Arthur at the EAP – “Christianity is so exclusivistic … believe in it or go to hell. That’s not right nor fair”

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Hey TD!

I just got back from spending an amazing week in Atlanta with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) as a participant in their Emerging Apologists Program (EAP).  What a phenomenal time it was of nurturing my heart, soul, mind, and strength in the Lord and in my ministry in this world. I hope to pass on to you things I’ve learned in the future.

Part of our program was to address a pressing argument against the Christian faith, as well as to participate in an open forum-style Q&A session. The issue I addressed was “Christianity is so exclusivistic. You either believe in Christianity or go to hell. That’s neither right nor fair.” I thought you might be interested in my answer, in case you come across the same question yourself

“Why is Christianity  So Exclusivistic?” (mp3) – Arthur

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Food For Thought ’18 Photo Album, Message, and Offer

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Hey TD!

Click the link below to see the first FFT ’18 photo album!

Food For Thought ’18 Photo Album

Click on the right to listen to Daniel’s message: “Identified – FFT ’18” – Daniel (mp3 message)

As we’ve shared in TD, we want to follow-up on FFT and continue to help you reach your friends with the love and security of Christ. Just let one of your leaders know and we’ll get behind you and help you continue in conversations that count with your friends, maybe over boba and popcorn chicken? 🙂 (our treat!) You get your friends together and we’ll be there!

 

TD Fri. – “Food For Thought ’18” is Over – Now What?

2018 FFT

Hey TD!

Last Saturday night, high schoolers came to Food For Thought ’18 from all over the SGV to have a great time over great food and to engage in great open, honest, and safe dialogue that was spurred on by a great talk given by Daniel. Conversations were vibrant and alive as people stayed well past the designated finish time to continue discussing things of significance. But now what do we do, now that FFT is over?

Listen to FFT ’18 message here: “Identified – FFT ’18” – Daniel (mp3 message)

This Friday night at TD, we’ll learn how to continue the conversations meaningfully and respectfully, yet effectively in His Name.  We’ll work on next steps to take to not only continue the conversations with your friends, but to do so in a way that leaves everyone feeling refreshed and challenged at the same time.

See you Friday!

 

Life-Changing Trips For TD’ers This Summer

Hey TD!

One thing that made Los Angeles Lakers legend, Magic Johnson, one of the best basketball players of all time was his resolve to continue to get better each year; and the summer is when he went to work on adding new dimensions to his game before each new season.

Summer is an awesome opportunity to for you to “up your game” too. Whether it’s going overseas or staying in the US to serve others in Christ’s Name (and growing immensely in the process) or going to a special conference focused on helping to equip you better for the journey ahead, prayerfully consider how you can make the most of this summer to grow in honoring the Lord.

Here are some trips to consider that some fellow TD’ers and TD leaders will be participating in – Bring Me Hope’s Summer Camp, RZIM’s ReFresh Conference, and our very own Youth Summer Missions Project (YSMP). Check them out below:

Bring Me Hope Summer Camp 2018

Sponsored by Bring Me Hope

July 30 – August 3, 2018 in Zhengzhou, China

TO LOVE

Our five day summer camps center around bringing forgotten children out of orphanages to experience a week of fun, love, and attention. This often includes many firsts for the kids—their first time swimming, eating ice cream and hearing “I love you”. Demonstrating God’s love in action is what camp is all about.

TO DEFEND

Most overseas trips end when you fly home, leaving you with only memories and pictures. However, our desire is for you to continue to have an impact long after you’ve left camp. Through our advocacy program, you can bring awareness to your child’s needs and even help find adoptive families. Our goal is to equip volunteers to defend vulnerable children.

DAY 1: The kids are coming! Today, you become a proud “parent” as you and your translator(s) are paired with 1-2 children to form a family group. Spend the day getting to know each other before you begin an amazing week of camp!

DAY 2-4: Let the fun begin! Camp is filled with activities for your family group to enjoy together. From arts & crafts to talent shows to dance parties, this is a week for your child to explore new experiences in a safe environment. You will have the unique opportunity to empower these children and show them unconditional love during camp. These are the moments that Bring Me Hope Camp was created for!

DAY 5: Today is the day that the children go home to the orphanage. It’s a bittersweet celebration of the relationships you’ve created and how far your family group has come in just 5 short days. It becomes more than just the last day of camp; You are left with memories and passion to do something about this orphan crisis.

AFTER CAMP: Bring Me Hope will provide you with the skills and training to make a greater impact on these children’s lives when you fly back home. You will be given the privilege to be an advocate for the children’s needs and help them find adoptive families!

If you have detailed questions about the camp, you can ask Megan, Calvin, Elissa, Melody T., Sissi, or Abigail, who all went last year.  Check out BMH Summer Camp and contact a TD leader if you have interest in going this summer.

If you are interested in doing the Bring Me Hope internship, ask Megan, Calvin, Angela, Sissi, or Aileen what they’ve been doing: BMH Internship

“ReFresh: Ready For College?” Conference for High School and College Students

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Hosted by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)

July 24-27, 2018 @ The Zacharias Institute in Atlanta, GA

 

Are you a high school upperclassman or a college freshman? Then don’t miss out on ReFresh. As students, you know what it’s like to be surrounded by questions. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed. In the face of so many questions, how can you keep your faith strong? Are you prepared to answer the questions and objections of your friends and classmates? At ReFresh, no question is off limits, whether questions asked from within the Christian faith, or questions from those without faith. We want to give you the space to think through some of the toughest challenges to Christianity and equip you to live out your faith at high school and on campus. You will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from Ravi Zacharias and many other members of RZIM’s Global Speaking Team. ReFresh is designed for students, youth groups, and their leaders.

 

Check out ReFresh: Ready For College for more info and contact a TD leader if you are interested.

 

YSMP 2018

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YSMP is our youth short-term mission trip to the Native American reservations in Arizona. The dates are July 6-14, 2018, and the cost is $170 per person. Our two-fold purpose and prayer for this mission trip is:

1) To participate in the proclamation of God’s glory in the gospel by bringing annual short-term support the local church pastors and congregations within the Native American Reservations in Arizona. Our aim is to hear the needs and vision of the local church pastor and assist the church with our team.

2) To provide a learning experience for our youth and other church members who want to explore cross-cultural missions. We desire for participants to get a sense of the devotion to Christ, training, focus, and flexibility it takes to be on mission, to be challenged to share their faith, and to have their eyes opened to the need for the gospel in less-reached areas.

Each year the YSMP coordinators touch base with each church in the reservation sites to see what kind of support they would like from the STM team. Generally, what that support takes form in:

1) VBS and Youth Camp

2) Visitations and Evangelism

3) Adult Bible Studies

4) Work Projects and Harvest Night

Prayerfully consider joining us on this short-term mission trip! If you have any questions, contact Robert at bobert.chan@gmail.com.

Please Pray for RC Now – in serious condition

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Visiting with RC and his family last month

Hey TD’ers and TD Alum,

May I ask you to please stop for a moment and make a hearty petition to God, asking Him to help heal and restore health to my friend and a hero in my life, Dr. RC Sproul, who is sedated in the hospital in the Intensive Care Unit in serious condition.  His breathing is being supported by a ventilator and he has fluid in his lungs.

His daughter, Sherrie, told me this afternoon that he is a little more stable but is “not out of the woods.”  Please pray that God would lead him out of the woods.

In addition to being a world-class theologian that has helped countless number of Christians in the last four-plus decades to grow in awe and wonder and appreciation of the holiness of God, he is a really good guy.  He is gracious, kind, amazingly sharp and witty, very funny, and yet very humble.

Our entire high school Sunday School curriculum, from 9th – 12th grade comes from his teaching, and all of your Sunday School teachers and TD leaders have been profoundly impacted by his faithful teaching and unique ability to communicate difficult theology in a way that is profound yet understandable.

We were able to visit with RC and his family last month in Orlando (see picture above), and he was as sharp and gracious as ever.  Your prayers for RC, his wife, Vesta, and the rest of the family would be one way you can make a return contribution to him.

Thank you so much – Arthur

’16 – ’17 TD Year-End Slideshow

Hey TD!

September is over and we’ve orientated ourselves to each other, to our small groups, and to areas of TD we can participate in.  Let the new TD year begin!

As we look forward to this Friday’s opening message of our new theme, “Renew: Transforming Our Lives in Christ,” let’s take one last look back at God’s faithfulness to us last year, courtesy of Peter.  Enjoy! – Arthur

Remembering Nabeel Qureshi (1983-2017)

Nabeel’s testimony is a must-watch. You will be so encouraged

Hi TD,

On Saturday, September 16, 2017,  special young and tender shoot was plucked from this earth.  Nabeel Qureshi was a powerful, prolific, promising young man whose powerful mind, tenderness of heart and soul, and sincerity of faith made him one of those that gave us hope for the future of Christian persuasion in an increasingly anti-Christian world. A former devout Muslim, his amazing conversion and ensuing ministry has ministered to thousands around the globe.

After hearing his story live during my family’s then annual pilgrimage to Ravi Zacharias Int’l Ministries’ (RZIM) Summer Institute in Wheaton, IL about four years ago, everyone in the audience knew that we had an up and coming Ravi on our hands.  We were absolutely stunned and blown away. Not only was he Ravi-esque in intellect and in his boldness and precision, but in his tenderness of heart and in his genuine kindness.

We didn’t know him well, but Sandra made it a point talk with him and his wife, Michelle, ask him about his family, and pray for him the two times a year we would see them at RZIM ministry events. We got the chance to meet his daughter, Ayah, when she was one.

I include the second article because I think Ravi does a masterful job of introducing the issues and planting the seeds of the gospel to a secular audience.  I thought it would be a good read for us in order to help us sharpen the way we communicate to the world.  

Better than I to reminisce about this special young man is Ravi himself.  I’m going to share with you two articles, one written for the Christian world in Christianity Today and one written for the secular reader in The Washington Post.  I include the second article because I think Ravi does a masterful job of introducing the issues and planting the seeds of the gospel.  I thought it would be a good read for us in order to help us sharpen the way we communicate to the world.  – Arthur

In Christianity Today:

Ravi Zacharias Remembers His Young Protégé, Nabeel Qureshi
Image: Courtesy of RZIM

 

The first time I saw Nabeel Qureshi, he sat at a table across from me, his one leg constantly moving almost subconsciously, warming up for a run. It was a habit of his restless disposition.

That was Nabeel in true expression; he hated sitting still. He was a man with a mission, ready to run. Sadly, for us, he finished his race all too soon and our hearts are broken at the loss of one who ran with spectacular passion to do what filled his soul.

He was a thorough-going evangelical. He held dear the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old and New Testaments and carried the message of salvation. Jesus’ grace for a transformed heart was his message.

For years as a young man, he labored and struggled to gain “righteousness before God” only to find out that righteousness was already met in the cross through Jesus Christ. That was his message in his best-selling book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

Qureshi was not just an evangelical; he was passionately evangelistic. He desired to cover the globe with the good news that God’s forgiveness was available to all. I have seldom seen a man with such deep conviction and proportionate passion and gifting. When he spoke, he held audiences spellbound.

I invited him to join our team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) four and a half years ago. He placed one condition, and I placed one condition. His condition was that after he joined, he’d travel with me for one year, to observe and learn. I asked that after the year, he’d go to Oxford. I wanted him to complete his doctorate to be better prepared to answer the toughest questions a Christian apologist faces—and to do it with gentleness, respect, and learning. He agreed.

He called me “uncle.” He became part of our team. Everywhere he went, they wanted him back. After every talk we would have a meal together, and he would ask me, “Uncle, how did I do?”

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 with his winsome smile. I wish I could see that smile again. He could make a big meal look like an appetizer.

Nabeel came like a streak of lightning, brightened the night sky, and has returned to the One who gave the power to do what he did.

I noticed that he was just nibbling away at his food. 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.

The rest is history. He went to see the doctor. They had concerns, and the first diagnosis was cancer of the stomach—probably stage 4. That was a stunner. It strained credulity. We were taken by shock. He moved to Houston for treatment. But the condition was on a downward spiral. Within a few months, the handwriting was on the wall. But he remained firm that he was in God’s hands.

In May, he said to me, “Uncle, can I do one more trip with you? I miss that time of being on the road with you.” I said, “Nabeel, if your doctor approves, yes,please come. We will cover your cost.”

I took him with me to Malaysia. His body was weak, his passion undiminished, his speaking, powerful, his messages reaping a harvest of followers of Jesus. His answers to people’s questions were profound and persuasive. They would applaud with each answer. He would talk one on one; he would pray one with one. His belief in God being One and the answer to salvation being One were all part of his spiritual DNA.

When we had our last meal together and when we bid him goodbye in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, I had a feeling that was our “farewell.” I fought off the tears.

As I write this, it’s hard to hold back the tears. It’s hard to believe that Nabeel Qureshi has left us all too soon. I reminded him that he was the same age as our Lord whose mission was accomplished. In like manner, Nabeel came like a streak of lightning, brightened the night sky, and has returned to the One who gave the power to do what he did.

Nabeel, I will no longer hear you calling me “uncle.” I will miss that. But I will hear you calling me “brother” when we meet again—because we both serve our heavenly Father who adopted us as his own children.

“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him,” so said the apostle Paul who got a glimpse of the resurrected Jesus. Nabeel is now in his presence.

He told me how much he hurt for leaving his wife, Michelle, his young daughter, Ayah, and his family. That farewell was painful for him. But his pain is now over and the One who wipes away every tear has welcomed him. I do not mourn for him.

I mourn for our broken world where so much hate and destruction abounds. We have a cancer called “sin.” We do not like the diagnosis. But it’s a killer. The message that Nabeel carried was true. God sent his Son to heal that disease. That disease is still killing until we heed that message.

May we hear God’s voice reminding us that the disease that kills the body is minor. The disease that kills the soul is eternal. Nabeel would want more than anything else that we carry that message of Jesus to help change the world. Only then can we understand that the sad news of Nabeel’s death is temporary. The good news of his life is eternal.

His message lives on. He authored three incredibly powerful books: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus; Answering Jihad; and No God but One. Recently when I was in Iraq, somebody made reference to the impact on his life through those books. Nabeel and I were in the midst of co-authoring a book on Jesus through Eastern eyes. His eyes have now seen his Master. I will have to write with imagination.

I miss you, dear friend. You taught me so much in your few years: to run the race with passion and that our moment to bid farewell will also come. You will never be forgotten. Thank you for spending those memorable years with us. They were all too few.

Knowing the biblical message, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it well:

Life is real! life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

See you soon, my dear Nabeel.

Your “uncle” and “brother,”

Ravi

Ravi Zacharias is the founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).

CT’s obituary for Nabeel Qureshi can be found here, and his personal testimony here.

In The Washington Post:

Why this Muslim-turned-Christian speaker resonated with so many before his death at 34

September 17

Nabeel Qureshi, who was raised in a Muslim American family before converting to Christianity. (Photo courtesy of RZIM)

 

The first time I saw him, he sat at a table across from me, one of his legs constantly moving almost subconsciously, as though he was warming up for a run. It was a habit of his restless disposition to stand and gallop. I asked if we could talk about his mission in life. He joined me in the back seat of the car, that leg still moving.

That was Nabeel Qureshi. He hated sitting still. He was a man with a mission, ready to run. Sadly, for us, he died Saturday at a young age of 34 after a year of battling stomach cancer. Nabeel, who was raised in a Muslim-American family and converted to Christianity after a fellow college student sparked his interest in Christianity, worked with me in Christian apologetics.

The field of apologetics deals with the hard questions posed to the Christian faith. Each of us has a worldview, whether we recognize it or not. A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions: origin, meaning, morality and destiny. Christian apologetics is the discipline of answering people’s specific questions and making the truth claims clear. We aim to engage people in meaningful interactions with gentleness and respect, bearing in mind that behind every question is a questioner.

Because Islam is so much in the sights of the world right now, an articulate and attractive personality like Nabeel was often given a fair hearing. He was also a medical doctor and well studied in theology and philosophy, academic credentials that earned him respect. He was well versed in the faith in which he was raised.

Nabeel held dear the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old and New Testaments and carried the message of salvation. He said that for years as a young man, he labored and struggled to gain “righteousness before God” only to find out that righteousness was already found in the cross through Jesus. That was his message in his best-selling book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.”

His grandparents were Muslim missionaries in Indonesia. His conversion to Christianity took place after he seriously examined the historicity of the gospels and the unique claims of Jesus. The conversion was very hard on his family and probably the greatest heartache he carried because he loved them.

Yes, his conversion stirred many questions, but his gracious and clear responses touched many in the Islamic world. He met numerous people who had read his book and made their own journeys to faith in Jesus. It also hurt him deeply when Muslims were painted with a violent brush, something he believed was false and wrong-headed.

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.

I lead a ministry called RZIM, which began in 1984 and has a full-time team of more than 70 speakers from numerous cultural backgrounds in 15 countries and on every continent. We speak to artists, academics, business and political leaders, addressing the questions of origin, meaning, morality and destiny. Our goal is to present the answers of Jesus in cogent and intellectually persuasive ways to bridge the head to the heart.

I invited Qureshi to join our team four and a half years ago. He reached tens of thousands in live audiences, but his books reached even more people. He was a powerful speaker and debater.

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.

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.

The rest is history. A doctor diagnosed stomach cancer — probably stage 4. We were all stunned. Within a few months, the writing was on the wall.

In May, he asked me to do one more trip.

We 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.

“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him,” so said the apostle Paul. We believe that Nabeel is now in heaven. He told me how painful it was to leave his wife, Michelle, and his young daughter, Ayah. But his pain is now over. I do not mourn for him.

I mourn for our broken world, where so much hate and destruction abounds. We have a cancer called sin. The disease that kills the body is minor, but the disease that kills the soul is eternal. Nabeel would want more than anything else that we carry the message of Jesus to help change the world. Only then can we understand that the sad news of Nabeel’s death is temporary.

The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it well.

Life is real! life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (rzim.org), which engages audiences worldwide on the deepest questions of life.