Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:27).
Father, forgive them. They know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
This article on Love Your Enemies is in two parts. The first part is an illustration of the principle; the second part explains the revolutionary principle from our Lord.
Love Your Enemies Part One
He sat on the upper deck of the United States warship Missouri and watched the so-called Peace Proceedings that put an end to the Second World War in the Pacific. General Douglas MacArthur, representing the United States, said something which brought a sneer to his lips.
“Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.”
Fuchida’s historian writes: “Fuchida listened skeptically. He had doubted his own emperor when he spoke of everlasting peace, and he didn’t believe the general now. No, he thought, you are wrong, MacArthur. Peace isn’t coming to the world. More trouble is coming.”
Mitsuo Fuchida knew that war is the natural state of mankind. People are selfish, and their interests conflict. As long as people have lived on earth, there have been wars, and there will be wars until the end. It’s natural and normal. There’s no way to end it.
Then one day months after the war’s end, Fuchida was talking to some former POWs who had just returned from internment in the United States. That’s when he began hearing of another way.
Some of those imprisoned in the U.S. told of a young American social worker named Peggy Covell who had been so kind to them, even though the Japanese were her sworn enemies.
On one occasion, Fuchida learned the reason for her kindnesses.
A close friend of Fuchida had been shot down and spent the rest of the war in American POW camps. In one of them, he met Peggy Covell. He asked why she was so kind, why she went out of her way to be helpful. He was not prepared for her answer.
I am kind to the Japanese because the Japanese murdered my parents.
Her parents, Jimmy and Charma Covell, had been missionaries to Japan. With other missionaries, they had evacuated to the Philippines when war threatened. Eventually, they were found and beheaded.
Their son and daughter in the U.S. had not learned of their parents’ death until early in 1945 when the Philippines were liberated. At first, Peggy was angry and filled with hate that the people who had been the object of her parents’ love and prayers could have killed them. But eventually, she knew she had to forgive them and show them the love of Christ. She inquired and found out that the POW hospitals needed social workers and she volunteered.
She was forgiving her enemies, loving those who had brought so much sorrow to her own life.
When Fuchida heard of this, he was stunned. Whoever heard of forgiving one’s enemies? In Japan, he said, it was considered honorable to pronounce a seven-fold curse on one’s enemies. But to forgive them?
He began reading about this Christian faith. One day he found the book I Was a Japanese Prisoner of War, written by Jacob DeShazer, one of Doolittle’s Raiders who had been shot down and spent three years in a POW camp. While there, he came to know Christ and determined the Lord would have him return to Japan as a missionary when the war ended.
Next, Fuchida came across a man giving out Bibles. He eagerly took one and went home to read it, wanting to find out more about this new kind of faith which would put an end to war. He read and read. And then he came to Luke 23.
The Lord Jesus was hanging on the cross, dying. At the base of the cross, His executioners are taunting Him, spitting on Him, cursing Him Jesus looks toward Heaven and prays, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they do.”
At that moment, Fuchida became a Christian. He had never met a Christian, and had never talked to one. But Christ had captured his heart through the example of a young woman who was loving instead of hating, a former bombardier who was loving the captors who had treated him so cruelly, and by the testimony of Christ Himself.
Later, he would come across Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
It was world-changing. Revolutionary. Amazing.
“It was like having the sun come up,” Fuchida said.
For the rest of his life, Mitsuo Fuchida dedicated himself to spreading the message of Jesus Christ.
I heard him speak in chapel at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the mid-1960s and never forgot it. I do not recall one thing he said; but I never forgot who he was and how God had captured this Samurai. (The story was first told in Gordon Prange’s book God’s Samurai, and later in T. Martin Bennett’s Wounded Tiger. Fuchida’s autobiography is For That One Day.)