On Tuesday, Sarah Davis, daughter of renowned apologist Ravi Zacharias, shared the news of her father’s death at age 74. Zacharias founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), an organization dedicated to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and apologetics — sharing the faith through reasoned argument. Through this ministry, Zacharias equipped followers of Jesus to defend their faith in the public square and convince others of the truth of Christianity, following his example.
Davis illustrated the central claim of Christianity — the hope of resurrection and eternal life with God, following Jesus Christ’s Resurrection — by noting that in death, her father is “more alive than he has ever been.”
“The Gospel of John records these words of Jesus: ‘Because I live, you also will live’ (14:19)—seven words that changed the trajectory of Ravi Zacharias’s life some 57 years ago,” Davis wrote. “It is a verse etched on his grandmother’s grave stone and will be etched on his too. Today my beautiful father is more alive than he has ever been. We thank God for him and recommit our lives to sharing this truth with all who will hear, until He calls us to our eternal home.”
Born in India on March 26, 1946, Zacharias was raised in a Christian home but considered himself a religious skeptic until he attempted suicide at age 17. While recovering in the hospital, he heard John 14 read. Verse 19 stood out to him: “because I live, you also shall live.”
“It had to be the Holy Spirit of God because I was green as far as the scriptures are concerned,” he told Eric Metaxas last year.
Last year I had the great honor of this time with the legendary @RaviZacharias. Please watch & RT & pray that the work of @RZIMhq thrives in continuing the work Ravi began. What a faithful instrument of God he has been in so many lives! Today he is home. https://t.co/FBjqAHV6Qq
— Eric Metaxas (@ericmetaxas) May 19, 2020
The Christian and Missionary Alliance ordained Zacharias in 1980, the Christian Post reported. He founded RZIM in 1984 and launched an apologetics training center in 2017. RZIM boasts 16 offices around the world and 200 employees, including 80 apologetics speakers. Zacharias was a prolific radio personality and author.
The evangelist died from a rare form of bone cancer called sarcoma with which he was diagnosed in March.
Praise for Ravi Zacharias
Tributes to Zacharias came from far and wide.
“The loss of Ravi Zacharias will be felt for a long time. As Ravi is now in heaven, I’m praying for his family as they continue his legacy here on Earth,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) tweeted.
The loss of Ravi Zacharias will be felt for a long time. As Ravi is now in heaven, I’m praying for his family as they continue his legacy here on Earth. pic.twitter.com/GFd6ueMUu5
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) May 19, 2020
“To my friend, my mentor and a great hero of the faith [Ravi Zacharias] — Thank you,” Tim Tebow wrote. “I know I’ll see you again and I look forward to that day. Love you brother.”
To my friend, my mentor and a great hero of the faith @RaviZacharias — Thank you.
I know I’ll see you again and I look forward to that day. Love you brother!
— Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) May 19, 2020
“I’m so sad to hear about the death of Ravi Zacharias. I’ll never forget the first Veritas Forum, at Harvard Law School, in 1992. Ravi spoke to a standing-room-only crowd and even years later people still listened to the tapes. He was masterful and kind,” wrote David French, senior editor at The Dispatch.
I'm so sad to hear about the death of Ravi Zacharias. I'll never forget the first Veritas Forum, at Harvard Law School, in 1992. Ravi spoke to a standing-room-only crowd and even years later people still listened to the tapes. He was masterful and kind. #ThankYouRavi.
— David French (@DavidAFrench) May 19, 2020
Similar praise came from a staunch Trump supporter — the president’s personal lawyer and senior legal advisor to the Trump campaign Jenna Ellis. She praised Fox News’s headline calling Zacharias “defender of the faith.”
“Beautiful headline. [Ravi Zacharias] lived to make the Truth of Christ known. He surely heard these words today: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of the Lord.’ He will be greatly missed,” Ellis tweeted, with the hashtag “Hall of Faith,” referring to Hebrews 11.
“Defender of the Faith.” Beautiful headline. @RaviZacharias lived to make the Truth of Christ known.
He surely heard these words today: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of the Lord.”
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) May 19, 2020
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany shared her personal experience listening to Zacharias’ sermons and learning from the apologist’s protege Nabeel Qureshi. She compared Zacharias to evangelist Billy Graham. “Billy Graham was the great evangelist. You are the great apologist of our lifetime,” she tweeted.
You are the great apologist of our lifetime.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) May 13, 2020
Ravi Zacharias’ Character Proved Under Fire
Even when facing controversy, Zacharias proved “masterful and kind” — and humble. When a woman accused him of soliciting nude photos from her, he claimed she used the photos to extort payments from him in return for her silence. The woman’s husband had sued his former pastor in 2008, alleging that the pastor abused his position of influence in counseling to further his own business interests. The suit was dropped in 2011, and while the pastor was temporarily suspended, he was later reinstated.
Zacharias insisted that he had always remained faithful to his wife, but he still publicly confessed and apologized. “I failed to exercise wise caution and to protect myself from even the appearance of impropriety, and for that I am profoundly sorry. I have acknowledged this to my Lord, my wife, my children, our ministry board, and my colleagues,” he said in a statement at the time.
His life reminds me of 1 Peter 3:15-17: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good name in Christ may be put to shame.”
This great apologist brought the truth of Jesus Christ to light across the world, and he will be sorely missed. Yet, as Billy Graham’s son Franklin pointed out, “Don’t feel sorry for [Ravi Zacharias] – his fight w/cancer is over, & he has placed his crowns at the feet of the One who deserves all glory & honor. For those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, we will see him again on the other side of the river.”
Don’t feel sorry for @RaviZacharias–his fight w/cancer is over, & he has placed his crowns at the feet of the One who deserves all glory & honor. For those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, we will see him again on the other side of the river.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) May 19, 2020