Memories of Our Mentor and Friend, Ravi Zacharias
This week, Vince, Jo, and Michael, along with the entire RZIM team and so many of you, are grieving the passing of our founder, mentor, and beloved friend, Ravi Zacharias. Join us on this week’s episode of Ask Away as we share personal reflections about the man who meant and continues to mean so much to us, and celebrate the legacy of one who, having spent his life running towards Jesus Christ, has at last arrived in his arms.
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Michael Davis: Hello and welcome to another episode of Ask Away with Vince and Jo Vitale. I am your host, Michael Davis. Jo, Vince, and I, along with everyone at ours RZIM and so many around the world are in mourning at the loss of our founder, Ravi Zacharias, who recently went home to be with Jesus. But even more than that, we're mourning the loss of a friend. I know both of you were very close with Ravi, so thanks so much for being able to come here and share your memories and reflections about Ravi and his life. I'm happy to be with both of you as we honor and continue to be inspired by him. So I guess the best place to start is when you remember Ravi, what will you remember most?
Vince Vitale: Yeah, thanks so much, Michael. I'm thankful to be here with you as well. Not necessarily under the specific circumstances, but certainly to have the honor of speaking about a man who meant, and continues to mean, so much to us. I can honestly say that Ravi Zacharias is the best man I've ever known. But that's not the best thing about him. The best thing about him is that that thought never would have crossed his mind. It never would have crossed his mind because I would say I have never met someone who was so successful at what they did and yet also so humble. One of the last times we saw Ravi, at one point the conversation actually turned to his memorial service and Ravi humbly suggested that we might hold it in the RZIM staff chapel. And how many seats are there in the actual staff chapel?
Michael Davis: Oh man.
Vince Vitale: Right. Maybe you can get a dozen people in those pews. And we were just incredulous. So we sort of said, "Ravi, what are you talking about?" And his eyes sort of went wide and he said, "Do you think we'll need to use the auditorium?" Which, again, only would hold less than 300 people. And at that point our colleague and Ravi's best friend, Sanj Kalra, jumped in and he said, "Ravi, what are you talking about? Half of India's coming. They're on their way right now. And every one of them is going to make a presentation. We're going to be at this service for weeks." And Ravi was laughing so hard and his beautiful smile shining through which somehow seem to get even more beautiful near the end.
Jo Vitale: I think that's absolutely true. I think humility really is the word that has always come to mind first when Vince and I think of Ravi. Which is an amazing thing to be able to say about somebody, because typically when someone spends a lot of their life on a platform and a lot of people know who they are, you worry that's not going to be the case. You worry they're going to sort of think that maybe they're a bit of a big deal, or that they get caught up in their own hype or something like that. Nothing could be further from the truth with Ravi. I don't think anybody saw him in the terms that he saw himself, as just someone who is so honored to even know Jesus, let alone get to talk about him.
A story that Margie, his wife, once told us that comes to mind, and it really epitomizes Ravi, I think, is when he was first being commissioned by the elders of his church in Canada to be sent to Vietnam to preach there during the war. One of the pastors, after they'd had that prayer of commissioning over Ravi, he came to Margie's family, and he just turned to them and said, "I know God is going to bless that young man, because when he got up from our prayers, there was a pool of tears on the chair where he'd been praying."
And I think that that's just so true of him. He's always been so tender-hearted, but for the things that God is, tender-hearted about, just such a longing for people to know Jesus and such a sense of humility in the fact that God might use him to do it. I don't think he ever took that for granted. I don't think he ever thought he belonged on a stage or on a platform. I don't think it was even ever really about what he got out of it or the enjoyment he found in it. It was always just about, “this is the call God has put in my life and I'm going to serve him with whatever time he gives me.”
Vince Vitale: Yeah. He was just so aware of the fact that it wasn't his work and his own life. It was Jesus's work in his life and he always kept that in sight.
Michael Davis: Yeah. You know, it's interesting. When I became a Christian, I was really conflicted because of what I knew of the world and what I thought Christianity meant, was that there was going to be that conflict and that tension. And one of the things about Ravi and RZIM, but Ravi in particular, that just made it so that I can have a coherent worldview and still believe in Jesus. So yeah, I'm just so grateful myself that that level of comfort that I got from his words, as well as just the blessing that he was just in his humility, I completely and totally agree. So I guess that gets me to the next question. What do you think made Ravi's ministries so powerful?
Vince Vitale: Yeah. This is an interesting question, Michael. I've actually often found it challenging to explain Ravi's ministry, to people who don't know him. Because when you think about it, I mean, here's how you might explain his ministry. He went to secular college campuses and thousands of people, and thousands of students showed up to hear him make a case for the Christian faith. And he didn't compromise his message, not the slightest bit. He spoke openly about Jesus. He openly disagreed with many of the atheistic assumptions held by many of the people on those campuses. And yet not only was he well received there, but after the event, dozens of skeptics would wait in line, sometimes for hours, just to be able to speak to him and share their heart with him and ask him for insight. For most people, there seems to be a huge gap there. That's just inconceivable for most people in the world that we live in today, we can't imagine that disagreement, in particular, public disagreement, could actually lead to deeper relationship.
Today disagreement is already offensive, and it inevitably leads to anger and hatred and polarization, and people getting no platform at universities and to people canceling each other. How was Ravi's ministry possible in today's day and age? It's a great question. And I think ultimately the answer is because of God's work in his life. It was about the way that Ravi treated people. I'll always remember one time when we were taking Q&A together and a man approached the microphone and began a very aggressive and extended monologue of all of his reasons for not believing, even despising Christianity. And each time Ravi would try to begin to respond gently, the questioner would interrupt him even more aggressively. I mean, you couldn't even really call this person a questioner because I'm not sure they had a question. They just had things they wanted to say. And they were dead set on not allowing Ravi to respond.
And once this man said everything that he wanted to say, he turned around and he stormed away from the microphone towards the exit. And at this point I'm thinking, “phew.” I'm thinking we really dodged a bullet here. This guy has sort of made a fool of himself in front of everyone, and now he's leaving on his own accord. Right? Most speakers would be thinking that's a pretty good result. But Ravi jumped up out of his seat. He practically ran to the very edge of the stage, his foot leaning over the stage. And he began to beckon the man to come back. And he was saying things like, "Sir, please don't leave. Please come back. Please. Let me try to respond to your question. I care about your question."
This was a guy who had already made a fool of himself. A lot of speakers would have gladly just let him walk out the back of the building, just thankful that they didn't have to deal with someone who was that antagonistic. But of all the people in the audience, that was the person that Ravi longed to interact with most, almost desperately pleading for him to come back. And I've never forgotten that. Ravi always had this intense Christ-like desire for the one. And you know, as an apologist, it can be very easy to just try to win the argument and lose the person. Ravi was never interested in that. He longed for the person. He saw the individual. He valued the individual. He saw every question as a window into a person's soul. He really cared about people. He didn't want anyone to be lost. Maybe just one way I could summarize all of that is that I think the reason that Ravi was able to reach people's minds was because he genuinely cared more about their hearts.
Jo Vitale: I think that's so true. And what I love most actually is that this was just as much, if not more true of Ravi in private than in his public life. It can be easy to put on a show on a platform, but Ravi consistently lived this way all the time. I remember going around a project with him supported by Wellspring International, which is RZIM's humanitarian arm. It was a project in India to care for the elderly who'd been abandoned by families on the street because they couldn't afford to look after them anymore and they were seen as kind of useless to society. So this project takes them in and looks after them for as long as they are going to live. And I remember going round that place with Ravi and him stopping by the bedside of every single person, looking them in the eye, holding their hands or their feet, touching them, something that they never get to experience, and having a conversation with them, and just giving them dignity and respect and honor and love. And just making them feel like a valued and sacred human being. He had that unique gift.
Every time we had a meal together, he would always remember to pray for the servers. He would always thank them. He always just saw the individual. One story that particularly brought this home to me that we just heard in the last couple of weeks, because this is the sort of interaction Ravi has all the time, but he would never tell anyone about. He would never boast or anything like this. But there was a contract worker who was doing some work and in our building, and this was someone who hadn't been a believer, and we had no real reason to even think that he knew who Ravi was. But one member of our staff saw them and told them what had been going on and about Ravi's health diagnosis. And to their astonishment, the person just fell to their knees and began to weep at the news of Ravi facing cancer and literally holding onto the wall to support them as they cried.
And then they shared that the very first time that they'd met Ravi, when he happened to be in the building and they were there at the same time, he'd gone straight up to them. He addressed him by name. He already knew it. And then he said, “Thank you so much for all the hard work that you're doing to take care of us here at RZIM.” And this person was so blown away, that Ravi, as the head of the organization, would have already somehow taken the time to learn their name and to go and personally thank them, that they gone away and started watching online various of Ravi's YouTube videos, and then began to share them with their family as well. Now their primary language in the family wasn't English as a first language. So they were finding Ravi a bit hard to understand. And they shared that. This contract worker said, "Ah, don't worry about that. I understand. I found Ravi hard to make sense of as well at first. But if you ask God, he will help you to understand what Ravi is saying."
And so without any of the rest of us on the staff even knowing, it seems that this contract worker had gone on a journey towards discovering Christ and becoming a Christian. Why? All because of the kindness of Ravi in seeing them, learning their name, and going up to them and thanking them. And that's just so characteristic of who he is. I mean so many times he spoke on a platform to thousands of people, but I even wonder if the greater impact has been the personal level, the one-on-one conversations that just characterize his daily life all the time.
Vince Vitale: Yeah. And when you read the gospels and you ask the question, “was Jesus more impactful in his public speaking preaching ministry or in his conversational interpersonal ministry?” It's really difficult to say. Right? Jesus was always in those conversations, treating people the way they were supposed to be treated. And I think it's very hard to say as well, people often saw Ravi on the big platform, speaking to many people. We didn't get to see often those behind the scenes, as you said, Jo, because he often wasn't talking about those things. But I really believe his impact may have been as significant in those ways as it was even on large stages. And another thing which just, represents that to me, was the way that he would always remember people's name. I mean, that was so important to him.
There's a story from the early nineties when Ravi was in Singapore with some of the RZIM board members. A woman came up to him and said, "You wouldn't remember me." And he said, "Are you Jennifer?" And this was someone that he had met 20 years prior in Vietnam when her and her brother were in a youth camp there, and he remembered her name. And we only know that story because the board members were there to hear it. And then I have a similar story from when I was in Peru with Ravi and someone came up to him and again, the beginning of the conversation, "You wouldn't remember me, but," and this was someone who had seen him speak maybe a decade earlier and had asked him a question after a talk. And Ravi again remembered the person's name and addressed them by name. That meant so much to Ravi and to so many people who experienced that with Ravi. You know, a lot of people have thought that Ravi had a photographic memory because his memory was just so good, but actually Margie has told us that that's not the case.
Actually, it's hard to believe this, but Ravi wasn't a great student as a boy. His mom was a teacher and his mom went to great lengths to teach him various different methods of memorization. And I find that quite amazing. Ravi always spoke about the grand weaver and to think that Ravi Zacharias, of all people, would have not been a good student, and yet God would have used that for his mom to focus on teaching him the skills of memorization, which would be so significant for his ministry in terms of memorizing scripture, and quotations, and poems, and hymns. And most importantly people's names.
Jo Vitale: Another thing that I think made his ministry powerful was it was just characterized by being about a pursuit of the truth. And it began that way, right from the beginning when Ravi was on a bed of suicide at seventeen and he encountered Jesus for the first time in that moment, in that place. And he prayed a prayer to God where he said, "Please get me out of this hospital bed well, and I promise that I will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of truth." And I think what's so special about that, is that one of the neat things about Christianity, is that in Christianity truth isn't like a proposition. It's not abstract. Truth is a person. It's Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the truth.” And for Ravi, pursuing truth always meant pursuing the person. I think we see that whether the person was at a microphone in a big auditorium, or a contract worker, or a server at a meal. It was always about the person.
But I think he learned about how to pursue people because he started out pursuing Jesus Christ, pursuing him as a person. And I love what Blaise Pascal said. He said, "Unless we love the truth. We cannot know it." And I think some philosophy and even some apologetics, I think sometimes it can suffer because people start out by trying to know the truth without loving the truth. It becomes about the knowledge that you gather, rather than the person that you know. But I think Ravi was able to know the truth and pass on the truth so effectively because, first and foremost, he loved the truth. He loved Jesus. And by making that love the center of his life, he was also filled then with a deep love for every questioner.
Michael Davis: So I guess, it's interesting because this next question, I think you guys did a pretty good job of answering it already, which is “what was unique about Ravi's approach to evangelism and apologetics?”
Vince Vitale: Yeah, it was interesting. You're right. We've spoken about that quite a bit already. And yet there's so much more to say as well. But it's a good connection, Michael, because I think you're right. This begins again with Ravi's humility. Because he was a humble man, he was willing to learn from others and be challenged by them. And Ravi told us a story. He remembered speaking in Toronto in the early days of his ministry. And he said he had used a bit of Aquinas and a bit of Augustine in one of the points in the talk that he was giving. And a gentleman walked up to him after the talk. And he said, "You're speaking to an audience that's not there." He said, "This is totally irrelevant to the average person here."
And Ravi then continued and he said he was correct. Ravi felt called to speak to everyone, not just the intellectual. And he was humble enough to allow someone to come up to him after a talk and speak a sentence to him that he never forgot. And that caused him to really start to think creatively and prayerfully about what will it look like to, yes, take thinkers seriously, and take philosophy seriously, and take the empirical sciences seriously, but speak to everyone.
Those words really challenged Ravi. Before Ravi, apologetics was primarily an academic discipline. That's one of the most significant impacts that Ravi made. He brought apologetics to the kitchen table. He made it useful for the normal person, in order to actually get out and practically do evangelism, and share the hope with other people. And one of the key ways he was able to do that, was because of his aptitude for storytelling. I think that's another way where you see the grand weaver coming into Ravi's story. Again, he was trying to figure out “How do I make Aquinas and Augustine relevant and compelling for the average person at the kitchen table?” And I think his Eastern heritage was part of that. That he had this aptitude, this love for story, and this aptitude for storytelling.
Jo Vitale: Yeah. I think that's so special—the way God weaves that together, so that He could bring the Western philosophical training together with that Eastern storytelling. Ravi shared with us once that the first time he ever used an illustration from a movie, it was from Chariots of Fire. I think today you could hardly pick a safer movie to make an illustration from in a Christian context, but at the time that Ravi did it, it was actually seen as extremely radical. As he traveled across different countries, people would say to him, "Oh, I heard you used a movie illustration. That's unheard of." Now I think the funny thing was at the time that everybody had actually seen the film, but no one was going to admit it from a public platform.
Vince Vitale: That's amazing. All the movies that we use as illustrations now. Chariots of Fire is a safe as you can get.
Jo Vitale: Right, right. But I think it speaks to Ravi's creativity, but also his courage. That was just something we've always admired about him, whether it was being one of the first to use a film illustration, or whether it was being willing to go and speak at the Mormon Tabernacle, which was just seen as a risky move at the time. A lot of Christians were upset by that decision. I think it was Chuck Colson who told him when he was trying to weigh up whether to make the decision, Colson said to him, "I think you should go for it, but be prepared to keep your windows shut this winter. It's going to be a cold one."
Vince Vitale: It's going to be a cold winter.
Jo Vitale: It's going to be a cold winter.
Vince Vitale: That's right. But I love that. Ravi had the courage to go and yet he said, "If I choose my music and if I can speak on the topic of my choice." And he spoke on the uniqueness of Christ.
Jo Vitale: That's right. So I just think that willingness to step out and do things that other Christians would be nervous about, but always for the sake of the gospel, because he was always first and foremost, thinking about evangelism and who needs to hear. So whether it was movie illustrations of the Mormon Tabernacle, or collaborating on a Christian rap album, or setting up a humanitarian arm of Wellspring International, when at the time people were so sensitive to anything that could be even closely construed as the social gospel. I think Ravi was willing to go outside of the normal comfort zone of where the church was at, at the time, if he sensed the Lord was in it. And I think as he did that, it meant that he could build a bridge with cultural resources, like a story or a movie or literature. And so all of a sudden the use of Aquinas or Augustine, which initially had seemed so above people's heads and irrelevant, would actually begin to really connect with people's hearts and minds.
Michael Davis: That's great. I guess my next question for you guys is, “What do you think you'll remember most about Ravi's final season of life?”
Vince Vitale: I think running the race to the end, finishing well. I mean, honestly, Ravi was teaching us what it looked like to live like Christ and to live for Christ to the very end. Even in his finals days, even when he couldn't speak anymore, he was finding ways to teach us what it looked like to live like Christ. It's a beautiful thing, even just hearing some of the stories from his family. And we saw that through this whole season as well. The day after receiving his cancer diagnosis, actually Jo and I were on a Rota to make a meal for Ravi and Margie because Ravi was recovering from the back surgery he had had.
Now we thought he was recovering well from that surgery. We did not yet know about the cancer. And we had dropped off the food and we got two emails from Ravi that night. One at 6 p.m. So they must have just eaten. I looked these up this morning because they were on my mind. He says, "Dear Vince and Jo, we had a table full and now our stomachs are full with an absolutely delicious dinner. Can't thank you enough. Jo, if you were the chef, all I can say,"... I don't know why he didn't think I was a chef..."If you were the chef, all I can say is that you've done an amazing job. I love Thai food and you would have made the Thais proud. Thank you on behalf of the whole family. Love it. Thank you, dear Vince and Jo, our love to you all."
Then at 9 p.m., three hours later, he wrote again. He says, "And as for that chocolate soufflé, all I can say is that the Thais don't know what they're missing. Michelin rating applies here. Jo, you probably spent a better part of your day preparing this dinner. Margie and I thank you both so much. Really enjoyed it as a family. God bless you and your precious little guy with our love." Now only later did I realize that this was the day after Ravi had received his serious cancer diagnosis. And to realize that those were the emails that he was sending right after receiving that news, I found that so convicting. I was thinking to myself, "What would the attitude of my heart be the day after receiving a diagnosis like that? How would I be spending my time? What words would be overflowing from my heart?" And Ravi just didn't change one bit. He remained exactly himself, still looking for every opportunity to encourage others and to bless others.
Jo Vitale: That makes you think of when Jesus is dying on the cross, and he turns to John and says to him, "Here's your mother." And says to his mother, "Mother, here's your son." And just that even in those moments of agony that Christ was thinking about his family and his friends and taking care of them. And I think we just consistently saw that throughout the final weeks of his life. That he actually didn't have fear. He was so full of faith, full of peace, full of joy in the Lord. But his concern was always just toward looking after others and his family. And it was really beautiful to see.
In the last phone conversation that we ever had with Ravi, his comment was, “I gave myself seventeen years, but God gave me another fifty-seven, and on into eternity. I have nothing but gratitude.” And I think if you see every day of life as a gift from God that He's given back to you, when you yourself had discounted yourself and said, "I don't deserve life. Life can't have anything good to offer me," then I think you do live with that gratitude with every day you get.
Vince Vitale: And of course, he's referencing there having tried to take his life at the age of seventeen. The Bible was brought to him and his mother read from John 14, Jesus saying, "Because I live, you also will live." And amidst our grief right now, it does bring a smile on the face to think that those words are more true now than they ever have been before we did. We saw this in Ravi, even to the final days. Even to the final days when he could muster up the strength to speak, he would either be reciting scripture, or praying, or honoring Margie and his family by sharing his love with them. I think in those moments, when you don't have many moments left, and you don't have many words left, you choose the words that are truly reflective of what's in your heart.
And it was beautiful to see God's work in Ravi's life continued to the very end. And I'm sure it continues today as well. And you know, Ravi, even through this season, was always asking the question, "God, what do you want me to learn through this season?" He never stopped learning that pursuit of truth, those stones being overturned. He continued to do that to his very last day. And it was a beautiful thing to behold.
Michael Davis: So my hope is I get to talk to Paul first and then to Ravi. So what are you most looking forward to when you see Ravi again in heaven?
Jo Vitale: I love that you say Paul.
Michael Davis: I know I'm so wrong about so many things. I want to talk to Paul first. Then I'm going to make a beeline straight to Ravi.
Vince Vitale: And surely Jesus goes without saying.
Michael Davis: Jesus is going to be with me the entire time. I don't have to worry about that.
Vince Vitale: There you go. You're already talking to Jesus.
Jo Vitale: Oh gosh. I love that heaven in the Bible is depicted as a great banquet because so many of our best memories with Ravi were shared around food. It makes sense that hospitality, that he had a real love for food. But what I cherish most is that it wasn't about getting the most expensive meal, but always being able to appreciate the best in whatever context you were in. He would find the good in every situation, whether he was amongst the most fancy of circumstances, or the most just casual. And that was as true with people as it was with food.
Michael Davis: Waffle House or Steak House. It didn't matter.
Jo Vitale: Yes, exactly. One of my best memories is actually not long after we'd moved to Georgia. I think Ravi and Vince were doing an event together. It was around 11 p.m. after the event. We were driving home together when it came up in conversation that we'd never experienced Waffle House before. And Ravi couldn't get over the shock that we'd been living in the south for a couple of months and had not experienced the wonder and glory of Waffle House.
So he turns to our colleague, Thomas, and says, "This is not right. Thomas, make a u-turn. Take us to the first Waffle House. So at 11 p.m., we're sitting in Waffle House with Ravi. It was just so funny. He was so passionate about us getting the best possible experience of Waffle House. He's taking me through the menu, and he's saying, "Jo, you have to get the pecan pancakes with a side of crispy bacon. And get syrup, but have it on the side and make sure it's warmed up." Just every level of detail had to be right. Again, it just speaks to his hospitality that actually he wasn't going to enjoy the food unless he knew we were enjoying our experience of it. And so I look forward to dining with Ravi again.
Vince Vitale: That really does make me smile to think there'll be many more meals together. And certainly Ravi's great sense of humor is something I'm going to look forward to enjoying again. I'm reminded of when we chose Rafael as the name for our son. And we told Ravi after he was born that this is Raphael. And Ravi said, "That's a beautiful name. His friends will call him Rafi. The elderly will hear it as Ravi. So I am very honored to be Raphael's namesake." So definitely dining together. Enjoying laughter. And the other thing, and this kind of goes to what you were saying, Michael, is just having Ravi show us around. We had a team meeting in Turkey once and we toured Ephesus. Actually the tour guide at the time wanted to show us a lot of things that weren't as meaningful. You know, where the toilets were.
Jo Vitale: He spent like fifteen minutes on the plumbing and the aqueducts.
Vince Vitale: Which is quite amazing.
Jo Vitale: It's cool, but-
Vince Vitale: But you know, if you're a Christian in Ephesus.
Jo Vitale: That's not why you're there.
Vince Vitale: You want a little more. And so at some point, Ravi, very respectfully, asked if anyone had their Bible with them. And then the Bible was handed over to Ravi and he opened it and he walked us through Ephesus passage by passage in the Bible, showing us around with such grace and excitement. And so I look forward to that as well. Kind of like going to Waffle House. I imagine Ravi going, "You've never seen this. That's not right. Turn the car around." And having Ravi give us a tour of some the things that we need to behold.
Michael Davis: I guess my last question would be, “What would you say is a verse that encapsulates Ravi's life or that you will always remember him by?”
Jo Vitale: This is totally predictable, but I think for us it'd be hard to beat I Peter 3:15. Not just because it is the verse, the go-to verse for apologetics, but because it's so encapsulates Ravi's life and his ministry, every part of this verse. It says, "In your hearts, revere Christ as Lord." I don't know anybody who has run after Jesus Christ, the way that Ravi has and constantly looked to glorify and honor him. It says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." I just love that, "give an answer to everyone." And that's what Ravi did. It wasn't about looking for a particular group of people. It was for everybody. He understood that, if the gospel had been given to him in the state that he came to it in, and then it was for everyone, and he lived that out. And then, "Do this with gentleness and respect." And I don't know anybody who has treated people with more kindness in the way they've shared the gospel than Ravi has.
Vince Vitale: Yeah. And it's really the entire verse, isn't it? So often just the middle sentence of that verse that gets quoted about answering people's questions. But I think what we love about thinking of Ravi in relation to this verse, it's the entire verse, because that sentence is sandwiched between "in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord," and then, "do this with gentleness and respect." Ravi was a model of what it looks like to be an apologist because he encapsulated this entire verse.
And this verse also tells us that in sharing the gospel, what we're called to share with the world is hope. Not abstract hope, but as the verse says, hope that we have, hope that we know personally because we know Jesus personally. And then that raises the question, where does that hope emerge from? What produces hope? And if I could just point us to one other verse as well. The Bible answers that question for us in Romans five, verses three and four, where it says, "We also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance or endurance. Perseverance, character and character, hope."
We are told in scripture that hope doesn't come from our circumstances. And thank God for that. Our circumstances will so often leave us with nothing but stress, and sadness, and discouragement. But hope, I think this is really significant. And the Bible tells us that hope comes from character. And that, I believe, is why Ravi knew hope so concretely and was able to share it so authentically. Because God formed in him a character that truly reflected the brilliance of Christ. Biblically, hope comes from suffering. That leads to endurance. That leads to character. That leads to hope.
And interestingly, the literal meaning of that word, endurance. Suffering produces endurance. The literal meaning of that word is “remaining behind.” And that seems particularly appropriate right now as Ravi goes but we remain behind. Ravi and Margie's vision was always to build a team. Right now we have ninety-seven speakers in fifteen countries. And even for the last several years, Ravi has often quipped that he's not done, but his work is finished.
He would often say that because he felt such comfort in having built that team, because he believed that God had asked him to do that. And in fact, my last words to Ravi were to say, "We wish we could go with you, but we promise to carry on the vision that God entrusted to you." Margie has mentioned to us several times in recent weeks that she really believes that through this season of suffering, God is going to bind the RZIM team together into a deeper unity than we've ever experienced before. And that is really what we're praying for, that through this, God would mold us into the team that needs to remain behind, that needs to remain steadfast to the calling of God to reach hearts and minds with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jo Vitale: I think that's really our prayer looking forward, is not that people would say of the RZIM team, "Oh, wow, Ravi passed on his great wisdom or his eloquence," but that we might live up to the character that was produced in him, that God would produce that same character in all of us. One thing that encouraged me was a year or so ago, one of our training programs at the Zacharias Institute, when we asked for feedback afterwards, the most frequent comment that was made by those who attended was how much it meant to them that when they were greeted on the door as they arrived, that the person who was greeting them, who was one of our support staff, knew every single one of their names the minute they walked in the door.
I just think that that is so meaningful because Ravi always cared enough to learn a person's name. So it warms my heart to think that that could be the thing, that kind of level of care could be what is passed on to those who remain behind. And nothing brings us more joy than the thought of Jesus bestowing that same honor on Ravi that Ravi always bestowed on others. That when Ravi enters eternity, it will be to the sound of Jesus saying his name, "You must be Ravi. Thank you. I love you, and welcome home."
Michael Davis: Well guys, thank you so much for joining me. Thank you all out there for listening and we will catch you guys next time.
Margie and the Zacharias family have asked that in lieu of flowers gifts be made to the ongoing work of RZIM. Ravi’s heart was people. His passion and life’s work centered on helping people understand the beauty of the gospel message of salvation. Our prayer is that, at his passing, more people will come to know the saving grace found in Jesus through Ravi’s legacy and the global team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.