Apologist and author Ravi Zacharias died in his home in Atlanta on May 19 at age 74 after battling a rare form of bone cancer. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Margie, and three children.
“[Ravi] 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,” said Michael Ramsden, president of RZIM. “People weren’t logical problems waiting to be solved; they were people who needed the person of Christ. Those who knew him well will remember him first for his kindness, gentleness and generosity of spirit. The love and kindness he had come to know in and through Jesus Christ was the same love he wanted to share with all he met.”
Known for his powerful presentations of theology that taught listeners how to defend their faith, Zacharias spent a majority of his life discussing existential questions covering topics from morality to life’s purpose. According to his ministry’s website, RZIM.org, the evangelist committed his life to Christ at age 17.
Prior to this, however, he was an atheist. In 2013, he spoke at Princeton University as to why he no longer denied God’s existence. Speaking of philosophy, history, science and theology, Zacharias says in that presentation that when you deny a personal God, it’s very difficult to answer specific questions on morality.
“Ask an average student today, ‘What does it really mean to be human?'” Zacharias says. “I was asked to contribute to that subject at Johns Hopkins University some years ago, and most of the contributors were from a completely non-theistic viewpoint. … These questions have become almost undefinable, and we go through this quicksand and walk through it trying to find our way by changing all the definitions, but we don’t know how to define it except by self-referencing. …
“Why am I not an atheist? I simply cannot find a rationally defensible way for moral reasoning, and the fact of the matter is, we are at our core moral beings. Those who deny God’s existence, what did they invoke? Too much of evil and suffering. On what basis? How do they even arrive at that moral reasoning?”
His book The Logic of God won the Christian Book Award in 2020. Some of Zacharias’ most popular books include titles such as The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message and Can Man Live Without God.
He accepted the Asian Youth Preacher Award at the international Youth Congress in Hyderabad at only 19 years old. From there, his opportunities expanded immensely as he was asked to speak at a large conference for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
A short while later, Zacharias founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in 1984. He has reached millions of people in over 70 countries with the gospel, according to his ministry’s website. In 2017, he established the Zacharias Institute in Atlanta to help train future generations in apologetics.
Recently, Zacharias reached thousands of young adults at the national Passion Conference, held annually in various cities throughout America. In 2020, Zacharias was part of a lineup of speakers that also included Sadie Robertson, Tim Tebow, Louie Giglio, Shelley Giglio, Levi Lusko, Christine Caine and John Piper.
Robertson, Tebow and Giglio were among some well-known speakers who expressed their gratitude to Zacharias on their social media platforms after hearing of his prognosis—a movement sparked, and it became known as #ThankYouRavi. Pastor and apologist Lee Strobel wrote on Twitter about the kind of role model Zacharias was in his life.
Just wanted to share this message in regards to my good friend and a hero of the faith, @ravizacharias. A couple of things, please join me in prayer for Ravi and his family as he battles this fight against cancer. Also, if Ravi has touched your life or inspired you along the way, I would love for you to share your story in the comments. I hope to be able to deliver your comments to Ravi and his team to encourage them in this time.
Join us in praying for peace over Zacharias’ family during this time.