As we reflect on the issue of reconciliation between Israeli and Palestinian believers, we thought you might appreciate reading a bit from Tass Abu Sadr, a Palestinian who was raised as a Muslim and has been a believer in Jesus since 1993. Tass spent many years as a Fatah fighter; his is a radical example of the supernatural love God can place between former enemies. He has partnered with us on our Behold Your God campaigns in Detroit, Toronto and Washington, D.C.
Tass’s ministry, Hope for Ishmael, keeps him very busy. He had just returned from one conference and was preparing to go to another in Amsterdam when we called—and on top of that he was fighting the flu! But he was very gracious and willing to chat. We hope the following will encourage and challenge you:
Q: What did you think about Jesus before you knew Him personally?
I believed in Him as a prophet. As a Muslim I believed that He was the Spirit of God and Word of God in a higher way than the other prophets.
Q: What did you think of Jews before you knew Jesus?
I believed that Jewish people had stolen our land from us. I hated Jews because they made me a refugee. I felt all Jews were responsible for our suffering. And I believed in my right to fight the Jewish people, to fight for the Land.
Q: How did knowing Jesus change your thoughts and feelings towards the Jewish people?
The fact is, the day after I was saved it was on my heart to pray for the Jews even before my own people. This took me by complete surprise. One moment I was on my knees, overwhelmed and thanking God for the new feelings of joy and peace I was experiencing. The next moment I heard myself pray, Bless your people Israel and guide them back to the Promised Land.” I was so shocked by these words that I actually put my hand over my mouth. I ran to find a Bible to see why on earth I should pray such a thing. When I started to read the Bible I began to realize many things, and I saw for myself that the Land was not really ours.
Q: What is your approach in witnessing to Jews?
The approach is different with each person, because it is always an individual thing. I look and listen for something that they do or say that will lead to a discussion. I slowly lead them into a conversation about their history, and point out that much of my history as an Arab is in Genesis. This leads to my story in which I explain how much I hated Jews and how Yeshua changed my heart.
Q: Do you feel you have more or less credibility when witnessing to Jewish people because of your background?
Definitely more. I find a lot of interest to hear my story, especially because I have repented for the harm I did and wished to do to the Jewish people. Seeking forgiveness brings down walls. Repentance brings reconciliation. And, just as it is easier for me to witness to Jews, it is easier for my Israeli partner Moran to witness to Palestinians. They are really interested in what he has to say.
Q: Have you ever found a Jewish person who was open to the gospel?
Yes, I have had opportunities to lead several Jewish people to Christ. I don’t have the liberty to tell their stories for publication.
Q: What advice would you give to a Jewish believer who wants to witness to a Muslim friend?
Build a relationship. Trust in the Holy Spirit to guide your steps and don’t try to push the issue. Understand their pain; realize the agonies they feel. Don’t get into an argument or be defensive. Understand that a good way to break down walls is by listening.
Also, understand that most Muslims are just as ignorant of Scriptures as most Jews, and are therefore ignorant of their history. The Koran only contains twelve verses touching on Abraham, Sarah, Ishmael and Hagar. And these verses paint a completely different picture than the Bible does.
If you approach a conversation from Genesis 16 and 17, you can touch on the actual issues that created Ishmael and what God says about it. This can open a deep, deep conversation. God promised a lot of blessing for Ishmael that the Arabs don’t even realize. To have a Jew point out from Genesis that Ishmael is not portrayed as an illegitimate son is very powerful. You can point out that Hagar became Abraham’s wife. Ishmael is a legitimate son of Abraham, though not a covenant son. When Hagar ran away, the Angel of the Lord met Hagar in the desert. That was an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add that I have not asked?
I would say to Jewish believers, I believe that when I was called and I was saved, my position became more about Jesus and His love for Jews and Arabs rather than the Land.
Even so, I encourage Jewish believers to put Jesus first, to focus on the souls of both Jews and Arabs whom He loves, and to believe and trust God regarding the Land. God is perfectly able to manage the Land and keep His promises. He has done so and He will continue to do so.
Please pray for our brother Tass and Hope for Ishmael. If you want to see and hear more of his story, as well as that of other Palestinian and Israeli believers, check out our Forbidden Peace video or DVD by going to:
http://store.jewsforjesus.org/ppp/product.php?prodid=773 or calling: 1-877-463-7742.