Sunday, February 15, 2009


This book is out of print. It was published in 1950 by The Light and Life Press I found a used copy on Amazon. It tells the true story of Jacob DeShazer, one of "Dolittle’s Raiders," who later came to faith in Christ in a Japanese prison camp.

The book starts by describing the upbringing of Jacob in his home town of Madras, Oregon. He had a typical small town upbringing and was exposed to the things of the Lord from an early age. He worked in farming and later tried to start his own business. Later he joined the Army and was ultimately volunteered to join the highly secretive plan to bomb Japan in the early stages of WWII.

After the successful bombing, he and his crewmates parachuted out of the plane over China. He found his way to a village, where he was confronted by soldiers. He didn’t know at first whether they were Chinese or Japanese. It turned out that they were Japanese. He was captured and then repeatedly beaten and tortured. The Japanese intended to put all of the "Raiders" to death, but the emperor granted a reprieve, fearing that too harsh a sentence would bring a reprisal against the Japanese that were interned in America. Three of the "Raiders" were later executed, however.

Jacob spend a total of 40 months in various Japanese prison camps. The conditions were deplorable. The men were underfed, over disciplined, and subject to extreme temperatures, solitary confinement, and various diseases. Not all of them survived that ordeal.

At one point in his captivity he was given a Bible--for only three weeks. He devoured the Scriptures. And the Spirit opened his eyes to the truth of the gospel. Long forgotten truths from God’s Word, became meaningful and exciting to him. He trusted in the Lord Jesus, and sensed God’s forgiveness. He determined by the Spirit to live in obedience to God. God gave him a renewed ability to bear up under suffering and respond with love to his captors.

His captivity continued for some time after that, until the men began to see American planes flying over head. They sensed that the end of the war was coming soon. DeShazer was Spirit-led to pray for peace on the day of Japan’s surrender. He was also determined, as he was being led by the Spirit, to return to Japan as a missionary once the war ended.

Ultimately the war ended and the captives were brought home. His loving regard for his former captives made the news. As one who harbored no bitterness, the account of his captivity was indeed newsworthy. He made his way home where he was triumphantly greeted by his mother and his sister. Many colleges were excited about the possibility of having him study for missions with them, but his sister worked at Seattle Pacific College and that is where he ultimately ended up.

He finished his education at Seattle Pacific in three years, instead of four, despite the fact that he was constantly traveling about for speaking engagements. Many wanted to hear of his story, and were blessed by his example and his deterimination to take the gospel to Japan. After a year at Seattle Pacific he married his wife. Later they had a son. And upon their graduation they left for Japan.

From the biography: "More than a million tracts concerning the Dolittle raider who turned missionary were distributed throughout Japan. The tract in Japanese contained a blank to be signed by those who would accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Many thousands of these tracts were signed and returned. In view of this, the name DeShazer, was known to many of the Japanese people. So it was that on December 28, 1948, when Deshazer and his little family arrived at the Yokohama docks crowds were waiting to see them. Many were anxious to know the cause of the change of attitude of a man who had been held for so many months by the Japanese in a solitary cell. They could not understand how one’s heart once filled with animosity could now be overflowing with love for his persecutors."

During the course of his ministry he received many testimonies. One was from a young lady who was suicidal as a result of her own sins and the depressed nature of the times. She had come to meeting and heard DeShazer speak and had trusted in Christ for salvation. On another occasion he received a testimony of how a young lady’s sweetheart had been killed in the raid in which DeShazer participated. She came to one of the meetings determined to kill DeShazer, but the Spirit of God worked in her heart and she later trusted in Christ. One of the most unusual meetings to take place was in the spring of 1949. By prearrangement many of the Japanese guards met on the platform in a big theatre with DeShazer and his wife. "An usual spirit of forgiveness seemed to pervade the entire place." Two of DeShazer’s former prison guards, who had been reading the Bible themselves, expressed their desire to become Christians.

The book is an excellent account of how God used an ordinary man to proclaim the extraordinary good news of reconciliation with God through faith in Christ. He first experienced the love of Christ for himself, was transformed by it, and then determined to take that message and share it with those who had so brutalized him. "That’s how it is with God’s love, once we’ve experienced it, You spread His love to everyone, you want to pass it on."

Pastor Jerry

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