Joe Handley



Stories from Joe Handley, president of Asian Access

 fuchida deshazer collage

Christianity is about the power of the Gospel to transform our lives.

I want to share with you a real-life story of two sworn enemies – Fuchida, a Japanese commander and DeShazer, an American pilot. The setting is in World War II.

Mitsuo Fuchida (photo courtesy Wikimedia)Mitsuo Fuchida commanded one of the most successful aerial attacks in history. On December 7, 1941, Fuchida’s squadron bombed Pearl Harbor.

Fuchida instantly became a hero in Japan. And obviously, he also became one of the most hated Japanese enemies by the American forces.

Jacob DeShazerThat hatred burned in Jacob DeShazer, a young bomber pilot who angrily swore,

“Japan will pay for this!”

That opportunity came when DeShazer was selected to be a part of the squadron in the first bombing raids over Japan. He was pumped. It’s pay-back time.

Unfortunately, after dropping his bombs on the city of Nagoya, DeShazer’s plane crashed in enemy territory. He was taken as a prisoner-of-war.

For almost two years, DeShazer suffered harsh treatment, including the pain of watching three of his fellow prisoners executed by the firing squad. In the midst of this suffering, his hatred of the Japanese deepened.

Then, in 1944, someone passed DeShazer a Bible. He began at Genesis and read on and on. There were some things in the Bible that he couldn’t understand. But the things that he did understand brought him a sublime comfort and a growing enlightenment.

And by the time he had come to the Book of Romans, DeShazer had opened his heart to the truth of the Gospel and surrendered his life to Jesus, as his Savior and Lord.

Immediately Matthew 5:44 challenged him,

“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

Despite his deep inner struggle, DeShazer chose to obey the Lord’s command. Because of it, his attitude toward his Japanese captors began to change. As he prayed for them, his hatred subsided. And each morning he greeted them warmly despite his pitiful condition.

Slowly, their attitude towards him also changed. A few of them even brought him extra food and supplies.

Finally, the war was over and DeShazer was released.

DeShazer returned home a changed man. He studied for the ministry at Asbury Theological Seminary. Upon graduation, DeShazer decided to return to Japan, not as a tourist, but as a missionary!

Returning to Nagoya, the very city he had bombed, DeShazer started a church there.

And to witness to the Japanese people, he wrote and distributed a pamphlet - with the captivating title, “I Was A Prisoner of the Japanese”.

It wasn’t long before many came to hear DeShazer speak. They witnessed an ex-prisoner-of-war who could forgive and love his enemies - because of the transforming power of the Gospel!

On the other hand, things didn’t go well for the Japanese commander, Mitsuo Fuchida.

He had come out of the war a very disillusioned man. And because of his wartime commission, he was often called to Tokyo to testify at war-crime trials.

On one of these trips to Tokyo, Fuchida was handed the very pamphlet that DeShazer had written!

He was intrigued by the title “I Was A Prisoner Of The Japanese”. Curious as to what it had to say, Fuchida read and re-read it. He couldn’t believe that DeShazer could forgive his tormentors.

After reading the pamphlet, Fuchida decided to buy a Japanese Bible to read.

In reading the Scriptures, Fuchida was especially affected by the prayer of Christ on the cross:

“Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:24).

It struck a deep chord in this wartime Japanese commander.“Why then”, Fuchida thought to himself, “Jesus had prayed for me to be forgiven!”

That night, alone in his farmhouse, Mitsuo Fuchida asked God to forgive him and became a Christian himself.

Subsequently, Fuchida wrote a book titled ‘From Pearl Harbor to Calvary’. It’s the inspiring story of his conversion to Christianity, and his call to the ministry.

Transformed by the power of the Gospel, Fuchida became a great evangelist for Jesus, in Japan and beyond!

fuchida deshazerAnd the best part is, Fuchida eventually met DeShazer. And these two men, who were once sworn enemies, became the best of friends, brothers in Christ, and co-labourers in the Kingdom of God!

Yes, Christianity is about the power of the Gospel to transform lives. Hallelujah!

Pastor Edmund Chan
Asian Access Faculty

This was an inspiring WhatsApp message that my friend sent, and I wanted to bless you by posting it here with Edmund's permission.

joe sig blue

Rev. Joseph W. Handley, Jr., Ph.D.
President, Asian Access

Joe Handley emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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