Pastor from Gaza by Hanna Massad
This recommended biography of a Baptist pastor from Gaza who has met US Presidents affirms the grace of God in the midst of pain
Pastor from Gaza
By Hanna Massad
Brentwood: CMG Publishing, 2018
Reviewer: Yohanna Katanacho
Pastor from Gaza adds to the list of Palestinian Christian biographies. Elias Chakour, Odeh Rantisi, Mitri Raheb, Alex Awad, Botrus Mansour, and others have written powerful stories as they sought to obey God in the midst of wars, hatred, and persecution. But Massad fills an important gap addressing the situation in Gaza and covering recent events. His recent book deserves our attention.
Massad is a Baptist Palestinian who is committed to a personal relationship to Christ and to the inspiration of the whole Bible. He wants to follow Jesus and to pastor his small flock in Gaza. He also ministers among Syrian and Iraqi refugees. His ministry is among the most persecuted Christians in our times. It is indeed a difficult ministry, yet it is full of God’s grace.
In this book, Massad shares his story and the story of Suhad, his wife, pointing out some of the horrors of state terror, Islamic fundamentalism, and ISIS. Throughout the book he demonstrates extreme kindness, a strong commitment to forgiveness, and a great heart for the people of Gaza. He shares his understanding of the Jewish people and God’s plan for them as well as his perception of their injustices in a context of forgiveness and a journey towards reconciliation.
Some of the most powerful moments in reading the book are when Massad shares about the martyrdom of Rami Ayyad, a member of the Baptist church in Gaza and a minister at the Palestinian Bible Society. The details of the story and the response of Pauline, Rami’s wife, are truly challenging. These lines in the book are holy moments for affirming the grace of God and his amazing love. They alone make the book worth reading. But there is more.
In the midst of pain, God has shaped heroes of faith and has honoured a pastor from Gaza to sit with Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. He has used him powerfully to reach to some of the most persecuted people in our times.
Last, I have some reservations about Massad’s careful affirmation of God’s plan for the Jewish people. Such affirmations have serious political implications and ethical concerns that should have been addressed. Massad is hesitant to highlight Israeli injustices but is quick to highlight Islamic extremism. He should have provided a clear prophetic critical voice for both injustices. Also, he could have organised the flow of the stories in a more lucid way.
Nevertheless, I strongly recommend reading this book. It is indeed a great addition to our library and a wonderful opportunity not only to support Dr. Massad, a godly and credible minister but to also pray for the people of Gaza who need our prayers.
This review first appeared on the website of Come and See, the Christian website from Nazareth. It is republished with permission.
Yohanna Katanacho is Professor of Biblical Studies and Academic Dean at Nazareth Evangelical College, and Professor of Biblical Studies at Bethlehem Bible College. He has previously been a speaker at BMS Catalyst Live.