The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned. (Isa. 9:2)

EXILED IN JORDAN after the last persecution, my Palestinian Baptist friend, Hanna Massad, returned home regularly to serve in Gaza. Amid raging conflict and deep poverty, in one of the darkest places on earth, Hanna stands with the vulnerable and poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for orphans, proclaiming the gospel, and training pastors. He carries this cross with grace and without complaint.

In the crossfire between radical Islamic aggression and harsh Israeli occupation, Hanna’s church has suffered arson, bombings, and shootings. Extremists kidnapped Hanna’s friend and coworker, Rami Ayyad, and executed him, simply because of his bold Christian testimony. He left behind two precious children and a pregnant, grieving wife.

There is not a hint of bitterness in this godly pastor. His tender spirit reminds me of that of Jesus. When approaching Jerusalem, Jesus wept and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). The Palestinians and Israelis don’t see it yet, but Hanna Massad offers the elusive key to ending the Middle East conflict: Christ’s peace.

The Nativity brought poor Jewish shepherds and rich pagan wise men together in one humble place, and our brother, Hanna Massad is bringing unlikely people to Jesus as he shines light in one of the darkest places on earth.

Rather than cursing the darkness, light a candle.

Mark O. Wilson is senior pastor of Hayward Wesleyan Church in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, and author of Filled Up, Poured Out (WPH) and Purple Fish (WPH).