From Pearl Harbor to Golgotha
Most of us have probably seen the movie Pearl Harbor by now. The movie showed details of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent counterattack on Tokyo by General Jimmy Doolittle and his marauders. But what you don't know is the rest of the story, and that's what you're going to learn today:
On December 7, 1941, at 7:55 A.M.on a cloudless Sunday, the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor. In two hours 2,403 Americans were dead, 1,178 were wounded, 169 U.S. aircraft were totally destroyed, three massive ships sunk and 18 others damaged. This incredible attack was led by a 39-year-old Japanese top gun pilot, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida whose life hero was Adolf Hitler. Fuchida led 183 Japanese airplanes into the harbor at Honolulu and devastated thousands of men and a whole nation and triggered, as you know, the massive death that came about through American atomic retaliation as well as conventional weaponry. Mitsuo Fuchida, a name that you read over and over and over and over in anything you ever read about World War II. His plane was hit numerous times as he came and went from Pearl Harbor, but he survived.
After the war was over he was besieged with memories of death. He decided to become somewhat of a recluse and so he took up farming near Osaka. It gave him time to think. He focused increasingly on the problem of peace and he decided in the midst of his guilt and worry over all that had been done in the war to write a book. He determined that the title of the book would be No More Pearl Harbors . He would urge the world to devote itself to pursuing peace. Mitsuo Fuchida struggled in vain, however, to find a principle by which peace could work. For years he tried to find the principle that would let him write the book...couldn't find it. He couldn't find anything in the religions of Japan, the philosophies of the world.
Then the story took a dramatic change. The story goes like this. The first report came from a friend, a lieutenant who was captured by the Americans and incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in America. Fuchida saw his name in a newspaper on a list of POWs who were returning to Japan. Fujida determined to visit him. When they met they spoke of many things. Then Fuchida asked the question upper most in his mind: how did the Americans treat you in the POW camp? His friend said, "We were treated well." Then he told Fuchida a story which he said made an immense impression upon him and on every prisoner in the American camp.
"Something happened at the camp where I was interred," he said, "which has made it possible for us who were in that camp to forego all our resentment and hatred and to return with a forgiving spirit and a feeling of light-heartedness instead." Fujida said, "What is that?" The former prisoner said to him, "There was a young American girl named Margaret Peggy Covel whom they judged to be about 20 years old, who came to the camp on a regular basis doing all she could for the prisoners. She brought things to them they might enjoy, such as magazines and newspapers. She looked after their sick and she was constantly solicitous to help them in every way. They received an immense shock, however, when they asked her why she was so concerned to help these Japanese prisoners. She answered, `Because my parents were killed by the Japanese army.'
"Such a statement might shock a person from any culture but it was incomprehensible to the Japanese, in their society no offense could be greater than the murder of one's parents. Peggy tried to explain her motives. She said her parents had been missionaries. When the Japanese invaded the islands, Philippines, her parents escaped to the mountains in north Luzon for safety. In due time, however, they were discovered. The Japanese charged them with being spies and told them they were to be put to death. They earnestly denied that they were spies but the Japanese would not be convinced and they were executed. Peggy didn't hear about her parents' fate until the end of the war. At first she was furious with grief and indignation, thoughts of her parents' last hours of life filled her with great sorrow. She envisioned them trapped, wholly at the mercy of their captors with no way out. She saw the merciless brutality of the soldiers, she saw them facing their Japanese executioners and falling lifeless to the ground on that far off Philippine mountain.
"Then Peggy began to consider her parents' selfless love for the Japanese people. Gradually she became convinced that they had forgiven the people God had called them to love and serve. Then it occurred to her that if her parents had died without bitterness or rancor toward their executioners, why should her attitude be any different? Should she be filled with hatred and vengeful feelings when they had been filled with love and forgiveness? Therefore Peggy chose the path of love and forgiveness. She decided to minister to the Japanese prisoners in the nearby POW camp as a proof of her sincerity.
"Fuchida was touched by the story. But he was especially impressed with the possibility that it was exactly what he had been searching for, a principle sufficient to be a basis for peace, the principle was a forgiving love. Could that be the principle upon which the message of his projected book, No More Pearl Harbors could be based?
"Shortly after this Fuchida was summoned by General Douglas MacArthur to Tokyo. As he got off the train at Shebulya station he was handed a pamphlet entitled, "I was a prisoner of Japan." It told about an American sergeant, Jacob DeShazer who had spent 40 months in a Japanese prison cell and who after the war had come back to Japan to love and serve the Japanese people by helping them to come to know Jesus Christ."
DeShazer explained how he was a bombardier on one of the 16 army B-25 airplanes under General Jimmy Doolittle, launched 18, April 1942 from the deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Tokyo. None of the planes were shot down but they did run out of fuel. DeShazer was captured and incarcerated for 40 months, for the duration of the war. DeShazer noted that all the prisoners were treated badly. He said that at one point he almost went insane from the violent hatred by the Japanese guards. Then one day a guard brought them a Bible. They were in solitary confinement so they took turns reading it. When it was DeShazer's turn he had the bible for three weeks. He read it eagerly and intensely both Old and New Testament. Finally he writes, "The miracle of conversion took place June 8, 1944." DeShazer became a christian.
He determined that if he lived until the war was over and if he were released, he would return to the U.S., study the Bible for a period of time, return to Japan to share the message of Christ with the Japanese people. And that's exactly what he did. Great crowds came to hear him. Many responded and were saved. Here was a second person who forgave the Japanese and came in forgiveness to show them the love of Christ.
Fuchida was profoundly impacted. He got a New Testament. He began to read the New Testament. In September of 1949, eight years after Pearl Harbor, he was reading Luke 23 and he heard Jesus say this, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." And he bowed his knee and received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Mitsuo Fuchida, devotee of Adolf Hitler became a Christian. He wrote his book. You can look at it in the library today. The title of it, From Pearl Harbor to Golgotha.
You might also be interested to know that Fuchida is in heaven now, but before he died he became spent his life telling the people of Japan and America about what God had done for him. If God would do all this for a one-time devotee of Adolf Hitler, how much more will he do for you? That's the power of forgiveness to effect the world. The Holy Spirit knew it, God knew it, Paul knew it, Mitsuo Fuchida needed to know it and that's why this book is here. And that's why this lesson is taught to you.