A Change of Mission
The Transformed Mission of Mitsuo Fuchida
Jesus is in the business of changing the lives of people who trust in Him. His transforming work also includes a radical change mission in the lives of people that He saves. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1-3 that before anyone is saved their mission is to satisfy the passions of the flesh and to carry out the desires of the body. In short, before anyone is transformed to live on mission for Christ they are living on mission for self until Jesus steps in and saves and redirects our paths. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus pursue us while we pursue self to save us from God’s wrath, but also to give us a new mission in life as God’s people. Paul understood this because it was the reality of his life before and after Christ. Before Christ, Paul was on mission to live for himself as an enemy of God and the Church. He was in the business of persecuting Christians to eliminate the name of Jesus from the face of the earth, but Jesus was in the business of changing Paul’s life. No longer would Paul live for his own mission but would now be on mission for Christ to lead as many people he could to salvation. What a beautiful story of transformation that God did in Paul’s life but also wants to do in your life. To be used by God in powerful ways we must be willing to allow Jesus to change the mission of our lives to be more aligned with the mission He has for us.
A contemporary example is the story of life transformation and mission redirection of Mitsuo Fuchida. As a new believer, Fuchida had the burning desire to share the good news of Jesus Christ with his fellow Japanese countrymen. This would lead to Fuchida having a career as an evangelist who was used by God to lead at least hundreds of people to Christ. His biographers wrote of him, “Undoubtedly, Fuchida would have considered his whole life worthwhile if he had recruited just one soul for Christ. And he counted his converts in the hundreds.” (1) By the way Fuchida lived his life for Christ, it was clear that his life’s mission was to know Christ and make Christ known. But his life was not always on mission for Christ. Before knowing Christ, Mitsuo Fuchida was devoted to “conducting warfare” as a soldier in Japan’s millitary. (2) What was his greatest wartime accomplishment as part of his mission to live his life conducting warfare? Perhaps you should hear about his pre-Christ mission straight from him.
A Mission of War and Destruction
Fuchida’s greatest accomplishment in the Japanese military occurred on December 7, 1941 when he was the Chief Commander of the Japanese air squadron that raided and bombed America’s Pearl Harbor. This attack was the greatest attack on American soil by an outside nation in U.S. history until September 11, 2001. Fuchida states:
“That morning, seating myself in the first plane, I led the whole squadron of 360 planes into Pearl Harbor, and having ascertained that the main force of the American Pacific fleet, comprised of eight warships, was at anchor in Pearl Harbor. I lifted the curtain of warfare by dispatching that cursed order number one, ‘Whole squadron, plunge into attack!” My heart was ablaze with joy for my success in getting the whole main force of American Pacific fleet in hand, and I put my whole effort into the war that followed, the result of which was that misery which is clear to everyone today.”
That’s right, this man whose life was transformed by Jesus Christ to be on mission to save life was once on a mission of warfare to destroy life. The attack on Pearl Harbor was successful from a Japanese military perspective; however, Fuchida insisted that a second attack occur to further disable the vital facilities of the USA. (3) His superior did not take Fuchida’s advice and aborted the mission but Fuchida would devote himself to “conducting warfare throughout the following four years, during which I faced death several times, but was miraculously saved every time to survive and see the war’s termination.” (4)
Fuchida’s life was preserved not by coincidence, but by a sovereign and providential God who wanted to redirect the mission of Fuchida’s life. God was powerfully at work in Fuchida’s life to save him and give him a new mission of promoting peace not just among men but of proclaiming peace with God through the preaching of the Gospel.
A Radical Change of Mission
After the war, God began pursuing Fuchida to save his soul and change his mission in life. Fuchida spent time testifying in war crime trials in Tokyo and began to have a growing disdain for showing mercy towards an enemy. He began to interview Japanese soldiers who were held captive by the USA during the war in hopes to find out that the Japanese POWs were mistreated at the hands of the savage Americans.
He was surprised that the POWs did not report what he was looking for and was in disbelief that they would not have been tortured by their enemy. Fuchida was especially taken back by the story of Peggy Covell, an 18 year old American girl who he heard volunteered to visit Japanese POWs to make their stay more enjoyable while also befriending many of them. (5) What is shocking is that Covell’s missionary parents were murdered by Japanese soldiers. This story of grace, mercy, and forgiveness really bothered Fuchida at first. He believed that a child in this position should be avenging the death of her parents and not befriending their killers. This story and testimony of Covell was the beginning of God teaching Fuchida about grace, mercy, and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Heading to the train, Fuchida encountered an American that was handing out Gospel tracts with the title, “I was a Prisoner of Japan.” (6) Fuchida read the tract on the train and was so intrigued by the story that he also purchased the book of this soldier’s story. In his reading, he found out that this man had given his life to being a missionary to Japan to show the love, grace, and mercy of Christ to the Japanese people. This too was another story that God was using to bring Fuchida closer to trusting in Jesus Christ. And then it happened, after months of wrestling he picked up a bible and read it and by the time he finished the Gospel of Luke, Fuchida had become a Christian. (7) He then remembered the track that was given to him by the American missionary and made contact with those listed on the back of the tract. He was then given the opportunity to meet with Glenn Wagner, the head of The Pocket Testament League in Japan. Yep, you heard that right. The League was used by God in helping this new believer change his life from a mission consumed with self to a mission now consumed with Christ. After some encouragement from Wagner, Fuchida began to take steps to make his life’s mission full of making Christ known.
Fuchida began to preach the good news of Jesus in the open air and later in organized gatherings. In one gathering, he shared his testimony and the good news of Jesus Christ and it was reported that about five hundred people came forward to receive Christ as their Savior. (8) Fuchida’s new life in Christ did not come without cost. He experienced much persecution from the hands of his countrymen but remained steadfast. He was even able to lead a man to Christ who had previously attacked him with a knife. (9) Even with the threat of death, Fuchida was committed to living out his mission in reaching people for Jesus as a worker with The Pocket Testament League.
Fuchida is a testimony on how Jesus is in the business of changing lives and the mission of those who follow Him. What about you?
What is Your Mission?
What is your mission in life? Is it to live for self or for Christ? Be encouraged today that if God can change rebels like the Apostle Paul and Mitsuo Fuchida, then he can change you. Jesus can change the mission and direction of your life to make it all about knowing Christ and making Christ known. Just like Paul and Fuchida, you too can find the true joy, passion, and purpose in making your life’s mission all about declaring the good news of Jesus to a world in desperate need of Him.
What changes need to happen in your life to align your mission and ambition with the mission and ambition of God for you. The League can help you get aligned with God’s mission for your life. Will you join us on mission to Read, Carry, and Share the Word with others? God has a great mission for you and can change or redirect your mission of self to a mission for your Savior as you bear an open heart towards Him.
May these words of Fuchida encourage you: “God has revealed to me the way of salvation through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. I decided to believe whatever is revealed in the Bible, accept it, and stand as His witness telling others this truth with the help of the Lord.” (10)
The question is will you accept this mission? Find out how to live out your mission by studying through the life of Jesus Christ. Learn more at ptl.org/start21.
(1) Smith, David. https://providencefoundation.com/baptism-by-fire-pearl-harbor-hand-of-god-mitsuo-fuchida/(accessed on September 25, 2017)
(2) https://www.ptl.org/museum/museumpix/decade1940s/fuchida.html (accessed on September 25, 2017)
(3) Smith, David. https://providencefoundation.com/baptism-by-fire-pearl-harbor-hand-of-god-mitsuo-fuchida/(accessed on September 25, 2017)
(4) https://www.ptl.org/museum/museumpix/decade1940s/fuchida.html (accessed on September 25, 2017)
(5) Smith, David. https://providencefoundation.com/baptism-by-fire-pearl-harbor-hand-of-god-mitsuo-fuchida/(accessed on September 25, 2017)
(10) https://www.moodymedia.org/articles/i-led-air-raid-pearl-harbor/ (access on September 25, 2017)