The World War II plane droppedÂ below the clouds. Louis ZamperiniÂ scanned the ocean for the downedÂ bomber that had not reached its destinationÂ the day before. Suddenly, LouisÂ felt a shudder and the engine on the farÂ left of the plane shook violently, thenÂ stopped. The plane tipped to the left,Â then began to drop. Another engineÂ failure sent the plane spiraling intoÂ the ocean. Eight of the eleven menÂ were killed. Louis survived 47 days onÂ a raft. He floated over 2000 miles inÂ the Pacific Ocean, drinking rainwater,Â eating birds and being circled by sharks.Â He promised God, â€œIf you save me, IÂ will serve you foreverâ€. He was rescuedÂ but the worst was yet to come.
His rescue became his capture. HeÂ spent two years as a Japanese prisoner Â of war, enduring constant torture. OneÂ guard, nicknamed â€˜The Birdâ€™, singledÂ Louis out and took a twisted delight inÂ making his life a miserable existence.Â Louis remained unbroken, focusing allÂ his efforts on staying alive.
When the war ended and he returnedÂ home, Louisâ€™ life was a mess. He was aÂ broken man. Flashbacks, nightmares,Â alcoholism, violence and anger culminatedÂ in one quest – to find â€˜The Birdâ€™Â and kill him.
A preacher was having meetings in aÂ tent nearby and reluctantly, Louis wasÂ persuaded to attend. He heard howÂ God was interested in him, how GodÂ works miracles in peoplesâ€™ lives andÂ what God asks of men is that they haveÂ faith in Him.
There were many instances in hisÂ past where Louis could see that his lifeÂ had been miraculously spared. WhenÂ he heard that God wants manâ€™s faith, heÂ felt angry to the point of violence andÂ stood up to leave. The promise he hadÂ made to God on the raft flashed intoÂ his mind. He stopped, turned aroundÂ and committed his life to Christ. AtÂ home, he poured all his liquor downÂ the sink and slept peacefully for theÂ first time in five years. In the morning,Â he felt cleansed and began reading hisÂ Bible. He had no more nightmares orÂ flashbacks and instead of wanting toÂ kill â€˜The Birdâ€™, he felt compassion andÂ forgiveness towards him. He returnedÂ to Japan and met with hundreds ofÂ prison guards, forgiving them. WhenÂ they saw his genuine love for those whoÂ had treated him so badly, many turnedÂ to Christ.
What brought about this drasticÂ change in Louisâ€™ life? Faith in JesusÂ Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, â€œIfÂ anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;Â old things have passed away; behold,Â all things have become new â€. As heÂ committed his life to serving Christ,Â fulfilling the promise he had made,Â he became like the One he followed.Â On the cross, the Lord Jesus forgaveÂ those who were crucifying Him (LukeÂ 23:34). He offers forgiveness to allÂ today, even though we are enemies ofÂ God. â€œGod demonstrates His own loveÂ toward us, in that while we were stillÂ sinners, Christ died for us â€ (RomansÂ 5:8). Will you accept His forgivenessÂ and commit your life to Him? He willÂ not disappoint you. He will make youÂ a new creation.
Louis Zamperini followed ChristÂ until his death in July 2014, at 97 yearsÂ of age.
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