The Biography of Ravi Zacharias
Ravi Zacharias is a world-renowned Christian apologist and defender of the Christian Faith. He has spent his time in the spotlight addressing life’s big questions of meaning, morality and destiny and in that time penned and edited over 25 books on philosophy, theology, apologetics and comparative religion. He is the founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), which aims to “engage with people’s heartfelt questions about the Christian faith and explain the hope that the Gospel brings”.
The Conversion of Ravi Zacharias
Ravi was born on 26 March 1946 in Chennai, India, and was raised in Delhi after his family moved there. Although he was brought up in an Anglican family, it wasn’t until the age of 17 that Ravi made a personal commitment to follow Jesus, in very dramatic circumstances.
“Because I live, you also will live” were the words of Jesus from John 14 which touched Ravi’s heart and changed the direction of his life forever. He lay in a hospital bed after attempting to commit suicide by swallowing poisin when these words spoke to him. Ravi realised that the only way he could now live was to live life as defined by the Author of Life; the Lord Jesus himself. He committed his life to Christ that night and promised that he would “leave no stone unturned” in his pursuit of truth; a promise by which his life has been defined.
Ravi’s immigration to Canada
Ravi immigrated to Canada with his family in 1966. There he studied his undergraduate degree at the Ontario Bible College (now Tyndale university) and received a Masters of Divinity from Trinity International University.
Ravi’s calling into ministry and life as a missionary
Ravi’s gift for preaching was evident from a young age. Though he had only been a Christian for two tears, Ravi was awarded the Asian Youth Preacher Award at the International Youth Congress in Hyderabad at the age of 19.
After his University studies, he spent the summer of 1971 preaching and evangelising US soldiers and imprisoned Viet Cong members in South Vietnam. He later became an itinerant missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada (C&MA) and was briefly sent to Cambodia before its fall to the Khmer Rouge in 1974. He was commissioned to preach worldwide by the C&MA in 1977 after he graduated from Trinity International University.
The need for Christian Apologetics
A landmark moment came for Ravi Zacharias in 1983 when he was invited to be a plenary speaker by the Billy Graham Eveangelistic Association at their Inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists, in Amsterdam. He spoke to 4,000 other speakers here and really began to consider the importance of Christian apologetics in helping to break down the barriers that keep many people from considering Christianity.
Following this conference Ravi spent his summer working as a missionary in India. The need for Christian apologetics continued to show itself here in terms of training Christian leaders and leading people to Jesus.
RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries)
Ravi founded the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) the following year, in August 1984, back in Canada. Now a global organisation, RZIM states that it exists to reach and challenge those who shape culture with the credibility of the gospel and to reach those who have questions about the Christian faith.
It has five key focuses which it aims to use to impact the heart and mind of the thinkers across the world. These are:
- Evangelism: through its 80+ team of speakers and experts plus radio programs, TV programs, podcasts and publications
- Apologetics: evangelists and trained speakers take part in panels, debates, forums and speaking engagements
- Spiritual disciplines: Biblical resources, books and group-studies produced by RZIM to build Godly spiritual disciplines
- Training: courses are created to equip and instruct anyone who desires to contend for the Christian worldview
- Humanitarian Support: equips existing organisations that provide humanitarian support and funds scholarships
Gifted Speaker at Academic Forums and Christian Conferences
Ravi Zacharias wrote his first book, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism, in 1990. He was invited three years later to speak at his first Veritas Forum at Harvard University, and was one of the keynote speakers at Urbana later that year. He remains a popular speaker at forums such as these, where he conducts Q&As and gives lectures. At these, his incredible insight and gift for apologetics is truly evident.
He is also a popular speaker at events within the evangelical community such as the National Conference on Christian Apologetics (where he spoke in 2006) and the Future of Truth Conference (where he spoke in 2004). He has become a figurehead for evangelical Christians, representing them at occasions such as the Annual Prayer Breakfast at the United Nations and the National Day of Prayer in Washington DC.
Ravi Zacharias has been one of the leading and most influential Christian speakers of his generation, particularly on apologetics. His gift has challenged and equipped millions of people throughout the world, and his legacy carries on through RZIM and the work they do helping to influence and shape the hearts and minds of anyone who is willing to seriously consider the gospel of Jesus Christ.