A POW’s brave love.

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan…”

President Roosevelt continued with, what I would imagine, great pain and sadness in his heart as he addressed the nation about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our nation in a single day lost thousands of men and women- service and civilians. Our nation was hurt. Wounded at our heart. Shortly after the attacks our nation retaliated in explosive force [literally] by something called the Doolittle Raids. The retaliation involved a mere 16 B-25 “Mitchell” bombers with 80 airmen total. Not much of a fight in comparison to the 300 that Japan attacked Pearl with in those early minutes. But our men- the Raiders- bombed military establishments in Japan.  Unlike any other mission, the Raiders could not return to the aircraft carriers but to land…they had no choice but to crash land in China in hopes of avoiding the Japanese that had infiltrated the Chinese border. We lost some of the Raiders that day. Most returned home. Eight men became POWs, held captive by a merciless enemy.

This is one of their stories. I cannot help but be moved by this man, one of the POWs. He experienced Pearl and the tragedy along with the rest of our nation. He experienced the bombing over Japan. Such vengeance and hatred overwhelmed his heart. He wanted the Japanese to die painfully and without mercy. When his bomber was crashing over occupied China, he and his crew had to parachute out. For 40 months, Staff Sergeant Jacob Daniel DeShazer was held prisoner by the Japanese, tortured and facing death every single day. For 40 months he had no idea when his death would happen, although he thought it was certain. For 34 of his 40 months, he awaited death in solitary confinement. Most of the other POWs had already died. Only 3 made it home when the American armies invaded and freed the camp.

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He was not the same man.

Physically DeShazer was malnourished, sick, and nearly dead. Mentally the isolation could have made him crazy. Mentally he could have given up a long time before he did. But Spiritually…something had changed. During his imprisonment, he needed a glimpse of hope to simply survive; he finally received a Bible from his prison guards. They figured it would not matter. They figured it was only a book requested by a prisoner awaiting death. Though he only physically had the Bible for 3 weeks, God began to work on DeShazer’s heart. He saw the messages and stories of the Bible as reason enough to survive, and reason enough to not give up, and as reason enough to believe in a God that was greater than his imprisonment. In August 1945, DeShazer was freed and made his voyage home to America. He would need to recover, to heal, to be restored. It would take time, but it would happen.

He soon married and attended school…to be a missionary.

How can someone who had once be filled with such hatred toward the Japanese, been a prisoner of the Japanese, tortured and nearly killed at the hands of the Japanese, decide to be a missionary to the Japanese? For DeShazer, it was the simple fact that God loves and he had to be that love to to his previous captors. It was not a matter of hate anymore. It was a matter of redemption. If God could redeem him, a man full of hate, could not that same God change the hearts of others? He loved with such a redeeming, forgiving love that Mitsuo Fuchida, the commander who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, was brought into the same story of redemption through salvation in Jesus Christ. Let me say that again..the man who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, a broken dark day in American history, was saved by the redeeming love of Jesus Christ because a POW was brave enough to love.

“Jacob DeShazer was brave like a Japanese samurai. He was brave as a prisoner of the Japanese. He never yielded to the guards. After conversion he was braver, enough to love [the] Japanese. As a missionary, he never sought fame or wealth, just the lost. He was kind, patient, and humble, for he was a brave Christian. He was brave enough to make the Japanese commander of the attack on Pearl Harbor one of his best friends.”

—Iwao ShimadaPastor of the church the DeShazers started in Japan

 

I find his story so incredible. How can I not be moved by the legacy of a man that lived out the forgiveness of Christ? In his forgiveness toward Japan, one of the leading Japanese officers of the Attack on Pearl Harbor came to know Jesus Christ. I have to believe that because of men and women like DeShazer, that my purpose is beyond myself and my situation, good or bad, can be used to glorify God, bringing hope to many. So on this day of December 7, remember this history. Remember those who died and fought valiantly. Remember the soldiers who defended our nation in one of the greatest wars in world history. But also remember the stories of men and women like Jacob Daniel DeShazer who chose to forgive the enemy that hurt him the greatest, because just as Christ died for him, he also died for them. Redemption is always possible.

 

 

Check out this video from the man himself.

 

 

[this is an old post I updated: originally called A POW’s Forgiveness Towards Japan]

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Sacred Romance After Tragic Betrayal. [an old post]

Love of newly weds cannot be expressed in just simple words. It’s something that is defined by passionate actions and the embracing of your beloved. The tender kiss says it all. But what happens when your beloved has the affection of another? What happens when that love is stolen from you? The one you gave your heart to gives their heart to another. Yet it is not only their heart that they give, but their body. In the bonds of marriage you became one, and yet only you remain faithful. Your beloved desired more affection, and more love. Prostituting their self, day after day they are found in the arms of someone else. And you do nothing except take them back.

This is the tragic love story of Hosea, the prophet who married a prostitute. Each night he sat waiting for Gomer, his wife, to return after just giving herself away to another man. And each night he fell in love with her more. With each moment he was separated from her, he desired her all the more. He desired to kiss her and hold her, even though she ran to the arms of other men. She reached a point of such betrayal against her covenant with Hosea, that she sold herself into sexual slavery . However, Hosea, so desperately in love with her, bought her back and took her again into his arms. With each act of prostitution, Hosea felt he could not resist his love for her. This is the tragic romance of Hosea.Though Hosea was in the middle of his own case of tragic love, there is a greater tragedy.

The same concept remains: a great love betrayed.

God, our creator, desires to be our Beloved. He wants our whole heart. This love He has for us is intoxicating and beautiful, just like that of any newly weds. It has passion. Yet we betray this passion. We were created by God to be only His, but we prostitute ourselves to other passions. We may not physically prostitute our bodies like that of Gomer, Hosea’s wife, however, we withhold the entirety of ourselves from God. We ignore His love and passion. Negating His love, we deny it by going to other sources, other lovers. We all want fulfillment, something to satisfy our desires of love and affection. In spite of this, we completely turn our backs on the one true source of happiness and joy. No passion is ever greater than the passion of God. God created us, therefore, we are His first love and He is ours. He realized long ago that we betrayed His love. But He has never betrayed His love for us. He even bought us back through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus was the price. He yearns for us to return. He painfully watches us as we prostitute our lives with some other fulfillment like money, an addiction, a relationship, or a talent. What He offers to us is His sacred romance. Even night after night of us ignoring Him, He will take us back into His arms. Nothing can satisfy our desires like that of God’s love.

This acknowledgment of God’s passionate, sacred romance breaks my heart because I realize that each day and each night, I potentially betray the love of my beloved-God. I resort to some meaningless answers that continually leave me yearning for more. It may bring immediate gratification, yet, I remain craving for more.  Nothing has ever satiated my longing for more…except for my relationship with God.  Each time I go to a supplemental fulfillment, I recognize that my God is waiting for me, broken by my tragic betrayal, yet He is ready to take me back. I can’t begin to comprehend why He would want me back after such acts of adulterous, disloyal betrayal. Yet No matter how much you have prostituted your life, your love, He yearns for you!!! His passion never fails. His love never fails. He offers to me-to everyone- His sacred romance even after tragic betrayal.

 

**this is a great song showing the heart of God and His love–He is ruined without our love…**
[“One Love” by Yvonne Parks]

How long I have waited for you,
for you have stolen my heart

Now I am ruined for anything less
I could live forever in your arms
My heart belongs to only one love
My beloved, My beloved, My beloved
I am yours and you are mine

I’ve learned. Jesus loves _________.

Yet another weekend was spent at Exxxotica….an adult convention aka porn show. No I was not attending. No I was not there to meet my favorite porn star or get the latest pleasure items. I was there in the middle of all the adult materials and booths at a neon 20 ft. by 20 ft. booth. Branded with the name “Jesus Loves Porn Stars”, once more we made a statement loud and clear. People who have attended Exxxotica or any of the major adult conventions in the US have probably seen our booths before. We are not new to this. We are not amateurs.

xxxChurch has been doing this for a decade

…and we do it well.

Surrounded by sex toys, lingerie, nearly nude ladies and gents, stripper poles, cages, and many other things, we were at Exxxotica for one purpose: we firmly believe Jesus loves people. But I want to take it one step further. Jesus loves people- all of us- but he loves us way to much to want us to stay the same. We were made for more. We were made for better. We were made for far greater than the purpose we are living now. I couldn’t help but think of those attending the porn show as well as those working at Exxxotica. There were moms, dads, teachers, students, baristas [myself included], servers, designers, photographers, and tons of other types of people. There were single, married, engaged, straight, gay, swinger, and I’m sure the pedophile or molester [there were thousands of people].

We don’t go to these adult conventions or have our resources online for the sake of just telling people that Jesus loves them. YES that is a major part and core of what we believe. It is something we deeply believe. However, I think there is another facet to what we do under the surface. We are all made for more because God- our creator- has purposed us for greater… but we have to want it. We have to want him. I know people who were at Exxxotica enjoy their jobs. Maybe some don’t. I’m sure the attendees at it were mixed as well. But if I’ve learned anything, people are humans and we are fractured and broken without Jesus Christ. I don’t know how I could make it through life without my steadfast and firm belief in His love for me.

He offers redemption.
He offers restoration.
I don’t have to fix me. His love changes me.

And I am new.

No matter what anyone has done, his love is for them. Nothing we do or have ever done can prohibit his love from reaching us. I saw such an overwhelming image of that love while at Exxxotica. So many people there express how they don’t think God could love them. Others, shrugged and ignored it. Still others stood there for a moment pondering the statement “Jesus Loves Porn Stars”, all the while proceeding to insert their own name or profession into that statement.

Jesus loves accountants.
Jesus loves adulterers.
Jesus loves gossips.
Jesus loves murderers.
Jesus loves baristas.
Jesus loves football players.
Jesus loves gays.
Jesus loves politicians.
Jesus loves moms. 

Jesus loves _____________. Fill in anything there and Jesus loves. The point is that while, yes, we were in an adult convention surrounded by a hyper-sexualized and pornographic world, I saw God’s love- Jesus’ love- there in the midst. Why? Because he didn’t just die on the cross just for the religious. He didn’t die on the cross for the good. He didn’t die on the cross for those that were whole. He died for you and for me and for them. All of us have brokenness. All of us are not good enough and can’t be good enough to earn his love. He gives it freely. He died for all of us to have a chance a new life, new hope, restoration, forgiveness, and to live free! Only then, when we accept his love for us, do we change, do we become new, and do we begin to live lives that honor his sacrifice for us. But we have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is recognizing our brokenness and need for Him. He loves you and so deeply wants you to understand that.

His brokenness brings our wholeness.