My Enemy, My Friend
Two Men Answer God’s Call in the Aftermath of War
MITSUO FUCHIDA HAD A military strategist’s admiration for the courage of the Doolittle Raiders and their daring mission.
the highly decorated Japanese Naval Air Force commander of the attack on Pearl
Harbor, Fuchida became increasingly discouraged over his nation’s eventual
defeat at American hands. Though never formally indicted, he was summoned
by General Douglas MacArthur to the ensuing war-crime trials to testify.
|Fuchida (left) and DeShazer became
Japan’s defeat was a great loss of face
to Fuchida, who had been a rising star among naval pilots. Despite the stunning
devastation his 360 fighter pilots wreaked on eight battleships and their American
crews in Hawaii, his dreams of becoming a great admiral quickly faded.
As he stepped off the train in Tokyo one October day in 1948, Fuchida saw an
American distributing pamphlets. The title, Watakushi Wa Nippon No Horyo Deshita
(I Was a Prisoner of Japan), caught his eye. On his way to the trials to answer
for atrocities committed against war prisoners, he could not have known that that little
tract written by one of those prisoners was about to change his life forever.
The tract contained Jake DeShazer’s
story in his own words. And it was all there — the capture, the torture, the starvation
and the amazing transformation that turned him from an enemy hater into a man of
peace and Christian love.
Fuchida could neither explain it nor
forget it. “The peaceful motivation I had
read about was exactly what I was seeking,” he wrote in his own printed testimony,
From Pearl Harbor to Calvary. “Since the American had found it in the
Bible, I decided to purchase one myself, despite my traditional Buddhist heritage.”
In the weeks to follow, he read the Bible eagerly, and when he came to Jesus’
prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,”
he prayed for forgiveness and committed his life to Christ. Gomenasai,
he confessed. I’m sorry.
Within just a month, Fuchida and DeShazer both gave their testimonies at
a mass meeting in Osaka, and nearly 500 people declared their desire to become
Christians. The two men eventually became close friends. DeShazer continued
evangelizing and establishing churches in Japan with Free Methodist
World Missions, while Fuchida joined Worldwide Christian Missionary Army of Sky
Pilots and preached in the United States. When the former military commander
died in 1976 at the age of 74, DeShazer attended his friend’s funeral in Kashiwara, Japan.
“His new life in Christ was one of the highlights of our ministry,” says DeShazer,
who in the past year welcomed Fuchida’s son and daughter into his Oregon home
for a visit.
“God uses a lot of things to bring us around, to awaken us and get us to him,” DeShazer
points out. Strange, he acknowledges, that war could be one of those things.
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