The Testimony of Tass Saada:
Taysir Abu Saada
I was born in Gaza. My parents were originally from Jaffa, your next door neighbor! Their building was then the highest in Jaffa. Today the building still stands by the orange orchard that was also my family’s. Before the war in 1948, my parents, like the rest of the Arabs here, heard the call of the Arab nations to temporarily clear out of Israel during the war; and they did leave their home. My parents fled to Gaza so that they could return later. But as we know, the Arabs lost the war and my parents stayed in Gaza.
Soon after my birth in Gaza we emigrated to Saudi Arabia and I was raised as a Palestinian emigrant who had left his country. The Saudis often harassed us, accusing us of selling our lands to the Jews and then coming to live in their land. So I grew up in Saudi Arabia with a lot of hate towards the Jews - they had caused me to be an emigrant and to lose the land that was ours. I wish that I had known the Word of God then, because then I would have known the truth that it was not the Jews that caused me to be an emigrant, but the Muslims and the Muslim system.
When I was ten, my parents decided to move to Qatar. After the Six Day War, I felt as if I was having a nervous breakdown and my hatred just grew and grew. I didn’t understand how we could lose so many wars against Israel; we were bigger than Israel in numbers and in size; we had more equipment - everything we had was more than they had; but still we lost the wars against them. I was thinking that once again our leaders sold us to the Jews. That was when I decided to go and fight for our land, which I believed was ours. I went to my father and asked him for permission to join the Fatah. He told me, "Son, what are you talking about? You have to continue your studies and get an education. You leave these ideas alone!"
But I didn’t listen to him. I signed his name on the application form and left Qatar for Syria and there I joined the Fatah movement, which moved me to Jordan. I trained hard and was part of many actions and activities, but my parents would not leave me alone. They continued to search for me, and finally in 1970 they found me through some friends. My father asked me to return to Qatar so that my mother would know that I was still alive; and then, he said that they would let me return to Jordan. I agreed to this plan and went to visit them.
When I entered Qatar my father took my passport and told me that I would not be returning to anywhere but school. I was very disappointed and angry but still I listened to my father and went back to school. There I wasn’t happy at all and my heart was filled with rage. I hated the whole world and continually made a lot of trouble at the school.
Once I was mad at my teacher and so I ran after him with a knife but the other students held me back, so instead I seriously hurt myself with the knife. They took me to the hospital and they saved me. Later I saw that teacher pull into a parking lot in his car. I went after him I had a gun and I shot him. I thought I had killed him and so was shocked when I found he was still alive. I told him, “You are still alive?” and he answered, “Thank God!” It has to have been God’s hand that moved mine, because I was trained as a sniper and didn’t miss any target. I now thank Him again that I missed. After that it was decided to expel me from school and from Qatar.
My father gave me two options - I could go to England or to Egypt. I told him that I wasn’t going to either country, but that I wanted to go to the States. He said that that is the country of the great satan, but I didn’t change my mind. Why I decided to go I still don’t know, because then the U.S. and Israel was for me the same thing the enemy. But still I wanted to go.
After a few months and many problems that I caused my parents, my father said I could go anywhere as long as it was far away from them. So in February 1974 I went to America. I stayed with a friend for a while and then I moved to Kansas City. I noticed that the Americans didn’t discriminate against me in any way. As a Palestinian it made me happy that they did not see me as an immigrant or a refugee. I asked my friends what the best way was to stay in America and they told me that it was to marry an American. So I decided to look for an American girl. My goal was to marry an American merely to get my citizenship and then divorce her. But thank God that He had better plans for me than I had for myself and until today this American is still my wife!
For the 19 years that passed before I accepted Yeshua as my Messiah, this girl continued to tell me that she loved me, and I just told her, "Thank you." I never felt any love towards her, but when Yeshua entered my heart, that same week I was sitting in the living room and looking at my wife and suddenly I felt fire in my heart towards her and I told her that I loved her! She is of Irish origin, so she just looked at me and asked what I wanted from her! I thank God that he changed my attitude towards her.
When I married her, my father stopped sending me money. He told me that if I wanted to marry an American girl I would have to support her, so I went to look for a job. I found work at a French restaurant as a dishwasher. The chef’s wife was the manager of the restaurant hall and she asked me if I was interested in waiting on people and I accepted. On my first day as a waiter I was scared because I had never worked in direct contact with people. I went to the first table and there sat a man named Charlie. He was sitting there with a very beautiful girl and was busy talking to her.
When I went to take their plates my hands were shaking. He looked at me and thanked me. I was in shock as this rich man was thanking the man who waited on him. For us in the Middle East that was not an accepted thing. When this rich man thanked me I decided to wait on him every time he would come to the restaurant and I always gave him the best service. I was slowly promoted and one day I became the manager of the restaurant hall plus my personal relationship with Charlie continued to grow.
For 19 years I worked at several other places but I kept going back to this place. I had success in the restaurant and hotel business. In 1991 I returned to that restaurant with the purpose of buying it. At that point the Lord really began to deal with me, although I didn't know it at the time. I signed a contract that in two year's time I would take over the restaurant. Charlie knew that I would be the future owner of the restaurant and he knew that I was going to buy a new building to move the restaurant there, so he started to help me out.
In February he came to me and told me about a beautiful building that I needed to see. I asked him more details and then I realized that I had gone to see that place three days earlier. The building had been a burial parlor. As a Muslim I knew that every place that has something to do with the dead is believed to be filled with demons and bad spirits. When I went there I was very scared. When Charlie told me about the building I told him that I had already been there and when I entered I felt so many demons there. He laughed and then looked at me and asked: “Tass, do you know why you were so scared?” I told him that I didn’t. He then told me it is because I have no fear of God. I was very surprised and I told him I didn’t understand what he was saying. I was a Muslim and I had fear of God. But he told me that if I really had fear of God then I wouldn’t be afraid of demons. He told me that he had a special relation with the Lord God. I just laughed at him, but this idea about a "relationship with God" wouldn’t leave me and for three weeks I just couldn't to get it out of my head. For every day that went by, the idea of a relationship with God just got stronger.
On March 13, 1993 Charlie came to the restaurant to eat. I went to him, got on my knees and begged for him to tell me about this special relationship. But he said that we would have to wait until we were alone! The day after, on March 14, I called Charlie and he invited me to his house. I told him that I was having panic attacks and I was afraid to hurt something or someone on my way, so he came to pick me up and drove me to his house. On the way he kept talking about the miracle that had happened to him and kept saying “hallelujah” and “praise the Lord.”
I thought to myself that now he had completely lost his mind. We got to his house and he told me, “Tass, if you want to experience the peace of mind that I have, you have to love the Jews.!” I completely froze and asked him how he could even think of such a thing: to love the Jews? He knew that I hated them; and for me, as for most Arabs, a good Jew was a dead Jew. I am really sorry to tell you these things, but that’s how it was. He told me to calm down and to come sit down. So I asked him again; “What is this special relationship that you have?” He asked me what I know about Yeshua the Messiah. I told him that he is a prophet that we as Muslims believe in. Charlie told me that he is not just a prophet. He told me that he is God’s Son and God himself.
I told him, “That’s enough! Do you think I am crazy?” First you tell me that I have no fear of God and that I have to love the Jews and now you are telling me that Yeshua is the Son of God and that he is God!” I really wanted to leave. Charlie told me to sit down and just take my time. He took his Bible out and put it between us. As he put the Bible next to me I started to shake and lurched backwards. When he asked why, I told him that I can’t touch that book. When he again asked why, I told him that it was because it is God’s Word and his Name is written there. So he asked if after all I really do believe that it is God’s Word. I answered, "Yes!" I don’t know why I said yes, because as a Muslim we don’t believe in those Scriptures. Then he said that if I believe in those Scriptures he would like to read some to me. He read me John 1 and I started to shake and then I fainted. I found myself on my knees with my hands in the air asking Yeshua to be my Lord and my King.
Nobody can tell me that this is a dead thing, it’s alive! This Living Word showed me who Yeshua the Messiah is. I looked at Charlie and I saw that he also was shaking, so I thought that he too was having a spiritual experience. I asked him what happened and he told me that he really got scared for me because I was shaking so violently; he had never seen something like that before. He told me that as he was reading I first started to shake and then I kneeled down and started to talk and to pray. I told him that I had seen a Light and it told me that it is Life, the Way and the Truth it was Yeshua!(1)
I told Charlie "Well, if the reason I'm feeling the way I'm feeling in my heart is because he is the Son of God, then I want him to be my Lord and Savior."
The next day Tass felt an unusual burden to pray—one he had never experienced before. “The first people that came on my heart to pray for were the Jewish people,” he says. “I was praying, ‘Oh, God, bless your people Israel. God gather them to the Promised Land.’” (2)
Also the next morning, Tass couldn't wait to tell his 18-year old son, Benali, who was shaving at the time. "Yesterday, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior." "Oh, Dad!" Benali exclaimed. Benali started crying, hugging his father, as shaving cream slopped all over their faces. "Wait a minute," Tass said. "Why are you happy for me?" he asked, knowing his son was a Muslim. "Dad, I accepted Christ three months ago too and I didn't tell anybody," he said.
Benali then explained how he asked his pastor what he should do, knowing that his father would "kill me when he finds out." The pastor told him, "Go back to your father's house and love him more." Then the pastor called a special meeting at the church and asked that a prayer chain be established 24-hours a day for Benali's family. "That was three months before I got saved," Tass says.(3)
Since then, Tass’ wife and children became Christians, and they founded two organizations, Hope for Ishmael, an evangelical ministry, and Seeds of Hope, a humanitarian organization operating in the Middle East. According to Tass, the greatest need exists at Seeds of Hope, where he and his team seek to make a difference in the lives of children and families.
Seeds of Hope operates Hope Kindergarten in Jericho, and is in the process of furnishing a day care center. “The children are learning English so easily,” he notes. Enrollment is doubling this year at the kindergarten, with a waiting list over 200.
“We teach English in a nurturing and loving environment, where they learn good character traits such as being kind to each other and how to treat each other with love and respect.”
A new youth center under development will offer games such as ping-pong and air hockey, along with a pool table. “We’ll have a giant screen TV where the kids can watch soccer and basketball,” Tass says. The young people in Jericho and the West Bank have few places to hang out, and as a result spend much of their time on the streets where they are vulnerable to the seduction of groups like Hamas.
Once complete, the youth center will provide a safe alternative for children 9-13.
One of Tass’ recent surprises was the gift of a 16-acre parcel by President Abbas to build a sports complex. “This was a shock when we got his letter,” Tass says. Tass has already enlisted the help of an architect to help with the “Herodian-style design” he envisions for the site, and will begin raising funds for the project.
“We are praying the Lord will bring in the support needed for the school and the center,” he says. “God is turning the hearts of the people. I am humbled to be a small part of what the Lord is doing.”(2)
This is just a sample of the testimony of Tass. He has many video interviews on the internet and a book that gives much greater detail on how God moved in the life of Tass. To read the entire testimony please read the book - Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada with Dean Merrill published by Tindale.
Note from JewishRoots.Net. Meeting Tass and listening to his testimony was uplifting and encouraging. Uplifting not only because it is always a pleasure to see how God is working in the life of others, but Tass is an example of how only God could accomplish something. Encouraging because even though a true lasting peace will not come to Israel until the Messiah returns, the effort of Taas brings hope to others both Muslims and Jews. Please pray that the seeds of hope that the Lord plants through him will be watered and harvested.
Here is a link to Taas Saadas Ministry Seeds Of Hope.
Read about Taas in Two Friends Testimony.
1). http://www.maozisrael.org/site/News2?abbr=maoz_&page=NewsArticle&id=5219&printer_friendly=1-Reposted with permission.
2). Mark Ellis - http://blog.godreports.com/2013/03/palestinian-fatah-fighter-once-hated-jews-but-jesus-changed-his-heart/
Author: Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service.. Web Site: www.assist-ministries.com
Image of Tass with cross from http://blog.godreports.com/2013/03/palestinian-fatah-fighter-once-hated-jews-but-jesus-changed-his-heart/