Another Special Life in Christ
These testimony lives are not stories of "role models". Jesus is the
These are lives wonderfully touched & changed by Jesus!
Jacob Daniel "Jake"
Born in about 1911 and living in Salem (as of July 2007), Oregon (as of March 2004), he attended the 60th reunion
(April 2002) of the famed "Doolittle Raiders" of WWII who carried out daring raids on
Tokyo. Jake was a bombardier in plane #16 and was one of 8 who had to bail out over
Japan-occupied China. He endured 40 months of beatings and starvation, 2 of the years being in
solitary confinement. It was during his imprisonment that Jake DeShazer became a Christian. What
follows is a forgiveness testimony that most of us would deem miraculous.
When he was liberated, he was sick, emaciated;
and, incredibly, he was determined to love the Japanese people. After recuperating from his
imprisonment and torture, he returned to Japan to spend 30 years spreading the good news of
Jesus Christ which lead to the Christian conversions of 1000s!! But that is not even the best
of the story (I first read part of his Jesus-honoring story at the top of the front
page of the 12 April 2002 "The State" newspaper in South Carolina)!
Mitsuo Fuchida was the Japanese pilot who
lead the surprise attack on the American forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. That was the event
that spurred DeShazer and others to later attack Tokyo. Fuchida was the lead Japanese
character in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!. Fuchida was said to be as popular in Japan as the
When Fuchida dropped his torpedoes at Pearl Harbor
on Dec. 7th, 1941, Sgt. Jacob “Jake” DeShazer was on KP duty at an Army air base in
Pendleton, Oregon when news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor blared over a
loudspeaker. His deep hatred for the Japanese born that day grew through succeeding
events into an obsession for revenge. So, 5 foot 6 inch Cpl. Jake DeShazer volunteered
for an extremely dangerous mission. He became a crewmember of the Doolittle
Their land-based B-25 bombers would bomb Japan and
land at friendly free Chinese airfields. One day, after bombing Tokyo and other cities,
Jake’s plane ran out of fuel, and they bailed out. The Japanese Army captured
DeShazer’s crew and three others. So began 40 months of imprisonment, 24 of them in
solitary confinement. Their captors moved the men to Japan. They were interrogated for days
and nights, placed on a starvation diet, beaten, and tortured.
Given access to a Bible for three short
weeks in 1944, DeShazer experienced a divine transformation. He made peace with Christ in
his lonely prison cell, returning to his Christian roots and thereby answering his mother's
prayers that his life be spared -- both for now, and for eternity. And while his conditions
didn't change, his heart did (see more, below).
DeShazer's formative years were spent in Madras,
Oregon, where he and his family faithfully attended the local Free Methodist church. But
during his high school years, he slowly drifted from his Christian
Perhaps that's why, as his parachute carried him
down toward a very uncertain future on that foggy night in 1942, DeShazer thought it would be
"dishonest" to pray. So he didn't. (He was not without prayer cover, however. At that
very hour, his mother awakened suddenly with a strange feeling of being dropped down through
the air. She prayed, in great distress, until the burden was gone and sleep returned. She had
absolutely no knowledge at the time -- nor did most of the United States -- of the Doolittle
Raid or her son's participation in it.) Later, DeShazer recalls, before fellow captive Lt.
Robert J. Meder died in prison of malnutrition in December 1943, Meder said, "Jake, Jesus
Christ is the key to all of this." DeShazer continues, "And I thought, so what does that have
to do with it? Jesus Christ was a long time ago. I couldn't understand it. But when I became
a Christian, I knew what Meder was talking about."
When DeShazer learned that the war was over, to
his amazement he felt God telling him to return to Japan to share the love of Christ.
The Bible Literature International organization printed 1 million pamphlets of DeShazer’s
testimony, “I was a Prisoner of Japan,” for distribution throughout the
In similar fashion, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida was
the lead pilot of the 360 planes that attacked Pearl Harbor. He gave the order to
attack, and then shouted the famous attack signal, “Tora!, Tora!, Tora!” (Tiger!, Tiger!,
Tiger!) The successful attack against the United States made Fuchida a national
hero. One day in October 1948, while waiting at a rail station in Tokyo, Fuchida was
handed DeShazer’s I Was a Prisoner of Japan. He was ready to throw it away, but
he noticed that it was written by a courageous Doolittle flier, so he read it with keen
This prompted Fuchida to buy a Bible immediately,
though he didn’t get around to reading it for months. When he did. He found that
the Bible’s message gripped him and Christ’s prayer from the cross captured him.
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24). He wept as he
realized Jesus had prayed and died for him, too. In September 1949, he accepted Christ
as his Savior; and he was baptized on Easter Sunday in 1951. Over the next years,
Fuchida and DeShazer spoke to large crowds, both together and individually; and their
ministries brought thousands more to Christ.
A little more on Jake's acceptance of Jesus: When
they were transferred to Nanking in 1943, things got better -- although this is where Meder
DeShazer remembers, "One day they called us out of
our prison cells; and we didn't know whether we were going to be shot, or what was going to
happen -- they were always promising to execute us. But instead, they had an interpreter who
told us that the emperor of Japan had written a letter saying he was ashamed at the way
they'd been treating us prisoners of war ... and they should treat us better. So they gave us
bread to eat with our rotten potato peel soup."
They also promised to give the men some books and
a Bible, but DeShazer -- who had been doing a lot of thinking and was most anxious to get his
hands on a Bible -- was the lowest-ranking of the group and was forced to wait. When his turn
finally came, he could only keep the coveted volume for three weeks.
"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. And so I read that Bible to find evidence that it is the Word of God. And right
away I found the evidence."
In his dimly lit cell, DeShazer read the entire
Bible several times through and the Prophets six times. He spent many hours tracing
prophecies to their fulfillment and memorizing the Sermon on the Mount, the Epistle of 1 John
and other verses that spoke to his quickening heart.
He must have gotten the Bible again later because
he remembers that on June 8, 1944, he 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."
Feb. 2003 I opened this e-mail message from Karen Kumar, "I just finished reading The
First Heroes, a book by Craig Nelson, about the Doolittle Raid. Nelson includes an entire
chapter about Rev. DeShazer's conversion experience during his horrible ordeal at the hands of the
Japanese in a POW camp. I was amazed that Nelson included this in his book, since the book's
focus was the raid and the affect on the war in the Pacific. I was very pleased and excited
to read such a powerful testimony of the ministering of the Holy Spirit and the work of Jesus
Christ in this man's life."
On 4 March 2004 I opened this e-mail from Benton
Eskew, "I, too, have just read "First Heroes." What a wonderful book, although depressing at times.
But at the end, to read about this wonderful hero and his conversion to Christ, made the whole
ordeal seem worth it. Men like him inspire me to strive to be more like Christ and less selfish. I
have printed a copy of the story to share with my church. I am an elected official. His story makes
me desire to be a better public servant. Is he still alive? If so, I wonder how I could send a
letter to him?" [Mr. Eskew found Rev. Jake a few days later and had a great telephone
***give me your comments about this
(posted May 2002; latest update 25 July
You have just read a very brief example of the
powerful, supernatural transformation of a person's life which is possible through the
acceptance of Jesus as your savior. Are you tired of life as it now is for you? He will
accept you just as you are right this second! Consider accepting Jesus now