The Price of Conviction: What Nabeel Qureshi and Colin Kaepernick Taught Me
By Andrena Sawyer
Lies, lies and more lies. If, like me, you bought into that narrative, you've been misled. Legacy is a commodity, and it's created by those who refuse to stay in their place. The rich get that, which is why some pay millions to be memorialized to ensure it.
For the past year, I've been captivated by the stories of two men-—Nabeel Qureshi and Colin Kaepernick. If you've never heard their names, here's the short version: Nabeel Qureshi was a former Muslim apologist who became a well-known Christian teacher. I've known about him for some time, but a year ago at age 33, he announced he was in the advanced stages of stomach cancer. Colin Kaepernick is a "former" NFL player who started a silent protest in response to what appeared to be an increase in police brutality and the murders of unarmed people of color. Amadou Diallo. Sean Bell. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Freddie Gray. Alton Sterling. The list of people of color killed in police custody kept getting longer and longer, so Kaepernick started to sit, then kneel in silent protest. Since both of their stories first enamored me, both have lost a lot. Nabeel passed away September 16, 2017, and Colin is without a job seemingly blackballed by his employer.
First, let me say that in a time when men are frequently emasculated, it was encouraging to see leading men forge ahead despite hardships and persecution. That's a story for another day. In the last year, here's what has intrigued me about both men: they both had a lot at stake when they decided to live life strictly by conviction. They decided that the purity and peace of conviction was more important than comfort, reference points or any other temporary thing life has to offer them. At 31 years of age, I have a deep appreciation for this.
I know my generation is known for complacency. I can admit that, and it's not completely unfounded. In a time when paper chasing and insta-fame are all the rage, it was refreshing to see men take a stand so boldly for what they believe in, even if it meant hate letters, threats on their life, severed relationships, ostracization, or even financial loss in Colin's case. Did they know that it would cost all of this? I'm convinced so. No one takes a stance consistently without counting the cost. I respect them even more for that. The compensation for untainted and uncompromised conviction has never been cheap, but it will always be worth it.
So, what now? In the case of Colin Kaepernick, I pray the community he's sacrificing for honors our own request for a new type of leader by standing by his message. Now's not the time to be silent and immobile after getting on our various soapboxes to condemn inaction.
In the case of Nabeel Qureshi, I pray his legacy as a truly unashamed believer stirs us to take a stand against whatever persecution we encounter. The gift of life is bigger than the 80 years some of us will have, by the grace of God, on this earth. There's a legacy that awaits after that time is done. What will yours be?
Andrena Sawyer is the President of P.E.R.K. Consulting, and the Founder of the Minority Christian Women Entrepreneurs Network. She is the author of The Long Way Home, Ponder It In Her Heart and The Other Side of Assertiveness.
Follow her on twitter or Instagram @Andrena_Sawyer