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

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