Top Stories from South Asia
From July 1-9, Ravi Zacharias and members of the global RZIM team visited Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka for a series of open forums, training events, and private meetings with influential leaders in South Asia.
The South Asia trip started out in Nepal, where Zacharias addressed several hundred in Kathmandu on July 1, challenging attendees to live a life of humility, spirituality, and faith. “We had a fantastic time in Nepal. Thank you for your prayers,” said Zacharias. “A packed audience, an eager people, a warm welcome, and we are leaving enriched by God’s goodness again. We look forward to coming back.”
On July 4, Zacharias teamed up with RZIM India’s Balajied Nongrum at an open forum in Kochi, Kerala in southern India on the theme, “Raised to Run.” A diverse audience of over 3,000 from across the Ernakulam district attended the talk and Q&A, as Zacharias and Nongrum addressed questions of suffering, science, and the significance of Jesus for India’s culture.
The final question of the evening came from a skeptic who asked, “Jesus Christ is a prophet who never preached outside Israel. How can he be relevant for India or for any other country?”
“It’s not whether you’re an Israelite or an American or an Indian; it’s the heart that you and I have that is desperately wicked and wants to find its own way of salvation,” responded Zacharias. “The message of Jesus is so unique – so unique – that no other worldview gives you the answer Jesus did. What is that? In every other worldview, you earn your salvation; in the faith that Christ promises to you and me, it’s the gift of God – that grace – salvation. So it has got nothing to do with your geographical limitation; it has everything to do with our spiritual brokenness.”
The open forum was featured in The New Indian Express newspaper. “His message threw light on some key elements required for the progress of an individual and the country as a whole,” wrote the reporter covering the event, noting that Zacharias “covered topics related to identity and finding direction.”
From India, Ravi traveled to Sri Lanka for RZIM’s third annual Executive Program conference—a gathering for high profile leaders and influencers in the fields of business, government, academia, and entertainment—in Colombo, Sri Lanka from July 5-7. The theme was “Re-anchor Your Convictions,” and Zacharias presented the keynote message titled, “Conserving Victories and Interpreting Failures.” He urged the audience to be bold in their witness and intentionally commit to following Jesus no matter the cost.
“After the cross, Jesus’s followers were a fearful people and they did not want to be seen in public anymore. After the resurrection, they were willing to lay down their lives for the Gospel. 11 out of the 12 disciples died a martyrs’ death. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s our turn. It’s our turn now,” he said. “I don’t know what God is going to call us to do, where He is going to take us, to what He is calling us. But I’m going to challenge you tonight: Will you commit your life in such a way to say to God, ‘Where you wish to take me, I will follow?’”
The was the first time for the Executive Program to be held outside of India, and the setting enabled RZIM to reach a new segment of influential marketplace leaders in South Asia. 146 delegates representing six countries attended the program.
On July 7, Zacharias and Abdu Murray teamed up for an open forum in Colombo on “The Search For Significance,” and both speakers addressed key ideas related to the identity and individuality of human beings as made in the image of God, the quest for meaning and purpose in life beyond material success, and the reality of suffering and evil in the world. Several different churches came together to host the city-wide event at People’s Church Assemblies of God, and around 3,000 people from a cross-section of Sri Lankan society attended and asked questions such as, “Must I believe in God even if I feel that I have found happiness and purpose in myself and pursuing my own passion?”
Zacharias also spoke at a Business Leaders Breakfast in Colombo on July 9, the final gathering in this five-day series of events in Sri Lanka for the RZIM team. Around 160 individuals from a broad spectrum of worldviews and belief systems attended as they had been invited by a few Christian corporate and business heads.
“Sri Lanka’s cream of the society—from academia, business and finance, military and government, and arts and media—attended this unique gathering,” explained Pratish Raj of the RZIM India team who helped organize the events. “It was truly exciting to the see the ballroom filled with these influential leaders early on a Monday morning.”
Please continue to pray for RZIM's ministry in South Asia, and specifically for the efforts in India and Sri Lanka as host churches and leaders follow up with those who attended each of these events. God continues to open doors for the global team to reach influencers in this region and commend the message of the gospel in a vast array of strategic settings.