In 2004, I made the first of many visits to the Gaza strip. My wife and I went because her sister had married a doctor from Gaza who had studied in Ukraine. When they were showing us the government buildings in Gaza City, I was surprised to see a large cross along the street. To my surprise, I found a vibrant church with more than one hundred believers and I was introduced to their pastor who was an amazing man. Since my time was limited, Pastor Hanna Massad asked me to come back to Gaza the next year and speak at his church and explore what they were doing to help the people of Gaza. I was very excited! Since then I have travelled to Gaza many times, to work with pastor Hanna to provide humanitarian aid to the people who are living in the very difficult conditions there.
I’ll never forget one Sunday when I spoke at the church in Gaza in the morning and then was having lunch with pastor Hanna and his wife. We were approached by one of the deacons in the church with a letter that they had received. The letter was actually a bomb threat. I remember saying, «So, will we not have a service this evening then?» Pastor Hanna replied, «There will be a service». I was so impressed to actually see more people come out to the service that evening (than there had been in the morning) because they were so committed to helping and encouraging each other when the going got tough!
A few years after that, the persecution became even stronger and targeted at Pastor Hanna and his wife, so they were forced to move to Amman, Jordan. Pastor Hanna and his wife continue to provide assistance to the church in Gaza and I have been with him in Gaza recently to see encourage the people there and see the work that Hanna continues to do.
Now, Pastor Hanna has begun a new mission to help Christian refugees from Iraq, who have fled to Jordan, and we have partnered with him in this new mission as well. Pastor Hanna is currently providing regular assistance to over 1,000 refugee families in Jordan. I have traveled with him to Iraq as well and we are doing everything we can to get churches in Canada and Ukraine connected to his ministry.
The most AMAZING thing of all though, was when Pastor Hanna took me to the church in the evening!