— Film Transcription —
Ravi Zacharias: You'd never realize how it's happening behind the scenes.
I have spoken all over the globe on every continent.
No person does this on their own.
God's people enabling you to answer your call is the unwritten story.
The fact of the matter is none of this would have been possible without a businessman.
We were so happy as a newlywed couple and so happy to be in God's calling.
We just moved from Niagara Falls Ontario to Toronto.
Just shortly after that I was in Manhattan speaking at one of the alliance churches and I had a message from the President of the Christian Missionary Alliance, Dr. L.L. King. He sat me down and wanted me to take the chair of evangelism in the seminary.
I knew it wasn't my calling. And he said to me, “Ravi, the call of the church is the call of the Lord and we as the church are calling you.”
And I came from a generation where you did what your leaders told you to do, you didn't question it.
I finally agreed. I said, “Dr. King I'll do three years.”
They were the toughest years of our marriage. Really tough because I was lecturing several times a day and I was speaking on the weekends. I hardly saw my wife. I was down. I was downcast. I was fatigued and my preaching changed. Had I continued on much longer I think it would have been the end of my calling as an evangelist because that position was changing me more than I was changing anything out there.
The invitation to speak at Amsterdam ‘83 was probably one of the most shocking invitations I'd ever gotten. Frankly, I didn't know that Billy Graham even knew that I existed.
I said you know there is a sense in which this historic conference. I need to be there. I need to be with 4,000 other evangelists. I need to hear what they have to say. I want the privilege of hearing Dr. Graham live. I want to meet these men and women because I knew they were shaping the calling of evangelism.
I was as nervous as I could be. And they prayed for me. We prayed for each other. I walked over to the platform.
"Why is there so much intellectual confusion as we stumble through philosophies?
Why are our marriages breaking up when our marriage manuals are getting bigger and bigger?
Why does a father die so young when his child still so desperately needs him?
Why is man killing himself with so many push-button toys still to play with?
Why are we still dancing when we are storing up weapons enough with firepower to turn this world into a massive furnace?
Why are we praying in so many different directions and ceremonies assuming it doesn’t matter whom we pray to?
Why do we keep changing the rules of the game if hopelessness is still the ultimate goal?
This God you are searching for, this unknown god amidst all of this darkness, I will tell you who he is.
He is Jesus Christ and I preach this Christ who died for your sins and rose again from the dead."
That changed all the future – everything, because when you're speaking to 4,000 evangelists from all over the world, the message that you've given goes all over the world and invitations came from every continent after that.
While I was flying back I said to Margie, “I think God is calling me I'm going to resign this position and let's start a ministry of evangelism undergirded by apologetics.”
Margie is an amazing woman. You know an average wife would have said, “Are you in your right mind? You've got a young family and you've got department chairs position. You've got your salary. You've got your retirement plan. You've got a nice comfortable position here. You're part of a larger scene in the denomination. You want to go and start something on your own?” And she's not that.
I could tell there was a nervousness because her question was, “How are we going to support ourselves?” We'd already been part of that route. That's the problem when we started off, we started off with love offerings and sometimes there was more love than offering, sometimes. (Laughs)
You know I said to her, “If we get this ministry going we'd need about $50,000 to start this work.”
And she said, “Where are we gonna get that from?”
I said, “Yeah that's a lot of money.” I said, “If God wants us in this he will provide it.”
Bev Davis: My dad was a contractor and my dad specialized in cold storage warehouses.
Well we always ate dinner at six o'clock and we always eat as a family. No exceptions. But this particular night he comes in and he plops this magazine down and of course Lois and I didn't know what that was. And he says, “Well look at it.”
And on the front cover they had the four hundred largest contractors in the United States. And they were all listed there. And sure enough here was D.D. Davis Construction.
And he found out that his gift was making money and he loved it.
His gift was not teaching. My dad’s preaching was terrible. Never looked anybody in the eye. It was always at the ceiling. He mumbled. You couldn't hear him. He'd read the scripture and stumble over words. And I think it was nervousness and he knew what he wanted to say, but he just did not have the gift of putting it all together. It was best if he left that to somebody else. (Laughs)
Ravi: I think one of the most landmark moments in life took place in November of 1983. One of the assignments I had was to speak at a conference they call Layman’s Conference.
Bev: Layman's Conference was established for business people to come and relax, have a nice weekend, but to get rejuvenated in the word. And so Dad got two other couples always to go with them and they would go to Layman's Conference and this particular year there was a guy who had come in to be the weekend speaker and his name was Ravi Zacharias.
Ravi: I think I spoke five times.
Bev: He's hearing Ravi talk and he goes here's a man who gets it who knows how to communicate to business people on their level about the gospel.
My dad couldn't do it. And I think that just went to my dad's heart.
Ravi: And on the last message I closed my Bible, leaned forward, and I said, “You know, I would really value your prayers. I can't tell you what it is about except my wife and I are seeking the wisdom of God in a decision we are making and a choice before us. Would you please pray for us that God would lead us?”
Margie I went back to our room. We said our goodbyes, packed our bags, and we were walking out. There’s a man standing by the door.
And he said to me, “I went back to my room and I got on my knees and I prayed for you. I felt God speaking to me to give you a check for $50,000.”
So I just looked at him and he gave me his card, you know. I said, “You know I can’t just accept a gift of this volume like this from a total stranger. But if you give me the opportunity I will fly in sometime and see you in the next couple of months. And after I've told you what's on my heart, if you're still, still feel so inclined this could be something wonderful that could come about.”
And he said, “You are a busy man. You don't need to do this I'll fly in and see you. Tell me where you live.”
Shortly thereafter he and Velma flew in. After we shared he said,
“You go ahead, I'm going to get behind you. I'm going to get behind you. This will only be the beginning.”
Bev: Dad said to Ravi, “I don't have all the money in the world to launch a ministry and keep it running. But I'm not the only person that God has blessed. And so we just have to find those people.”
Ravi: So his goal was to use what God had given him to draw from others so that they would go do likewise. And the ministry would go on.
Bev: So they go to Williamsburg. I think there were 25 couples, about 50 people.
Ravi: And in the beginning it was just me.
I used to speak 6-7 times.
Bev: The weekend is drawing to an end. And it was said, “We want you to take an envelope. We want you to go back and pray. If you've been blessed this weekend and think this is a ministry you could get behind, write on the card what you will give this year. Tomorrow, we'll open them all up and we’ll see how much we’ve raised.”
So on Sunday morning Ravi is up early and he says to Margie, “How much can we put on the credit card? Because somebody has to pay for this this weekend and you saw everything that was here.”
Ravi: Fifty people for breakfast, fifty people for lunch, fifty people for dinner. I've just invited them. Nobody's paying it. I'm going to have to pay it.
Bev: He goes to the front desk and asked for the bill and the desk clerk says, “Oh somebody came down and paid the whole bill.”
He says, “Everything?”
They said, “Yes, everything.”
“Well, can you tell me who it was paid this?”
And they said, “Well, that's confidential.”
He said, “Was it a man with glasses and gray hair?”
And they said, “Yes.”
And then he knew it was my dad who paid for everything.
Ravi: He was that kind of a guy. He already paid the bill.
Bev: After finding out who paid for it he goes back upstairs.
He tells Margie, “Mr. Davis paid for everything, everything. I don't know who this man is. He's asked nothing of me at all.”
They tally up the cards and I recall my dad saying they did a quarter of a million dollars.
With the gifts that were received that weekend they knew that they could start Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. What they didn't know… how it would grow.
D.D. Davis: When you hear the reports and what we’re planning and what the board and things are doing and Ravi’s ideas tomorrow afternoon or tomorrow, you’ll find that you’re going to never see anything the likes of what looks ahead for us in the RZIM, in the worldwide ministry.
Ravi: And the fundamental difference that you see in Jesus Christ is in his uniqueness and exclusivity of his claim and the embrace that he gives to all humanity.
D.D.’s friendship and mine became like a father and a son.
D.D.’s entire vision was I'm sharing this with you. God's called you and I'm coming beside you to do what I can do.
We used to get gifts from all over the place and sometimes I didn't know these people. And I would say to them, “How do I know you? You've just sent a gift for 25,000 or something like that.”
And he would say, “Oh I don't know you either. We just did a project for Mr. Davis and instead of us paying him for his services he would just tell us to send it to RZIM.”
I don't know how many gifts we got like that.
But I'll tell you what struck me most. He never believed you owed him anything. Because he never gave it to you.
It wasn't you he was giving it to. He was giving it to the Lord.
Bev: And for 18 years dad and mom paid for Founders.
Ravi: Today it's the biggest event in our calendar and people come from all over the world for that Founder's Weekend.
Bev: I got a phone call from the fellow who bought the construction company. And he said, “His heart's just given out. Your dad might not be alive tomorrow morning.”
I got to the hospital and he passed away.
I think it was really hard for Ravi to lose dad. I think “What's gonna happen next?”
And I've just lost my dad.”
Ravi: When he passed away I lost a man, no man cared for me like him, really. Nobody did.
Bev: My dad loved him as a son, my dad was so proud of him.
Ravi: I would love for him to have been around another 10 to 15 years because his wisdom was greater than any of his contribution.
Bev: Six hundred people showed up for his funeral and Ravi spoke and it, which was wonderful. And it was a real celebration of his life and the gospel message was preached once again.
Ravi: And so we bid a fond friend goodbye. But a man whose legacy will live on because of a life so magnificently lived.
Bev: My dad's coffin was draped in an American flag because he was a veteran. And so Lois and I were asked a question, “Who gets the flag?”
And she and I looked at each other and we both said almost simultaneously, “Let's have it given to Ravi.”
Ravi: He was the point of the arrow to get it started and to carry us on the wings of eagles for the first 20 years.
Bev: It's incredible that such a simple man gets this intellectual and the two of them come together to be father and son and launch a ministry that is now worldwide.
Ravi: This ministry now has 90 full-time speakers across 15 different countries. Some of the finest Christian apologists anywhere in the world.
And the conversions that have taken place during this time across the globe is overwhelming to me - from heads of state, to skeptics in communist countries, to China and Russia and the Middle East.
"Often times when you read the Scriptures, you notice the way a question is phrased and even more surprisingly the way the answer is given. So let’s raise the question of: What forms a foundation for your life personally and indeed for the life of a culture?"
Bev: Thousands upon thousands have heard Ravi speak, but nobody loved Ravi Zacharias more than my dad.
Ravi: I would never have been able to do what God wanted in RZIM without D.D. Davis.
He had the vision better than I did.
He believed in me more than I did.
He saw the future better than I did.
D.D. Davis was… the kind of Gospel Patron that I think only God could have brought. I never knew such a man.