Editor’s note: As a typical Jew in the diaspora, Chaim Malespin, director of the Aliyah Return Center, which is dedicated to helping Jewish immigrants in Israel, and the Faithful Galileans, which encourages lovers of Israel to pray and serve for Israel, shares his faith journey to Jesus the Messiah and his ministry to unite Christians all over the world to bless their Jewish brothers and sisters according to the prophecies foretold in the Bible.
China Christian Daily: Share something about yourself and your ministry.
Chaim Malespin: I was born in Oregon, the United States. Each of our siblings was born in a different place in Canada or America, and we traveled a lot. People like us are called wandering Jews. My dad was studying in the Ishiva, an orthodox Hebrew school when he was young. He realized that Jesus, Yeshua, is the Messiah, who is from Galilee, Israel, and does everything for the country. That meant my parents were kicked out of their community and family. They were looking for a place where they could be part of the community. I was born into that scene of going, moving here and there, and never really finding a suitable church. There are Baptists, Pentecostals, and other denominations, but the Jewish world is not connected to any of those.
One day, I went to my bed at night and asked Jesus to reveal himself to me if he was the real Messiah of Israel and the world. I was praying almost all night. I felt very light and warm in the room, and I gave my life to the Lord that night.
Our family went back to Isreal. I got mikvah (baptism) in the Jordan River almost 25 years ago. Mikvah is indeed a Jewish thing. Getting it meant not forsaking the Jewish faith. I’ve lived in Israel most of my life and speak Hebrew. I’m a master sergeant in the Defense Force of Israel and am still in the reserves. I run the Aliya Return Center, which helps poor Jewish people return to Israel, and also the Faithful Galileans, which is a charity and has a prayer house.
China Christian Daily: Are there tensions between religious Jews and Christians in Israel?
Chaim Malespin: Israel has different levels of religious people, from ultra-Orthodox to low. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews are very religious and do everything at the highest religious level: they don’t drive on Sabbath, only eat food with the kosher stamp on the packaging, etc. Some less religious people don’t follow the rules so strictly. But all of them don’t admit that Jesus is the Messiah. So the level of anger they would have toward someone who believes in Jesus depends on how religious they are. Legally, you can believe what you want in Israel, but that doesn't mean someone isn't going to try to make your life hard. People with a high level of religiousness may discourage Christians from running ministries.
China Christian Daily: Can you introduce us to the history of the church in Israel, especially the history of Galilee, where Jesus was born? What's the church doing there right now?
Chaim Malespin: Jesus was right in Galilee; he chose a bunch of disciples and went on adventures. He eventually died and rose from the dead. Jesus promised that he would return someday.
At the time of Jesus, every once in a while, there are people who are called the messiah, like Schneersohn and Bar Kochba. Bar Kochba claimed that he was the actual messiah and his great teacher Rabbi Akiva who is very loved here warned to kill those who did not believe Bar Kochba and urged the followers to fight the Romans. Jewish believers believe Jesus is the actual Messiah and did not follow Bar Kochba, and there was a great divide among Jews. Akiva wrote a curse in Jewish prayer books against Jewish believers who were called pagans by him. Then, some Jews did not allow believers to be in the synagogue and even in their own homes. Afterward, Titus destroyed the second temple. Jewish people got kicked out and were scattered all over the world. The devil wants to end Jewish people's lives, and eventually, the Holocaust happened. Inside the camps, all Jewish people died, regardless of whether they were Jesus believers or Orthodox Jews.
Throughout this whole time, especially in America, Jewish people started to come together more instead of just hiding on their own. They found that Yeshua was connected to Passover, and they can do Passover together, that's where the communion started. Pentecost, also, is a biblical Hebrew holiday that was way before the fire and is a 50-day holiday, 49 days of the Omer count. Believers in Israel started to meet in kehillah (a gathering place) also. Some of them are less religious, while others have caps on all the time and don’t drive on the Sabbath but just rest. But they have the same faith that they have in Yeshua.
They started to make Aliyah trips and join with the ones in Israel. The number reaches probably around 500,000 to 600,000, less than 1% of the total population of nine million people in Israel (seven million Jewish people and two million Arabs). Jewish believers don't call themselves Christians in a church; they call themselves believers in a kehillah.
Speaking of the church, Constantine built a church in Jerusalem in 350 AD, the first Catholic church built here, which is still here. Muslims meet on Friday in the mosque, Jews meet on Sabbath in the synagogue, and Christians meet on Sunday. Those churches, like the Coptic Christians, the Greek Orthodox Christians, the Russian Orthodox Christians, the Eastern Orthodox, the Catholics, and the Anglican - all meet on Sunday.
China Christian Daily: What is the story of Aliyah?
Chaim Malespin: Several Jewish people return to Israel to fulfill the promise of the Bible. There are around 700 verses talking about this “Aliyah” (immigrant to Israel) return. Likewise, my parents sold everything to come to Israel. Many Jews return to Israel with loneliness and fear, and they need companions. Most of them get depressed and leave again. Ten years ago, we started this ministry called the Aliyah Return Center to give new Jewish immigrants a place to stay for free, to receive job training, and to learn Hebrew or Arabic.
Our headquarters are right at the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus walked, lived, and chose his disciples. We have our discipleship school and launched the Prayer House Movement for Christians from all over the world to learn and bless Israel.
China Christian Daily: How many Jewish people Aliyah Center has helped?
Chaim Malespin: Thousands of thousands of people have been helped by Project Return, which is funded by churches. We help immigrants ship their belongings from other countries to Israel. We restored eight old buildings in the Aliyah Village with five million dollars, where Jews and Christians cohabitate, cooperate, and co-pioneer for Israel. We continue to give immigrants a free stay with warm hospitality in various locations, as well as feeding the poor, providing clothing in the Livracha downtown distribution center and the new Ulpan Hebrew school, raising education funds, and operating our second Lone Soldier multi-lodging complex by the Sea of Galilee. During their time with us, new Israelis are aided in finding a job, signing an apartment, obtaining translation services, connecting with Hebrew studies, making investments, and much more. In our job training center, 70 people learn for a month and a half. Teaching a man to fish in Galilee is the key to the future.
Our warehouse Ramon gets all the furniture from donors in America, Norway, and Holland and gives it away for free. In our nine private apartments, people who have completed their three years of service in the army without family can stay there and have Shabbat dinner with us. We listen to the stories told by Holocaust survivors and bless them. This year we plan to renovate the Herzl Project, a million-dollar housing project for new immigrants.
China Christian Daily: What are the Faithful Galileans then?
Chaim Malespin: As a faith-based organization, we call upon nations globally to fulfill their divine role in our joint history while learning the biblical mandate to help the Jewish people who are returning home. The core of our mandate is to provide a place for the presence of God of Israel in Galilee, and as such, we emphasize prayer through the “Aliyah scriptures” and worship. In the future, worship and teaching may even be live-streamed to Christian media to bless Christians all around the world.
We provide an Ambassador Journey in Israel for Christians who have a heart for God’s purposes for Israel and desire to be effective ambassadors in their nation. This journey includes community living on a Kibbutz; daily worship and prayer; practical work; teachings from various speakers; learning on sites where Yeshua (Jesus) taught His disciples; and touring highlights of Israel in Galilee, Jerusalem, Samaria, and the Dead Sea.
The Vertical Galilee House of Prayer serves as a prayer and worship refuge in the Galilee of the nations. The nations are welcome to come to the land and minister to the God of Israel in the heart of Galilee, the home of Jesus’ ministry.
China Christian Daily: Share with us the incoming Restoration Tour of 2023.
Chaim Malespin: Israel is a country steeped in history and tradition, with a rich cultural heritage dating back four thousand years. While the ancient ruins and holy sites are certainly awe-inspiring, there is so much more to discover beyond the old stones. Our prophetic tour of Israel will take you on a journey to discover the living stones of the country—the people who are making a difference in the present and shaping the future of Israel.
On this tour, you will have the opportunity to meet new Jewish immigrants, see the work of the Aliyah Return Center, impact Lone Soldiers, impact the lives of Arabs and Jews, receive training for job placement, learn Hebrew, receive school training, etc. Meeting believers, pioneers, and people who are making a significant impact in the government, military, and faith aspects of Israel, you get to engage with the embodiment of Israel's resilience and strength, and they are shaping the country's future.
The focus of this tour is not just on the beautiful sites but on the “living stones,” who are fulfilling prophecies for Israel's redemption.
As you travel through the country, you will gain a deeper understanding of the biblical significance of Israel and how it relates to its past, present, and future. You will discover that the role that you play with Israel in God's plan for our future is intertwined.
Of course, you will have the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful sites in Israel, such as Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee, among others, not only learning the history but also understanding how the events that occurred there are relevant to your faith today.
In conclusion, a prophetic tour of Israel is an excellent opportunity to discover the real destiny of Israel and China today.
China Christian Daily: What is the Chinese church like in your eyes, and what kind of relationships do you expect between Israel and China, especially concerning the church part?
Chaim Malespin: Isaiah 49:22 says the nations, including China, will bring the Jewish people in their arms and on their shoulders to Israel; that’s called Aliyah. Ruth, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, was not Jewish but a Moabite lady. She went to help Naomi and said to her, “I'm not going to leave you alone; I go where you go; your God's got to be my God; your people my people; and where you die, I will die and be buried there.” This is Ruth's call to the church, especially the church in China because China was mentioned in Isaiah 49:22.
What I see in churches in China is pure Christianity. There are places where replacement theology has permeated: the Bible says God will bring the Jewish people to Israel and He will gather all of us to his arms; it replaces “God will love Israel” with “God will love the church.” They took Israel out and put the church in. That's against the Bible, and that's what's happening in some areas where teachers have taught bad things for many years. But I see that China doesn't really have so much of that.
If the Bible says, “I will bring the Jewish people home,” 700 times, Christians in China believe truly “God will bring them home there.” That means they're very strong believers, and they have actually been through enough persecution to keep them pure and keep them on their toes. Also, they just show kindness to Jews. So that's what I see in the Chinese church: pure, generous, kind, and not tainted by excessively bad teaching.
Also, I think China’s church seems to understand more about spiritual warfare. When they come to places like Israel, they know how to engage in real intercession. We're trying to raise up to 100 million intercessors to pray for Israel.