Prisoners of War

I finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand last week and was worn out! The biography was about Louis Zamperini, a man who survived many trials during WWII including a plane crash, drifting on a raft in the Pacific for over a month, and being imprisoned in several POW camps in and around Japan. Reading about all these awful experiences he had and still made it through caused me to feel tired emotionally; I wanted to finish the book to find out what happened to Louie, but the act of turning the pages was a difficult journey in itself.
I was very surprised to read toward the end that after being home for some time, he accepted Christ as his Savior at a Billy Graham crusade. Louis had been dealing with severe post traumatic stress disorder because of the treatment he’d received in the POW camps. He was unable to sleep without nightmares, and during the day drank heavily to dull the pain and fear. He testifies in this book that once he came home from the crusade, his nightmares ceased, he got rid of his booze, and even felt compassion for his Japanese tormentors in the camps. This was an amazing thing to read about for many reasons. First, the book was sooo long on his afflictions in the war, and even though Louis admits to seeing later that God had a hand in saving him from them all and allowing him to survive, neither he nor I realized that until his conversion to Christ.
Second, it is astounding to hear of the complete change Jesus Christ made in this man. It doesn’t seem that the author is a believer, so she downplayed this part of the story, I thought. But it is still unmistakeable – the before and after were diametrically opposed.
This book also got me thinking about prisoners of war, how even after the war is over they likely still deal with the fears and pains inflicted on them by their enemy. We are all in a war that we can’t see; a spiritual battle that leaves many with those wounds of a prisoner of war. Even though they survive the battle, they still live captive to the enemy, Satan, in key areas of their lives. I know of loved ones in this very situation right now, and it hurts to see them continue to live in captivity when Christ has come to set us free. The ending of this biography was an inspiration and hope to me as I continue to pray for these people. Jesus can change their lives, and it may be like Louis’ experience, overnight, or it may take years. But I should never doubt His power to do this if it does take longer than I would like.
I’m not sure I can recommend this book; it would have been much better had it been written from a Christian perspective. Still, it was very exciting and moving to read of all Louis Zamperini’s remarkable life. I wish more of the book would have been about the even more remarkable life he had once Jesus came into it.