GOD PROVIDES A LEADER: SADAICHI KUZUHARA AND HIS HOLINESS EXPERIENCE
The first strategy of the new church's evangelical thrust was to conduct street meetings at the corner of East First and San Pedro streets in downtown Los Angeles, witnessing to passersby about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Inquirers were invited to attend the evening services held at the Trinity Church. The young, dedicated Christians were very energetic in conducting the street meetings. George Yahiro later recalled their approach:

Those days we were all Bible College students. Yet we did not know how to lead Japanese people to Christ during our street meetings. We asked every person who passed by, “Will you go to heaven?” People were confused by our question and often we were scolded for asking such inconsiderate questions (Yahiro 1931:125).

[Sadaichi Kuzuhara]
With their hearts burning for Christ, they conducted door to door evangelism, not only on weekends but on weekdays as well. Many Japanese were farmers who treated these dedicated Christians very well. Appreciative of the visits, the farmers often served delicious meals that these young Christians thoroughly enjoyed. But the more these young people committed their lives to the Lord, the more they felt the need for a mature pastor to lead them.

During this period, the first Bishop of the OMS Holiness Church in Japan Juji Nakada, the father of Ugo, was scheduled to arrive for an evangelistic tour of the United States. The group looked forward to meeting him, since he was one of the most influential evangelists in Japan at that time. Upon his arrival, he visited several Japanese churches in Los Angeles and held evangelistic meetings in the city for four days in October 1920. Ugo Nakada then arrived to join his father's evangelistic tour of the Eastern States. The young people apparently met Juji Nakada through Ugo's introduction and asked for a leader. On his way East, Juji Nakada stopped at Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, and met with Sadaichi Kuzuhara, a longtime friend and a former staff member of the Kashiwagi Seisho Gakuin. Encouraged by Nakada to go to the young group in Los Angeles, Kuzuhara responded to the call as from the Lord, although there was no financial guarantee.

Kuzuhara was born in Okayama Prefecture on the 23rd of July, 1886. At the age of eighteen, during his first attendance at an evangelistic meeting, he decided to follow Jesus as his Savior. He then moved to Tokyo to study English. It is unclear whether or not he entered the Foreign Language School, yet his English was very good. Later, he became a translator for the OMS Holiness Church of Japan.

In 1919, Kuzuhara came to the United States to see A. B. Simpson and learn about his “Four Fold Gospels.” Kuzuhara first settled in Tacoma, Washington where he had a friend, Rev. Harada, a Methodist minister he knew from Japan. He worked there to earn enough money to go East. During that time he received news from Japan that his son, Kenji, had died with these last words: “Mother, I go to a better place.” Inspired by his son's last words, he headed East. By that time, however, A. B. Simpson had passed away. Kuzuhara then reluctantly decided to go to Asbury Seminary in Kentucky. What he learned at the Asbury Seminary he had already learned at Seisho Gakuin in Japan. While he was a student in Kentucky pondering over the similarities of his studies in Japan, he met Juji Nakada and heard of the need among the young Japanese Christians in Los Angeles. After prayer, he was convinced that this opportunity was from the Lord, and in 1921 he moved to Los Angeles.

Little is known of Kuzuhara's holiness experience; it is not known how or where he received it. Yet his disciples—including Eiji Suehiro, a retired Issei pastor of the Los Angeles Holiness Church; and Gunsaku Kuwahara, a faithful Los Angeles Holiness Church member—spoke about this experience. According to Suehiro, Kuzuhara's holiness experience was inspired by his teacher, Tetsusaburo Sasao, known as one of the more godly men in Japanese Christian history. Sasao's life as a Christian is described as follows:

Tetsusaburo Sasao was born in 1868, the year Japan opened its doors to the world. He became a Christian while attending the Pacific Business College in San Jose, California. He quit the school and became an active Christian. In those days, two prominent Japanese Christians, Teikichi Kawabe and Yoshigoro Akiyama, were involved in ministry among the Japanese on the West Coast. Later, they were involved in establishing a solid foundation for Christianity in Japan. Thus Sasao, realizing how wonderfully God was using them, joined them and committed himself to the Lord's work. He returned to Japan and became a professor at the Kashiwagi Seisho Gakuin in Tokyo. His mission was to live the holy life; he taught and served as a servant of Christ (Yoneda 1979:432-34).

Sasao's life greatly affected those who followed him, and Kuzuhara was one of the many students who learned from him. For at least fifteen years prior to coming to the United States, Kuzuhara maintained contact with Sasao and was influenced by his life and holiness teachings. The Reisei provides further insight into Kuzuhara's thoughts, as related in his first message published in that bulletin:

The mystery of the Gospel is to know that Christ died for us, and to accept Jesus as our King. It is also important to know that Christ is everything in our lives, and to confess: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:19, 20). In other words, we live with faith in Christ minute by minute. Salvation through Christ is not an experience which fades away easily, nor an idea which simply hopes for the future; rather, it gives us a realistic assurance which never fails nor fades away. Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, through His blood on Calvary, we should put our old selves, sleeping sinners, on the cross with Jesus. This is called the grace of holiness. Without this experience, one is missing a very important part of Christian life. We should not be satisfied with this holiness experience alone. The more you know the holiness of God, the more you should seek to know the fullness of the deity of Christ. Strive to say “Christ is in me,” and is everything in my life—whatever I do and wherever I go. This is the secret of our victorious life and the basic clement of a satisfactory life (Kuzuhara 1922:1).

[Kuzuhara Family]
It was toward the end of May 1921, when the Nakadas, Juji and Ugo, met Kuzuhara at Wilmore. On June 22, Kuzuhara left for Los Angeles. It is clear that he decided to go to Los Angeles immediately after meeting Nakada. It is also apparent, that prior to Nakada’s visit, Kuzuhara had taken the burden of responsibility for the salvation of the Japanese living on the West Coast (Kuzuhara quoted in Hirano 1926:79). Kuzuhara never specifically wrote about how he responded to Juji Nakada at Wilmore. Yet this graphic account, recorded on his way to Los Angeles, shows how he felt about his decision at that time:

I got up at five o’clock in the morning. This is the day I am to arrive at Los Angeles, where racial discrimination and persecution are going on. A little bit of hesitation comes to mind as I near California. At one in the afternoon, I finally arrived at my destination. Brother Okamoto and four or five other young people came to meet me at the station. They treated me as if I were a king. Lying on the bed in the church where I was going to live, I could not sleep at all (Kuzuhara 1931:126-27).

In spite of his awareness of the difficulties involved with a ministry on the West Coast among Japanese-Americans, he committed his life to it. It was the beginning of a seventy year ministry: first at the OMS Holiness Church, later at the Lakeside Christian Church in Chicago, and after that, at the Makiki Christian Church in Honolulu.

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