The Human Torpedo (click here)
On November 3rd, 1993 Norio Maekawa, our “Voice of Joy” radio broadcast technician and coordinator, went to be with the Lord.
In September 1944, during World War 11, he joined the Japanese Navy, when he was seventeen years of age. At that time, B29 bombers were active over Japan as the 2nd World War increased in violence.
Norio worked like a machine, slavishly obeying orders. If he slacked off for an instant, his superiors might well hit him with a big stick or pour cold water over him. He was told that no matter what it took, they must harden him for the fight.
Every night, after the raids had passed, he had to help clear up the dead bodies. It was always a gruesome, heartbreaking task, especially as their families often stood by, weeping over the remains of their loved ones.
As a result, Norio became emotionally tough, but physically exhausted through lack of sleep. There was no such thing as rest. The raids, especially aimed at ammunition dumps, became more and more frequent and intense.
Within a few months Maekawa San was designated to join a special, secret squadron of the navy. When he saw the weapon they were preparing, he was dumbfounded. It was a torpedo, which needed to carry a man inside to guide it to an enemy target.
Everyday Norio Maekawa went through rigid training with those instruments of death. One after another, his comrades manned them, never to return.
On the evening before they left, he often saw them writing their last letters home. Then they usually got drunk, and even in that state, often cried out, “I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die!”
Eighty of the young men chosen for the suicide missions died in action, blown to pieces by the TNT packed into the warhead of their torpedo.
When a torpedo carried a special friend of his to death, Norio was deeply moved. He too started dnnking heavily to drown his misery, trusting that by the time his turn came, he wouldn’t care.
Finally the date for his mission was set, but, three days before he was due to die, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Japan capitulated! The atom bomb saved him!
But Maekawa San became pathetically thin and his soul was utterly corrupt. He thought nothing of deceiving people and spending much of his time gambling and fighting.
“God took hold of me in the winter of 1948,” he later testified in relating how he came to Christ.
“One day I came across a band of men holding a street meeting. I watched them with hatred. I jeered at them and tried to pick a quarrel.
“They were very patient and smilingly asked me to listen to a message just once. I followed them to their church, inwardly afraid they might beat me up.
“On the contrary, however, for the first time in my life, I heard about the love of God. My heart, hardened through all the suffering and hardships of the war years, was at last melted, and I wept.
“As I trusted God’s promises, He cleansed me from my sins and filled me with peace. I received the assurance of salvation and was baptized on April 5th, 1948. 1 shall never forget that happy day!”
But during the years that followed, Maekawa San gradually lost the joy of his salvation. Then in 1957, he became ill with tuberculosis and entered Habikino Hospital.
There, he came into contact with the Japan Mission and again sought the Lord. On his release from the hospital in October 1959, he joined the staff of the Mission, as the technician responsible for the production of the “Voice of joy” broadcasts.
During the 33 years, from 1960 to 1993, the “Voice of Joy” broadcast sounded out 20,617 times, 66,659 first timers wrote us asking for spiritual help. 42,891 enrolled in our Bible correspondence courses. 2,127 made a profession of faith and over 1,000 were eventually introduced to their nearest evangelical church.
It is certainly true of Norio Maekawa that he “fought a good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7) and has now entered into his reward.
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