Given his recent cancer diagnosis, it’s a difficult time for all those whose lives have been touched by the renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias. A great many of us, myself included, are heartbroken, as we are coping with the prospect of losing someone who has had a profound, personal impact on our walk with Jesus Christ. I do firmly believe in miracles, and I pray that Ravi will be with us for years to come, but regardless of the outcome, I am deeply saddened by the struggle that he and his family are going through right now. Like so many others at this time, I am sharing my testimony of how Ravi Zacharias has changed my life in the hope that it will encourage him and his loved ones during this trial.
Ravi Zacharias is responsible for my becoming a fantasy author. (I promise that this makes sense, in a roundabout way.)
Ravi’s ministry and messages deeply inspired me while I was growing up. As a teenager, I read many of his books, listened to his radio program, and even attended several RZIM conferences. (I had the very great honor to meet him briefly at one of these events.) Ravi made me think about my faith in a way that few other teachers could. He led me to understand that Christianity is far more than a mere “religion”, and that it does not require adaptation to remain relevant, regardless of the passage of time. His teaching always goes beyond mere logical arguments or historical evidence to defend the validity of Christianity. It cuts to the heart of what it truly means to live as a Christian even when hatred and disregard for Christ and his followers reaches a fever pitch…which, sadly, has been the case in recent years. Ravi taught me that reason and faith are not at war with each other; that an intellectual defense of Christianity can and must go hand in hand with sensitivity and a living, breathing relationship with Jesus. This was one of the most vital things I learned as a young Christian, and it influenced me profoundly in years to come.
After graduating high school, I had every intention of pursuing a career in apologetics and possibly working with RZIM. This is why I have a bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies. For a variety of reasons, I ended up embarking on a different career path, but Ravi’s teachings remained central to my life for different reasons. I had to lean heavily on the truths he had taught me during some extremely difficult times and painful losses. Even in the darkest moments, I still knew that giving up on Jesus was not an option. I knew that the pain I was experiencing didn’t make Him any less real, and that He was still there for me. My emotions couldn’t be trusted in those times; I had to completely set aside how I felt and reach for something I simply knew to be true. Ravi’s teachings were a rock that I clung to in the midst of many raging storms. They helped me to stand firm until my emotions finally had a chance to heal. I can’t overstate how important that was to me.
In the end, I didn’t become an apologist. Or did I? Ravi and his team have spoken frequently about the value of engaging with culture in various ways to spread the Gospel. Ultimately, I chose to do that by contributing fiction of my own. And I think Ravi’s influence can be seen even in the stories I write. The first book I published centers around a character who rejects any reality beyond his senses but finds himself grappling with higher things. (That’s a very vague and simplistic synopsis, but I think my readers would agree with it.) The Christian message isn’t overt, but it’s there. And, as Ravi has taught, a sense of wonder is something which comes from God and which should be reclaimed by Christians. I know Ravi, as a devotee of C.S. Lewis, would agree that fantasy, in the proper context, helps to reawaken that sense of wonder. That’s one of my primary goals as an author.
So in this moment, no matter what the future holds, I want to thank Ravi Zacharias for his faith, his heart, and his steadfast commitment to building up the body of Christ. He is appreciated, and he is loved, by me and many others.
God bless you, Ravi.