showing me the ropes.  As the years ensued, his belief in me grew and he entrusted me with the opportunity to serve our congregation in many ways.  He gave me my wings in ministry, as it were.  Though young, inexperienced, and “wet behind the ears,” he allowed me to make mistakes, and more importantly, he trusted me; for that, I will always be humbled and grateful.  I had the privilege of preaching several times at the pulpit of the church that he shepherded after he left MBCLA.  Knowing that he would only let people he trusted to preach from his pulpit, I always counted it a great honor to do so.

He preferred the private impact of personal ministry over the public show of it.  There is a place for everyone to minister, whether in public or in private; he was quite aware of the potential traps of public ministry.  He was understated in personality and not the dynamic “life of the party,” by any means.  I’m not sure he could’ve actually drawn the attention to himself that other more vibrant, boisterous, magnetic personalities can; nonetheless, he knew that even desiring to do so is tantamount to doing it in God’s eyes.  He knew himself and knew that he could “go there” if he wasn’t alert and careful.  So, he ordered his life to make sure he didn’t “go there.”

I appreciated his down-to-earth humility in that way.  He didn’t want anything to be above the Christ of the gospel, nor anyone to be out of His reach.  Galen was a personal minister who cared about the person and cared about that person living life truthfully, according to the way God ordained, as revealed in Scripture.  He was committed to the sufficiency of Scripture for all of life.  He was not one who could get himself to bend the rules, shade the truth, or to go against conscience, having to turn various people down for different requests, even though he hated to do so.

When Sandra and I got engaged, I remember him asking both our parents how they really felt about it.  Since Sandra and I have a large age gap, he was a little apprehensive of whether our relationship would really work out.  He loved us both and didn’t want to see us take a hasty step that would result in disaster down the road.  He did our pre-marriage counseling with us and gave us his blessing, eventually marrying us.

I spoke to him last week, and as usual, his eyes were ultimately on the Lord.  Over the last couple of years, he often spoke frankly and realistically about the tenuousness of life on earth, saying that God could realistically take him at any time.  A lifelong diabetic, he had to constantly inject himself and was constantly experiencing new ailments in his later years.  He reminded me that he was not scared of death and that he would be with the Lord.

Well, Galen is with the Lord now. and I bet he wishes he had his camera equipment with him.  It won’t be long, however, before realizes that he doesn’t need his camera to capture the splendor of what he is experiencing and seeing.  It’s permanent now.  He lives it 24/7.  I have an idea of who he’s making a beeline toward, who he’s anxious to meet and ask questions of.  Most of all, I know that he is overwhelmed and humbled to be in God’s immediate presence, as we all will be when our time comes.

I will miss my dear friend and pastor.  I’m thankful for his investment in my life and for handing the baton to me.  I pray that I will be faithful to carry that baton well and to faithfully hand it off to those such as you.  Amen.  – Arthur

RC Sproul (1939 – 2017) – He Fought the Good Fight

Video of RC’s surprise b-day greeting on my 50th

Hi TD,

It is with profound sadness that I inform you of the passing of one of the great ones, Dr. RC Sproul.  As giant a figure as he had become in Christendom for enabling the lay person access to the deep truths of God and powerfully and indelibly confronting us with His absolute and transcendent holiness, he was a humble, gracious, generous, funny, and loving man.  He was a hero to me and so, so instrumental in teaching me and helping to shape not only my theology, but my character.  He will be sorely missed.

In the video above, you can get a flavor of his warmth and kindness as he surprised me with a clever birthday greeting for my 50th this summer.

Please pray for his family, as they work through their loss.  They said they are weary, saddened, yet rejoicing for him.  Here’s why they are rejoicing:

We’ll be posting more from his life and ministry in the weeks ahead, so you too can be impacted and your faith deepened.

Here’s the official announcement:

Dr. R.C. Sproul, Called Home to the Lord

FROM  Dec 14, 2017 Category: Ministry News

Dr. R.C. Sproul went home to be with the Lord this afternoon around 3 p.m. surrounded by his wife, Vesta, and family in his hospital room in Altamonte Springs, Fla. He was 78. He died peacefully after being hospitalized twelve days ago due to severe respiratory difficulties exacerbated by the flu and complicated by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Known to millions of Christians as simply “R.C.,” he was used of the Lord to proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God in all its fullness. Through his teaching ministry, many of us learned that God is bigger than we knew, our sin is more deeply rooted than we imagined, and the grace of God in Jesus Christ is overwhelming.

God called R.C. to proclaim the gospel to as many people as possible. R.C. did this knowing the Lord did not need him. In fact, he wanted people to know the enduring, faithful witness of God’s servants throughout church history. God powerfully used R.C.’s ministry in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to awaken people around the world to the truths of classical Christianity.

It belongs to others in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead to assess the impact of R.C.’s ministry in the history of the church. In this moment, we feel loss—immense sadness and profound loss—the loss of a pastor, a teacher, a leader, a brother-in-Christ, a friend.

R.C. now sees the object of his faith, the risen Christ, high and lifted up. He now hears the seraphim’s song before the throne, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

We will be publishing details about the memorial service and providing an opportunity to leave a note of appreciation for Dr. Sproul’s ministry at RCSproul.com in the coming hours.

TD Fri. – “Dying to Live” SG Study/mp3

“Therefore, I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

– Romans 12:1

Hey TD,

Here’s your toolkit for this Friday’s small group study together! Download the study, listen to the message (or re-listen to specific parts of it) and spend time in prayer and prep during the week, so you can have a great small group discussion.  Use the Table of Contents to locate a certain section of the message.  Click below.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. – Coach John Wooden

“Dying to Live” (sg study)

“Dying to Live” (mp3) – Arthur

“Dying to Live” (mp3) Table of Contents 

“Renew” Theme Intro – 0:05

Intro to Romans – 10:30

“I urge you therefore brethren to present your bodies” – 20:45

What is a “living sacrifice”? – 30:40

**”Acceptable to God” – how we are all Stephen Paddocks** – 41:50 – 1:10:30

(video shown)

The $20 Challenge – 1:12:20

Check with your small group leader as to where and when you’ll be meeting!

Liz (Robert’s mom) is Home With our Lord

image 20150519_090805

Hello TD,

It is with heavy heart that we inform you that Liz Chan, Robert’s precious mother, had her Homecoming on June 29 at 5:40 p.m.  Thank you for your support, love, and prayers for the Chans during these last two months.

It has been a stressful and emotionally and physically difficult time since Liz’s hospital admittance on April 18.  Robert and his sister, Judy, took turns sleeping at the hospital every night for 2 1/2 months, and one of them was with her nearly 24/7.  However, it was also a very spiritually strengthening, encouraging, and inspiring time.  Jesus so clearly shone through her as she always used every ounce she had to praise Him, pray, and worship Him in song, even when she could no longer speak.

Here is the announcement from Robert:

“Hi loved ones. Today my mom passed from this life into eternal joy in the presence of her Savior and God. She finished her race well, comfortably, and with beloved family all around her. She’s been unconscious with everything in her body shutting down. She breathed on her own for 30 minutes before her heart stopped at 5:40 p.m. We had absolutely precious hours beforehand with her relatives all around. Uncle Kenny and my dad read Psalm 103 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 out loud together in Cantonese. Judy, Kathy, and I led the family in many worship songs. We prayed for her. This was the most emotional and real I’ve seen many of my relatives as they thanked mom for her love and her impact on their lives. There were many tears before and not a dry eye in the room when she passed. Death is ugly, jarring, violating… it’s not what God designed us for. I miss my mom so much. Yet it’s all the more amazing that Jesus went through death under God’s wrath for our sin so that we could enjoy a restored relationship with God forever. While we’re home without mom, mom was lovingly carried home before us. Thanks for your prayers throughout. They really are the best support we could ask for now.”

Liz was such a trooper and an inspiration every time we visited her.  I always left our visits having drawn closer to Jesus, having been inspired to love our Lord more authentically. Whenever we would visit, and when she could no longer speak, she would motion for us to sing praises and pray, or she would write it on her portable board, as well as to encourage us with things like “Unconditional love from God for U” (see pics above).

God bless you, Liz.  He has raised you up!

“But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies … So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.” 1 Cor. 15:35-36, 42-43

– Arthur