By Saed Awwad
Saed Awwad is a member of Team Xtreme – 12 globe-trotting groups of Christian “he-men” that bend metal poles, tear telephone books in two, and break piles of bricks with their bare hands. Their brute strength gives them entry to youth around the world. But even more exciting are their incredible testimonies like that of Saed – a Middle East walking miracle. Here is his story as he told it at Congregation Tiferet Yeshua, Tel Aviv, Israel.
I grew up in Palestine, the West Bank. I was there during the first Intifada and joined the Palestinian uprising. I was throwing stones and bottles, got into trouble with the Israeli security soldiers and was caught and arrested many times. I was severely beaten, and as a result underwent seven surgeries on my body.
Two years ago I had back surgery and was told that I would not be able to walk. It’s a long story, but I want to tell you that God raised me up again, and I’m doing the impossible! I’m working with the Xtreme Team! Only Yeshua the Messiah can do this - Messiah, King of the Universe!
I remember the tales I used to tell the Israeli soldiers (in Hebrew): “I don’t throw stones at soldiers. I’m not a terrorist. I love Israel.” Fiction! I still got into trouble because they caught me in the act. They saw me throwing stones.
I was born in 1967 and grew up seeing the tanks and guns and the settlements built right next to my town. When my mom disciplined me, she would say, “If you don’t behave, I’ll call the Jews on you!” They were a real element of fear to me. And if you fear something, then you want to eliminate it. It’s just natural.
I was about 15 years old when I started to get into trouble. Even before the Intifada I was called in by Security and asked many questions. During the interrogation I was beaten. But things got worse and worse; the more they beat me, the more I hated them. If I had had a chance during that time to catch a soldier, I would have killed him. I have tried but never succeeded, because God had a plan for my life.
One day a soldier looked me in the eye and loaded his gun. I threw a stone at him and ran away. He shot three bullets and I have no idea how he missed, but he did. It was a miracle. He followed me while I was running. There was a child who knew me. I picked him up because I didn’t want him to tell the soldier my name. I continued to run, and then there was a big wall which I had to jump over. When I did, I twisted my leg, but I knew I had to keep running – for another four kilometers.
I slept that night outside under olive trees with a lot of pain. I couldn’t go to the hospital because they’d catch me and I’d be in trouble again. So I went to a place where I knew I’d find a shepherd. I know shepherds fix animals – sheep’s legs when they break.
So I knocked on his door at half past five in the morning. He looked at my leg, saw it was swelling and called his wife to get some water. He began to tell me a story to distract my attention, and then snapped my leg to return the bones to their proper place.
Congregation Tiferet Yeshua sits mesmerized as Ari and Saed stand together at the close of the service
At that time I wished I had been shot! It was so painful! He got two sticks and put them on my leg and instructed me to keep them on for a couple of weeks and above all, to avoid soldiers. Obviously if they saw me limping they would suspect I had been involved in some kind of violence.
About six months later I still wasn’t sleeping at home because the soldiers knew where I lived. So one night I decided to go to my aunt’s house, and thought that if I woke up early at seven o’clock, it would be too early for the soldiers to be on patrol.
I opened the door of my aunt’s house planning to leave, and there they were – waiting for me with a smile! “Welcome home! Come with us.” They gave me a job erasing graffiti at the local high school where my dad was the principal. They took my identity card and I started erasing the graffiti. My father saw me and asked me (of course in Arabic) what I was doing. I told him that I had to do this but the soldiers thought that I was giving him instructions for young men at the school to throw stones at them. Big misunderstanding!
They loaded their guns and became very nervous. They called me, the three of them. They cornered me and beat me up. After they finished, I went to the doctor spitting blood and my arms bruised up. I hated the Jewish people with a passion. I felt I had good reasons for my hatred.
A year later, I was about 10 meters from a soldier, and there were three bullets that sounded different. It sounded like they hit something; there was not the usual whizz through the air. So I turned and I saw my friend on the floor. He died on the spot from the three bullets. Things became even worse, and revenge became sweet. I started to think how I could take revenge, but God had mercy on me and didn’t let me succeed.
I BEGAN TO THINK ABOUT DEATH
Because of my friend’s death, I began to think about death, but I had no answers. In the West Bank, when women saw soldiers beating a man, they would come running to rescue him. My aunt was there and she was furious; she wanted to get me out of their hands. But when she got closer, one of the soldiers put his gun to my head and said, “If you come any closer, I’ll kill him.”
Things got very quiet, and the question for me was, “What if? What if he pulls the trigger – my life ends here.” I certainly didn’t know where I was going. I knew if I died as a martyr people would praise me, but what about me? I came from a nominally Christian Arab family, but I was not a religious man and really knew nothing about God.
I do remember when I was about five or six years old, an American missionary came to my town. He told us stories from the Bible. Two stories really stuck in my mind – the story of Job and the story of Joseph. They had reasons just to forget about God. What amazed me was they kept their relationship with God in spite of all that happened to them.
|Ari asks Saed if he can wash his feet. Saed in turn washes and kisses Ari’s feet. A very humbling scene.
I LEFT FOR AMERICA
This soul-searching caused me to choose to go to America and search. My mother is an American citizen and I had an American passport, so I left for America when I was about 23 years old. Three years later I owned a liquor store, ran my own business and lived my life. I had so much anger in me that I tried to find peace in drugs, alcohol, women – even gambling – to fill up that empty hole in me, but none of that helped me.
Christianity for me was for wimps, not for people who were really tough. Then one day three guys walked into my liquor store. Big guys. I asked them, “What are you guys doing here?” They answered that they were building a church on the third floor of our building. I laughed, “You? Church? Don’t you have anything better to do in life?” I figured I’d give them drinks and food and earn God’s favor – and get them off my back.
One day I told my friend about these three guys. He said, “You know, my sister goes to an Arabic church in Birmingham; let’s go check it out.” So I went, sat in the pew, and a pastor stood behind the pulpit. He was an Arab and he spoke in Arabic.
When he started speaking he said, “We must love our enemies. Jews are our enemies, but we must love them, too.” I looked at my friend and said to him, “We must bomb this church! They are Zionists! They are traitors. They don’t deserve to live! We are dying over there and he says we need to forgive them?”
I left the church so angry, got in the car, crossed my legs and began rolling a joint. My friend next to me said, “Put it down!” I didn’t pay attention to what he was saying, and all of a sudden we were at a checkpoint, and a police officer was looking at me. So I covered the joint with my hand and the police asked, “Where were you?” I immediately looked at him and said, “At church.” He said, “OK, go!” So I thought to myself, maybe it’s not that bad to be in a church!
I started hearing about some home meetings called Bible studies. I would go in order to interrupt the pastor while he was teaching. But one night at two o’clock in the morning, I found myself in my living room feeling completely confused.
I asked, “Who are you? Are you a Jewish God, a Muslim God, a Christian God or Buddha? I need to know if you are here, if you exist. I don’t want to feel guilty all my life. Something isn’t right with me.”
I turned on the TV and there was a man sitting behind a desk. The man said, “Young man...” He was speaking with a southern accent, and he started answering all the questions that I had about life. As questions came to my mind, he answered them! I freaked out! What is going on? I didn’t understand it was the Holy Spirit. And then, towards the end he said, “If you are an Arab or a Mexican...” he just drew me in and I knew that this was a Divine Happening even though I didn’t know exactly what was happening.
I DIDN’T EAT FOR THREE DAYS
He said, “You need Jesus Christ in your life! He is the real thing!” I gave my life to Jesus then and there. For three days I could not eat or drink. I just read the Bible, and in everything I saw Jesus Christ.
My mom and dad thought that I freaked out. My dad is a very honorable man, and this was a dishonor to him for me to leave our ancient Christian tradition and become an evangelical Christian.
He really got upset with me, and then I told him, “I am not your son anymore. I am a son of the Most High God. I have a mission; I don’t know what it is, but I have one!” So I left home and my dad and mom prepared to return to our hometown of Taibe in the West Bank.
I wrote my dad a letter and quoted him the verse: “Whoever leaves his father and mother, houses, etc., for My name’s sake, he will receive a hundred fold.” I also wrote, “I have searched for the truth and I have found the truth!” I knew my dad was an intelligent man, and I was sure he would know I had been searching for the truth.
The Team Xtreme, headed up by Keven Stark who has organized 12 different teams
serving Yeshua throughout the world
Before they left, I gave him a Bible with my letter inside. According to his testimony, when he was on the airplane and opened the Bible, he found that the letter was placed in the page with the identical Scripture that I gave him with my letter. He knew that it was not a coincidence.
After his return to Taibe, we continued talking on the telephone for two years. He then came to visit me in the USA. One day in my apartment I was worshipping the Lord, and my dad was sitting there. Suddenly, he fell on his knees with tears in his eyes. He raised his hands up - he was then about 74 years old - and said, “I want you to baptize me. Now I know the truth, and the truth sets me free.” Hallelujah!
SHOCKED AND ANGRY
Six months after I got saved, the Lord asked something of me that I never anticipated. He asked, “Will you forgive your enemies, the Jewish people?” I told the Lord, “If you’ll ask me this even one more time I will never speak to you again!”
For six months I turned my back on God. I was so angry. How dare He ask me this question! I told Him, “You have no idea what happened to me - these people don’t deserve to live!” From my perspective they had come from many nations and taken the land that I believed belonged to the Arabs. I was angry.
Finally I said, “If you, God, will help me to forgive them, I will.” He spoke something into my heart that changed my life. He said, “There’s one thing that I give to people. Yes, I give gifts of healing, faith, power – but I’ll give you something greater than that. I’ll make you a partaker of My nature.”
"In order for you to forgive,” He told me, “you must understand that only a judge can decide to forgive and release or to keep.” Since only God can forgive, He said that if I wanted to be a partaker of His nature, and live the life that I wanted to live, I actually needed to do what He does; I needed to forgive.
I said, “Yes, Lord.” He spoke to me from the words of the sixth chapter of Isaiah, “Whom shall I send?” And I said, “Here am I, send me.”
[At this point Saed asked the Israeli soldiers in our congregation to come forward.]
How many soldiers are in this room? Stand up. Will the soldiers just keep standing, because I want to bless you. Are there any reservists? I want to bless you, because this is a miracle. I fought many years in my life to see the Jewish people surrender, but through the power of love and forgiveness, and the power of Yeshua the Messiah, my heart has changed!
I am a Palestinian - you are Jewish. The world calls us enemies - but we are brothers! Brothers and sisters in Yeshua. Nothing can separate us. The world will not separate us, politics will not separate us, walls will not separate us. We have a place in Heaven. You and I will bow our knees and worship the Messiah Yeshua, our King together! He is the Real Thing!
STANDING ON HOLY GROUND
Let’s put it this way; I’ve never been nervous in my life. I faced death and I was not afraid. But I am very nervous right now. I feel that I’m standing on Holy Ground. Earlier I asked God, ‘What do You want me to do?’ The words “miracle of love” came to me – to love you, brothers and sisters. I want you, if you don’t mind, just to come over. I want to embrace you. Come, please.
I pray that among the other soldiers you will be a testimony and among the Arabs wherever you are, that the power of the Messiah, the power of love, will be in you. So I just want to pray for you right now.
Father, I come before You now; I pray Lord, that you will bless my brothers and my sisters. May the Lord shine His face upon you, may the Lord give you peace and prosperity. May the Lord use you mightily to bring the truth to His people.
I love you! I love you! If you can, please say “I forgive you,” because I forgave you, and now I love you.
Gil, the translator into Hebrew said at this point: “We forgive you with all of our heart.”
Then, an Israeli soldier, and member of our congregation, walked up to Saed and said, “I also want to ask for your forgiveness. Before I came to faith, I was among soldiers who used to beat Arabs. Yeshua showed me the truth and I love the Arabs and share the truth with them. I want to ask for your forgiveness, I love you.”
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Photos of Conference by Carino Casas
Maoz contributors were honored to partner with Succat Hallel, a 24/7 prayer center lead by Rick Ridings in Jerusalem. Succat Hallel organized a Conference of Reconciliation for Israeli Messianic Jews and Arab Christians. A total of 800 participants attended the three day conference - 750 were under 30 years old.
Through istandwithisrael.com, we enabled 70 Arab believers (22 from Nazareth and 48 from the Territories) to attend the conference.
Palestinian participants rejoice with music and praise in the conference
Maoz contributors paid for their lodging, half of their food and busing them to and from the conference. Even though there was some risk in their coming to such a meeting, many more would have come from the Territories but did not receive Visas. The rest of Maoz’ donation enabled the Conference to pay for many of its expenses and to broadcast by pod cast and live streaming - and to be videoed.
Israeli teenagers and youth spend quality and quantity time in praise
Yes! There is a way to peace in the Middle East. The Key is in the hands of the Messiah and His Body. All other plans will come to naught.
GOD’S MIDDLE EAST PEACE PLAN!
The Team Xtreme also ministered at the Reconciliation Conference.
Saed Awwad broke a pile of cement building blocks and proclaimed that God had broken down the wall of partition between Jew and Arab.
Then he leaped from the stage, grabbed an Israeli soldier and gave him an enormous hug.
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Needs Your Prayers
By Shira Sorko-Ram
More and more Israeli journalists are writing about something I have never seen in print before. They are concerned for the incredibly heavy load Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu carries on his shoulders.
Paraphrasing editor David Horovitz of the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu the juggler is somehow keeping all the balls in the air. Above all, he is desperate to keep President Barack Obama happy. He is desperate to keep former British Prime Minister Tony Blair – who is now the Middle East envoy for EU, UN, US and Russia – happy. He is trying to keep Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas not too unhappy.
He is trying to keep his coalition together – Avigdor Lieberman, his often correct, but incredibly
undiplomatic coalition partner to the right, together with Ehud Barak, his coalition partner to the left.
He also has powerful ultra-Orthodox in his government – leaders of religious communities who believe that according to the Scriptures, the land of Judea and Samaria has been given to Israel as an everlasting inheritance. But these same communities refuse to serve in the army and refuse to work regular jobs.
They live to receive handouts from the government. In other words, they study Talmud and expect the government to pay their families’ living expenses. And they work to control every phase of Israeli religious life.
Netanyahu is in favor of settlements and thus naturally empathizes with the religious right, but he is convinced there is no alternative to creating a Palestinian state out of several million hostile Arabs. What else can he do?
But the Palestinians are doing little or nothing to create their own Muslim state. Palestinian leaders continue to sweet-talk the West in English while promoting the destruction of Israel in Arabic. What to do? Americans and Europeans only understand English.
Israelis are VERY happy that President Obama has again smiled upon us, while very skeptical that he is doing so to win the Jewish vote and donations for the November 2010 elections. What will he be to Israel after the elections?
Pictures reveal what words may attempt to hide. Contrary to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s last visit to the White House, President Obama smiled broadly throughout the photo op. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is restrained as if deep down he is still very concerned about the stability of the US - Israel relationship.
Across the board, Israeli pundits believe that if the US were to turn her back on Israel, it would be disastrous for this tiny country – isolated and almost friendless among the nations of the world.
Militarily, Netanyahu and his government face the land of Hizbullah (Southern Lebanon) where against all promises and agreements with the UN peacekeepers, terrorists have built up an army of 20,000 militants, placing their ammunitions and command centers next to hospitals, schools and mosques – the better to see as many Lebanese civilians killed as possible for the sake of the cause to destroy Israel.
“Humanitarian aid” activists connected with Hamas and even al-Qaeda are making plans to send more ships from Arab and European ports to Gaza – in order to break the blockade and enable Hamas to ship in unlimited weapons.
Even while Netanyahu juggles relations with the US and Europe, his government agonizes over the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the UN Human Rights Council as they plot to bring Israel down – through “investigations,” boycotts, sanctions, threats, resolutions,
special conferences – and any other device they can find.
And of course there are the universities in England which boycott Israeli professors, the UK Methodist church along with many activitists who have launched boycotts against goods produced by settlements in the West Bank, and the attempts of Great Britain and some European countries to arrest our elected officials and military leaders for “crimes against humanity.”
Yes, we are preparing for war, because Hizbullah and Hamas exist for that sole purpose and are rearming to fight and conquer Israel.
And then, when he comes home at night, Benjamin Netanyahu passes by the tents in front of his dwelling which house Noam and Aviva Shalit, the parents of the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit. They have recently concluded a 200 kilometer march with a total of 200,000 Israelis marching along with them in different parts of the country. Noam pleads, “Bring my son home before they kill him.”
It has become a sensitive political minefield for Netanyahu, who said on television recently that he was prepared to pay a high price, but not any price, for the soldier’s release. Hamas is demanding 1,000 terrorists to be released, some of them notorious killers who murdered hundreds of Israelis.
Most Israelis now feel that Netanyahu must bring Gilad home in order to preserve the morale of Israel’s army and the parents of the boys and girls they send to serve in the military. The soldiers tell the media they need assurance if they are kidnapped Israel will bring them home. Yet, Israelis also know that some of the killers, if released, will surely kill more Israelis.
But there is much more: Should Netanyahu hand over the Gaza check point crossings to the Palestinian Authority to manage what goes into Gaza? Can they be trusted to keep weapons out of Gaza?
What can Netanyahu do to try to improve relations with the nation of Turkey whose angry president is a radical Muslim who concocted the “humanitarian aid” flotilla with Hamas militants to break the Gaza blockade in the first place?
Should Netanyahu allow Obama to talk him into renewing the 10-month freeze of construction in all the towns in Judea and Samaria, even though it caused chaos in the building industry, left families with half-build houses and cost its citizens multiplied millions of dollars in lost revenue?
What should Netanyahu do with President Mahmoud Abbas who won’t negotiate face to face with him until he promises to let several million “refugees” move into Israel, and promises to turn ancient Jerusalem over to the Palestinians to be their capital? Of course Abbas’ demands are preposterous, but Obama is pushing...
But we have not yet arrived at the greatest danger – Iran. Yes, Iran is already at war with Israel through its proxies Hizbullah and Hamas – to which it supplies huge, continuous quantities of all types of weapons (especially to Hizbullah through Syria, but also to Hamas through tunnels). But Netanyahu knows that a nuclear Iran will change everything. What more can he do to persuade the US and Europe to stop Iran before it is too late?
Benjamin Netanyahu has many good friends among evangelical Christians. Numerous Christian leaders have met with him often, and we can be sure they encouraged him to believe God to deliver Israel. I have no doubt Netanyahu is acquainted with the Old and New Testaments.
Let us pray that God will reveal Himself and His plans for Israel’s future. Let us pray that God will give this prime minister wisdom from on high to navigate these deep dangerous waters.
Let us pray for the salvation of the people of Israel – from the greatest to the smallest. Because God has promised that one day ALL Israel shall be saved.
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Dear Maoz Partner,
This summer we have watched with joy and wonder as the young Messianic Jews of Israel have gone into action with fire and fervor!
Two great conferences, the one described in this Maoz Israel Report (Elav, meaning “To Him”) and another one called Katzir (“the Harvest”) which is in full swing even as we write.
All Israeli pastors are aware that many of our youth’s life-changing moments with God happen in youth conferences and camps. There is an electric atmosphere when young people gather together seeking God – to go all the way with God who is so clearly at work impacting their hearts.
At the same time, we see world events – not winding down, but spiralling up! Breaking news swirls around us, and to put it spiritually, there is no rock beside our Rock!
Admittedly it would be easy to fear the growing threats – economic collapse, a nuclear Iran, radical Islam determined to destroy Israel and the West, and on and on.
But we are explicitly told to look up as our redemption draws nigh. And we are explicitly told to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth and “then the end will come.”
So we continue to run forward with our calling in Israel. And we do so with enormous joy and happiness.
Because of your active partnership, this last month we gave $20,000 to Elav Reconciliation Conference – enabling 70 Palestinians to be among the 800 participants. We helped pay for their transportation, food, lodging – and helped the conference meet all the other expenses.
Maoz also gave $10,000 for the Katzir Youth Conference, and $10,000 for persecuted believers – and for good measure, $1,000 for school bags for underprivileged children.
These funds are in addition to the support we regularly give to help needy, underprivileged believers get on their feet. You have made all this possible!
We are only able to do this for one reason – because of you!
With your regular giving, we are able to maintain Maoz’ ministry infrastructure – our dedicated and talented staff, the equipment they need to do their work and our accounting department which makes it possible to funnel money where it will do the most good and keep every part of our ministry accountable.
Equally important is your support to maintain our spirit-filled Israeli Messianic Jewish congregation in downtown Tel Aviv.
The costs are enormous – no other Messianic Jewish congregation has even a rented building of its own in Tel Aviv. The media reports that Tel Aviv rentals are 39% higher than that of Jerusalem!
But God has promised that He will meet all of our needs according to His riches...
And we are confident that the Lord wants us in downtown Tel Aviv and He wants Congregation Tiferet Yeshua to continue to spread the Good News in this city.
So we simply say to you, keep up the good work! With you as our co-laborer in Yeshua the Messiah, with your gifts and your prayers, we will yet see the promises of God fulfilled in this land which He calls His very own.
Yours for the lost sheep of Israel,
Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. Every gift you give helps us accomplish our goals – to raise up the next generation of leaders, and to share the Gospel with our Jewish people! Thank you for your help this month!
Partner with Maoz today by supporting our projects:
Maoz Israel Ministries | istandwithisrael
Persecuted Believers | Congregation Tiferet Yeshua
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