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A Tribute to Ravi Zacharias

The Power of the Right Word

“Ravi saw the uniqueness of what God was doing in my life in a way that I did not.”

I received a text around 8 a.m. on May 19, telling me that Ravi Zacharias had gone home to be with the Lord early that morning following a brief battle with cancer. He was 74.

Ravi was the greatest Christian apologist I have ever experienced. Likely among the greatest of all time. Believers the world over feel the loss.

The first time I met Ravi was in October 1980 at a men’s breakfast at my church in New Jersey. It was part of our annual mission conference. He was billed as an evangelist from India. I attended dutifully that early Saturday morning with about 80 others, nibbling at my eggs, not quite awake and having almost no expectations other than a pleasant, non-engaging, 30-minute talk accompanied perhaps by a slide presentation (that was high tech then).

Within two minutes, my mind was on fire! I thought he had blown the roof off of the building. I knew powerful speakers from my theatre experience but nothing like this. The Holy Ghost had invaded the room and all of us were ushered into the presence of the Lord. 

What an experience. It changed my life. I went up to him after the talk and introduced myself. I was in awe. I felt a certain shrinking well expressed by Shakespeare, “under it my genius is rebuked.”

At the time Ravi was teaching at nearby Alliance Seminary in Nyack, N.Y.  My pastor took the time to arrange for me to meet with him at his office. As a result of that meeting, I decided to enroll in seminary.

The professor-student relationship provided an intimate setting for Ravi to get to know me. His winsome smile revealed the care he had for each of us despite that he was miles beyond any of us in intellect and ability. In my case he discovered that my background was different than the other seminarians. First, I was a recent convert, and second, I came from a theatre background.

Ravi saw the uniqueness of what God was doing in my life in a way that I did not. Theatre was my yesterday. I was trying to figure out God’s will for today and tomorrow. Ravi saw it all as woven into one fabric.

In the fall of 1981, Ravi spoke the right word at the right time. He encouraged me to put the skills and techniques I had developed in the theatre and apply them to the work of the Lord.

That changed my life and the fruit of that experience is the work that the Lord has done through Fellowship for Performing Arts these past 39 years.

“His winsome smile revealed the care he had for each of us despite that he was miles beyond any of us in intellect and ability.”

That changed my life and the fruit of that experience is the work that the Lord has done through Fellowship for Performing Arts these past 39 years.

Over the years, he continued to be an encourager and friend, speaking at our donor weekends and inviting me from time to time to perform at his. Ravi was scheduled to join us in New York in October. But God had other plans.

I could not be more grateful for Ravi’s influence on me and on millions of others around the world. What a legacy! What an impact! FPA desires to model what Ravi did in my life, to deliver the right word at the right time to encourage others toward faith. We do it through the art of theatre, just as Ravi encouraged me to do with the unique gifts God gave me that he helped to unleash. Through his influence we create works centered on Christ and do all we can to attract those audiences who believe as we do and those who don’t.

Thank you, Ravi, for your encouragement and your powerful witness to Christs. Until we meet again my friend. (Hebrews 13:14)

Ravi Zacharias

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