RZIM Hosts Third Annual Executive Program in South Asia for Marketplace Leaders
RZIM hosted its 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 the RZIM speaking team addressed a wide array of topics including “Growing Character in a Profit-Driven World” (Max Jeganathan), “Growing Stature Through the Stations of Life” (Michael Ramsden), and “Convictions that Conquered the World” (Ravi Zacharias). Executive Program attendees also heard from Stuart McAllister and Abdu Murray as well as several members of the RZIM-India speaking team who shared insights on maintaining spiritual disciplines, cultivating evangelistic opportunities within one’s circles of influence, and living with an eternal perspective.
“Either we learn to handle our success, or we will learn that our success will begin to handle us,” warned Ramsden, telling participants that it’s essential for their character to keep up with their accomplishments and sharing examples from both ancient and modern history. “Wisdom is more than knowledge. It’s also clarity,” he contended.
The was the first time for the Executive Program to be held outside of India (previous locations were Mumbai and Bangalore), 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, the majority being from Sri Lanka.
“It was striking to me how serious about their faith many were who came and how eager they were to discuss in depth about issues and needs in their lives,” reflected Stuart McAllister, RZIM Global Support Specialist, who has helped shape the Executive Program over the past three years. “I had several interactions which lasted over an hour each, and it revealed a hunger for a particular kind of answers—not so much philosophical or apologetic—but applied Christian thinking in the workplace. I was encouraged by how willing those asking were to engage with scripture and seek to apply it. It was an educated and motivated audience.”
On Friday night, 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?’”
Zacharias was introduced by RZIM India’s Aniu Kevichusa, who highlighted Ravi’s focus on the questioner behind each question and his example of how to reach both the mind and the heart of an individual with the Gospel message. “Even though Ravi Zacharias is a global figure, he never leaves the individual behind,” said Kevichusa. “He is very generous with his time, gracious in his words, and gentle in his touch. We are honored to hear from him in Sri Lanka and we pray God’s continues to use his voice mightily across the world.”
Abdu Murray presented the conference’s closing message on “The Uniqueness of Christ” and also shared lessons from the lives of apostles Peter and Paul. “RZIM’s Executive Program was attended by prominent business leaders, medical professionals, and ministry leaders; their caliber and levels of influence in Sri Lanka and India were quite impressive as was the sophistication of their questions,” recounted Murray on his first visit to Sri Lanka and his second year to address the Executive Program. “I recall one particular person asking a pointed question about the role of integrity in business and how to balance the obligation to maintain and increase the corporate bottom line while building up employees. All of us on the panel—Ravi, Stuart, and me—provided input on such an important question. And it was just one of many significant questions we received throughout the program.”
Coming to Sri Lanka was deeply personal for Max Jeganathan, itinerant speaker with RZIM Asia based in Singapore, who was born in Colombo and left the country under difficult circumstances when he was just a few months old. This was his first visit back, and he tackled some challenging topics during the Executive Program including a talk titled, “Forgiveness or Justice: Which Is More Important?”
“It has been a real blessing to be able shine these issues through the Gospel and shine the Gospel through these issues,” said Jeganathan. “It’s truly rewarding to equip and to serve this remarkable group of people from across the region. The Holy Spirit has clearly been in the room, and so many people here have been empowered, affirmed, and unleashed to go and be evangelists in their marketplace.”
Following the Executive Program, RZIM held a city-wide open forum on Saturday evening, July 7, at People’s Church Assemblies of God where Zacharias and Murray spoke on the “The Search for Significance” and answered questions from the audience. On Sunday, July 8, the RZIM speaking team preached across several different churches, including some of Sri Lanka’s largest and most influential congregations. On Monday, July 9, Zacharias spoke at a Business Leaders Breakfast in Colombo, the final gathering in this five-day series of events for the RZIM team.