Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I’m going to skip today's normal TFT devotional to share with you a beautiful story I just came across in the book I’m now reading, “God’s Samurai: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor.”

Mitsuo Fuchida was the lead pilot in the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. He returned to Japan shortly afterwards and was received by the people as a great hero. He continued to advance in military positions throughout the Japanese campaign. He narrowly escaped death on several occasions and survived to the end of the war. Called upon to testify at the War Crime trials, following the Japanese surrender, he was troubled by the testimonies he heard regarding American prisoner abuse in Japanese prison camps. He assumed that such treatment was typical and must have also have directed towards the Japanese who had been held by the Americans during the war. He went so far as to travel to Uraga, Japan to meet with returning Japanese prisoners to find evidence of such abuse.

He met a man there, Sub-lieutenant Kazuo Kanegaski, who had previously served with him. He had survived the sinking of the carrier Hiryu only to be rescued by the Americans. He was ultimately taken to a prisoner camp/hospital near the Utah-Colorado border. Kanegaski told Fuchida that he never “saw atrocities in the American camps.” He went on to share an experience that he had there: “Something happened at my camp which made it possible for all of us interned there to stop nursing our resentment and to return to Japan with lightened hearts…Shortly after the end of the war, an American girl about 18 years old came to the camp as a volunteer social worker. She ministered to the Japanese with tireless energy and kindness. Her name was Margaret Covell. The men called her Peggy, as did her American friends. She spoke no Japanese, but the prisoners had picked up enough English to communicate with her. ‘If you’re uncomfortable or need anything, let me know,’ she would say. ‘I’ll do anything I can to help.’ With her conscientious care she touched the prisoners. She also puzzled them. Some three weeks after her first visit, one of the men asked her curiously, ‘Why are you so kind to us?’ ‘Because Japanese soldiers killed my parents,’ she answered.”

As the prisoners stared at her in astonishment, she explained that her parents were missionaries who had fled Japan to Manila where they thought they would be safe. When the Japanese captured the city they fled to the mountains. Japanese soldiers ultimately found Peggy’s parents and in their possession a small portable radio they mistook for a secret communications apparatus. They tried the couple as spies and convicted them. They were blindfolded, their hands bound behind their backs, and forced to their knees. As the husband and wife prayed—asking God to forgive their executioners--the Japanese soldiers beheaded them.

“Peggy, who had been living in the United States, didn’t learn of her parents’ fate until the end of the war. At first she choked with hatred for the Japanese. Then she began to meditate on her parents’ selfless service to them. Slowly she became convinced that her parents had indeed forgiven their executioners before death. Could she do less? So she volunteered to work with Japanese prisoners of war. Her example of charity and gentleness greatly impressed the men, and they loved her with a pure tenderness.”

Fuchida was puzzled by what he heard. “The Japanese considered revenge a beautiful moral. A man captured and awaiting death never forgave his captors. He prayed to be born again seven times, and to exact revenge in each life. And his sons and daughter to avenge him. The Japanese word for revenge, katakiuchi, means literally ‘attack enemy.’ Steeped in Japanese history and culture, Fuchida fervently believed in the principle of katakiuchi. Now he heard a story of unjust suffering and death, and a daughter left to continue the bloodline. But the tale featured no vow of vengeance from either the dying or the survivor.”

“Fuchida was thunderstruck. ‘This beautiful story overwhelmed me and made me ashamed,’ he reflected. He had come to Uraga with hate in his heart. What he found was goodness he could scarcely comprehend.” Ultimately Peggy’s example was used by God to help lead Fuchida to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. He was saved and became an evangelist. He once shared the gospel from a platform standing next to Jacob Deshazer (the former Japanese prisoner who later returned to Japan as a missionary. Later Fuchida would even visit Jacob’s church in Salem, Oregon. God ultimately used Fuchida, that former pilot who brought death and destruction to Pearl Harbor, to spread the good news of Christ’s love throughout his homeland, to America, and even far away Germany.

Katakiuchi. That’s the way the world thinks and behaves. But to get even is not to get ahead. I remember an occasion in my own experience that had a profound effect on me. I was attending Faith Bible Church in Kailua, Oahu. God had been drawing me to Himself, but I still had a lot of questions. Sometimes it is the simple things that matter most in that process. I was at that church on a Sunday morning. The church had a Christian bookstore. The bookstore had been robbed the night before. The man who shared the news with the church did not speak evil of the offenders or complain about what had happened. Instead he led a prayer for the ones who had done the deed—a prayer that expressed both love and forgiveness. I had never heard of such a thing before. It caught my attention.

Peggy could have chosen a different route. It would have been both natural and acceptable to seethe in bitterness and nurture thoughts of revenge. Instead, looking to Christ’s example, with the Spirit’s leading, she took the higher route. Her parents would have been proud. Her Father in Heaven was no doubt pleased. And her acts of love reflected the great love she herself had experienced in Christ.

May the love that has been shed abroad in our hearts overflow from our lives and boldly testify to the greater love of Christ from which it flows!

1 Peter 2:21-23, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in His steps…and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering He uttered no threats.”

1 Peter 3:9, “Not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead.”

Pastor Jerry

Quotations from “God's Samurai: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor,” by Donald M. Goldstein and Gordon W. Prange; Copyright 1990 by Prange Enterprises, Inc.

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