In my duration serving as a Chaplain, I have had the honor to meet many incredible people that I would have never had otherwise, due to officiating weddings, funerals, and such. What comes to my mind in the wake of the recent heartbreaking news of Nabeel Qureshi’s death, is an instance that really touched me over the summer.
During a certain wedding that I officiated years ago, I formed a friendship with at the time a bridesmaid. We stayed in touch over the years sharing with each other’s journeys in life. I often prayed for her, her family, and especially her dad. He was in my prayers quite frequently due to some reoccurring health issues. I never met him in person, but she would often pass along messages back and forth from him and I. In a strange way, even though I never met him, I felt as if I knew him..
She and I were there for each other all the time. She was there for me offering words of encouragement when my dad passed, and then I had the opportunity to do the same for her when her dad passed in early April.
Compassion is important in friendships. You don’t always have to have an answer for everything; just being there, even as just a shoulder to cry on or even shedding your own tears with someone who is grieving speaks volumes and says more than any words can ever say.
The instance that I am referring to goes deeper than this. It turns out that two months after her dads passing, she was cleaning out and going through a lot of her dad’s items, and she found something rather fascinating…
What she had found was a notebook. What was contained on each page was a hand written prayer. She immediately contacted me to let me know that her dad prayed for me.
She said that it seemed as though he was praying for everyone, but it was “cute how he labeled me.”
His daughter’s, “minister’s friend – Bill.”
After I told her to hold on to that book, because it was such a beautiful memoir, I began to tear up because I was just so deeply humbled and touched. Prayers are just so important and I was honored that he not only took the time to pray for me, but my name was written by his own hand in his little book of prayers. What he prayed for me exactly, I may never know in this life, but in this life I had the “feeling” of knowing him, but never actually met him, and maybe his prayers had something to do with it?
We all have our little book of prayers. We may not actually write them down, but they are written on our hearts. Some prayers seem to be never answered and others are answered right away or according to God’s perfect timing. We have certain people that we pray for only as a onetime occurrence and others we pray for daily.
Nabeel Qureshi is an individual that I prayed for daily and is another example of someone that I never had the honor to meet, but I always had the feeling as if I knew him.
If you are not familiar with Christian Apologetics, then the name Nabeel Qureshi would not mean much to you. It would just be another first and last name you would overlook with no hesitation.
I had first come to know Nabeel in 2014 as a New York Times bestselling author of a book that I had just happen to stumble across at a book store, which I though was by accident.
Wow, was I wrong, because this was no accident!
“Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus,” was the title of the book and it contained his testimony. He wrote in great detail about being raised as a devout Muslim in the United States, growing up studying Islamic apologetics (how to defend the Islam faith), and engaging Christians in conversations. How ignorant many of them were, until he had found one discussion with a Christian, they became friends, and began a long, friendly, and powerful debate on the historical claims of Christianity and Islam. The end result was a life changing moment for him and he had no choice, but to accept the truth that Jesus indeed had risen from the dead.
I must have read the book four or five times and still use it as a reference to this day. He has also written, “No God But One—Allah or Jesus?”, and “Answering Jihad,” which are both powerful too.
Nabeel, besides writing books, also had 18 moderated, public debates and in 2015 even debated the world renowned Muslim scholar Shabir Ally. Nabeel has not gained any support from the Muslim community, because Muslims are now leaving the faith and becoming Christians because of his ministry.
I have followed Nabeel and his ministry closely over the years. Though we never met in person, we do have mutual friends on social media. Besides listening to his debates and reading his books, I really feel like I have gotten to know him over the years through our mutual friends.
Nabeel was just so young, only in his early thirties, had a wife, a young daughter, was part of a thriving ministry, and the future seemed unlimited for this young, intelligent apologist’s future and road that was ahead of him. Unbeknownst to him and the world, no one would have ever thought that his future would be cut short..
In August of 2016, Nabeel was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. It was a shock to him and to all those who loved him. This is when the Christian community all over the world, as One Body, came together, and began to pray for Nabeel and his family.
Through what seemed to be endless and ongoing treatments for a very long time, on September 8th of 2017 Nabeel revealed to the world on You Tube that doctors had given up on his treatment, have suggested palliative care, and it was time for comfort measures.
He then made another You Tube video the following day talking about his level of faith with this heartbreaking news.
In short, Nabeel goes on to say that he does believe God comes along side us, loves us, and gives us the strength for today. He asks for prayers and then asks people to join him in prayer. Even now with this dire news, he asks for a miracle, knows God is able, and that he will rest in that. He asks the Lord for healing, but if it shouldn’t be God’s will, he trusts Him, and he loves Him anyway.
Nabeel then goes on to state the whole point to his ministry:
To have people come together in peace, love, and the knowledge of truth, this is the legacy he wants to leave behind. This is his hope and purpose.
He then asks for continued prayer for his family, and in his own words:
“Should the worst happen to him. Our God is a God of love.”
Then, just seven short days later on Saturday September 16th 2017, at the young age of just thirty four years old, Nabeel Qureshi died peacefully leaving his wife Michelle and his two year old daughter Ayah Fatima behind.
Many prayed that God would intercede and perform a miracle of healing, and may feel let down that their prayers were unanswered, but rest be assured that the true miracle happened when Nabeel accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and he then had assurance of eternal life.
Other people prayed only to be in line with the “Lord’s will to be done.”
This was the prayer that I prayed.
Like Nabeel, myself, and others who prayed for the “Lords will to be done,” we know that God is able to heal, we rest in that, ask the Lord for healing, but if it shouldn’t be God’s will, we trust Him, and love Him anyway.
We also know that we all have an appointment that we must keep. When we take our final breath we will then “depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”
Philippians 1:19-23 – “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”
Nabeel is now benefiting from the promises of God through the Gospel message. There is a lot we can learn from Nabeel’s journey. He let truth guide him no matter the cost. What a prime example of a bold and true witness for Jesus!
May we all continue to pray for comfort and the “peace that surpasses all understanding” for his family, friends, and especially his wife Michelle and his two year old daughter Ayah Fatima.
I may not have ever met Nabeel in this life, but I am excited to meet him in the next. I give thanks to God for the inspirational life that Nabeel led even until the end. May his legacy that he wanted to leave behind, to have people come together in peace, love, and the knowledge of truth be fulfilled.
Thank you Nabeel for making a lasting impression on me.
April 13, 1983 – September 16, 2017
R.I.P. – R.I.G.
Rest in Peace – Rise in Glory