ATLANTA (AP) — Evangelist Ravi Zacharias, who built an international ministry that strives to defend Christianity on intellectual grounds, has died in Georgia. He was 74.

Zacharias died Tuesday at his home in Atlanta after a brief battle with sarcoma, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries said in a statement.

The Rev. Billy Graham invited Zacharias to preach at the inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam in 1983, the organization said.

He rose to prominence as a defender of the “intellectual credibility” of Christianity, the ministry said.

The ministry’s mission is “helping the thinker believe and the believer think,” it said in announcing the death of Zacharias.

Zacharias “saw the objections and questions of others not as something to be rebuffed, but as a cry of the heart that had to be answered,” Michael Ramsden, the ministry’s president, said in a statement.


In an emotional video message, professional athlete Tim Tebow asked for prayers for Zacharias’ family and ministry.

“So I think it’s really important in life to have heroes and especially in the faith, and one of my heroes in the faith is a man named Ravi Zacharias,” Tebow said in a video posted on Instagram.

“Ravi has inspired me and millions of people around the world,” added Tebow, who won college football’s Heisman Trophy in 2007 and is known for being outspoken on and off the field about his Christian faith.

“It was his Savior, Jesus Christ, that my dad always wanted most to talk about,” said his daughter Sarah Davis, CEO of the ministry.

“Even in his final days, until he lacked the energy and breath to speak, he turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done,” she said. “He perpetually marveled that God took a 17-year-old skeptic, defeated in hopelessness and unbelief, and called him into a life of glorious hope and belief in the truth of Scripture — a message he would carry across the globe for 48 years.”