Dove-winning Musician, Fernando Ortega, Reflects on Ravi Zacharias

Fernando Ortega and Ravi Zacharias

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS)—Three-time Dove-winning musician, Fernando Ortega—who just lost his mother, Eva Pacheco Ortega, age 93—reflects on the passing of Ravi Zacharias. (printed with permission)

Touching Tribute

I just heard the news that Ravi Zacharias passed away this morning at his home in Atlanta. I am heartbroken by this news. I have been friends with Ravi and Margie for many years. I don’t remember where we met; most likely at some kind of evangelistic event, but he often invited me to lead worship at his fundraising conferences which were held every year in different cities across the US. I was always so impressed by the array of speakers who sermonized or gave teachings at those events; so many brilliant, thoughtful, and passionate people, some them very young.

Mormon Tabernacle

Fernando Ortega at the Mormon Tabernacle

One of the most memorable and meaningful experiences I’ve ever had in my life was when Ravi was invited to speak at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. I was so truly honored that Ravi invited me to lead worship at the event, which was attended by thousands of Mormons. The place was absolutely packed, with congregants leaning over the balcony to listen closely to everything that was presented that night. There are many hymn melodies in our own evangelical canon that are used by the Mormons, though they use different texts than we do. I chose a handful of songs they would be familiar with but used the standard texts we are used to. I was thrilled when that massive congregation sang every note, full voice. The sound in that place! The Mormon Tabernacle is renowned for its stunning acoustics.

Heard a Pin Drop

Ravi Zacharias

 And then Ravi stepped up to the podium. You could have heard a pin drop. His message was uncompromising, his delivery riveting, filled with the truths of the Gospel.  People hung on every word. I believe Ravi was the first Evangelical Christian to fill that pulpit in more than 100 years. And I think I was the second Evangelical Christian musician to sing there (Michael Card was the first). Anyway, the line to speak with Ravi afterwards was incredibly long. I remember afterwards how Ravi treated us to a delicious dinner at which he shared with us how the event came to be, and all the amazing and wonderful things that were going on behind the scenes.

Powerful Voice

We have lost a powerful voice for the Gospel this morning. Ravi was a brilliant and articulate speaker who traveled to the remotest parts of the world to deliver his message. I sometimes texted him just to say hello and he would reply saying, “Margie and I are in Singapore today, or Malaysia, or the Philippines.” I could get exhausted just imagining the schedule he and Margie maintained right up until very recently.

Caring and Compassionate

Ravi and Margie Zacharias

Most of all, Ravi was a kind, caring, compassionate man, very humble and approachable. I will miss him greatly. I think it’s mind-boggling to know that Ravi has joined that vast gathering of voices—saints, martyrs, angels and other heavenly beings who surround God’s throne, singing hymns and shouting praises :  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (Rev. 4:8).

It comforts me to know that my mom and dad are in that same bright company.

Rest in peace, Ravi Zacharias. Humble and heartfelt thanks for the work you did in your life. You truly pointed people away from yourself toward the glory and riches found in Jesus Christ.


To learn more about Fernando Ortega, or listen to his many works—including his recent release The Crucifixion of Jesus, click here.

Read other ANS articles that include Fernando Ortega, click here.