Kochi, India: Over 3,000 Attend RZIM Open Forum with Ravi Zacharias
Ravi Zacharias and Balajied Nongrum address questions of suffering, science, and the significance of Jesus for India’s culture
On Wednesday, July 4, Ravi Zacharias addressed an audience of over 3,000 at an open forum in Kochi, Kerala in southern India on the theme, “Raised to Run.” The event was held in the CIAL Convention Centre and drew a diverse audience from across the Ernakulam district and around the broader region. Balajied Nongrum, an itinerant speaker with RZIM India based in Shillong, joined Zacharias for a Q&A session and stayed back to answer additional questions from attendees.
“There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny,” Zacharias told the audience. He challenged the young to “run in the right direction” and encouraged the elders to model humility and integrity, pointing to Jesus Christ as the ultimate example and the only one who offers answers to life’s most fundamental questions.
In the Q&A segment, attendees’ questions ranged from the existence of evil and suffering, the compatibility of science and faith, the historical accuracy of the Bible, and the relevance of Jesus in Indian culture.
A student asked the question, “How does a youngster engage his peers in an age where science and reason are seen as incompatible with belief in a Creator?”
Balajied Nongrum, who studied the intersection of science and religion, asserted that, “Science does not contradict a belief in God,” and proceeded to quote prominent scientists whose work was driven by their Christian faith. “It was the Judeo-Christian worldview that most often gave the impetus and motivation for doing science, which is essentially making observations of this universe. In fact, only in Christianity can science and faith go together.”
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.”
Following the event, many attendees stayed back for further conversation with the RZIM team, including skeptic students who wanted to engage in additional discussion. “Along with Christians there were many friends from other worldviews, including prominent business and corporate leaders,” reflected Pratish Raj with RZIM-India who helped organize the core team of volunteers to host the event. “The Q&A session was very impactful, and many mentioned that their doubts were cleared.”
The event 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 reporter Oshin Grace Daniell in a news article published on July 6, noting that Zacharias “covered topics related to identity and finding direction.”
The visit to Kochi was the second stop for Zacharias on a four-country ministry trip that includes Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.