God Stirs a Heart:
Late in the summer of 1953, Reverend Bert Poole and his wife, Muriel, embarked on a trip that would take them from their mission field in Japan back to North America. While aboard the S.S. Cambodge, restlessness came over Rev. Poole. He yearned to reach the nation of Japan with the gospel of Christ. He and Muriel had a burning desire to share the love of God with the Japanese, yet their efforts were often thwarted by language barriers and complicated cultural issues. It had been a very difficult road.
As the ship brought them closer to ports in South Carolina, the Lord impressed upon Bert a vision of supporting Japanese Christ-followers to plant churches. It was an “aha!” moment.
The superior efficiency of having the Japanese reach their own people was evident. There would be no language barriers, no cultural missteps, and expedited progress without the need to prove oneself to a foreign community. This revelation became the foundation of White Fields
Others Join the Cause
The number of missionaries to Japan had always been meager, and Rev. Poole’s heart to see the exponential growth of Japanese Christ-followers continued to surge. He felt that pairing experienced missionaries with Japanese church planters could produce new churches in Japan in an unprecedented way.
Upon their return to Canada, Rev. Poole and Muriel began to personally support some Japanese pastors. In 1955, a Christian attorney heard of their work and offered his services to assist in registering this newly formed mission as a tax-exempt organization. It was at this time that the name “White Fields” was chosen for this new ministry. It was taken from the words of Jesus found in John 4:35, “Do you not say, `There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.”
The Pooles encouraged churches and individual Christians to participate in prayerfully supporting national church planters. The greatest response in the early days came from western Canada. The first annual banquet designed to share the ministry of White Fields was held in Edmonton, Alberta in 1971. These banquet-type meetings quickly began to spread to other cities.
Expanding Across the Globe
The White Fields International Board of Directors was formed in 1977 to assist Rev. Poole in expanding the mission into other countries. Over the years, national churches were planted in Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Middle East, Myanmar, Namibia, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Trinidad, Tobago, Uganda, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
White Fields continues to look where God would have us move.
This bridge, in the southwest region of Uganda near the Congo and Rwanda borders, has become a symbol to our ministry team. The rural villages on this side of the bridge had no Evangelical Christian witness until our partners supported the beginning of two churches. In 2017, the people in these villages were starving. Now we have two full-time pastors and two churches growing in numbers and faith. Across this bridge, there are people living in the bush and they need to hear the gospel.
Importance of Prayer
White Fields has emphasized the importance of prayer from the very beginning. Prayer reports from the field are used to assist our supporters with interceding on behalf of White Fields church planters. We attribute the solid success rate of church plants to the teamwork between nationals, missionaries, and prayer supporters.
Continuing Forward with a New Leader
On Thanksgiving Day in 1999, the Lord called Rev. Bert Poole home after a long battle with cancer. Through the leadership of the Board of Directors, a new leader emerged that had grown up with parents that supported White Fields. Stephen Wheeler was invited to join the Board of Directors in November 2000. Stephen and Coral Wheeler began to lead the mission. They enjoyed many times of fellowship with Muriel including the celebration of her 94th birthday on February 17, 2016. On August 23, 2016, Muriel entered the presence of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Steve and Coral had many opportunities to sit with Muriel and hear about the early years of the ministry, she would recall stories of pastors and prayer partners. She also shared how at peace she was with the knowledge that soon she would be celebrating eternal life along with Bert and all her family that had preceded her into the glory of the Lord. Her love for our Savior and concern for the support of National Church Planters spreading the gospel remained fervent right up to the final days of her life. The Board of Directors is grateful to God for the vision, and leadership Rev. Poole provided to White Fields for almost 50 years. It is our firm belief that now, more than ever, the White Fields concept can be greatly used to help fulfill the Great Commission.