Jacob DeShazer: American Missionary to Japan

Home Inspiring Story Jacob DeShazer: American Missionary to Japan

Jacob DeShazer had every reason to hate his Japanese captors, but God had another plan for him. Hate can’t destroy a man who is determined to obey Christ and forgive.

Two years had passed since DeShazer and his crew had bailed out of their B-25 Bomber over China. The Japanese captured him and moved him from one prison camp to another, where he saw how the Japanese treated Chinese citizens. DeShazer wondered how humans could to that to others. “It was the first time that I had ever been in such a wicked environment,” he said.[1]

He soon realized they’d treat him and his fellow aircrewman the same way. They spent most of their time in solitary confinement and faced beatings and the threat of execution nearly every day. They lived on meager rations and received no treatment for illness such as dysentery and beriberi.

As DeShazer endured the endless days with no news of the war or his release, his hatred for his captors deepened. Another prisoner, Lieutenant Robert Meder had shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with DeShazer. The Japanese allowed the prisoners a few privileges and DeShazer asked for a Bible. He had been raised in a Christian home, but the Bible had no real significance on him.

He sat in his cell under poor lighting reading the Scriptures over several weeks and memorized as much as he could.[2] While reading “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9, ESV), Jacob accepted Christ.[3]

Salvation was in his heart, but his body remained locked in a cell. And the day after his conversion, one of the guards assaulted DeShazer. The day before, he would have reacted differently. He remembered the words of Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44, ESV).

Jacob chose to love the guard rather than hate. He spoke to him kindly no matter the circumstance, and the guard became friendlier over time.[4] God healed the relationship between prisoner and guard.

DeShazer spent more than another year after conversion in captivity. On August 20, 1945, he was finally released, and only a few years later, he returned as a missionary preaching love and forgiveness to the Japanese people.

Japanese citizen and former pilot Mitsuo Fuchida had led the attack on Pearl Harbor—the incident that had so deeply angered DeShazer. After the war, Fuchida read one of DeShazer’s pamphlets and became so persuaded that he gave his life to Christ. The pair connected and began to preach alongside one another.

Has someone wronged you? Don’t waste another moment on resentment. Forgive them right now, pray for them, and show them an act of love.

[1]   Donald M. Goldstein and Carol Aiko DeShazer Dixon, Return of the Raider (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 2010), 32.

[2]   Ibid, 43-44.

[3]   Ibid, 49.

[4]   Ibid, 51.