Edwin and Mary Ellen Dozier

Holding their newborn son, they stared in disbelief at the front-page headline of the newspaper: ALL FOREIGNERS MUST LEAVE JAPAN.

This should have been a day full of joy as they introduced their new baby, Charles, to his big sister, Sarah Ellen. Life in Japan had been sweet and fruitful for Edwin and Mary Ellen Dozier, but then World War II started and tensions rose. Still, they believed that they could safely withstand the changes in Japan.

Edwin himself was born in Japan, the son of missionaries, and as an adult, he served alongside his mother, “Mother Dozier” as she was fondly called. Japan was his home and had become home for his wife and now his two young children. He prayed that the headline announcing the evacuation of foreigners would not apply to him. By November of 1940, he had seen most of his missionary colleagues leave, and he knew it would be best for Mary Ellen and the kids to leave Japan too. Edwin chose to stay behind with Mother Dozier, but as government officials became more suspicious and as greater restrictions were placed on them, they too were forced to leave before Easter 1941.

Almost 1,000 friends met them at the train station to say goodbye. “When the typhoon is past, the sun will shine again,” Mother Dozier said. “And the humble bamboo will rise again, reaching heavenward with thanksgiving as it greets the light.” They were allowed a final visit to Edwin’s father’s grave before they departed their homeland. When they boarded the ship, Edwin eagerly anticipated reuniting with his family, but he also remained hopeful that one day they might return to Japan.

The Doziers served among Japanese speakers in Hawaii throughout WWII. After the war, Edwin was the first missionary to return to Japan, where the Doziers spent the next 23 years working alongside Japanese Baptists.

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