For Reuben Kigame, Ravi Zacharias’ ministry left an indelible mark on his life.
“He was a friend, mentor and father. He had a big heart, he was tough-minded and very intellectual, but he was also a down-to-earth man,” recalled Mr Kigame. “I also remember him as being loving, easy to relate with and full of passion for Christ, unsaved souls and truth,” he said on his Kigame Media TV YouTube channel.
Popularly known for his music, Kigame first met Mr Zacharias in person in 1996, when Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) invited him to Atlanta, Georgia, for a three-year training course on the rudiments of apologetics. They would train every January and then practise what they learnt for the rest of the year.
“When I first went to meet him in his office, I was taken aback by the reception. Not only were his members of staff warm, welcoming and supportive, but Ravi himself passionately and lovingly took me in and wanted to know more about me and my ministry. There and then, he pledged to support me to ensure my apologetics ministry in Kenya and in Africa succeeded,” he said.
Kigame recalled a special meeting that demonstrated his mentor’s humility. In November last year, he attended a conference led by Zacharias at Cornerstone Church in Abu Dhabi.
“He was told of my presence but instead of letting me meet him at the podium, he came down to where I was seated near the back and hugged me tightly and said: ‘Oh Reuben, so nice to see you!’”
Kigame later presented Zacharias with a book he had written titled, Christian Apologetics Through African Eyes. He says when it comes to his 26-year ministry as a Christian apologetic, it was Zacharias who made him what he is today.
“The first time I came across his teaching was during my last days as a student at Kenyatta University. Someone gave me one of his recorded messages on tape and I found what I needed to bridge philosophy and good reasoning in the Christian faith. At the time I had many questions about faith which neither church leaders nor my professors could answer,” he said.
But Zacharias helped him understand that one could be a committed Christian and a good philosopher. “That you don’t have to kiss your brain goodbye or shy away from answering faith questions but instead face them head-on. Ravi was able to dissect arguments and break them down to be easily understood. That is the method I’ve used to engage people to date.”
It was Zacharias’ ministry that informed Kigame’s decision to resign from his teaching job to join full-time ministry. “In July 1994, I attended my first training in apologetics in Johannesburg, South Africa, organised by RZIM. Before then, I was a high school teacher and had been wondering whether or not to resign. But one morning during devotion, as we sang the hymn, The Old Rugged Cross, I felt convinced that it was time to let go,” he said.
Kigame says Zacharias will be remembered as a trailblazer in global outreach through apologetics and as one who combined good Christian philosophy with great Christian character.
“He spoke clearly across cultures and was very centred on the gospel of Christ. He mingled with just about anybody and ministered everywhere including Kenya and South Africa. He saw something in me and blessed it for the African continent.”
He says the reason many Christians are not involved in apologetics is that it requires training and preparation. But once they understand its importance, they become excited and get involved.
When Kigame established Fish FM, a Christian English radio station in Eldoret town in 2006, he aired two of Zacharias’ programmes – Let My People Think and Just Thinking – almost daily. Although he shut down the station in 2015 following some problems, his mentor’s impact on his life and ministry lives on.