Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
One of the many fascinating ways to learn about history is to view it through the eyes of someone who has lived it – a biography. YWAM Publishing has created a line of biographies that really zoom in on the lives of missionaries. Christian Heroes: Then & Now offers a look at the lives of 49 different missionaries who have lived and served God around the world, from 1700 through current day. The biographies are written by Janet & Geoff Benge.
We first stumbled across a YWAM Christian Heroes biography at a garage sale. My oldest, now 15, enjoyed it a lot and so we went looking for more. We have been collecting them since and have been blessed to review several through the Homeschool Review Crew. This year, we received the book Jacob DeShazer: Forgive Your Enemies and the curriculum guide to go with it. The book is available in paper back, ebook, and MP3/audiobook formats.
As always happens, as soon as the book arrived, it disappeared in the hands of Miss E. She devoured the story in an afternoon and then handed it back to me to read. I read it and found it fascinating.
Summary: Jacob DeShazer was a gunner on a bomber at the beginning of WWII. He was brought on as one of the famous Doolittle Raiders, without knowing what he was really volunteering for. His team was able to hit their target but they were unable to make it safely to their expected landing area. They landed in Japan occupied China and Jacob was captured. He spent the next 3 and 1/2 years as a prison of war in various locations in Japan. Towards the end of his imprisonment, Jacob turned to God. After he was released and returned to the US, Jacob knew he had to return to Japan to fulfill the calling he had heard from God during his imprisonment. He studied, married, and returned to Japan as a missionary. He wanted to teach the people there about God. He wanted them to know that he forgave them for this wretched treatment and wanted to help them be saved. He even had the amazing experience of some of his captors turning to God and speaking alongside him. He was able to touch many lives through his work in Japan.
The story itself presents much material to consider and talk about. Forgiveness is such a difficult things sometimes, yet here is an example of one who was able to forgive much more than I will, hopefully, ever endure. And he not only forgave, Jacob wished the best for them.
Unit Study Curriculum Guide: This downloadable study is available if you wanted to take the learning further. This jumps into the story through comprehension questions, maps, activities, people, Bible verses, and much more.
There are 8 parts to the study guide, as well as appendices for additional resources and bibliography.
- Key Bible Verses
- Display Corner
- Chapter Questions
- Student Explorations
- Community Links
- Social Studies
- Related Themes to Explore
- Culminating Event
Each area begins with some ideas and tips and the reminder that there are more ideas than any one class/person could actually use. So, feel free to pick and choose those areas and ideas that are of the greatest interest to your learners.
When we are using a Christian Heroes: Then & Now book, I really like to use the Key Bible Verses. We may or may not memorize them but I always like to go through them and talk about why these particular verses were chosen for this person. Maybe it was a favorite of the person or maybe it just illustrates a theme, such as perseverance. For Jacob, one of the verses is about being a witness to others. One is about hiding God’s word in your heart (Psalm 119:11). Another is about God being sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
A display corner is finding pictures and items around the house that represent the place, time, person, or theme of the book. The comprehension questions are great. They can really help gauge the student’s understanding and help them think deeper, as you can see in the screen shot of some of the questions below. Student explorations are hands-on areas of discover such as maps or writing or crafts or recreations. There is so much here that you do not need to do it all. Just pick and choose those that align with interest and need.
Social studies includes more ideas to explore and community links include ideas of places to visit related to the story such as an air base or a farm. Related themes will explore some ideas a bit farther from the core of the story such as propaganda or more about the Doolittle Raiders. The study closes out with a culminating event where the students can be encouraged to show off what they have learned and the items they have completed.
Our use of the study guide and story looked a bit different this time around. Miss E is doing a language arts curriculum that is focused on the YWAM missionary biographies, though Jacob DeShazer is not one of the ones included. After reading DeShazer’s story, Miss E approached it as she has the other YWAM biographies that are included. She did a map of Japan and she noted the important things about him, using her other missionaries as a guide. We talked a good bit about the implications of capture and torture during the war. We talked about God’s use of Jacob to return to his captors and minister to them. We discussed the character and how Jacob’s character changed throughout his life. I accessed some of the discussion questions for our talks.
This story is one that she was very pleased to read, though it is quite a bit different than other YWAM missionary stories. Jacob DeShazer’s biography was written very soon after his died. That is quite unusual but his is an unusual story. It focuses a lot on his time at the hands of the Japanese because that is what it took for him to become humble and hear God. About the last 1/3 of the story is about his training and missionary times. And it is quite amazing to read.
As always, we recommend the YWAM Christian Heroes: Then & Now series. Other YWAM books we have reviewed include:
Lori, At Home.