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.

Sir William Dobbie Glorifies God Defending Malta

Lieut. General Sir William George Shedden Dobbie, GCMG, KCB, DSO, was converted on November 1, 1893.

“It was the first Sunday in November, 1893”, he writes, “when I was spending a half term holiday at Blackheath (England). I realized for the first time, although I had often heard it before, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had come to this earth for the express purpose of laying down His life as the atonement for my sin, in order to deliver me from its penalty and power, so that I might go free! I then and there accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour, on the grounds that by His death He had settled my debt once for all…”

Dobbie was born in Madras, India on July 12, 1879. When he was only nine months old he was left in England to receive a proper education, which he achieved with success being a top-ranking classical scholar and a keen student of ancient military campaigns. He went on to graduate from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.

He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers at the age of 20 and then served with distinction in the South African Boer War, winning the rare honour of the Queen’s Medal with five clasps, indicating further awards.

In 1904 he married Sybil Orde-Browne and in time that union provided them one daughter and two sons.

In World War I Dobbie not only won the D.S.O. but has the unique honour to have been the officer who issued the order to the British armies to “Cease Fire on Armistice Day, November 11th, 1918.

In 1940 Dobbie was called out of retirement to take on the role of Governor of Malta, which role called heavily on his military skills and his faith in God during World War II.

In his book, A Very Present Help, Dobbie gives gratitude to God for the deliverance He wrought during those incredibly dark days (1940-1942). In 1945 he toured the USA speaking to large audiences about the battle for Malta and always giving high praise to God.

His second order to the people and forces on the tiny island of Malta said, “I call upon all officers and other ranks humbly to seek God’s help, and then in reliance upon Him to do their duty unflinchingly.”

Dobbie was not alone in his strong faith in God. He received a telegram form the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Sir Edmund Ironside, as the siege of Malta began and the wording was: “Personal from the C.I.G.S., Deuteronomy Chapter Three, Verse Twenty-Two”. Dobbie looked up the verse in his Bible and found: “Ye shall not fear them; for the Lord your God, He shall fight for you”.

Malta endured more than 2,300 air raids and was so vulnerable that its ability to remain in British hands is truly amazing.

Dobbie summarised it: “The whole thing is a miracle–a long drawn out miracle. The siege lasted for two and a half years, and the odds against us, especially in the early days, were enormous. In the latter days the dangers were equally great but of a different kind. Our food supplies very nearly ran out and it was desperately difficult to get the food through the Mediterranean to Malta, but we just got enough through to enable Malta to turn the corner.”

Dobbie received many honours during World War II, including from the French and Belgiums. However his eldest son, a Major in the Royal Engineers, was killed in Italy in the latter stages of the war.

Lieut. General Sir William George Shedden Dobbie died in 1964.

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.

John Gotch Ridley Impacts Australia

This is the day that … John Gotch Ridley was born in Darling Point, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, in 1896.

Young John was given a book by his Bible Class teacher – The Life of Hedley Vicars. This New Year gift told of a Christian soldier and, in his own words, became “one of the moulding influences of my young manhood” (Milestones of Mercy, page 25).

Three years later, at the age of 18, he responded to a powerful message on the (premillennial) Second Coming of Christ, in the Burton Street Baptist Tabernacle, under the ministry of Rev. William Lamb … and that same ‘glorious hope’ never left him. In written and spoken word, the return of our Lord was a constant theme.

Then there were days in the A.I.F. (Australian Army) – and overseas service. Still a teenager, he was to be found “in the cold and mud of French battlefields” during World War I. Severely wounded – a bullet passed through his neck and tongue (but God had plans for that tongue to proclaim His gospel) – he was awarded the Military Cross – for his acts of bravery & action in battle at Bellicourt 1918 for risking his own life by bringing ammunition & ration to the front line and also for rescuing the wounded.

Ridley returned to Australia to enter the Baptist ministry.

But a “shocking nervous breakdown” followed, and we see him travelling the outback in a horse-drawn wagon doing bush mission work.

After his marriage to Dorothy Chapman in Sydney on 18 August, 1926, he became an itinerant evangelist. The hand of the Lord was obviously upon this young evangelist. Souls were saved in outback homesteads, open-air meetings, churches … everywhere!

As strength returned – and with a loving helpmeet beside him – John G. began his evangelistic ministry. He became a well known Convention speaker, both in Australia and overseas, despite continual ill health.

As a “prolific & terrific writer” writer he wrote fourteen richly Christ-honouring books and numerous tracts, coloured with eloquent and stirring prose.

On a Sunday night of November 14th, 1942 he impacted another man who became famous Australian Christian ministry. Illiterate former criminal Arthur Stace heard Ridley trumpet a message about Eternity, based on Isaiah 57:15. Suddenly he interrupted his message and laying his prepared notes aside the highly disciplined soldier-like preacher raised his loud voice and cried: “Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it, where will you spend Eternity?” Arthur Stace dedicated himself to serve God that night and walked outside to write the word ‘Eternity’ in beautiful Copperplate script with chalk on the pavement. For the rest of his life Mr Eternity continued to echo Ridley’s “Eternity” sermon on Sydney’s pavements.

Ridley co-founded the prophetic & premillennial voice of the Herald of Hope magazine. He assisted as a Chaplain in the Everyman’s Welfare work among the troops during World War II, and with others, founded the Australian Institute of Evangelism, later known as Ambassadors for Christ.

In one of his many poems he anticipated his ‘home call’:
I shall meet them in the Glory …
Those dear friends I’ve grown to love;
When we gather ’round the Saviour
In the happy home above.

David Brainerd of the back woods;
William Burns, that flaming heart,
Good McCheyne and Andrew Bonar,
Men who loved the better part …

Richard Baxter, wondrous writer
of the “Saints’ Eternal Rest”,
Holy Edwards of New England,
Of the purest and the best.

C.H. Spurgeon, prince of preachers,
Strong his influence to me;
Moody, Matheson and Moorhouse
– what a gathering there shall be.

Friends of mine in life’s long journey,
Though unworthy of their band,
Yet I hope to stand among them
When I reach the golden strand …

On 26 September, 1976, “the tired warrior fell asleep in Jesus”.

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.

Building Your Faith Through Challenges

When David stepped up to fight Goliath his faith was bolstered by his past experience of defeating a lion and a bear. Those earlier faith challenges were part of building up his faith.

We too can watch our faith grow as it tackles increasingly more demanding challenges. I want to share an example from history that clearly illustrates the progressive nature of growing faith.

Rees Howells came to prominence in World War Two, as an intercessor who prayed for and declared victories before they were ever achieved on the ground. Norman Grubb wrote the book, Rees Howells Intercessor, which documents many of the testimonies from this exemplary life. Others who were part of the prayer ministry have made their own records of the events.

Two examples of growing faith in Rees Howells’ ministry are encouraging and illustrative. In the 1920’s Rees Howells stepped out in faith to buy properties, for a Bible College and a school for missionary children. Those purchases were made by faith, for sums of 6,000 and 3,000 pounds. Then, before the war began he was led to purchase a third property, for Jewish orphans, worth 20,000 pounds. Each purchase involved much prayer and pressing in to God to provide, as he did not have the means to pay for them.

The earlier experiences of buying the less expensive properties prepared Howells for the huge 20,000 pound purchase.

Similarly, in his prayer ministry, Rees Howells moved from one mile-post to another. In 1940, when the United Kingdom was subject to intense bombing raids by the Germans, Rees was challenged to believe God that no bombs would land on his ministry properties and that all the people would be safe. This was particularly challenging for his property in Swansea, as it was close to a major target area of industrial activity. After much agonising prayer Howells was impressed to claim the Passover text, Exodus 12:13, “I will pass over you”. That gave everyone complete assurance that they would be safe. In the afternoon meeting of September 8, 1940, he said, “I could put it in print that no devil can touch anyone here.”

That, however, was just a warm-up battle in itself. Rees was next challenged to believe that God would protect the whole of England from the intended German invasion. Read these diary notes from the prayer session of September 12.

“We prayed last night that London would be defended and that the enemy would fail to break through, and God answered prayer. If we have protection for our properties, why not get protection for the country?”

Norman Grubb gives the following information in his book, Rees Howells Intercessor.

Mr. Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain at that time, in his War Memoirs, gives September 15 as “the culminating date” in that Battle of the Air. He tells how he visited the Operations Room of the RAF that day and watched as the enemy squadrons poured over and ours went up to meet them, until the moment came when he asked the Air Marshal, “What other reserves have we?”. “There are none,” he answered, and reported afterwards how grave Mr. Churchill looked, “and well I might,” added Mr. Churchill. Then another five minutes passed, and “it appeared that the enemy were going home. The shifting of the discs on the table showed a continuous eastward movement of German bombers and fighters. No new attack appeared. In another ten minutes the action was ended.” There seemed no reason why the Luftwaffe should have turned for home, just at the moment when victory was in their grasp. But we know why.

After the war Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, Commander-in-chief of Fighter Command in the Battle of Britain, made this significant comment: “Even during the battle one realised from day to day how much external support was coming in. At the end of the battle one had the sort of feeling that there had been some special Divine intervention to alter some sequence of events which would of otherwise occurred“.

We see here that the Lord mightily used Rees Howells in prevailing prayer. But we also see that Howells was able to build on earlier skirmishes and faith challenges, to step up to more compelling and challenging moments.

Don’t be perturbed by the challenges facing you at this time. They are like the lion and bear which David faced. They are nothing to be sniffed at – dangerous challenges in their own right. But they are also just the training program for you to move on to being “mighty in faith”. Allow your present challenges to be stepping stones to awesome victories which God has in store for you.