[Field Report] There are no churches or mission agencies that preach the gospel to Jews in India
▲ Shavei Israel Hebrew Centre. Picture: Provided by Jungha Won

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Visiting the stie of the “Aliyah Ministry” in the Indian Jewish Repatriation Operation (3)

In Manipur, India, descendants of the Kuki tribe, who belong to the tribe of Manasseh, who inhabited the northern kingdom, and who are believed to be “B’nai Meneses,” reside in Manipur, India. Some Korean churches are putting a considerable amount of financial and effort into the “Aliyah Ministry” to help them return to their homeland according to the words of the Bible. We listened to the reaction of location Christians about them. <Editor>

The second interview. Kuki Baptist Central Church

This interview was conducted in Churachandpur region, specifically in a church that is the center of the Baptists, the most powerful denomination in the “Kuki” tribe.

▲ The old chapel used by Kuki Baptist Central Church. The new chapel and the old chapel coexist in the yard. Picture: Provided by Jungha Won
▲ The new church that is currently used. Picture: Provided by Jungha Won

The church was large enough to accommodate more than 1,000 members. When I attended the Sunday service, the chairs were fully occupied and the service was alive. The worship was passionate. The Sunday worship service started at 7:00, and after the worship service, the Sunday school was divided into classrooms, and some of classes were for adults.

This church is only a 3-minutes walk from the headquarters of Sheba Israel, which is the oldest and largest synagogue in Churachandpur and that sends Indian Jews to Israel. This church was different from the previous church where I had the first interview. The Lutheran bishop or the mission department manager who I had interview previously are not in charge of the their church, but they are mainly in charge of macro-administration. However, the pastor of this church is the field pastor who directly serves the congregation, and thus through him, I could hear more concrete and practical stories from the field.

Q: Have you ever heard “Aliyah” project? Many Korean Christians have interest and affection for Jews of Manipur. So, they visited synagogues in Manipur and donated large sum of money to send them to Israel. In 2021, at least 2.81 million rupees ($276,000) were raised in South Korea, which was used to send 548 people to Israel.

(When I said this far, the pastor’s expression was not good. He seemed to be thinking something like ‘Are you a foreigner who came to ask about the Manipur Jews? Again?’ So, I hurriedly added the following words.) But, as a missionary to India, I am well aware that the Kuki people are Christians. So, I wanted to ask you if they were really Jews in your eyes. In other words, I wonder if you see Christians (the Kuki tribe Christians) as being converted because of funding from a foreign country.

▲ Pastor Jungha Won is having an interview with the pastor of Kuki Baptist Central Church (KBC). Picture: Provided by Jungha Won

Pastor of KBC: In fact, there is only one proper synagogue in this area, next to our church. And that is a major center for Manipur Jews. There are many tribesmen, such as Kuki, Mizo and Chin, who consider themselves Jews, but I haven’t had many conversations with them yet. However, although they are Jewish converts from Christianity, I know that in reality, they chose to do so because of poverty, not because of their faith. Many people are ready to convert to Judaism if a better life or job is offered in a foreign country (Israel).


A Google search for synagogues in Manipur brings up several more synagogues. However, there are many synagogues where there is no Google view at all. Even looking at the photos provided, there is no synagogue that seems to be running well. Furthermore, synagogues labeled “Messianic” should be viewed as de facto churches. Therefore, some of synagogues are hard to see as synagogues. Since there are situations in which people who have become convinced of the Jewish faith continue to migrate to Israel in large numbers, some synagogues seem poorly maintained. However, the synagogue next to KBC serves as the headquarters of “Sheba Israel,” which leads the “Aliyah Movement.” Further, it is in the center of the town, so it seems to be active, but there was no rabbi when I visited. A guide there said that there are a few rabbis from Manipur, but all of them live in Israel, and there are only synagogues officials and their families. In that respect, I don’t think KBC pastor Lee’s statement that “there is only one synagogue” is not very wrong.

▲ A blend of tribal traditions and the modern church. Altar with the drum. Picture: Provided by Jungha Won

Q: Are there any examples of Jews returning to Christianity?

Answer from Pastor KBC: Yes, there is. In 2020, a family in our church returned from Judaism to Christianity, and I baptized them. In fact, they were born into Jewish families, but their Jewish faith was not very strong. Now they are committed Christians. (In this church, adults also have Sunday school and take exams periodically.) The wife always gets first place in the Sunday School test. The family is a military family, and they are now deployed to another area.

Q: Are there any cases that families have been divided as a result of conversion?

Answer from Pastor KBC: Yes, there is. In the case of the family I just mentioned, their parents are still Jews.

Q: If so, were there any converts to Judaism from your church?

Answer from Pastor KBC: Yes, there is. In 2020, a sincere believer converted to Judaism. He was also in charge of managing the church’s mission offerings. He was a sincere and honest man, but he was also a man with very weak roots of faith. I know that he has a considerable conflict over family issues and was converted during a separation from his wife. He is currently a driver of an auto rickshaw (a tricycle used as a substitute for a taxi).


Here in northeast India, tribes form the absolute basis of life. And since most of the tribes are close to 100% Christian, each tribal church means a member of that tribal group. Tribal chiefs also attended the church, and people of many generations attended the church. Therefore, if someone has a problem in his/her relationship and wants to leave the tribe, he/she has no choice but to leave the church. However, because it is unimaginable for a Kuki tribe person to go to a church of another tribe with a different language and culture, Kuki people usually enter into a new society called Judaism. It is because Judaizers are also mostly the Kuki tribe.

Q: Are there any churches or mission agencies that are preaching the gospel to the Jewish people in this area?

Answer from Pastor KBC: No. Our Baptist evangelical mission is to bring the gospel to the lost (here, in this conversation, the expression “the lost” seemed to mean the unreached peoples.). As far as I know, there is no special ministry to convert Indian Jews to Christians.

Q: I heard that in the harvest festival song called “Shik pui” sung by the Kuki tribe, there contents about a pilar of cloud and a pilar of fire and the parting of the Red Sea. I heard that the song was the proof of their lost tribe of Manasseh. What do you think about this?

Answer from Pastor KBC: I am a Kuki family, but I’ve never heard of the song.


This song will be discussed in detail in the next interview, conducted in a house of a Kuki tribe chief.

Q: In fact, descendants of Jews was found in China. They lost a lot of their identity to the extent that they were mistaken for being part of the Muslims, but their Jewish descent can be found in having the traditional Israeli candlestick (menorah), not eating pork, and not eating the thigh bones and sinews of beef or lamb. The descendants of Jews found in China also preserved some traditions, even though they lost the meanings of the traditions, and preserved Hebrew vocabularies. Is there any evidence of this kind in the Manipur Kuki, Chin, and Mizo?

▲ Indian northeast tribal culture. Picture: Provided by Jungha Won

Answer from Pastor KBC: The histories of our tribes are not written. However, some elderly even think they are from China. Therefore, they think that they are descendants of Manasseh, who are presumed to have flowed to China. With that thought, they persuade the younger generation and started a campaign. However, there is no theological or historical evidence that they are of the tribe of Manasseh. They were not circumcised, and there was no word for circumcision, and they all ate pork.


Most of the other tribes in the northeast, including the Kuki tribe, have Mongolian faces. They look completely different from ordinary Indians. Further, they enjoy eating dogs, pigs, snakes, and other foods that most Indians or Jews do not eat.

Q: It might be a little convincing if a single language or a cultural tribe claims to be Manasseh. However, it doesn’t make sense that less than 1% of each of these three tribes, Mizo, Chin and Kuki, gather and call themselves Jews.

Answer from Pastor KBC: This controversy actually began when one of the powerful Kuki leaders in the old days declared that, by his guess, they might be “the lost tribe” everyone was looking for. However, no record or theological knowledge has given us any evidence to claim that we, the Kuki people, are the Manasseh people. However, this argument and the voice of some leaders have even convinced some people. Further, some converted to Judaism because of poverty in search of better opportunities. Now, periodically, rabbis from Israel come to teach new traditions.


When there is no recorded history, in a tribal society, if an old man of the rank of chief tells a legend or myth, descendants have no choice but to take it seriously. Or, it may be that some white missionaries were misrepresented when they saw people who looked different from other Indians, and they hastily expressed such opinions. In addition, there were constant battles with other tribes, and since they were ignored by mainstream Indians for their religion (Christianity) and race, it seems that Jews-related stories circulated as a tool of their own nationalism.

Q: India has an “anti-conversion law,” which makes converting from one religion to another illegal. Specially, if there is an attempt to convert through material gain, imprisonment may be sentenced. Let alone giving a Korean citizenship or an opportunity to study in the United States, Korean missionaries are imprisoned even if they preach the gospel by giving a single sack of rice. But, why are the Israeli missionaries who evangelize Indians to Judaism are not subject to any restrictions? They are even naturalizing their nationals (Indians) as Israelis.

Answer from missionary Chao: Anti-conversion law is used almost exclusively to prevent Hindus from converting to Christianity or Islam. The Indian government doesn’t seem to see much of a problem with Christianity converting to Judaism for money or Christians leaving India.

Q: In the Senapati region, as well as in other states such as Nagaland and Mizoram, and even in other countries such as Myanmar, there are a lot of Kuki (+ Mizo tribe and Chin tribe) people. Are there any among them who believe that they are of the Jewish race?

Answer from Pastor KBC: No. They are mostly concentrated in this area, Churachandpur. (This is because the headquarters of Sheba Israel, which sends converted Jews to Israel, is located here.)

Q: Do you think the current Jews in Churachandpur will remain Jews even if no more fund comes from other countries, such as South Korea, the United States and Israel? Or, will the Jews disappear? What do you think?

Answer from Pastor KBC: Many are ready to convert to Judaism if they can get to Israel, and those who have already been converted are waiting for their turn to go to Israel. However, even if they are not allowed to go, those who have already been circumcised and converted will continue to believe. Because they’ve already been circumcised.

Q: I think that the teachings of the Apostle Paul, that Christians should not return to the Jewish tradition, should be preached again. It is a sad story, but are there any cases where Christians’ lives do not present a holy model, and they are influenced by the holiness of the Jewish people and become converted?

Answer from Pastor KBC: (Showing a faint smile) There is no such case. In most of the areas where Protestantism is over 90%, including here Churachandpur, alcohol and tobacco are extremely taboo, but Judaism does not forbid alcohol and tobacco at all. Therefore, even those who did not drink or smoke before converting to Judaism begin to enjoy it a lot after conversion.


Actually, when I visited the synagogue after Sunday service, most of the women there were smoking. It was a rare scene in Churachandpur, a conservative Christian society.

I do not have the authority to represent the Korean church, but as a Korean pastor and a missionary, I would like to apologize for the fact that the finances of the Korean believers were used to disturb the Christian community in Manipur. I will do may best so that the voices of the pastors and the Manipur saints can be heard in Korea.

▲ After the interview, we prayed for an end to the conversion of Christians in Churachandpur to Judaism. Picture: Provided by Jungha Won

Closing the interview

A few days later, we attended the main Sunday service at this church. The pastor introduced our group in front of many believers and said that we had come to stop converting Christians into Jews (for Judaism), and he prayed earnestly for us. Further, the church members also came down from the church chairs, knelt down, and prayed aloud in Korean style to join us in spirit.

While meeting these local Christian officials, I felt pity for the Korean Aliyah-related organization, which had no meeting Christians nearby even though they were spending billions of won. <To be continued> [Gospel Prayer News]

Jungha Won | Indian local correspondent

Related article
[Field Report] Poor Christians are converting to Judaism to survive
[Field Report] How should we see the Korean churches’ operation to repatriate Jews

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