“Because I live, you also will live.” —John 14:19
Christian apologist and evangelist Ravi Zacharias went to be with the Lord Tuesday morning after battling a rare type of bone cancer.
“Ravi Zacharias, one of the great Christian apologists of our time, has stepped into the streets of glory and into the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords,” said Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). “Don’t feel sorry for Ravi—his fight with cancer is over, and he has placed his crowns at the feet of the One who deserves all glory and honor.”
While Zacharias spent the past 48 years presenting and defending the Gospel, he first decided to follow God after attempting suicide at the age of 17. He had heard the Gospel years before at a Youth for Christ event, but it wasn’t until he was hospitalized following his suicide attempt that he received newfound hope in Scripture—thanks to a Youth for Christ leader who visited him in the hospital.
Zacharias, in turn, shared that hope with others by preaching the Good News.
He initially became involved with the BGEA when he was invited to address 4,000 speakers at the inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists, also referred to as Amsterdam ’83. This became a turning point for Zacharias—and happened to be the first time he met Billy Graham. One year later, he founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), which exists to share the credibility of the Gospel through a global team of speakers.
Throughout his life, the apologist traveled to over 70 countries, and wrote or edited more than 25 books, telling the Good News to millions. He wrote articles for Decision magazine, led seminars at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove and spoke at numerous evangelistic events.
Born in India, he lived with his wife, Margie, in Atlanta, Georgia—where RZIM is headquartered. They have three adult children and five grandchildren.
>> “If we don’t speak up now, it may be too late.” Listen to Zacharias’ passion for helping the persecuted Church.
In 2017, his ministry intertwined with the BGEA once again at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington, D.C., where both he and Franklin Graham advocated for the persecuted church worldwide.
Zacharias attended Billy Graham’s funeral in March 2018, honoring the life of a fellow evangelist and calling two of his children, Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz “a dear friend.” Two years later, Zacharias received his cancer diagnosis, and he announced he would no longer receive treatment in May.
Weeks before his homegoing, the prognosis swept across social media, resulting in the trending hashtag #ThankYouRavi from Christian leaders and artists, such as Lecrae, Tim Tebow, Louie Giglio and others as they shared public, heartfelt goodbyes.
Tweets called the 74-year-old a “bold defender of the faith” and said he “answered questions with grace and truth.” Others shared of his “gracious warmth,” “piercing analysis,” and called him a “brilliant, kind, compassionate man.” One post summed up his whole ministry, saying: “You helped believers to think. You made thinkers believe.”
Franklin Graham posted on Facebook, honoring Zacharias’ life.
“For those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, we will see him again on the other side of the river,” Franklin Graham shared. “Ravi shared the truth of God’s Word with millions worldwide, ‘so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Philippians 2:10-11). Ravi will be greatly missed—join me in praying for his family and loved ones in their loss.”
Despite being one of the leading defenders of the Christian faith, Zacharias always brought it back to One greater than himself.
“I’m a person of the soil. I’m just a simple person. People make more of me than I wish they did,” he once shared. “After now living for Christ for over five decades, … I’ve only drawn closer and closer, and I’m absolutely convinced there is no other answer other than the person of Jesus Christ.”