By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
A new club on the Grand Canyon University campus made an auspicious debut Wednesday night with an event featuring Christian apologist Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, a former Muslim who defends his new faith as a representative of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
Qureshi, 30, spoke to a large crowd in a lecture hall in the Tell Science building, telling the story of his conversion, making points about the teachings of the Koran and the Bible, and taking questions from the audience. The student Defenders Club, which hosted his appearance, says it plans similar events in the coming months.
“We want to reach out to students in a way that meets the need of answering doubts,” said freshman Matthew Mittelberg, one of the club’s founders, who became acquainted with Qureshi through his father, Mark, and invited him to campus. Mark Mittelberg has collaborated on books with Lee Strobel, who spoke on campus Oct. 21.
“When doubts are answered, that builds up faith,” Matthew Mittelberg said. “We want to give confidence to Christians and also reach out to nonbelievers.”
Qureshi used 1 Peter 3:15 (“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”) as the basis for his talk, which went well over an hour. Born in California to devout Muslim parents from Pakistan, he said he could read Arabic before English and could recite the Koran at an early age.
He was raised, he said, as a stout defender of the Muslim faith, able to pick apart the average Christian’s testimony.
“When a Christian approached me and asked if I knew Jesus, my respect for them went up,” he said, “and I’d roll up my sleeves (to debate them).”
Qureshi said it wasn’t until he reached college — and met his Christian intellectual counterpart in a student named David Wood — that he began to rethink all that he had learned and ask difficult questions of himself. Both young men were members of the debate team, and they engaged each other in deep conversation regularly.
Qureshi eventually settled on Romans 10:9, which established for him that Jesus is God, He died on the cross for the sins of mankind and He rose from the dead. He paid a price for his 2005 conversion, which devastated his parents, and only now has received a degree of acceptance from them. They had hoped that he would become a Muslim physician — and he is neither.
“The call to become a Christian is not anything less than giving up your life,” Qureshi told his audience. “The message of the Gospel is revolutionary.”
He said the greatest challenge to Christians in the United States is the relative comfort of day-to-day life. Elsewhere in the world, he noted, Christians often deal with staggering hardship and worse.
“When people face death, their prayers become a lot more real,” he said.
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.