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Reflections on Ravi

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias
The Truth Network Radio
September 19, 2020 1:30 am

Reflections on Ravi

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias

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September 19, 2020 1:30 am

f you're a frequent listener of Let My People Think or friend of the ministry, you may know that RZIM's Founder, the late Ravi Zacharias passed away earlier this year. This week on a special, Let My People Think, we are sharing some reflections from the RZIM team on Ravi's life and legacy.

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Thank you for downloading from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Support for this podcast comes from your generous gifts and donations.

You can find out more about Ravi Zacharias and the team at www.rzim.org Thank you for the encouragement of the team. Because of your faithful giving and because of the call that's been put on the team, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been carried to the utter moat regions of this earth. It has been our privilege and our joy to see lives transformed and people receive new life and new hope because of the ministry and the partnership that we have with you. Despite all of the challenges of lockdown, it has been remarkable to see how many other doors have opened. In some instances, the digital audiences we're reaching are up to 10 times larger than the original venues could have accommodated had we actually been there in person. What's more, putting the ministry onto a digital platform has also meant we've been able to do things that we couldn't have imagined of even just a few months ago. A short while ago, I had the privilege of while sitting at a desk in Atlanta, of first speaking at a church in the United Kingdom, then speaking at a church in Malaysia, and then speaking to a Bible study group hosted by the President's office in the Philippines.

There isn't a plane fast enough that could have got you from one location to another to speak three times in three different parts of the world, which are so culturally diverse and separate from each other. But that is just one instance in which we have seen God give us a new opportunity and a new possibility because of the new doors that he has opened. Thank you for standing with us and thank you for your support. RZIM's founder, the late Ravi Zacharias, passed away earlier this year on May 19th, 2020. As a special for today's Let My People Think, we're sharing with you some reflections from the team on Ravi's life and legacy here at RZIM.

Let's listen as we hear these reflections from Vincent Joe Vitale, Abdu Murray, and Michael Ramsden. Joe, you and I are mourning the loss of Ravi Zacharias. I was thinking this morning that Ravi is the best man that I ever knew.

And then I was thinking that the best thing about him is that that thought never would have crossed his mind. We always had the word humility come to our minds first whenever we thought of Ravi. That's absolutely right. Humility has characterized him his whole life through his entire ministry, I remember. And that is just the man he continued to be his entire life.

Yeah, that's right. He never lost that tenderness, that humility, that gratitude. I remember the last phone conversation that we ever had with Ravi and Margie. He said at one point, at this point, it was not looking very good in terms of his cancer. And and he said, you know, I only gave myself 17 years.

I gave myself 17 years and then I tried to end my life. Jesus has given me another 57 years and on into eternity. I have nothing but gratitude. He kept that spirit of gratitude and humility and and even thinking about him in that hospital bed at 17. And and that verse from John 14 being read to him, because I live, you also will live. And it gives us great hope. And a smile starts to come on our faces, despite the sadness that we feel to know that those words are more true for Ravi today than they ever have been before.

Because I live, you also will live. And it was beautiful to see Ravi's faith and Margie's faith only continue to deepen and grow. And he he really lived life well with a lot of joy as well.

We have so many fond memories with him. But one of the first times I remember hanging hanging out with him, we just moved to Georgia and we'd done a late night event and we were coming back from the event and we were discussing Waffle House as we drove past one. And I said, I'd never been to a Waffle House and Ravi couldn't believe it.

So he immediately told her, calling Thomas, turn the car around. You've got to take the Vitalis to Waffle House. They can't live in the South any longer without going.

Make a U-turn, Thomas. This is not right. Joe has never been to Waffle House.

It must have been 11 p.m. after the event. But even when we got in there, he was he was so concerned that we that we just appreciate the finest that Waffle House had to offer. I remember him telling us we had to get the pecan pancakes and they they had to come with a bit of bacon, but on the side and then the syrup.

But it had to be warmed up just perfectly. And I just remember thinking like the level of care that he takes is this sort of Eastern mindset of hospitality, that he he couldn't enjoy himself unless he felt like the people around him were enjoying himself right down to the finest detail. And and also just the fact that, you know, Ravi loved food, but whether it was a fancy restaurant or Waffle House, he didn't actually care.

He would just appreciate the finest thing that that someone had to offer. I think it's true of people as well, that actually whether he was speaking with someone in the highest situation or the lowest circumstance that he didn't care. Actually, he would just always look for the best in the person in front of him.

Yeah, that's right. That spirit of generosity was so characteristic of him. And I've often struggled to explain to people what Ravi did.

And when you think about it, it is confusing in our culture. So, yes, this is my colleague and my boss, and he goes to secular university campuses and he makes a case for Christianity. And he doesn't compromise his message, not the slightest bit. And thousands of people show up, many of whom believing things wildly different than what he believes. And then after the event, not only is it received well by those same people, but dozens of them stand in line sometimes for hours at a time just to be able to speak with him and to get his insight on something and to present their question with him and to build relationship with him. And that's it's very difficult to understand because that is not generally how disagreement ends in our culture today.

It never ends that way. Disagreement leads to intolerance and to canceling each other and to attacking one another. And somehow Ravi stood in those places, places of disagreement, surrounded by people who disagreed with him, and yet was received so warmly that people were drawn to him and literally wanted to walk forward to spend more time with him afterwards.

Why is that the case? It reminds me even in the scriptures of Jesus longing after Jerusalem, looking out after Jerusalem and saying, I long to gather you as children under my wings. There was that heart of Jesus was so deep within Ravi. Every time someone stepped forward to ask a question and people could see that in the way that he looked at them, in the tone of his voice as he spoke with them, in the way that he cared for them and their question. He was never interested in winning an argument and losing the person.

He had no interest in that whatsoever. He wanted to win the person. He wanted to relate to the person. He wanted to love the person. People could see that. And I think that's why so many, even though he disagreed with them and was very explicit about that for many people, they wanted to come forward and spend time with him.

And he would often then invite them down to our offices and encourage them and even help them to get down here so that we could continue to spend time with them and continue to talk to them about Jesus. Yeah, that's what's so remarkable about him is actually he was just as much that way off the platform as on it. I think sometimes when you admire somebody from afar, you wonder, will they will they live up to the hype in person?

Is that really who they are? The thing that was outstanding about Ravi is actually he was better in person. He just had this amazing ability to see someone for who they really were and are and just draw them out.

One story that I just discovered in the last week that really highlights this for me is that there was somebody who's doing some contract work in our building, someone who wasn't a believer. We didn't really think knew who Ravi was, but a member of our staff shared with them what was going on with Ravi and his diagnosis. And this person just fell to the ground and started weeping. And then as a member of staff spoke with them, they discovered that actually one of the first times this person had come into the building, Ravi had seen them. He'd already taken the time to learn their name. He went up to them, shook their hand and said to them, introduced himself and said to them, thank you so much for the work you do to take care of us, the hard work that you're doing. And this person felt so affirmed and astonished that the head of an organisation would take the time to have learnt who they were and to thank them that they went away and started watching his YouTube videos and started sharing them with their family. Now, their first language was in English. They were finding Ravi a little bit hard to understand, but then the contract worker had shared with their family, don't worry, I found him hard to understand at first as well.

But if you pray to God, he will help you. So it seems like without any of the rest of us even being aware of it, Ravi had been, his impact on this one person just through the kindness of seeing them, of learning their name, of making them feel recognised and cared for was so profound that they're on a journey to become a Christian. And that is just one example of the thousands of stories that go on in the background in terms of Ravi's witness and his care for people. It may even be true that his impact behind the scenes has been bigger than the one from this stage, because that was just the way that he lived his life. And when I think about him, I think, oh, that is what I want to be like. That is the person I want to model myself after, someone who, just like Jesus Christ, always lived not for the platform, not for the crowd or the audience, but for the one.

Yes. And actually, when you read through the Gospels and you ask the question, was Jesus more impactful in his preaching and public speaking ministry or in his conversational ministry and his interpersonal ministry, it's really difficult to say. And it's interesting you make that connection, because I think that is true of Ravi as well. Many people have seen that public ministry, not as many have seen that private ministry, but the private ministry shines with even more integrity and power than the public ministry that so many of us have seen.

And that is really what we want to carry on. We're saddened to move forward in this instance without Ravi, but we're excited to move forward with the vision that God gave to him to clear away the bushes so that people can see clearly to the cross. As I reflect on Ravi Zacharias and his ministry and what it's meant to me, I go as far back as years before I even became a Christian. There was one Sunday morning, I found myself on a two hour drive through the middle of Michigan.

And if you know anything about the middle of Michigan, you know, there's not a whole lot there. So I was driving with just the scenery to keep me company. And this was in the days before iPods and iPhones and devices you could plug into your car so you could hear whatever you wanted on the speakers. Instead, I was stuck with the scan button on my radio.

And so you hit the scan button and it goes through the various channels until it lands on something that you like and it pauses for five seconds on each station. And during the scan, the station that hit was an Indian accented voice talking about Jesus. And I hadn't heard too many Indians in my life talk about Jesus, so it immediately caught my attention.

Of course, it was Ravi. So I went back to that station and I listened for the brief period of the show that he was on and I was captivated by it. You see, I wasn't a Christian. I was a Muslim. And I thought that Christianity had some very serious intellectual flaws.

And I had heard a couple of Christians who seemed to know what they were talking about. But Ravi had a way of not just elucidating the truth, but bringing the beauty out of the truth. And I heard him quoting poetry and that spoke to my Arab soul because he didn't just give me propositional truth.

He expressed it so beautifully, quoting poetry, being a poet even himself in the way he was expressing it. And it was captivating. And I remember trying to find him on various stations after I left that mid-Michigan area as crackled and cracked as that signal, as weak as it was, was in that time.

And I did find him and I found tapes, the Harvard Veritas Forum. I got the tapes of it and I was listening to those because I was just enthralled that Christianity, even though I didn't believe it, could be so adequately and so beautifully defended. And so that began a journey into the intellectual side of Christianity, along with others, other voices as well.

Ravi's was one voice of the chorus, but he was the strongest voice. And he spoke to my heart and my mind. And over the course of a nine-year journey, I eventually became a Christian. But then you fast forward a little while later and after I'd become a Christian and I was a Christian for a few years, a lot of my questions were already answered. But I still had a lot to remain, which is the beauty of the Christian faith.

You never stop learning in the Christian faith. Well, I had a very deep-seated probing question that still nagged at me quite a bit. And I had found out, I was working at a law office and I found out that Ravi was coming to town. He was coming to the University of Michigan, about 45 minutes from where I had lived at the time. And I called up my wife and I said, did you know Ravi Zacharias is going to come to town right now?

He's going to be at the University of Michigan tonight. So we got in the car, my wife and my best friend, and we drove to Ann Arbor. And we were in Rackham Auditorium. I remember where it was. And he was giving a defense of the Gospel.

And he did such a masterful job and I remember hearing it and listening to it and just being enthralled by what he was saying. And then the Q&A time came. So the Q&A time comes and the emcee of the event said that we want to give priority to the non-Christian. If you're a skeptic or someone from a non-Christian worldview, please come to the microphone first.

If you're a Christian in line, please give priority to the skeptic. And I was a Christian, of course, although I had a burning question. And so I asked the person behind me, are you a Christian?

He said, no. I said, you go in front of me. And I was letting people in front of me. So the line was getting longer and longer in front of me. And finally, when it came to my turn to ask the question, no more questions for the night, Ravi had already answered quite a few and they were done. Well, you can imagine my disappointment. But then I could see Ravi standing by the dais after the talk was over and a crowd had gathered around him.

But it began to dwindle a little bit. And I thought, now's my chance. I'm not going to let this opportunity go to waste. I'm going to go ask him a question. And I walked up to him and I said, Mr. Zacharias, your ministry has influenced me so much.

I used to be a Muslim and your ministry has influenced me so much that now I've become a Christian due in no small part to your efforts. And he looked at me and he said, really, where are you from? And he asked me where I was from.

And my heritage is from Lebanon and all this. And I said, I have a question for you. He says, OK, what's your question? And I asked him my question. Now, I asked him the same question I had already asked the other apologist and the other apologist gave me a wonderful answer. Ravi also took the time when he said, so you're from Lebanon. Do you know less than such a person?

Have you heard this and all this? Really taking an interest in me. And then when he answered my question, it was just as philosophically robust, just as intellectually defensible and just as meaningful as the other answer. But he answered it in a way that spoke to a Middle Easterner.

He took care to answer me directly because of my background, taking me into account. Well, Ravi had left the building. Eventually he had to leave.

And I left with my friend and my wife and went to a coffee shop just to get caffeinated enough for the drive back. And I looked at both my friend and my wife and I said, you know, I don't know if I'm going to do ministry like he's doing it, but I feel a call to do this and to answer questions. If I ever answer questions, I hope I answer them the way he did. In fact, I don't want to answer questions. I want to answer people because he answered me.

Well, fast forward 14 years into the future. And I find myself standing at the University of Michigan on a platform with Ravi Zacharias answering questions. Do you see that? How wonderful that is? You know, Ravi's theme is always talking about the grand weaver. God is the grand weaver who weaves the tapestry of our lives together in ways we can't imagine.

We're just a single thread. But then when it all comes together, we see the grand design and the beauty of it all. The momentousness of how God calls and then God provides. And Ravi was an instrument of that. And I got to answer questions from the platform with the man.

How amazing is that? What I want to say is this is that the grand weaver was a grand theme in Ravi speaking. And it worked its way in my life so I could begin doing ministry and seeing God move and change hearts and minds through the power of the gospel. But Ravi, no matter how large the crowds were, no matter how small the crowds were, always took time to answer the individual every time. And I saw him do it from the stage because he was doing what Jesus did. Sometimes Jesus did leave the 99 to reach the one. And Ravi took that message to heart and says, I want to emulate what Jesus does.

Sometimes you leave the crowd to focus on the single. And he did that every time. He taught me, and I think he taught so many of us, that evangelism without love is just the clinging gong and the sounding cymbal that Paul says it is. But evangelism undergirded by love, by care for the individual, that's something far deeper. That's what RZIM has always been about. It started with Ravi's heart and the DNA that Ravi put into it. And all the speakers and the entire team are attracted to this ministry and want to be a part of it because of that. And it's going to continue even after Ravi is now gone. That lives hopefully in me and in my teammates so we can see the tapestries of the moments you and I can have and all the encounters we have. Ravi not only trail blazed, but he also paved the way for these kind of things as he would say. It's an honor to be a part of this ministry. The grief we're all going through right now with Ravi Ji is always twinged with hope and mixed indeed actually with a sense of joy, of thanksgiving for his life, knowing where he now is, knowing there'll be a time when we'll see him again.

Of course, we miss being with him, but we all have such fond memories as I know you do too. For me, my first encounter with Ravi Ji was, I think, as most people encounter him, it was through an audio cassette. I'd only been a Christian a couple of days. Someone gave me a plastic bag filled with 42 of them and said, I think you may enjoy listening to them. I remember putting the first one on the cassette player, pressing play, and it had an introduction introducing who Ravi Ji was and then finished with the words, it is our prayer that this message will be a spiritual blessing to you.

And it was. As a matter of fact, it was such a blessing. I remember listening to every single one of those tapes, pressing pause and writing it down sentence by sentence with a pencil and a pen.

It took me about three and a half to four hours per talk to transcribe them, but they meant that much to me and they spoke so strongly to me even as a new Christian. And even as a new Christian, I would sometimes listen to those messages and feel like I had to become a Christian all over again. And I remember I'd give them out to friends and I'd pass them out to family. And my mother in particular became very accustomed to his voice because it felt like he'd moved into our house and was living with us because he was constantly playing in the background.

I can then remember having moved to university. He was so instrumental. I had only been a Christian for a few years. From the very first days, I knew I wanted to be an evangelist and maybe that's why I felt such a strong connection to what he was doing. Ravi, I think, often felt that maybe people didn't understand his ministry. They thought of him as a thinker or a philosopher or as someone who understood culture or analysis, but he always knew and his family always knew that he was first and foremost an evangelist.

That was always the title he was most comfortable with. And I can remember being asked to speak and to share in the church thinking, what will I do and taking one of Raviji's favorite messages, just removing the references to his wife and children because at that point I wasn't even married, let alone had offspring, and preaching it as best as I possibly could. And as I was walking out the church, I remember two old ladies at the back, one turning to the other saying, wow, this guy's only been a Christian for a few months, but he's learned so much so quickly. And I think he had that impact, I think, on so many of us. We didn't just simply listen and feel blessed.

We wanted to share also what he had given in order to multiply its reach and extend it. It was a few years after that I had the privilege of actually sitting down at an airport hotel, actually. It was our first face-to-face meeting. I'd written to him asking whether there was any way he would come over to the UK to speak there.

I was now living in that part of the world. And as we sat and talked, I can simply remember smiling so strongly because there was such a gentleness and a courteousness to the way he treated me. He was talking to a law student, but he could have been speaking to maybe one of the most important people in the world. Such was his focus and attention. And you knew that you were being valued by him in terms of the time he gave to you.

And I think we'll all hear stories of that all over the world. It didn't matter if someone's job was to sweep the floor or to lead a country. He wanted to engage. He saw everybody as being equally important and simply refused to prioritize, as so many of us may be tempted to do at times. We, as a team and as a ministry, our goal now is to continue with what he wanted to. His final words to me when I saw him a few days before he passed away were, please ask the team to focus and to commit.

Commit to RZIM. Focus on the Gospel. Fix your eyes on Jesus. He said multiple times over in a very short period of time, people need the light and they need the love of God and the love of Christ. They must hear the Gospel. The Gospel must go out. And his overriding concern, his overriding care was that the Gospel be preached and this message be shared, that lives be changed and people say yes to Christ.

And that's precisely what we'll do. It's precisely the reason why the organization was set up and it's precisely why he and Margie made so many sacrifices knowing that it would be worthwhile because eternal lives were at stake and there was an eternal reward to be reaped. And that is now exactly what we will proceed to do as a team, to make Christ known, to take the questions seriously, to find a way to answer and share the Gospel through the difficult questions of a culture and not go around them. And I think all I can say as I wrap this up in terms of my own personal time with him was it felt that there was a friendship there and an equality in the relationship that you may not necessarily expect to find in an employment type situation.

He really didn't think that way. He saw us as friends and welcomed us as friends and we saw him as a friend too. We're going to miss him and we thank God for him and we're looking forward to continue the race and to continue going in the same direction with the same mission, the same values, the same cause and also with the same Gospel. Thanks for joining us. While this message isn't available for purchase, you can listen again on our website at rzim.org or rzim.ca for those in Canada.

While you're there, be sure to check out more about the RZIM team and how we're reaching those around the world with the Gospel. We see it everywhere, from musicians and movie stars to neighbours and friends at work. People aren't interested in having a spiritual life but treat faith more like an a la carte menu at a restaurant, choosing what they like and dismissing the rest. Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra are the cheerleaders calling on western culture to embrace a spirituality devoid of the biblical Christ. Cutting through the hype and seduction is the clear voice of author and apologist, Ravi Zacharias. In his book, Why Jesus, Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass-Marketed Spirituality, Ravi answers the attraction known as the New Spirituality. They have sort of hijacked everything under the nomenclature of Eastern spirituality. There's value, there's value in silence, there's value in reflection, there's value in solitude, something that we in the West have forgotten.

So I think they harnessed something of value and made it exclusively their own. As if the Christian faith never talks about it, their spirituality in the Christian tradition too has had a lot of these ideas. The only difference is they don't gaze inward, they have to gaze outward towards God. God is the ultimate vision, not yourself. Billy Graham calls Why Jesus a powerful defense of how Jesus Christ brings meaning and hope to an individual life. And Charles Swindoll says, I am not acquainted with a brighter mind or a more relevant and devoted defender of the faith than Ravi Zacharias.

Why Jesus? Available online at rzim.org. If you'd like to partner with us and donate, you can do so online or by calling us at 1-800-448-6766. Let My People Think is a listener supported radio ministry and is furnished by RZIM in Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-10 12:55:37 / 2024-03-10 13:06:46 / 11

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