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

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’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.

Thank you, TD!!!

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Thank you, TD, for such an amazing surprise last week!  Wow, we were blown away and totally taken aback by your kindness, generosity, creativity, depth of thought, and … sneakiness!  We had no idea!  It was a real blessing and real ministry for us.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  We feel humbled and loved.

Now let’s get those girls over here and let’s love ’em as a TD family!  See you at TD!

– The Hsiehs

TD’s Final Summer Meeting – Look Inside!

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Hey TD!

Wow, summer has swept by! Come join us for our final summer TD meeting! In addition to worshiping our God in song and having fun with each other, we have more:

  • Praise God! Most of our Bring Me Hope team is back from the Big Country after serving orphaned children at the Bring Me Hope summer camp! Come hear their stories, see their pics and videos, and catch their passion as they share with us what God is doing for orphaned children through BMH in the Big Country … and what He may be leading some of you to do in the future.
  • Aileen and Ashley have also returned from Taiwan after living at an orphanage for most of the summer.  They too will be sharing what God did in their lives and what He’s doing for orphaned children in Taiwan.
  • Last, but not least, Friday is our last time to hang out with Clara at TD before she defects … errr … moves on to serve at BASIC :), so make sure you come and sit next to her this week!

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Vlog #3/Video/Pics – TD’ers Bringing Hope to the Orphaned Overseas

Hey TD!

After quite an amazing first week of summer camp for orphaned children in the Big Country with special needs, three of our TD’ers have returned to us – Josh, Melody T., and Elissa – impacted and changed. They also got to visit one of Show Hope’s care centers (one of the ones we raised money for with V4V!).  Here are a couple of pics from the care center:

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Megan, Calvin, and Brianna still remain there, serving a second week; this time with more “typical” (no or less special needs) orphaned children.  It’s still been pretty challenging (as you can hear from the vlog), but also very rewarding:

Things have still been really good. The kids are having a really good time. Honestly, I’ve been encouraged by the kids this week. I didn’t have to take a caretaker’s role this week, but instead one of a friend. We’ve done so many things together: Basketball, football, soccer, ultimate frisbee, joking, a skit, cards, Chinese chess. They’re honestly like younger brothers. I’ve gotten to talk about faith with them a little and am hoping to encourage them in their walks with Him. They are probably believers along with most people in their orphanage. They actually did a prayer night two days ago and some shared testimonies. Anyways, apart from that, I’ve just been humbled more …” Calvin

Please keep them in your prayers as they finish off their weeks and return soon!

Vlog update – TD’ers Bringing Hope to the Orphaned Overseas

 

Hey TD!

Here are a couple of vlogs from our team in the Big Country, serving orphaned children with special needs with God’s love and care at a summer camp with Bring Me Hope.  It’s been quite the challenge for our team as they have been stretched in every way.  Our Father has provided, however, and they are doing well.

Here are a couple of updates:

“Things have been really busy, but time with the children has been really good. Some of us have been brought to the end of our patience and love, and it’s been good recognizing our need for ___. I’m sure it’s been illuminating for many of us. [One on our team] said that he actually appreciates what his parents do so much more because of this and we felt that it’s helped us appreciate the story so much more. Sometimes we strive and work endlessly to love these kids only to be pushed away, spit at, or yelled at. At that moment, it really lights up ___’s perspective as we continue to follow the kids although we are filled with sorrow. Man I really do thank ___ for how His unending love. Overall though, we recognize how we know so little about these kids and we’ve had to take in faith that as we change their diapers, dance with them, or swim with them, they recognize our love for them. They’re super cute and this week basically all of them have some form of disability.

With translators, I think we’ve all been building relationships with them as we’ve had to rely on each other to care for the kids.
We’re all safe. We’re all healthy, but we’re all super tired. Prayer for strength, patience, and ___’s love would all be appreciated. Please pray that we also find time to meet because we’ve been so caught up with our kids.”

“… I had a great time dancing with one of my kids. He really loves sticking to the legs of people. We rolled all over the floor because he cannot walk at the moment due to cerebral palsy. He’s been such a great example of tenacity. Apparently, last year, he used to be on a wheel chair but now he’s using a walker. He has the biggest smile and the best laugh of all the kids. He always jokes that he’s dying because of laughter. He loves being held and moved around and is very thoughtful at times. He loves to run super fast on his walker and he fills the room with a distinct loud screech. Sometimes he screams with joy. I’ll say more about him later. 

My other kid is a lot harder to work with. He whines a lot and loves taking others things. He often says bad things to others and really disrespects authority. Most of all, he REALLY desires sugar and balls. At first, I was really frustrated and really felt like crying when he told me to go away at one point. However, as I talked with translator, we realized that a lot of the behavior could just be a result of his upbringing. He’s quite weak and I wouldn’t be surprised if other kids stole his items often. Not to mention, he can be super thoughtful and caring at times. I was convicted by my lack of patience, love, and care.”

 

Please lift our team up to our Father in prayer as they break new ground towards fulfilling James 1:27:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”