Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias reveals rare cancer diagnosis, requests prayer

by Samantha Quek // March 14, 2020, 8:24 pm


On March 13, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias shared over Facebook that he had been diagnosed with cancer. 

“I underwent surgery to repair my back 3 weeks ago today,” explained the 73-year-old. “The surgery was considered a success, and the surgeon felt it was a strong reconstruction.

“However, since the surgery I have faced very severe pain, so intense in the night, especially, that I have been unable to sleep.”

Zacharias revealed that a biopsy taken during the procedure revealed a malignant tumour on his sacrum, “a very rare cancer called sarcoma”.

The Indian-born Christian apologist shared that he had been “meeting with specialists to determine the next course of action”.

The next step for Zacharias is to focus on fully healing from his back surgery, after which doctors will begin treatment to shrink the tumour.

He added that he would “not plan to resume speaking at least until the summer”.

Despite his diagnosis, Zacharias shared that he is continuing to trust the Lord. He and his wife also believe they “have already seen evidence” of God’s hand at work.

“For example, the tumour did not show up on any previous scans and was only discovered by my surgeon identifying it during surgery.”

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Zacharias also expressed gratitude and asked for “continued prayers” towards the end of his note: “We received literally thousands of messages from people all over the world saying you were praying.

“I have every belief God directed and prompted my surgeon to his discovery of this tumour. Margie and I and our family are so grateful for your continued prayers for the journey that lies ahead.

“We are trusting the Lord for His purpose. Please do pray that God will take away this horrific night pain, which is the most difficult part of waiting.”

Zacharias‘ impact on Christian apologetics cannot be understated.

His storied journey began as a 17-year-old sceptic, reading the words of Jesus in John 14:19: “Because I live, you also will live”. The phrase would change the trajectory of his life forever.

Lying on a “bed of suicide”, Zacharias would finally commit his life to Christ after a long struggle with hopelessness.

It was an experience which made him promise: “I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.”

Zacharias has been keeping his promise for more than half a century, “to present and defend the truth of Jesus Christ that others may find life in Him”.

If God is real, why doesn’t He end our suffering?

According to his RZIM biography, at the age of 19, Zacharias was awarded the Asian Youth Preacher Award at the International Youth Congress in Hyderabad. The award was the “first confirmation” of his calling as an apologetic. 

The biography notes that in 1983, he was invited by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to be a plenary speaker at the inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists addressing 4,000 other speakers, a turning point for Zacharias.

Around this time, God placed a burden for apologetics in Zacharias, who “began to seriously consider the critical need of apologetics to remove the intellectual and existential barriers that kept many sceptics from considering the truth claims of Christ”.

Then in 1984, Zacharias founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Today, it has 16 offices across the world.

Over the last 48 years, Zacharias’ work in the realm of apologetics has brought the good news to millions of people in more than 70 countries. 

We believe in a God of healing, and we believe that God isn’t done with him. We trust that there are many more good years of good work for RZIM, and that God will make a way for Ravi out of this difficult and painful time.

So would you join us in a time of prayer for him? We have some pointers below.


  1. Thank God that the malignant tumour on Ravi’s sacrum was discovered.
  2. Pray for God to heal Ravi’s pain.
  3. Ask God to bless Ravi’s doctors and surgeons with wisdom and dexterity.
  4. Pray that God’s glory would be displayed in this chapter of Ravi’s life.
About the author

Samantha Quek

Samantha prefers scenic over city travels. The beauty of God's creation reminds her of His sovereignty.