An Amazing Story of Change

The story of Louis Zamperini is one of endurance, resilience, forgiveness and change. Not in his wildest dreams did Louis foresee the afflictions about to fall on him.

It all started during World War II aboard a B-24D bomber named Green Hornet. While on a rescue mission, engine 1 suddenly failed. In an attempt to stabilize the plane, engine 2 was accidentally shut down. Green Hornet plunged to its doom and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean.

Lost at sea

In her book Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand recounts the incredible series of events—some would call them miracles—that eventually helped lead Louis Zamperini to change his life. Here are a few:

  • In Green Hornet’s fast-sinking hull, Louis’ body was entangled in electric wires, and he passed out. But after he awoke, inexplicably, the wires were gone, and he found a way out of the plane.
  • While in a safety raft, Louis and two other survivors became the target of a Japanese aircraft that riddled the raft with 48 bullets. Yet not a single bullet struck the men.
  • After two weeks on the raft and six days without water, suffering from acute thirst and burned skin, the men prayed for rain. Rain fell the next day.

The survivors remained lost at sea for 47 days and drifted for 2,000 miles right into enemy territory. The Japanese captured them; a guard nicknamed “the Bird” took great pleasure in torturing Louis.

Hitting bottom

After the war, Louis had debilitating nightmares about his torturer, “the Bird.” He was determined to find and kill him. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Louis started drinking and chasing women (even though he was married).

One morning he woke up screaming, his hands around his wife’s neck, thinking he was killing “the Bird.” His wife had had enough. She was going to divorce him.

All this miraculously changed after Louis vividly remembered the miracles and the multiple times he had prayed to God and the promise he had made: “If You deliver me and bring me home safely, I will seek and serve You.”

Louis was cut to the heart. He realized he had not done what he had promised. He knew he had to change.

That night, Louis prayed on his knees and repented. He was through with chasing women, drinking and smoking. After that, his nightmares and post-traumatic stress vanished at once!

Louis even went back to Japan and forgave the people who hurt him. He even forgave “the Bird”!

What about you?

Are you suffering because you are afflicted? Are you seeking God, promising Him to serve Him if He delivers you?

The Holy Scriptures state that God takes pleasure in the one who afflicts his soul (fasts), repents (changes his or her way and obeys God) and does good works. If you do this, then God will hear you and deliver you. Isaiah 58:6-9 proclaims:

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’”

What you need to change

Someone who reads the Scriptures and does them will be blessed. Obeying God’s commandments is a way of showing love to God.

If God pays attention to the hair on one’s head or to a sparrow that falls to the ground, how much more will He pay attention when someone is afflicted? How much more when one reads the Scriptures and changes to start practicing them! How much more will He know when someone responds to His call and prays earnestly to Him! Will God not respond?

God will save you if you first experience true repentance and are reconciled to Him!

About the Author

Hervé Irion

Hervé Irion is a member of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.