Seventy years ago today a “date which will live with infamy,” as our President then said, happened. Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. This launched us into World War 2. And understandably, but not always fairly, American citizens of Japanese heritage were ill treated. However, one story that arose out of the animosity between our two peoples was the story of Jacob DeShazer and Mitsuo Fuchida.
DeShazer was an American solder and pilot who was one of the “Doolittle Raiders”. During the war he was captured by the Japanese and held for three and a half years but during this time received Christ as his Savior. Fuchida was also a prominent pilot for Japan. He was the man who uttered the famous line, “Tora, tora, tora” being the lead pilot commanding 360 planes in their attack of Pearl Harbor on Dec.7, 1941. Fuchida had two close brushes with death during the war: he had a case of appendicitis which kept him from flying at the Battle of Midway where he likely would have perished had he been healthy. And he was in Hiroshima the day before the atom bomb leveled that city !
After the war ended in 1945, DeShazer came back to Japan in 1948 and two years later, in the providence of God, he would of all people hand a tract he wrote to a man stepping off a train. You guessed it, the man was Mr. Fuchida ! DeShazer’s story of being held captive and now free in Christ and reaching out to his former enemies in forgiveness so moved Fuchida that he too accepted the Lord !! Mr. Fuchida went on to become an evangelist himself and regretted his actions against Pearl Harbor but now turned his energies at “striking the death-blow to the basic hatred which infests the human heart and causes such tragedies” ! He preached until 1976 when he went home to glory.
Our stories are now being written. Tragedies are meant to turn to triumphs in and around our lives too. You never know how that simple act of Christian concern will play out and who is ripe for the gospel ! Ours is to simply do as Jesus said, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt.28:19). DeShazer put aside his loathing for the Japanese and forgave because he understood he’d been forgiven. Fuchida was impressed a former enemy could forgive him and a God loved him despite his sins. The message of the gospel is still POWERFUL, it can change our days from infamy to victory – so share it especially during this Christmas season to the hurting world around you !!