Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:34
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
September 11, 2001, will exist in the hearts and minds of our nation as a day of momentous, catastrophic tragedy that we experienced on American soil. May we pay tribute to those that lost their lives on this unforgettable, historic day and to the loved ones left behind. There is however, another day in history we would like to make mention of, December 7, 1941.
Early the morning, of December 7, 1941, the roar of engines echoed in the ears of Mitsuo Fuchida of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force. As a child, he had always dreamed of becoming a “mighty samurai warrior.” Though Japan no longer had professional samurai soldiers, his dream of becoming a hero would soon unfold. At the age of 21, he graduated from the military academy as Japan’s top pilot. The country of Japan was on it’s way to ruling most of the Asian Empire except for one giant enemy, America.
The mission that morning on December 7, was to surprise and destroy the United States’ Pacific Fleet on the sleepy islands of Hawaii. While looking through binoculars, Mitsuo Fuchida and 179 fighter planes behind him, saw the magnificent American ships docked at Pearl Harbor. At 7:49 AM, Mitsuo Fuchida cried, “Tora, Tora, Tora!” into his microphone. The Japanese warriors began to attack the mighty fleet of American ships and in less than two hours over 3,077 American Navy personnel lost their lives or were missing and 150 planes were destroyed. Out of the eight battleships docked at Pearl Harbor, only three were able to be repaired. What great victory Japan saw that day but the sleeping giant would awaken and take revenge.
In the next four years, Mitsuo Fuchida would have two narrow escapes. While in the North Pacific Ocean, he had emergency surgery for appendicitis. The doctor ordered him to stay in the hospital and rest but being the warrior he was, he did not obey the doctor and walked out of the ship’s hospital to the top deck. To his dismay, the Battle of Midway was unfolding and just when he thought they would win the battle a new round of enemy planes closed in. Within seconds, the enemy planes blew a hole in the side of the ship and all that were in the hospital lost their lives from the blast.
On August 5, 1945, a few years later, Mitsuo would leave the city of Hiroshima for another military base attending a week long military conference. Several hours after his departure, America dropped the atomic bomb on this great city sparing his life again. When the war was over and Japan was defeated, Mitsuo was devastated. Bitterness and hatred had filled his heart and this great warrior had no recourse but to take up farming to make a living.
One day while Mituso was walking through a noisy train station, an American missionary handed him a tract that read, “I Was a Prisoner of Japan.” This pamphlet told of an American named Jake DeShazer, who in revenge of what had happened at Pearl Harbor, had participated in an attack on the city of Tokyo. He was captured in battle and put into a Japanese prisoner of war camp where he was brutally mistreated. He began to hate everything and everyone Japanese until one day, after two years of captivity, he was given a Bible. How had Jake gone from hating the Japanese to coming to Japan as a missionary? As Jake read the Bible he realized that Jesus Christ was his only hope and accepted Him as his personal Savior. To Mitsuo Fuchida, Jesus was a Western god but because of Jake’s story he wanted to know more.
A few days later at the train station a Japanese man was handing out books. He was overtaken by the words of this man when he cried, “Get your Bible, --food for the soul!” Mitsuo reached out and took a Bible. The words of our Lord struck his heart when he read, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” He realized that Jesus had died so he could be forgiven and on that day he became a new person in Christ. Mitsuo had become friends with the Japanese man at the train station and he encouraged him to give his testimony at a faith rally they were having.
Mitsuo consented to give his testimony that night at the rally and five hundred Japanese people accepted Christ as their personal Savior. He continued to share what God had done for him but still something was missing. He needed to have peace and that would come when he visited the man named Jake DeShazer. He certainly was a little fearful to enter his home and tell him who he was, the one that lead the attack on Pearl Harbor. With open arms and a forgiving heart, Jake DeShazer welcomed Mitsuo Fuchida into his home. Once bitter enemies, now embracing each other as brothers in Christ’s love.
Thought: Mituso Fushida would give anything to erase the memory of his past in leading the attack of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force against the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor but he cannot. His battle now is to fight against to great giants, hatred and bitterness and help others to fight against these enemies too. Are you fighting against forgiving someone for what they have done to you? Are you bitter and hateful against them? Forgive, my friend, that’s what Jesus would do and what He commands us to do as we love them with His love. Forgive them, as He has forgiven you.
Story found in Glimpses for Kids.