The Gospel Transforms Enemies into Brothers

In a world often marked by conflict and division, the story of Jacob DeShazer and Matsuo Fuchida serves as a profound illustration of Jesus' command to love your enemy. Their journey from enmity to friendship is a testament to the transformative power of forgiveness and love.

Jacob DeShazer was a sergeant in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. In 1942, he participated in the Doolittle Raid, a bold bombing mission over Japan. After the raid, DeShazer's plane ran out of fuel, and he was captured by the Japanese. He endured years of brutal treatment as a prisoner of war, which fueled his hatred for his captors. During his imprisonment, however, DeShazer was given a Bible, and through reading it, he encountered the message of Jesus Christ. This encounter changed his heart. Instead of harboring bitterness, he chose to forgive his enemies and committed his life to Christ.
After the war, DeShazer returned to the United States, but he felt a calling to return to Japan, not as a soldier, but as a missionary. He wanted to share the love and forgiveness he had found in Christ with the very people he had once considered his enemies.
Meanwhile, Matsuo Fuchida, the Japanese commander who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, also experienced a profound transformation. After the war, Fuchida struggled with the devastation his actions had caused. One day, he encountered a pamphlet written by DeShazer, detailing his experience and conversion. Moved by DeShazer’s story of forgiveness, Fuchida began to explore the Christian faith. Eventually, he too became a Christian and dedicated his life to spreading the message of peace and reconciliation.
The paths of DeShazer and Fuchida crossed in the most unexpected of ways. The former enemies met, and their shared faith in Christ forged a deep bond between them. They traveled and spoke together, sharing their incredible story of forgiveness and redemption with people around the world.
Their story is a powerful reminder of Jesus' command to love our enemies. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus teaches, "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." The lives of Jacob DeShazer and Matsuo Fuchida illustrate that even the deepest animosities can be overcome by the love of Christ. Their example encourages us to extend grace and forgiveness, even to those who have wronged us, transforming hearts and healing divisions in ways we might never imagine.

Questions for Further Discussion
•As you look back over Jesus' words in Matthew 5, do you see your heart reflected on the page?
•How has studying this chapter changed your understanding of true righteousness?
•Jesus' command to love your enemies is a radical and uniquely Christian idea. What challenges do you face in applying it to your life?
•The Rabbis of Jesus’ day had a narrow definition of “neighbor.” How can we broaden our understanding of who our neighbors are, and what steps can we take to love them as ourselves?
•How can praying for your enemies change your heart and attitude towards them? Can you share an example of how prayer has helped you love someone difficult to love?
•Jesus commands us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. What does this command mean to you in light of Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit? How can this understanding relieve the pressure of striving for perfection on your own?