(Courtesy of Nathan Zacharias)
Ravi Zacharias is considered by many to be one of the greatest Christian apologists of our time. The founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Zacharias has authored numerous best-selling books, hosts radio programs, and teaches apologetics and evangelism at Oxford University. Even those who vehemently disagree with Zacharias are quick to acknowledge his superb intellectual abilities, and the excellence with which he pursues his unique calling as a "classical evangelist in the arena of the intellectually resistant."
So what has it been like to grow up with Ravi as a father – and to work with him now in ministry?
Nathan Zacharias, 31, is the youngest of the Zacharias' three children. He currently works as senior writer and video producer in the Media Department at RZIM, creating written and visual content for marketing, fundraising, and broadcast. In addition to his work behind the scenes, Nathan is becoming an increasingly visible face of his father's ministry, spearheading initiatives such as the "Ask" interactive youth apologetics curriculum.
While RZIM has seen phenomenal growth around the world, it has remained a family ministry at heart. Nathan works alongside his two older sisters – Sarah Zacharias Davis, who serves as executive director of RZIM, and Naomi, who is vice president and director of Wellspring International (a RZIM outreach) – and his wife, Sarah Parker Zacharias, who serves as a marketing and development associate at Wellspring.
As we approach Father's Day, I asked Nathan five questions about his relationship with his father:
What is the most important lesson you have learned from your dad?
Zacharias: You don't draw your strength from those with whom you serve; you draw it from the One you serve. There is a reason people who grow up in ministry joke about the scars that come from it… ministry can be a very painful profession, as some of the greatest wounds come at the hands of those who claim to love Christ. I've seen my dad endure a lot of hits in his time, and he would be the first to tell you that they have hurt. But he has never lashed out and never wavered in his commitment to Christ. His example impacts me every day.
What do you find most rewarding about working with your dad at RZIM?
Zacharias: I wholeheartedly believe in the vision of my dad's ministry, and the way in which he does it. It is a privilege to be able to help fulfill that vision.
What do you find most challenging about working at RZIM?
Zacharias: The most challenging aspect is that I am someone who likes to compartmentalize when it comes to work… I love what I do, but I also love to flip the switch from "work hours" to "down time." However, when it is something as personal as the ministry your parents started, there is no switch… it is woven into our lives 24/7.
Any memorable reactions from encounters when people have realized you are Ravi Zacharias's son?
Zacharias: Two encounters come to mind, both from the same event. Dad tells the story about how when I was little I was confused as to how a person developed their skin tone. With my mom being white, my dad Indian, and my sisters and I somewhere in between, I thought it was a progression over time. So one day I asked my dad when do we all turn black. One event I was working the book table and there was a crowd around the resources. One person came up and then looked at me and said jokingly, "Hey Nathan, when do we turn black?" Needless to say, those who had not heard that story were quite confused and slightly offended. I had to tell the story to clarify. That same evening a woman came up and asked if I planned on becoming a speaker like my dad. I politely said no, but the expression on her face was the same one I gave when I found out that there was no Santa Claus.
What encouragement or advice can you offer fathers and sons as we approach Father's Day?
Zacharias: Dads, make sure to let your sons know they have the freedom to ask anything, even if the question concerns you. They need someone to talk to, and let them know you are willing to be that someone no matter what.
Sons, don't be afraid to ask your dad questions about life, love, faith, anything. He's got a lifetime of experience from which to help you, and he knows way more than you think he does!