Israelite Identity and neo-Pentecostalism in the Solomon Islands

News from the Solomon Islands, via an article on Stuff by Michael Field:

A couple of men, one wearing a flag of Israel, have shown up in the Solomon Islands, claiming they are ready to buy copra at high prices. They’ve headed off to remote and poor Malaita Island where indigenous Melanesian people believe they are survivors of the lost tribe of Israel.

The reporter believes the men to be “mysterious Israelis”, although he rather oddly doesn’t mention them again; instead, the incident is used as a springboard for a general discussion on neo-Israelite identity among Malaitans, and its political consequences:

…The Israeli connection is a problem in the Solomon Islands which was the scene of a civil war on its main island of Guadalcanal where locals objected to people from Malaita moving in…One of the combatant units, the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) featured the Israeli flag in their iconography. A governor-general of the Solomons even made an official visit to Israel.

Islanders have apparently rejected Australian aid projects, “saying they are too busy growing copra for Israel”. What’s more:

Growing numbers of evangelical Christians in North Malaita believe that the Lost Temple of Israel lies hidden at a shrine that was previously used for ancestral worship in the mountainous interior of their island.

…Two disputed temple sites exist on Malaita and Anglican Bishop Terry Brown on the island says one of them is tied up with a self-proclaimed prophet and failed politician, Michael Maeliau, who leads the “Deep Sea Canoe Movement”.

He has been to Israel a number of times and has links to American neo-Israel fundamentalist groups there. Deep Sea Canoe Movement talks of taking Christianity back to Israel.

Maeliau’s religious perspective is inspired by a vision that he had in 1984, in which a flood began in the Solomon Islands and engulfed the world:

As the circle was now complete, the wave zoomed in on Jerusalem from all sides. As the wave met in Jerusalem, it shot up into the Heavens like a great mighty pillar of water or cloud. As it reached deep in the sky, it opened up like a great big mushroom that gradually spread until it enveloped the whole earth.

At this point, a voice came out from the cloud saying, “And the Glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” With that the vision ended.

This came one year after a vision concerning Australia:

It was 16 years ago in 1983 when God began to place on the hearts of leaders in the Solomon Islands to pray for Australia.  They would meet each Friday at sunset on Prayer Mountain for Australia and pray through the night to sunrise – for ten years.  Rev Michael Maeliau, Associate South Pacific Prayer Network Representative (Solomon Islands) said God showed them Australia was the Pacific gateway to the nations.  Ps Maeliau also said Australia needs to be fully released into her God given destiny to the nations, so that all the Pacific might benefit.  This prayer team of pastors and ordinary people like you and me prayed for 10 years.  God does nothing unless it is birthed in prayer – in 1993 God lifted that burden and they now are praying for Israel.

Maeliau is part of the international Charismatic Christian scene, and he is particularly linked with the Jerusalem House of Prayer for All Nations, which was founded by an American named Tom Hess:

Tom Hess was called to Israel in 1987 from Washington. He has lived there through 2 Intifadas and 2 Gulf wars. He founded the Jerusalem House of Prayer for All Nations, situated on the Mount of Olives, in the middle of a Muslim community. Based on Isaiah 62, small teams have been involved in 24 hour a day prayer and worship for 16 years. The first focus of the House of Prayer is on the Jewish people, but they also call the leaders of the Middle East and of Israel to pray together for the salvation of the Muslims and Israel. So far the House of Prayer has had 13 meetings of 4 days each with Jewish and Arab leaders gathered for prayer. In 1994, the Lord said that there should be an All Nations Convocation.

Since then, there have been a series of international gatherings. As well as enjoying the support of Maeliau, Hess is endorsed by a number of neo-Pentecostal leaders, including some we have blogged before: there’s Sunday Adelaja, the Ukraine-based Nigerian pastor; Gwen Shaw, who has links with a controversial church in Congo; and Prosperity Gospel promoters such as Myles Munroe and Ulf Ekman. Hess has also edited a book that puts Maeliau in Charismatic A-List company:

Restoration of the Tabernacle of David is the latest publication from Tom Hess and Progressive Vision Publishing. It is an exciting collection of ten keynote addresses and essays by such renowned international authors/speakers Avner Boskey, Benjamin Berger, Marcel Rebiai and Tom Hess of Israel, Rick Joyner and Mike Bickle of the United States, Dr. Niko Njotorahardjo of Indonesia, George Annadorai of Singapore, Ana Mendez of Mexico, Michael Maeliau of Solomon Islands, and Boris Grisenko of Ukraine, on the fulfillment of the prophecy in Amos 9:11 and Acts 15:16-17.

As Stuff indicates, Maeliau has also been involved in politics. This discussion board has preserved his 2006 platform for re-election as an MP. It included:

…Acknowledge of God as the Creator and Sovereign over all and to whom all rulers and people are ultimately accountable…The Bible is God’s Manual for life and its principles must be restored in all walks of life…Seek a permanent Solution to the Ethnic Tension once and for all. …Government System. Review the present Government System and find the right and the most appropriate system for all…Rid of Corruption. Seek to remove all forms of corruption from all sectors and levels of Government…Establish Integrity and Credibility. Seek to establish National Integrity and International Credibility of the Solomon Islands.

…Sovereignty and Dignity. Ensure that the Sovereignty and Dignity of the Solomon Islands are not compromised but restored. The beggar mentality must be done away with and any form of foreign domination and exploitation avoided.

However, Maeliau came in at second place. Maeliau is also a Malaita separatist, as noted by a blog last month:

Religious leader known in his area as Prophet Michael Maeliau has re-iterated his vision for Malaita to becomes a separate political entity.

But what of the “Lost Tribe” and “Lost Temple” beliefs? Aside from the Stuff article, I could find no other source that suggested that Maeliau holds to such ideas, and given his clear emphasis on the real Jerusalem one wonders why he would be interested in a pseudo-site on the other side of the world.

However, if there actually is such a movement on the island, the presence of Israelis may have interesting consequences beyond a thriving copra-for-Israel industry:

Papua New Guinea…has had long experience with Jewish connections, mixed up with millenarian beliefs, along with ideas about the end of the world coming when all Jews return to Jerusalem. When a group of Israeli agricultural scientists visited PNG some years back, rumours swept the country that they had airline tickets to take all adherents back to Israel.

Indeed, a similar belief among members of a tribe in northern India was eventually endorsed by the State of Israel, and hundreds were opportunistically accepted as Israeli citizens last autumn.

Bishop Brown also notes conflict on the island with a syncretistic, semi-Muslim group:

“…One only hopes that the Middle East situation of Jew vs. Muslim does not resurface here as Malaita Israelite vs. Malaita Muslim”.

As I noted back in August, Israel also holds a particular fascination for groups of Fijian and Native Canadian neo-Pentecostals.

(Hat tip: Cult News Network)

5 Responses

  1. I have heard that a small group in Papua New Guinea has already declared that the Glory of God has given birth in PNG.

    Further, I am writing to find out if any of the mighty man of God are aware of this news.

    Sister in Christ

    Titian .

  2. I hope all of what is said about people led by Micheal Maeliau busy cutting copra for Isreal is not true, rather they’re busy praying for Isreal’s salvation (Rom11.27) and i guess Malaita Isreal package which will be first manifested in no other place than in North Malaita is a different thing. Why he (Micheal) has to travel 21 times in 25 years to celebrate the Tabernacle week in Jerusalem?

    • you’re right Derick..its not all about the physical side ,but it is more about the manifestation of the glory of God that would bring salvation to the nation of Israel.

  3. In Malaita, from the least to the greatest are praying for the restoration of all men, not talkin’ ’bout mere business that become rumours this days. But God is now raising the smallest and righteous economic system in Malaita that would one day engulf all economic systems of the earth…shalom.

  4. there are lost tribes of jews all over that have been forever. I would love to visit this tribe if safe

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