The Power of God to Change a Heart:
It was the only thing I had ever won. And it was a whopper. I won a trip for two to Hawaii.
We stayed on Oahu on a hotel at Waikiki beach. We rented a convertible and toured the whole island. I’m a WWII buff, so we went to see Pearl Harbor. Before a boat takes you to the Arizona Memorial, they have you listen to a 30 minute film about that fateful day of December 7th, 1941…a date which lives in infamy…the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
After we watched the film, while we were waiting for our boat to take us to the Arizona Memorial, I noticed a frail, 80 year old man dressed in his full Navy uniform. He appeared to be looking for someone. I went over to him and offered my assistance to help in any way I could. He informed me that he was supposed to meet a local TV station film crew but apparently there was a mix-up and they weren’t there.
I asked him why they were going to interview him and got an answer that shocked me. This 80 year old man (I don’t remember his name so I’ll call him Bill) was stationed on the USS Arizona on December 7th, 1941. When the Japanese attacked, he was fifty feet from the Arizona, on the shore of Ford Island, where the ship was anchored in the middle of the harbor. He was fifty feet away when the Arizona exploded and sank. He desperately tried to save as many of his shipmates as possible but over 1,100 of them are still entombed in the Arizona.
After the war, he left the Navy. He became a believer and then God lead him back into the Navy as a chaplain. He faithfully served in the south Pacific until retirement in the 1970’s. But in the early 1950’s, he heard that the Japanese pilot, Mitsuo Fuchida, that had lead the attack on Pearl Harbor had become a Christian and was coming to Bill’s base as an evangelist to preach.
Bill was troubled. He knew he should forgive this man but the memory of 1,100 of his shipmates reminded him that this man lead the attack that caused their deaths. Bill prayed for forgiveness but felt conflicted towards Mitsuo. The day came. As Mitsuo was being introduced to him, before Bill could do or say anything, Mitsuo spoke. The first words out of his mouth were, “Could you please forgive me for what I did to your friends?”
At that moment, God showed up . Bill realized that just as God had forgiven him of his sins, He had forgiven Mitsuo of his sins also. The man that stood before him was no longer his enemy but his brother-in-the-Lord. In an instant, the feeling of forgiveness washed over him and the two men embraced.
Mitsuo preached that night and when he gave an altar call, several sailors went forward and received Jesus as their Savior. Christ had broken down the barrier that had existed between these two former enemies (Ephesians 2:14,16). Mitsuo went on to evangelize until his death in 1976. Read blog#30 about his conversion.
As Bill finished his story, I realized I was in the presence of a very godly man. Jesus had arranged our meeting and had blessed me beyond anything I could have imagined on this trip (Ephesians 3:20,21). It has been over 20 years since this happened. I am still blown away by how much God loved me by allowing me to hear Bill’s story.
The rest of our trip was wonderful but nothing can compare to meeting Bill.
For His wonderful Kingdom,