DrRavi_RevEd

Ps Edmund praying for Ravi Zacharias with Ps Paul Jeyachandran (right) at a conference in Sri Lanka in February 2020. It was the last time Ps Edmund and Ravi would see each other. Photos courtesy of Rev Edmund Chan.

On several occasions, I had the undeserved privilege of ministering alongside Ravi Zacharias. I’d cheekily tell the audiences:

“Ravi and I had a mutual admiration club. He admired me; and I likewise admire … myself!”

On each occasion, Ravi responded with a hearty laugh.

Ravi Zacharias was my beloved friend. He valued friendships deeply and once wrote to me about two years ago: “You are one of the truest friends I’ve had in my 72-year life.”

Os Guinness, Ravi Zacharias (middle) and Pastor Edmund at the opening of the Zacharias Institute, RZIM's global headquarters, Atlanta, USA.

(From L to R) Christian author Os Guinness, Ravi Zacharias and the author at the opening of the Zacharias Institute, RZIM’s global headquarters, Atlanta, USA.

WhatsApp chats

Once I sent a WhatsApp message to him that I was sick. And within fifteen minutes, he called to pray with me. With that gracious hand of friendship, he became my keen prayer partner.

We were on WhatsApp chats weekly – sharing the Scriptures, sharing our needs, sharing prayer requests, updating each other on our travels and ministries, and yes, sharing jokes.

“One day, heaven will reveal the multitude that you have touched through your love, care and generosity.”

He once sent a WhatsApp message from California: “In San Francisco to speak at Google headquarters. No need to be introduced here. They already know everything about everybody!” Ravi had a sharp sense of humour and he enjoyed a good laugh!

But the last time I saw Ravi, he was in pain.

We were together in Sri Lanka in early February 2020. Yet despite his pain at that pastors’ conference, we met for a leisurely breakfast in the company of my spiritual son, Ps Paul Jeyachandran from Sydney. He took the time to hear Paul’s spiritual pilgrimage and offered his wisdom in the most winsome way – so characteristic of Ravi Zacharias!

“You should go back to your room and rest,” I told Ravi, out of loving concern.

We prayed, hugged and said our goodbyes. Little did I know that it would be the last time I would see him. After an emergency back surgery, he was subsequently diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare cancer. Eventually, the doctors told him that no further treatment could be given in light of the aggressive spread of the cancer. On May 19, having lived a full and fulfilled life, Ravi peacefully passed away at his home in Atlanta in the warm embrace of his beloved family.

Respect for the messenger and his message

There are three chief reasons why I admire Ravi Zacharias deeply.

Ravi Zacharias gave his life for a simple but compelling message, offering a reasoned account for faith in Jesus Christ.

I admire Ravi for his humility, especially in view of his enormous giftings and celebrated fame. Ravi Zacharias was undoubtedly one of the finest philosophical minds on this planet – with an unmatched eloquence to boot! And yet, he was disarmingly meek and genuinely humble. His humility defined his greatness.

I also admire Ravi for his integrity. Despite his fiery trials, he never lost faith, hope, and love.

And I deeply admire Ravi for his unswerving faithfulness, despite changing seasons through the years. After an attempted suicide at 17, Ravi found hope in Jesus Christ and became a Christian. Some twenty years later, he founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), committed to “Helping the thinker believe and the believer think.”

His message is a simple but compelling one. He gave his life, criss-crossing the globe, offering a reasoned account for faith in Jesus Christ. He masterfully explored the philosophical foundation of worldviews, wisely examined the presuppositions of truth claims, and brilliantly dealt with the cardinal issues of origin, meaning, morality and destiny.

As he would often say: “We aim to engage people in meaningful interactions with gentleness and respect, bearing in mind that behind every question is a questioner.”

With that, whether speaking to multitudes or to an individual, he earnestly sought to bring people from the darkness of pain and sin and into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. His deep joy was to lead people to pray a simple prayer of faith: “Lord Jesus, please forgive my sin. Come into my life and change me.” 

A friendship on hold until heaven

In his touching tribute to the late Billy Graham, Ravi quoted the godly Charles Wesley who once said: “God buries His workmen but carries on His work.”

“The legacy of your faith abides, and the leverage of your work continues, unto the glory of God!”

Ravi, you have been such a tremendous blessing to so many. Your brilliant messages have reached literally millions! Your one life has inspired countless others. You shall be remembered as one of the greatest and most influential apologists in church history.

Moreover, you have intentionally raised a fantastic team of amazing people, each ready to give an account of their faith in Jesus and to lovingly lead others to Him. And one day, heaven will reveal the multitude that you have touched through your love, care and generosity as a world-renowned speaker, as a true friend, as a genuine Christian.

Your life was exceedingly well lived and not in vain. For the legacy of your faith abides, and the leverage of your work continues, unto the glory of God!

Goodbye, dear friend! You inspire me. We may not get to WhatsApp each other now. But because of Jesus, I get to say: “See you later!”

“Ravi’s shoes are unfillable but his work in Asia, by God’s grace and power, will go on”: RZIM regional head

 

Wisdom in body, embodied: Don’t stop thinking!

 

About the author

Rev Edmund Chan

Edmund Chan is a seasoned disciplemaking pastor. The Leadership Mentor in Covenant Evangelical Free Church, Edmund is widely regarded as an insightful Bible expositor and a wise mentor of Christian leaders. In 1995, he launched the annual Intentional Disciplemaking Church (IDMC) Conferences. He also serves on the advisory councils of several Christian organisations.