A Giant On Our Landscape
Ravi Zacharias. Born 1946. Died 2020. A friend of God. A friend of sinners. From his conversion following a suicide attempt, Dr Ravi Zacharias committed himself to bringing the light of the gospel to the world. Born in Madras, India, he would go on to found the RZIM in 1984, a ministry that sought to reach thinkers, people with questions. Today the team comprises 100 Christian scholars and writers who train to speak and address the questions of millions around the world.
Ravi Zacharias leaves behind his wife, Margie, daughters Sarah and Naomi, his son Nathan and five grandchildren. In his final tweet, posted Saturday, Zacharias declared, “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.”
Ravi Zacharias was mightily used by God because he made himself mightily available. Under difficult and even dangerous circumstances, he discharged his marching orders as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, even travelling and preaching under intense pain. His loaves and fishes, submitted to and blessed by the Master, were used to feed literally thousands across the globe.
I first met Ravi at the inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam in 1983. Elder Wee Tiong Howe and I immediately invited him to extend his ministry to Singapore and Southeast Asia. He graciously agreed and Singapore churches since have been enriched by his masterly thrust and parry in the defence of the faith.
Since then we often met up over a meal and chat whenever he came to Singapore. Personally, I was most impressed that he was not out there to win an argument (though he did, handily) but to win the soul. Thanks, Ravi, for letting your light truly shine. We see your good works and glorify the Father.
Andrew Goh, Editor of Impact magazine
We celebrate Dr Ravi's life of faith, courage, adventure, passion and love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
A true giant of the faith, he has been a role model whose life was an example, impacting the lives of countless others for Christ.
Dr Ravi would echo St Paul in Phil 1:21, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain” and also Rom 1:14-17. “I am obligated, I have a duty to preach, I am ready and passionate to preach, and I am not ashamed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For it is the power of God unto Salvation to everyone who believes! Therein is the Gospel revealed from beginning to end or from faith to faith. The righteous shall live by faith.”
Dr Ravi, we honour and remember you for your life of faith and obedience to your Master and Lord. You were careful, but determined. You were obedient to the leading of God's Spirit to preach to the nations and to touch lives everywhere. You were always willing to go anywhere to preach and defend the faith and truth of Jesus Christ!
You were never afraid to lay down your life for the preaching of our Lord Jesus and His gospel: you daringly preached during the Vietnam War and brought spiritual revival, debated with Muslim scholars in the leading ME universities, challenged the Hindu elites in pantheistic India and argued the existence of God in the top military academy of Communist Russia during the cold war.
You were not just a celebrity hero, but a friend to countless, to the rich and famous, as well as the poor and ordinary. In your eyes, everyone is a living soul, significant and specially created in the image of God.
You made a difference in our lives by your humility, love, friendship, encouragement and empathy.
There is only one person like you. We will dearly miss you - friend, mentor and hero of faith! You will be remembered and honoured as one of the great preachers in world history. Through social media, recorded messages and books, your voice and writings have impacted and influenced millions for Christ to become His followers and disciples.
We honour and love you, dear Dr Ravi Zacharias.
Wee Tiong Howe is founding and senior elder of City Missions Church,
which grew out of the marketplace Prudential Christian Fellowship.
He also serves on the International Board of RZIM.
It has been a God-given privilege for me to have the opportunity to know Ravi Zacharias over the years. To sit at his feet in conferences, to be awed by his many giftings – his intellectual prowess, brilliant eloquence, flawless command of the English language and excellent memory. One particular meeting with Ravi is etched in my memory. Some nine years ago, I happened to be in Atlanta and had breakfast with Ravi. That morning, during my quiet time, God released a word to me that He would heal Ravi's back, specifically vertebrae 3, 4 and 5. I prayed this over Ravi and to my surprise and somewhat unbelief, God healed Ravi of his chronic back pain. Following that encounter, I have had the privilege to pray for him in some of the personal challenges he faced.
It is with much sadness that I learned of his departure for Glory. Like many people, I have been deeply impacted by how he lived his life, even more so than his teachings. Although highly acclaimed all over the world, he was a man of simplicity and humility. He was friends with people in “high places” as well as the “lowly”. He was gentle and kind in his dealings with his opponents, even in heated debates. He had a deep compassion for the lost and loved His Lord passionately.
Ravi was an apologist and evangelist par excellence. The church has lost one of her Great Statesman, but heaven has gained a Faithful Saint. "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord."
Dieu Eng Seng is director of RZIM Singapore Board and
president of International Christian Mission Singapore.
The Christian world has lost one of its stalwarts, Ravi Zacharias - a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, reaching out to the dying world in his own special way to get ready the bride of Jesus Christ. Thanks be unto the Lord for such vessels who have carried His message with great zeal and commitment. With the passing away of Ravi, there is a huge void in the arena of Christian Apologetics and we grieve this loss, hoping on the One who comforts His people at this time, especially Ravi’s family.
Dr Vijayakumari has been an admirer of Dr Ravi especially
his defence of the Gospel of Christ to Atheism.
Though not personally acquainted with Ravi Zacharias, I am a fan. There are three aspects of his life and ministry I admire, and do covet:
1. His ability and memory with words, logic and reason.
Psalm 45:1 (NLT) comes to mind: “Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.”
I never failed to be moved by his acuity to dissect, expose and debunk the lies and deception that have ensnared so many in unbelief and rebellion. How could anyone not be converted?
2. His ever-gracious approach to opposition.
Ravi displayed consistent and genuine respect towards even his most ardent antagonists. His demeanour was honouring, generous and winsome. How could anyone not want to be a friend, and a disciple of Jesus?
3. His obvious passion and love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no question he could have been anything he set his mind to. But he chose to pour his life into the defence and advancement of the gospel. How could anyone not want to follow his example?
The Church today is so much more empowered because of this one humble though highly gifted person. May the passing of this grain of wheat be the beginning of an acceleration in the maturing of similar thousands more to arise. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.
Derek Hong, Senior Pastor, Good Gifts City Church
A palm reader once told Ravi he would not travel very far in life and had no future abroad. God took him, washed him in Christ and flung him to the farthest corners of the globe, to give millions the best future by believing in Jesus.
The 21st century world tells us that the message of Christianity is dead, bankrupt and over. God sent Ravi to announce that Jesus is alive, reigning and eternal. Ravi was sent to declare that faith in Jesus is not intellectual suicide, but God’s most gracious call to “Let My People Think” and Live.
For he himself was the undeserving recipient of Jesus’ words: “Because I live, you will also live.”
We have been blessed to know Ravi, not as our generation’s great apologist, thinker or evangelist, but simply as a brother and a friend of Jesus. He was contagious in his passion. Exemplary in his courage and charity.
We celebrate Ravi’s full life and give all glory to God.
Christopher Chia, Senior Pastor of Adam Road Presbyterian Church
When I was starting out in ministry in my late-twenties, I was given a box of cassette tapes by my friend, Elder Wee Tiong Howe in Singapore. The whole box was filled with recordings of a singular speaker by the name of Ravi Zacharias. That was my introduction to one of the greatest apologists in the 21st century. I listened to one of the tapes, entitled “Jesus Amongst Other Gods” and have been hooked on Ravi Zacharias even since. His deep booming voice, his superb command of the English language, his profound ability to tell poignant stories, and most of all, his obvious love for the lost and for his Lord Jesus Christ made him one of my favourite speakers. I went on to read his books, listen to his podcasts, borrow his illustrations and quote his sermons. When I finally had the opportunity to be introduced to him in person during a Far East Organization event in Singapore, I extended him an invitation to come to Perth and he graciously agreed to come.
He was due to speak at our Discipleship Conference 2020 this coming August. Our whole church was excitedly looking forward to hosting him, but we will have to wait till we meet again the other side of eternity. Our loss, but heaven’s gain. He has finished his race well and his legacy will continue to live on in our hearts. May his passion to see the lost come to Christ be ours as well. Goodbye, Dr Ravi Zacharias.
Benny Ho, Coordinator - LoveSingapore Marketplace Track
A lifelong evangelist, Ravi Zacharias studied Christian Apologetics under Norman Geisler, which started him on a journey of defending the Biblical world-view and the Christian truth claims for many decades. We, the body of Christ in Singapore, give thanks for his impact, especially through his writings and from those times when he came and personally preached in our midst. We celebrate his legacy, in particular, his faithfulness in showing consistently that the Gospel answers the cry of the human heart and can answer every honest intellectual objection in a truly satisfying way. This he did with courtesy and respect, often saying that if you cut off a man’s nose, you can’t expect him to smell a rose after that. His work carries on through his writings, his recorded messages and through the team of apologists that he raised up under RZIM International. ”Blessed are those who die in the Lord, says the Spirit, from now on, they will rest from their labours and their deeds follow them.” (Rev 14:13)
Rev Dr Malcolm T.H. Tan, Pastor in Charge, Covenant Community Methodist Church
When he invited me to join his team, Ravi Zacharias told me that the advancing of the Gospel in the 21st century depended on the work of RZIM in Asia. His heart for the people of Asia was reflected in his schedule, his words and his smile whenever he came here. From his hometowns of Chennai to Delhi, or from Singapore to KL, Hong Kong to Seoul, Taipei to Tokyo, Ravi brought the Gospel to millions across Asia with wit and wisdom underpinned by love and graciousness.
Ravi was a man of the world, a truly global citizen. I saw him shake hands with hotel staff across countries and remember their names. On average, he travelled for more than 220 days every year, but Asia was dear to his heart. I saw it in his eyes whenever I shared a stage with him here. Whether it was an auditorium in Singapore, a church in Hong Kong, a restaurant in Manila or a university in Bangalore, Ravi always kept a piece of his heart in Asia.
Thanks to Ravi’s vision and the army of supporters he drew, his ministry’s future in Asia is exciting. The Lord has opened doors for us to expand the RZIM Australia team and work towards establishing a permanent presence in the Philippines. We also look forward to embracing new opportunities in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam and to continue our ongoing work in India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong SAR, Malaysia and Indonesia.
There are around 4.5 billion people in Asia, around 4 billion of whom are not Christian. However, when God is your strength, Jesus is your message and Ravi Zacharias is your Founder, nothing is impossible.
The name “Ravi Zacharias” will take its place alongside Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, and William Carey as one of the great communicators of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Asia’s history. At the dawn of the Asian century, we have lost the greatest Christian apologist of the modern era. His life was a remarkable example of devotion, humility and obedience to God’s call upon him. His talents were immense. His brilliance was unmatched. His shoes are unfillable; but the work that Ravi Zacharias started in Asia – by the grace and power of God – will go on.
Max Jeganathan, RZIM Asia-Pacific Regional Director