An anonymous personal testimony.
Recorded in 2020.
I still have my mother’s hymnal [see picture]. She had it for as long as I can remember. It’s written in Japanese and came from Japan. She used it so much that all the black finish has been worn off right to the brown leather. The pages are only slightly yellowed and are surprisingly well preserved. A turned corner of a page marks the frequented hymns. The page with “Offerings” is marked both with a folded corner as well as a piece of paper torn from an envelope, most likely from family in Japan. My mother’s faith in God and the church were one of the few luxuries she had then.
It was during the war, while in Slocan, when I first met Mr. Nakayama. I refuse to call him “reverend” because of what he did to me. We were living in [the Canadian Prairies] when we saw him next. My mother still idolized him. She gladly gave offerings to his cause and travels despite our family being poor. Like a disciple, she also arranged for a bible reading during his visit to [the Canadian Prairies]. In return, he requested to stay with us even though we lived in two rented rooms in a tiny bungalow. He also asked my mother if he and I could share a bed. I unconditionally trusted my mother as she trusted him. I agreed.
I was only 16 or 17 years old, still in high school, when he abused me. I did not understand what he was doing. When he was done, he kissed me with the same lips he used to abuse me. He whispered to me not to tell anyone. I was so ashamed and did not want to upset my Mother. She had so much faith in God, in the church and Mr. Nakayama. So, I never told my parents that he abused me. The abuse reoccurred when Mr. Nakayama visited us again. I don’t want to remember if he abused me a third time or more.
When I [moved East] in the 1950’s, I met others that I thought might have been abused. I was vague with my inquiries. One friend laughed at me when I admitted Mr. Nakayama also stayed at my house. No one, including me, really wanted to talk about it and so we didn’t. I was still ashamed and my mother still idolized Mr. Nakayama. She had me take her to a church service when he visited [my town].
I now know that the Anglican Church received Mr. Nakayama’s confession in 1994. I read Joy Kogawa’s book, ‘The Rain Ascends’, after it was published in 1995. They knew the truth, remained silent and let him walk away. I first told my wife around this time. I also told my children. I gave little detail. They did not know what to say.
This is the first time I have been asked what happened. Writing this accounting is the first time I have told the details of my abuse to anyone.
-Anonymized to protect the identities of the individuals mentioned.