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Ravi Zacharias, Famed Apologist, Finishes His Race

After a sudden bout with cancer, Ravi Zacharias, age 74, has gone to be with his Savior.
Ravi Zacharias, perhaps the most prominent Christian apologist of the 21st century, was promoted to glory.

After a brief battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, Zacharias succumbed to the malignant tumor in his sacrum earlier today at the age of 74. Doctors had exhausted all medical efforts two weeks ago, and he lived out final days at his home in Atlanta surrounded by family.

Born in India to an elite Nambudiri family in the caste system, Zacharias lacked little in the way of material needs and opportunities. However, one thing persistently evaded him in his childhood: truth.

Life’s most looming questions of purpose and meaning weighed heavily on Zacharias’ conscience as a teenager. Unable to find answers, Ravi dissolved into a downward spiral, resorting to swallow poison to end his despair. However, God mercifully spared the 17-year-old boy. He was given a Bible while recovering in the hospital. The Bible was already opened to John 14, when Jesus is speaking to Thomas—the apostle, in fact, who first brought the message of the gospel to India.

Zacharias’ mother read aloud to him, and a particular verse touched his heart, changing the trajectory of his life forever: “Because I live, you also shall live” (John 14:19).

Zacharias was immediately moved, describing it as a lightning strike moment in the darkness. He resolved intensely to find out what the essence of this live was.

“Jesus, if you are who you claim to be here, I want that life that I do not have,” Zacharias later recounted vowing. “I promise if you take me out of this hospital bed, I will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of truth.”

His pledge proved to be no hyperbole. In his 57-year journey of truth, Zacharias traveled extensively, presenting and defending the truth of Jesus Christ in over 70 different countries to millions of believers and skeptics.

In the course of Zacharias’ career, he founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM, a team of 100 professional evangelistic speakers), authored or edited over 25 books on apologetics and theology, spoke at numerous leading universities, and presented to top world leaders.

With the adept ability to disarm the most pointed critiques and objections to Christianity, Zacharias helped lead modern evangelicalism’s charge to love God with the mind—“helping the thinker believe, and the believer think,” according to the motto of RZIM.

In the mid-90s, Zacharias and his wife Margaret were in Delhi and wanted to visit the grave of his grandmother, a Christian whom he had only known for a little while before she died in the 50s. Zacharias had never seen her grave.

After locating the cemetery, they enlisted the help of a gardener to find her mark, but the tombstone had sunk deeper into the ground. The gardener went to work clearing off dirt from the tombstone. As more and more dirt was unearthed, Zacharias was astounded to see the following words engraved on the stone: “Because I live, you also shall live.”

The experience reminded Zacharias that God purposes every detail—even the Scripture that awakened him to faith.

Today, despite the passing of one of the most influential mouthpieces for gospel proclamation, one can find comfort in the truth of the apologist’s message. As with every tragedy, believers in Christ trust that the Lord’s sovereign purposes behind his passing will become manifest with time.

Until then, may we carry on Ravi’s legacy by continuing to demonstrate to the world that Jesus Christ brings peace not only to the heart but also to the mind.

About the Author

Loren Skinker serves as a communication specialist with ABWE and managing editor for Message Magazine. He graduated from Virginia Tech in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and English.


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