Nabeel Qureshi, Servant of Jesus Christ, 1983-2017
Nabeel Qureshi, servant of the Lord, has reached the end of a hard and patient battle with stomach cancer, according to his longtime friend David Wood. I join with many, many friends in deep grief, yet rejoicing that he is with Jesus Christ.
The day I met Nabeel we were in the speakers’ lunch room at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics. He was working as a youth minister in Chesapeake, Virginia, at the time. We were both speakers at breakout sessions at the conference that year. His real public ministry was yet to begin.
I had just walked in on a conversation in which he was sharing his testimony of coming to faith in Christ through the witness of great friends and through miraculous dreams and visions — which is surprisingly common for Muslim converts. If you haven’t read his telling of the tale, you must pick up his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity.
I told him that day I had been wondering whether there might be any danger involved in criticizing Islam on my blog. He said, “Oh, Tom, you don’t need to worry. You’re way down the list of people they’re concerned about. I’m about number 5.”
He wasn’t boasting. It was true. By converting to Christ — and having done enough intensive study to be able to explain why it made sense to convert — he was putting himself quite knowingly in harm’s way.
A Heart to Follow Jesus
But he had set his heart to follow Jesus. We met for lunch between our two Virginia homes a few weeks later, and I asked him about his unusual career path. “You’re the only youth minister I know who started out as a medical doctor,” I said. He explained that he had come to faith while he was earning his M.D. Now he was on a new path of learning to have a real ministry in Christ. Taking a position in youth ministry was characteristic for him: He was there to learn as well as to serve.
His path led him to further advanced degrees at Biola and Duke, as well as additional study at Oxford University. It took him around the world as a speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, speaking on reasons for belief in Christ.
As far as I know he never had any truly dangerous run-ins, though — except for one bizarre incident when he and three friends spent a night in jail in Dearborn, Michigan, for sharing their faith in Christ, peacefully and non-disruptively, at an Arab festival there.
We were both at another National Conference on Christian Apologetics again shortly after that, and attending a speakers’ luncheon there. The conference host, Alex McFarland, had decided to let a few of the less prominent people there share briefly on what they’d been doing lately. (Nabeel was still in that category at the time.) He and I were both chosen to speak — but Alex had warned me beforehand. With no advance notice, he asked Nabeel to stand and say something about the Dearborn experience.
After lunch Nabeel came up to me, looking as distressed as I ever saw him, and said, “Oh, man. For sure, this is going to be the only time in my career I’ll ever to speak to a group with Chuck Colson and Josh McDowell in the room — and I didn’t have even a moment to prepare!”
Now he’s settling into his Father’s house — the one with “many rooms” (or “many mansions,” in the King James Version) — enjoying fellowship face to face with Jesus Christ. For that, he was well prepared. He helped countless others become prepared, too, while he was on the way there.
I am so grateful for his life and his ministry.