Today’s key city had very humble beginnings. Shimada was originally a tiny fort on the Oi River protecting the approach to Kakegawa Castle in the late 15th century. Travelers to the castle would have to wait for up to a month before the water levels would be calm and low enough to cross on rafts or even be carried on the back of a coolie (we’d think of that as a common laborer.)
By the end of the following century, Shimada became much more important as a post stop on the famous Tokaido Road, but it wasn’t until the late 1800’s that crossing the Oi River became safe. A popular folk song from that era says:
Even horses can cross eight ri of Hakone, but the Ōi River is hard to get over in any way.
One of the first acts of the new Emperor after the Meiji Revolution was to build what would become the world’s longest (over half a mile!) wooden footbridge across the dangerous landscape. It was called Horai Bridge, and in 1997 it was registered in The Guinness Book of World Records.
Today, the city is much different. Known for its textile manufacturing and green tea production, it’s a prosperous, safe place to live and work. But these 100,276 people don’t realize the danger they are in spiritually. They need someone to go to them and build a bridge unlike any they’ve ever seen before. Shimada needs the Gospel now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not a year from now, they need Christ now! People die everyday, and they spend an eternity in one of two places. Would you pray and ask God if He wants you to be a missionary to this city?