Sokabe Children Ministry
In addition to establishing Honomū Christian Church in 1897, Reverend Sokabe addressed the needs of the neglected children in the community by opening a Japanese language school which was known as the “Honomū Gijuku.” It also served as a dormitory and an orphanage.
Reverend Sokabe’s children ministry began with an enrollment of 17 students. Over the years, new buildings were added and more teachers were hired as the campus grew. The school eventually gained the reputation of being the premiere center of Christian learning throughout the territory of Hawai‘i. Student enrollment increased to as many as 150 students in its heyday. Through the years, more than 1,500 children attended Reverend Sokabe’s gijuku.
Everyone was required to attend church twice a day. Daily chores included sweeping the veranda, chopping wood for the brick ovens, helping with food prep, and washing the dishes. The older boys were responsible for carrying buckets of rice to a spring and washing the rice before it was cooked.
Extra-curricular activities included classes in flower arrangement and Japanese dance for the girls; and sports, such as judo, kendo, soccer, and baseball for the boys. Field trips and picnics were organized by the gijuku staff.
The students were taught Christian values of service, thankfulness, compassion, justice, and peace. As the son of a samurai (Japanese warrior), Reverend Sokabe also stressed the importance of hard work, unquestioning loyalty, obedience, and honor. The students grew up to become model citizens and leaders in the Japanese community.