Summary: Although this is a sermon for the Memorial Day Weekend, it can be adapted for any time.

Winning The Lost To Jesus

1 Timothy 1:15-16

15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 1

This is the Memorial Day Weekend.

The purpose of this holiday is to pause and remember those

who died serving our country.

However, the title of my message today

is “Winning The Lost To Jesus”.

I will tell you the true story of two men who fought in World War II.

Mitsuo Fuchida grew up loving Japan

and hating the United States.

Fuchida joined Japan's Naval Air Force, and by 1941,

with 10,000 flying hours behind him,

had established himself as Japan's top fighter pilot.

When Japanese military leaders needed someone

to command a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor,

they chose Fuchida.

In the morning hours of December 7, 1941,

Fuchida ordered his torpedo bombers

to destroy the American Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor.

When he and the others flew away,

U.S. ships lay capsized, sunk or damaged,

and 2,117 U.S. servicemen died.

Fuchida was the voice that sent his aircraft carrier

the message "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

indicating the success of the surprise mission.

Of the 70 officers who participated in the raid,

he was the only one who returned alive.

More of that story a little later!

Point #1. Jesus wants everyone to be saved.

15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.

Those 2 verses were written by Paul.

The Book of Acts tells us much about his life.

He grew up as a devout Jew with the name Saul.

Acts chapter 9 indicates Saul hated Christians.

He thought Jesus was a fraud.

Saul was committed to persecuting followers of Jesus.

One day while he was traveling to Damascus

to "arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem"

the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light.

He was converted to Christianity.

His name was changed to Paul

and he began to preach that Jesus of Nazareth

is the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God.

Some of us have loved ones and friends

who have not been saved.

They have no desire to become a Christian.

Remember that God can change lives.

He is capable of saving even the least likely individuals.

Don't ever think someone you know is so bad,

or so resistant that the Sovereign God of the universe

can't get to him or her.

Let’s get back to my story for today!

On April 18, 1942, 16 B-25s were launched

from the aircraft carrier the USS Hornet,

to bomb select Japanese targets, and fly into China.

They accomplished their mission,

but all the US planes were either lost at sea or over China

as crews bailed out.

Jacob DeShazer was bombardier on plane #16.

He parachuted into an area of China controlled by Japan.

He was captured and imprisoned for 40 months.

Tortured and losing 3 friends to execution,

DeShazer's hatred grew until the Emperor of Japan

ordered better treatment of the POWs

and they were given a Bible.

The Japanese thought it portrayed Jesus as a weakling

and reading the book would demoralize the men.

DeShazer came to see Jesus as the loving, forgiving Savior

and was marvelously born again.

His hatred turned to love, and he vowed that if ever freed,

he'd return to Japan as a missionary.

More of that story later!

Point #2. God's Word has amazing power to produce faith.

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,

Who would you like to see saved?

Who do you know who refuses to come to church?

They won't get saved by nagging them.

They won't get saved by trying to scare them

about going to hell.

No one will come to faith in Jesus Christ and be saved

until he or she hears or reads the Word of God.

The main business as a church or as individual Christians

is to spread that Word.

It is the instrument to change lives.

Never underestimate it.

By 1945 Mitsuo Fuchida had become

Japan’s Navy Air Operations Officer.

On August 6 he was eating breakfast in Nara, Japan

when he heard about a bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

He flew to see the results of that powerful nuclear bomb.

On the same day, American POW Jacob DeShazer

felt moved by the Holy Spirit to pray for peace.

He found his heart softened toward his Japanese captors.

After being liberated, DeShazer wrote an essay,

"I Was a Prisoner of the Japanese,"

detailing his experiences of capture, conversion,

and forgiveness.

More of that story later!

Point #3. Winning any person to the Lord begins when someone starts praying.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, pray without ceasing,

At the time Paul wrote those words

he was a prisoner in Rome.

That would have been a down time for him

as far as seeing people come to faith in Jesus.

However, Paul wanted people to get saved

because of what the Lord had done in his own life.

His life was different now.

Paul says, Don't stop praying for the unsaved!

The importance of prayer in seeing people come to Jesus

is often minimized today in our fast-paced society.

That is why people are not moved by the message.

Their hearts have not been prepared first

by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit

to see their need to accept Jesus as their savior.

They think, "I don't need to go to church

and I don't need the Lord. I can handle things by myself.

Prayer is necessary if we are to see people's hearts

prepared to receive the truth

because up until that point they are blinded.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says, But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

Who prayed for you before you came to know Jesus?

Back when I had no desire to go to church,

my wife Pat and her friends were praying for me.

Who are you praying for?

Let’s see how today’s story ends!

After the war, many answered General MacArthur's plea

for Christian missionaries to fill the spiritual void.

Because Jake DeShazer's story was so unique,

print versions of his essay were distributed.

In a Tokyo railroad station,

Mitsuo Fuchida saw DeShazer’s essay and read it.

He obtained a Bible and believed in Jesus as his Savior.

One day, Fuchida came to introduce himself to DeShazer

and publicly profess his faith in Jesus.

Both men appeared together before Japanese audiences

to share the Gospel.

Fuchida wanted the message of his changed heart

to supersede the memory of his infamous attack.

He wrote, "That morning [December 7] ... I lifted the curtain of warfare by dispatching that cursed order, and I put my whole effort into the war that followed. ... [But] after buying and reading the Bible, my mind was strongly impressed and captivated. I think I can say today without hesitation that God's grace has been set upon me."

Fuchida later traveled widely in the US and Europe.

He once said if he had known Jesus before Pearl Harbor,

he could never have led the attack on innocent Americans.

Mitsuo Fuchida went to be with the Lord on May 30, 1976.

Jacob DeShazer died in 2008 at the age of 95.

CLOSING:

Saul of Tarsus changed from a man who hated Christian

to become the Apostle Paul

who wrote much of the New Testament.

Mitsuo Fuchida was a man who hated Americans

and became a man who served the Lord Jesus.

Jacob DeShazer hated his Japanese enemies

and became a man who preached the Gospel to them.

I stand before you today preaching God’s Word

because many people were praying for me in 1987.

The message of the Gospel can change anyone!

Are you telling others about the love of Jesus?

Are you praying for them?

Don’t give up!