Remembering Ravi Zacharias
FURTHER UPDATE: Ravi Zachariah’s death has now been confirmed “Ravi Zacharias – one of the world’s leading evangelists – dies aged 74” – John Barber 19/05/20
PLEASE NOTE: When I posted this last night, it was on the basis of reports from two normally reliable sources. I searched widely on the Internet for further confirmation of news of Ravi’s passing and failed, after I was told by two friends reports of his death are untrue. I found this posted yesterday: Cancer Prognosis Dire for Ravi Zacharias. I apologise if my report turns out to be premature, although my sentiments remain – John Barber 18/05/20.
According to Wikipedia: “Ravi Zacharias (born 26 March 1946) is an Indian-born Canadian-American Christian apologist. A defender of the Christian Faith, Zacharias is the author of numerous Christian books, including the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s Gold Medallion Book Award winner Can Man Live Without God? in the category “theology and doctrine” and Christian bestsellers Light in the Shadow of Jihad and The Grand Weaver. Zacharias is the founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and host of the radio programs Let My People Think and Just Thinking”.
Today, I learned Ravi has died (according to two reports received). This came as no surprise for recently it was announced he had a particularly aggressive form of cancer and the prognosis, humanly speaking, was bad. I am not one to follow famous Christians, but with Ravi I make an exception and want to say why. That he is well known and well respected by many among the Christian community, from many theological stables and non Christians too, cannot be denied. I came across him several years back when I discovered some of his material (writing or video – I do not recall) and found him particularly helpful. It struck me then what this chap had to say was spot on and needful, and I would be hard pressed to think of any who could match his delivery. He did not get everything nor was perfect in his understanding – something I’m sure he would agree.
Ravi is what we call an apologist for the Christian faith and he covered a wide spectrum of subjects (I would love to know his take on some of the subjects that occupy me these days and often put me into hot water among my peers). His delivery was erudite; he argued his case well; his approach was winsome; he was a humble man and gracious; he was a knowledgeable and well read man; he was forensic in his delivery; he was unafraid when it came to tackling difficult subjects; he used opportunities to share well. We all have to go sometime and Ravi has gone. Importantly as someone converted at aged 17 after attempting suicide, his life has been one well lived and he leaves behind a wonderful legacy. While I have no doubt there were many strings to his bow and in the days to come tributes will no doubt be pouring in, but when it comes to examples of his apologetics there is no shortage of examples on the Internet. We are told in the good book: “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” 1Peter 3:15. Ravi did that and his example and his valuable insights (that we can check out) can be commended.
Ravi is one of those I would have loved to have met. The nearest I came to doing so was when I was in Trivandrum City, India, a few years back. It happened, I was preaching in a church in that city. The organiser came to me, apologetically, explaining some of the congregants were absent because Ravi was taking a meeting nearby. I recall shrugging my shoulders philosophically, content that they had chosen to hear the great man. It seems to me anyone of us are merely unprofitable servants doing the masters (in this case the Lord Jesus Christ) bidding. Ravi did just that.
My understanding of the ways of the Lord is while we may bury the workman, His work carries on. In this day of confusion and hostility toward the message of the Gospel, we need folk to step into the shoes of the great man, be it ever so differently, to reaffirm these great truths and give a divine perspective to what are the concerns and agendas of today’s culture, not by supposition or even feeling but well thought out, well argued and compellingly, just as did His dear servant, Ravi Zacharias. Maybe the best accolade he or any of us can look forward to is from the Lord he served: “Well done good and faithful servant”. We stand with those close to him who grieve.