I cannot pray with a deep burden for everyone who is dying. I also know that in this fallen world, we will all die sooner or later. I know that while God can heal with a miracle, He does not normally do so. But I would like to publicly join his many friends and readers in prayer for Nabeel’s healing.
My answer may seem a little long-winded, but do stay with me.
Eleven years ago, Nabeel, a medical doctor, converted from Islam to become a follower of Jesus. He made this change after much debate, discussion, and study. Eventually, he went on to become a well-known speaker, also engaging in friendly debates with Muslim scholars. If you like you can read what he has to say about his conversion here.
I enjoy listening to him speak because he loves Muslims so much. It is not hard for him to do so, because many in his family are still Muslims and he loves them dearly. Moreover, his respect for his father and the way he was raised is obvious when he mentions these subjects. I find that combination of love, yearning, scholarship, and purposefulness very compelling.
I believe that the only way to God is through Jesus the Son as revealed in the Bible. Muslims would object to at least three points in my previous sentence (in bold). From a very early age, all Muslims are taught about Jesus and Christians (and Jews and the Bible and the authenticity of extant manuscripts and several other things) in a certain way that makes it difficult for them to listen with an open mind. [Oh and by the way, Christians find it hard to listen with an open mind too. Try it sometime. It requires a certain training to be able to do so, especially for those who have strong opinions, as do some of us. Muslims are no different in this regard.]
While I can usually share Jesus with my non-Muslim friends, I come up against a wall when I try to share Him with my Muslim friends. Listening to Nabeel is a great encouragement. Not that it’s magic or anything like that. The last time (and only time) I suggested Nabeel to a Muslim friend, and a dear one at that, he politely told me that he would much rather listen to me than listen to a recorded speech of someone else. That did throw the ball squarely back into my court. But atleast I could still use Nabeel as a resource. Nabeel helps me to stand in the shoes of my friends and see God, the world and Jesus as they do. This is of tremendous value, and extremely rare.
Rare? Yes it is rare. To have scholarship of Islamic traditions, the Quran, as well as the Bible is rare enough. But even more unusual it is to have this scholarship combined with a genuine affection and love of the Muslim people and a comfort level with their culture. Nabeel comes from that culture. He is heart broken about those in his family who do not understand him and his God.
I have not met many Western Christians who are comfortable with Muslim culture. The terror attacks all over the globe in the name of Islam is not helping the situation either. And as the saying goes, that a little knowledge is dangerous, knowledge about the Jihad texts has only added to an unhealthy level of fear and discomfort in the minds of some.
When I went to my home city of Bangalore recently, I made it a point to go to OPH Road and have a plate of Biriyani at the old Taj Restaurant. Looking out through the window of the old eatery, the scene of the mosque and Muslim shops brought back nostalgic memories.
I remember the decade I lived in Williams Town punctuated with reqularity by the prayer calls from the mosque on the next street. I remember the happy days spent in the home of my beautiful friend Najmussahar, her naughty little brother Makkhoo (Maqsood), their lovely mum and their dad, who was kindness itself, and the older brother whose name I have forgotten. I remember young and pretty jeans-under-her-burka friend Fazeela, to name a few with whom I have lost touch. Someone like me needs someone like Nabeel as a resource, not merely an intellectual with academic knowledge.
That is why I pray that God in His kindness might spare Nabeel for a few more years. Whatever may happen, healing or not, in life or in death, I pray that Dr. Nabeel Qureshi would be mightily used of God for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.