Bullets pounded the deck inches above John Elliott’s head. Bombs exploded, and dying men cried. When the day was over, America was at war with Japan and the naval shipyards in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, lay in ruins.
Four years later Elliott was a Navy lieutenant commanding a cargo ship off the coastal waters of China. The war that had begun so violently was over, but images of death and destruction at Pearl Harbor still seared his thoughts.
BOOM! The percussion of an explosion shook the bridge. Up ahead he could see fire and smoke billowing from a Japanese freighter loaded with refugees. An underwater mine left over from the war had ripped a hole in its bow.
“Change course and rescue those people!» John ordered.
«But sir,» one of his officers protested, «there may be more mines. Besides, you were at Pearl Harbor where Japanese forces tried to kill you.
“Elliott turned to his subordinate. «That boat has men, women, and children on it,» he said sternly. «We must save them!
“The officer grinned. «That’s what we hoped you’d say, Lieutenant.» The American ship raced to the rescue, lashed itself in the sinking vessel, and saved 4,300 doomed persons.
John never told the refugees his name or asked for thanks. lint seventeen years later the people of Japan tracked him down and sent him many gifts, including the Third Order of the Rising Sun, I their country’s highest award for foreigners.
The Bible says, «If your enemy Is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink» (Romans 12:20). Jesus (*Wed, «Love your enemies» (Matthew 5:44). John Elliott put those words into action