. . . Father, forgive them . . .
On December 7, 1941, Mitsuo Fuchida of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force led a mission of surprise to destroy the United States’ Pacific Fleet on the islands of Hawaii. Mitsuo, with 179 fighter planes behind him cried, “Tora, Tora, Tora!” as they attacked the mighty fleet of American ships. In less than two hours, over 3,077 American Navy personnel lost their lives or were missing and 150 planes were destroyed.
Mitsuo would live through two narrow escapes. An emergency appendectomy put him in the ship’s hospital where he was ordered to stay. Disobeying this order, Mitsuo walked out of the ship’s hospital to the top deck. The Battle of Midway was unfolding before his eyes. Within seconds, the enemy planes blew a hole in the hospital side of the ship. All were lost. On August 5, 1945, Mitsuo left Hiroshima for a military conference. Several hours after his departure, America dropped the atomic bomb on this city. Devastation and bitterness filled Mitsuo’s heart.
After the war, Mitsuo was handed a tract that read, “I Was a Prisoner of Japan.” The pamphlet was written about a man named Jake DeShazer, who in the revenge of what had happened at Pearl Harbor, participated in an attack on Tokyo. He was captured in battle, put into a prisoner of war camp and brutally mistreated. He began to hate everything and everyone Japanese. While in captivity, he was given a Bible. As he read the Bible, he realized that Jesus Christ was his only hope. Jake DeShazer had gone from hating the Japanese to becoming a missionary in Japan.
Mitsuo, now filled with hatred for America would experience God’s amazing Grace. He was given a Bible and soon would trust in Christ. Through the providence of God, Jake DeShazer and Mitsuo Fuchida would meet. They lovingly forgave one another, as God in Christ had forgiven them and became friends (Ephesians 4:32). Only God can mend the heart of man and create in him the joy and peace of forgiveness.
Lord, forgive me as I forgive them.