Ravi Zacharias. A mind that allured me to Christian Apologetics like a honeybee enchanted by nectar. His heart exhibited unmistakable honesty as his humour made his rather challenging concepts relatable. But above all, his love for the Lord shone through every word he spoke, piercing the hardened hearts like the sun’s ray crashing through a crack in a prison cell.
As I awoke to the news of his passing, it surprised me that I did not cry. Not for this giant of faith who saw himself rather humbly.
My first encounter with Ravi Zacharias was at the Global Center, as we used to call it, on Makerere Hill Road (Kampala, Uganda), then home to Makerere Community Church. I confess that I can’t remember which book it was. But I recollect what an impression he made on me. That must have been about twelve years ago.
Around the same time, Reasons to Believe through its camp in Gerenge (Wakiso, Uganda) introduced to me the concept called ‘Apologetics’, a robust defence of the Christian Faith.
I had grown up in a Christian Tradition which drove a heavy wedge between the head and heart, emphasizing emotional experience over the life of the mind. Into that world, Ravi made a hole, tiny it seemed then, but large enough for a ray of intellectual rigour to penetrate.
It was not until 2013 when that hole was enlarged, as a friend passingly transferred videos of Ravi’s Apologetics engagements to my laptop. The rest is history.
Ravi did not introduce me to the Christian Faith. But his ministry helped build a bridge between my heart and head. Rarely does a man exhibit such intellectual prowess with great humility and simplicity. By looking at him, one sees that knowledge does not have to puff up, and ignorance cannot be a Christian’s heritage.
Indeed, those who know history understand how the Christian Faith has, more than any other worldview or movement, promoted literacy in the whole world. Judeo-Christianity is founded on written Scriptures that require literacy to read. As such, Christians founded the most prestigious universities in the world to-date. To be a Christian is to love the Lord with your mind (Matt. 22:37).
Ravi combined this sense of learning with a clear call and mission, to make Christ known where He was not known. For this, I am truly thankful for him.
Now that he is gone to a better place, the mantle is ours. We must be faithful witnesses of Christ’s message until we die.
I did not cry, not because I will not miss Ravi (O, how I do!). But unlike naturalistic materialism which Ravi rejected, Christians have hope that lives on beyond the grave. Physical demise does not have the final say on us, for the King of Kings has conquered the grave.
Ravi rests. He has done well. The stone shall not shut out his labours though, for the Lord before whom he now stands is faithful. Christ’s victory over death continues to reverse the curse of sin in all those who believe in Him. In the words of Ravi’s favourite verse (it will be on his gravestone): “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).
We celebrate Ravi Zacharias best by loving Christ with our heart and mind, so much so that we proclaim His victory over darkness, to as many as now live enslaved to the fear of death.
Thank you, Ravi. I know that we will meet again, never to part.