I met Ravi Zacharias on May 23, 2013, in Manila—exactly three days after my 33rd birthday. A friend of mine who was a Christian invited me to attend one of his speaking events.
I wasn’t a follower of Christ then; in fact, I was the complete opposite. I was a drug addict, a sex addict, a savvy manipulator, and basically a pest in society. I was the man in Manila who everyone stayed away from. In fact, I was voted “the most hated man in the country” in one social poll.
That evening, Ravi had just come from giving two talks to a crowd of at least 30,000 each. He was looking forward to dinner, only to find out that he wouldn’t be able to partake of the sumptuous feast because he had been asked to give another talk.
I was there, a reluctant listener, and there he was, a reluctant speaker.
My first impression of Ravi was that he is a special man—special in the sense that he was communicating the message of Jesus at a different level. He was very eloquent, very intelligent, quick-witted yet gentle, humble and respectful. This drew me to him.
After his talk, I dared ask the first question. In tears, I asked him to help me make sense of what was going on in my life. I wanted to be a good person, but I always ended up harming and hurting people.
Ravi pointed me to Jesus Christ as the answer. He asked me to join him in some of his travels. Why he did that, I don’t know. Why me? I also don’t know. The only thing I am sure of is that when I began traveling with him, I discovered that how he was on stage in front of thousands of people was exactly how he was in private life.
He was a man of truth and integrity, and the more I spent time with him, the more I respected him and loved him. Ravi’s example made Jesus more and more attractive to me. I wanted to be like Jesus by trying to be like Ravi.
I’ve just celebrated my 40th birthday—exactly seven years since I met Ravi. My pastor said the number seven in Scripture is a number that represents completion. As I reflect on why God sent me Ravi seven years ago, I believe that the reason is because He loves so much, He sent me Ravi to help me to be complete in Him. I am now a follower of Christ because Ravi showed me the way by his example and his generous guidance. “Find the truth and walk in that path in long obedience towards the same direction”—this is the most valuable advice he’s given me. It’s become my life motto.
I will miss Ravi a lot. The impact he’s had on my life, the church of Christ, and the world is immeasurable. Many can testify to this, and my story about Ravi is just one of many. However, if I can summarize it in one word, it would be this: challenge.
Ravi challenged our thinking and “demolished arguments and every pretension that set itself up against the knowledge of God…to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Ravi challenged our hearts to dedicate them to the purpose for which God had created us so that we attain the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Finally, Ravi challenged our will to keep doing what is right despite the problems and challenges we constantly face on this side of heaven.
I thank you, Ravi, for leading me to Christ. I thank you for leading my wife, Vicki, to Christ. I thank you for dedicating my daughter, Scarlet Snow, to Christ. I thank you for marrying me and Vicki and for giving that inspiring message that is now imprinted not just in our hearts but in the hearts of those who were there to witness that beautiful, spirit-filled ceremony.
I love you, Ravi. I will honor your life by carrying your passion for the gospel and love for people as my own. All your life you wanted to honor God. I will do the same. With God’s grace, I am confident your labor in me will not be in vain.
Thank you, Ravi. I will miss you for the rest of my life.—CONTRIBUTED