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Power in a small package

Over the years we have learned that God’s help comes in many forms. During our second four-year term in Japan, one major source of help came in the shape of an older Japanese woman. She always arrived punctually on our doorstep, properly dressed in business attire with every hair in place. The main accessories in her wardrobe were a contagious smile and a servant spirit. Mrs. Mihoko White was diminutive in stature, but she had a huge heart for the things of God.

We didn’t know her when she initially contacted us, but through a church she had heard we needed a Japanese language helper and volunteered her services. We soon learned that Mrs. White was a divorced Korean war bride which explained her foreign last name. She had grown children of her own back in the States but remained in Sapporo where she taught English in her home to make ends meet.

Once a week in rain, snow, or heat, Mrs. White would—without fail or complaint—journey for over an hour across Sapporo via subway and bus to give of her time and energy to help us improve our communication skills. She saw that as her contribution to God’s kingdom work in Japan; but her impact on our lives went far beyond teaching us Japanese. She became a beloved aunt to my wife and I, and a doting, caring grandmother to our young children.

Mrs. White never accepted money for her services or travel expenses although she often brought gifts of food for us and small presents for the children. Week after week she modeled to us what it meant to offer up what we have in order to serve others. In Japan we are taught the principle of kaeshi, where one is expected to give a gift in return for a favor or gift, but Mrs. White would not let us repay her in any form. The lone exception to this pattern were the desserts my wife Rowena made sure to prepare each week for our selfless teacher.

Dependency on others is a blessing

While we are dependent upon God’s people and churches back home to support us as missionaries, we are keenly aware of the many Japanese who have also made many sacrifices on our behalf as part of God’s gracious, omniscient provision for our needs. Some might perceive this dependency upon others as a drawback to the missionary lifestyle, whereas we see it as a tremendous blessing to have ringside seats to the church of God in action on both sides of the ocean. We came to Japan to serve others, but the truth of the matter is that many have served us and we are humbled by their examples.

As the years have slipped by, we have lost track of Mrs. White, who, according to our last titbit of information, returned to the States to live out her remaining days with one of her daughters. But my thoughts often go back to those days where we had the privilege of observing one of God’s quiet saints in action. Despite her lack in size, Mrs. White remains a giant in our memories and a precious example of how God has called us to serve others. We offer our thanks for her and countless others who have modeled God’s love to us. May we, in God’s grace, pass that example on to others.

By Mike McGinty

Will you pray for Japan?

  • Praise God for the many Japanese Christians who support OMF’s work in their country in countless ways.
  • Pray that new missionaries would receive the support they need to learn the language and culture of Japan.
  • Pray for those who are applying to come to Japan as missionaries, that they will receive the financial and prayerful support they need to come.


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