Archives for the month of: August, 2017

 

My grandchildren speak three languages. Don’t leave me now. I promise I won’t bore you with an exhaustive description of how wonderful they are. This is more than a story about my grandchildren. It is an attempt to offer a parable for living.

Jamie and Felicia were born in Tokyo and lived there until 4 years ago. They are now ages 14 and 11.Thus Japanese is their first language but they are fluent in English as well. They have just moved from Spain where they have lived for the past two years. Although they spoke no Spanish when they arrived, they were immediately enrolled in Spanish schools. As result, after two years of immersion in Spanish culture they have added a third language. At the end of this month they are moving to Mexico and will have to adjust to the Mexican version of the Spanish language.

The main train station.

I promised that this was not about my grandchildren and it is not. Rather I offer their experiences as an example of the importance and the difficulty of being multi-lingual. For the first years of their life they lived in a “Japanese world” in Tokyo. Except for spoken English at home and with a small group of other English speakers, everything was in the native language of their mother. Their parents intentionally spoke only English at home so the children became comfortable in the languages of both my son and daughter-in-law.

Two weeks after moving to Valencia, Spain in 2015 both children (ages 9 and 12) began school where all classes and assignments were in an unfamiliar language. Their lessons presented in the classroom and their conversations with classmates were in Spanish. Homework assignments had to be translated from Spanish to English and then back from English to Spanish. This was hard but as a result they now can communicate comfortably in the new language they learned.

Now what does that have to do with anything?

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We live in a world that is increasingly diverse and all of us could benefit from learning a second (or third language). The purpose of this writing is not to suggest that in a literal sense. However, I am proposing that there is another “language” that we need to learn for the well-being of ourselves and our world. It is the language of love.

Inscriptions of vandals in the fortress of Santa Barbara. Stock Photography

One does not have to look far or know much to realize that our civilized society shows many signs of becoming/being very un-civil. We are seeing all too frequent expressions of anger and hostility instead of understanding and mutual respect. There is the increasing need to learn or re-learn the language of love.

Yes!

The language of love is not easy but I believe it is necessary for our survival. Let me suggest an exercise that might help in this effort. Every day for the next week read Matthew 5:21-48 and Luke 6:27-42 in the Bible. Try to understand and to practice the principles of that “new language.” I believe it will make a difference in your life and in our world.

 

Jamie Jenkins

 

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Last week I suggested that there is a better way to live than always trying to get even. I asserted that retaliation for offenses or injuries is not the best way to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

The wisdom of the Bible offers the following advice: “A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up” (Proverbs 15:1, Good News Translation). Jesus told his followers to “not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:38, 44).

The day after last week’s post I heard a story of one person who followed this course of action with dramatic results. What I learned about this man has stayed with me all week so I am passing it on to you- partly to purge my mind and also to share the dynamic witness of Jacob DeShazer.

Jacob DeShazer, was a bombardier in the storied Doolittle raid over Japan in World War II. At age 27 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp wanting to be a pilot but was assigned to be a bombardier instead.  He was among the small group of men selected to be a part of what has become known as Doolittle’s Raiders.

On April 18, 1942, crewmen in 16 Army Air Forces B-25 bombers, commanded by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle (a Ph.D. from M.I.T) flew from the carrier Hornet on a daylight bombing raid that brought the war home to Japan for the first time since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Corporal DeShazer was among the five-member crew of “Bat Out of Hell”, the last bomber to depart the Hornet. His plane dropped incendiary bombs on an oil installation and a factory in Nagoya but it ran out of fuel before the pilot could try a landing at an airfield held by America’s Chinese allies.

Take Off Order  16  Tail # 40- 2268  "Bat Out of Hell"-- Target: Kobe -- Pilot Lt. W.G.Farrow, Co-Pilot Lt. R.L.Hite, Navigator Lt. G.Barr, Bombardier Cpl. J.D.Shazer, Engineer Gunner Sgt. H.A. Spatz --- Crash landing, China coast, Japanese POWs

The five crewmen bailed out over Japanese-occupied territory in China and all were quickly captured. In October 1942, a Japanese firing squad executed three of the captured crew. Corporal DeShazer and the other survivors were starved, beaten and tortured at prisons in Japan and China. He endured 40 months in solitary confinement living in 6×9’ concrete cells with no heat or light and with only starvation rations.

Holy Bible Closeup. Holy Bible on the Small Aged Wooden Table. Stock Photo - 36163238

Although he was not a Christian he asked his captors for a Bible. Later he wrote, “In the month of May 1944, a guard brought me the book, but told me I could have it only for three weeks. I eagerly began to read its pages. I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes and that when I looked at the enemy officers and guards who had starved and beaten my companions and me so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity.”

He began to realize that Jesus was onto something with his instructions about how to treat other people. So, instead of spitting at the Japanese guards, he began to be pleasant and greet them with “Good Morning.” Before long the guards’ attitudes and actions became less violent and angry.

A few days after the war ended he was freed from imprisonment. Upon returning home, he enrolled at Seattle Pacific College (now Seattle Pacific University) and received a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature in 1948. In December 1948 he returned to Japan with his wife as missionaries in the Free Methodist Church.

Fuchida file photo [670]

In 1950, he met Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese naval flier who had led the Pearl Harbor attack and had become a rice farmer after the war. Through contact with DeShazer Mr. Fuchida became a Christian and an evangelist who made several trips to the United States to meet with Japanese-speaking immigrants. After 30 years in Japan doing missionary work DeShazer returned home. He died at age 95.

 

Jacob DeShazer is one who followed the “better way.” God help us all to follow his example.

Jamie Jenkins

When someone does you wrong do you get over it or do you get even? The tendency when you are offended or assaulted is to strike back. Retaliate.picture of retaliation - Revenge rubber stamp - JPG

Justification for retaliation is found in the concept of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This is a part of Mosaic Law used in the justice system of the ancient Israelites. The principle of jus talionis or lex talionis is that the punishment must fit the crime and there should be a just penalty for evil actions. Justice should be equitable; excessive harshness and excessive leniency should be avoided.

It has been suggested that if everyone practiced “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” the result would be a world of blind and toothless people.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness…. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

stock photo of retaliation - Revenge or Forgiveness - JPG

Is there a better way? Perhaps the law of reciprocity offers an acceptable alternative to the law of retaliation. The law of reciprocity means that when someone does something nice for you, you do something nice for them in return. The act of returning a kind gesture or favor basically goes without saying. Unfortunately the all too often mindset is that when someone does something harsh or unkind, we in turn act in like manner.

Jesus in white robes, sitting on a hillside by the sea, surrounded by a large group of people who are listening to His teachings.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus counters the teaching of personal retaliation: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:38–42).

These verses may be the most difficult verses in the Bible.

On another occasion Jesus taught that the practice of retaliation would not provide any positive results. Instead, he said “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

The Apostle Paul instructed the Christians of his day in this manner: “ Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even… if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:17-21, The Message)

“Evil is powerful, but good is more powerful. In fact, evil is so powerful that only good has the power to overcome evil. Darkness can be driven away only by light” (Jay E. AdamsHow to Overcome Evil). I think Jesus would agree- and so do I.

Jamie Jenkins