Inspired By Her Father, Teen Gives Support to Displaced People in the Middle East

Daily Point of Light # 7612 Aug 7, 2023

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Jolene Massad. Read her story and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light. 

Jolene Massad, 17, still remembers when she was 10 years old and her father brought her along on a trip to Jordan while he visited families with the nonprofit he founded, Christian Mission to Gaza (CM2G). CM2G provides practical and spiritual assistance to refugees, Christians experiencing persecution, orphans and widows in Gaza as well as Jordan and other parts of the region. The organization gives families food relief, helps with transportation for any visa appointments and Jolene’s father, Hanna, even pastors a church virtually every Sunday.  

Now, Jolene has traveled to Jordan almost every summer and has her own role with CM2G. She finds joy in visiting the families in Jordan and helping in any way CM2G can. Then when she is stateside, she regularly tutors other teens and their families in English and helps her father spread awareness of the nonprofit. Now, she has just started applying for college and is even considering following her father’s footsteps in management of nonprofits.  

You started volunteering at age 10, how did you get involved at such a young age? 

Since I was young, I’ve been actively involved in volunteering with organizations like Feed My Starving Children, Filling in the Blanks and serving at our church. However, Christian Mission 2 Gaza has a special place in my heart because my father started it during his time at Fuller Seminary. His goal was to help the people of Gaza, and it later expanded to Jordan to assist displaced people from Iraq and Syria. Witnessing his impact on the Iraqi congregation inspired me to make a difference too. Our visits to these families in Jordan showed me the profound impact the organization has, going beyond basic aid to bring hope and support to those in need. This experience drives my passion to continue the mission and positively impact lives, just as my father does.

Jolene meeting someone whom she had tutored and gifting her a guitar from Christian Mission 2 Gaza./Courtesy Jolene Massad

What inspires you to volunteer? 

Witnessing the profound impact of the organization’s work on people’s lives has ignited a strong desire within me to make a positive difference in the world. For example, tutoring a girl in Jordan and supporting small businesses for displaced people has shown me the real difference volunteering can make. The sense of purpose, fulfillment and the opportunity to contribute to causes I care about motivates me to be actively involved in volunteering. I am driven by my passion for helping others and creating a positive impact in their lives, which fuels my inspiration to continue volunteering with dedication and enthusiasm. I also witnessed the work and impact done in Gaza with the mission. Although it would be very impactful to witness firsthand and help, it can be dangerous to go to Gaza. 

Describe your volunteer role with Christian Mission 2 Gaza? 

When we go to Jordan I help in food distribution, attending the Iraqi congregation meetings, visiting families in their homes and camps and tutoring displaced people in English. When I am here in the United States, I tutor in English virtually, helped with the creation of the website, editing writing that has gone out, sometimes write the newsletter and also travel with my dad when he speaks at different places promoting CM2G.  

What is the best part about volunteering in Jordan? 

The best part is the opportunity to witness the direct and positive impact of your efforts on the local communities. Engaging with the people and being on the ground allows you to see firsthand how your contributions are making a difference in the lives of those you serve. Additionally, volunteering in another country provides a chance to immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the region, interact with diverse communities, and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges they face. The experience can be both personally rewarding and eye-opening.  

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work? 

The most rewarding part of my work with CM2G is witnessing the impact it has on people’s lives. One memorable experience I want to share is when I was tutoring a young girl who had immigrated to Jordan with her family while waiting for their visa to Australia. During that time, I had the opportunity to help her and her siblings learn English, making their transition to Australia smoother. Eventually, the family’s visa was granted, and they successfully moved to Australia. When I was in Jordan, I had the chance to meet her in person and gifted her a guitar, which one of our CM2G team members had bought for her. It was a heartwarming moment to see the positive change our organization brought to her life. 

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer? 

Through my volunteer experiences, I’ve learned the power of small acts of kindness and empathy. It has taught me resilience, teamwork, and gratitude. Giving back to a community not only brings personal fulfillment but also builds lasting connections. Additionally, I’ve become more aware of social issues and the global impact of local actions. I’m committed to continuing my journey, making a positive impact and contributing to a better world. 

Jolene is a volunteer with Christian Mission 2 Gaza, a nonprofit supporting families./Courtesy Jolene Massad

Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about? 

Last year, CM2G expanded its support to include several orphanages in Lebanon, the West Bank and Egypt. This year, the organization made significant progress by funding small businesses for displaced people, enabling them to earn a modest income despite their displaced status, which often restricts their ability to work. Personally, I am looking forward to the possibility of visiting these orphanages and witnessing the impact of these small businesses in person within the next year or two. 

What do you want people to learn from your story? 

I want people to learn about the power of compassion and empathy towards those in need. I aim to inspire others to take action and make a difference in their communities and the world, emphasizing that even small contributions can have a significant impact. My involvement with CM2G highlights the critical importance of supporting displaced people and orphanages, while also showcasing the transformative power of empowering vulnerable communities through initiatives like funding small businesses. Additionally, I hope to foster a sense of global solidarity and encourage others to find joy and fulfillment in giving back and being actively involved in causes they care about. Ultimately, my story with CM2G serves as an inspiring testament to the potential for positive change when individuals come together to create a more compassionate and just world for everyone. 

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Jolene? Find local volunteer opportunities. 

Bethany Schattner