Last night I was delighted to meet two men, both born in Gaza, both raised Palestinians, both whose lives were changed by meeting Jesus Christ!
It was in a crowded home filled with curious people of all ages. Before the two men shared their stories, delicious Arab foods were served and conversations began. When the meal was finished, the honored guests began.
Tass Saada, born in Gaza, raised in Saudi Arabia as a Palestinian refugee, ran away from home at age 17 to fight in Gaza as a PLO sniper, fighting against the Jew. Tass was raised to hate the Jews.
For Tass, his childhood memories included visits in his home with leaders such as Osama Bin Ladin and Yassir Arafat. It was during one of those visits that Yassir Arafat recruited Tass as his personal chauffeur. He was later chosen by Arafat to be trained as an assassain, and eventually awarded the nickname "Butcher."
Even though he hated America and Americans, in 1974 he came to the United States to get an education, hoping he could fight the Jews better with his brain. He felt that Americans treated him well and this surprised him, so he decided to stay. He felt the quickest way to become a citizen was to marry, so he found a bride rather quickly and married.
Once married, Tass' father cut off financial support, so Tass began working as a dishwasher at an upscale French restaurant. He was shocked that at the first table he cleared as a busboy, the guest thanked him for taking his dirty dishes. Tass was used to abusing the help, not thanking them. He decided to be very kind to this man. Later he learned the man was a multi-billionaire.
In 1993, Tass was confronted about his lack of fear of God. Although he worshipped Allah, his friend challenged him and told him that the identity of Allah, whom he worshipped--was the God of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael and Jacob--whom the Islamists have rejected. He was told that he could not hate the Jews. His response was, "The only Jew is a dead Jew." His friend shared the Love of Jesus Christ and the gospel and Tass experienced a radical salvation experience. He was told that Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father, but through Me." (John 14:6)
While Tass was studying his Bible as a new believer, he ran across Matthew 5:43-44, where Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." He wondered how he could ever love the Jews. But God changed his heart.
Now, many years later, Tass and his wife are in ministry together, serving Jesus Christ. Their goal is to reconcile Arabs and Jews to the Father. Once they are reconciled to the Father, it is so much easier to be reconciled to one another.
Read more about his story in his book, Once An Arafat Man.
The second gentleman at the gathering heads up the Voice of the Refugees headquartered in Anaheim. Also a Palestinian Arab born in Gaza, he shared about his life and how he came to a place where he found salvatin in Jesus Christ. His nonprofit Voice of the Refugees mobilizes local resources in order to fully engage and assist Middle Eastern (mostly Arab) refugees, to establish them in Orange County. They share the love of Christ and the gospel with each person or family and he says "we have a 100% success rate. We share the gospel with each encounter." He says it is up to the Holy Spirit to do the rest. You can learn more about this local ministry at www.jvor.org.
God is working in the hearts of those born in Gaza. Although at the moment they all appear to be enemies of Israel, God is still doing a mighty and miraculous work among the Arabs. We are encouraged, as Tass quoted, to "love our enemies" and I agree with him that the only way the Jews and Arabs will find peace among one another is if they have peace with God, the Father. Please pray for the Arab people, that they also will find this to be true.