76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2006
While the Donald Millers of the world have brought new vitality and honesty to writings on the Christian life, others, such as Philip Yancey and Ravi Zacharias, continue to dig deep into the intellectual side of the modern Christian's struggle. This depth makes their writings less accessible, yet so vital for many who are searching for answers.
In this gracious autobiography, Zacharias gives us doses of his trademark apologetics and wisdom, while providing a chronological view of his journey from suicidal teen to world-renowned evangelist. He offers glimpses into his cultural roots in India, along with helpful understanding of the eastern mindset. He shows restraint in his accounts of his family's issues, but he still manages to be honest with faults. He challenges his readers to move beyond their own search for fulfillment into a greater comprehension of who they are created to be.
As a missionary kid, I spent six months in India, experiencing some of the sights that Zacharias grew up around. I savored his anecdotes. This is a thoughtful, inspiring account of what God can do through those who are willing to "live, because he lives." Be patient, soak in the philosophical and theological musings, and see if you aren't nudged by the content of these pages.
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2006
I really enjoy hearing Ravi Zacharias on his weekly radio show. He is probably the most intellectual of any of the radio preachers that I hear broadcast on Christian radio in my area. Ravi is from India, but he converted to Christianity as a teenager in India, and his missionary career consists of intellectually applying logic to support Biblical concepts, to audiences across the globe. That's my explanation of what he does, at least. So when I heard he had an autobiography out, I was curious enough to check it out.
It is pretty interesting to read the details of his growing up in India. It is very different from growing up in the USA, in many aspects, yet the human condition and human plight of us all is shown to have just as much in common whether growing up in India or the USA, or anywhere else in the world.
WALKING FROM EAST TO WEST: GOD IN THE SHADOWS is about 240 pages long. He writes about the exotic Indian neighborhood where he grew up, and how he ended up being the black sheep of the family, the one child whom his father found the most frustration and irritation with. He could never really please his father with anything he did, which is very important to be able to do, especially within the culture in which he grew up.
Ravi was bored with school, but he excelled in sports, especially playing cricket. His dad wanted the opposite from Ravi, and his father did not care about his sports abilities. Ravi talks about skipping school regularly, until the day that his father found out and gave Ravi the beating of his life for it! Then Ravi talks about his emerging plan to commit suicide over his despair and depression. This takes us up to about page 85.
After his failed suicide attempt, he gets Saved, with the help of some Christian missionaries. Like most Saved people, this turns his life around, and he becomes very serious and productive with his schooling--the most driven in his family, for a change!
He and his brother immigrate to Canada, to lay the foundation of a home base for the rest of the family to eventually join them. Canada is where he meets his future wife, Margie (pronounced with a hard G as in Margaret), and the rest of the book covers his college and missionary career, traveling the world, and right up to the present day.
These days, he is now an internationally known lecturer, and they have three full grown kids. What a wonderful, blessed life for this terrific Christian speaker!
The book is broken into three separate sections, which each show a few grainy b/w photos from his life on the starting page of each major section, but there are no captions. I guess you can figure out who is who just by reading the book. My favorite looks to be a photo from his wedding.
There is not too much of the typical Christian philosophy or apologetics. This book is meant to not get in-depth in those areas covered by his other books and works. This book is meant to be an autobiography of his life story.
He makes some interesting observations and comparisons between people and cultures, east and west. Such as, when he gives talks in the west, people are introduced onstage with a bio of themselves, but in the east, people are introduced by describing a brief family history.
If you really enjoy listening to Ravi Zacharias' weekly radio show, then you will probably find his autobiography just as enjoyable.
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2006
In Walking from East to West, Ravi Zacharias gives readers a glimpse into his life, focusing on his years growing up in India and what God used to ultimately shape him into a worldwide evangelist.
There is humble heartbreak expressed throughout the book, as Zacharias explains his tumultuous relationship with his father, who early on labeled him a failure. His sense of hopelessness and despair eventually led him to attempt suicide, and through that, the truth of God's Word was able to penetrate his heart. Zacharias provides a balanced view of his childhood, never blaming his father for the abuse, instead carefully revealing insight into the family situation and how the Lord eventually changed Zacharias and later, his father. He describes God as being in the shadows of his life, never absent, but simply waiting on His perfect timing to bring Ravi into the family of God.
The book is broken into two major sections: his early years in India and re-establishing in Canada. There is a third part, which is more of an epilogue, where Ravi describes his trips back to his homeland and what it means to him looking back. The story that Zacharias weaves of his past is mesmerizing, threading together anecdotes, parables, and history into a fine narrative worth reading on its own. On top of that, he entwines his own grasp of Eastern thinking and culture, in a way that Westerners can understand. One example is how the framework of ancestors is critical to the identity of Indians, and how that affects their society today. Readers will also get a foretaste into Zacharias' ability to reason with skeptics, and know that it comes from his own beginnings as a questioner of life. He also reveals the thinkers and theologians who influenced his faith, without going into the doctrines themselves.
This is not a typical leader-of-the-faith autobiography. Instead, Zacharias shows how the Lord uses the humble and weak to bring about His purposes. Even if readers know nothing about the man and his ministry, they will be uplifted and encouraged to pursue God with whole hearts. -- Anne Walker, Christian Book Previews.com
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2006
Christian apologist and international speaker Ravi Zacharias wins hearts wherever he goes. In this memoir of his life thus far, Zacharias discloses the hardships and struggles of his youth in India. Readers will instinctively feel his deep commitment to speaking truth presented in the gentlest terms possible. Clearly, this world-renowned lecturer's reputation for humility and kindness will be evidenced throughout this respectful rendition of his life, country of origin, family, friends and early associates.
Zacharias describes India as a country of magnificent contradictions, a land where some of the greatest minds derive and then contribute to society's advances in medicine, philosophy and technology --- though its inhabitants long for a better economic way of life. So it's no surprise that, on more recent visits to his homeland, Zacharias sees the stark contradictions of this harsh reality and compares it to a person's longing for more than mere economic stability. He notes that "...we can convince ourselves that the answer to everything lies in economic well-being. But it does not ultimately solve the deepest questions that haunt you. That is where religion is supposed to help. To offer answers."
During his youth, one of Zacharias's first introductions to Western religion by way of Jehovah's Witnesses did not serve to meet this inner restlessness. After consideration of the sect's beliefs, he began asking more pointed spiritual questions. Living with a harsh, abusive father, he was subjected to verbal and physical ill treatment that lasted for years. Unable to please his father, he did find respite in his relationship with his loving mother who also suffered abuse from her spouse. Success was measured by the academic accolades one achieved, and his sole claim to fame came on the cricket field. Only after he tried to commit suicide did he and his mother find a new hope --- a relationship with Christ.
Zacharias tells of the impact the Youth for Christ organization and its workers had on him during his teen years. With compelling dialogue, readers will glean insight into India's culture and the poignant differences between how Western and Eastern people think about family, religion, career and government. Zacharias and his brother eventually scout out Canada for the upcoming arrival of their family, and at this time Zacharias is faced with a multitude of career and life decisions. As an informal but clearly gifted preacher, he eventually determines his calling and furthers his education at Bible College, marries a native Canadian, moves to the U.S. to pursue a teaching position, and finally begins a life of international travel.
During his 30-plus years of expounding upon God's Word, Zacharias has met, spoken to, and become friends with dignitaries the world over, yet his common man's voice is what readers will love and embrace. He has a powerful message indeed, and that --- underscored by a life characterized by honor and integrity --- will surely be listened to and heeded.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2007
Zacharias' book will either be life-changing or life-affirming for the reader lucky enough to stumble across this amazing account of a life that saw so much pain and joy. To go along on his journey, watching him go from his desperate youth and into his successful and meaningful adult life is incredible. As someone who has been immersed in a Christian lifestyle her entire life, I find it remarkable that someone can come from such beginnings and end up the man that Ravi Zacharias has become. It really makes me think about how much of the Western experience I take for granted. Ravi is not only passionate about his faith, but he provides an intellectual basis for it as well, something that is often missing in evangelism today. The blend of Eastern and Western cultures presented in this book are extremely significant and helpful. This has caused me to take a new approach to different cultures and unbelievers. He is a living example of walking in someone else's shoes. I could say countless things to praise his life's work, but it seems to me that Zacharias would want any glory to be given to God. After reading this, that is how I want the things I do to be remembered...for the glory of God. I cannot wait to read more from this talented evangelist!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2007
I couldn't put the book down until I was done with it. What an amazing life. It takes wisdom to understand how God works in your life. Mr. Zacharias is a bless man. He explains his culture so well that you feel like you visited India and got back with lots of pictures in your mind.
But my comment is bias, Mr. Zacharias is one of my favorite writers.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is the story of Ravi Zacharias, the international Christian apologist. The Indian born Zacharias, now based in Atlanta, has a worldwide ministry in defending the truth claims of Jesus Christ. Today he is perhaps the premier Christian apologist. He has spoken in over 50 nations; he has spoken at almost all the major universities of the world; he has discussed the big questions of life with political leaders, academics, religious leaders, and even military leaders; and he has written a number of excellent books on apologetics over the past 25 or so years.
This book contains his remarkable story. His humble beginnings did not seem to make him qualified for such a task. He was not raised as a Christian, and soon was a sceptic. He never did very well in school, nor try very hard to succeed in his education. While his brothers and sisters and peers were all doing very well, he was not. Thus by the time he was a teenager he had become very depressed and lonely.
Although good at sport - especially cricket - and surrounded with many great friends, he still felt very alone, and was constantly saddened that he had not pleased his father. His dad grew impatient with him, telling him he would never amount to anything. This growing sense of failure and despair, coupled with his father's disapproval, and his inner struggles and searching which he could not freely share with others, took its toll. So suicide was the only course of action for young Zacharias.
Shortly after his suicide attempt some Youth for Christ people helped to lead Zacharias to the Lord. The first half of this book details his years as a non-believer. The second half of the book chronicles his time as a believer, as a Christian evangelist, and as a renowned apologist. It includes his move to Canada, and later, the US. It chronicles his early evangelistic missions, and his studies at Trinity Seminary in Chicago, and his marriage to a Canadian woman.
It has been during the last three decades or so that he became convinced that there was a pressing need to reach intellectuals, academics, university students and others with the claims of Jesus Christ. He thus undertook further studies at Cambridge, and has since devoted his life to reaching sceptics and those of other - or no - faiths.
In this moving autobiography Zacharias speaks of many hardships and difficulties along the way, and the costs of serving the Lord. But he sees with hindsight the ways God was directing his paths and using past hurts - even his suicide attempt - as means to bring greater glory to God and to reach many who also are lost, struggling, hurting and in despair. And he notes how strong friends, mentors and counsellors have helped him along the way. As Zacharais says, "There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny."
Zacharias is absolutely right when he says, "Outside of the gospel, there are no answers for humanity's most fundamental questions". This powerful volume contains many stories of changed lives and hope restored. It deserves a wide reading.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2006
You will feel the urge to keep turning the pages of this book, not just because of the incredible events of his life, but because of the humility and candor of Ravi as he shares his life story. The power of the gospel is woven through the fabric of his life and every life he touches. I began following Ravi's ministry and writings when I was 18 and have never lost interest. He has a tremendous passion to reach every mind with the gospel. Please read this book - you will be very glad you did.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2007
Sitting down with this book feels like you are sitting across the table from Ravi Zacharias sharing tea. Every Christian's coversion is not mearly an intellectual ascent but a journey of the Spirit. Ravi's journey, which certainly traversed the wilderness of despair and hoplessness of Christ-less religion, unfolds into an amazing life. It is encouragement for any seeker that hope awaits them in the relentless pursuit of truth.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2011
This book is amazing. It definitely reinforces our Christian beliefs...how God is with us all the way.
It is written in 'layman's' terms...even I understood it. Ravi is a fantastic Apologist, but he is so intelligent that many times he is a little over my head....loved this book. Thank you Ravi for sharing your life with us.