Aliyah has come into sharper focus since the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused a massive refugee crisis and several organizations are stepping in to help – including a wide network of Korean Christians who love and support the Jewish state.
Well before this current crisis, the head of One New Man Family, Eun Soo Seol, had visited Israel more than 40 times in the past 10 years and was appointed by the Jewish Agency of Israel as the Asian Christian representative four years ago.
In an interview with ALL ISRAEL NEWS, Seol – also referred to as Pastor Joshua – said that before his organization became a large supporter of Israel’s immigration efforts, he spent a good portion of his time in the country looking for the most effective ways to help. He wanted to know, he said through a translator, what Israel needed most so he could funnel donations to that.
“I don’t necessarily say we chose this, but God chose it for us,” Seol said. “I believe that during my many visits to Israel, God called us to support aliyah. I wanted to do something practical, to help in a real way. I want to make sure we were doing something that Israel wanted to receive.”
“Aliyah” is the Hebrew word for “to go up” and refers to immigration of Jews to Israel. What he discovered was a great need for help bringing immigrants to Israel and, on the other end, getting them integrated into the country after they got there.
“In the Bible, there are more than 700 verses that mention ‘aliyah.’ This is the plan of God. We want to be used for this mission,” Seol said.
Since its partnership with the Jewish Agency began, One New Man Family has so far chartered flights for 2,236 Jewish immigrants, not counting the individuals it supported in the immigration process.
“So far, we helped to bring Jewish people with 13 chartered flights and three to four are on the way now,” he said. “We have visited Ethiopia and we helped 1,700 Ethiopian Jews make aliyah through a chartered flight.”
Seol said another 3,000 Ethiopians will make aliyah this year.
But the aid should not end there, Seol said. One New Man Family also supports the absorption process as the olim (immigrants) start their new lives in Israel.
“There are 24 absorption centers in Israel. One of the 24, which is in Beersheva, the Jewish Agency named the Korean Absorption Center,” he said.
Seol is seeking support from Korean communities abroad including the United States, where he is currently, raising awareness and support from Korean churches there.
One New Man Family wants to be a bridge between Korean churches and Israel.
“As you see, our name is ‘One New Man Family,’ so we want to be a family with Israel and we share in Israel’s experiences,” he said. “We share the good times, we share the burdens. Also, as One New Man Family, we want to share Israel with Korean churches.”
“Our mission,” Seol shared,“is to connect the Korean churches with Israel as bridge.”
The second part of that mission is to unite the churches to further aliyah.
“You cannot do aliyah individually,” he said.
According to Seol, there are 12 million South Korean Christians and 7 million more in the diaspora, a majority in the United States. Most of the church still teaches “replacement theology,” he said.
“Our role, and also that of many churches that are pro-Israel, is to repair this understanding so the churches and the Christians can see Israel as Israel in the Bible and so the churches and Christians can view Israel through the same view that God sees Israel.”
“I feel the atmosphere is changing, there is a movement among the big organizations …and it is helping to change the minds,” he said.
With that in mind, One New Man Family is holding the first Aliyah Conference in Seoul. CEO and Director General of the Jewish Agency Amira Ahronoviz and the Director of Aliyah and Absorption Arielle di Porto will be speaking and meeting with Christian leaders. The conference will be broadcast live to the organization’s 335,000 YouTube subscribers.
In February, members of One New Man Family visited Israel and Ethiopia. In Israel, the group met with Israel’s Minister of Immigration Pnina Tamano-Shata who expressed her gratitude to Korean Christians for their assistance. The experience, Seol said, was moving.
“When we think about history, horrible things happened to the Jewish people because of ‘Christians.’ But because we are now helping Israel with what it needs, we can be a part of helping heal these wounds in them, spiritually and physically. In our recent visit we saw much fruit of this.”
One New Man Family, established in 2018 and based in Korea, has branches in Japan and the U.S. and is looking to establish another in China. This year, the organization expected to donate $2 million to fund aliyah but now, because of the war, they are hoping to raise more. Seol said they are already in the process of raising $360,000 to help Ukrainian Jews come to Israel.
Amazingly, even before the war, the organization had diverted some of its attention to Ukraine.
“From the end of last year, we were starting to focus on Ukraine even though we didn’t know there would be war. We sensed the tension in that region.”
One New Man Family works with 10 other organizations and private donors, sharing information about the need in Israel and donating money separately as well. Its support extends to other areas, including helping schools and Holocaust survivors in Israel and another project focused on North Korea.
“God is expanding our mission,” Seol said.
While the recent focus has been on Ukraine and Ethiopia, One New Man Family also supports aliyah projects around the world including in India, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Peru and other South American countries.
“When people make aliyah, we hear diaspora Jews saying their dream has come true, so I believe that God led us to do what the people of Israel actually need,” he said.
Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.