Christian apologist, speaker, author and founder of RZIM Ravi Zacharias passed away on May 19 after a short battle with cancer at the age of 74. Zacharias was laid to rest on Thursday, May 21, in a private ceremony in Georgia.
Ravi was buried in a casket built by prisoners. The evangelist had developed a special relationship with Louisiana State Penitentiary, known widely as Angola Prison, inspired by his friendship with the late Chuck Colson, a leading figure in prison ministry and the man who first urged Ravi to put his Harvard Veritas lectures into the written form that became his second book, Can Man Live Without God?
Ravi visited Angola a few times over the years, most recently in June of 2019. It was an incredible experience he wrote about in a June 8 Facebook post:
"In the ante room to the execution room is where the sentenced man has his last meal. A prisoner has painted two paintings that grace the wall there. One is Daniel in the Lion's Den, meaning, "God might still rescue you." Next to that is another one: Elijah going up on chariots of fire. One way or the other, God will be there for you. ...
Even in a dark place, the Gospel is shining with grace and power. That is the only hope for the world because we are all prisoners of sin, and only the cross has the answer and the freedom."
Ravi Zacharias died on his mother's birthday. His family gathered to honor not just the leader of a global ministry or an evangelist-apologist who crisscrossed the globe in the service of Christ, but a loving husband, a nurturing father, and a loyal and generous brother. Sam Allberry, who officiated the service, rightly reminded all that this is not the end of Ravi's story. Hovering over the whole ceremony was the confidence of the words that had saved Ravi's life 57 years ago: "Because I live, you will also live" (John 14:19).
Allberry gently ministered to the family through his message of hope and assurance in Christ during the graveside service. He explained that the Christian's hope is grounded in the assurance of Christ's life and faithfulness. Since Christ lives, we know that Ravi lives. In that sense, the grave is something of a painful deception. Ravi now rests cradled in our Lord's earth not as one who has been snatched from life, but as a dear saint ultimately liberated to life everlasting in the presence of his Lord and Savior. Using an analogy fitting of a man who had spent his life spanning the globe, Allberry described the grave as an airport transit lounge visited before one reaches their final destination. We know it is not the final destination because it was not Christ's final destination.
"Our hope," Allberry said, "is as certain as Jesus's grave is empty."