Elder Oaks Finds “a Sense of Gospel Peace” among Members in Japan and Korea

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 7 June 2017

Elder Oaks shakes hands with members and missionaries after a meeting while visiting the Asia North Area of the Church.  Photo courtesy of Asia North Area.

Article Highlights

  • Elder Oaks and members of the Asia North Area Presidency visited members in Japan and Korea.
  • Despite a turbulent world, the members of Japan and Korea have peace in the gospel.

“Leaders and members in Japan and Korea are faithful and diligent in all they do. They are concerned for their rising generations, committed to sharing the restored gospel, and desirous to live with joy on His covenant path.” —Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

As tensions rise in the Asia North Area, an Apostle, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, and their wives recently visited Japan and Korea on a regularly scheduled area review and reported great faith and a “sense of gospel peace” among Church members.

“The Lord is mindful of His children. He knows their circumstances and concerns and is gracious in His love,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles after his visit to the Asia North Area from May 19 to May 28.

Inspired scheduling

Joining Elder Oaks during the visits was his wife, Sister Kristen M. Oaks, and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy with his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong. Members of the Asia North Area Presidency—Elder Scott D. Whiting, Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, and Elder Yoon Hwan Choi—and their wives, Sister Jeri Whiting, Sister Tazuko Yamashita, and Sister Bon Kyung Choi, accompanied the visiting leaders as they attended meetings and traveled in the area.

“Only the Lord would know that having a member of the Twelve and his wife be in Japan and Korea at this particular time of international tensions on a regularly scheduled visit would be a blessing to all,” said Elder Gong. “We felt it while we were there.”

The Asia North Area consists of more than 225,000 members—more than 128,000 members in Japan, 88,000 in Korea, and 9,000 in Micronesia—living in 43 stakes. As part of the area review, the leaders and Area Presidency discussed the faith and concerns of members throughout the Asia North Area, including that of the dedicated Church members found throughout Micronesia. On this particular visit, Elder Oaks, Elder Gong, and members of the Area Presidency met leaders, members, and missionaries in four cities in Japan and four cities in Korea.

“Leaders and members in Japan and Korea are faithful and diligent in all they do,” said Elder Oaks. “They are concerned for their rising generations, committed to sharing the restored gospel, and desirous to live with joy on His covenant path.”

During the 10-day trip, the leaders met with local Church leaders in two priesthood leadership conferences, missionaries in four mission conferences, Japanese and Korean members in two nationwide devotionals and six special stake conferences, and Korean youth in a nationwide Face to Face devotional. Their wives also taught sister leaders in their own meetings, presided over by assigned priesthood leaders, in Japan and Korea.

Understanding and goodwill

They also met a high-ranking government official in Japan—Minister Tamayo Murukawa, the minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Minister Murukawa said Church members are well known for generous support of community service and for high moral values,” noted Elder Oaks. “Our visit was an opportunity to build understanding and goodwill and a reminder the Church is respected worldwide because our members are seen as good citizens and good parents.”

In Sapporo, the traveling group was grateful to meet missionaries in the Japan Sapporo Mission and also to join local leaders and members in the Sapporo Japan Temple.

During the two countrywide devotionals held via broadcast to members in Japan and Korea, Sister Oaks, a former missionary in Japan, spoke in Japanese and shared her testimony in Korean. Sister Susan L. Gong, a former missionary in Taiwan, shared her testimony and experiences from serving and teaching in Asia.

“In all our experiences in Japan and Korea, we could feel the love of the people for the Lord and their desire to make Him their priority,” said Elder Oaks. “We admire their gospel faith, devotion, and sacrifices.”

Elder Gong added, “Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Kristen Oaks are known and loved by Church members everywhere, but perhaps with a special added feeling in Japan and Korea.”

The nationwide Face to Face youth broadcast originating in Daejeon, Korea, followed a question-and-answer format, inviting youth throughout Korea to ask questions and receive candid answers live.

“In Japan and Korea the examination system puts pressure on young people to study for exams and test scores,” Elder Gong noted. “Many youth asked questions about balance in life between family, church, and school.”

Elder Oaks shared his own experience, talking about how his mother invited him to follow the practice of his father in medical school: “If you work hard six days a week, you can do more with the Lord’s help than if you work seven days a week without the Lord’s help,” he told the youth.

“We are always grateful to share with our rising generation and their parents,” Elder Oaks said. “The Lord is aware of His people and loves and blesses them.”

From left: Elder Katsuyaku Otahara, an Area Seventy; Sister Chikako Otahara; Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy and counselor in the Asia North Area Presidency; Sister Tazuko Yamashita; Sister Susan L. Gong; Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy; Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Sister Kristen M. Oaks; Sister Jeri Whiting; Elder Scott D. Whiting, General Authority Seventy and President of the Asia North Area; Sister Bon Kyung Choi; Elder Yoon Hwan Choi, General Authority Seventy and counselor in the Asia North Area Presidency; Sister Naoko Nakatsuka; President Hirofumi Nakatsuka, president of the Japan Sapporo Mission. Photo courtesy of Asia North Area.

A family walks outside the meetinghouse after attending stake conference. Photo courtesy of Asia North Area.

Young women listen during a Face to Face event held for youth in Korea on May 26. Photo courtesy of Asia North Area.

Missionaries sing during a meeting with Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy. Photo courtesy of Asia North Area.

From left: Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Minister Tamayo Murukawa, the minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games; Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, a General Authority Seventy and member of the Asia North Area Presidency. Photo courtesy of Asia North Area.

A man participates during a priesthood leadership conference with Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy during their visit to the Asia North Area. Photo courtesy of Asia North Area.

Young men listen during a Face to Face event with Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy. The event, held on May 26 in Korea, allowed youth to ask questions to the visiting Church leaders. Photo courtesy of Asia North Area.

Sister Kristen M. Oaks, middle, stands with women after a meeting during her visit with her husband, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, to the Asia North Area. Photo courtesy of Asia North Area.