• Today's Daily Devotion
The Voice of A Man Who Believed
Of all the prisoners held by the Japanese during the war, the worst fate befell those placed on a series of prison ships, called “hell ships” by those who were ...

The Voice of a Man Who Believed

Of all the prisoners held by the Japanese during the war, the worst fate befell those placed on a series of prison ships, called “hell ships” by those who were on them. In 1944, as the Allies advanced on the Philippines, the Japanese began loading thousands of prisoners into the cargo holds of old steamships for relocation to Formosa and Japan. The conditions were unspeakable. The crowding was so severe there wasn’t room for everyone to even sit down at one time. Food and water were almost nonexistent, as temperatures below deck soared above 120 degrees. Buckets were lowered to serve as latrines. Disease and death ravaged the victims of this tribulation.

On a particularly suffocating night, the cries of anguish on one of these ships grew louder and louder as the tormented prisoners seemed on the verge of a hysterical outbreak. The voice of Chaplain William Cummings suddenly rang out over the clamor. One of the men recalled an amazing transformation:

Father Cummings began to speak. The sound was clear and resonant and made me feel he was talking to me alone. The men became quiet.

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”… The voice went on. Strength came to me as I listened to the prayer, and a certain calmness of spirit.

“Have faith,” he continued. “Believe in yourselves and in the goodness of one another. Know that in yourselves and in those that stand near you, you see the image of God. For mankind is in the image of God.”

When he spoke these words it completely changed those who heard them, as the witness reported, “For a while sanity returned to the faces around me… some of us continued to be held by the strength of that voice, the voice of a man who believed and who wanted us to believe.” It is truly miraculous that a man could see God in a miserable and hysterical mass of humanity such as this. His faith was a powerful witness to God’s love for the men on that prison ship then and for us blessed to read about it today.

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.

—James 5:10–11


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