Kiyoma Yumiyama (1900-2002) is one of the early heroes of the faith in Japan. He lived for more than a century, and he was one of the few people who witnessed the formational years when the American Assemblies of God (AG) began evangelizing in Japan before World War II. He also was a vibrant part of the founding and growth of the Japan AG after the war.
Carl F. Juergensen and his wife, Frederike, were the first American AG missionaries to Japan. They arrived in Japan in 1913, worked with existing Pentecostals, and soon joined the newly organized Fellowship. The Juergensens opened a gospel mission in Tokyo. Other AG missionaries, including their son, John Juergensen, and Barney Moore, Jessie Wengler, and Florence Byers, arrived a few years later.
Marie Juergesen, the oldest daughter of Carl and Frederike Juergensen, wrote a tribute to Kiyoma Yumiyama in the Pentecostal Evangel in November 1970. She reported that more than 50 years previously [now over 100 years ago], a man was selling New Testaments and Gospel portions in the streets and villages of the island of Shikoku in Japan. He also visited a prosperous-looking farmhouse, but the family refused the books. Noticing a high school boy in the home, he said: “I have an English Book here; would you like to study it?’ The young man, Kiyoma Yumiyama, purchased the Bible and read it earnestly.
Shortly after this, one of Yumiyama’s friends gathered his classmates on the high school grounds and “preached Christ” to them. This happened on several occasions, and Yumiyama was an attentive listener.
Several years later, Yumiyama was called to the bedside of his sister, who was dying. This caused him to ponder about what happens after death. Then he remembered the “Book.” He began reading it again and carried it with him as he walked the streets where he was attending medical college.
One day he noticed a sign that said, “Gospel Mission.” He went inside and found answers to his questioning heart. He gave his heart to Christ. Afterwards he read through the Bible several times and grew in his faith. He moved to Tokyo and continued his medical studies, but soon felt he needed to drop out to answer a call to ministry. When he did this, his family disowned him.
In 1923, Yumiyama visited the Tokyo Gospel Hall. He wanted to know what “Pentecost” meant. John and Esther Juergensen invited him to their home where they could talk more freely. He shared with them that he was a young Christian from the island of Shikoku who had recently come to Tokyo. He had left medical school against the wishes of his parents, and now he wanted to obey the call of God to preach the gospel.
Because of his questions about Pentecostalism, John and Esther showed him in the Bible about the promise of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. He accepted this truth, and while praying, he was filled with the Holy Spirit in their living room. From that time on he remained at the forefront of Japan’s Pentecostal circle.
John and Esther Juergensen mentored him in his Christian walk. He spent days and months with them studying the Word of God and preaching the gospel. From 1925 to 1940, Yumiyama worked with Carl Juergensen. When the first Assemblies of God church was established in Japan in 1927, Kiyoma Yumiyama became its first pastor. He remained as pastor for 25 years, and the church was spared from destruction during the war when much of Tokyo was destroyed by bombs and fire.
When the Japan Assemblies of God was organized in 1949, he was a charter member and a key leader. He served for more than two decades as general superintendent (1949-1973) and was the first president of Central Bible College in Tokyo, a position he held for more than four decades (1950-1992).
Through his many years of service as a pastor, superintendent of the Japan Assemblies of God, and president of Central Bible College, Kiyoma Yumiyama made a lasting positive impact in Japan.
Read “A Man Chosen of God” on pages 8-9 of the Nov. 1, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Harvest in View,” by Judith Bacon
• “The Man of Sin and His Woman,” by C. M. Ward
• “A Mixed Multitude in the Church,” by Bond P. Bowman
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.