An April Note from Pastor Rich

A Reminder of Grace  

I was born on October 1, 1941, a little over two months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Some twenty-six years later my in-laws, Pastor John and Ruby Peters became missionaries with The Pocket Testament League out of New Jersey. You say, what is the connection? Well I’ll tell you: Carolyn and I have been in Hawaii for the past two and a half weeks. In fact, I am writing this from Maui and the weather is wonderful, 80 degrees and SUN.

On our way to Maui, we spent three days in Honolulu and toured the Pearl Harbor Memorial site. We spent an entire day there and it was very moving. For example, we stood on the USS Arizona where nearly a thousand men are still entombed. We watched remaining oil seep from the ship, and the only way people could express themselves was in a whisper. It made me wonder if those who protest in 2017 have any idea the price it took to give them that right. It also made me prouder to be an American. Carolyn says, “It was a little like taking communion. It was a remembrance of sacrifice, but not for spiritual freedom like Jesus’ death, but sacrifice for freedom none-the-less.”

We went to the Aviation Museum. This is on Ford Island which has two hangers filled with Military planes, some badly damaged in the attack on December 7, 1941, and others of more recent vintage. There are bullet holes in the hangers themselves. These two hangers survived the attack. Many did not because they blew up in the explosions of the fuel, etc.

In the process, Carolyn came across a display which was in a small glass case—maybe 12x12. She couldn’t believe what she saw. [“Read More” link here] At least in her memory this was very special. For years as a youngster, her Dad would talk about the fact that Mitsuo Fuchida, who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, had become a Christian. Shortly after the war, General Douglas MacArthur requested that the Pocket Testament League send as many Bibles to Japan as possible. She had heard her dad tell the story many times and in her memory her Dad talked about those Bibles being the avenue which would bring Fuchida to Christ. Also, Fuchida became friends with Colonel James (“Jimmy”) Doolittle who had a Christian influence on him.

So, here is the story as told by Carolyn (in part gleaned from the Pocket Testament League website).

“As WWII roared across Europe, its impact was felt by the League. On December 29, 1941, the League's International Headquarters in Birmingham, England was destroyed by bombs. Throughout the war, League teams visited military camps around the US sharing special editions of the New Testament.

“As the war came to a close, the League extended its reach overseas. After a year of careful planning and prayer, an overseas Scripture sharing effort was launched in China using a special Chinese edition of the Gospel of John. A few years later, the League began providing Gospels and New Testaments to Formosa (Taiwan) and Japan. General MacArthur asked the League for ten million copies of God's Word to be sent to Japan. Members of The Pocket Testament League actually contributed a stunning eleven million Gospels for the nation of Japan through gracious giving and prayer. This is especially remarkable because Gospels in those days were considerably more expensive than they are today, and members paid for them.

“As a result of these Gospels shared in Japan, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, who had once led the attack on Pearl Harbor, accepted Christ as his Savior. He even worked for the League! You can read his personal testimony in detail in The Pocket Testament League’s Virtual Museum (www.ptl.org/museum).”

So, when we walked past the small display case we saw that it held the Bible that was Fuchida’s. We were overwhelmed. There it was with his name written in Japanese and English and a Scripture reference under his name; we presume an important verse to him, Luke 23:34. It was so special to us and we hope it is special to you too. Praise the Lord for The Pocket Testament League. And praise the Lord for Carolyn’s Dad (John W. Peters) who became a missionary with the League to many countries around the world.

When we looked up the verse that was written there —we both cried. This must have been the life verse of Mitsuo Fuchida, the man who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, two months and six days after my birth. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Isn’t God’s Grace amazing? Our Lord has redeemed a man who was responsible for the death of so many people and the pain and agony of so many more. God only saves sinful people and the greater the sin the greater the Grace. Yet, when you and I arrive in Glory, our mansion may be next door to that of Mitsuo Fuchida and we will love him as much as God loves him and that is GRACE! GRACE!

Serving Christ Together,
Pastor Rich