Heyo! My name is Jessica Whelchel and I created this blog for my friends and family to follow me as I go on a two-week mission trip to Japan.

I could not be more excited for the opportunity to take a small part in the BIG things God is doing and will do in this beautiful country. My trip is scheduled for July 23 – August 5, and I am in the process of raising $2,650 to cover the cost of travel, room and board. If you have a desire to contribute financially, please click here.

WHY A MISSION TRIP? Have you ever read Live Life on Purpose by Claude Hickman? If you attend Knott Avenue Christian Church I’m sure you have. The thesis of the book is basically that our lives only make sense in the context of God’s plan to finish the Great Commission. God has given us the direction we need to make our lives count and leave our mark on eternity. When we find it, we move from merely existing to truly living life on purpose. Although I don’t agree with every word in this book, it definitely inspired me to align my life’s goals with God’s goals, not just His goals for me but for humanity in general. Psalm 86:9 says, “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and they shall glorify Your name.” All tongues, tribes and nations will be heaven, regardless of what I do. But I have the amazing and humbling opportunity to participate in possibly getting some of those people there! I definitely want to be part of reaching unreached people groups!

WHY JAPAN? About six months prior to the Tsunami and earthquake hitting Japan, God put this country on my heart and the heart of my husband. Individually and unknowing of what the other was doing, Matt and I began to pray and think about Japan. Eventually we realized it was a shared burden, and one that greatly increased when the disasters stuck there. Ever since then we’ve been wanting to take a team from our church to help in the relief effort and share the Good News that we were lucky enough to have shared with us. As Matt did research and spoke to contacts of contacts, he came across an amazing ministry called Mustard Seed Global Fellowship, a non-profit organization with a vision for unreached, urban, church planting in the least-reached cities of the world. How awesome and right on target with the Great Commission does that mission statement sound? The more I learn about Japan, the more I want to participate in bringing God’s truth there. Did you know that less than 1% of Japanese people are Christian? Just as surprising, the majority of Japanese people have never even heard the name of Jesus, and those that have don’t know anything about him. To give an example of how little they know, around Christmas time you can find crosses with Santa Clause hanging on them. They are not meant to be disrespectful, they just don’t understand this “American” holiday. Another startling fact is that approximately 32,000 people commit suicide every year in Japan. Isn’t that heartbreaking? While the infamous Tsunami and earthquake that happened in Japan in 2011 was indeed a tragedy, taking 30,000 lives and getting press around the world, can you believe more people take their own lives in that country every single year? Why is this? As I read several articles and papers, I learned that it’s a combination of intense pressure to perform, a lack of hope, and the fact that so many Japanese icons killed themselves as an act of honor. Clearly, this people group needs to hear about the hope that a relationship with Jesus Christ brings. For those of us Christians who have contemplated suicide, the thing that brought us out of it was the unconditional love and purpose God has for each of us.

WHAT WILL WE DO THERE? As referenced earlier, we will be partnering with Mustard Seed Global Fellowship. Eight months ago a group of passionate young people dropped everything and moved to Japan to plant a church in Osaka, the third largest city in Japan. Most churches in Japan are comprised of about 20 people, and this young church is already seeing numbers in the 60s! Isn’t God amazing! And the majority of their regulars are not yet Christians. Can you imagine sitting at church knowing 9 out of the 10 people around you aren’t yet believers? What an exciting opportunity! In addition to ministering to the staff that is currently in place at Mustard Seed, we will be spending most of our time reaching out to the church’s local community. We want to help the church establish positive, meaningful and enduring relationships with those in the community and the greater city of Osaka. In the history of Japan, there has never been an indigenous Christian movement. We want to help Mustard Seed identify, raise up and pour into Japanese people, so they can pour into other Japanese people. But how can we reach Japanese people who work 6 days a week? We’ve got to get creative. One of the ways we will outreach is through music. I know, surprise surprise, Jessica and Matt are using music. As it turns out, Japanese people love music, especially American music, particularly Gospel music! They don’t know what it means, but they know they like it! So we will be putting on several free concerts in the community while we’re there. Also, since Japanese people are so eager to learn English, we will have many opportunities to share our testimony and the Word of God, if only for them to hear English words. The majority of people we will come in contact with will have never heard the truth of Christ’s birth, burial and resurrection, and we get to tell them for the very first time!

WILL YOU JOIN ME? If you are a believer and part of a church community, I know you get “hit up” quite often for mission related fundraising. I also know that God has blessed each of us differently in the finance category. If God puts it on your heart to contribute to my trip, I greatly appreciate your generosity. If you are not able to contribute financially, I covet your prayers for my trip and the salvation of this people group.

Thank you for taking the time to read about something that is very important to me!

Love, Jessica

“…I will make you a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” -Isaiah 49:6

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