Ravi Zacharias (1946-2020)

The first thing I want to say is how proud I am that one of the giants of this era was born and grew up in South Asia. The fact that he made his commitment to Christ in the ministry I work for, Youth for Christ, is a special source of joy.

I had the privilege of serving alongside Ravi at conferences and committees in the 1990s. I was impressed by his personal humility and simplicity, which added authenticity to his sharp intellect. Over the years since then I began to see how his ministry broadened from a somewhat narrow intellectually oriented apologetics to addressing real personal and spiritual needs of people. It became apologetics with a heart. The penetrative insight that resulted is perhaps a key reason for his enormous popularity.

People were claiming that, in this postmodern age, apologetics is a dying, irrelevant vestige of a by-gone era. Thanks to the influence of people like Ravi we can state that apologetics is alive and well today. Ravi’s influence multiplied through the many he and his team trained and nurtured in the discipline of apologetics and through the organisation he formed which gave many of them a platform to use their skills.

This is an era that has heralded the demise of reliance on objective truth as the primary source of direction to the lives of individuals. Ravi helped show that a ministry committed to demonstrating the validity of objective truth is still relevant and desperately needed. It is significant that this ambassador for objective truth was nurtured in Asian soil. While the westerners had got tired of what they thought was an overdependence on objectivity, the east was discovering its value in a new way. The Ravi Zacharias phenomenon gives us hope that more and more apologists for truth emerge from Asia. Could this be one of Asia’s great contributions to the body of Christ? Time will tell!

Ajith Fernando