Afeef Halash, a Jordanian Moabite, comes every year to Israel, where he rents a small apartment. He has visited with the president of Israel and spoken to Israeli government officials in the Knesset explaining why he as an Arab loves the Jewish people. Afeef has also challenged the Israeli ministers that the Jewish people need to embrace “their Jewish King Jesus.” I sat down with Afeef for an exclusive interview with Israel Today.
“I warned the Israelis not to give their land away and sin against God, who gave them the land in covenant,” he said about a recent meeting with Israeli politicians. “I suggested that Israel must remain a Jewish state with a united Jerusalem as its capital, and prayed to that effect. But the restoration of the land is only 50 percent of the full restoration. Israel needs her Messiah and true King,” he believes.
Afeef comes from the southern desert of Jordan, the ancient Kingdom of Moab. His family tree goes back hundreds of years, and with his unusually “reddish” hair, he sees himself as a direct descendant of the biblical Ruth, the Moabite great grandmother of King David and ancestor to the Messianic line. “Because of Ruth’s connection to the Jewish people, it is an honor for me as a Moabite to feel a part of this ancient Jewish heritage,” he smiles.
Growing up in the Muslim world, Afeef says he was taught to hate Jews and Christians. In 1977, he and some friends attached a church, but soon after Afeef came to faith in Jesus after Christians in Karak, the ancient capital of Moab, showed him “love, which put me to shame.”
For years after his conversion, Afeef still “blamed the Jews for everything that went wrong in the world and in my own country.” In 1993, when Afeef attended a conference for Middle East pastors in Cyprus, he was outraged to find that Messianic Jews from Israel had also been invited. “I felt that I had been tricked, so decided to go home,” he recalls. “But there were no flights to Jordan until the last day of the conference. I was so bothered by these Jews teaching that Israel has a central part in God’s plan that I led a group of Arab pastors to walk out during the meeting in protest.” Afeef admits that he was a bit of a troublemaker. I remember. I was there, too.
Afeef was shocked when the organizers invited him back, this time to Jerusalem. “As I was sitting in the front row of the meeting, and the Holy Spirit took me on a journey and showed me the whole story of God’s covenant with Abraham and the role of Israel in God’s Kingdom. I had studied these things many times, but now saw them in a new light. I started to weep, shake and repent. As I jumped up to the pulpit and began repenting and asking for forgiveness, Messianic Jewish pastors gathered around, and when my Israeli brothers and sisters started forgiving me for my hatred towards Israel, I felt like my chains were broken and I was set free,” he remembers.
Afeef told me that ever since he learned to love the Jewish people, his life, walk with God and ministry have grown exponentially. The indigenous Arab evangelism ministry he founded is now probably by far the largest in the world. He also teaches Arab Christians across the Middle East that they, too, need to love and support Israel.
Afeef points out that Jordan has always been a place of refuge, whether for David when he fled from King Saul, or when the early Jewish believers fled persecution to Pella. Even today, Jordan has become a home to refuges from Syria and Iraq. “I’m an indigenous Jordanian,” he says. “A minority in my own country. More than 70 percent of the people of Jordan are refugees or decedents of refugees. Jordan, especially Moab, my homeland, will be a place of refuge once again according to the prophecies that foretell Jerusalem being sounded by its enemies,” Afeef believes.
“Israel needs the true Bible-believers around the world to stand with her the same way Ruth the Moabite stood with the Jewish Israeli Naomi,” Afeef says. “God bless Israel,” he concludes with eyes lifted heavenward. “For He will not come until Israel recognizes her Messiah and prays ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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