I Was a Prisoner

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 11
I was a prisoner of Japan for forty long months, thirty four of them in solitary confinement.
When I flew on the first raid over Japan on April 18, 1942, my heart was filled with bitter hatred for the people of that nation. When our plane ran out of fuel and the crew of my plane had to parachute down into Japanese-held territory in China and were captured by the enemy, the bitterness of my heart against my captors seemed more than I could bear.
It was soon after the death of one of my comrades that I began to ponder the cause of such hatred between members of the human race. I wondered what it was that made the Japanese hate the Americans, and what made me hate the Japanese. I remembered what I had heard about Christianity changing hatred between human beings into real brotherly love, and I begged my captors to get a Bible for me. At last a guard brought the Book, but told me I could have it for only three weeks.
I eagerly began to read. Chapter after chapter gripped my heart. I came to the books of the prophets, and found that their every writing seemed focused on a divine Redeemer from sin — One who was to be sent from heaven to be born in the form of a human baby.
Their writings fascinated me, and I went into the New Testament and read of the birth of Jesus Christ, the One who actually fulfilled the very prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah and the other Old Testament writers. My heart rejoiced as I found confirmation in Acts 10:4343To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43), "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins."
On June 8, 1944, the words in Rom. 10:99That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9) stood out boldly before my eyes: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." In that very moment God gave me grace to confess my sins to Him, and He forgave me all my sins and saved me for Jesus' sake, even as I later found that His word promises clearly in 1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9), "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
How my heart rejoiced in my newness of spiritual life, even though my body was suffering terribly from the beatings and lack of food. Suddenly I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes, and that when I looked at the officers and guards who had starved and beaten me and my companions, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to pity.
I realized that they did not know anything about my Savior, and that if Christ is not in a heart it is natural to be cruel. I read in my Bible that, while those who crucified Jesus on the cross had beaten Him and spit upon Him before He was nailed to the cross, He tenderly prayed in His moment of excruciating suffering, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
And now, from the depths of my heart, I too prayed for God to forgive my torturers. I determined by the aid of Christ to do my best to acquaint the Japanese people with the message of salvation.
A year passed by, and the weeks I had been permitted to read my Bible were only a cherished memory. At last, freedom came. On August 20, 1945, American parachutists dropped on the prison grounds and released us from our cells. We were flown back to the United States and placed in hospitals to regain our strength.
After recovery I — former prisoner and bitter enemy of the Japanese — returned to Japan with one single purpose: to make Christ known. "For God so loved the world, (the world, not just America and Europe, but the world — all men everywhere) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).