[Editor’s note: Zacharias gave the eulogy at “abnormally born” Qureshi’s memorial service on September 21.]
The first time I saw Nabeel Qureshi, he sat at a table across from me, his one leg constantly moving almost subconsciously, warming up for a run. It was a habit of his restless disposition.
That was Nabeel in true expression; he hated sitting still. He was a man with a mission, ready to run. Sadly, for us, he finished his race all too soon and our hearts are broken at the loss of one who ran with spectacular passion to do what filled his soul.
He was a thorough-going evangelical. He held dear the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old and New Testaments and carried the message of salvation. Jesus’ grace for a transformed heart was his message.
For years as a young man, he labored and struggled to gain “righteousness before God” only to find out that righteousness was already met in the cross through Jesus Christ. That was his message in his best-selling book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.
Qureshi was not just an evangelical; he was passionately evangelistic. He desired to cover the globe with the good news that God’s forgiveness was available to all. I have seldom seen a man with such deep conviction and proportionate passion and gifting. When he spoke, he held audiences spellbound.
I invited him to join our team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) four and a half years ago. He placed one condition, and I placed one condition. His condition was that after he joined, he’d travel with me for one year, to observe and learn. I asked that after the year, he’d go to Oxford. I wanted him to complete his doctorate to be better prepared to answer the toughest questions a Christian apologist faces—and to do it with gentleness, respect, and learning. He agreed.
He called me “uncle.” He became part of our team. Everywhere he went, they wanted him back. After every talk we would have a meal together, and he would ask me, “Uncle, how did I do?”
I tear up as I think of the meal we had a little over a year ago. Nabeel was a man with a daunting appetite. I used to joke in his presence, “Don’t get behind him in a buffet line; there will be nothing left.” He would chuckle with his winsome smile. I wish I could see that smile again. He could make a big meal look like an appetizer.
I noticed that he was just nibbling away at his food. I said, “Nabeel, are you not going to eat?” He said, “Uncle, I have been having some strange sensations in my stomach.” I asked how long that had been going on, and he said it had been a few weeks. I urged him to have it checked out. He said he was planning on it.
The rest is history. He went to see the doctor. They had concerns, and the first diagnosis was cancer of the stomach—probably stage 4. That was a stunner. It strained credulity. We were taken by shock. He moved to Houston for treatment. But the condition was on a downward spiral. Within a few months, the handwriting was on the wall. But he remained firm that he was in God’s hands.
In May, he said to me, “Uncle, can I do one more trip with you? I miss that time of being on the road with you.” I said, “Nabeel, if your doctor approves, yes, please come. We will cover your cost.”