In two short weeks seniors will cross the stage at the Mabee Center, move their tassel and exchange their last four years for a diploma. On May 2, commencement speaker Dr. Ravi Zacharias will join student speaker Tim DeSilva and address the senior class of 2015.
Dr. Zacharias is the founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, an organization established in 1984 that aims to “reach and challenge those who shape the ideas of a culture with the credibility of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
RZIM is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional offices in Canada, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Romania, Turkey, Austria, Spain and South Africa.
Zacharias was born in India and immigrated to Canada with his family at the age of 20. He received his Master of Divinity from Trinity International University in Deerfield and is knowledgeable in the areas of comparative religions, cults and philosophy. Zacharias has spoken all around the world for the last 42 years at several notable universities such as Dartmouth, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Oxford University. Among his many collegiate addresses, Zacharias has also been invited to speak at a handful of legislative events.
In 2008 Zacharias participated as honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer and addressed the White House, the Pentagon and the Cannon House.
According to Zacharias’ website, “He has had the privilege of addressing the National Prayer Breakfasts in the seats of government in Ottawa, Canada and London, England, and speaking at the CIA in Washington, D.C.”
Among its many components, RZIM seeks to engage with students during a time in which their faith is tested most.
“RZIM prioritizes reaching colleges and universities because of the potential to influence leaders of the next generation, to explain the gospel to skeptical audiences and to equip believers on campus to share and defend their faith in the academic arena,” according to the RZIM website.
The RZIM speaking team has visited over 30 different campuses within the last year in the U.S. and dozens worldwide. Open forums at universities have become a distinguishing feature to reach college students and faculty. The forums are structured in an interactive format: An RZIM leader will lecture for the first half and open the audience for a question and answer segment.
The purpose of these forums, according to RZIM.com, is to “[answer] tough questions students wrestle with and training Christians to effectively communicate the truth in higher education.”
“We are finding a genuine openness and a willingness to engage among the students,” said Andy Bannister, director of RZIM Canada. “Please pray for the follow up of those we meet, that’d we find ways to partner well with churches and other ministries so that those we meet can be further engaged or discipled.”
Zacharias has opened his international ministry to reach the heart and intellect of the thinkers and influencers of society.
“Our young people are overwhelmed with questions,” Zacharias said. “Non-stop questions.”