KUWAHARA, GUNSAKU
I was sent to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. Some 10,767 Japanese people were relocated to that center during the war. Having been a member of the Los Angeles Holiness Church for twelve years, and being trained as a Christian soldier, I was sent there as if I were a messenger from God to bring the Good News to my people who were suffering such racial discrimination.

There were two Christian assemblies in the center: one was located in a barrack in Block 22 where pastors and quite a few people gathered, the other was located in a barrack in Block 9 and provided no pastoral care. I joined the latter and worked as a Sunday school teacher there. An early morning prayer meeting was held each day in Block 9, in a barrack which also served as a movie theater. Later, we joined the other group in Block 22. There was no Holiness pastor residing in the center, although a few Holiness pastors, such as Waichi Suehiro, visited us occasionally and encouraged us.

I lived in the camp for three years and returned to Los Angeles soon after leaving. During those years, I was very thankful for what the Lord was doing through the Christians in the camp, because we had enough time to tell as many people as possible about God. You didn’t have to seek out Japanese people. They were all around you wherever you went in the center. As far as evangelism is concerned, I believe it was the best chance ever to proclaim the Good News to my people. Also, you did not have to fear for your life as long as you stayed in the center. Furthermore, you could even earn nineteen dollars a month as salary. With the blessing of the Lord, it seemed to me as if it were a three-year vacation, yet it might have been a hard time for others who didn’t know the Savior. As Christians, we knew that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him.

There were seven or eight people who worked with me in the Sunday school until the camp was closed. They moved to the Chicago area soon after they left the center. They were such dedicated Christians that they soon became leaders there. I was the only one who moved from Wyoming to the Los Angeles Holiness Church after the war. Although many people were saved in the relocation center, they did not join my home church. The first year after I returned from the camp, the Los Angeles Holiness Church decreased in numbers. Soon, however, the church recovered.

As far as church growth is concerned, the relocation affected our church negatively in terms of numbers (such as worship attendance). However, our spirits were high due to the trials we had been through, as compared to the prewar period.

Year of Birth: 1898
Place of Birth: Okayama-ken, Japan
Major Occupation: Driver, Janitor
Relocation Camp: Heart Mountain, Wyoming
Date of Interview: February 19, 1989

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