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Ex-Fatah Fighter for Yasser Arafat Asks Forgiveness
When Tass wasn't fighting the Jews, he was looking for Christians to kill. But all that changed in a moment when in answer to prayer, Jesus transformed his life.

This is a transcript of an address by former Fatah fighter Tass Abu-Saada to the Tel Aviv Messianic congregation Tiferet Yeshua pastored by Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram. Abu-Saada uses the Hebrew word "Yeshua" in reference to Jesus.

I wish to thank our brother Ari and the congregation of Tiferet Yeshua for inviting me. You permitted me to be here today, and for me this is a historic opportunity. This is a very important opportunity for me personally and for all of us as believers in Yeshua. When I see Jews and Arabs sitting together my heart is filled with joy. Twelve years ago if I would have seen Arabs and Jews together my heart would have hardened and I would have started looking for an Uzi or Kalashnikov. But praise God, He gave me a new kind of weapon!

Taysir (Tass) Abu-Saada as a member of Arafat's militia.

I want to take this occasion now, my believing Arab brethren and also believing Messianic Jews, to stand before you in the name of my Palestinian people that I represent. First of all I ask forgiveness from the Jews for all the things I did against you in the past when I was part of the Fatah and serving Yasser Arafat. I also ask for forgiveness from my Arab brothers and sisters because when I didn't fight the Jews I was looking for Christians in Jordan with the purpose of destroying their homes and killing the people inside them. I really ask for forgiveness from all of you.

I thank our Lord Yeshua that He filled my heart with love and that He took out all the hate inside me. The real road to lasting peace is Yeshua the Messiah! Yeshua is the answer. He is the solution to this problem between us. The problem was created by Satan 4000 years ago as he separated Isaac and Ishmael and as he took advantage of the situation to keep us from each other. But 2000 years ago, Yeshua came and united us and I thank the Lord we are here, together today.

For the last two years I have been trying to get into Gaza to preach the Gospel, but they have forbidden me to do so. This year the Lord opened the gate without any "previous arrangements."

I arrived at the Erez Crossing and told them that I wish to enter to Gaza. The soldier who was standing at the crossing looked at me and I felt sadness in his eyes, but he told me that it is impossible to enter like this—you need to have made prior arrangements. But still he let me apply for the entrance pass. I filled out all the forms and gave them to the authorities. Two hours later I got the permission. The Lord Yeshua gave me grace in the eyes of the Israelis. They didn't just give me one pass, but they gave me a pass without expiration so that whenever I want to enter into Gaza, I can. That's the work of Yeshua that we know.

I was born in Gaza. My parents were originally from Jaffa—your next door neighbour! Their building was then the highest in Jaffa. Today the building still stands by the orange orchard that was also my families. 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 harrassed 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.

Tass Abu Saada

When I entered Qatar my father took my passport and told me that I would not be returning anywhere but to 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, so I ran after him with a knife, but the other students held me back. 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 toward 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 toward 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 toward 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. 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 there with a very beautiful girl and was busy talking to her.

Ari Sorko-Ram introduces Tass to the congregation.
Joseph Haddad (right) translates from Arabic to Hebrew.

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 parlour. 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 had 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 was because I had 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 relationship 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 knew 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 couldn'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 did believe that it is God's Word. I answered, "Yes!" I don't know why I said yes, because as Muslims 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 [God's Word] 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 [the Light] told me that it is the Life, the Way, and the Truth—it was Yeshua!

I ask you, do we pray for our loved ones, do we love our enemies as we love ourselves? Do we comply with God's Word? Love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you! If God is really within us then we can move mountains and move people to reach out to our people for the glory of Yeshua.

Believe me, brothers and sisters, the Muslims are not the enemy and the Arabs are not the enemy; Satan is the enemy. He is the one who destroys and kills. Pray for the Arab people and call them to come to your homes and show them the love of Yeshua that is inside you. If Yeshua's love is in you, it has to show. Don't just talk God's Word, but live it so that people will see it. Our people need you; my people in Gaza need you. If you, the Messianic Jews, do not reach out and try to help, who will? The responsibility is on your shoulders. I ask in the name of Yeshua the Messiah to help my people and to stand firm on the truth. Do not let the issue of the land be an obstacle between you and the souls who still have not received salvation.

I believe with all my heart that the Lord gave the land to the sons of Israel but before I accepted Yeshua I didn't believe so. When they will accept Yeshua they will also understand that the land belongs to you and that will bring the peace that we all seek and bring glory to the name Yeshua!

Originally published in Maoz Israel, February 2006. Reprinted in Hallelujah, April/May 2006.

 

 
 
 
 

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