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: A Personal Conversation, Pt. 1

 

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Pic: When Ravi visited our home

Hey TD,

It was great to spend time with you on Friday at “Remembering Ravi: A Conversation.”  It was our honor to introduce many of you to Ravi’s life and ministry for the first time, as well as to recollect with others of you who have been touched by Christ through his life. For several of the TD leaders, it was a time of renewal and refocus, as we receive our portion of the baton that he handed off.

I am reminded of something I shared with you earlier this year … that in order to really live, something or someone must die.  In that spirit, as promised, I will be sharing with you some valuable insights from Ravi’s life that will help you deepen your life and ministry for Christ.

Here’s part 1 of a personal interview I had with Ravi years ago.  Please take the time to read, reread, and internalize his comments as I truly believe it can make a difference in your walk with God.  It has made a huge difference in mine.

Arthur:  I’ve heard you state many times that “the loneliest moment in life is when you’ve experienced what you thought would deliver the ultimate and it has let you down.”  Could you comment on that?

Ravi:  A lot of young people, particularly in their days of aspiring and dreaming, they look at their heroes that are ahead of them that are in sports, or in the entertainment world, or in the business world, and say to themselves, “That’s the kind of success I’d like to enjoy.  That’s the kind of wealth I’d like to own.  That’s the kind of power I’d like to wield.”  For many of them, as each stage comes and certain accomplishments are made that they never thought were possible, they find it to be very surprisingly hollow.  One look at the movie stars’ world and you’ll see how they constantly are in situations of broken homes and broken situations; sometimes there’s drugs, sometimes there’s violence in the home.  There are certainly lots of breakages in marriage and so on.  It just goes to prove that in the pleasures of the world, even in the legitimate pleasures of the world, there is no consummate expression;  only in God can you find constant fulfillment.  Take Deion Sanders, for example, in his conversion, making the comment that after attaining everything, the Super Bowl and all of that, he was still emptier than ever.  So that’s the comment, the comment that we need to learn quickly in life that in worldly terms all those momentary fulfillments come and go and they leave you hungrier than before.

Arthur:  That can come in a Christian context too, right?

Ravi:  You’re right!  You’re absolutely right.  That’s an important point.  Even success in ministry can become a disappointing factor after some time because that ought not to be the goal of your life.  The goal of your life ought to be God Himself.

Arthur:  Last year, I told you that I worked with youth and I had asked you what your advice would be to youth today.  Your response to me, as far as what I should do with my kids (youth), was, “Teach your kids how to read.”  Could you explain that a little bit?

Ravi:  Yes.  I think there’s so much that is going on today where minds are growing without our imaginations being given their freedom and their sovereignty.  So much is being given to us visually that I feel our imagination is being taken hostage and in reading you have two things happening:  First of all, words, concepts, ideas are coming into your mind that’ll help you relate and interact with the idea;  but more than that, it gives you the sovereignty of your own imagination.  I think a lot of havoc is wreaked in a life when an imagination has not matured, when an imagination has not been rightly tutored.  So reading is an important aspect in training the imagination.

Arthur:  So you yourself are not engaging your mind particularly in media very much are you?

Ravi:  No, I really don’t.  For various reasons, I find the visual very unattractive to myself.  I’m kind of a news man and the few things that I would watch would be historic documentary type things. The world of entertainment on TV has very little appeal for me personally.  I would sooner read a book than be entertained by the visual media.  I’m not saying it’s all wrong or bad, that’s not the point.  I’m just saying for my personal preference, I have very limited time to give to that kind of entertainment.

Arthur:  So with you, personally, with all the demands on you to be right at the cutting edge of social commentary, you have to saturate yourself with news items and things like that, which also brings the temptation to be overloaded that way too, right?

Ravi:  Oh, you’re right.  You’re absolutely right.  Over the years, I’ve been very selective in the magazines I subscribe to and read ones that will give me the news and keep me in tune with the culture.

Arthur:  Ravi, how do you nurture your soul, then?

Ravi:  Two or three things.  I think first of all, a daily devotional life and scripture reading is going to be very, very important.  You have to be disciplined.  You have to have a pattern.  You can’t do a hit and miss approach.  If you do not have a pattern or a plan, you’ll drop the ball with the busyness of life. . . You have to be careful that you’re not neglecting that.  Then I do a lot of reading of devotional material so that there are others whose writings are inspiring me and raising me to new heights.  I plan on a lot of time at home with my wife.  We travel together [and] we spend time together.  I have time with my colleagues in ministry.  They inspire me [and] sharpen points, as it were.  So I would say through the devotional life, the biblical readings, the devotional readings, my wife, and my colleagues, that’s the way [I] stay fresh and accountable.

Arthur:  Does music play any part?

Ravi:  It does.  I really enjoy music but I’m a great old traditional hymn man and that’s what I enjoy.

Arthur:  Yeah, me too.

Ravi:  I like language to be used well and to probe.

Arthur:  You were saying you read inspiring writers.  Do you have any off the top of your head?

Ravi:  Yes, I really enjoy the Scottish writer, James Stewart.  I like G. Campbell Morgan.  I like the English writer, F.W. Boreham.  I enjoy reading F.B. Meyer.  I love reading Spurgeon. . . A.W. Tozer, I enjoy him very much.  James Montgomery Boice, R.C. Sproul. . .so I’m a reader of the grand themes.

Arthur:  That segues into my next question which is not meant to make you feel [embarrassed] or anything.  What is it that sets you apart from most people?  I guess in my definition and in many of ours’ we would consider you a great man of God.  So if we can say, neutrally, that that perhaps is a fact or a developing fact as you continue to grow in your sanctification, what is it that makes you so uniquely different?  Maybe it’s a gift or maybe not.  Maybe it’s a discipline you’ve committed yourself to.

Ravi:  Well, first of all, it’s humbling when you make a comment like that, Arthur, and so I don’t even know what’s the best way to respond to that.  I think the simplest thing I can say is when people are relating to each other, we generally tend to look for people who either sharpen what we are thinking, to take it to a higher level, or else complement what we are thinking so that we find a balance.  In a lot of my friendships, for example, I look for people who have gifts that I don’t have and that brings you to a real sense of a balanced friendship.  You’re giving and taking. . . I suppose what people possibly find helpful in their lives in the way we have focused our ministry (he is referring to RZIM) is that people seem to appreciate the privilege of thinking and the privilege of growing and having their minds challenged and complemented.  So I think what I have committed my life to is to stretch my mind and my spiritual commitment;  those are definitely goals that I have so that I never stagnate, and I think the result of growing is that the average person you meet, whom you befriend, or whom you love, or are ministering to . . . appreciates that priority because that’s what they want for their lives too.  So, in a sense, I believe what brings about the response from people to what we are trying to do is an affirmation that they too want to go higher.  I think that’s what they’re saying when they thank you for challenging their lives.

Arthur:  I think that states it pretty well.  But with that being the case, you carry a lot of responsibility with so many people looking up to you.  How do you guard against 1)  getting big headed or prideful, and 2) falling into temptation.  Do you know what I’m saying, with the burden your bear?

Ravi:  Yeah.  The first is easier than the second.  I think you make enough mistakes in life.  You fail enough number of times to know that there is never a guarantee that you are going to succeed or you’re going to do well.  God has enough ways of bursting your balloon and keeping you humble.  That happens so many times in a year that there’s never a sense of overconfidence.  I don’t think that’s been a struggle for me at all through life because I know that if it weren’t for Him, we would never even have this privilege, leave alone have the capacity.  There have been enough blunders and failures and shortcomings that keep us very close to Him.  (Now referring to part two of the question)  Temptation of different kinds will always stalk us, especially when I think things are going well.  Temptations are easier to handle when things are not going well because your life and energies are being consumed in just turning things around in life.  When things are going well, Satan will try and knock you off your feet.  The best thing to do is to take the precautions.  One of the precautions I take, for example, [is that] I never travel alone anymore . . . I’m always with my wife or with my colleague, Gavin.  I do not ever turn the television on in a hotel room . . . the movies or shows seduce the mind in some way because you’re alone on the road.  I’m very, very aware of what I watch when I’m on the road.  Generally, it’s a sporting event or the news.  I guard my reading as carefully as I can as well as the places that I go.  I think the best time to whip temptation is when it makes its first approach on you.  So the lines should be drawn well before. . .

Arthur:  Like Daniel in Marching to A Different Drummer (the title of one of his messages)

Ravi:  Exactly, exactly.

 

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.

“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

“True Love in a Time of Crisis” – An Important Sabbath Checkup From Ravi

“True Love in a Time of Crisis” – Ravi Zacharias

Hey TD!

Blessed Lord’s Day to you all!

On this Lord’s Day, I want to encourage you spend protracted time before God, just you and Him.  With more time on your hands than you’ve had in a long while, use some of this time to be Sabbath time – a time of real rest … IN God.  Real Sabbath is not more time to yourself OF yourself, but more beautiful time with God, in His beautiful healing, transforming presence.  It’s also a good time to let Him perform periodic check-ups on our souls.

With the coronavirus rampant in our world, this is an important time as any for us to check who we really are, what we’re really about, and what we’re really made of.  This spliced 15-minute message from Ravi gives solid checkpoints to bring before God, praying for His adjustment and realignment, so we can be who we desires and made us to be.

May His grace be with you as you meet with Him! – 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

Image result for refresh: ready for college?

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

ysmp 2

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.