The Dawn of a Legend

Dr. Ravi Zacharias speaks to FOL

by Sunny Joseph

Seest thou a man diligent in his work, he shall stand before kings and not before mean men, Proverbs 22.29. This is Dr. Zacharias; one of the most enigmatic personalities of our times who earned has superlatives in many ways. Till date, he is the only Indian who spoke at the Prayer Breakfast at the UNO. It was no exaggeration when Bangalore Times, one of India’s leading newspapers read, When Dr. Ravi Zacharias speaks, presidents listen. And about whom, Charles Colson said, Often at the darkest moments, God raises up people - indeed prophets - to speak to our age. Ravi Zacharias is just such a man for these times. He is one of the few foremost Indian Evangelists abroad who has earned name in both Christian and secular world. Chief Editor, Sunny Joseph talks to Dr. Zacharias after he had addressed the intelligentsia of Bangalore city in a Prayer Breakfast at the Hotel Taj Westend. Dr. Zacharias is a man without masks, without pretensions...whom has awarded ’A’ Transparency Grade.

FOL : In debate or an open forum, an apologist usually tries to win an argument. How do you stay clear form such a trap?
RZ : You have to be very very careful. You are not always free from that trap. Sometimes I have to say at the end of an open forum I walk away and think I should have done better at that question than I did. So you have to listen to the heart behind the question not just the mind. What is the questioner or why is the questioner asking the question? For example, if somebody came up to me and said, How could God have allowed the Tsunami thing? I can give an intellectual answer but suddenly if I find out he lost his wife and three children in that, then I have to change the approach to the answer. The answer may end up being the same but your approach to the answer must always bear in mind the questioner. So I think, you should see the person behind the question and it is very important to remember that. And the second thing is, always affirm the questioner. You affirm them in the best possible way. They are not foolish questions. When you affirm the questioner, you win the person over to your personality. Because that is the barrier that often stands in the way. Otherwise they just are theoretically listening to you and you have lost them in the process of connecting with them.

FOL : How can India find its sufficiency in Christ and Christianity?
RZ : I think India is a land of great thinkers, great history, great historical memory and great collective suffering in many many ways too. If they would understand the cross that He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities and with His stripes we are healed, they would understand the suffering Saviour better, I think than many other It is the key to unpacking India’s need. If they understand what the cross is all about Stanley Jones, author of The Christ of the Indian Road, said that many times, I think the day for India is going to be a promising one, because very fine young intellectuals are finding Christ and they will find ways to bridge it to the nation.

FOL : Apart from God, prayer and grace what practical methods do you believe have brought success in your life?
RZ : Oh my! First of all, I never think of success in the terms that people talk about. Never even think about that. Only God could have ordered your paths and your steps, successful, ultimately measured by God and not by man. And so if your question is, How has God brought about the platforms of the world to address these things, I would just say, he has brought some wonderful people into my path who have given me the privileges and the opportunities to speak. And they are just that, they are privileges and responsibilities. Many of the platforms that have opened up for me are through God’s wonderful people who have been willing to risk their name and their own reputation by giving me the opportunities. That happened both in India and overseas. He’s brought some wonderful people who trained my thinking, my approach and wonderful people who opened wonderful opportunities all over the globe. This is an important thing for me in my life. That is why it is important for us as individuals to play that role in other young men and women’s lives, because He has used men and women to open opportunities to me. So, I should play that role in other peoples’ lives. He puts us in linkage to open up the connections and the doors. Right from the land of my birth, India is a very respected country in the world today. The opportunities to learn and study came in India. And today, to look at the world through the eyes of an easterner and a westerner’s vantage point, Paul was one of those apostles, who was raised in a Greek city, a citizen of Rome, but a Hebrew by birth and God provided a world platform for him on the basis of all those credentials but Paul says that he counts them all loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus and that is the way we should look at it.

FOL : Being an Indian, has it been an advantage or a disadvantage to you?
RZ : I would not trade my ethnicity for anything. Absolutely for anything. I wouldn’t want to be anything else but what God has made me to be. And that is the way every man and woman should look at his or her ethnicity. We are not better for being Indians or worse for being Indians. A person is not better for being a Middle Easterner or worse. It is God who has planned it this way. And I would not want it any other way. But what did India give to me? First of all, India gave me that depth of thought. We just don’t think here, we think deeply. It gave me languages. It gave me the history of a culture that has lived through a long time. I am privileged to be born an Indian and would not want to change it for anything. What advantage India has given me, the same is coming back into its own. What I want to do is to see the need of the India too and help meet those needs. When you see a movie like Mother Theresa, it describes an Indian as darthi key admi (man of the land, India) I always want to be a darthi key admi. I never want to change that. So, it is a privilege and a prerogative and as the Psalmist says, Everyday assigned for us was written before anyone of them came to be.


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