Tuesday, December 15, 2009

About the Man Who Cried, "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

[I received this on December 7, as one of my colleague Glen VanderKloot's daily emailed inspirations. It tells a story I had never read before. God is still in the business of transforming lives for all eternity!]

The Story of Mitsuo Fuchida
[Mitsuo] Fuchida grew up loving his native Japan and hating the
United States, which treated Asian immigrants harshly in the
first half of the twentieth century. Fuchida attended a military
academy, joined Japan's Naval Air Force, and by 1941, with
10,000 flying hours behind him, had established himself as
the nation's top pilot. When Japanese military leaders needed
someone to command a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor,
they chose Fuchida.

Fuchida's was the voice that sent his aircraft carrier the
message "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!) indicating
the success of the surprise mission. Later, he too was surprised
when he learned that, of the 70 officers who participated in
the raid, he was the only one who returned alive. He had
another close call when he was shot down during the battle
of Midway in 1942, but despite serious injuries, he survived again.

By 1945 he had attained the position of the Imperial Navy's
Air Operations Officer. On August 6 he was eating breakfast
in Nara, Japan, where a new military headquarters was under
construction, when he heard about a bomb dropped on
Hiroshima. He flew to investigate, then sent a grim report
to the Imperial Command.

On the same day, an American POW named Jacob DeShazer
felt moved by the Holy Spirit to pray for peace. DeShazer had
been in captivity since 1942, when, as a member of Doolittle's
Raiders, he dropped bombs near Tokyo and then was forced
to parachute into a Japanese-controlled part of China.

While imprisoned, first in Nanjing and later in Beijing,
DeShazer had become a Christian. He found his heart softened
toward his Japanese captors. After being liberated, DeShazer
wrote a widely distributed essay, "I Was a Prisoner of the
Japanese," detailing his experiences of capture, conversion,
and forgiveness.

Fuchida and DeShazer met in 1950. DeShazer had returned
to Japan in 1948 as a missionary. Fuchida had read DeShazer's
testimony, bought a Bible, and converted from Buddhism to
Christianity. DeShazer had recently finished a 40-day fast for
revival in Japan when Fuchida came to his home and introduced
himself. DeShazer welcomed the new convert and encouraged
him to be baptized. While DeShazer continued to plant churches
throughout Japan, Fuchida became an evangelist, spreading a
message of peace and forgiveness in his native country and
throughout Asian-American communities.

Fuchida died 25 years ago, on May 30, 1976. Like dynamite
inventor Alfred Nobel, who wished his legacy to be one of peace
rather than destruction, Fuchida wanted the message of his
changed heart to supersede the memory of his infamous attack.

He wrote, "That morning [December 7] ... I lifted the curtain
of warfare by dispatching that cursed order, and I put my whole
effort into the war that followed. ... [But] after buying and reading
the Bible, my mind was strongly impressed and captivated.
I think I can say today without hesitation that God's grace has
been set upon me."

Elisha Coffman*

Scripture: James 3:17-18 [NUV]

17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and
good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in
peace raise a harvest of righteousness.


Lord, use us to bring your peace and hope to others,
even the most unlikely characters.


[Photos above, top: Mitsuo Fuchida as a young Japanese Imperial Navy officer; bottom: Fuchida, photographed during his later years, while serving as a Christian evangelist.]

*This piece was written in 2001, on the sixtieth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

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