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

Pics and Videos from V4V Weekend!

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2020 V4V Group Pic

Video – Breaking the 30 hour silence!

Video – Celebrating!

Hey TD!

To see the photos and videos from the 2020 V4V weekend, click on the link below!

2020 V4V Photos and Videos

Great job TD’ers! Let’s keep moving forward in serving and advocating for vulnerable children and families in Jesus’ Name!

TD Pics, “Nakedness” mp3, and more …

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Click HERE to see more of last Friday’s pics!

Hey TD!

We’ve got an exciting Friday chock-full goodness planned.  In addition to taking a deeper dive together into “On Nakedness and Shame,” we’ll also be highlighting Offerings 9, making a difference in the lives of underprivileged children, Love Your Neighbor Night, and more!

To prep for Friday’s discussion, please listen to and/or review Daniel’s message below. It’s a vital topic for us to broach, here in TD in particular, if we’re going to make any progress in the way we experience God, life, others, etc. :

“On Nakedness and Shame” (mp3) Daniel

7:15 p.m. is our TD Pre-Party.  See you Friday!

TD Fri. – 1st Dive, Kick-Off Pics!

Welcome to TD

Hey TD!

Welcome to a new year of Total Devotion!

We have an exciting year ahead that we pray will indelibly impact the direction of our lives and deepen and expand our enjoyment of God and the life He is calling us to.

Our theme for 2019 – 2020 is ENJOY!: Experiencing the Goodness of God. 

We will have our first large group Dive this Friday,  as we begin our journey towards finding and experiencing God’s desired joy for us.

Come at 7:15 p.m. to listen to music, play some games, or just hang out!

Here are some pictures from the Kick-Off (courtesy of Peter):

2019-2020 TD Kick-Off

See you Friday!

Happy 1st Anniversary, Stella!

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The first day we met Stella in China

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Celebrating 1 year together!

Hey TD!

One year ago today, we officially adopted Stella as our daughter.  So today, we celebrated Stella’s adoption day with her favorite food: hot pot! I guess you can get the girl out of China, but you can’t get China out of the girl! 🙂

It’s hard to imagine that it’s already been a full year since we adopted Stella.  It’s been quite an incredible journey of life and love together, and you all at TD have been such an important part of helping her adjust to life in America.  Thank you!

We love having Stella as a full-fledged member of our family; each one of us loves and admires her quite a bit and can’t imagine life without her.  We look forward to what God has in store for us and for her, and we know that you all will have an important role to play in her life as well.

Here’s to new beginnings, God’s grace, and the love of family!

– Arthur

 

Summer Trips Deadlines Approaching

***TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. INQUIRE VERY SOON!***

Hey TD!

One thing that made Los Angeles Lakers legend, Magic Johnson, one of the best basketball players of all time was his resolve to continue to get better each year; and the summer is when he went to work on adding new dimensions to his game before each new season.

Summer is an awesome opportunity to for you to “up your game” too. Whether it’s going overseas or staying in the US to serve others in Christ’s Name (and growing immensely in the process) or going to a special conference focused on helping to equip you better for the journey ahead, prayerfully consider how you can make the most of this summer to grow in honoring the Lord.

Here are some trips to consider that some fellow TD’ers and TD leaders will be participating in – Bring Me Hope’s Summer Camp, RZIM’s ReFresh Conference, and our very own Youth Summer Missions Project (YSMP). Check them out below:

Bring Me Hope Summer Camp 2019

Week 1: July 8 – 12 (Hsiehs, Calvin)

Week 2: July 15 – 19 (Calvin)

Week 3: July 22 – 26 (Megan, Calvin)

Week 4: July 29 – August 2 (Megan, Calvin)

TO LOVE

Our five day summer camps center around bringing forgotten children out of orphanages to experience a week of fun, love, and attention. This often includes many firsts for the kids—their first time swimming, eating ice cream and hearing “I love you”. Demonstrating God’s love in action is what camp is all about.

TO DEFEND

Most overseas trips end when you fly home, leaving you with only memories and pictures. However, our desire is for you to continue to have an impact long after you’ve left camp. Through our advocacy program, you can bring awareness to your child’s needs and even help find adoptive families. Our goal is to equip volunteers to defend vulnerable children.

DAY 1: The kids are coming! Today, you become a proud “parent” as you and your translator(s) are paired with 1-2 children to form a family group. Spend the day getting to know each other before you begin an amazing week of camp!

DAY 2-4: Let the fun begin! Camp is filled with activities for your family group to enjoy together. From arts & crafts to talent shows to dance parties, this is a week for your child to explore new experiences in a safe environment. You will have the unique opportunity to empower these children and show them unconditional love during camp. These are the moments that Bring Me Hope Camp was created for!

DAY 5: Today is the day that the children go home to the orphanage. It’s a bittersweet celebration of the relationships you’ve created and how far your family group has come in just 5 short days. It becomes more than just the last day of camp; You are left with memories and passion to do something about this orphan crisis.

AFTER CAMP: Bring Me Hope will provide you with the skills and training to make a greater impact on these children’s lives when you fly back home. You will be given the privilege to be an advocate for the children’s needs and help them find adoptive families!

If you have detailed questions about the camp, you can ask Megan, Calvin, Rebecca, Elissa, Sissi, or Abigail, who all have been.  Check out BMH Summer Camp and contact a TD leader if you have interest in going this summer.

If you are interested in doing the Bring Me Hope internship, ask Megan, Calvin, Angela, Sissi, or Aileen what they’ve been doing: BMH Internship

“ReFresh: Ready For College?” Conference for High School and College Students

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Hosted by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)

July 18-21, 2019 @ The Zacharias Institute in Atlanta, GA

“I’m lost. I’ve gone to find myself. If I should turn up while I’m out, tell myself to wait here.” These words, written on a sign in a bookstore in downtown Atlanta, capture the feeling of displacement that High School and college students across America are struggling with today. We don’t know who we are anymore. In a world swept up in identity politics, our own identities, both as individuals and as Christians, can feel less secure than ever.

This summer, at our annual ReFresh: Ready for College? conference, we will be addressing the question that Jesus himself once asked his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” This was the most important question that the disciples had to answer, and our response to this same question remains just as critical for our own lives. Truth, justice, morality, sexuality, freedom, meaning, love, identity: everything that we care about, everything that we live for, all of these are grounded by the answer to that one question. To know Jesus is to know ourselves. Only when we are confident of who he is can we be sure of who we are, and what he has called us to.

So if you’re a junior or senior in High School or a college freshman, then don’t miss the opportunity this coming June to get time away with each other, with members of the RZIM speaking team, and most importantly of all, with God.

 

Check out ReFresh: Ready For College for more info and contact a TD leader if you are interested.

YSMP 2019

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YSMP is our youth short-term mission trip to the Native American reservations in Arizona. The dates are July 5-13, 2019 and the cost is $170 per person. Our two-fold purpose and prayer for this mission trip is:

1) To participate in the proclamation of God’s glory in the gospel by bringing annual short-term support the local church pastors and congregations within the Native American Reservations in Arizona. Our aim is to hear the needs and vision of the local church pastor and assist the church with our team.

2) To provide a learning experience for our youth and other church members who want to explore cross-cultural missions. We desire for participants to get a sense of the devotion to Christ, training, focus, and flexibility it takes to be on mission, to be challenged to share their faith, and to have their eyes opened to the need for the gospel in less-reached areas.

Each year the YSMP coordinators touch base with each church in the reservation sites to see what kind of support they would like from the STM team. Generally, what that support takes form in:

1) VBS and Youth Camp

2) Visitations and Evangelism

3) Adult Bible Studies

4) Work Projects and Harvest Night

Prayerfully consider joining us on this short-term mission trip! If you have any questions, contact Robert at bobert.chan@gmail.com.