There were so many amazing missionaries to choose from, which makes the selection process difficult. This time around, I opted for Christian Heroes- Jacob DeShazer: Forgive Your Enemies.
What Is This Product?
I received a physical copy of the book. It’s a paperback.
I also received a downloadable study guide. This came in a ZIP file. After it was unzipped, I was able to access the guide.
It’s broken into two parts. The first is the actual study. The second is the downloadable fact sheets and printables. There’s also a guide for using the unit study.
What’s the Story About?
A more recent missionary, DeShazer was born in 1912 and died in 2008. He spent his childhood in a Christian home in rural Oregon.
His father died when he was young, and his mom remarried. Life was challenging, and there was never enough money to go around.
After high school graduation, Jake wanted more than the life he had. One decision led to another, and he found himself growing more and more distant to the Christian faith he once believed.
When World War II started, Jake decided to enlist. He joined the Army Air Corps and after training was selected to take part in a secret mission, the Doolittle Raid.
In April 1942, Jake was in one of the sixteen planes that bombed Japan. The mission was accomplished, but then things went wrong. The airplanes went down and Jake and the other members of the mission had to jump out to try and stay alive. Unfortunately, they were captured by the Japanese.
Jacob DeShazer spent years as a Prisoner of War (POW). He was interrogated and tortured, but stayed true to his country and didn’t reveal any information.
Eventually, Jake and the men were allowed some books. One of the books he had access to was the Bible. When he started reading, the lessons he’d learned in childhood came flooding back to him. He realized that God was with him, even though he was in a horrible situation.
Saved while a POW, Jake turned to praying. He found joy depsite his harsh living conditions.
And, he felt God leading him to witness to his captures – the Japanese.
In 1945, DeShazer was released and returned home. But, he didn’t forget the call God had given him.
It took a couple of years for him to get back to Japan. He went to college and got married first. But, in 1948, he and his wife left for Japan as missionaries.
The Study Guide
The study guide is an incredible resource. There are scripture references that tied into the studies. One key section of verses on loving your enemies that my family talked about was Romans 12:17-21:
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
In addition to scriptures, the study guide had discussion questions for each chapter. I appreciated the range of questions. There were some that were easily answered based on the reading of the chapter, and there were some that required more thought.
For instance, for chapter six, one of the questions was:
Which city was the target for Jake’s plane?
Another one was:
If you were part of the Bat’s crew, which job would you want? Why?
These questions require totally different thinking skills, which is good!
Questions weren’t the only thing in the guide. There was also a ton of information and suggested activities. My kids really enjoyed learning more about the Japanese language.
We did not do all of the suggested activities, but we enjoyed the ones we did. There were ideas for all subject areas, including:
- Studying WWII
- Making a map of Japan
- Watching a movie based on the Doolittle Raid
- Learning more about missionaries in Japan
- Learning about aircraft technology
When learning about other missionaries to Japan, my kids remembered that one of the dear ladies in our church grew up as a missionary kid in Japan. They recalled some of the stories she’s shared over the years, and it was a fun personal connection.
We also tried a few other activities. We practiced eating noodles with chopsticks, and listened to a bit of Japanese music. One of my kiddos really was interested in kimonos, and did some additional studying about those.
What We Thought
Jacob DeShazer’s story is incredible. He truly forgave his enemies, and loved them enough to want to tell them about God’s love.
It’s inspiring, and made a great family read aloud! The authors wove the details into an easy to digest story.
If you’re looking for a meaningful book, I highly recommend any of the ones by YWAM Publishing.