Processing The Death of a Friend
September 22, 2017 - By: Rachel Buggs
"It has been a very long week! A dear friend passed away last Saturday, September 16, 2017, Nabeel Qureshi, for whom we have been praying and believing for a huge miracle." - r.b.
It has been a very long week! A dear friend passed away last Saturday, September 16, 2017, Nabeel Qureshi, for whom we have been praying and believing for a huge miracle. Nabeel was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer just over a year ago. We held out hope for healing to the very end of Nabeel’s battle with cancer (and even beyond) wanting a miracle so badly we could taste it. We all wanted God to show up “big” to demonstrate to the world that He can and still does the miraculous today for those believing in faith. And, if anyone deserved it, we thought, it was Nabeel! We somberly watched the live streaming of Nabeel’s “Celebration of Life” service aired from Houston’s First Baptist Church yesterday, Thursday, September 20th. It was a beautiful service and a beautiful testament to a life well lived – a life with an eternal impact for the kingdom of God. There is no doubt that in his short 34 years on earth, Nabeel impacted tens of thousands with the message of Jesus Christ and the truth about the God we serve and follow. (Please see the link at the end of this blog to learn more about “who” Nabeel Qureshi is!)
In truth, it is a miracle that we even had the opportunity to come to meet and know Nabeel Qureshi. This divine appointment took place on September 6, 2016. Earlier in 2016, Lisa’s husband Rob had introduced a book that Nabeel had written as a possible study for our couples small group, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity. With all that was going on in the world around us, our small group had a great desire to gain an educated understanding of the religion of Islam, and Nabeel’s eight week study of his book sounded perfect. It wasn’t yet completed, but Rob promised to follow-up so that we could do the study when it was available. We had just begun the study in August of 2016 when Rob passed along the Facebook message from Nabeel to the world announcing the grim news of his cancer diagnosis (August 30, 2016). Rob immediately reached out to Nabeel’s secretary offering prayer from our ministry and copied Judy, Lisa and myself on the message. We read it in disbelief and with even greater disbelief received a message back that Nabeel would definitely want to meet with us for prayer! What??? Even though we had only recently learned who Nabeel was and about his ministry, he was in fact a public figure, and we felt just a wee bit under qualified to be praying for him (maybe more my own specific thoughts but just being real!).
So…we did meet Nabeel just a few days later, and God was faithful to provide us with His prophetic words to share with Nabeel and his beautiful wife, Michelle, during our six to seven hours together in their home in Atlanta. (They were packed and leaving for Houston on the following day where Nabeel would begin receiving medical treatment for his cancer.) Our time together was so memorable and felt as though we were with a dear friend from the start. We talked, we poured over God’s words, we shared communion together, we anointed Nabeel with oil, and we prayed! We prayed big, believing big, because without faith, nothing is possible with God (Hebrews 11:6)! The one thing, in fact, that made a great impact upon Nabeel and Michelle regarding our time together was the confidence and boldness with which we prayed for a miracle. Looking back, I truly believe that God used us on this day to help propel this couple forward in their faith and confidence in Him which they would greatly need for this journey. We kept in touch somewhat over this past year and had two additional opportunities to pray with both Michelle and Nabeel via the grand technology of Oovoo and FaceTime.
We felt so very invested and connected to Nabeel’s journey and sat on the edge of our seats with every video blog (vlog) that Nabeel posted on Facebook to chronicle his journey and all that God was teaching him along the way – 43 in total! The teachings that Nabeel posted through these vlogs were so real and transparent that if even if you didn’t know who Nabeel was before this journey began, somewhere along the way, you felt that you knew him personally and that he was your good friend. Sooooo many people throughout the world were moved, encouraged, enlightened, and brought to faith through these vlogs and Nabeel’s testimony of God’s faithfulness to him. And, sooooo many people came to love him and pray for his healing diligently. I truly believe that the impact that Nabeel had during this past year, because of his illness, had an even greater impact for the kingdom of God than his previous years of ministry, which were remarkable by anyone’s standards.
We wanted to believe that God would honor this young man’s extraordinary faith, as well as the faith of the thousands praying for him, by healing him completely of his cancer. After all, if Nabeel was miraculously healed, he could continue to impact this world with even greater effectiveness with the compelling gospel of Jesus Christ. We wanted to believe that his impact upon the Islamic community would continue to be great as well, because we do know and understand that many Muslims converted to Christianity as a direct result of having been propelled by Nabeel’s testimony. We wanted to believe that this was NOT the end of Nabeel’s life on this earth. However, we were wrong, and Nabeel passed away to be with his Lord and Savior on September 16, 2017. Are we saddened by his passing? ABSOLUTELY! Have we lost confidence in the power of God or the will of God to heal? NO! Both our ministry’s will and my personal will was for Nabeel to live, but God’s WILL will be done and His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Only God knows for now, the full impact of Nabeel Qureshi on this world. We must wait and see!
Will we continue to pray with great confidence and boldness for others whom God leads our way? YES! For we don’t know God’s will for each and every individual for whom we pray, but we do know that God CAN heal and IF it is His will, He WILL! No one is more or less deserving of God’s healing power either! We know this from scripture and must remind ourselves of this fact. We do not fully understand how God’s purposes fit together and are fulfilled on this earth, but we know and trust that God’s purposes ARE and WILL BE fulfilled on this earth. For now, we carry on in our mission to pray for those in need and will leave the rest in God’s hands. Though we still long to see the miraculous before our very eyes, we also know that the miraculous is happening in our midst as God heals the hearts and spirits of those for whom we pray and stirs them to greater faith. Jesus himself commented on the forgiveness of sins being a greater miracle than the physical miracle of the lame man brought before Jesus by his friends (Luke 5:17-26). The healing of our spirit, which has eternal value, is far more important than the healing of our physical infirmities, which are temporary. So….our faith in the Lord as a good and gracious God propels us forward, and we will NEVER lose HOPE in the His great power and love!
If you would like to learn more about the life and ministry of Nabeel Qureshi, the following provides a wonderful synopsis: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2017/09/16/nabeel-qureshi-1983-2017/
I also highly recommend Nabeel’s book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, in which he shares his personal story of coming to faith in Jesus Christ.
And please keep his wife, Michelle, and their young daughter, Ayah, in your prayers!