Hi. A bit off topic this morning, not about writing or reading, but about contemplating something from another day or time.
Before everything starts, before everyone wakes, it’s Saturday morning, true and clear; without complications, without drama, without heartache.
The morning will always give that sense of hope, grace, gratitude. It’s there, you just have to reach out and grasp it for yourself.
When I wake up I tend to think way past the speed of light. Lately, though I’ve been checking myself, comforting myself that I need not over think the world, just take movement and connection as it comes and deals with each thing one at a time.
Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon watching videos on YouTube. I was enthralled with two men who are preachers but of the new age of our time. Nothing like the past preachers who preached with a traditional cloak of activity. Even their dress was very formal; not like preachers today.
The message, however, is the same, albeit different aspects of Christianity (one of Salvation in general, and the other of Holy Spirit, specifically) only Frances is within his personality and attire much more casual and endearing while Nabeel is more subdued and formal; both authentic human beings.
So I watched videos of these two preachers. Both men were immigrant originated: one was Chinese American, and the other was Pakistani American; both men born here, but raised by parents with their own set of traditions, culture, and religious beliefs.
Both men were converted in a wondrous way and both are men of integrity and spiritual height, depth, and purpose. I respected both men highly because I knew what they were talking about. Being a believer, I felt they both were so authentic as to put most Christian-born to shame, including myself, why?
In this country, Christians are shamed into submission by the secular communities and there are so many, making cowards of most of us for fear of stepping on the toes of a protected group: a prophecy fulfilled (good becomes evil and evil becomes good). So most Christians live in silence, and soon they join the secular community just so they aren’t excluded in our country. This is what I want to talk about.
I was so saddened by the journey and final result of each man. I’m simply a little person without knowledge of the clergy, so from the outside looking in, I observe the sadness of it.
The Chinese American man, Frances Chan is a bestselling author and such an authentic man on video, such a forthright, loving Christian with a grand sense of humor and a large following. Evidently, he had no problem coming to Christ. Perhaps the Chinese culture is not as unforgiving, I really do not know why, but he appears completely well-adjusted. However, it was the Pakistani man that broke my heart. His journey was much rougher.
His family turned against him, and as he said, his mother was never the same. They never truly forgave him. He did not give up his faith in Jesus Christ, but he was so attacked by the Muslim community in letters, in person, in threats, and so forth. After eleven years he acquired stomach cancer, and at the young age of 34, he died, leaving his beautiful wife, Michelle, and his angelic daughter, Aya. In one of his last video interviews, he even joked about the horrendous emails he received saying they prayed Allah would kill him, or that he got what he deserved. Do you think enough of these kinds of communications can wreak havoc on your emotions? He chuckled but I’m sure he was hurt by these people.
I cried a lot yesterday, and I was pretty well ill-functioning for the rest of the day. Remember: I’m a hyper-sensitive person. Why did I cry so? I could not get Nabeel Qureshi out of my mind, as to his commitment to the cross. He truly carried his.
I was raised by a father who was a preacher. Yes, there it is. The joke of every secular kid in school was: “haha, you’re a preacher’s kid.” A PK. I was ridiculed, my siblings and I suffered a number of insults and incidents, having stones thrown at us, being called “holy rollers,” having people ostracize us from play periods for the reason that we were Preacher’s kids. It was a difficult childhood, to say the least. There was no glamour to it, as television portrays. But then, there were those that understood, agreed, and were kind. That helped, but the pain of cruelty never really goes away.
I cannot help think that the Pakistani American, Nabeel, must have suffered terribly after having been a devout Muslim, and as his parents made him believe, destroying the entire foundation of pride in his family name in Pakistan. After all, his father and grandfather were Islamic missionaries.
Yet, when I listened to him, my heart rose, broken, but elevated spiritually. His faith was genuine. Not that the faith of Frances Chan was any different, but I do not think Chan suffered the separation that Qureshi did. That is only my opinion. But God knows all, we don’t need to.
I think why I am even bringing all this up, and why my heart was broken is this. To separate oneself from all that you know and love, to leave the entire foundation of your life and sense of purpose, and while embracing another way, being ostracized from all those you loved and knew, and who believed in you, is the most difficult experience. One is crushed under a weight of insurmountable pressure when one loses everything and the heart is crushed in grief. But faith builds up again, albeit notwithstanding the scars that remain. It must have been terribly heartbreaking as he stated it took him a long time to be completely sold for Christ for the sheer fact that he went through deep grief.
Perhaps that is why I identified with Nabeel more than Frances. Although we all will be in heaven together, and we will walk in God’s company as well as our own, without time and space, right now, while I’m still human, I cry for the loss of Nabeel. I am hopeful to see Frances continue as long as possible. All this thinking this morning amounts to this: there are so few authentic people in the world, much fewer men and women of renown character who bow to Jesus Christ.
I have never thought of myself as authentic, but so aspire to be. It comes with a cost though. As Nabeel quoted from the Bible in one of his sermons, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me, is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
I believe this statement attested to Jesus’ sincerity of purpose in this world. It also is the most difficult of all sermons Jesus gave (Matthew 10). For this reason, most people do not want to follow Christ, or should I say cannot. It always bothered me that the word coward was affiliated with all the other sins in the book of Romans. Now I see why.
I believe Nabeel, the once Muslim who became a true Christian, gave up everything for Christ, and it took its toll on his human body. But his was true faith. All Christians may have to do that someday as well. I want to be able to do what it takes to complete the race.
“Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” by Nabeel Qureshi
“Forgotten God, by Frances Chan