In response to author Nabeel Qureshi's news that his latest round of radiation for his stomach cancer didn't work, Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias and his international ministry team recently said their "preliminary" goodbyes. Qureshi, a former Ahmadiyya Muslim who converted to Christianity and served as a speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, revealed last summer that he was diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer and only had about a 4 percent chance of surviving the next five years.
Zacharias revealed that Qureshi asked if he could attend the RZIM annual itinerant team meeting because he "viewed us as family." At the meeting, the former Muslim gave the opening address. "He told us that the doctors have given up hope and that there will be no surgical intervention (which was to have happened only if the chemo and radiation had worked)," Zacharias explained.
"Medicine feels it has done all it can. It has been the privilege of RZIM to cover Nabeel's medical expenses and carry him and his family through this entire treatment since the discovery of the cancer," he added. "RZIM's generous donors have been more than willing to help us bear the financial cost, which is small in comparison to the emotional and physical agony - to say nothing of the shock of it all - that he and his family are facing."
Zacharias said that Qureshi also said they probably won't see him speaking in public again. "I bid you all goodbye," Qureshi was quoted as saying.
"I was torn by the request because with each passing day, he was hanging on by a more slender thread," Zacharias wrote. "The last thing I wanted to happen was for his final breath to be taken while he was away from his precious wife and daughter. But he was confident he would be fine to make the trip."
In his post, Zacharias also offered his farewell. "My dearest Nabeel, I love you, dear friend, and my heart aches to see you leaving this world so soon. But if it is of any comfort, you have so far lived the same number of years as our Lord and Redeemer," he wrote.
"What is more, the world is a mess. We are still trapped by the fears of living in a world immersed in hate and living for matter, greed, pride, and violence. You will be freed to the joy of life where there are no more fears, no more tears, no more hate, no more bloodshed, because you will be with the One who has already shed his blood for you, where love is supreme, grace abounds, and the consummate joy is of the soul. The smile of God awaits you: 'Well done.'"
Qureshi, who is believed to have about a 1 percent chance of survival after scans recently revealed that radiation hasn't worked, said he received many calls and messages from people asking if he had given up hope after Zacharias posted his tribute on Monday.
"No, I haven't given up hope. I really, truly, honestly do believe that I will be healed, against all medical odds, all medical statistics," Qureshi said. "I believe that God's intent is to glorify Himself through my miraculous healing."
Qureshi is a Pakistani American Christian apologist and convert from Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He is a speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and the author of three books, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity (Zondervan, February 2014),Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward (Zondervan, March 2016), and No God But One-Allah or Jesus (Zondervan, August 2016).
On 30 August 2016, Qureshi announced that he was in the advanced stages of stomach cancer. Qureshi took to his Facebook page to inform fans and followers of his illness saying the prognosis was "quite grim".
"This is an announcement that I never expected to make, but God in His infinite and sovereign wisdom has chosen me for this refining, and I pray He will be glorified through my body and my spirit," Qureshi wrote. "My family and I have received the news that I have advanced stomach cancer, and the clinical prognosis is quite grim. Nonetheless, we are going to pursue healing aggressively, both medical and miraculous, relying on God and the fact that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine."
While Qureshi said his primary tumor shrunk, the cancer in his lymph nodes didn't recede and, in fact, spread to other lymph nodes in his chest, precluding him from being a candidate for much-needed surgery.
"We don't know what's going to happen now," he continued. "Next week, we will be meeting with our medical oncologist who will be giving us whatever options we have now."
Qureshi held little back in openly sharing his worries and fears, recalling the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in the Gospel of John and proclaiming that this is the sort of profound miracle he's hoping to see unfold in his own life.
In the end, he said he "can't lose hope," as he has a young daughter and doesn't want her to grow up fatherless.