In the wake of the Waller family's and Hayovel Ministry's continued involvement with a number of communities in Yehuda and Shomron, Jewish Israel has been asked to issue an updated report. Some of the information presented herein was included in the presentation given to Rav Dov Lior and the Hebron community council on September 14, 2011.
Jewish Israel first reported on the Waller family and their activities in Israel back in October 2009. In that initial report we expressed concern over the stated missionary agenda of Wallers, and noted that they had close connections with leaders of Israel's proselytizing messianic community. This was followed up by an extensive report issued in January 2011 which focused on the Wallers' active and visible participation in an anti-Semitic documentary (2010) presenting Christian messianics as a persecuted minority in Israel. The award-winning film featured missionary activity directed at Jews.
In this report, Jewish Israel exposes the very recent actitivies of the Wallers and those of their close missionary affiliates, who are active throughout Israel and have facilitated in bringing Christian missionaries on aliyah.
Makover for the Wallers
The Wallers of Hayovel have, once again, redesigned their website, compliments of the very talented messianic photographer Heather Meyers. It's worth noting that Meyers' work is not limited to photographing pastoral images, Waller weddings, and vinedressers. Over the last few years, Meyers’ lens has also captured the ICEJ Feast of the Tabernacles and created an empathetic case for hard-hitting missionary Edwin Beckford in Arad.
In order to finance Meyers' work with Hayovel, messianic friends of the Wallers are raising funds for the project via their website, HomeShalom.blogspot.com. Pamela and Ben of HomeShalom apparantly feel that Heather and Jake Meyers' service in Israel includes christianty’s ploy of “provoking Judah [the Jews] to jealousy” (as espoused in the new testament, Romans 11:11) and holding the hand of the Jews when they finally recognize and accept jesus.
David Ha'ivri, of the Shomron Liason Office (Yeshuv.org) is taking advantage of Meyers' talents in order to promote the Shomron's partnership with Waller’s Hayovel Ministries. Yeshuv.org shares a full page add featuring Tommy Waller and his havesting family in the October edition of the Jerusalem Post Christian Edition magazine. Images of Tommy Waller and company were liberally splashed on ads appearing online and in newspapers throughout Succot.
Shuva Israel, is another organization funding the promotion of the “Christian volunteer work program in communities in Samaria with HaYovel Ministry." David Ha'ivri sits on the Shuva Israel board, whose membership consists of Jewish and evangelical leaders and activists.
It is apparent and unfortunate that the Wallers and several of their associates are involved in far more than innocently harvesting grapes and producing postive public relations for Israel.
Despite their new carefully worded "gospel-free" web presence, a biblically inspired Christian restoration for Israel has consistently remained the name of the game for the Wallers and for a number of fundamentalist Christians, who are becoming increasingly and passionately attached to the land of Israel. In newsletters and articles, Tommy Waller and others are drawing upon new testament proof texts in order to substantiate what they consider to be their future inheritance: "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise". (Galatians 3:29).
The very same sentiment was expressed by Sherri Waller in a 2009 interview [JI: original article not available - archived copy here] in the Williamson Herald: “For us it’s a spiritual deal – a faith deal,” said Sherri Waller. “The battle is over the land because God gave it to the descendants of Abraham – that includes us.”
Making Mel Gibson look good
In January 2010, a full length documentary movie was released in Korea called “Restoration”. Produced by a Korean Christian company, the film captured the subject of the alleged persecution of Christian missionaries in Israel, using the Ami Ortiz case as their focal point. The film was reportedly a major success in Korea, playing in movie theatres for 4 months, and winning the 2010 Monaco Film Festival prize for best feature length documentary. As Jewish Israel reported in January 2011, members of the Waller family and their harvesting team sang, danced and acted in the film. The Wallers' image is promently displayed on the official promotional material for the film, from the previews to the posters to the website. The film's publicized promotion and content is unquestionably anti-Semitic.
What we did not report back in January 2011 is that the DVD of the documentary is now on the market with the Wallers gracing the cover. We randomely showed the YesAsia DVD editorial description to the "Jew on the street" and received the following reaction:
"Mel Gibson is a tzadik in our time compared to what’s written in this movie’s description."
Judge for yourself:
"In the Korean documentary film Restoration, director Kim Jong Chul (acknowledged to be the best expert on Israel in Korea) and narrator Park Ji Yoon (a Christian singer) reveal the plight of the Christian Jews in Israel through interviews with the native Jews. Although Jesus was born in Israel, he is almost eliminated from the Holy Land today. Looking back at the past two millennia, the film explains how the suffering of the Jews in the hands of Christians following their crucifixion of Jesus, culminated in their hatred and revenge towards Christianity throughout history. Today, there are only a little more than 10,000 Messianic Jews (Jewish believers in Jesus) in Israel out of the nation's over 7 million population, and they are sometimes subjected to persecution and violence. The film focuses on the tragic story of Ami, a teenage Messianic Jew in Jerusalem who was seriously injured by a parcel bomb - sent not by radical Palestinian terrorists, but a Jewish extremist organization - in 2008. The documentary attempts to raise international concerns over the situation in Israel and, apparently, rally support for the Restoration of Christianity in Israel. The DVD also includes a 42-minute making-of feature. First Press Limited Edition comes with the bonus Original Soundtrack CD." (YesAsia)
HaYovel Partnering with missionary Dean Bye of Return Ministries
Return Ministries is a Canadian-based christ-centered ministry, associated with Centralia Faith Tabernacle. Directed by Reverend Dean Bye, the ministry enjoys a close relationship with Tommy Waller of HaYovel Ministries and encourages bridge-building between Christians and Jews. However, as Bye preaches the Christian gospel from among the Jewish graves on Mount of Olives, it becomes ever-so clear that what he is striving for is the very antithesis of Judaism.
A great deal of Return Ministries’' efforts are ostensibly directed towards promoting North American aliyah. However, the ministry boasts about their facilitating Christian immigration to Israel and assisting and encouraging those who would bring Jews closer to Jesus, as we will see in this report.
Dean Bye stays in close touch with the proselytizing messianic Christian network in Israel and promotes their cause via his Daily Focus videos. Like the Wallers, Bye has advanced the missionary agenda of David Ortiz in Israel. When on tour in Israel, Return Ministries visits messianic friends such as Avner and Rachel Boskey and uses missionary Jakob Damkani's Hotel Gilgal in Tel Aviv for their accommodations.
Bye’s Return Ministries promotes the Waller family in videos and newsletters, and has jointly produced a DVD series with Hayovel Ministry. Dean Bye regularly encourages volunteers to join Hayovel in the harvest. In a recently posted Return Ministries "Daily Focus" video, Bye interviews Waller and reports that calls are now going out for 10,000 "believers" to join the Waller harvesting efforts.
In a video interview posted on YouTube on August 2011, Dean Bye introduces Tommy Waller as "one of those foreigners" that according to Isaiah 61 "would tend the fields". Waller makes it clear that his desire is to see "Israel fully restored in every aspect of scripture". Bye goes on to say that he brings his messiah yeshua with him on his mission to serve. And Dean Bye concludes by saying, "we are living in the greatest hour since the resurrection of jesus christ and that's the resurrection of the land of Israel…"
Dean Bye has a good relationship with a number of the residents, farmers and entrepreneurs in the Yehuda and Shomron communities. It is time the Jewish residents in Yehuda and Shomron (and some of their rabbis), who cooperate with Bye and Waller, begin to assess the consequences of their inadvertent participation in activities which are used to challenge the foundations of Judaism and encourage a Christian restoration in Israel. Perhaps it is time that they took a more critical look at the people and motivation behind "Christian Zionist" endeavors and projects which are labeled "pro-Israel".
On May 24th 2011, members of a Return Ministries' "film mission" participated in the harvest in Psagot. The Return Ministries blogsite issued a "Film Tour Update" and included Hayovel in their upcoming plans for centers for aliyah. Excerpt:
"We are now in Psagot, in the biblical heartland of Israel. Ya’akov & Na’ama Berg of Psagot Winery are hosting us … and we are beginning to hear Dean’s stories of what God is opening up for Return Ministries and HaYovel as we dream His dreams for bases where Christians and Jews can be together to support North American Aliyah."
Dean Bye's Aliyah dreams are the stuff of Jewish nightmares.
Return Ministries brings Missionaries on Aliyah
"… made Aliyah from British Columbia in 2005 and Return Ministries assisted them through our Project Return matching program. Marty ministers with Tents of Mercy and is a light to many nations. He travels broadly to share the Gospel and to express what the Lord’s plan is for Israel and the nations."
Tents of Mercy is a "network of five messianic congregations in the Galilee" which is:
“seeking Israel’s salvation through planting indigenous, Hebrew speaking congregations in Yeshua’s homeland. We have a special focus on the Galilee and currently have five congregations functioning in the area."
The Shoubs are hardly ashamed of their covert aliyah:
"Within a year of that initial call we were on our way to Israel, not as foreign missionaries but as citizens. In these last days God has promised to gather the Jewish people back from the 4 corners of the world–back to the Land of Israel and back to the King and Messiah of Israel, Yeshua of Nazareth".
“A milestone for our church, which may be the very greatest thing our church has done since its inception, has been to help Marty and Sue to return home to Israel.”
Marty Shoub has reciprocated by giving a plug to Return Ministries in at least one church ad and sermon. Whether intentional or not, it is worth noting that in a July 2010 newsletter, Return Ministries juxtaposed a promotion of their aliyah assistance program, Project Return, with an ad for an event featuring their star olim, Marty and Sue Shoub. That says a lot of their intentions and agendas.
Married to a missionary
Inspired by the vision of "One New Man" (see Ephesians 2:15-16), Return Ministries' project, Operation Ignite, sends "A team of Canadian and Israeli youth, on fire for Jesus" on the road to perform bride-of-christ-like productions. Excerpt from Operation Ignite newsletter (Report #10):
"At this particular meeting, our bridegroom Ari and Shayla, his bride, acted out the message of God’s jealous love for His bride. Shayla represented Israel and Ari symbolized Jesus…Dean showed through the word that God had to give His bride, Israel, a certificate of divorce because of her unfaithfulness. Further on, he showed that God could not remarry His bride, Israel, as He must keep His own law (Deut. 24:1). However, He is so jealous for His bride that He releases her from the law of marriage, which can only take place by the death of the husband. God chose that Jesus would die so that He could woo His bride again and take her unto Himself (Romans 7:1-4). What an amazing act of love."
Dean Bye's own daughter, Deanna, married one of the Israeli Operation Ignite team members. The romance is hinted at in a description of a skit that was written-up in the September 2008 Operation Ignite newsletter :
“SKIT: Two young Canadian Christian girls on tour providentially meet two young Israeli guys. The girls are typical tourists (everything exaggerated - very giddy girls) but the huge attraction for the girls was seeing prophecy being fulfilled as they spoke with these young guys. Trevor Bye (Dean's son) comes into the scene as a foreigner, hammer in hand, making lots of noise rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem - fulfilling prophecy (Isaiah 60:10). They all shared testimonies and scripture throughout the skit. Lots of laughs as Canadian idiosyncrasies and Israeli traits were exaggerated. It was actually based on the true story of how these two Israeli guys that are traveling with the team (Ariel and Chaim), ended up coming to Canada to be with Return Ministries. Deanna met them in Israel – and the rest is - 'His-story.'”
Dean Bye encouraged Chaim Malespin to return to Israel, where he became a missionary to the Jewish people in Tel Aviv. He and his wife Deanna both attended college at IDC Herzliya. Chaim Malespin can be seen on IDC's campus speaking in a Return Ministries' Daily Focus video about his spiritual pursuits among Israel's prostitutes and the encouragement that Dean Bye and Return Ministries gave him.
[Note: If it makes our Jewish readership feel any better, Chaim Malespin's mother is not Jewish and neither was his grandmother. According to Chaim's sister's testimony atCrown of Messiah Messianic Congregation, it took six years until they were granted citizenship in Israel.]
According to a Travelujah article, Chinese pilgrims attending last month’s ICEJ Feast of the Tabernacles participated in the annual Succot March by parading through Jerusalem in wedding gowns representing "the bride of christ walking on the streets of Zion."
Desecration of a synagogue
If Dean Bye's delivering the gospel over Jewish gravestones on the Mount of Olives didn't disturb you, then perhaps seeing how a synagogue in Eretz Yisrael was transformed into a church, in order to oblige Christian friends, will churn Jewish stomachs.
It seems Return Ministries got to hear the testimony of a Jew turned Christian in the synagogue in Nitzana in the Negev. According to the Return Ministries blog report, it was all pre-arranged for the Christian guests. It appears Dean Bye had a front row seat:
"We had it on our hearts to hear the testimony of how Gisela, an Argentinean Jew who made Aliyah many years ago and is now a volunteer at Nitzana, came to place her faith in Yeshua. Karen Kellerman made it possible for us to meet in Nitzana’s Beit Knesset – their synagogue. This was highly unusual but our God is into the ‘highly’ unusual and we can all attest to the fact that what took place this morning was our High and Holy God doing a marvellous work in His children.
Gisela’s story is one of deliverance from deep depression and a life without hope. At her lowest point, she was befriended by our friends Rachel and Avner Boskey who poured their love and the word of God into her. But it was Jolanda Pinchas who helped her through one of the biggest hurdles Jewish people face when considering Yeshua – the divinity of this Man from Galilee and the Trinity – three Persons in one God. All their lives, Jews say the Shema – Hear O Israel the Lord your God is One. How could this Yeshua be God’s son and have deity like the Father?
Jolanda took Gisela to Genesis 1:26 to begin her journey: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness . . .” Then she used the analogy of water and the three states of water: liquid, steam and ice – yet all water, to bring light to the doctrine of the Trinity. Suddenly, something in Gisela’s heart opened and the revelation of the power of the blood of Yeshua began to take form. There is much more to the story as this precious woman was besieged by demons for many years, but now, armed with Yeshua within her heart, she began to walk in authority under sound teaching and oversight, and one by one, the demons had to depart from her. She thanked God for the blood of His Son that set her free and encouraged us to appropriate the blood of the Lamb to be rid of any demonic influence in our lives. Dean invited anyone who was troubled in this area, or who had a loved one or friend in bondage, to come forward for prayer.
This synagogue became holy ground as Yeshua ministered freedom to many. The next hour was Image of intercession before the Lord one of chains being broken and prisoners being set free; of secret sins confessed and the blood of Yeshua joyfully claiming His own. God created an environment of His Presence in this place and the enemy had no choice but to flee. How special of the Lord, that in the fullness of time on this tour, He ended our time together in such a precious and powerful way. All glory to our Saviour and Lord!"
That a synagogue in Eretz Yisrael was deliberately used as a forum for a Jew-gone-Christian to publicly testify her faith in jesus qualifies as a chilul Hashem of the highest order.
Jesus in Shiloh
Nitzana is not the only place where Jewish lines are being crossed by Christians. It seems that Yisrael Medad found Jesus in Shiloh. Medad, who works with the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and serves as a foreign media spokesperson for the communities in Yehuda and Shomron, blogged about new archaeological church excavations, which could put Shiloh on the map in a big way – for Christian pilgrims. What is most disturbing is the comparisons Medad draws, when perhaps he should have drawn differentiations instead. Excerpts:
"The connection between Jesus, Shiloh and The Ark of the Covenant is found in several verses in the Torah and in the New Testament:
a)Exodus 25:18 And thou shalt make two angels of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
John 20:12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
b)Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah"
Jesus is the Lion of Judah - Revelation 5:5
But unto the Son a sceptre of righteousness - Hebrews 1:8"
Medad's enthusiasm is most likely not theological in nature. It may derive from his hopes for a possible windfall for Shiloh, his hometown. With the prospect of increased Christian tourism and support, it is unlikely that interested parties in Yehuda and Shomron are going to call for a moratorium on cooperation with evangelical messianics anytime soon. However, rabbis, Jewish community leaders and activists should understand that they are playing with some pretty strange fire. Extreme caution is called for, lest Torah observant Jews break new theological ground, rather than hold Israel’s ground in Yehuda and Shomron.
Return Ministries offers us a touch of the passion and worship that foreigners are already bringing to Shiloh:
"SHILOH – We step back in time 3300 years as another wonderful guide, Hillel of Shiloh, leads us to the site where the ark of God stood in Shiloh for 369 years. There are new archaeological discoveries being made every year, all proving the authenticity of the word of God. Hillel and Dean released history and the word and the Schultz girls released worship. Here in this holy place, as we sang “Take me into the Holy of Holies,” we each met with the Lord in very personal ways. One participant initially felt so unworthy to be in this holy place till she saw the red petals from the poppies that dot the landscape and was reminded that it was because of the blood of Yeshua that she was made worthy…"
Tommy Waller and Mike Isley: two grapes in a pod
From the halls of the CUFI Summit in Washington, to the Hills of Yehuda and Shomron, to liaison and winery offices, to the pages of a website, Mike Isley and Tommy Waller are united in messianic Christian fellowship.
If Waller wanted to keep his hands clean, save for the soil of Judea and Samaria, he would not be dancing with a man who helped promote a new version of one of the most effective missionary tools used to convert Jews, via one of the most devious Christian messianic organizations: First Fruits of Zion.
(Archive photo: 2010)
If Israel Jewry wants to keep their Torah, land and Jewish faith intact, they will not permit people like Mr. Isley to sit them at tables with Christian missionaries who use the electronic media to spread programs which help Christians and Jews "see Yeshua (Jesus) in the Torah".
If North American Jewry is truly concerned and supportive of Israel, then what is driving them to embrace a missionary who is intent on destroying the very foundations of Judaism and breaching the sacred and respectful partitions between faiths? How can Canadian Jewry allow Reverend Dean Bye, a man who actively strives to establish his lord jesus in our synagogues, cemeteries, Torah institutions and aliyah programs, to lead and sponsor a major, joint Christian-Jewish tour in Israel, a program where Jews and Christians will purportedly pray together? How can respected Diaspora and Israeli rabbinic figures endorse such an endeavor?
With regards to the 2012 Canada Celebrates Israel event, we hope that Canadian Jewish leadership will show the same courage, clarity, strength and foresight that American Jewish leaders demonstrated after discovering that a messianic Jewish leader and organization, which challenges the foundations of Judaism in Israel, was the major sponsor of a Durban 3 protest. American Jewish leaders and organizations withdrew from the event in favor of defending Jewish continuity and the values of Torat Yisrael and Am Yisrael. Our Christian friends must understand that massive amounts of political and humanitarian support must not trump nor trample on Jewish principles and foundations.
Wishful thinking versus facts on the ground
Jewish Israel acknowledges that numbers of gentiles are indeed grappling with a theological shift towards the Noahide movement. Indeed, others are going through a full-fledged spiritual transition toward Judaism. Any of us can entertain the possibility that people such as Tommy Waller and Mike Isley may eventually find the truth in Judaism. However, letting go of jesus, as well as letting go of thinking that they have to bring the Jews to jesus, are not simple matters for any Christian. The great passion that a great many evangelicals feel towards the land of Israel is faith-based, indicative of a desire for a Christian – not a Jewish - restoration in the Land of Israel.
That certain Jewish leaders and activists naively advocate slapping a Jewish prophetic spin on this Christian theological fervor reeks of denial and jeopardizes the entire Jewish nation, including (and perhaps especially) the settlement enterprise in Yehuda and Shomron.
At this rate, a major rectification of the damage being caused may be required before we Jews will merit a Torah-true restoration in the land of Israel.
In light of this report, Jewish Israel respectfully urges Rav Eliezer Melamed to review his psak of September 2011. We feel Rav Melamed was given misleading and incomplete information about Tommy Waller and the missionary intentions of varying "Christian Zionist" evangelical parties.
A JewishIsrael Statement of Concern: Regarding Rav Melamed's Position in Support of Messianic Christian Volunteers