Jacob DeShazer was bitter and full of hatred for his guards. He had been a bombardier in the famous Doolittle raid on Japan in April 1942 when, after successfully bombing its target, Jacob’s plane ran out of fuel. Forced to parachute into enemy territory, the crew was quickly captured by Japanese forces. Instead of serving their country and the allied forces, Jacob and his crew-mates were now prisoners of war.
By the end of the second year, Jacob had endured beatings, malnutrition, filthy rat-infested solitary confinement, the execution deaths of three of his friends, and the starvation death of another.
It was then he found a tattered Bible. Reading the book for the first time, Jacob realized it is truly the Word of God and, in his words, “that God oversees everything” – even his situation of the previous two years.
As he read Romans 10:9, Jacob confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord. As Jacob described later, “the Holy Spirit came over me, and my hatred for the Japanese guards just melted away.”
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Jacob would spend another year-and-a-half as a prisoner of war until his release at the end of World War II. During that time, he was given the opportunity to practice the admonition from Paul to the believers in Ephesus – “instead.” Instead of responding with bitterness and hatred, instead of seeking revenge, instead of doing what everyone else does, “…forgive.” And Jacob did.
His forgiveness led to the spreading of the gospel to the most unlikely, at least for Jacob. He felt strongly that God wanted him in full-time evangelism and, as he prayed for guidance, Jacob was shocked at the answer. In obedience, Jacob DeShazer spent the next 30 years of his life evangelizing to thousands … in Japan!
Among those Jacob won to Christ was Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, the lead pilot of the Japanese fleet’s attack on Pearl Harbor! Captain Fuchida became known as the “Billy Graham of Japan,” founding the Captain Fuchida Evangelistic Association and often serving alongside Jacob DeShazer, as part of a two-man preaching team.
Are there shepherds or sheep in your life that God is asking you to forgive? What would be the outcome if you did?