Remember Pearl Harbor But Not With Hatred
Today is the anniversary of the day the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked our Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, a day our president said, would “go down in infamy.” Mitsuo Fuchida was the Japanese pilot who led the attack, shouting those famous words, “Tora, Tora, Tora”, which was popularized in a movie by the same name. “Tora” in Japanese meant, tiger, but in this case it was a code word meaning “lightning attack”. When he shouted it, it indicated to his superiors on the aircraft carrier Akagi that their objective of complete surprise had been achieved. Over 3,000 American died that day in an unprovoked attack, and some of our best ships were lost, like the Arizona. In typical Hollywood style, I believe they had Fuchida dying in the movie during the attack, but that’s not what really happened to him. I want to tell you the true story here today. After thousands of Americans had died in WW II, Jake DeShazer was one of many American pilots who volunteered for a secret mission with the Jimmy Doolittle squadron to make a surprise raid on Tokyo from the carrier Hornet. My dad was on the Hornet for a short period of time, but not when this mission was launched. After the raid, Jake was captured and spent the rest of the war in a Japanese P.O. W. camp. While in that camp, he read and reread the Bible until he discovered it was more than just an historical classic. Jesus got a hold of his life in that prison camp and changed his entire attitude toward his Japanese captors. His hatred for them turned to love. After the war Jake returned to Japan as a Christian missionary. One day he was passing out tracts at a train station entitled, “I Was A Prisoner Of Japan”. It contained his personal testimony. He handed one to Mitsuo Fuchida who took it and read it. Fuchida said what he read was something he could not understand. He said, “Since the American had found it in the Bible, I decided to purchase one myself, despite my traditionally Buddhist heritage.” In the weeks that followed, Fuchida read the Bible. When he came to Jesus’ crucifixion he couldn’t get away from Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” To make a long story short, he became a Christian in 1950, then an evangelist, and then in 1960, an American citizen. His story was written in Readers Digest—“God’s Samuari: Lead Pilot At Pearl Harbor”, and in the book, “From Pearl Harbor To Calvary”. They don’t print stories like this today, but Fuchida wrote, “I would give anything to retract my actions of twentyfive years ago at Pearl Harbor, but it is impossible. Instead, I now work at striking a death-blow to the basic hatred which infests the human heart and causes such tragedies. And that hatred cannot be uprooted without assistance from Jesus Christ.” Until his death, one of America’s former worst enemies traveled the world introducing others to the Jesus who changed his life, even appearing with Billy Graham in his crusades. What would have happened if a Japanese P.O.W. had not found Christ and shown Christ’s love to his American enemy? Nothing would have happened, but think how many souls may be in heaven today because of how things transpired. Fuchida wrote, “I understand the meaning of His death as a substitute for my wickedness, and so in prayer, I requested Him to forgive my sins and change me from a bitter, disillusioned ex-pilot into a well-balanced Christian with purpose in living.” Only heaven knows how many people were touched by his testimony. Do you understand why Jesus came to earth that first Christmas? It was not so we could put up Christmas trees, go crazy baking and max out our credit cards! It was so He could grow up and die for your sins on a Roman cross, just like He did for Mitsuo Fuchida and Jake DeShazer. But in order for it to do you any good, you will have to accept what Jesus did for you, just like they did. The world’s way is to hate our enemies, to get even with those who do us wrong, but that’s not God’s way. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you’ that ye may be children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). You will never be able to do that on your own. Only as you allow Jesus to save you from your sins and fill you with His love will you ever be able to do what He called us to do. If you want to go to heaven someday that’s going to have to happen to you, because no hatred or bitterness will ever be allowed in heaven. Remember Pearl Harbor today, but remember it without hatred in your heart, as Jesus helps you to forgive whoever you need to forgive! If it’s not the Japanese, perhaps your neighbor, your in-laws, or you fill in the blank.