Monday, July 18, 2011

The Power of Hatred and Forgiveness

I met Col. Glenn Frazier in June in Pittsburgh at the second annual Descendants of the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (DADBC) Convention. Like my father, he was a WWII exPOW and survived to tell about it. Unlike my father, he hated the Japanese—all of them. He hated them so much that he could not even stand to be in relationship with anyone who did not hate them too. Though he had been very successful as a soldier and in business after he retired from the military, his hatred destroyed his first two marriages and left him estranged from four children. Colonel Glenn Frazier had reason to hate the Japanese. He had suffered torture and starvation, and witnessed unspeakable atrocities at the hands of the Japanese in World War II. Glenn is a member of the Battling Bastards of Bataan. He survived the Bataan Death March, O’Donnell Death Camp, a Hell Ship, and forced labor in Japan. Glenn had suffered a lot for almost four years. And every day of those four years his hatred grew. Glenn Frazier is a member of the Greatest Generation who fought to secure freedoms every American enjoys. But as the Camp O’Donnell Memorial Cross on at Capas National Shrine in the Philippine Islands states clearly, “Freedom is not free.”

On July 4 we celebrate the birth of the United States of America. We celebrate it wildly with waving flags, fireworks and parades. And, of course, we eat sumptuously with family and friends! All this we are able to do because over the years men and women of the armed services have paid dearly. As the veterans like to say, “All gave some. Some gave all.” My father also was a prisoner of war of the Japanese for three and a half years. So were some 300,000 other men and women. One hundred thousand perished. These ex-POWs understood the cost of freedom and they appreciated every day thereafter and every meal they were able to eat after they returned home. But for Glenn, the survival and return was bittersweet. His hatred of the Japanese tainted every part of his life. He was a free man living in a free country but he was imprisoned by his hatred. His nights were sleepless, filled with horrific nightmares. His days were filled with arguments and tirades with anyone who dared to own a car or anything made by the Japanese. His health was failing and hatred was killing him.

Then along came a young Japanese student. You can read Glenn’s story in his book, Hell’s Guest. But the book does not tell about the young Japanese woman who was an angel sent from above. Glenn told me this story himself when I met him recently at the annual convention of the Descendants of the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor. Through an extraordinary act of grace and compassion this young Japanese student asked Glenn to forgive the Japanese who had caused his suffering. But she did not stop there. She asked permission to take off his socks and shoes. Then she took a basin filled with water and washed Glenn’s feet. When she was done, she prayed for Glenn to let go of his anger and forgive the Japanese for what they had done. She prayed that he would be freed from the hatred that had imprisoned him all these years. And he was! After this, within three weeks, Glenn’s nightmares ended and he was sleeping through the night. Hatred gone, he began to build relationships with people and to serve joyfully in his church. Glenn’s third marriage is holding strong, and he has reconciled with two of his four children. And Col. Glenn Frazier now takes every opportunity he has to tell people that freedom is not free. America’s freedoms have been won by the suffering and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of men and women. But more important, Glenn takes every opportunity to tell people that the ultimate freedom is the freedom from sin, like Glenn’s hatred and anger, and that freedom is only found in the grace and mercy of God. Spiritual freedom also is not free. But thank the Lord, someone else paid the price! Jesus Christ suffered and bled and died, so that we might be free from all that imprisons us. The love of Christ delivered a man named Glenn Frazier from fifty years of hatred and anger and the wake of destruction it left in his life. Freedom is not free. But Christ has paid the price.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - what amazing story about the power of forgiveness!