Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Virginia Tech audience hears Christian speaker
Ravi Zacharias agreed the day after the April 16 shootings on campus to speak at the university.
WANT TO GO?
"Finding Answers Amid Life's Greatest Losses, Part 2
- Open Forum with Ravi Zacharias
- 7:30 p.m. tonight at Cassell Coliseum
Ravi Zacharias stood up in front of a packed house at Virginia Tech's Burruss Hall on Tuesday night to talk about evil -- about its reality, its magnitude, its complexity and its universal quality. But as the Christian apologist and lecturer unraveled stories of pain in the Bible and personal stories of loss, it also became clear that he was delivering a message of hope to those suffering from the aftermath of the April 16 shootings.
Though he spoke specifically to students and faculty Tuesday, Zacharias will address the whole community tonight at 7:30 in Cassell Coliseum, with a question-and-answer period to follow.
Maria Dunn, a third-year student at the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg who attended Tuesday's talk with friend Amy Pollard, said she thought the timing for the talk was good. Both women were in Blacksburg during the April 16 shootings.
"Now it's not so raw and people are more willing to think about it," Dunn said.
Danny White, a member of Blacksburg Christian Fellowship and a Zacharias fan, contacted Zacharias the night of April 16 about coming to speak.
According to White, Zacharias' wife e-mailed him back on April 17 to tell him that her husband would come.
"I was just really amazed because it normally takes a couple years to get on Ravi's speaking schedule," White said.
Zacharias, born in India in 1946, is an internationally known Christian apologist, speaker and philosopher. He holds three doctoral degrees, two in divinity and one in law. He has written 22 books and is the host of two radio programs. He is president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, headquartered in Atlanta.
But despite his scholarly experience, Zacharias admitted to Tuesday's audience that it would be a hard talk for him.
"It's an extraordinary privilege, but a fearsome one," he said. "Thank you for giving me the honor of addressing you in a time of pain and deep suffering."
Zacharias formed his speech around the biblical story of Job, though he interjected quotes from Mahatma Gandhi, C.S. Lewis and other noted philosophers.
While he told the story of Job's suffering, he also told stories of his own suffering, from his attempted suicide at age 17 to the death of his mother in his 20s.
He cautioned the crowd about asking "what if" questions about April 16, or any tragedy. Instead, he posed the question, "What if you're willing to trust God through this tragedy?"
During his talk, Zacharias often closed his eyes. He spoke feverishly and winced during certain words. But to conclude his speech, he looked directly at the audience.
"Virginia Tech, there is a purpose for you. He will bless you and make you bright lights. May you be the one that God will use in a world that is dark."