“God told Moses, ‘I’m in charge of mercy. I’m in charge of compassion.’ Compassion doesn’t originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God’s mercy. The same point was made when God said to Pharaoh, ‘I picked you as a bit player in this drama of my salvation power.’ All we’re saying is that God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for good or ill.” Romans 9:15-18 (MSG)
Did you know that during WWII there was an attack on mainland American? It was September 9,1942. A Japanese named Nobuo Fujita was ordered to bomb the town of Brookings, Oregon.
No one knew it at the time, but a Japanese submarine was observing the town of Brookings. The Japanese had a plan in the works. They would unpack and catapult a small floatplane carrying Nobuo Fujita into the sky. Nobuo would then bomb the woods around the logging town. Their plan was to start massive forest fires, and thus, terrorize the local inhabitants. The hope was that this would draw the US fleet away from its stronghold in the Pacific islands.
Unfortunately for the Japanese, the forest was quite humid and cool. Although the bombs destroyed a few trees, they didn’t start the intended forest fire.
A week later, Nobuo Fujita was back on his mission. He dropped two more bombs. This time, small fires started to ignite. The local inhabitants had no problems putting these out, however, and the discouraged enemy withdrew.
It was 20 years later, in 1962, that Nobuo Fujita received a letter from the town of Brookings, Oregon. He was invited to the annual Azalea Festival. The people from that town wanted to improve the American-Japanese relations.
Imagine receiving a letter like this. Even though no one was hurt, he was the one who bombed their town! Why would they invite him? Were they seeking vengeance?
Nobuo Fujita debated what to do. In the end, he decided he would go. He would take his 400 year old samurai sword with him, and if all went well, he would offer his sword to the people of Brookings as a token of peace. If the locals turned out to be hostile, however. he would use the sword to commit suicide.
Once in Brookings, Nobuo Fujita was astonished at how he was welcomed with open arms. He was so overwhelmed that he donated 1000$ to purchase books on Japan for the Brookings library. He also promised to pay for several students to visit his country. Although he eventually went bankrupt, he honored his promise and sponsored three students as his guests. Nobuo Fujita came back to Oregon three other times, planting trees to compensate for what he had destroyed years before.
On his deathbed, in September, 1997, the officials of the town of Brookings declared Nobuo Fujita an “ambassador of good will” and made him an honorary citizen.
Instead of hatred, the town of Brooking demonstrated grace. They forgive this soldier for what he had done, and accepted him as part of their town. After all, our Heavenly Father is in charge of mercy. May we all follow the example of the people of Brookings and follow in the footsteps of our ultimate example, Jesus Christ.
(To access the entire “Radical Grace From the Book of Romans”, please click here.)