Tass Abu Saada

Tass Abu SaadaFor more than 50 years, we have witnessed unrest in the Middle East as people of many different nationalities and ideologies have attempted to take Israel away from the Jewish people. But our guest on this episode, Tass Abu Saada, has a unique and important perspective on this struggle.

Tass was born in Gaza and raised in Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the Muslim faith before fighting for Fatah as a teenager. As a young man, Tass moved to America to study at the University of Missouri, later becoming a successful restaurant entrepreneur marrying his wife, Karen. In 1993, Tass experienced a powerful conversion to Christianity, and would go on to found Seeds of Hope and Hope for Ishmael. In this episode, I talk with Tass about his experience in the Palestinian Liberation Organization, his conversion to faith in Christ, and what we can do to see Muslims come to Christ in the same way that he did.

Tass Abu Saada: I was rewarded continuously to become a trained assassin and to study the life of the person that you're going to kill. I was reading in Genesis 2 when the Lord created Adam for the first time in my life. At that moment, I was watching all of this and visualizing all of this. I was terrified. I went online and I cried out for God's sake, "Take me back to the dust that you made me from. I don't want to live anymore, because I was seeing their faces with people that were taken up.”

Helen: More than 50 years, we have witnessed unrest in the Middle East as people of many different nationalities and ideologies that have attempted to take Israel away from the Jewish people, but our guest on this episode, Tass Abu Saada has a unique and very important perspective on this struggle. Tass is a Palestinian born in Gaza and was raised in Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the Muslim faith and joined the Palestinian Liberation Army to fight for his land and became a trained assassin. Later Tass moved to America and became a successful restaurant entrepreneur, and experienced the powerful conversion of Christianity. This experience not only transformed him personally but changed his view on Israel and how to bring peace in the Middle East. Today he leads the organization Seeds of Hope and Hope for Ishmael, building peace in Arab Jews and bringing the Gospel message to the Arab world. He will be the keynote speaker at the Greater Purpose Conference in Branson, Missouri on March 30, 31st, April 1st next year. In this episode, we will talk about Tass' dangerous past with those who have a mind of an assassin and why it is important for us to creep with the deadliest enemies, and also what can truly bring peace in the Middle East. I'm your host Helen Todd and I hope you enjoy this episode of the Limitless Spirit podcast.

I am very excited to talk about your story at first because it's fascinating and it's also very hopeful. So you came from a background of being a radical Muslim, maybe an extremist, and a person who hated the Jews. Is that correct?

Tass: That is true. When we talk about radical Islam, I was a person who saw the world to explain that religion. What I did when I went to fight war for Yasser Arafat against Israel is because my home was in Jaffa, and they were uprooted from their homes. I hated to be called immigrants. And so I went to fight for my homeland. And I have nothing to do with Islam as a religion as much as there's a homeland. Yes, I was a Muslim and yes, I was not very devout from to begin with. I prayed when I had to I went to the mosque to show favoritism and respect the one that was devout Muslim. But so to say that I was fighting for my radical religion, I was not. That's not what I did. I fought for a homeland, for a freedom. Naturally, when I came to Christ, the whole picture changed, picture rather standing about the land, it all changed for me and so to the positive, of course.

Helen: Let's focus on that. So when you signed up with PLO, and you became the fighter, you were fighting for the land. So what was your perspective of what was happening in your land back then because this reflects, I'm sure the feelings of many other Palestinians?

Tass: Oh, yes and you will find that the homelessness feeling of all Palestinians, and the longing to be... I'll give you an example. The first time I went to Israel as a friend of Israel, you know what I did? The first thing I did, I bowed on the ground, and I kissed the ground. I was never born in Dehlawi. And I was never born in Jaffa, where my family and my ancestors lived for centuries. I was born in the Gaza Strip. But the land in Dehlawi, I felt like it was home. Why did I feel that way? And that's something that I and all Palestinians feel that way. Why? We are born there. We believe that's our homeland, and until we understand the Bible, and know Jesus that's how it's going to be the radical thought, Yeah, this can be called radical thought, that I have to have a homeland, I cannot be homeless anymore, or a Palestinian [inaudible] terrifically, as we have been called in all of the Arab nations. Even though we are Arabs, but we are not accepted as natives of that land no matter how long we lived in.

Helen: And this is, I think, a very interesting aspect of the Middle Eastern culture and you can see it in the Bible too. Because in the United States, it doesn't make sense to people because, people, their roots, and ancestry are not here, they are somewhere, Europe or other nations. And even those who are born here, people don't feel as attached to the land where they're born. So they easily move to another state or at different cities so they're not as attached. But you see this in the Bible and I think that lands perspective in the Middle Eastern culture even today that your roots where your ancestors, people don't move in the Middle East. So your ancestral land is a huge, huge deal. And so that just really sheds the light on the situation.

Tass: It does indeed, in the land of Palestine, let's say, which is Israel today, if you look at the overall land, you will find that each area, each city have their woman, in particular, they wear a special kind of color and dress that identify her from that house, from that land, from that village. And so there is a 127 different Palestinian costumes Orman costume or dresses, and that identifies them from where they had. So when they walk from Gaza to Jaffa, people in Jaffa know that she is from Gaza. You see what I'm saying?

That's how rooted we are from the land. And this is something that God created and God is a loving, and a just God. I will look at in detail 4:7 for example, where the Lord really divided the land of Israel, through that for the tribes of Israel and get them all each tribe their portions. At the end of that chapter as the 21st verse on to the end, the Lord instructed the property seek to build the Israelites to give that the evolved or the aliens or the foreigner that are not Jews living in that land, an equal share of the land and to treat them as equal Israelites. You see God when he gave the land to Israel, he knew there would be other foreign people living in that land. So he wanted to make sure they have the same rights in that land too. Unfortunately, the Evangelicals in general, they really overlooked that totally. And I don't understand it, but that's what it is. And so that's part of my books. They are heroic and they're doing very well. One of them is 48 languages, translated around the world.

Helen: That's incredible. We'll definitely have the links to your books posted. So let's continue with the stories. You signed up to fight for your land and so what happened next?

Tass: The position when I was trained and I have become a very aggressive fighter. The Palestine leaders notice my leadership skills, and so I was promoted continuously to eventually become a trained assassin. And that job is not really served me very well, I was not very comfortable. Because I study the life with these victims, I get to know them more than they know themselves before. And so when the last operation I had, that really broke the camelback, we put it this way. I want the answer. I just don't want to do my job anymore. I prefer to go back and be a fighter. I still believe in my rights to the land. But I don't want to do that kind of job.

Helen: So can you describe a little more, what does a trained assassin do? Like, you have to, what did you do?

Tass: We have to study the life of the person that you're going to kill. You get to know them more than they know themselves sometimes. I was a perfectionist, even in my restaurant business; my employees hated me because I was so perfectionist in everything I did, and knowing the people that I have to assassinate, especially the last operation. This is very hard thing because he had a wife and two children. And these children, they would go outside to play soccer, I used to go out there and play soccer with them. And then the dawn came where I had to, I had to take him out, I had to take the father out, not the family, just the father. And that was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Because I love these kids, that I built relationships. And I didn't want to do it. But if I didn't do it, a person that's watching to make sure that I'm going to do it will finish me. So I have to do what I have to do and then eventually I said, "God, I don't want to do this anymore."

When I was reading Genesis 2 and read that God created Adam, it was the first time in my life as a Middle Eastern or at least me are always visualized what I'm reading. So I visualized God Almighty in a form of a cloud on his knees forming Adam with his own hands. And when he finish forming Adam in the dust of the earth, God bowed, and first he looked down at Adam and He smile, and then God bowed down and put his lips on Adam's mouth to breathe and give him the breath of life. Adam sure can become alive.

At that moment our Lord watching all of this and visualizing all of this I was terrified. I went on my knees and I cried out for God's sake, "Take me back to the dust you made me from. I don't want to live anymore," because I was seeing the faces of people that are taken up. I was made literally honestly asking God to take me back, to kill me because of the sorrow that I have caused. But God have mercy. And God he said, "Even though I have forgiven you. Yes, not for gaming is fun, not something that I take lightly. It's not something that forget, and something I lived with." And I know God forgave me it is comforting. But the fact remains, I did this. And so if anyone out there listening to this, and have any idea or any thoughts of taking a human being, go to Genesis 2 and read how far God can make us as a human and that will change your perspective completely on who we are as human.

Helen: That is an incredible perspective here. I look forward to you speaking at the WMA conference and hearing more of your story, but so we won't go into the details of how you became a Christian. But just after hearing this portion of your story, it makes me think how careful we must be as Christians when we look at a person with different religious beliefs and different political beliefs, maybe very extreme, maybe very violent beliefs. Maybe this person deserves our fear and hatred because we've killed others, you know, committed other horrible crimes, but we must never forget that inside there is a person and a person just like you that may have this point of revelation and a point of conversion. And so that's what I want to focus in our interview today with Tass and how do we as Christians pray for the Muslims, even for the most radical ones?

Tass: Yes, in our prayer meeting, the daily prayer meeting, that we do every morning from 8 to 9, we have our team from Gaza, ex-suicide bombers, ex-fighters for Hamas that have gone up and given their hearts to Jesus. And we pray as the days when Israel was and Hamas were fighting back and forth and bombing in Gaza. We are together praying and we can see the house shaking from the explosion. But we are praying and were praying for Israel also at the same time.

This is a picture like that you can never forget, that enemy is a human being that also deserve a prayer to be grateful. Whether it's a Muslim, whether it's Jew, whether it's a Buddhist, whether it's a Hindu, no matter what background is, they deserve our prayer for salvation to know that true God. I praise the Lord for taking me out of that darkness to show me the Bible to love my enemy and to pray for those who persecute me.

When I started reading the Bible, Matthew 5:9 the Lord is saying "Blessed all the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." I jumped off my chair I cried out, "Lord please help me to be a peacemaker. I don't know how I will figure it out." And I was sincerely crying out to God, went back to read further in Matthew. I get to Matthew 5:43 and 44 and they said, "It was said to you, love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute." That minute, just minutes after I was crying out to God to give me to be a peacemaker.

No way! I jump off my chair, I scream so loud. "No way, I'll never love them. This is my own land, this is hopeless.” The Lord was speaking. I know he was telling me to love my enemy, and I was just crying. I don't want to do it. But then, in His grace and mercy also whispered in my ear, "They have done more than that to me. But I still love them." That just broke me to report.

"If you love them, help me to love. Help me to love them, I cannot love them now." Sure enough, suddenly, I'm feeling passion for the Jewish people that I hated so passionately and now I love Israel. Israel has the right to this land. This is not something a man can make. This is our true God. And so how do we pray, what do we think about Muslims, and how to reach them, to love them. Whatever they are, wherever they are, love it. Build relationships; understand their culture, wherever they are from because a Pakistani culture is different than a Saudi culture.

So we have to understand what country is coming, or she's coming from in order to reach and build that relationship and allow God into the rest. You don't have to preach the gospel, just be their friend. And God will do the rest, that's what he did with me. I didn't come to Jesus, leave seeking Jesus or anything. Because a man who loved me for years and treated me like a human being with respect and dignity when I was a poor guy, and he's a rich man. But yet he never showed me the difference in our standard of everything. And when that God's time came, he was trying to tell me that Jesus was the Son of God and forget it that is a blessing, I don't believe.

And I was going to run up, and they went and brought his Bible and he sat right next to me. It was so close to my thought I felt some power in that. I drove away basically jumped away the door to God and said, so you believe this thought of God. Now as a Muslim, I don't believe that. But that moment, I said, "Yes." Why did I say the Holy Spirit [inaudible] And I want to hear it to me, in the Bible, the Word of God become alive. So I found myself on my knees, crying out to God. That's what I'm trying to say. Let God do what God do, let us do what God told us to do, love those people. Show them acceptance and dignity and respect and God will do the rest.

They will come eventually ask, "Why do you love us so much?" I remember right after September 11. This is a really important story. I was going through the United States, doing evangelism to Muslims. And in September 11 hit, an Amiga church friend pastor calls me, "What are we going to do now? The Americans are angry. They're on the street killing anybody that looked Middle Eastern," and then asked me, "Pastor we come back and we'll see what's going on." So I go back, I was in Seattle.

The Muslims are terrified living in their homes cannot go outside. They are afraid and know they're being shoved on the street whether it was in Seattle or Texas or wherever. The American people are angry. Even Christians, they are not out there killing people but they're angry. However, I said, "Pastor, those Muslims out there you have neighbors around you. I think what we should do is take basket of fruits and vegetables and take it on to their houses right out their door, knock on their door, leave the basket and don't open the door. Now, this is for you. And if you need any help you need to go to the store, you need to do anything, we will be happy to help." You know what happened? Within a month, so many of those Muslims going to the church, that church, in particular, why do you love us?

Helen: So this is what you have devoted your work to right now, building the relationship between the Jewish people and the Muslim people and the Christians and the Muslims. So, tell me a little bit more about what you do. How you do it?

Tass: When I was reading the Bible, in Genesis 16, 17, and 21, and I understood more about Ishmael. Why Ishmael? I keep asking God, why Ishmael? What is so significant? Why did you reject Ishmael to be the chosen son, when he's the first one? God had a plan. I'm a son of Ishmael but I didn't know a lot more about my roots until I read the Bible. And that helped me and that's what drove me to establish help for Ishmael organization to voiding itself to reconcile Arabs and Jews to the Father. And when we are reconciled with the Father, it is easier to reconcile to each other [inaudible]

And I see so much normalization taking place between our dear family I told them all this great work, okay. But I look deeper into that picture and say, okay, is Jesus really in the center of this and this normalization? I see a lot of Evangelicals, great evangelical leaders, and localization that Muslims are and there is an accord that the Mecca for that is called and the Muslims are basically changing a little bit to make themselves more modest. Islam is the problem. It's not among the people. You read the Quran, there is so much evil so much in there. They are modifying it. One of the teachings of the Quran is when you are in the position make peace and there you're strong and linear strong, was larger than unless they came to be Muslim.

So when we see those evangelical leaders and what I want to do, but I want it to be Jesus is in the focus. I'm not going to sweeten. Yes, I will show my love and my respect and everything. But they have to understand the reason I am doing what I'm doing, the reason I love them the way I love them, the Jews in particular, after hating them passionately, is because of what Jesus did in my life. There's nothing else. So my advice to the evangelical leaders around the world that are really working is your focus and the center is Jesus. And he making that clear, then, yeah, that's great. So it is all about God. It is about Jesus. If this work is not about him, it's going to fail. And the Bible is so clear about the time of peace. Who is behind that? Is that Jesus behind that? I pray [inaudible] my team and myself they [inaudible] that it is God. I want to see that peace these days. But without him being in the focus, I cannot say.

Helen: I agree with you Tass. I'm absolutely on the same page with you in this. So you are about to start your own podcast. Tell me a little bit more what is the focus of your podcast?

Tass: The Lord blessed me with a son and a daughter, of course, workers with a great woman who I married just to have a green card and my plan was two, three years and say goodbye. But 47 years later, we are still married and have wonderful kids and grandkids. My son is a pastor of worship at a great church in Overland Park. And my daughter is the boss. She is in charge of operation. And she is my partner and we are going to do the podcast together.

And the podcast focus is lead with love. This is my whole purpose for return to the United States. The Lord brought me back because of the influx of businessmen to Europe and the United States millions and more is still coming. And more and more is going to. And when I look over, I was invited in Holland, right after I finished my second book, the mind of their[?], their prime minister and the head of the efficient body read the book, and they wanted me to come to help them because of the Muslims that are making more than [inaudible].

And that's when it really hit me, I started looking into the church condition whether they are ready or not, then I started looking at the United States. And it was scary for me. No, the church is asleep. The church is not awakened. We don't see the danger that is coming. The danger is Islam. I'm not saying Muslims. I'm saying Islam as a religion, that's the danger. And if we are not awake, if you're not waking and began to reach those Muslims in love and respect, that's what needed to love is all about, is helping the church to reach Muslims in love and respect and how to do that lovingly, and how to show that. The focus is to lead them to Christ. But they are not our purpose. And God does the rest. We have to show them the way.

And so Lead with Love is a podcast that we've been doing also on Face Book. And now the podcast is called "Why Ishmael?" And it is really why Ishmael? Because we want the people to understand that God did not reject Ishmael, as a person, he rejected it as a covenant. But God had a plan for Ishmael. He made promises to Ishmael that you will be blessed. You'll have no ruler or rulers that are existing today. And for me, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, these are the rulers that God wants to promise to us. But is not the only promise that God had for the Ishmael. Now, it is salvation to his son is described as such as we living today. And if the church does not wake up and see that that is truly the blessing. Then we have failed as leaders of church. Then we have failed. And this is the message of Lead with Love.

Helen: I love it, Tass. I look forward to listening to your podcast. I also look forward to you speaking on April 1st at the Greater Purpose Conference in Branson. And Chuck and I both feel very, very excited about the work that you are doing and I know that God has planned for us to be connected. Thank you so much for joining us on this podcast and may God bless you in the very important work that you are doing.

Tass's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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