Can one be overcome by emotions with the passing of a man whom he’s never met?
Ravi Zacharias, apologist, evangelist, a bible teacher, whatever name you label on this man, it comes up short when you learn of how far the man has come.
I have learnt of his passing this morning through some of the whatsapp messages that came through. I am halted in my steps for the day just thinking, how profound this man have been in impacting my life even when I have not met him but to have only seen him on facebook on several occasions many years ago and subsequently, listening to his RZIM podcast, chiefly “Let My People Think”, diligently in the past 3 to 5 years.
- I have listened to Ravi when I felt like crumbling.
- I have listened to Ravi when the day seemed too much to bear.
- I have listened to Ravi when I couldn’t lift the burdens on my heavy shoulders.
- I have listened to Ravi when I was overjoyed.
- I have listened to Ravi when I was driving.
- I have listened to Ravi when I was riding the train.
- I have listened to Ravi when I was walking.
- I have listened to Ravi when I felt anxious.
- I have listened to Ravi on my way to meeting clients, friends and families.
- I have listened to Ravi just going about my daily errands.
- and I have listened to Ravi almost everywhere, and definitely through the darkened valleys and the brightened mountain tops.
Ravi Zacharias, a teacher like no other, has most certainly nailed a scar in my flesh for if not I would not need a moment to myself after learning of his passing. Even if momentarily, this is my mourning of a man I never truly had the chance to meet. But the deep vacuum left is unmistakably tangible.
It was just last evening when both my wife and I shared about the consequences of death of a casual friend to our daughter. We narrated that it is often the case when we cherish not the person who is alive until they are gone, by which time the loss we feel will bring back memories of the past, and sometimes this includes the painful episodes and regrets that we can do nothing about. Little did I know, it was a narration to myself with the big news of today.
Through Ravi’s messages, there have been teachings you cannot find elsewhere. One of those that left a lasting imprint is how God stopped Abraham from taking Isaac’s life but did not stop it when Jesus was on the cross because it must come to the point of “It is finished”.
I also remember how Ravi so eloquently answered a question from the floor about soldiers instructed to go to war that resulted in many deaths and whether that was not guilty or sinful for the President who instructed so.
It would be difficult to forget too how he carefully framed the facts around Islam and Allah with Jesus and Christianity; he did the same with Buddhism and Buddha, Hinduism and Ganesha and the likes, and how he was eventually embraced by a Muslim leader at the end of their meeting before the man uttered those words of brotherly love, “Ravi, you are a good man.”
The many philosophical quotations he inferred like those of CS Lewis and some names escape me now have been nothing short of phenomenal and dare I say life changing. There was a media man who was for the most part and atheist or agnostic almost his whole life only to regret in his own personal preferences when he finally found Jesus at the tail end of his life.
There was a brother too from Vietnam (I think) who rejoiced in cleaning up the sewers because through it he found pages of the Bible. These pieces of God’s message were the only hope he clung on to to our Lord Jesus Christ. He and Ravi had a time together ministering and remains the only man whom Ravi said had a distinct way of calling out to “Ravi”.
But the best of his messages cannot be pinpointed to only one because with every confident channelling of his thoughts, they are laced with grace, mercy and love of Jesus Christ, even when it was met with the unbelieving enquiries from the attendees. These were and are realisations that we as believers ought to embrace and be convicted of just as deeply as Ravi had.
As the Lord has taken Ravi home, I find it difficult to put it into words how I truly feel except for just explaining at length how my journey with the Lord has been when he was “around” through the podcasts. I believe there is still so much left from Ravi had he recovered from the rare cancer that he was laden with in his last days. But in submitting to the sovereign Lord, we have to bid adieu to this great teacher.
May the Zacharias and the RZIM family continue to be inspired by this one man who has been extraordinary in all his undertakings and how sacrificially he has championed for Jesus in the five decades long of his ministry. May God bountifully bless you and our prayers are with you.
Ravi lives on in my memory!