Posted by Tass Saada on 3 June 2015

Author, Christian and former sniper for the PLO, Tass Saada opens up about faith, hope and love.

What do you think would have happened to you had you not moved to America in your twenties? If by some miracle you had survived to the age you are now, how different would your perspective on the world be?

As a Palestinian, I did not understand why I was an immigrant. I was seeking a better way of life and an answer to the conflict I had that was raging inside me after the loss of the 1967 war with Israel. I figured if I couldn't fight them with arms and win, maybe I could get an education and become smarter to conquer them (the Jewish people) at their own game.

I knew I needed to stay in America as an immigrant rather than a visitor to do that, so I needed to find a way to stay longer. I asked my friends what would be the best and quickest way to stay in America. They told me to marry an American girl. So I went hunting for an American girl I could marry, and I met my wife, Karen. 

I planned to marry her, stay for a few years, and then divorce her and move on. However, God had better plans and we will be married 41 years in October. I believe if I had not moved to America in my early twenties and married when I did, I would not have the need to get a job in the French restaurant, La Mediterrane, when I did. This is the very place where I met the man who would later lead me to the Lord, Charlie Sharpe.

If I had, by some miracle, lived to be the age I am now, without meeting the Lord when I did, my perspective of the world would be so very different. I would not have the understanding of the conflict in the Middle East that I do now. I would not know that God gave the land of Israel to the Jews as a solemn covenant. He promised Abraham he would make "nations from his seed" of Ishmael, but that his "covenant" for salvation would come from "His" promised descendant to Abraham, Isaac. God's plans are always perfect, however, when man comes in the middle and tries to divert from that, is where we get sin and a messed up result. Which leads to consequences which are not of God's plan, namely the Middle East conflict. I wrote about all of this in my book, Once an Arafat Man. God takes what the devil intends for bad and turns to good. 

Where do you see signs of hope for Muslim/Christian relations?

Regarding hope for Muslim/Christian relations, I see great hope. My wife and I began a ministry dedicated to that called Hope for Ishmael in 1998. This was named after Abraham's cry out to God for his first born son, Ishmael. As a father's cry for his son, he said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live under your blessing." When I read these words in Genesis I couldn't get past them. God revealed that the "hope" for Ishmael was salvation through Jesus Christ "for such a time as this". That God's blessing to Ishmael, was in fact, His great salvation, not necessarily the blessing of land and wealth which the Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael, have in abundance. It was through my own salvation experience with the Lord that God revealed this to me. 

So in 2005, we were called to the Gaza Strip to begin to minister to my people there and that work expanded to the West Bank in 2008, where we are now. We have seen many people come to know this salvation through dreams and visions in Gaza and in the West Bank. And now, even in Jerusalem, Hope for Ishmael is a ministry of reconciliation to Arabs and Jews to the Father and then to each other, through Jesus Christ.  

You're in Israel right now. What are the best and the worst things that you've seen on this trip?

In Jericho we have Muslim parents who are so touched by the love and compassion Christians show to their children that they want to know more.  They see Christians moving to the West Bank, just to care for their children.  They see Christian groups visit and bless their community in so many incredible ways.  This makes all the difference. Showing them that God truly did love the entire world that he sent his Son. Our organization, Hope for Ishmael, works with churches across Europe and America, teaching them how love breaks down walls and builds bridges. I am hopeful that the body of Christ will stop living in fear of Islam, because God has not given us a spirit of fear.  If we operate out of the love that God has shown us, there is great hope for Muslim/Christian relations.

To find out more about Tass’s work visit www.hopeforishmael.org

Buy Tass’s book - Once An Arafat Man at Amazon.com

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