ATLANTA, USA (BosNewsLife)– India-born evangelist Ravi Zacharias, who built a global mission group for the intellectual defense of his faith in Jesus Christ, has died of cancer, his family confirmed. The founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) was 74 when he passed away Tuesday, May 19, at his home in Atlanta.
“My dad, at 74, has joined with the triumphant saints that sing [his] Savior’s praise. We who knew and loved him celebrate his life, and more importantly, his Savior,” said his daughter Sarah Davis in a statement seen by BosNewsLife. “It was his Savior, Jesus Christ, that my dad always wanted most to talk about. Even in his final days, until he lacked the energy and breath to speak. He turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done,” she recalled.
“He perpetually marveled that God took a seventeen-year-old skeptic, defeated in hopelessness and unbelief. And called him into a life of glorious hope and belief in the truth of Scripture—a message he would carry across the globe for 48 years.”
Though born and raised in Hindu-dominated India, he became a devoted Christian. Zacharias rose to prominence as a defender of the “intellectual credibility” of Christianity.
“My ancestry goes back to the highest caste of the Hindu priesthood…But several generations ago, evidently one of them was converted to the Christian faith.
And since then, my parents became Christian very nominally,” he explained in an interview in 2015. “There was no clear understanding of what the teaching of Jesus Christ was all about.”
That’s why, as a young man, he took up theological studies in Toronto, Chigaco, and Cambridge before deciding to present the Gospel of Christ to what he viewed as a needy society. He considered himself as a Christian apologist and wrote some 30 books about his faith. “The word apologetics actually is a transliteration from the Greek, where the word is apologia. The apostle Peter says always to be ready to give a reason, an apologia for the hope that is within you. And to do that with gentleness and respect,” Zacharias said.
“The asking of questions is common to humanity. The Christian apologist’s task is twofold: first, to be able to answer those questions with gentleness and respect, and second, to clarify truth claims.” The late Reverend Billy Graham invited Zacharias to preach at the inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam in 1983.
Years when speaking at Graham’s funeral, he expressed concern about a confusing world in need of the Gospel that his fellow evangelist had preached. “We can not lose heart, nor can we place confidence in just a human being. Our confidence is in the person of Jesus Christ. The word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. That’s who we preach,” he said.
That’s also how he will be remembered, his organization said. Zacharias “saw the objections and questions of others not as something to be rebuffed. But as a cry of the heart that had to be answered,” Michael Ramsden, the ministry’s president, added in a statement.
RZIM said it would continue its mission in “helping the thinker believe, and the believer think.” Davis said that the family would soon gather for a graveside service. “In the days ahead, we will provide details for a public memorial service to be held in Atlanta and streamed around the world.” Zacharias leaves behind a wife and three children.