This week was a sad one for Christians around the world, as advocate, author and apologist Ravi Zacharias died Tuesday of sarcoma.
Zacharias was 74. He died at his home in Atlanta.
Millions around the world are mourning Zacharias, a native of India who moved to North America and obtained citizenship in Canada and the United States.
He was one of the world’s most influential Christian authors, one of several reasons why he had such a following in the worldwide Christian community.
Here are notable facts about the life of Zacharias:
He was an atheist until a suicide attempt changed his life.
When he 17 years old, Zacharias was an atheist who didn’t take school or life very seriously. He attempted suicide by swallowing poison, but he survived, and his life completely changed while at an Indian hospital, according to the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries website.
It was there that he was introduced to the Bible and John 14:19, with the words “Because I will live, you will also live,” touching Zacharias so much that he committed his life to Jesus.
At age 19, Zacharias won a preaching contest, and his life in ministry was off to a flying start.
He made it his life mission to confront skeptics peacefully.
The basis of Zacharias’ ministry was to be a Christian apologetic, which meant defending Christianity and its principles among questions from skeptics.
In 1983, while speaking at a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association conference in Amsterdam, Zacharias felt a call toward apologetic ministry because it was an area of the faith that was lacking.
Through grace, respect, clarity and an intellectual philosophy, Zacharias gave countless speeches and wrote numerous books answering key objections and questions about the origin, meaning and morality of Christianity.
In 2004, Zacharias helped start the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics at Oxford University in England.
He was a sought-after author and speaker.
Zacharias wrote 28 books and was a requested speaker around the world.
He spent the summer of 1971 speaking to American troops in Vietnam.
At one point in Vietnam, the car Zacharias was traveling in broke down.
One passing Jeep refused to help, but Zacharias and his traveling partner ultimately got the car to start, according to his obituary.
A short time later, Zacharias discovered the Jeep that passed by riddled with bullets and all four people inside dead, the obituary says.
In 1992, Zacharias was invited to speak in the Soviet Union at the Lenin Military Academy, and in 1993, he spoke to judiciary members in Colombia.
Zacharias also spoke at events in the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Bethlehem Bible College in Palestine, as well as universities around the country.
He also was invited to speak by the United Nations on four different occasions in the 21st century and had a radio show called “Let My People Think,” which is syndicated to more than 2,000 stations in 32 countries.
His organization impacted millions around the world.
In 1984, Zacharias founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, with the mission of “helping the thinker believe and the believer think.”
Based in Atlanta, the worldwide organization has offices in the U.S., Canada, Peru, the United Kingdom, Romania, Turkey, South Africa, Singapore and India, and works with 100 speakers and 250 employees.
The organization trains new leaders and attempts to educate the public through books, studies, biblical resources, publications, podcasts and TV and radio programs.
The organization also offers humanitarian support.
Tweets from around the world pay tribute.
Celebrities, politicians and church leaders around the world paid tribute to Zacharias this week on Twitter. Here are a few examples.
Vice President Mike Pence
Upon the death of Abner, the Bible tells us David said “do you not know that a prince & a great man has fallen today?” Ravi was such a man & he will be missed. Karen & I send our deepest sympathies to his family and know he heard “Well done good and faithful servant.” pic.twitter.com/x8Bsor8OUv— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) May 19, 2020
Don’t feel sorry for @RaviZacharias–his fight w/cancer is over, & he has placed his crowns at the feet of the One who deserves all glory & honor. For those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, we will see him again on the other side of the river.— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) May 19, 2020
David Crowder (singer)
Today heaven rejoices & welcomes home a giant of the faith. Today we miss & mourn the loss of a friend & a teacher.— David Crowder
“When you come to a religion, you come to a place. When you come to Jesus, you come to a person.” @RaviZacharias
Today Ravi meets Jesus in person. That’s amazing pic.twitter.com/nilHO0EUzQ
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
Pastor John Hagee
My friend, Ravi Zacharias, has heard the words we all long to hear -- ‘Well done, good and faithful servant...' (Matt. 25:21) I pray for his loved ones who grieve over their loss that they may find joy in the hope that we will all see him again in our home in heaven. pic.twitter.com/7LZz6xQ4R9— Pastor John Hagee (@PastorJohnHagee) May 19, 2020