I just want ONE banana!

Today’s book review is Evidence not Seen, by Darlene Deibler Rose.  This is an inspirational autobiography of Darlene’s life in a Japanese POW camp during WWII.  She was a missionary on the island of Celebes when war broke out, and was put in a Japanese labor camp.  Because she was American, she was singled out and taken by the Kempeitai (secret police) and tortured and convicted on false testimony as a spy and sentenced to beheading.  The following story takes place right after her sentencing when she was at a very low point.

She was looking out her window into the prison courtyard, intrigued by the actions of a fellow inmate.  Every time the sentry turned his back, the woman inched toward a vine-covered fence.  When she finally reached the fence, the woman stood very still until the guard clicked his heels and went off again.  Then a hand shot through the tangle of vine holding out a big bunch of bananas.

The lady grabbed them and hid them under her sarong and strolled back to join the other women.  Nobody knew she had those bananas…except Darlene, who was suddenly consumed.  She says:

“I dropped to the floor of my cell.  Exhausted from my efforts, I shook all over.  Worse still, I began to crave bananas.  Everything in me wanted one.  I could see them; I could smell them; I could taste them.  I got down on my knees and said, “Lord, I’m not asking You for a whole bunch like that woman has.  I just want one banana.”  I looked up and pleaded, “Lord, just ONE banana.”

For months she had only been given a cup of rice a day (filled with worms, which she ate since she was starving).  She began to rationalize that God could not possibly get a banana to her in prison.

“There was more chance of the moon falling out of the sky than of one of them bringing me a banana….I bowed my head again and prayed, “Lord, there’s no one here who could get a banana to me.  There’s no way for You to do it.  Please don’t think I’m not thankful for the rice porridge.  It’s just that—well, those bananas looked so delicious!”

She had witnessed miracles before and been healed, but she could see no way in her mind how God could get a banana to her.   The next morning, she heard the officers’ coming and dread filled her at the thought of standing and performing a Japanese bow.  She was skin and bones and was terribly weak, but she would be beaten over her back with a cane if she didn’t bow perfectly.

The officers were almost to the door.  She reached up, grabbed the window ledge and pulled herself upright and prayed to God to give her strength to do a proper bow.  When the door opened, it wasn’t the terrible prison guards.  It was her old friend Mr. Yamaji, the Kampili camp director where she had been before she was taken away and sentenced to death.  She had converted him months earlier to Christianity.

“I clapped my hands and exclaimed, “Mr. Yamaji, it’s just like seeing an old friend!”

“Tears filled his eyes.  He didn’t say a word, but turned and walked out into the courtyard and began to talk with the two officers who had conducted my interrogations….He spoke with them a long time….Finally Mr. Yamaji came back to my cell.  “You’re very ill, aren’t you?” he asked sympathetically.

“Yes, sir, Mr. Yamaji, I am.”

“I’m going back to the camp now.  Have you any word for the women?”

The Lord gave me confidence to answer, “Yes, sir, when you go back, please tell them for me that I’m all right.  I’m still trusting the Lord.  They’ll understand what I mean, and I believe you do.”

“All right,” he replied; then turning on his heels, he left.

“When Mr. Yamaji and the Kempetai officers had gone and the guard had closed the door, it hit me—I didn’t bow to those men!  “Oh Lord,” I cried, “why didn’t You help me remember?  They’ll come back and beat me.  Lord, please, not back to the hearing room again.  Not now, Lord.  I can’t; I just can’t.”

“I heard the guard coming back and knew he was coming for me.  Struggling to my feet, I stood ready to go.  He opened the door, walked in, and with a sweeping gesture laid at my feet—bananas!  “They’re yours,” he said, “and they’re all from Mr. Yamaji.”  I sat down in stunned silence and counted them.  There were 92 bananas.”

“In all my spiritual experience, I’ve never known such shame before the Lord.  I pushed the bananas into a corner and wept before Him.  “Lord, forgive me; I’m so ashamed.  I couldn’t trust You enough to get even one banana for me.  Just look at them—there are almost a hundred.”

Bananas in Hawaii

Image via Wikipedia

“In the quiet of the shadowed cell, He answered back within my heart:  “That’s what I delight to do, the exceeding abundant above anything you ask or think.”  I knew in those moments that nothing is impossible to my God.”

If you haven’t read this book, it’s well worth your time to do so.  I had never read experiences such as hers—a lady in captivity to the Japanese.  It was a very interesting perspective.  So many miracles happened in her 4 years of captivity, but the banana one was my very favorite.  It touched me and made me think of how God has blessed me in my own life.  So many times I ask him for just ONE banana, and he gives me so much more.  I don’t always realize it until farther down the road in life…but when I open my eyes to see, the evidence is all around me.


4 thoughts on “I just want ONE banana!

  1. What a beautiful post. I imagine the book is difficult to read at times, but I suspect it would make me even more grateful for what I have.

    By the way, congrats on winning the book giveaway over at my site. I sent you an email. 🙂

    • It had some very sad things in the book, but she wrote it pretty optimistically. She had great faith and hope that all would work out–that God was in charge and that she had to try to learn from every experience. I think that’s the only way you could get through tough times like that. And yippee! I’m so excited to read Barbara’s book. I just replied to your email. Thanks again.

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