Larkin Spivey Finding Faith In War

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A World War II Hero

November 2010

My daughter, Catherine-Alexa, recently sent me a text message to check out an article in the Wall Street Journal about a war hero. I looked and found a story about Louis Zamperini. In Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from World War II I had written three daily devotionals based on this man’s amazing story during and after that war. Zamperini had been a star long distance runner and Olympic athlete when he volunteered for the Army Air Corps in 1941. He became a navigator on a B-24 bomber and was assigned to the Pacific theater where he flew long range missions out of various island bases. He was shot down in May 1943, miraculously survived the crash, and suffered one of the longest lifeboat ordeals on record. In his book Devil at My Heels[1] he chronicled his spiritual journey through this experience and afterward, during his internment in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Although he felt that God had saved him on many occasions during the war, afterward he drifted away from God as his life fell apart due to recurring nightmares, drinking, and business failures. The climax of his story came on a September day in 1949 when his wife took him to a tent meeting in downtown Los Angeles. He went reluctantly to hear an unknown preacher named Billy Graham. In spite of his antipathy, Zamperini found his heart changing by Graham’s patient and persistent presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He described what happened:

I dropped to my knees and for the first time in my life truly humbled myself before the Lord. I asked Him to forgive me for not having kept the promises I’d made during the war, and for my sinful life. I made no excuses. I did not rationalize, I did not blame. He had said, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” so I took Him at His word, begged for His pardon, and asked Jesus to come into my life.

[1] Zamperini, Louis with David Rensin. Devil at My Heels: A World War II Hero’s Saga of Torment, Survival, and Forgiveness. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003.

1 comment:

  1. Such an inspirational story! I enjoyed rereading your devotional entries in Battlefields and Blessings.