our ministryReaching the rural people of northern Japan with love of Jesus and the power of the gospel
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Kushiroour new ministry
In October of 2019, the Wilhite family took time to visit a part of Hokkaido that they had never been. On the southeast side of the island is the city of Kushiro. In the city proper, there are 170,000 souls with many surrounding towns and villages.
Realizing the lack of access to the Gospel in that part of Japan, we took another trip in June of 2020 to distribute John and Romans to homes there. I was struck by the amount of idolatry there compared to Nayoro and began praying for the Lord to send more laborers to this part of the island.
A Story of God's Leading
For one of our family Bible times, we watched a message online about the life of missionary James Frasier.
The passage read was Matthew 16:24-26:
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
During he was reading the passage, the Lord spoke to my heart and called our family to work in Kushiro. The still small voice was strong, succinct, and familiar.
While we have prayed over many cities, towns, and villages over the years, the Lord never gave any direction or calling for anywhere other than Nayoro. The times I specifically asked about different places, the answer was always a resounding “No.” So I had asked the Lord, that when it was time to move, to speak to my heart the same way He did the day I received Christ and the day that He called me to the mission field of Japan. He granted that request during the reading of those verses.
I told Shellee later in the day what the Lord had spoken to my heart about, and then we prayed for the Lord to continue to confirm His direction in both of our hearts. Through our family Bible times, personal Bible studies, and messages at church, the Lord began doing just that.
A couple of weeks later, Brother Smith preached a message from Isaiah 42 in preparation for our VBS. When we read verses 6-8, the Lord spoke to Shellee and I separately concerning Kushiro.
“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
As Shellee read the passage, the Lord comforted her tender, Mama’s heart that was concerned for taking her family into the unknown. Through times of sickness, difficult pregnancies, and cancer Shellee clung to Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” The Lord assured her that He would “hold her hand” and “keep” her family in the center of His care.
As I read the passage, I was thinking of the many Buddhist and Shinto shrines, monasteries, and temples that we passed in Kushiro. Then I read that He was not willing to surrender His “glory” or His “praise to graven images,” but will instead ” open the blind eyes” and set the “prisoners… that sit in darkness” free. God was assuring me that it was time for the people of Kushiro to hear about the true and living God.
When we both got to the part about being a “light to the Gentiles,” we were both instantly reminded of when we first made plans to come to Japan and the verse that the Lord gave to us then: Acts 13:47 “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” Could God have put all of this together in one passage, in one message, for the very moment in time that we were needing to hear it: to comfort our fears, confirm our purpose, and remind us of the calling that He gave to us from the beginning? That’s my God!
After we return from our furlough, we are planning to move to Kushiro to begin reaching the precious souls in that part of Hokkaido. We are a bundle of conflicting emotions as we will be leaving the people and place that we have loved and called home for the past twelve years, yet we are excited for what the Lord has in store for the future. We deeply covet your prayers for all of this and are grateful to have many of you partnering with us in prayer and support!