RZIM in Peru: Thousands Attend Events Across Lima With Ravi Zacharias and Team

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The RZIM team held a series of events in Lima, Peru October 6-9 featuring Ravi Zacharias, Stuart McAllister, and Vince Vitale, drawing an audience of thousands from across Latin America including university students, businessmen, civic leaders, and pastors.

This visit was the culmination of several years of prayer and planning by local Peruvian pastors along with RZIM’s team in Latin America (LATAM), and the gatherings drew individuals from a cross-section of Peruvian society along with large groups of people from Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico.

Perhaps the climax of the four-day visit was on Saturday night, when an estimated 13,000 people packed Coliseo Amauta – a former bull-fighting arena – for the Revolution 2016 Conference hosted by Agua Viva Church in Brena.

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“Life is full of questions,” Zacharias began in his keynote message to an audience comprised largely of young people. “One of the most important is this: Is it possible to be totally fulfilled when you are completely surrendered to God?” He contrasted the temptations each individual faces at some point in life’s journey with the holy life that God intends for each person to live. “No one is grander and more satisfying than God Himself,” he contended.

Zacharias ended his message with an invitation to follow Christ and hundreds of people came forward, filling the aisles as he led them in a prayer of surrender and commitment.

Other key facets of the trip are below.

UNIVERSITY OUTREACH:

RZIM held two campus open forums. On October 6, Vince Vitale spoke at Universidad Federico Villareal on the topic, “Can Faith Be Rational?” He contended that faith in God is not blind, presenting a panoramic overview of the evidence from the origins of the universe to the resurrection of Christ to the God who is always near to each individual.

“Many universities have moved into the direction of not speaking about controversial topics,” acknowledged Vitale in what was his first visit to Peru. “However, I think the university should be the place where we can disagree and debate, where we can take all ideas seriously, where we can both find agreement but we can also learn to disagree well. I’m particularly thankful that you’ve allowed me to come speak about the topic of faith,” he continued. “We may disagree but I hope we can still learn from each other.”

Hundreds of students and professors attended and asked questions about the intersection of faith, science, and culture. Dozens stayed back for further dialogue, and one student prayed to receive Christ as Savior.

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On October 7, Vitale spoke at an open forum at La Catolica University on “The Problem of Evil and Suffering.” The program was hosted by the Philosophy Department, and Ravi Zacharias and Stuart McAllister joined Vitale for an extended Q&A session with the students.

“I believe I can trust God with suffering because He doesn’t shy away from it, and nowhere is suffering taken more seriously than in the Bible,” said Vitale. “If we are going to honestly ask the question ‘Why Suffering,’ we need to look not only at God but also at ourselves. The Christian God is not a tyrant who just wants obedience; the Christian God is a Father and He wants His children to freely love Him.”

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In addition to the two open forums, Ravi Zacharias was honored at the historic Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos on October 7 with the conferring of an Honorary Doctorate of Letters. Founded in 1551 with a royal decree signed by Charles V, UNMSM is the oldest officially established university in the Americas and one of the oldest universities in the world.

In a formal ceremony Friday morning, Zacharias addressed university administrators and faculty along with civic leaders, highlighting the importance of pursuing truth in the academic arena. “It is really an honor for me to be given this distinction in your midst, especially from the university named after the great gospel writer the apostle Mark,” he said.

“In life we look for the quintessence of life and we look for unity in diversity. We look for the source of our absolutes and the imperatives of our relationships,” Zacharias continued. “We must find our absolutes in an unchanging point of reference, and that is God Himself. He gives us the source of the unity in diversity. He is the Holy Trinity. He is the being in relationship. In God, we find the unity and community in the diversity of the Trinity, and God reminds us that we are created for a relationship.”

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BUSINESS AND CIVIC OUTREACH:

On October 7, RZIM LATAM hosted a breakfast gathering in Miraflores for leaders in business and government. Nearly 500 businessmen, attorneys, and government officials attended this sold-out event where Ravi Zacharias spoke on “Leadership in the Public Arena.” He challenged the professionals to live with integrity and ethics, demonstrating trustworthy leadership especially for the younger generation who is watching their example. “What the world needs today more than anything else is leaders with integrity,” Zacharias challenged the crowd. “Beyond the leadership of what you do is the integrity of who you are.”

Stuart McAllister introduced Zacharias and shared how RZIM seeks to engage in business communities across the globe, highlighting, “the centrality of Jesus Christ and the unchanging power of the gospel in our ever-changing world.” Pedro Gismondi shared more about RZIM LATAM’s vision in addition to interpreting for Zacharias.

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CHURCHES AND MINISTRY TRAINING:

On Saturday morning, October 8, RZIM held a Training Seminar for Pastors and Leaders at Lince Alliance Church. Ravi Zacharias shared an overview of RZIM and explained the importance of apologetics in the church, encouraging pastors to give their congregations the tools to defend the gospel in a secular culture. Stuart McAllister then spoke on the theme “Equipping the Saints,” and Vince Vitale spoke on “How to Preach Apologetically.” Each talk offered practical steps to incorporate apologetics in the context of the local church in order to reach skeptics and help believers grow confident in sharing their faith.

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On Sunday morning, October 9, Ravi Zacharias preached at Pueblo Libre Alliance Church, one of the same churches he preached at 30 years ago. Hundreds of people were lined up outside the church early Sunday morning before services began.

“Your problem is not intellectual; your problem is spiritual,” contended Zacharias. “We are resistant to God. We have pride in our hearts. We must honor Him in humility.” Zacharias described the challenges of temptation and testing that face every believer and reminded the congregation that Christians are meant to reflect God’s image.

“It’s a beautiful thing when you know you are honoring God,” he continued. “Are you honoring God in your body? In your friendships? In your habits? In your marriage? In your life?”

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On Sunday night, RZIM LATAM hosted an open forum for students and young professionals titled, “Pregúntale a Ravi: La fe tiene respuestas” (“Ask Ravi: Faith Has Answers”). Over 1,500 young people packed the Centro Convenciones Scencia in La Molina and submitted hundreds of questions pertaining to evil and suffering, personal morality, and Christian engagement with the culture.

Zacharias exhorted attendees to be salt and light in the culture, and Stuart McAllister and Vince Vitale joined for the Q&A session. Vitale offered an evangelistic appeal at the end of the program and many students came forward to follow Christ.

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MEDIA:

This trip also represented a significant step for RZIM’s ministry in Spanish. Zacharias did a wide-ranging interview with the radio station that airs “Pensemos,” the Spanish version of Let My People Think.

In addition, the RZIM Academy in Spanish was highlighted at each event and attendees were encouraged to sign up for the new section launching October 17.

LOOKING AHEAD:

This was Zacharias’s first visit to the country in nearly 30 years, and the impact from that trip was evident three decades later as our team encountered many who gave their lives to Christ during those events in the 1980’s and are now serving the Lord in various segments of Peruvian society. “The first time I visited Peru, Pedro Gismondi was a young teen in the audience listening to me preach,” recounted Zacharias. “Today he is directing our work in Peru and interpreting for me with passion.” During the trip, Zacharias also reunited with Peruvian pastors he had met in the 1980s, including Alfredo Smith, Humberto Lay, and Luis Palomina. They traded ministry stories and recounted the ways God was working across Latin America.

At another event, an individual came up to Zacharias and told him how God used his visit 30 years ago to bring him to Christ. “One of the guys told me how he had given his life to the Lord when we were here in Peru the 1980’s,” recalled Zacharias. “This time he introduced me to his young son, who he named Ravi Miguel. It was truly a special encounter.”

The RZIM LATAM team is overjoyed with the countless ways God blessed each of these events, and the leadership is praying for wisdom to navigate new doors that continue to open for future ministry in the region.

“This is the right ministry for this country in this moment,” said Vincent Cross, who has played a pivotal role in helping launch RZIM’s efforts in Peru. “For years I’ve been asking Ravi, ‘When are you coming to Peru?’ I am sure that something big is starting in Latin America and it’s time for the gospel to really shine and be strong across this continent.”

Expressing his burden to reach students and young professionals, Cross highlighted RZIM’s potential in this area. “God put in our heart something very special. If we can only train 1,000 young people to defend the truth of the gospel, Peru can change,” he said. “We are losing our young people, but we are going to get them back because they are the future of our country.”

Cross thanked Stuart McAllister for his continued investment of time and insights as he has helped shape the LATAM strategy in recent years. “I have felt in Stuart the heart – not only the wisdom, but also the heart – to love Latin America,” he said. “He has been with us from the start, and I am deeply grateful.”

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Angela Martinez Seminario, RZIM LATAM’s Communications Assistant, said she believes this trip will have lasting impact and truly serve as a launching point for future ministry. “What really touched my heart this week with the RZIM team visiting Peru was the response of the people who attended the events with great expectation and a glimpse of hope on their faces,” she reflected. “This tells me that we are on the right path to give an account of our faith as 1 Peter 3:15 commands us.”

She continued, “I think Latin America has the opportunity and the privilege to be part of this movement and ministry in our Spanish language. What God accomplished in these days is a truly blessing to many people who have been waiting for this time for so long, and as we look to the future, this weekend is only the start.”

Please join us in thanking God for the marvelous way He is working through RZIM’s team in Peru, and pray for wisdom and provision as the leadership considers next steps for the country and region in the months and years ahead.

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