By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
LAFOLLETTE — At the age of 93, Dixie Hausser tells it like it is.
“If the missionaries had not come, I’d probably not be a Christian today,” said Hausser, who later moved to Tennessee as an adult and is an active member of First Baptist Church, LaFollette.
The missionaries she refers to were appointed by the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) and serving in the Orient prior to World War II. Once tensions increased worldwide, the IMB evacuated missionaries from China, Japan and other locations to Hawaii which was then a United States territory.
Hausser said the missionaries soon realized that Hawaii was a fertile mission field. History records that the Association of Baptist Churches of Hawaii (today the Hawaii Baptist Convention) was formed in 1943 with five churches.
She vividly remembers her childhood days in Hawaii, including the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 when she was a sophomore in high school.
Hausser’s parents were Japanese who located in Hawaii. For reasons still unknown to her today, her father moved back to Japan with three of her siblings when she was only 4 years old. Her mother remained in Hawaii with her three youngest children. Hausser never saw her father and two of those siblings again.
“I always felt the loss of a complete family. We lived with relatives until my mom remarried,” she recalled.
She was raised in a “nominal” Buddhist home. The only church near her home was Catholic and “we were never invited or expected to attend,” she said.
“Sunday was just another day,” she said.
Following the start of World War II, a friend invited Hausser to attend Olivet Baptist Church where she met missionary Hannah Plowden who had served in China. Plowden was her Sunday School teacher. “
Embarrassed that she did not even have a Bible, Hausser bought a KJV version (the only version available) the next day. “I decided to read the book that seemed so central in their teaching. All books begin on page 1, so I began with Genesis,” she recalled.
With a slight chuckle, she said she wished someone had encouraged her to read the book of John first or one of the gospels. “I did not know the Bible was 66 books divided into two sections (Old and New Testaments). I was so ignorant. I read my Bible every day.”
She continued to attend and one Sunday while listening to the sermon she realized “I was a sinner. When the invitation was given I heard the song ‘I Need Thee Every Hour.’ It tugged at my heart that I really needed this Jesus I had been hearing about.
“I don’t remember walking down the aisle, but I felt this deep longing and joy and brightness I had never experienced before,” she said.
“I will always remember that moment that changed my life forever.”
She was later baptized which caused some friction within her Buddhist family, but all was forgiven when several years later she presented her mother a grandchild after she had married John Hausser, a serviceman she met in Hawaii.
For many years her husband served as an education pastor/minister in several churches, including First Baptist Church, Lenoir City, and FBC, LaFollette.The couple also served for a brief time in Hawaii as contract workers with the IMB for the Hawaii Baptist Convention.
During that time, Hausser, who had been born in Hawaii, was able to vote to allow Hawaii to become the 50th state in the United States.
Hausser is eternally grateful to Southern Baptists and especially the Cooperative Program. Because of what she witnessed firsthand with Southern Baptist missionaries in Hawaii, she has developed a deep love for missions and sharing the gospel.
“I have been on mission trips to Mexico and Cambodia to share the Word of God,” she said.
She is a strong advocate for both giving through the Cooperative Program and being involved in sharing the gospel.
Joe Sorah, compassion ministries specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and interim pastor at First Baptist, LaFollette, is grateful he has gotten the opportunity to know “Miss Dixie” as she is known in the church.
“Miss Dixie serves the church in many different ways: working in the library, teaching a ladies Sunday School class as a substitute, speaking at women’s events when called on, and providing an example of faithfulness, humility, and holiness for everyone. She has a big heart for ESL and international ministry,” Sorah observed.
“Miss Dixie may be short in stature, but she is a giant in the Lord’s service,” he continued, adding that “she has such a zeal for the Lord’s work. Everyone who knows her is inspired by her example. She truly is one in a million,” Sorah said.
Hausser remains humble in the midst of praise and gives all the glory to Christ.
“God had a plan for my life and I have been so blessed. A lot of people and events have shaped my life and I am so amazed at how God led my life in ways I could not imagine,” Hausser said.