Renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias was buried during a private graveside service Thursday, May 21. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) reports that his casket was built by prison inmates.
Zacharias died May 19, his mother’s birthday, after a short battle with a rare and aggressive form of sarcoma cancer. He was 74 years old. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Margie, their three children and five grandchildren.
Sam Allberry, pastor and speaker for RZIM, officiated the services and reminded those gathered that Zacharias’ story doesn’t end with his death. Rather, Zacharias received the promise of Jesus in John 14:19, which says, “Because I live, you will live also.”
Zacharias’ casket was built by inmates of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola Prison. When Billy Graham died in February 2018, his casket was similarly built by Angola prisoners, including a convicted murderer known as Richard “Grasshopper” Liggett.
Zacharias visited Angola several times and was struck by the faith he saw there. He wrote about one of his visits in June 2019, saying, “Even in a dark place, the gospel is shining with grace and power. That is the only hope for the world because we are all prisoners of sin, and only the cross has the answer and the freedom.”
Zacharias requested in his latest book, Seeing Jesus From the East, that inmates from Angola build his casket.
“These prisoners know that this world is not their home, and that no coffin could ever be their final destination,” he wrote. “Jesus assured us of that. Such is the gospel story.”
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“Ravi Zacharias was laid to rest on Thursday, May 21, in a private ceremony in Georgia. It was a largely overcast day with glimpses of sunlight piercing through the clouds, a reflection of those who were mourning below with glimpses of hope piercing through the mournful occasion. The love that many around the world felt for Ravi through his lifetime of work was present in the very receptacle in which Ravi’s body now rests. Ravi’s message of hope in Jesus Christ resonated with many, especially those in prison populations around the world. The prisoners at Angola held a very special place in Ravi’s heart. In a beautiful example of the Grand Weaver ever-present in Ravi’s life and death, it is these very prisoners who lovingly crafted the casket in which Ravi was buried.” ••• Read more about the solemn graveside service [link in profile].