YAHIRO, JOICHI GEORGE AND HATSU
George Yahiro was born in Honokaa, Hawaii, on September 28, 1894, the first of nine children. His father was from Fukuoka-ken, Japan, and his mother was from Yamaguchi-ken, Japan. George attended school in Hawaii, but came to Southern California, where a sister was living, and he graduated from Fullerton High School.

Yahiro reached a turning point in his life when he met Ugo Nakada. Nakada was studying at the Los Angeles Bible College and serving the Whittier Japanese Church at the same time. Yahiro did not commit his life to the Lord until he met Nakada. Yahiro was also led to the Lord by his future wife, Hatsu Yano, who was attending the church. Upon graduation from California Bible College with Toshio Hirano, Yahiro married Hatsu Yano on May 26, 1923.

Hatsu, who was born in Tokyo on February 12, 1900, had gone to Aoyama Jogakuin, a Methodist school, to study English although she was not a Christian. At the age of fifteen, she had come to the United States to see her father and had lived with a family in Pasadena while attending school. The family had been a devoted Nazarene family who had led her to Christ. She then attended California Bible School in Hollywood.

After graduation from the Bible College, he assisted Sadaichi Kuzuhara for six years in Los Angeles. George was the first Nisei pastor in Japanese-American society. While living on the church grounds on 35th place next to the Kuzuhara family, Yahiro helped support the ministry by working as a gardener as well.

On October 29, 1929, Yahiro was assigned to the San Lorenzo Holiness Church as the first minister of the church. That year he was ordained with Henry Sakuma. The following year the Centerville Holiness Church was founded by the San Lorenzo Holiness Church. Yahiro became the first minister of the church as well. In January 1934, he was assigned to the Modesto Holiness Church after a fruitful three year ministry at San Lorenzo. The Modesto Church grew in worship attendance, surpassed only by the Los Angeles Holiness Church.

With the outbreak of World War II, Yahiro and his family were sent to the Amache Relocation Center in Colorado. Yahiro stayed there until March 1945, when he returned to Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Holiness Church was reopened and used as a hostel for returnees who had no other place to stay. For a year-and-one-half, Yahiro sacrificially served returnees.

In 1946, George Yahiro was appointed to the San Diego Holiness Church. His ministry was characterized by intensive visitation to believers and unbelievers alike, and even to people in the community unaffiliated with the church.

George Yahiro died on December 20, 1963, at the age of sixty-eight, and left the body of Christ saddened by the loss of a dear Christian brother and faithful servant of the Lord. On the day of his passing, a retirement banquet had been scheduled at the Balboa Park in San Diego. He had served as pastor in San Diego for sixteen years, as well as serving the Holiness Conference since its inception. Akira Kuroda remembered his spirit in a “Voice of Holiness” article:

“Typical of his life, Rev. George Yahiro, in spite of his weakened condition, spent the day before he died speaking to a seeker about Christ. To his last moment he lived his life unselfishly for others and for God’s glory. He was to retire at the end of the year...He was to be honored with a testimonial banquet, but God brought him to his heavenly home.”

Five children were born to George and Hatsu: Andrew, Eunice, Esther, Stephen and Susan. Andrew, who served faithfully as a Conference treasure for many years, passed away of a heart attack in 1975. Hatsu Yahiro is living with her daughter, Susan, in Los Angeles.

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