Fall tree leaves

Elaine Mitchell – 1932-2024

On June 3rd, family and friends came together to celebrate the life of Elaine (Owings) Mitchell, who passed away on May 16th.

Elaine was saved in her late teens, writing, “I have come to know Him! There was a real transformation… the things I disliked became precious, the things I desired became distasteful. Words cannot express the peace or joy, oh such joy! I can only exclaim with the blind man, ‘…one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.’” John 9:25.

This desire to tell others of His love led her to attend St. Paul Bible Institute (now Crown College). There she heard the call of God for missions, had a burden for Japan, and heard of the need of workers for the north island of Hokkaido.

Through OMF, she accepted a designation for Japan and started Japanese language study in 1957.

In her OMF application, Elaine referenced John 15:16, “The Lord knows my heart and the agony, as it were, of longing in love for those who know Him not. My eyes are set upon that place where I will lay down my life for the lost. My only desire is that wherever I may be there may be fruit abounding to the eternal glory and praise of Jesus Christ.”

As with Elaine, Alan Mitchell had also accepted the recommendation to go to Japan. During their several months of language study a romance developed between them with the engagement being announced just before they sailed on to Japan.

Of their pre-married life overseas, Alan said, “In Japan we were always in different cities and had no phones in those days, so frequent letters were the main form of communication until our marriage in Sapporo in 1959, 65 years ago!”

The Mitchell familyGod blessed their marriage in many ways, including the five dearly loved children that were born between 1960 and 1968, and the many grandchildren and great-grandchildren over the ensuing years.

The Mitchells served in various ministries in Japan, including Language School supervisor, bookstore operator, Field Accountant, plus involvement in church planting, including Elaine helping with the start of Sunagawa church, and the two of them starting the Sapporo Tonden church and the Sapporo International Church (SIC).

They also went to Singapore for part of a year and served on the USA staff as Art Glasser’s Assistant Home Director and later as Finance Rep in Robesonia, PA, the former OMF (U.S.) headquarters.

Many had a deep appreciation for Elaine. The superintendent of SIC wrote, “Elaine has been tenacious and faithful as a missionary. Elaine does not spare herself in carrying out her work. Many appreciate her thoughtfulness and hard work behind the scenes such as cleaning up housing, visiting the sick and so on.”

OMF’s Rowena McGinty shares, “Alan and Elaine were our Senior missionaries for our first church planting ministry at SIC in 1987. I shadowed Elaine and went with her to visit numerous people. She was a caring person. Elaine appeared serious to me, but I think it was because she was committed to holiness. [However] she certainly enjoyed fun when it came to playing games. I have visions of her making long bicycle rides to get errands done, etc. She was also famous for finding and restoring used items and making them useful again (to save money). Personally, I really appreciated the devotion that Alan and Elaine had for each other. She was a special lady, and she will be missed.”

Eleanor Willson writes, “[Husband] Jim and I worked together with Alan and Elaine for one year between 1982-1983 as they handed over the Tonden church to us in Sapporo, Japan. Elaine and I co-taught an Evangelistic Cooking class/Bible class together. I taught the cooking while Elaine taught Bible. She had such a heart for the Japanese people. Her warmth and friendliness and love for her Lord and Savior just reached out to the ladies that came. Her kindness and caring I will always cherish.”

Elaine MitchellFrom Elaine’s life, we can see that she faithfully gave herself to Christ, and Christ did not disappoint. There was beautiful fruit from Elaine’s ministry in Japan. In the life she lived, she brought glory to God. As a Fellowship, we were blessed to have Elaine in our midst, both serving alongside and leading the way for many. Praise the Lord for His work in her life.

And now, she can walk into the arms of her Savior who gave her such joy. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants.” Psalms 116:15

By Pamela Kaczmarczyk, OMF Retiree Care Coordinator

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