Ravi Zacharias at Madras Christian College: God Himself is the Author of Life

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Ravi Zacharias addressed an open forum at Madras Christian College (MCC) in Tambaram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu in southern India on Thursday, March 10. Nearly 2,000 students and faculty attended what was one of the largest gatherings on campus in recent years. In addition to the capacity crowd in Anderson Hall, several hundred listened to the program from outside on the quad.

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“It is truly special for me to visit Madras Christian College and speak at an open forum in Anderson Hall,” said Zacharias. “The last time I visited this famed institution I was 19 years old, and it is here in this very same hall that I preached my first sermon.”

“Perhaps the campus is still recovering from my first sermon, and that is why it has taken MCC 51 years to invite me back,” Zacharias joked. “If this record holds, I will return with Moses at the age of 120.”

Founded in 1837, Madras Christian College is one of India’s leading educational institutions for liberal arts and sciences with students from all over the world and one of Asia’s oldest surviving colleges. Zacharias’s lecture was entitled, “Man’s Search For Meaning.”

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“What is the one question that young minds are still struggling with?” asked Zacharias. “Most young men and women are struggling for a purpose and meaning in life. Why am I here? To what end did I come into this world?”

“Life is a narrative in which God Himself is the author,” he contended. “Make your life significant for the purpose for which you were created.”

Zacharias also exhorted the students to make truth their primary pursuit in an age of relativism and to resist the trappings and temptations in secular culture. “Every individual must move from curiosity and wonder to the pursuit of truth,” he said. “Ultimately, we must each submit to what truth is all about.”

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Acknowledging the many worldviews prevalent in India, Zacharias highlighted the uniqueness of Christ in offering humanity hope for life after death. “What happens to a human being when he or she dies? The gospel message is the only one that gives us the answer,” he explained. “Not only did Jesus go to the cross to die for our sins, He rose again from the dead.”

“God alone is the perpetual novelty,” Zacharias told the audience in closing. “I pray you will make Him the center of your life and find the meaning for which He made you.”

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Following the lecture, Zacharias held a question and answer session with the students. Topics included the exclusivity of Christ as the only way to salvation, the basis for morality, the problem of pain and suffering, and the Biblical view of gender roles and family structure.

“Zacharias’s message was truly a thought provoking one and directed straight to the heart of the hearers,” said Professor Huldah Sathyaseelan, who served as emcee of the open forum. “The manner in which he handled the questions was simply superb. Many staff and students of different belief systems were in attendance, and I know they were challenged by what they heard.”

“Ravi’s coming to MCC and his message has impacted our community like no other program held in our college so far,” remarked another professor. “This open forum has been the talk of the college for several days, and we praise God for the opportunity.”

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Zacharias met with faculty and staff prior to the open forum and reflected on his personal connections to the city and the college. “The city of Chennai is my birth city, and coming back here brings back many memories especially as I approach my 70th birthday,” he shared. “I think especially of my grandparents and parents. My mother taught me more with her proverbs and one-liners than I ever learned with long arguments.”

Zacharias’s paternal grandfather was senior lecturer in department of English from 1925-1939, and he has several significant family ties to the campus. “Madras Christian College is deeply privileged to have this disciple of God whose roots go very deep into the soil of MCC,” said R.W. Alexander Jesudasan, the Principal of MCC. “As a college we strive for academic excellence, social relevance, and spiritual vitality, and Zacharias and his family have a long tradition of lasting contributions and influence on this campus.”

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