Ravi Zacharias


My name is Ravi Zacharias, and I was born on March 26, 1946 in Chennai, India, formerly known Madras, India. We moved to Delhi when I was four years old. My Dad worked for the Indian government. He started in the Defense Ministry, and after several other positions, ended up in the Home Ministry. Dad was a very important man and was very busy. He didn't have a lot of time for us kids. In fact, I was about a year old before my father even saw me, because he was sent to Nottingham, England.

My parent's marriage was arranged, and we were nominal Christians. Our parents never talked to us about the Gospel. We went to a High Anglican church. The only thing I knew that I wasn't Hindu or Muslim, but we were called Christians. We attended church on Christmas, and celebrated Good Friday. As I was going into my teenage years, I experienced loneliness and most of these feelings were self-inflicted. I was not interested in studies, and I had no interest in books. My main interest was tennis and cricket in primary school.

In India, school is very academically competitive. In fact, the highest rate of suicides is right after the posting of grades in the newspapers. My life was punctured by failure, and I barely squeaked through. When I went to the university, my actions brought a lot of hostility from my father. He felt that I wasn't going anywhere, and this would bring disgrace upon the family. Dad had paid a lot of money for us to go to school and many times I wouldn't even show up. I took a lot of thrashings. My Dad had an uncontrollable temper. He would beat me, my mother, and my four siblings.

I couldn't figure out why he had it in for me. We hadn't received any instruction at home about God. One day my sisters came home, and talked about a Youth for Christ (YFC) rally, and asked me if I would like to go. I said. "I wasn't interested in that." But then they said, "They were going to serve refreshments afterwards." I was a foodie guy. I asked, "What are they serving?" And they said, "All this nice tasty food." So I canceled my cricket game, and invited my best friend, my brother-in-law, to go with me. They did not serve refreshments, and I was disgusted.

At the main rally, my life changed when I heard Sam Wolgemuth speak. He was the President of YFC, and he spoke on John 3:16 and gave an altar call. The soloist sang There is a Balm in Gilead. Sam's message had such a settling effect on me as if I had received a touch from God and reality. Thousands were packed in the hundred and ten degree Fahrenheit auditorium. I was the only one to walk forward to receive Christ that night. The man that I talked with was Ben Wylie. He asked me, "Why are you here?" I said, "I want what that man has." I chuckled and made fun of my decision. I just wanted to be caviler about everything. However, I knew that something was spiritually happening. I felt a strong presence of sin in my life.

After a few months went by, the world caved in on me. My Dad was very hard on me. I went to the university lab and picked up some chemicals marked "Poison" and took it home. I didn't know if I would go through my suicide plan or not. I had no hope. There was no tomorrow. The next day, everyone had left the house. The only one home was a servant, and he was down the hall from my bedroom. Five of us kids lived in this little bedroom with an attached bathroom. I shut the door and put all those little packages into a glass of water and when I stirred it with a teaspoon everything began to bubble and froth, and flow out of the glass. I gulped it down. It was such a salty concoction that my body couldn't contain it. I began to throw up. Once the gag reflux took over, I couldn't stop. I was holding on to the sink as my feet were collapsing under me. I had just enough presence to scream and our servant broke down the door to get me.

When I came too, I was in the hospital with needles sticking all over my body. My mother was standing there, and my father had just came through the door. I knew what he was thinking. I had brought disgrace upon the family, and I didn't know how to live and I didn't know how to die. The doctor didn't give me much hope. He wasn't sure if I would make it. He felt that I did a lot of damage to my organs. My Mom was standing there when a local Christian worker was singing "There is Balm of Gilead." My Mom asked, "How did you get here?" The worker said, "I am a minister." Mrs. Zacharias said, "My son is in very critical condition." The minister said, "I need to give him this Bible, and he opened it up to John 14. She said, "You can't talk to him." He asked my mother to read it to me. It was John 14:19 that touched me and meant to me as the defining paradigm: "Because I live, you also will live." No one had to explain it to me. I had never owned or read the Bible. I thought, "This may be my only hope: A new way of living. Life as defined by the Author of Life." I committed my life to Christ praying, "Jesus if You are the one who gives life as it is meant to be, I want it. Please get me out of this hospital bed, and I promise to leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth." Five days later I walked out of the Wellington Hospital in Delhi, India, a totally different man.
In 1966, I emigrated with my family to Canada, earning a undergraduate degree from the Ontario Bible College in 1972 (now Tyndale University College & Seminary) and a Masters of Divinity from Trinity International University. Even unto this day, I will take a taxi and park in front of the Wellington Hospital. This is where it all happened. God had made a man to come and give me a Bible. Something of an internal transaction took place. Had Sam Wolgemuth not spoke at the YFC rally, I would not have had a picture of where I was headed, or a road map to get to this place. I prayed the sinners prayer and my life changed forever.

In May 1972, I married Margaret "Margie" Reynolds, whom I met at my church's youth group. We have three children: Sarah, Naomi, and Nathan.
I am an Indian-born Canadian-American Christian apologist. I am a defender of traditional evangelicalism, and have authored numerous Christian books, including the Gold Medallion Book Award winner Can Man Live Without God? My Christian bestsellers Light in the Shadow of Jihad and The Grand Weaver. I am the founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, host of the radio programs Let My People Think and Just Thinking, and have been a visiting scholar at Ridley Hall, where I studied moralist philosophers and literature of the Romantic era. I have had six honorary doctoral degrees, including a Doctor of Laws and a Doctor of Sacred Theology [citation needed]. I held the chair in Evangelism and Contemporary Thought at Alliance Theological Seminary from 1981 to 1984. Evangelical Christian leader Chuck Colson referred to me as "the great apologist of our time."


Ravi Zacharias Testimony