Life is short.
Our world is broken.
Christianity is true.
People are made in the image of God for eternity.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes everything.
My friend Nabeel Qureshi knew this and lived this way until he went to be with Jesus on Saturday, September 16, 2017, at the age of 34 after enduring a yearlong battle with cancer.We get distracted by the trivial and lose sight of the eternal. Let us not waste our lives pursuing things that don’t ultimately matter. That is one of the things I am reflecting on this morning as I write this and reflect on the life and legacy of Nabeel Qureshi.
Every time I saw Nabeel at a conference or an event we happened to be at together he would greet me with a big hug and say “how are you Brother?” Even though those times were short, they were always encouraging because we were committed to the same cause of defending the faith and sharing the Gospel. And every time I saw the passion and urgency with which he spoke, it challenged and encouraged me to press on, keep going and not grow weary of being lights in a dark world. Thank you, Nabeel. I will miss those moments.
The Conversion of Nabeel Qureshi
There is a lot that could and should be said about Nabeel. You can read an excellent overview of his life and ministry including the story of his conversion from Islam to Christianity that Justin Taylor of the Gospel Coalition has written here. But here are some of Nabeel’s own words about his conversion from Islam during Medical School:
“I began mourning the impact of the decision I knew I had to make. On the first day of my second year of medical school, it became too much to bear. Yearning for comfort, I decided to skip school. Returning to my apartment, I placed the Qur’an and the Bible in front of me. I turned to the Qur’an, but there was no comfort there. For the first time, the book seemed utterly irrelevant to my suffering. Irrelevant to my life. It felt like a dead book.With nowhere left to go, I opened up the New Testament and started reading. Very quickly, I came to the passage that said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Electric, the words lept off the page and jump-started my heart. I could not put the Bible down. I began reading fervently, reaching Matthew 10:37, which taught me that I must love God more than my mother and father.
“But Jesus,” I said, “accepting you would be like dying. I will have to give up everything.”
The next verses spoke to me, saying, “He who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it” (NASB). Jesus was being very blunt: For Muslims, following the gospel is more than a call to prayer. It is a call to die.
I knelt at the foot of my bed and gave up my life.
A few days later, the two people I loved most in this world were shattered by my betrayal. To this day my family is broken by the decision I made, and it is excruciating every time I see the cost I had to pay.
But Jesus is the God of reversal and redemption. He redeemed sinners to life by his death, and he redeemed a symbol of execution by repurposing it for salvation. He redeemed my suffering by making me rely upon him for my every moment, bending my heart toward him. It was there in my pain that I knew him intimately. He reached me through investigations, dreams, and visions, and called me to prayer in my suffering. It was there that I found Jesus. To follow him is worth giving up everything.” (Read the rest of Nabeel’s article in Christianity Today here.)
As Nabeel battled cancer he showed us how to suffer well and to fix our eyes on Jesus. In the Christian worldview—and only in the Christian worldview—suffering is not unredeemed because God is sovereign and Jesus is risen. Cancer and death are not the end for those who are in Christ. God took the evil of the cross and turned it into the good of eternal life through Jesus. This isn’t a fairy tale. This is our hope rooted in history.
Apologist Ravi Zacharias (RZIM) remembers Nabeel in this article in the Washington Post. Here is a short excerpt:
Ravi Zacharias Remembers Nabeel Querishi
“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him,” so said the apostle Paul. We believe that Nabeel is now in heaven. He told me how painful it was to leave his wife, Michelle, and his young daughter, Ayah. But his pain is now over. I do not mourn for him. I mourn for our broken world, where so much hate and destruction abounds. We have a cancer called sin. The disease that kills the body is minor, but the disease that kills the soul is eternal. Nabeel would want more than anything else that we carry the message of Jesus to help change the world. Only then can we understand that the sad news of Nabeel’s death is temporary.” (read the rest here)
Fulfill Your Ministry by Nabeel Querishi (VIDEO)
As Nabeel began his battle with cancer, he was invited to give the Fall 2016 commencement address at Biola University. Here is a video of him powerfully speaking on a passage from my favorite book in the Bible – 2 Timothy.
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:1-8.
Nabeel has fulfilled the ministry that God had for him and has now entered into the joy of his master. Let his life and death remind us to run hard and be found faithful.
A fund has been created for Nabeel’s wife and daughter to help with mounting medical bills, which you can contribute to here.
– Nabeel’s YouTube channel and Vlog (43 videos) of his last year battling cancer and reflecting on his faith journey
Books and Resources by Nabeel Querishi
– Nabeel’s books including Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and No God But One
<- Nabeel Qureshi: Islam Through the Eyes of Muslims: Nabeel’s Testimony – Apologetics to Islam