I received this book, free of charge, from Tyndale Publishing as part of the Tyndale Blog Network. Unless otherwise stated, the opinions given here are 100% my own.
Let me start off by saying that this is not a book I would normally pick up and read for pleasure. It's not even a book I would normally pick up for any reason. However, once I received this book from Tyndale, I couldn't put it down. Author information from the book describes Tass Saada in the following way:
Tass Saada is a former Muslim and is co founder of Hope for Ishmael, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reconcile Arabs and Jews to God and each other through the gospel of Christ. Saada was born in 1951 in the Gaza Strip, and he grew up in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He was a PLO sniper and militant fighter. He worked directly for Arafat. In America, he became a Christian.Before reading this book I knew some general facts about the Middle East. The Palestinians and the Jews are in constant conflict over land. Yasser Arafat was the leader of the PLO and had something to do with Middle Eastern politics. As a Christian, I also knew that Arab peoples are descended from Ishmael and that Jewish peoples are descended from Isaac. I had a mild understanding of Islam.
This book gave me a great lesson in some history of the Middle East in a way that was easy to read and understand. It is Tass' story and he tells it well. The book is divided into thirds.
The first third, titled, How I Learned to Hate, tells the story of Tass' birth in the Gaza Strip in a refugee camp, his family's relocation to Saudi Arabia, and final settlement in Qatar. This section details how the author grew up hating everyone that was not Muslim and his desire to reclaim what he thought was the rightful ownership of land for the Palestinian people. There are some disturbing sections here, such as when Saada describes what is was like to claim his first victim as a sniper when he was still a teenager. This section was also very informative, as it gave me a better understanding of Middle Eastern relations and some history of the area.
The second section, titled, How I Learned to Love, begins with Saada's desire to find out what the mysterious "connection" is that his friend Charlie keeps talking about. As I read the story of his conversion to Christianity and how Jesus became more than just a prophet to this former Muslim, tears streamed down my face. I appreciated the use of biblical scriptures to emphasize the points the author was making. This section also details how Saada told his family, still in Qatar, about his conversion. There were passages where the author used the Qu' ran to reinforce what the Bible says and I found that interesting.
The final section, titled, Road Map to Reconciliation, explains in very easy steps why Christians must understand the Muslim/Jewish situation and how it can be resolved. There are no quick fixes here, no diplomatic posturings. Simply put, we need to share the love of Jesus with all. Jesus is not the messiah for only the Christians. He came to be the messiah for the Muslims, the Jews, the Buddhists, the atheists, for everyone. Loving and praying for our enemies does not only mean those far away in the Holy Land. It means our neighbor, our co-worker, our family.
I completely and totally recommend this book to anyone who wants to see how God can change even the most hardened murderer. It is a quick read, is great for learning about the Middle Eastern situation that has been going on since Abraham and Sarah decided to help God's promise along, and it will cause you to think about the relationships in your own life.
As stated above, I was provided a copy of "Once An Arafat Man" for free from Tyndale Publishing. I received no other compensation and the review and opinions written here are 100% mine.
To find out more about Tass Saada's nonprofit organizations, visit seedsofhope.org and hopeforishmael.org.