He was just 17 years old, a young, broken teenager living in Delhi when he tried to end his own life. But Ravi Zacharias didn’t die. Not then. He woke up in a hospital, where someone handed him a book that would change his life — and so many others’: the Bible. “Thank God I was spared,” he said later. But over a lifetime of evangelism that spanned every corner of the world, it is us who are thankful.
For the next 57 years, he dedicated his life to the Savior he found in that hospital room — building a global ministry that he described as, “helping the thinker believe and the believer think.” From 1984 on, after two decades of theological study and writing, he founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries — brimming with Christian scholars and authors who set out to help people deal with the difficult questions of faith. Over time, the soft-spoken man with a great sense of humor and purpose would become, in many places, a household name.
To many people who knew Ravi’s passion for answering people’s questions about God, his last article on the RZIM website seemed fitting: “Just Thinking: At All Times.” It was there that he could answer personally a question he had answered publicly — about suffering, faith, and God’s goodness.
After his sudden diagnosis in March, and an even grimmer prognosis in April, Ravi wanted people to know that even in the midst of cancer, “The Bible assures us that at all times God is with us. He is our comforter; He is our healer. He is our physician; He is our provider. He knows better than we do… God has an appointed time for all of us. His protection and security is ours ’til that moment comes when it’s ‘closing time.'”
Closing time for Ravi came early Tuesday morning, surrounded by his wife of almost 50 years and family. His daughter, Sarah, says that his tombstone will bear the verse that turned a hurting teenager into a man determined to help people find God — John 14:19: “Because I live, you also will live.”
Ravi came to the Lord, he wrote in his final days, “uncertain about his future.” But he remains, as he hopes everyone is, “certain about my destiny.” It is a destiny that, because of his life’s work, many will share. #ThankYouRavi
Tony Perkins’s Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
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