Speaking before the Class of 2016 at Biola University in December, Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi delivered a powerful message that urged his audience to remember the cross, their identity in God and their ministry of being Jesus' hands and feet into the "dying world."
Qureshi stood before 150 men and women at the university's commencement exercises and read 2 Timothy chapter 4, the last chapter written by the apostle Paul before he was executed, where he gave his final instructions to his disciple Timothy.
"I charge you in the presence of God, of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing in His kingdom: Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort with complete patience and teaching. ... Always be sober minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry," the passage reads.
Laying down the background that these instructions were being given by a man to another who would carry on the work, Qureshi focused on the final three words of Paul's charge to Timothy: "Fulfill your ministry."
"God has placed you in this world for a specific reason, for a specific purpose. The work that you have done in the past four years is not incidental to who you are," Qureshi said in a video of his commencement address. "It has shaped you and crafted you to be a world changer, to go out there and to make this world a place where heaven invades earth."
Qureshi then took his audience to the time when God came into the world that humanity keeps destroying and spread life wherever He went.
Qureshi cited the lepers who, in those times, were considered unclean. The lepers were not allowed to be touched, and anybody who touched them would also become unclean. They were treated as carriers of death. They were society's outcasts, and they grew up without knowing how it felt to be embraced by their parents or family members.
But when Jesus came, He reached out to a leper and touched him. And instead of the leper transferring his uncleanness to Jesus, Jesus transferred life into the leper and healed him, Qureshi explained.
He also talked about the woman who suffered from bleeding for 12 years. Under Jewish law, the woman was considered ceremonially unclean. However, not telling anybody about her situation, she pressed into the crowd and reached out to touch Jesus-and life flowed from Jesus toward her.
"Because Jesus, when he touches, instead of death passing to Him, life passes from Him to the dead," Qureshi said.
The apologist then turned to the Bible passage where Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the workers were few.
"This world is constantly dying," he told the graduates. "And you have been placed as the hands and feet of Christ in this world."
Jesus commissioned His disciples to do what He had been doing and more. As He sat at the right hand of the Father, He looked to the ones He left behind and charged them to bring life into this world.
"That is your calling," Qureshi said. "That is your ministry."
He emphasized that it didn't matter what they studied, what they majored in, or what field they would find themselves in.
"God is going to use you in that capacity to spread life, to spread His truth, to combat death," he said.
He then encouraged them to remember their identity in the Lord: they are God's sons and daughters, princes and princesses, adopted heirs of the Most High whom He has sent out to "combat for the Kingdom in this world of darkness" - a world where the prevailing paradigm is one of "pointlessness, meaninglessness and death."
"You can go into enemy fire. You can go into lands riddled with Ebola," he told the graduates. "You can go into sex-trafficking trades and not worry if they will kill you because you have eternal life. He has already overcome the world, take heart."
Qureshi, a Christian convert from the Islamic sect Aḥmadiyyah, is a New York Times bestselling author. He wrote "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity," for which he won Best New Author and Best Nonfiction from the Christian Book Awards.
His latest book, "No God But One: Allah or Jesus?" is a follow-up to the first one and discusses his journey to conversion as he studied the claims of both Islam and Christianity and examined the evidences for both faiths.
In August 2016, Qureshi was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. He told the graduating class of Biola University that his doctor informed him he had a 4 percent chance of surviving-giving him at most 5 years-to which he replied,"You don't know our God."
Qureshi is a part of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He has a medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School, a master's degree in religion from Duke University and a master's degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University. He is presently pursuing his doctorate in New Testament Studies at Oxford University.
As he closed his commencement address, Qureshi instructed the graduating class just as Paul imposed a task unto Timothy: "I charge you, brothers and sisters, fulfill your ministry."
"I release you into the world," he said to them. "If 11 disciples could change the world, how much more can we? Be full of joy, love one another this day, remember that you are children, sons and daughters , princes and princesses of the King."