Louis Zamperini ran for the United States in the 1936 Olympics and piloted a plane in World War II before he was shot down by the Japanese and survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific Ocean, according to an article in today’s, Saturday, July 5 Christian Post. He was “rescued” by Japanese forces who sent him to one of their infamous concentration camps for the rest of the war where he endured a nightmarish existence.
Tortured unmercifully by a prison guard name “Bird”, Zamperini didn’t know if he would surivive. He watched other Americans in the prison camp pray for help from God. Not a believer himself, he promised God he would serve Him, if Louis was ever delivered from the nightmarish existence of the prison camp.
When the war mercifully ended, Zamperini returned to the United States where he understandably suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He embarked upon a binge of experiences with women other than his wife which led her to the brink of divorce court.
One night as their marriage dangled by a slender thread, his wife asked Louis to accompany her and some friends to a Billy Graham Crusade meeting in Los Angeles. Zamperini angrily refused. He was sick of hearing the phrase made famous by Billy Graham at the close of his crusades “with every head bowed and every eye closed.”
“I will not go listen to that,” he informed his wife as she left their home with friends to attend the Crusade.
When his wife came home that night she said she felt a peace she’d not felt before. She said because she had become a Christian she was not going through with the divorce.
Astonished by her change in attitude, Zamperini agreed to attend the Crusade meeting the next night when his wife and her friends left. He gave one stipulation though, saying, “If Billy Graham says ‘with every head bowed and every eye ‘ closed, I am leaving.”
But Zamperini did not leave. Instead he became a believer. He said he felt the same peace his wife had described to him.
A famous verse in the Bible found in Philippians says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in all things by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to the Lord, and He will give you a peace that surpasses all human understanding.”
While he had for years suffered from nightmares of being tortured by the “The Bird” in prison camp, he was suddenly freed from those recurring experiences. While he had previously dreamed of hunting “The Bird” down and exacting revenge upon him, he lost that desire.
When psychologists shook their heads at the thought someone could recover instantly from PTSD, Zamperini only said, “They don’t know Christ.”
Laura Hillenbrand has written a bestselling book entitled “Unbroken” about the life of Louis Zamperini.
Hillenbrand formerly wrote the bestseller about the racehorse Seabiscuit.
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