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In the year 1281, the Mongol warlord Kublai Khan led a mighty armada to conquer Japan, but a fierce typhoon destroyed the flotilla. The Japanese called it the kami ("divine") kaze ("wind"). Centuries later, by a strange linguistic twist, kamikaze became the word for a suicide attack when a pilot crash-bombed a ship.

As Christians, we believe in the Divine Wind, the Holy Spirit. In Scripture, the same Hebrew and Greek words can mean breath, wind, spirit, and the Spirit (John 3:5-8). The words describe windstorms at sea, even the destruction of a fleet of ships (Ps. 48:7). At Pentecost the Spirit's coming sounded like "the blowing of a violent wind."

Sixty years ago this month, the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, an event that stunned America. The event has been referred to often since the September 11 suicide attacks, which also left America shocked and grieving. So it may be time to retell a remarkable story that arose from that horrific attack in 1941. It is a story of the kamikaze of God.

Prisoner of Japan

Sgt. Jacob ("Jake") DeShazer was on KP duty at an Army air base in Oregon when news of the Japanese attack blared over a loudspeaker. He threw a potato against the wall in disgust and shouted, "Those Japs are going to have to pay for this." His deep hatred for the Japanese, born that day, grew through succeeding events into an obsession for revenge.

His life, like that of many single people then, included drinking and dance halls. So, a few weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, when word came to report to the captain at once, he expected another reprimand, with a possible return to KP.

Instead, a score of his buddies were there. The officer spoke directly. He asked how many of them would volunteer for an extremely ...

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The Kamikaze of God
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December 3, 2001

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