Unbroken & Changed

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Over the Christmas holiday our family went to see the powerful movie “Unbroken.”  This week I read an article by Ron and Linda Nelson that not only talked about the movie and book but shared more of the story about how Louis Zamperini became truly changed by Christ after a visit with his wife to a Billy Graham crusade.  This story relates well to the 2 Corinthians 5 passage that speaks about the ministry of reconciliation.  Here is what was shared.

“The movie was based on a book about Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete as well as a World War II hero. The movie shows Zamperini’s strong will to live and his courage and valor. It is a story of miraculous survival.  Paul Harvey had a program on the radio for many years prior to his death entitled “The Rest of the Story.” The movie unfortunately only shows the first part of Zamperini’s life. The rest of his story is also miraculous. In fact he would consistently state that the biggest and greatest miracles took place after his return from World War II.

Franklin Graham recently wrote about the rest of Zamperini’s life as follows: He had been brutally tortured in Japanese prison camps and, when he was finally freed, came home filled with bitterness toward life and rage toward his captors. He experienced constant nightmares, became a heavy drinker, had a violent temper, and nearly destroyed everything that mattered to him, including his marriage. His wife, who feared for her own safety and that of their little daughter, began preparing divorce papers.

Then a neighbor invited the couple to come to nearby Los Angeles to hear a young, little-known evangelist named Billy Graham. It was 1949, and my father was preaching in a huge tent downtown at the corner of Washington and Hill streets. Louis wanted nothing to do with any evangelist, but his wife went anyway and her heart was changed by the power of the Gospel. She tore up the divorce papers and persuaded her husband to go with her a few days later. He did-then walked out during the meeting. She begged him to return another day. That time, while my father preached, Zamperini knew the Holy Spirit was working within him, and he resisted.

The moment the invitation began, he grabbed his wife’s hand and headed toward the exit. But in the aisle, overwhelmed by the realization of how broken his life had become, he turned around and gave his life to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. He left the tent with God’s complete forgiveness.  From that day forward, everything changed. He started reading the Bible. His nightmares disappeared, he gave up drinking, his hatred and violent anger melted away, and he began to live for Christ.

To his own amazement, he soon found himself desiring reconciliation with his Japanese tormentors. He traveled to Japan, visited prisons that held war criminals, shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with many, and expressed forgiveness personally to any of his wartime captors that he could find. These extraordinary acts of reconciliation were widely reported in the media across Japan and the United States, and God used the stories to touch many hearts and bring the power of forgiveness and reconciliation into many more lives. Right up to his death this past July at age 97, Zamperini never tired of telling people about the Savior.”

I found this story to be truly amazing and a wonderful example of the transformation that Christ can bring to peoples lives.  I wish the movie would have shared more about this part of his life.  Here is a picture of Louie with a young Billy Graham and I am also including an 8 minute video with an interview that CBS news did with Louie.  He recently passed away at the age of 97.

Here is a link to the video interview with Louie



Make it personal:  If you have not seen this movie or read this book I would encourage you to do so.  It is an inspiration of courage, strength, will, and in the end of the book at least, the ability of Christ to transform a life that is committed to him.  The unbelievable trials of Louie can definitely give us inspiration to face our own in this year ahead.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church