Louie Zamperini: Unbroken through Christ

Three Sundays ago in my sermon I spoke about the WW2 POW Louie Zamperini, part of whose life has been made into a movie (Unbroken). However, the movie omits that if it was not for the grace of God in Christ, that Louie would have been ‘broken’: he would have died as a divorced, bankrupt, alcoholic whose life was wracked by an unfulfilled desire to murder the Japanese prison guard (‘the Bird’) who especially tormented and degraded him.

I highly recommend you read his biography by Linda Hillenbrand —which I quote from, below — because it recounts how he went to a Billy Graham ‘crusade’ in 1949 (simply to stop his wife ‘nagging’ him to go). He heard Billy speak on John Chapter 8 (the adulterous woman brought to Jesus for stoning, but whom Jesus refused to condemn to death). Louie came to understand that he was not a good man, but also a man not beyond forgiveness.

Eventually, instead of storming out of the ‘crusade’ tent he “turned toward Graham. He felt supremely alive …. In the morning he work feeling cleansed .… he was a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17].

Life was still a struggle for Louie and his wife, but in 1950 he went to Japan and met many of his former prison guards. His sense of shame and powerlessness that had driven his desire to murder the Bird had vanished. When he was told that the Bird had killed himself in despair, Louie “felt something that he had never felt for his captor before. With a shiver of amazement, he realised that it was compassion. At that moment something shifted sweetly inside him. It was forgiveness, beautiful and effortless and complete. For Louie Zamperini, the war was over.”

The movie is very moving, but even more amazing is how the forgiveness of Louie’s sins through Christ’s death made him new. Friends, thankfully, you and I  won’t go through the awful experiences Louie did, but if we are Christians, then we too live in the glory of being a new creation in Christ! Praise God.

Cameron Wills

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