I can’t recall when or how I exactly came across Ravi Zacharias and his ministry. Most likely, it was either in 2015 or 2016. Of course, me writing about him now means I was glued from the first time I heard him speak.
I was amazed at how a man of his age would close his eyes and perfectly recite an extract from a book, a poem or a song from memory. Whenever he did that, something in me couldn’t help but pay attention. His combination of storytelling with teaching and preaching was unique. Often times, he would start his messages with a funny story, to him, it was to prepare his vocal cords and warm up the audience before they dive in what often times were hard, touchy topics. His voice was eloquent. He had an outstanding grasp of the English language. At the same time, his messages were filled with simplicity. He had a way of breaking down difficult concepts and question to the level that, in my opinion, anyone would understand. Sometimes, I would be doing something and have Ravi’s talk play in the background. More often than not, I would find that have stopped what I was doing and was just listening to him. His voice was enticing.
There was a lot of illustrations in his talks. He loved using them. Why? He might have mentioned why but am not quite certain why he did so. What I know is every time he brought in an illustration, it was one that was worth of its name – illustration. It did just that.
He was an apologist, a defender of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I also saw him as a scientist, a philosopher and someone trained in the social sciences. He answered many a physics questions. He answered questions on biology, human rights, tolerance or the lack thereof and many others. He was a deep thinker, if such a term exists.
As an apologist, he was not very interested in having one-on-one debates with people of another faith or those who claim to have no faith at all. He loved having interactions, talking to people and not simply proving people wrong. Most of his talks were concluded with Q&As. O how brilliant he was in answering questions. There were times though, especially when I was just getting used to him that I felt he never answered some questions, at least to my satisfaction. I was convinced he was a brilliant man, capable of answering those question but sometimes it just didn’t come across that way. Then I came across a phrase he so often used; “behind every question is a questioner.” Ultimately, his aim was not to answer a question poised at him. Rather, he endeavoured to answer the questioner. And he did just that, all the time. Never again did I ever feel he left a question unanswered after knowing that about him. In instances where he had a strong position, able to crash the questioner’s question and viewpoint he never did. His eyes and voice were full of calm and love, he held back himself and tried to reach the heart of the questioner. He was a proclaimer of the gospel, not only a defender. Every question he got, he tried to point the questioner to the cross.
A certain Instagram post about Ravi read, “Ravi Zacharias wasn’t just a great man – he was a good one, which is far more difficult and important.” I agree with that.
Needless to say, Ravi was just a man. He had his own struggles, his shortcomings and sin. Given all this, he did still lead a life that is worth emulating. I think his ‘great life’ tells us more about God than Ravi himself for no creature is greater than the creator. Ravi had a broken back but was called to stand in front of multitudes. He didn’t have a strong voice but was called to speak to thousands. With all his weakness, God used him mightily. How great is our God!
Ravi often talked of the ‘individual-ness’ and the uniqueness of people. He mentioned of how a workforce can be replaced but individuals cannot be replaced. We are unique, crafted in God’s own imagine. Even for Ravi himself, he was a unique gift, an individual who cannot and will not be replaced. But we know for sure that God’s work continues. God buries his workmen but his work continues. He will raise men and women who will continue the work, take the good news to the farthest ends of the world and defend the faith.
Ravi, thank you for touching many lives including mine. Listening to you has shaped my worldview and sharpened the spear with which I can defend my faith. Thank you for crisscrossing the globe, leaving no stone unturned in your pursuit for the truth. It is by your obedience that many of us had been drawn closer to God. Thank you for blessing us with your ministry. I recall what you said in one of your talks when asked what you would say to Jesus when you went to heaven. You answered, it wasn’t what you would say that you are worried about. It is what Jesus would say to you that mattered most. I have no doubt that when you stepped into glory, you heard the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Ravi, you ran you race well. Rest well!