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.

“Ravi: A Poetical Sketch” – A Tribute to Ravi Zacharias (mp3)

Ravi - Photo collage

Photo collage of Daniel Zacharias Hsieh and Ravi Zacharias

Hey TD,

The world has now had a week to process the stunning news that our beloved Ravi Zacharias will soon depart the earth to be with our Lord. Thousands of tributes have been flowing in from across the globe using the #thankyouravi hashtag via RZIM Connect, Facebook, and Instagram.  His family has been by his bedside reading and showing many of the posts to Ravi, for which they are extremely grateful.

As most of you know, Ravi has been an integral part of our family’s spiritual journey. Daniel’s middle name is Zacharias. In fact, Ravi had the top left picture on his desk for a while.  In writing to Ravi last week, Daniel shared,

” … I have never known a day in my life without your influence in it–from the time I was conceived until now. To me, you are not just someone IN this world; you are part of what I understand “world” to mean. You and your ministry are constitutive of my perception of life on this planet and the hope of the Gospel that you’ve shared on this planet.”

We hope this well help get you TD’ers more familiarized with this TITAN of the faith, who interacts with both prince (literally) and pauper with the same personal touch, attention, and dignity. – Arthur

mp3 of “Ravi: A Poetical Sketch”

Ravi
A Poetical Sketch

What words to say about your words?
What song about your song?
What tribute can I bring of worth
Amid the global throng of those,
Who thank you for the work you’ve done,
The life you’ve lived,
The race you’ve run,
The fight you’ve fought,
The gift you gave,
To me and to the world?

Inside the Areopagus,
I see you clothed in reason,
Off’ring rest to western minds,
Whose restless logic is religious,
But whose altars have inscriptions
To the thought of unknown gods.

The happy pagan hears you on the radio,
At first compelled by wit and raspy sibilance.
And then, anon, a vision of the Logos
Rises up and stands behind the ruthless
Drama of the west now gone—
Gone with the wind.

The Logos loves the lost.
He died and rose again.
He’s the source of Light and Rain.
Jesus is His name.
Amen.

I see you board an eastbound aircraft,
Watch the wingtips flash and soar,
Above the countries and their cultures,
Stories and their fabled lore.
Helios cannot catch up.
Hesperides is now behind you.
The Vedas and Upanishads
Are in the land in which you land.

At home, but not at home,
Each nation is familiar,
Though not your own.
A stranger on Tellurian shores,
You move from place to place with speed,
A witness to the human need,
Unique and universal.

A prophet of our time.
A citizen of Heaven still on earth.
The Hall of Faith awaits your coming.
Nature groans for second birth.

“Ravi Zacharias”—
The intro finished,
You stand up and look around
To see ten thousand eyes in expectation—
Windows of the soul in desperation.

A questioner goes to the mic,
An eastern man who’s lost a child.
The accent in his voice is mild—
He asks about theodicy.

You see at once his crying heart,
The pain-laced logic,
Part and parcel of the abstract quest
On which he only seems to be.

You look him in the eyes—
And then you make your answer empathy.

Your reasoning is tactful,
But you match his pain-laced logic
With a story-laden balm.
You point him to the moral law,
Invite him to the cross,
Tell him of the One who also
Lost an only Son.

In his eyes, a reflection
Of the hope of resurrection.
In his eyes, the welling water
Of One who ends our thirst.

Before He left the earth,
Jesus guaranteed his Spirit—
“It is better that I leave
So that the Helper comes to thee.”
I agree with those who say
That followers of Christ, in turn,
Leave something of their spirits
Like the Helper here for us.

Ravi Zacharias,
If you leave this earth,
At last receive the accolade
From Him of final worth,
I pray the Lord will grant us
Still your spirit here today,
That hearts of East and West
Will be united in the Way.

Daniel Zacharias Hsieh
South Pasadena, CA
12 May 2020

TD Fri. – Offerings 9! (here’s a peek at Offerings 2, 3, & 4)

Hey TD!

We will kick off the new year with Offerings 9 and encourage you to use your break time this week to prepare a short original “offering” for the Lord.  It can be in any form you desire – a song, a poem, a drawing/painting, story, dance, anything really; something that comes from your heart that is inspired by what you enjoy about God.  It can be just yourself or in a group.  The theme is “ENJOY”

As usual, it can only happen if you take a risk, take some time to prepare, and participate!  Think of something you enjoy that God has given you and thank Him for it.  It doesn’t have to be perfect or anything; just something that you want to offer to the Lord in gratitude.  Tell your small group leaders what you would like to offer this Friday, so we can put you in the program.

This week, we’ll post some videos/links of past Offerings.  ENJOY!:

OFFERINGS 2

OFFERINGS 3

Offerings 3 – Jason’s Drawing

Offerings 3 – Ashley’s Painting

Offerings 3 – Jessika’s Poem

OFFERINGS 4

What Will You Give Jesus? Day 12

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me … A CHILD BORN TO SET THE WORLD FREE!!  On this twelfth and final day of our gift giving to Jesus, we have a poetic extravaganza to give to Jesus – four original poems crafted for Jesus’ heart and our blessing!  Thanks Eunice, Josh, Sam, and Abigail!  Enjoy and Merry Christmas, TD! – Arthur

Christmas Prose

by Eunice Im

Christmas is a season full of longing and expectation. For instance, the Christmas lights and other pleasant decorations induce a romantic feeling in air, which put us in ‘the mood.’ We look forward to time off from school and work, for Christmas morning when we get to open presents, and for that one time during the year when the radio plays Christmas music all day long (okay, some of us enjoy the music). With all the child-like anticipation building up, this season can turn the grumpiest of Scrooges into kind and generous men; it can also remind us of deeper hungers yet to be fulfilled. Gift exchanges may promote kindness and appreciation, but also stir within us a desire for this kindness to last throughout the year. The extra family gatherings warm our hearts, but also remind us of lost loved ones and relationships that need mending. Isn’t it funny how heightened expectations can and often does lead to a deeper sense of expectation? That’s probably the reason why this season is painful for so many – it’s a reminder of all the things yet to be fulfilled. Before we prematurely call Christmas a hoax, a fake, a huge trick, let’s remember Christmas in its true essence. On that historic night, many years ago, God met with us, not in a deceitful way (like the many advertisements that promise slimmer bodies and happier times but do not deliver on their promises), but He truly, humbly, genuinely met with us. He promised from ages past through prophets like Isaiah, and He came through. This Christmas, let’s celebrate how He began the process of fulfilling all those deeper longings for reconciliation, true kindness and eternal life. Let’s celebrate…and wait for He is not done yet.

 

Christmas Poem

by Joshua Hsu

The splendor and the grandeur that must have been there when the Son was born.

Well actually, I don’t remember that in the Bible mentioned on that Christmas morn.

He was born in a stable,

Humble to the lowest state.

He was the King of Kings

And yet he didn’t even grow up on an Emperor’s rich estate.

He came to die for sins that He never made

God loved us so, that He was sacrificed for condemned man that shouldn’t be saved

He bridged the gap, which was impossible for us to cross

As he hung there bleeding for us on the Cross

Amazing Grace, that’s what the Christmas story is.

In history, it’s His story of salvation and the love He gives

Don’t get me wrong, its not about us, Its all about Him

He is a jealous God, pointing us constantly to Him

He is the answer, but yet we don’t have the power to see

And maybe thats why it is so hard for us to believe

A revelation

I get it

Now I finally see

The Christmas story is the story of the loved sinners now redeemed.

On Christmas Day

 by Samantha Chen

On Christmas the sun shines bright

A single glint shines on a little girl’s eyes

She quickly awakens to the light,

Because Christmas day has finally come

She rushes fast down as if in flight

To find all the presents under the tree

But one particularly caught her sight

A single box wrapped in a bow

She quickly opens the box as if in rage,

Only to find a leather book inside

A single book with thousands of pages

Was what she least expect on Christmas day

Running up to her parent’s bed

She shows them her leather book

“It’s a gift for you,” They said

“And in it a greater gift lies”

“This book tells of a God who created,

Protected, and loved us a lot.

But because of the sin we committed

We were doom to a road to death”

“However because God love us so

He planned a gift that would given be to us

A gift we did not deserve but now we can hold

Was born on Christmas night”

“He was God’s only son named Jesus

And He lived a perfect sinless life

He performed miracles and healed weaknesses

And showed His Father’s love to many others”

“But that’s not only why God sent Him

He sent Him to us so that we may live

He sent Him to die for our sins,

Even though He lived a sinless life”

“This is the greatest gift given to us,

By a Great and Loving God”

With this they leave to clean up her paper mess

As the girl looks and wonders about the book

She eyes the book in a different way

As if it is a treasure to uphold

Because on this special day

She saw what Christmas was really about

The Twelve Days of Christmas

 by Abigail Suen

On the first day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the second day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the third day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the fourth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the fifth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the sixth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the seventh day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the eighth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the ninth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the tenth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Ten Nativity plays,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Eleven church services,

Ten Nativity plays,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

We gave to Jesus,

Twelve pious prayers,

Eleven church services,

Ten Nativity plays,

Nine home visitations,

Eight gospel tracks for neighbors,

Seven gifts for needy children,

Six meals for the poor,

Five green wreaths,

Four lovely cards,

Three cheerful carols,

Two offerings,

And our hearts, strength, minds, and souls.

What Will You Give Jesus! Day 7

What a blessing it was to witness your gifts to Jesus tonight at “A TD Christmas”!  You guys rock!  More importantly, I’m pretty sure I can say that Jesus was blessed, and there’s nothing greater you can do than to bless Jesus.

Today, we are pleased and excited to share John Piper’s dramatic reading of his gripping poem, “The Inn Keeper.”  Daniel and I were mesmerized and left shaking our heads in wonder.  It is THAT good. – Arthur

What Will You Give Jesus? Day 2

Hope you enjoyed yesterday’s opening gift!  Today’s gift is homemade.  It’s a podcast of Sandra’s offering to Jesus, called “Wrappings or Trappings” – a rich and inspiring poem she wrote, full of insight and significance, to remind us to fight for what’s right this Christmas: Jesus.  Please listen and grow.  Thank you, Sandra!

Don’t forget to bring your own homemade gift to Jesus to “A TD Christmas” this Friday for you to share wtih your small group! – Arthur