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Friday, April 9, 2010

Jacob Deshazer

A day of infamy led to a crusade for peace spanning three decades.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a group of pilots known as the Doolittle Raiders assembled for a mission to Japan, none expected a return home. Bombs were dropped over Japan, (Tokyo and Nogoya) and the pilots made for China.

In an interview, Jacob recalls how hatred for the Japanese burned inside of him as they flew toward China. When the plane ran out of fuel, the men were forced to parachute into enemy territory. Deshazer remembers thinking the bitterness in his heart was more than he could bear when they were captured.

The Japanese made an announcement over the airwaves that American pilots were captured. They would be held for "inhumane acts." They mentioned four men by name, promising to put them to death if Japan were attacked again. They mentioned Bill Farrow, Dean Hallmark, Sgt. Harold Spatz, and Cpl. Jacob Deshazer. The first three were executed by firing squad while Jacob was spared.

Jacob was a prisoner for 40 months. It was easy to hate. He was forced to watch as a friend was starved to death slowly. He was beaten, tortured and starved. He stated in an interview, the hatred for his enemy nearly drove him crazy. He began to think about the causes for such hatred between members of the human the race and his personal hatred toward them.

In his book "I was a prisoner of Japan," Jacob recounts what he heard about Christianity turning hate into real brotherly love, and he began to yearn for an end to the hate. he begged his captor's for a bible. Finally he was given one, but only for three weeks. He took great comfort in the reading.

It wasn't long before he got to try out his new faith. His captor was a mean spirited man, who forced Jacob to serve food to the other prisoners. Jacob was kicked and slapped. When he re-entered his cell, the guard slammed Jacob's foot in the door, and then: stepped on his foot.
Jacob began to wonder if "love your enemies" might include some exceptions. Was it reasonable to love someone who went out of the way to be callous?
Jacob memorized the phrase: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." The next day he greeted the guard with a friendly "good morning" in Japanese.

After six days of this, the guard slid back the small opening in the door to give Jacob a sweet potato for dinner. The first decent meal he had in months.
10 Aug 1945 the atomic bombs were dropped, the war was over.

The tract "I was a prisoner of Japan" was popular with the Japanese. Among those inspired by Jacob's story was a pilot Mitsuo Fuchida. He was the pilot who lead the raid on Pearl Harbor. The two fighter pilots met and became friends after embracing a philosophy of peace. He became a missionary in 1950, like Deshazer, spent the rest of his life as a missionary in Asia.

Two friends healed and renewed by the never failing power of love.


Heather Snow said...

What an inspiring post. I don't have anything to add other than to say thanks. I really enjoyed the message :)

Joanna Waugh said...

I am constantly amazed at the power of faith and the wonders it can work. Thanks so much for your uplifting post.

Jen Childers said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm really glad you liked it.

take care,


prashant said...

I really enjoyed the message
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