A Tribute to Ravi Zacharias
Pastor Eric Sneed
The year is 2010. After going through a few personal trials, I found myself struggling to keep my head & faith afloat. Intellectually, I was having difficulty reconciling what I felt in my heart with what I was thinking in my head. Some in my near circles just told me to 'have faith' and that I shouldn't be questioning anything faith-wise, but this felt so deeply, personally wrong, as if I was being dishonest with myself. How could God be the God I had a relationship with so deep-down in my heart if what He said seemed to be contradictory at times? I knew I wasn't the only one asking these questions and the world must need to know as well. I remembered hearing this speaker on YouTube or a podcast and thought they had some intriguing things to say. I began doing a lot more listening and reading through Ravi's material and slowly, over the next two years, things started to make sense. I found the whole project of analyzing my faith through history, philosophy, and the sciences equivalent to tasting Reese's Peanut Buttercups for the first time: I'm just addicted and I can't get enough! In the summer of 2012, I found out that Ravi and his team would be nearby at Wheaton College for a summer study and that this event was open to the public. I didn't have a car, so I took the Amtrak train to the Chicago suburbs. I didn't make much money, so I saved up money to cover my food and the cost of returning from the trip. I desperately wanted to attend this and so my thinking was every dollar saved was going to be worth it. And it was.
At the summer study with Ravi & his team, I had the privilege of talking to him, Stuart McAllister, Amy Orr-Ewing, John Njroge, and Andy Bannister in particular (the fault is entirely on Amy for getting me into my philosophy studies and telling me about Alvin Plantinga, so if you've ever wondered how I started down this academic path, now you know!) Anyway, The depth of the topics they covered, the thoroughness they had with their beliefs, and what they had asked me to look into after the summer study is precisely what catapulted me into formal academic studies. I took on a theology study at Calvary School of Ministry in Moline, Illinois and doubled down with enrollment at Black Hawk College's Philosophy degree program. That was eight years ago. It's May of 2020 and today, the world got the news that Ravi Zacharias has gone to be with the Lord. I was on my way to a ministerial meeting here in Iowa and had to fight back the tears. I've learned and grown so much thanks to Ravi and his team's continual teachings over the years. I went from intellectually doubtful to intellectually confident in my faith, amazed of the great hope of the Gospel. I'd even be so bold as to say that I would not be a pastor today had it not been for Ravi and his team pouring into my life. Mine is like others: there's quite literally millions of lives that Ravi has touched and I've seen person after person sharing their experience with him. I can't express enough how grateful I am for this man and his legacy. If you find yourself curious about the intersection of faith and thought, I highly encourage you to check out Ravi's work and the ongoing work his team is doing. Thank you, Dr. Zacharias, and as you once put it, you're hearing that divine accolade, 'Well done, good and faithful servant'.