Deanna Aoki impacted many with the way she encouraged people, extended grace, and pointed people to Jesus. Her radiant smile and gentle spirit will always be remembered. Aoki went home to be with Jesus on October 31, 2019, after a long battle with cancer.
Aoki, 72, served the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention as Executive Director for Women’s Missionary Union from 2000 until she retired in 2010.
“Deanna Aoki was probably my very best friend,” said Alice Newman, HPBC’s WMU Executive Director who preceded Deanna. “I was so privileged to know and work with Deanna closely over a period of about 35 plus years. Deanna was always on missions wherever we went. She was tireless and always reflected the love of the Lord in her precious smile.”
“She was never self-centered about anything and gave 100 percent of her energy to any task that was before us. She was tireless in her quest to make Jesus known.”
A Celebration of Life to honor Aoki was held at Olivet Baptist Church on January 11, 2020. Deanna’s son, Pastor Stephen Aoki, executive pastor of Tiburon Baptist Church in California, delivered the message at her memorial service.
“You need to know how much my mom loved you and loved serving you, alongside you,” Pastor Stephen told those who attended his mother’s memorial service. Pastor Stephen also shared the personal influence his mother had on his life and cited a few examples. “When I was at seminary, my mom was my greatest supporter,” he said. “When I was ordained at Tiburon Baptist Church, my mom was my greatest encourager.” “If there is just one thing that she would want said, it would be this, ‘focus on Jesus.’”
Deanna’s other sons Chris Aoki and Joe Aoki also shared at Deanna’s memorial service, “There are many reasons why people choose to believe in God,” said Chris. “…for me, I know there is a God because of my mom and watching her live life, loving God and loving others.”
Joe Aoki added that Deanna was a woman of God’s word who loved spending time with God, reading the Bible, and saw how God’s word influenced his mother. “Growing up, I remember her sitting at the dining room table every morning, reading the Bible, praying and communing with her Savior,” Joe said. “These times with her savior allowed the word of God to dwell richly in her.”
Churches and people Deanna Aoki came in contact with have been deeply impacted by Deanna’s life. Her Christlikeness in all matters and her encouragement were outward expressions of the work of Christ in her. Throughout her life, her ministry and even in her suffering, Deanna was a shining example of the hope found in Jesus.
Deanna’s life and work faithfully built on the gospel foundation that was previously laid in Hawaii. Because of Deanna’s faithfulness, future generations have a pathway in reaching Hawaii, the Pacific, Asia, and the world with the gospel.
Paul writes in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Because of this, Deanna’s testimony continues to influence many.
Deanna Aoki is survived by her husband, John Aoki, sons, Christopher (Cicely) Aoki, Stephen (Pauline) Aoki, and Joseph (Megan) Aoki and seven grandchildren.