I was having breakfast at our hotel in Louisville, Ky. when Ravi Zacharias walked by. He was one of the speakers at the convention I was attending (NACIE ‘94). I looked up and said, “Hello,” and he said, “Hello,” and then he paused and chatted a bit and then he sat down at our table and shot the breeze with us for several minutes, as if we were old friends! I couldn’t believe it! He acted as if we were equals!
Ravi Zacharias died this month and the more I heard about him in the eulogies and funeral tributes, the more I realize that he treated us like equals because that is what he believed: we are equals. He didn’t think he was any better than anyone else, even though he was known all over the world as the premiere apologist in the Christian World. The C. S. Lewis of our age. He has spoken in well over 50 countries and was the friend of Kings, Shahs, world leaders, presidents… Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, street kids, University students… he took the message of Jesus to wherever he was invited.
He was a brilliant thinker. His motto: “Helping the Thinker Believe; Helping the Believer Think!”
Ravi was born in 1946 in India. Althought his family was Christian, he was a skeptic. At age 17 he was so hopeless that he tried to commit suicide by swallowing poison. While recovering in the hospital, a friend brought him a Bible and told his mother to read to him from John 14. A phrase in verse 19 touched Ravi: “Because I live, you also will live.” He thought, “This may be my only hope: A new way of living. Life as defined by the Author of Life.” He committed his life to Christ, praying that “Jesus if You are the one who gives life as it is meant to be, I want it. Please get me out of this hospital bed well, and I promise I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.”
Ravi got out of the hospital and kept his promise. He left no stone unturned in his pursuit of Truth. He helped thousands of others to see the validity of the Christian message. The only thing more indisputable than his logic and his intellect was his love for people. He never tried to win an argument; he tried to win people. He realized that behind every question is a person, and behind every person is a soul searching for meaning. He always saw the soul and tried to win the person, not the debate.
The Christian World AND the whole world will miss this great man of God. I never can hear him speak without thinking of a hotel breakfast room where this giant walked by and sat down and chatted with us! He was one of us! His ministry (RZIM) will continue to win people to Christ for years to come!
With all the wonderful things that we could be saying about Ravi and his life, here is a thought:
–What if that friend would not have brought a Bible to Ravi’s hospital room? What if Ravi have tried suicide again? Would he have recovered and been a good businessman in India so that no one outside of Delhi ever heard of? Would someone else have lead him to Christ?
We’ll never know. But we do know this: That friend DID bring a Bible and Ravi DID commit his life to Christ, and he became the world’s leading apologist for Christ, and I along with thousands of others are better people because that one kind deed allowed a suicidal teenager to recover and reach his potential.
Folks, you never know. You give a Bible, a tract, a kind word… and the world is changed!
May God continue to bless the life and ministry and memory of Ravi Zacharias. And bless that friend who gave a Bible. May you and I be that friend.