Ravi Zacharias remembers the day he realized something was wrong with his recently departed protégé, Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi.
"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. He could make a big meal look like an appetizer. So I noticed that he was just nibbling away at his food," the founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries wrote of the late 34-year-old former Muslim in The Washington Post.
"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," Zacharias recalled.
Qureshi was diagnosed with late stage stomach cancer.
On Saturday, his death hit the evangelical Christian world hard.
For four-and-a-half years while working with RZIM, Qureshi, who was raised in a Muslim American family before converting to Christianity, proudly lived out the life he found in his newfound faith.
"He was not just an evangelical; he was passionately evangelistic. He desired to cover the globe with that good news: that God's forgiveness was available to all. When he spoke, he held audiences captive," Zacharias wrote.
Qureshi tried to improve the dialogue between Christians and Muslims through the sharing of deep insights on his faith experience, including in his last book, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward.
In May this year, despite his battle with cancer, Qureshi asked Zacharias to let him do one more mission trip with RZIM. They went to Malaysia.
"Even though his body was weak, his passion was undiminished. His answers to people's questions about God and Jesus were profound and persuasive. It's hard to believe that Nabeel Qureshi has left us all too soon. I am reminded that he died the same age as Jesus was when his mission was accomplished," Zacharias said.
"I've been thinking about some things that I wanted to discuss briefly that I've never really had an opportunity to discuss. And that has been where my heart has been during my ministry," he began.
"There's been a lot of discussion about details about the truth of Islam and Christianity. And looking into the Quran and the Bible and Jesus and Muhammad, etc. You know I think it's very important that we discuss matters of truth. But at the end of the day that is supposed to be undergirded by love and by peace. When we talk to people about our beliefs we should do it through a lens of love and the whole point should be to bring people together," he said.
He then explained that he had observed some people using the information he has shared to tear each other down and warned against it.
"I've noticed at times that people would take the information that I share and use it to undercut one another. That has not been my intent. My whole point in teaching is for love to reign. And so, as you consider my ministry, I hope it leaves a legacy of love, of peace, of truth, of caring for one another. That's my hope and my purpose behind this," he said. "If at any point, I have said anything that seems to contravene that, I do apologize and I hope that that is not the legacy that I leave behind."
He also urged his supporters to remember his family in the event of his death. He leaves behind his parents, wife, Michelle, and his daughter, Ayah.
"Please also pray for my family. They have been taking such great care of me over the past few weeks. Especially my father but also my mother and sister and my wife. I do hope there'll be people who pray for them should the worst happen to me. So please do consider them going forward in your prayers on a daily basis," he said.