I Was a Prisoner of Japan
The story of Jacob DeShazer and what it says today …
By TLB Contributing Author: James Nathaniel Miller ll
Japan lay in ruin. Events had left the Japanese populace disillusioned and aimless. In the years immediately following Hiroshima, emotional and spiritual fallout had spurned almost as much destruction as the bomb. When war crimes trials were held in Tokyo, grassroots citizens were further horrified to learn of atrocities their leaders had committed.
That is when the pamphlet showed up on the streets — I Was a Prisoner of Japan, written by Jacob DeShazer — a small publication in which DeShazer tells his story.
He had been a Doolittle Raider, one of the angry young aviators who had volunteered for a suicide mission to bomb Tokyo in the early stages of the war. He was the bombardier aboard one of the B-25 crews which took off from the USS Hornet knowing they would not be able to return to the carrier. DeShazer had been extremely vocal, declaring that if he could only get his hands on the guy who had led the raid on Pearl Harbor, he would slit his throat.
His aircraft went down, as did they all, and he was captured. During 40 months of captivity, he was subjected to untold tortures. His hatred for the Japanese grew. He saw three of his crewmen gunned down by a firing squad and watched another starve to death. But, by his own admission, the hatred which captured his soul was the worst torture he endured. The hate alone nearly drove him insane.
It was then that he remembered being in Sunday School class as a child learning about forgiveness. How shallow that concept now seemed to a man who was covered in boils and starving to death by the hand of an enemy. He later learned that his mother had never stopped petitioning God to strengthen him.
Incredibly, one of the guards brought him a Bible. Was he dreaming? During the next three weeks, he read the entire Bible, and something inexplicable gripped his soul. Bible verses he had long taken for granted now jumped off the page. He read once again Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He renewed himself with the knowledge that Jesus had died to pay for the sins of every human, and that over 500 witnesses claimed to have seen Him after He was resurrected.
He begged God to grant him the same resurrection power to take away his hatred. The next day, he knew God had answered when suddenly he felt sorry for his captors instead of hating them. Over the next weeks, he began to share his new life with his fellow prisoners. Some unconfirmed reports state that a few of the Japanese guards became believers after they saw DeShazer change so drastically.
When Jacob was finally rescued, he was near death. He eventually recovered, and then entered Bible School. Finally, in a move which surprised everyone, he went back to Japan as a missionary.
The same man who been carried from a Japanese POW camp, withered, starving, beaten, now stood among a people who had no hope and no answers.
Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, the air-strike commander of the Japanese force that had attacked Pearl Harbor, the man DeShazer had sworn to kill, was summoned to testify at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. He was angry, believing that atrocities had occurred on both sides. But upon conversing with returning Japanese soldiers, prisoners who claimed to have been treated humanely, he was stunned.
As he stepped off the train at Shibuya station in Tokyo, he received a pamphlet entitled I Was a Prisoner of Japan, by former US Army Sergeant Jacob DeShazer.
It claimed that a first-hand encounter with the Person of Jesus had changed the heart of a man who had once sworn vengeance. Fuchida had never heard such a thing, for in the Bushido code, revenge was not only permitted, but was a responsibility. Captain Fuchida was shocked, determined to verify DeShazer’s story.
Within a short time, he became one of an estimated 30,000 Japanese citizens to embrace Christ under DeShazer’s influence. He published his story in From Pearl Harbor to Calvary.
Eventually, two former enemies met and embraced as brothers. Fuchida became an envoy for Christ, traveling extensively to share his newly-found faith until his death in 1976.
Today we have punishment for hate crimes, and some say we should ban war. Unfortunately, legislation will stop neither hate nor war. Hate is the root. War is the tree. How do we get rid of the root?
DeShazer and Fuchida each paid a heavy price to show us the way.
My opinions are my own, and may not reflect the official position of The Liberty Beacon.
James N. Miller is the Creator of The Cody Musket Story
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