Mystery on Shikoku Island

Mystery on Shikoku Island

Kimi’s childhood had changed forever when her homeland, Japan, got involved in World War II. After four years of a terrible war, Japan surrendered after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It was horrible. For years Kimi lay awake nights listening to her fears shout at her. She was afraid of dying. She was afraid of living.

After the war, American missionaries brought medical supplies, Bible literature, and hope to Japan. Kimi discovered their Bible literature. The life-giving words settled into her heart. Jesus’ protection wrapped itself around Kimi like a cocoon. It was a priceless gift that she wanted to share with others.

As far as Kimi knew, she was the only one on Shikoku Island who knew about God’s great love. In a daring act for a very shy girl, Kimi traveled 300 miles by boat to Kobe to be baptized. When I return home, I’ll spread the gospel, she vowed. If she didn’t tell, who would?

But when Kimi tried to tell others about Jesus, the words didn’t come. It had been easier for her to journey by boat 300 miles and seek out strangers than it was to talk to those closest to her.

Kimi memorized 2 Corinthians 5:17. It said that she was a new creature. She was certain that any moment now, God would miraculously make her as courageous as a samurai warrior. Any time now, her shyness would disappear.

But it didn’t.

So until Kimi was brave enough to share her faith in person, she devised a plan to post Bible verses on the community bulletin board and every telephone pole in Shikoku Village. They would do the talking for her.

Kimi pestered her friend Fugio into teaching her about spying. He’d been in the military. Didn’t they sneak everywhere they went? Fugio taught her the finer points of sneakiness. It didn’t seem too hard—until it was time to slide out from under her quilts and the safety of her tatami mat. Kimi prayed a scared prayer and crept into the darkness, reviewing Fugio’s instructions as she went.

“You must be inconspicuous.” Navy blue cotton kimono to blend in with the darkness. Soft slippers. Perfect. It would make any spy proud.

“Choose the darkest part of the night for your mission.” The darkest parts of the night are the hour after sundown and the hour before sunrise. The hour after sundown was perfect. She sure couldn’t sleep.

“Know your route ahead of time and have a fallback plan.” No worries there. Everyone went into the village one way and came out the same way.

“Make friends with the dogs on your route so they’ll be quiet when you go past.” For days Kimi had petted every dog in the village and slipped them a treat from the pockets of her kimono. Now the village dogs wagged their tails and followed her. “Mah, Kimi, why do all of the dogs like you so much?” her mother had asked. That was almost a giveaway. She’d tone that part down.

“Stick to the shadows.” Shadows? It was so dark that Kimi could see only a few feet in front of her!

“Walk softly.” How? She walked heel to toe with her weight on the outside of her slippers. She also rolled her foot so that she could feel for anything that might make noise and give her away. This night, the normally graceful Kimi moved like a slow duck.

“Go from corner to corner of buildings.” Kimi reached the middle of her village and flung herself against every corner of every building. So far, so good. But the bulletin board loomed out of reach in the middle of the village.

“Stay low.” Kimi crouched in the darkness. The combination of walking like a duck and crouching like a clumsy lion landed her in the dirt. So much for balance. But she reached the bulletin board.

“When you reach your target, complete your assignment as quickly as possible.” Kimi reached into her pocket and pulledout her carefully copied Bible verse. She had chosen

2 Timothy 4:18: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.”

Safety. What a wonderful promise!

“Once you complete your assignment, get out of there as fast as you can!” Kimi dashed off. She skittered, stumbled, tangled herself up in her kimono, gasped for breath, and considered throwing up (but only in the shadows or at the corners of the buildings, like a good spy).

But her mission wasn’t yet complete. Kimi ran from telephone pole to telephone pole (there were 17 of them) tacking up copies of her chosen Bible verse. At last she headed toward home at a flat-out run. Kimi slid back under her quilts and prayed that God’s words would do for others what they’d done for her.

From then on there was no stopping her. Night after night Kimi decorated her village with Scripture. Her friends and neighbors were mesmerized with the strange words that kept appearing. Kimi’s telephone pole messages taught the villagers about such things as God’s love, forgiveness, courage, compassion, peaceful sleep, honor, and what happens after death.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise the night they caught her. Kimi heard a branch break and had a creepy feeling that someone was watching her. Suddenly she was surrounded by thousands of villagers. At least, it felt like thousands. Fugio, Kimi’s parents, Mrs. Sako, Mr. Nakamura, Mr. Hirahara—even Wanko, her dogfriend—were there.

A hand reached out of the darkness and grabbed Kimi’s wrist. She heard a low, protective growl from Wanko. Kimi heard a squeak escape from her own mouth and suddenly wished she were a slippery eel.

The hand released her wrist. Kimi looked into faces that were as surprised as her own. She’d been caught red-handed hugging a telephone pole and clutching a sheaf of papers in her hand.

“Mah, Kimi-chan, what are you doing?” a voice asked.

Kimi looked around at these people she loved, and suddenly, miraculously, the words came. She bowed. “Hontu-ni gomenssasai. I’m sorry. I wanted to share God’s love with you, but I was too afraid. Please forgive me.”

A brave person said, “But we would like to learn about God’s love.”

Yes! thought Kimi. Her mission was succeeding!

Not everybody wanted to learn, but a few did. That night Kimi’s telephone pole witnessing ministry came to a halt. God gave Kimi the courage of a samurai warrior, and she taught Bible lessons to anyone who would listen. And it wasn’t long before Kimi wasn’t the only one on Shikoku Island who knew about God’s great love.

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Mystery on Shikoku Island

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