1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. NKJV
The Bat Out of Hell!
Tonight, if you listen very quietly, moving your neck to the left slightly and opening your ears to history, you might just hear the silent steaming of a Japanese Carrier Force moving into striking distance of Pearl Harbor and the lame duck, American Pacific Fleet. The bombs and torpedoes dropped from the sky tomorrow shall form the force of another sucker punch that will lay America reeling on the canvas floor once more. A stunned nation and an embarrassed American military, will from this point now quickly move in determined desperation to put together such a counter punch, that be it even ever so pitiful, its audacious boldness shall cause both the enemy to step back a little and its sunken homeland fans, to become buoyed up again with hope and courage once more. Enter then stage left, aviator and aeronautical engineer, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle armed with a cunning plan.
In just four months time, Doolittle and his raiders, will be the only bomber crews in U.S. Army Air Force military history to launch from U.S. Navy Carriers in a combat mission. The U.S.S. Hornet was given the honour to host these one-way flight crews to Tokyo and Jacob DeShazer, was on the last of the sixteen modified B-25’s to leave its heaving deck. Corporal DeShazer was the bombardier of the B-25, named “Bat Out of Hell.”
Jacob DeShazer had been brought up in a Christian environment, but as a teenager, like so many others, had ‘kicked over the traces’ and had purposefully wandered from God and now at the beginning of his mission, unlike some of his crew-mates, DeShazer no longer even prayed. Fortunately for Jacob though, his mother did still pray. Mrs. DeShazer recalls how she “Awakened suddenly one night with a strange feeling like being dropped down, down, down through the air and with a terrible burden that weighed upon my soul! I prayed and cried out to God in my distress. Suddenly the burden was gone, and I drifted off into an untroubled sleep, something unusual for me. Later,” she says “When comparing the time I prayed in America, with the time in occupied China, it was just the time when Jacob had had to parachute from his falling plane. How I praise the Lord now, but of course then I didn't realize or know what was taking place so far away. When we heard in the war news that our airmen had been over Tokyo dropping bombs, little did I realize that my own precious boy was in the crew of one of the planes.”
Yes, Jacob DeShaza had to bail out of a fuel empty plane trying to reach its recovery base in eastern China. DeShaza would spend forty months as a Japanese Prisoner of War. Noting that the Japanese murdered 250,000 Chinese in their search for the downed Doolittle raiders, it is not surprising then that on his incarceration, he would see three of his fellow captives shot and he would see another die of starvation before his eyes . Being on starvation rations himself, DeShazer suffered dysentery, berri-berri fever, body engulfing boils, and various other bodily and mental conditions, which mostly came from the aftermath of being beaten, tortured, mocked, hung, and intolerably and incessantly abused. DeShaza remarked that his hatred for his captives was “all consuming and knew no bounds.”
During the course of those forty months, the Emperor of Japan eventually directed that prisoners should be treated ‘somewhat better’ and so DeShaza asked for a Bible and he got one. “When I got that Bible,” he recalls, “I thought about how the Christians believed the Bible -- believed it was the Word of God, and God didn't lie. So I read that Bible to find evidence that it is the Word of God and right away I found the evidence.” On June 8, 1944, DeShaza received assurance of his salvation when his eyes fell once again on Romans 10:9. “Boy, that hit me! It was the best news I'd ever heard in my life. There are just two things: you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart. And I did! I believed at that time -- and I do yet – it’s God's Word. I believe heaven came down there in that prison cell.” The bat may have been a Japanese P.O.W. but he was at last, now out of hell.
Yet his hatred for his captors continued. He knew that Christ commanded him to love His enemies and amazingly despite the continued beatings and mistreatment, he was instructed by the Holy Spirit in just how to love them! Now that is a miracle friends, let me tell you!
DeShaza came to love the Japanese so much that immediately after the war, he earned his theology degree and married and in 1948, he returned to Japan, with his wife and growing family to labour there for many more years, even settling and planting a church in the very place he dropped his bombs all those years before! Tens of thousands are reported to have become Christians because of DeShaza’s ministry and he even preached to some of his former prison guards who subsequently became Christians. Miracle after miracle friends, miracle after miracle and you know, it was the Pocket Testament League that greatly aided DeShazer in his Free Methodist ministry right there in Japan, even helping produce and distribute a pamphlet of his personal story called “I was a Prisoner of Japan”.
What a rich, dark, chocolatey goodness was spread through Japan by Helen Cadbury, that little Chocolatier.
The night is for bats and this night, DeShaza, that once 'bat out of hell' returned to his terrible roost and in his claws held not hatred, but held light and life and love and many that were blind, as blind as bats out of hell themselves, were given eyes to see and hearts to receive.
Listen: -For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:9,10 NKJV