Scripture: 1 John 4:7-9 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.
Today is the 78th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
Mitsuo Fuchsia was the lead pilot in the air attack on Pearl Harbor. Jacob DeShazer was doing KP duty – peeling potatoes in California. Their paths would soon have an interesting connection.
So full of hatred, DeShazer volunteered for a secret mission. On April 18, 1942, Bombardier Sgt. DeShazer took off from the aircraft carrier Hornet with his plane named “Bat Out of Hell” with Colonel Doolittle’s bomber squadron on the first American bombing run over Tokyo.
When his bomber ran out of fuel, DeShazer was captured by the Japanese, taken to Tokyo, then Shanghai and tortured. For almost two years, DeShazer and the others struggled with starvation, fought dysentery and other illnesses, froze in winter without blankets, and baked in summer with no ventilation.
At times, the airman grew so angry at the brutal guards that he worried about his sanity. Hopelessness set in. His hatred for his Japanese captors was so violent and so vicious that they were afraid of him and kept him in solitary confinement.
In a remarkable way he was given a copy of the Bible and he began to read through it. Reading through the Bible in the loneliness of his cell changed his life.
He read through the prophets eight times. DeShazer memorized Old Testament passages, the Sermon on the Mount, and the first Epistle of John. He thought about what his parents and sister had tried to tell him for many years.
His hatred of the Japanese changed completely. On June 8, 1944, although imprisoned, he was free. He would be tested very soon after that.
One day after the exercise period, DeShazer’s guard hurried him toward his cell, shoved him inside, slamming the door on DeShazer’s foot. Instead of opening the door, the guard kicked the prisoner’s foot with his hobnailed boots.
DeShazer desperately pushed the door until he could free his foot. His mind blazed with rage. However, Jesus’ words came to him. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them, which despitefully use you.”
Nursing his foot, DeShazer wished for a while that his mind would go blank; instead, all the scriptures God had helped him memorize flooded into his mind. Calming down, he decided, God commanded me to love.
What a wonderful world it would be if we would all try to love one another. I’ll try.
His attitude changed his guards and finally, a year later, after the surrender, he was set free. But his faith led him to become a missionary four years later and return to Japan.
In 1950, after praying for a revival, there came a knock on his door. He opened it and was greeted by a man who identified himself as Mitsuo Fuchsia. After reading DeShazer’s testimony and purchasing a New Testament, he had accepted Christ.
Fuchsia wrote to DeShazer and eventually they met in Osaka. Here was the man who hated the Japanese and the man who helped to put that hatred there became brothers in love with the same Savior and with each other.
They would travel throughout Japan and the western United States three times. They each wrote books about their experiences.
Before Sgt. Jacob DeShazer, I had the privilege of calling and talking to him on the phone. He affirmed that love is the greatest attribute of the Christian Faith and that it can change people and the world.
He credited his parents, family and church as important in his life. But all of those pointed to Christ and the hard decisions it causes us to make.
Today, as we enter Advent and the season of hope and peace, let us move forward in love.