Friday, June 7, 2013


Let me begin this post by making a confession about one of my personal biases. 
I know it is wrong but there is a part of me that has always had a negative feeling towards “Evangelists” who preach and pound the pulpit for Jesus.  Being raised as a Latter-day Saint, I am not fond of loud preaching or strongly worded messages steeped in “hell-fire and brimstone.”  But as I have gained more experience in mortality I have come to see that there is value to these men sharing their messages because it can often have a positive effect on some who need that type of calling. 
Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s there were many instances where Billy Graham would have a special message on TV and I steadfastly ignored anything he had to say.  Time has shown me that, despite some of the doctrinal differences I might have with Mr. Graham (and others like him), they are doing good things for those who are in need of a change in life.  A perfect example is found in a book I just finished reading (I mentioned it in my last post) called “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemptionby Laura Hillenbrand.  Here is a short synopsis of the message – I found it very uplifting and appreciate the power that can come from the Atonement, even when preached by Billy Graham (tongue planted firmly in cheek).
Louie qualifying for the 5000 meters in the Olympic Trials.
He's the one on the left with Torrance on his jersey.
Louis Zamperini was a famous collegiate track star from the pre-World War II days who ran for the USC track team.  His specialty was the 1500 meters but he ran the 5000 meters in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and placed 8th.  As a depression-era young man, his life seemed to be headed for a storybook finish.

Looking at one of many holes in his B-24 during one raid. 
But life had another plan for Louie.  In 1941 he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to be a bombardier in a B-24 Liberator bomber.  Eventually, he and his crew were involved in a crash that claimed all but 3 lives of an 11 man crew.  Louie and two friends were left stranded in a lifeboat for 47 days before they were finally captured by the Japanese.  For the next 28 months Zamperini was a prisoner of war in conditions that were – well let’s say they were less than favorable.  He was especially tormented by one guard who seemed to have chosen Louie as his special project for humiliation.

The Bird -- he took special pleasure
in tormenting prisoners, especially Louie
Miraculously, the war ended and Louie found himself returned to the protection of the U.S. and his family.  But the ravages of war continued to plague his life and his mind.  He began drinking and was on the verge of losing his beautiful wife when a miracle occurred.

Louie and Cynthia, his wife
Knowing that the marriage was near dissolution, Louie’s wife convinced him to go with her to see a new preacher named Billy Graham.  What happened was a miracle worthy of recording in the scriptures and changed the whole course of one man’s life.  He learned that his troubles could be overcome through the love of Christ and that he could even learn to forgive those who had been his worst enemies.  But most importantly, peace was available and accepted and lives around Louie were changed.

I highly recommend this book.  Louis Zamperini is now 96 years old but he still exudes the faith he gained from his experiences so many years ago.  He might state what has happened to him in different words than I would but I believe he has experienced the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ as he has come to accept the attributes of a follower of Christ.  And when he stands before Jesus for judgment I believe he will find a loving and caring friend in our Elder Brother.
Louis Zamperini at age 94

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