Ravi Zacharias is one of the most influential Christian apologists in the 20th and 21st centuries. He authored over 30 books and was the founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. On May 19, 2020, Ravi Zacharias passed away at the age of 74. He has influenced many people, including myself.
On October 6, 2018, I woke up to take the SAT for the third time. The previous night, instead of cramming for the exam, my family went to the Bryce Jordan Center to hear Ravi speak. My sister and I drove to the local high school on the morning of the 6th and met with some friends before the SAT. One of my friends forgot to bring a calculator for the SAT (yikes).
I remember after I had finished the SAT, I turned on my phone and seeing countless texts, which was a rare sight for someone like me. One of the texts stood out to me. It said that Ravi Zacharias was waiting for me at the airport. Wow. That was a shocker. I had been trying to meet with Ravi while he was in town, but nothing worked out to that point. Thankfully, I knew someone, who knew someone, who could contact Ravi. I flew out of the high school with my sister and rushed to the airport.
Ravi could have used the time to write another best-selling book, or prepare his next sermon, but he choose to use the time to meet with me. I was just a high school senior who was focused on basketball and girls. I had some big questions about Christianity, and Ravi made the time to meet with me.
I met with Ravi and I got the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions. I asked him typical questions of someone who was just getting into apologetics (Genesis and why people reject God). I was amazed by Ravi’s respectful and diligent answers. A man with as much knowledge as Ravi could have given answers with power and authority, but Ravi answered with gentleness and respect.
I remember how Ravi answered my question more than I remember what his answer was. I think that’s what made Ravi so special. He was more interested in the questioner than the question. This is why Ravi will be remembered as an evangelist as much as he will be remembered as an apologist.
Fast-forward to this March. I run this annual Apologist March Madness Tournament where we put 256 Christian apologists head to head until there is one winner. For those of you who have never heard of this tournament, this is not a tournament to find the best apologist. This tournament is designed to promote apologetics was a whole.
Not surprisingly, Ravi was the number one seed in the tournament. Not surprisingly, Ravi made it to the championship (though a big shoutout to Cameron Bertuzzi who was the driving force in a Ravi comeback in the Round of 64). Surprisingly, Ravi retweeted my tournament poll in the championship, which helped him get a comeback win to win the title.
Through this simple retweet, Ravi brought attention to hundreds of other apologists. While Ravi’s work may be done, he has left a legacy of hundreds of apologists who are picking up where he left off.
I barely knew Ravi, but I feel like I knew him personally. Ravi is the type of person who would be the same man whether he had 500,000 followers or 5. Ravi didn’t care as much about winning the argument as he did about winning the person.
As a young apologist, Ravi has challenged me significantly. He has challenged me to not just be interested in arguments or debates. He has challenged me to be more interested in people. He has challenged me not just to be a better apologist, but to be a better person. He has taught me that to get someone to care about Christianity, you have to first show them that you care about them. He has taught me to be more interested in the questioner rather than the question.
Thank you Ravi. I’ll see you on the other side.