Jacob De Shazer Converts Japan

Jacob De Shazer was part of Lt Col James H (Jimmie) Doolittle’s Bomber Squadron which bombed Tokyo, on April 18, 1942.  Sixteen North American B25 bombers rested on the deck of “USS Hornet” until – at 3.15 a.m. – the alarm was given.  Battle stations!  So it was the first bombing of Japan’s capital city took place.  But B25 number 16, named ‘Bat Out of Hell’, ran out of fuel and the crew bailed out over enemy occupied territory in China.

Jacob De Shazer tells how he and his buddies were captured, “imprisoned, beaten and half-starved”.  Three fellow crewmembers were executed, and a fourth died of “slow starvation”.

Duriing his 40 months of brutality and solitary confinement De Shazer asked a guard if he might have a Bible. The request was granted. “I eagerly read its pages.  Chapter after chapter gripped my heart,” he later wrote.

And then, on 8 June, 1944, “God gave me grace to confess my sins to Him … and He saved me for Jesus’ sake.”

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De Shazer and several other crew members were imprisoned until their liberation a few days after Japan’s surrender in August 1945. After the war, home in America, De Shazer entered Seattle Pacific (Bible) College, and later returned to Japan as a missionary!

One of his first meetings was in the largest auditorium in Osaka – 4000 crowded inside and 3000 listened outside – and Jacob De Shazer (who had once bombed Tokyo), and Mitsuo Fuchida (who once bombed Pearl Harbour and who De Shazer led to faith in 1950), testified together of their common love for the One Who had reconciled them to God … and each other.

De Shazer preached and planted Free Methodist churches in Japan for nearly 30 years, before returning to the USA and retiring. However, he and his wife enjoyed a further 30 years together in retirement.

Jacob De Shazer died in his sleep on March 15, 2008 at his home is Salem, Oregon, at the age of 95.

Further information about Jacob De Shazer can be found at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/church-history/jacob-deshazer-bombs-japan

An article about De Shazer’s mother and her remarkable sense to pray at the very time De Shazer was parachuting from his plane can be found at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/family/parenting-family/the-prayers-of-a-mother

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

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Charles Elmer Cowman and OMS

Charles Elmer Cowman was born in Illinois, USA, on March 13, 1868. As ‘a small boy’ he walked to the mourner’s bench on the final evening of a local ‘revival meeting’.  Many in the community regarded that ‘revival’ as a failure – only one response to the Gospel call, and that ‘a small boy’.

But Charles E. Cowman meant business with God.

At the age of 21 he married Lettie Burd, his childhood sweetheart, and on 22 February, 1901, they arrived in Japan to proclaim the old, old story.

From these small beginnings grew the Oriental Missionary Society (now OMS International), a great evangelical force that continues in the tradition begun by the Cowmans.

The Cowman’s were originally connected with the Methodist Board of Missions, but came in contact with The International Apostolic Holiness Union in 1900 and became life long members of the Union from then. The Union had been established by Martin W Knapp, at Cincinnati, Ohio in 1897 to promote camp meetings and evangelism, with the key Bible doctrines of the Healing of the Sick, the Return of our Lord, and the Evangelization of the World.

Under the influence of the IAH Union, the Cowans came to the conclusion that missionary endeavour should be a faith project, the “old apostolic way according to Matthew 20:4”.

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The Cowmans went to Japan and established the OMS in 1901 on the same lines as The International Apostolic Holiness Union, after ordination by them back in the USA that same year.  It was seen as the Missionary arm of the IAH Union and in time became regarded as “the child of the whole holiness movement”.

In 1902 the Cowman’s were joined by Ernest A Kilbourne, who laboured faithfully with them to build a powerful ministry in the Orient. In 1907 the ministry reached out to Korea, then, after Cowman’s death, it grew to include China, India, Columbia, Greece, Brazil, Taiwan, Ecuador, Hong Kong and Haiti. The Cowman and Kilbourne Work, as it was initially known, established seminaries for training local ministers, distributed the Bible, planted indigenous churches and broadcast gospel programs.

Mrs Cowman is also known for her daily devotional book, Streams in the Desert, compiled during her husband’s final illness.  More than three million copies have been sold in the English language alone.

Charles E. Cowman died on 23 September, 1924.  “I have no regret that my life is slipping away,” he told his missionary friend and colleague, E.A. Kilbourne, “because of what I have done for my heathen brothers.  I am glad, oh, so glad …”

Find hundreds of succinct Church History posts at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/topics/ministry/church-history

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Jacob DeShazer Bombs Japan then Evangelises Japan

Jacob Daniel DeShazer was born in West Stayton, Oregon on November 15 in 1912, not long before World War One. He was to become a famous name in the next World War.

The son of a Free Methodist preacher, Jacob was raised in church but strayed from the faith in his high school years. In 1940 he enlisted in the US air force and trained as a bombardier.

April 18, 1942 DeShazer flew as a bombardier on a B-25 bomber with Gen. Jimmy Doolittle’s “Doolittle Raiders”, in the first air attack on Japan in World War II.

On the way back from that raid the B-25, on which he was bombardier, ran out of fuel and was one of two planes that did not make it home. The crew bailed out over enemy occupied territory, and were taken prisoners.

As DeShazer was parachuting from his plane his mother woke with a sense of falling and prayed earnestly, not knowing anything of the raid, or of her son’s danger. When she felt at peace, she went back to sleep. Meanwhile, as the young airman plunged toward the ground, DeShazer thought it would be “dishonest” to pray. So he didn’t. He had not kept up a walk with God and didn’t think he had the right to call on God’s help.

Regarded as “war criminals”, rather than POW’s, the men were harshly treated and beaten. Three of DeShazer’s buddies were shot before a firing squad. Of DeShazer’s 40 months as a prisoner, he spent 36 in solitary confinement. Another member of crew starved to death, but not before witnessing to DeShazer.

In May, 1944, after two years’ imprisonment, some small concessions were given to the men and so DeShazer asked a guard for a Bible. He devoured the Bible, reading it through multiple times and searching out the fulfilment of every prophecy that he found. He was determined to find out it the Bible was what it was claimed to be.

He not only found the Bible to be all he hoped it could be, but he also found salvation through Christ, reading Romans 10:9 on 8 June, 1944. Then, as he made his solitary journey into faith, based only on the Word of God, he was challenged to live out Christ’s teachings, starting with the command to “love your enemies”. He began being friendly to the cruellest guard. Within days the man’s attitude toward him changed.

Tutored only by the Word and the Spirit, harvesting the godly training of his childhood, DeShazer grew in faith and accepted God’s call to reach out to the Japanese. He recalls, “When I was a prisoner, I was afraid I was going to die and I told God ‘I don’t want to go up there with empty hands; I want to do something for Jesus.”

On 20 August, 1945, the war ended. Before long, DeShazer was re-united with his family and then, at the age of 34, he entered Seattle Pacific (Bible) College to train for missionary service. And the field? Japan.

DeShazer married Florence, a fellow Bible College student, and headed to Japan for 30 years of effective ministry. Before arriving in Japan DeShazer wrote a tract titled “I Was a Prisoner of Japan”, which told his story. It was translated into Japanese and widely distributed.

General MacArthur had told the Japanese that they ought to be Christians. This opened the door for Christian preaching. When the Japanese Emperor told the Japanese that he was not divine, in 1946, this lead to tremendous instability in many Japanese lives (and suicide as well), which, compounded by their defeat, gave great opportunity for the gospel. It is estimated there were 30,000 conversions during DeShazer’s first year in Japan.

The most notary convert to come from DeShazer’s testimony was Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbour on Dec. 7, 1941. After reading “I Was a Prisoner of Japan” Fuchida studied the Bible, became a Christian and spent the rest of his life as a missionary.

The 1972 edition of DeShazer’s biography contains a photo of DeShazer and his wife, just before their third furlough. “I love these beautiful Japanese people so much” he is quoted as saying. “They all look beautiful to me. They need Jesus.”

DeShazer passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 15, 2008, at the age of 95.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

Dohnavur Revival Breaks Out In Southern India

This is the day that Revival came to Dohnavur, under the care of Amy Carmichael. It was 1905.

Amy Carmichael’s ministry began in Ireland where she reached out to women working in the factories. She was influenced by the Keswick Movement calling people to enter a deeper life of devotion.

In 1893 she went to Japan at age 25, where she stayed for just over a year. During that time she was challenged about her culture getting in the way of her ministry.

She recounts the experience as follows. “We went to see an old lady who was very ill. She had not heard the Gospel before, but was willing and eager to listen. … She seemed to be just about to turn to Him in faith when she suddenly noticed my hands. It was cold weather and I had on fur gloves. `What are these?’ she asked, stretching out her hand and touching mine. She was old and ill and easily distracted. … I went home, took off my English clothes, put on my Japanese kimono, and never again, I trust, risked so very much for the sake of so little.”

She went to South India because “the Lord told me to follow Him down to Ceylon”. She then spent the rest of her life (57 years) in Dohnavur saving children from temple prostitution. After 12 years she had 130 children under her care. She formed a Protestant religious order called “Sisters of the Common Life”, emphasizing celibacy, mysticism, fellowship, and service. She also wrote 35 books detailing life in India and sharing testimonies about her work. Bishop Houghton was attracted to learn more about her when he discovered that she did not include photographs of herself in her books.

Ten years into her missionary service in India a wonderful revival broke out. Amy Carmichael had spent the previous five years rescuing young girls from a life of misery and shame before the revival fell at Dohnavur.

Dohnavur was a refuge that had previously been set up with funding from a Swedish-Prussian Count Dohna (hence its name in his honour). When Amy Carmichael began rescuing girls she was able to use this refuge as her base.

Child devadasis are literally “female servants/slaves of god”, so they were temple courtesans, dancers and prostitutes. Amy was able to rescue huge numbers of these girls from a life of slavery and degradation.

One Sunday, as the group of children met for worship, revival came. Let us read of the blessing that fell – in Amy’s own words.

“On 22 October, to quote one of the little girls, Jesus came to Dohnavur. He was there before, but on that day He came in so vivid a fashion that we cannot wonder that it struck the child as a new coming.

“It was at the close of the morning service that the break came. The one who was speaking was obliged to stop, overwhelmed by a sudden realization of the inner force of things. It was impossible even to pray. One of the older lads in the boys’ school began to try to pray, but he broke down, then another, then all together, the older lads chiefly at first.

“Soon many among the younger ones began to cry bitterly, and pray for forgiveness. It spread to the women. Our children began, I think, simultaneously with the boys, but it was so startling and so awful, I can use no other word, that the details escape me. Soon the whole upper half of the church was on its face on the floor crying to God, each boy and girl, man and woman, oblivious of all others. The sound was like the sound of waves or strong wind in the trees. No separate voice could be heard … nothing disturbed those who were praying, and that hurricane of prayer continued with one short break of a few minutes for over four hours. They passed like four minutes.”
(From Amy Carmichael, by Bishop F. Houghton).

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

Sadhu Sundar Singh Takes Christ on Foot

This is the day that … Sadhu Sundar Singh, “The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet”, was born to a well-to-do family in Rampur, Northern India, in 1889.

Sundar was born into a devout Sikh family, a strict religious brotherhood within Hinduism, and as a youngster he memorised the Bagawadgita, mastered the Vedas and read the Koran. His parents sent him to a Christian school because it was closer than the government school three miles away, and the education received was excellent.

He was also influenced by Sadhus who taught Yoga. His mother told him not to be selfish and materialistic like his brothers but to be a Sadhu, one who devotes his life to religion and lives on charity.

Thus Sundar grew to teenage years with a strange aversion to Christianity … he “hated the Christian teachers, their school, their Scriptures and their Jesus” (The Yellow Robe, by Cyril Davey, page 25). He threw stones at the Christian preachers and encouraged his friends to do the same, and he also tore a New Testament to pieces before his school friends and burned it in the school courtyard, when he was but 14 years of age. Then came his vision of the Risen Christ a few days later, and the “Damascus Road” experience. It was 17-18 December, 1904.

Sundar woke at 3am and was in despair. His Hindu religious devotion had left him empty and he contemplated suicide. He asked God to show him the right way. Then a bright light appeared and he saw Jesus, who said to him, “Why have you not followed me?” He did so immediately and felt great joy.
He cut off his long hair, a mark of Sikhdom. When he told his father he had become a Christian “his father’s wrath was dreadful to see”. He was cast out of the family and poisoned! Found by an Indian Christian, Rev. P. Uppal, Sundar was nursed back to health. He was baptised on 3 September, 1905 – his 16th birthday.

He then dedicated himself as a Christian Sadhu, wearing a yellow robe and wandering without any means of support. This way he knew he could reach his people who accepted such holy men.

In 1910 he studied for ministry in the Anglican Church until he found out that upon ordination he would be expected to stay in one diocese. He left and began an itinerant preaching ministry that took him around India and even into Tibet.

The years that followed were filled with incredible suffering and hardship. He travelled all over North India, despite heat and cold, plague, malaria, cholera, facing death more than a dozen times.

Curious tales abound: patting a leopard as if it were a dog; being miraculously delivered from a well, the top of which had been locked; the meeting with the 300 year-old hermit who “told Sundar Christ’s coming was imminent” (Sadhu Sundar Singh, by J. Lynch Watson, page 66).

Sundar’s books don’t always reveal the evangelical image given in the Moody Press biography by Cyril Davey. He was a student of Swedenborg’s writings … and he speaks of “those in hell who will ultimately be brought to Heaven …” due to the intercession of the departed saints. On the other hand he speaks of the sacrifice of Christ “by which we are saved from sin and its consequences”.

He tells the pilgrim bathing in the ‘sacred’ Ganges that “I have already bathed by faith in the blood of Christ and by His grace have been saved …” (With and Without Christ, by S.S. Singh, page 32).

Sundar preached in Madras and Ceylon, travelling all over India and Ceylon, then internationally from 1918 – 1922. He visited Malaya, Japan, China, Western Europe, Australia and Israel.

In 1920 the Sadhu visited Australia – unheralded. And three weeks “of hurriedly arranged meetings gave to thousands the memory of a Presence” (Story of Sadhu Sundar Singh, by Harold Short, page 7).

In 1922 he was happy to be back in his beloved India. The tour of Western lands had distressed him.

Each year he made a trip into Tibet, and it was in 1929 that he set out once again to preach in the forbidden land.

And there the story finishes … he was last seen leaving the little town of Kalka … and never seen again.

One biographer pays the following tribute to this remarkable servant of Christ – “Coming from the presence of Sundar Singh, men forget themselves, they forget him – but they think of Christ!” (The Sadhu, by Streeter and Appasamy, page xv).
What better tribute could be offered?

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.