Ravi Zacharias dies at 74

The life of Ravi Zacharias: a defender of Christianity

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Ravi Zacharais a popular evangelist and defender of the christian faith dies at 74. Ravi is an Indian born Canadian-American and has been battling cancer for two months before he gave up the ghost as announced by the Zacharais international ministry. 

He was known for his work through Ravi Zacharias International Ministeries (RZIM). Which focused on unapologetic argument for the existence of God and the reasonableness of Christianity.

He preached in more than 70 counties and authored more than 30 books in his 48-year career teaching Christians to engage with skeptics and arguing that the Christian worldview has robust answers to humanity’s existential questions.

Zacharias was born in India and raised in an Anglican family. He recounted that his conversion to Christianity came while reading the Bible in the hospital after a failed suicide attempt as a teen. He immigrated to Canada at the age of 20.

Zacharias often shared how he wound up in that hospital room in his home city of Delhi, India. As a young boy he dreamed of playing cricket or tennis but was not talented enough to rise to the elite levels, and he was not a good student. As a result of his poor performance in school, his father would often beat him. Depressed and with what he viewed as no options in life, Zacharias attempted to end his life.

He had actually already made a decision to follow Jesus once. It happened after his sisters convinced him to go to a Youth For Christ rally. Sam Wolgemuth, who was the president of Youth For Christ International at the time, was the evening’s speaker. At the end of the night, Zacharias was the only person to go forward and accept Christ. However, it was after this event he slipped into depression under the scrutiny of his father, and he tried to take his life.

“I wanted out of life. My life had no meaning,” Zacharias has said in sharing his testimony.

A YFC worker, Fred David, came to visit Zacharias in the hospital. “A man walks in, with a little, red, Gideon’s New Testament,” Zacharias said.

Zacharias says that he was in such critical condition, having been dehydrated from drinking poison, that he couldn’t even reach out to take the Bible. “My mother takes that Bible that he gives, and she says, ‘You really can’t stay here. My son is in critical condition.'”

David replied to her by saying, “Ma’am, your son needs this more than anything else.” David opened the Bible to John 14 and read Jesus’ words from verse 6 to him: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'”(NIV). “And then he goes on,” Zacharias says, “in verse 19 and says, ‘Because I live, you also shall live.’

“I think to myself the main reason God brought me into this world was to bring that Bible to you.”

It was those words, and the promise of life, that led Zacharias to truly commit his life to Christ. “The power of the Word of God to crack open this encrusted heart of a young man who never had the wisdom to open it before. And I began to pray, ‘Lord, if you are the Lord of life, take me out of this hospital room. I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.”

David was 11 years older than Zacharias, but the two quickly became close friends. David continued ministry with YFC in India for some time, and Zacharias continued to attend his group meetings. In fact, it was David who called Zacharias to preach for the first time, ever.

Zacharias started his ministry with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA). A graduate of Ontario Bible College (now Tyndale University) and Trinity International University, he was commissioned as a national evangelist for the United States in 1977 and ordained in the CMA in 1980. He founded RZIM in 1984, and the organization has grown to about 200 employees in 16 offices around the world, with more than 70 traveling speakers.

Fred David (left) and Ravi Zacharias (third from left) and YFC India staff in the 1960s )YFC International)

 Abdu Murray reminiscing after loss of friend Ravi Zacharias

Abdu Murray says that the next little while will be difficult, but he is grateful for the time he spent with Ravi Zacharias.

YFC International was hosting a preaching competition in India, with thousands of young people from all over Asia attending. When the speaker representing Delhi backed out at the last minute due to university commitments, David came to Zacharias.

“I said, ‘Why are you talking to me?’ And he says, ‘Ravi, you’re going to speak this afternoon.’ I said, ‘Fred, I’ve never spoken in my life. He said, ‘Look, all I’ve done for you, you owe me one.’ He said, ‘speak, this afternoon.'”

Zacharias preached a short 10-minute sermon. To his surprise, he was announced a co-winner with a tie for first place. In a second sermon to break the tie, Zacharias preached on the cross of Christ. It was the beginning of Zacharias’ preaching career.

David would return to the United States where he served in various ministry rolls, both in church and para-church organizations.

Fred David and Zacharias would stay in touch the rest of David’s life. The last time the two spoke was just days before David’s death. David was living in California, while Zacharias was in Atlanta. Zacharias called David, hoping to come and visit. “He said, ‘Rav, don’t, don’t, don’t. You’ve got many other things to do,'” Zacharias says. “But here’s what he said to me: ‘I sit down sometimes and watch you on YouTube, and the tears run down my face and I think to myself the main reason God brought me into this world was to bring that Bible to you.'”

His Career

His best-selling book, Can Man Live Without God?, sold about 500,000 copies in 1995. His most recent book, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, won the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s 2020 Christian book award in the Bible study category.

Late in his ministry career, Zacharias faced claims that he overstated his academic background and implied he had earned a doctorate degree. Over the years, RZIM and Zacharias’s publishers revised his biographies to clarify that he has received honorary doctorates and removed references to “Dr. Zacharias.”

Zacharias was also involved in a legal dispute over “sexually explicit” communication with a woman he met through his speaking ministry. Her lawyer said Zacharias had groomed and exploited her. Zacharias sued, and the lawsuit was settled out of court with a non-disclosure agreement.

His last years

Earlier this year, doctors discovered a malignant tumor on Zacharias’s sacrum as he underwent back surgery. He began receiving treatment for sarcoma at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

The ministry posted an update on May 8 saying Zacharias’s cancer was deemed untreatable, and he was sent home to Atlanta to be with his family. On social media, a wide range of Christians including Lee Strobel, Tim Tebow, and Christine Caine posted tributes with the hashtag #ThankYouRavi.

He is survived by wife Margie Zacahrias, two daughters Sarah and Naomi, son Nathan and five grandchildren

Source: Christianity today/Chvnradio

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