There is no doubt that Ravi Zacharias had a deep impact during his life upon Christians the world over. Here are five tributes from African pastors as they reflect on how Ravi-ji and his work guided, shaped and inspired them personally. #thankyouravi
KEVIN MURIITHI – KENYA
My long-time friend and campus housemate reminded me of how my random books used to litter our campus sitting room. Although I was raised a Christian, my interaction with international students and cultures on campus caused me to question the uniqueness of Jesus. Surely, how could the many unreasonable and bigoted Christians I met say Jesus is the only way? Sadly, I was told “just believe”. In these books that littered our living room space, I was searching for the truth. Unfortunately, this searching went into dark places.
As Ravi rests, may we be restless in commending Christ to all.
Later, after coming to experience the living Christ, and sensing the initial provocations to study for ministry, there was one thing I knew I wanted to study: Apologetics. I have always seen the spiritual life and the big questions of science, philosophy and religion as compatible. They enlarge my faith and help me to see the preciousness of Christ. Ravi was among my first guides in apologetics and through his inspiration led Bill Dindi and I, together with others, to provide a similar space for believers and skeptics to wrestle with the big questions through Apologetics Kenya. As Ravi rests, may we be restless in commending Christ to all, that we may love God with all of our strength, soul, heart and mind. #thankyouravi
FEMI OSUNNUYI – NIGERIA
Q&A has been a large part of how I’ve ministered well for over a decade. I didn’t learn nor inherit it from Ravi Zacharias, but he more than anyone shaped how I went about it. I sometimes get the criticism “just answer the question!” or “you take so long to get to the answer!” I hear those complaints and I can’t say that they’re always wrong. But my impulse has always been driven by something Ravi lives by – “don’t just answer the question, answer the questioner”.
I never knew how profound at answering the big questions of life Christianity was.
Building on 1 Peter 3:15, Ravi Zacharias also emphasised the godly nature of your tone in godly argumentation. Expressing the latter without the former only seeks to win an argument and not the person. Once again, this is something I’ve striven to live by because of the Ravi’s example.
Ravi helped me intellectually. I never knew how profound at answering the big questions of life Christianity was. In a period of about 18 months I listened to two episodes of Ravi’s 15 minute “Let my People Think” program. (The journey from my house to school office was 25 minutes, so I would often walk slowly to make up the additional 5 minutes!) I learned so much in that period. So much! My answers on suffering today are largely framed within Ravi’s answers. The same goes for my broad thinking on Epistemology. Quite often after answering a variety of questions on a weekly basis, I often reflect on how much of Ravi-ji was in those answers.
I’m so thankful for this man and what he’s meant to me personally. I’m so thankful that he’s now in the presence of the Saviour and Lord he so faithfully (though not perfectly) served. Well done good and faithful servant, for your good works have followed you. #thankyouravi
DAVID FUGOYO – SOUTH SUDAN
In a world where there are so many religions, philosophies and ideas, Ravi Zacharias carried the torch of enlightening the hearts and minds of the people. He helped Christians deepen their faith in Christ and non-Christians to draw near to Christ and know him. The question “Why we believe what we believe?” as Christians, was answered by our fallen brother, Ravi. #thankyouravi
JOSEPH BYAMUKAMA – UGANDA
Ravi Zacharias. A mind that allured me to Christian Apologetics like a honeybee enchanted by nectar. His heart exhibited unmistakable honesty as his humour made his rather challenging concepts relatable. But above all, his love for the Lord shone through every word he spoke. Piercing hardened hearts like the sun’s ray crashing through a crack in a prison cell.
I had grown up in a Christian Tradition, which drove a heavy wedge between the head and heart, emphasising emotional experience over the life of the mind. Into that world, Ravi punctured a hole, tiny it seemed then, but large enough for a ray of intellectual rigour to penetrate. In 2013 that hole enlarged as a friend transferred Ravi’s Apologetics videos to my then-bought laptop. The rest is history.
I had grown up in a Christian Tradition which drove a heavy wedge between the head and heart. Into that world, Ravi punctured a hole
Although Ravi did not introduce me to the Christian Faith, his ministry helped build a bridge between my heart and head. Rarely does a man exhibit such intellectual prowess with profound humility and simplicity. By looking at him, one certainly sees that neither must knowledge puff up nor ignorance become a believer’s pride.
Indeed, those who know history well understand how the Christian Faith has, more than any other worldview or movement, promoted literacy in the whole world. Judeo-Christianity is founded on written Scriptures that require literacy to read. As such, Christians founded the most prestigious universities in the world to-date. For to be a Christian is to love the Lord with your mind (Matt 22:37). Ravi combined this sense of learning with a clear call and mission: to make Christ known where He was not known. As such, I am truly thankful for him. Now that he is gone to a better place, the mantle is ours. We must be faithful witnesses of Christ’s message until we die. #thankyouravi
RONALD KALIFUNGWA – ZAMBIA
I personally never met Ravi Zacharias. As a matter of fact l had not heard about him until 1995 when l was told by a number of people that l sounded like him. “Who was Ravi Zacharias?” I asked myself. Sometime later I bought his book “Can Man Live Without God?” while visiting a second hand bookshop in Pretoria, South Africa. It was going for a giveaway price and I bought it immediately.
I worked through it fairly quickly, even though it was quite a challenging read! What was clear was that Ravi was a very deeply theological and philosophical author. I realised then, that l might have spoken like him but that l did not have anything of his Mount Everestic mind, let alone his rhetorical prowess!
Ravi was an excellent example of what a Christlike demeanour must look like in a debating context.
Over time I read more of his books, saw him in good company with Billy Graham, RC Sproul etc. I listened to his lectures and watched countless video clips of him doing what he did best – Apologetics. As time rolled on I began to feel that l had now, in a manner of speaking, come to know something of this man.
There are 5 things that stand out for me about this dear departed servant of the Lord:
He was a Christian man who was proud to be identified as such. Ravi often spoke about the circumstances surrounding his conversion to Christ. He preached the gospel clearly, simply (to the extent that a philosophical mind can be simple), passionately and powerfully.
Ravi was a Christian thinker. Although fond of memorising long held orthodox ideas, wise sayings and formulas, he did not simply regurgitate principles that he had not processed and carefully thought through. Christianity was the noetic structure he used to make sense of religion, politics and a host of other subjects that he cared to comment on.
He was philosophical. As far as l know, he wasn’t a professional philosopher but he brought his philosophical mind to bear on every one of his intellectual pursuits. He always sought to define the issue in contention, raise objections against it and then state his position usually from a biblical perspective. He tended to be somewhat Socratic in the manner in which he would lead (especially students) to answer their own questions .
Ravi was a Christian Apologist. He was a defender of the Christian faith and held up Christ as unique and the only Saviour of the world. He established a ministry (RZIM) which focused on advancing apologetic arguments for the existence of God and the reasonableness of Christianity. Their mission was to call and teach Christians to engage skeptics, arguing that the Christian worldview has robust answers to humanity’s existential questions. In doing his apologetics, Ravi sought to understand other cultural and religious traditions accurately, in their own milieu, in the interest of speaking the truth about them and demonstrating not only how different they might be from Christianity, but also why Christianity is to be preferred. To him, Apologetics was a means of pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:4-5).
Lastly, Ravi was pastoral and loving in his manner of teaching. He wasn’t a basher of those who held different views from his. He had the goal of winning them to Christ and building them up in him. Ravi spoke in a sensitive, respectful and loving way not wishing to cause unnecessary offence. He was an excellent example of what a Christlike demeanour must look like in a debating context. Indeed he did not just preach the gospel of God’s grace revealed in Christ, he also revealed the grace of that gospel in his life and especially in his apologetic engagement.
For all the reasons stated above, Ravi Zacharias endeared himself to me and to a host of other African Christians, who although not always in agreement with some of his theological emphases, deeply regret his death. We are confident that he has gone to be with the Lord he so dearly loved and preached. We will miss him and know that his good work will surely follow him. #thankyouravi