Two mentors of beloved Christian apologist and author Nabeel Qureshi shared with mourners their memories of the short but impactful life of the 34-year-old convert from Islam who lost his battle with cancer last weekend.
Apologist and author Ravi Zacharias, who mentored and developed a personal relationship with Qureshi for over four years when he served with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, and Jim Tour, a Rice University chemistry professor who mentored Qureshi after he was diagnosed with cancer last year, gave their remarks at Qureshi's funeral service at Houston's First Baptist Loop Campus on Thursday morning.
Tour spoke following short remarks from First Baptist Pastor Gregg Matte, who told the audience in attendance and the thousands watching the service online that Qureshi, a Pakistani American, was always "reaching for truth" and "reaching for Heaven."
"It's almost as if the Lord just recently grabbed that outreached-hand and pulled him on up to Heaven and took him home," Matte said. "He was always seeking and always reaching and now he is face to face with Jesus."
Tour, a 58-year-old chemist, began his remarks by explaining that he first got to know Qureshi in 2012.
"I remember when he got the offer from RZIM. It was the same time he had gotten an offer to do his Ph.D at Rice. Very few offers are made for Ph.Ds at Rice in the religion department. He says, 'I am really torn on what I ought to do.' I said, 'Nabeel, I can help you.' He says, 'What's that?' I said, 'You would be an idiot not to take the RZIM offer. Be a Barnabas and travel with Paul and learn this.'"
Tour said that during Qureshi's years serving with RZIM they kept in touch. However, he remembers getting that phone call last August when Qureshi revealed that he had been diagnosed with Stage IV stomach cancer.
Tour explained that it was when Qureshi moved back to Houston for cancer treatment last year that he was asked to be Qureshi's mentor.
"I just pushed him away and said, 'You don't want me to mentor you.' Then the next week, he said, 'I really want you to mentor me.' I said, 'You don't know what you are getting into. I am not Oxford trained ...' He said, 'I want you to do this,'" Tour recalled. "So I agreed and told him that 'I am going to speak to you some tough things.' He says, 'I am ready for it.'
Tour stated that they would meet once every week or two at Tour's house.
Tour then shared with the audience the first lesson he taught Qureshi, which he says was the most impactful lesson Qureshi learned from him.
The first lesson, Tour said, involved Qureshi having to repent.
"I asked him, 'What have you been reading in the Scriptures lately?' He showed me and I said, 'What have you been getting out of it?' He said, 'I have been critiquing this and studying the relevancy of this portion and the authenticity of that portion. I said, 'What has God been saying to you?' He says, 'Well, really not a lot, I have just been critiquing it,'" Tour recalled.
"I said, 'That is your problem, Nabeel. Every word in this book is true. Every word in the book is true. God has watched over His word to perform it. I am so glad that you got your education, but remember every word in this book is true."
"You read the testimony of Billy Graham. It was not until he fell on his knees and said, 'Lord, I take every word in this book as truth,' it was only then that his ministry burst forth," Tour added. "I said, 'You have some repenting to do.' So we got down on our knees right there in the kitchen and he repented for not taking God's word as every word being true. He texted me that night and he said, 'It is just like when I got saved. The Lord is speaking to me so richly through the Scripture.'"
The last lesson Tour taught Nabeel involved the "New Testament challenge."
"I said, 'Nabeel, a man or a woman can not read the New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, ... twice without becoming a Christian.' He said, 'Has that been your experience?' I said, 'Absolutely. I have done prison ministry, I speak with professors all the time, I have spoken with big politicians — it works every time. It happened with my own mother that way,'" Tour explained. "If you do not become a Christian sometime when going through the first time, then what you do is open up the New Testament and you start at Matthew 1:1 and say, 'Lord, speak to me through the Scriptures. If this is real, if this is what God has given us, then speak to me.'"
"If you read through that and get to Revelation 22, if you have not become a Christian, you start reading through it again and boom, it hits you," Tour continued. "You will say, 'There is no man like Jesus Christ, the son of God."
In concluding his remarks, Tour denounced "internet chatter" that accuses Qureshi of renouncing his faith on his deathbed.
"That is not true at all. I was with him almost every day for the last couple of months and he continued to stand fast. I never heard him complain with all his pain. He never even told me about his pain," Tour said. "He never asked 'Why me? Why is this happening to me?' He never asked this, such an unusual young man."
Zacharias, who gave the keynote eulogy, said that Qureshi, the author of "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus," was a very abnormal person and had the "grace to recognize that he was blind."
"Nabeel is now seeing this world through the eyes of God. For the first time, the picture is being completely explained to him," Zacharias assured. "The blindness is gone. He was abnormally born, but the was a man of conviction because of that. ... [H]e was abnormally torn."
Zacharias also explained Qureshi's "biggest heartache."
"His biggest heartache was the pain [his Muslim] family was going to feel at his commitment to Christ. He wept, he sobbed and cried across the table from me. He talked to me about it so much," Zacharias added. "I remember when I came to know Christ what a struggle it was but nowhere near his. ... His passion was tearing apart on the inside — the love of his Heavenly Father and his commitment to his earthly father and mother and family."
"We all need the family. The world is attacking the family. The world is shattering the family. The world is alienating the family. Nabeel felt the love for his family so deeply," Zacharias continued. "He was a man torn and wounded, but he understood ... [that] 'What I am paying is nothing compared to what Jesus paid for me.'"