OKAMOTO, GOICHI PAUL
Goichi Okamoto was born in Hiroshima-ken, Japan, as the second son in his family on May 1, 1898. He attended the Shudo Middle School in Hiroshima City. At the age of seventeen, he came to the United States to visit his parents and brother. Although he was of high school age, he went to an elementary school instead, due to his deficiency in English. Later, Okamoto—like many Issei before him—lived with a Caucasian family while attending high school in Whittier,

In the fall of 1919, Okamoto attended the Friends Church in Whittier, where he met Ugo Nakada, According to Ugo, Goichi was one of the “three people” who worked together and ministered together. The other two were Henry Sakuma and Toshio Hirano. In an old Model T Ford, they went out every Sunday evening to evangelize.

After Ugo left for the East in 1920, these young Christians moved to the Trinity Church in south Hollywood. His brother, Shinzaburo, was saved through Goichi’s earnest prayers and became an active member of the Los Angeles Holiness Church in February 1921. Shinzaburo was one of the earliest members of the church.

Later, Okamoto entered the Huntington Park Training School for Christian Workers. At the same time, he along with Henry Sakuma, worked as gardeners to help support the Kuzuhara family. After graduating from the Training School in 1927, Okamoto was assigned to the Modesto Holiness Church the following year.

In January of 1929, Okamoto returned to Japan and became a member of the Japan Holiness Church. He married Toyoko Nakada, the fifth daughter of Bishop Nakada, and was assigned to the Ushigome Holiness Church in Tokyo. Soon Okamoto felt called to minister where he had been born and raised, so he volunteered to do pioneer work in Hiroshima.

With the outbreak of World War II, Okamoto was jailed for one-and-one-half years, due to his faith in Christ. The church was closed, so he moved to a rural area near his birthplace in Hiroshima. Nevertheless, the police always followed him wherever he went. Although the retreat to his birthplace saved them from the horrors of the atomic bomb disaster in August 1945, a month later, Goichi, his wife, three sons, and a daughter, died in a landslide caused by heavy rains in the area. Only two daughters, Eiko and Chiyoko, survived. Later, the church he founded in Hiroshima was pastored by his friend and relative, Suteichi Oye. Okamoto’s ministry could be best described by the epitaph on his tombstone: “Sacrificing all his interests, he served Christ.”

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