Leading Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias dies from rare cancer

Originally published in CBN News

World-renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, 74, passed away at his home in Atlanta on May 19 from a rare form of cancer in his spine.

Zacharias announced earlier this year that he was suffering from severe pain in his spine and would undergo surgery. A malignant tumor of the sacrum called sarcoma was discovered in March.

He battled the disease with the help of top doctors, but his daughter announced less than two weeks ago that no further medical treatments were available.

The apologist was born Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias in Chennai, India in 1946. He became a Christian at the age of 17 while recovering in a Delphi hospital after attempting to take his own life.

It was after this incident that Zacharias began to grasp the true meaning of life.

In a previous interview with CBN News he explained, “I was on a bed of suicide in Delhi, searching for meaning, searching for the answers to life’s basic questions. They boil down to this – origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. How did I come into being? What brings life meaning? How do I know right from wrong? Where am I headed after I die?”

Zacharias immigrated to Canada in 1966 and graduated from Ontario Bible College in 1972. He married his wife Margie and the couple moved to Illinois where he earned a Master of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

He founded a global apologetics ministry, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), in 1984, and was widely sought after for decades for his eloquent answers to life’s biggest questions.

He was a prolific author, debater, and academic throughout his life.

And in 2004, Zacharias launched Wellspring International, an outreach developed by RZIM where aid is offered to those suffering from poverty, injustice, and tragedy.

Last November, Zacharias stepped down as president of RZIM to focus on other projects. He passed the leadership on to his daughter Sarah Davis as global CEO, and long-time colleague Michael Ramsden became president.

“Ravi saw the objections and questions of others not as something to be rebuffed, but as a cry of the heart that had to be answered,” said Michael Ramsden, president of RZIM. “People weren’t logical problems waiting to be solved; they were people who needed the person of Christ. Those who knew him well will remember him first for his kindness, gentleness, and generosity of spirit. The love and kindness he had come to know in and through Jesus Christ was the same love he wanted to share with all he met.”

Davis revealed that in her father’s final days, he spoke about God’s abundant gifts of grace bestowed upon him.

“It was his Saviour, Jesus Christ, that my dad always wanted most to talk about,” Sarah Davis said. “Even in his final days, until he lacked the energy and breath to speak, he turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done. He perpetually marveled that God took a 17-year-old skeptic, defeated in hopelessness and unbelief, and called him into a life of glorious hope and belief in the truth of Scripture – a message he would carry across the globe for 48 years.”

Zacharias is survived by his wife of 48 years, Margie; daughters, Sarah and Naomi; son, Nathan; and five grandchildren.

Please keep the Zacharias family in your prayers during this difficult time.

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