A member of our tribe died this past week. A leader, actually.
Nabeel Qureshi grew up in a warm Pakistani family as a faithful, practicing Muslim. After an arduous intellectual and spiritual journey, he began to follow Jesus as a young adult in 2005.
His love for Jesus and for Muslims led him to a career as an apologist, arguing winsomely and relentlessly for the truth of the Gospel. His book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus has seen unprecedented success and has impacted untold numbers of people.
In August of 2016, Nabeel shared on Facebook, “My family and I have received the news that I have advanced stomach cancer, and the clinical prognosis is quite grim.” In the midst of intense, global prayer, Nabeel died last Saturday, September 16th at age 34. He leaves behind a wife and young daughter.
He also leaves behind some pretty big shoes to fill. I’m grateful that his books and videos remain, but much work also remains. I pray that Nabeel’s death will inspire us to love Muslims more practically and fiercely, share the hope of Jesus more faithfully with both Muslims and Christians and pray without giving up for the fullness of God’s kingdom.
If you want to help Nabeel’s wife and daughter, buy his book or give directly here.
To learn more, check out this blurb in the Missions Catalyst ezine, this article by his boss and friend, Ravi Zacharias or this kind overview by Justin Taylor.
Will you join me in praying for comfort and hope for Nabeel’s family? Let’s also ask God to raise up many to carry forward his work. May his influence for God’s glory in death far exceed what has been seen so far.
On the one hand, our oldest daughter gets married in two days! There’s not much happier than that. On the other hand, I’m reading about 250,000 Rohingya refugees who’ve fled from Burma to Bangladesh. Their scale of suffering is beyond what I can imagine and it’s making my head spin.
The Rohingya are Muslims living in a predominantly Buddhist state. They are ethnically related to Bengalis and have been oppressed for decades. The current situation, and the history leading up to it, is murky at best. The Rohingya live in a geographically isolated part of Burma which is further cut off by government forces. I’m suspect of almost everything said about this situation.
This much does seem clear: multiple tens of thousands of women, children and elderly are fleeing for their lives in the most deplorable conditions. They are driven out because they are Muslim, because they are minorities and because recently a few of their own, armed with primitive weapons have attacked police.
What can you and I do? We can pray. God sees the situation clearly. He knows each name. And Jesus’s life and death show us that he loves the Rohingya more than we will ever know.
Here are some prayer points:
- Pray for safe passage for Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh, for strength and stamina, for water, food and shelter along the way.
- Pray for proper government response both in Burma and beyond. Pray particularly for Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, who now leads Burma, to courageously respond to this crisis.
- Pray for Bangladesh as they struggle to receive these refugees, for resources and hospitality.
- Finally, pray for our hearts, that we would not grow cold to people suffering simply because of who they are.
Please share this with others who might want to know about and pray for the Rohingya situation.
If you notice the plaintive bleating of sheep today, it might be due to Eid Al-Adha, the Islamic feast of sacrifice. It’s a fun celebration, if you’re not a sheep!
For this the largest annual celebration of the Islamic year, sheep are killed, shared and eaten in commemoration of Abraham’s (Muslims tend to use “Ibrahim.”) obedience to offer his son, a story recounted in both the Bible and the Quran, and God’s provision at the last moment of an alternative sacrifice.
Eid Al-Adha is a joyful time of family gatherings, gifts and special religious services. (You can read more here and here.)
It’s also a great time for Christians to connect with Muslim friends and neighbors.
Start with greetings both personal and on your Facebook page. “Eid Mubarak,” basically “Happy Eid,” is a good start. Depending on your relationships and time (Personally, we’re prepping for our daughter’s wedding at our house in a week, so I barely have time to brush my teeth!), consider some of these ideas as well:
Take small presents (flowers or chocolates) to your Muslim friends and wish them a happy holiday. If you’re invited to a meal and your schedule allows, go! Seems like Jesus was doing this all the time! Finally, grab a copy or five of this booklet written by my friend Fouad called “Adha in the Injeel.” It talks about the foreshadowing found in Abraham’s action and the fullness of the sacrifice of Jesus. It’s designed to be read by both Christians and Muslims and to facilitate discussion about Jesus and his role in God’s great purposes.
I’ll never forget sitting in the living room of a young Pakistani family in central California. Warm aromas of delicious food rose from the table, kids who’d been sent to bed peeked in and scampered about, and the couple’s words tumbled over each other’s as they recounted their recent pilgrimage to Mecca.
They’d been on Hajj and it had deeply affected them.
The wife beamed as she recalled, “We felt so clean right after Hajj.” Her broad smile was touched with a hint of sadness. “We longed for that feeling to last,” she shared, “but it faded all too quickly.”
Muslims go on Hajj for many reasons: obedience to God, religious obligation, a desire to celebrate community and spiritual self-improvement among others.
This year, Hajj begins on August 30 and runs until September 1st. I’d like to ask you to do two things:
Chat with a Muslim about Hajj. Learn from an insider about this huge event. Too often our views are shaped by the sensational stories we see on the news. Large scale bad things often happen at Hajj, but I think Jesus would have us empathize with the individual. Who knows what you might learn!
Pray for Muslims who are making the pilgrimage. Here’s a five minute video that explains the pilgrimage and gives some specific ways to pray. I’ll be praying for Jesus to show up in dreams and visions, continuing to offer his 2000 year old invitation to follow him. I’ll also pray against the mob-induced tragedies that have killed many during this time. And finally, I’ll ask God to work in such a way that the feeling of cleanness my friends in California experienced will actually endure. Will you pray with me and invite some buds to join us?