From the book UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand
(Laura H. has spoken about how Louie Z. managed after the end of WW2; how he met the girl he would love and marry; but also how Louie's mind and life was often, more often than not, in shambles, nightmares, anger, resentment, bitterness, and the most troubling - hate and revenge towards "the monster bird man." How Louie even planned on going back to Japan, hunting down the "Bird" if he was still alive, and killing him. Louie's life was a full mess-up, and of course effected his marriage with Cynthia his wife.
We pick up the story as to how Louie was delivered from his mental, emotional, and physical botched up life - Keith Hunt)
In the second week of September 1945, an angular young man climbed down from a transcontinental train and stepped into Los Angeles. His remarkably tall blond hair fluttered on the summit of a remarkably tall head, which in turn topped a remarkably tall body. He had a direct gaze, a stern jawline, and a southern sway in his voice, the product of a childhood spent on a North Carolina dairy farm. His name was Billy Graham.
At thirty-one, Graham was the youngest college president in America, manning the helm at Northwestern Schools, a small Christian Bible school, liberal arts college, and seminary in Minneapolis. He was also the vice president of Youth for Christ International, an evangelical organization. He'd been crisscrossing the world for years, plugging his faith. The results had been mixed. His last campaign, in the Pennsylvania town of Altoona, had met with heckling, meager attendance, and a hollering, deranged choir member who had had to be thrown out of his services, only to return repeatedly, like a fly to spilled jelly.
That September, in a vacant parking lot on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Hill Street in Los Angeles, Graham and his small team threw up a 480-foot-long circus tent, set out sixty-five hundred folding chairs, poured down acres of sawdust, hammered together a stage the size of a fairly spacious backyard, and stood an enormous replica of an open Bible in front of it. They held a press conference to announce a three-week campaign to bring Los Angelenos to Christ. Not a single newspaper story followed.
At first, Graham preached to a half-empty tent. But his blunt, emphatic sermons got people talking. By October 16, the day on which he had intended to close the campaign, attendance was high and growing. Graham and his team decided to keep it going. Then newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst reportedly issued a two-word order to his editors: "Puff Graham." Overnight, Graham had adoring press coverage and ten thousand people packing into his tent every night. Organizers expanded the tent and piled in several thousand more chairs, but it was still so overcrowded that hundreds of people had to stand in the street, straining to hear Graham over the traffic. Film moguls, seeing leading-man material, offered Graham a movie contract. Graham burst out laughing and told them he wouldn't do it for a million bucks a month. In a city that wasn't bashful about sinning, Graham had kicked off a religious revival.
Louie knew nothing of Graham. Four years after returning from the war, he was still in the Hollywood apartment, lost in alcohol and plans to murder the Bird. Cynthia had returned from Florida, but was staying only until she could arrange a divorce. The two lived on in grim coexistence, each one out of answers.
One day that October, Cynthia and Louie were walking down a hallway in their building when a new tenant and his girlfriend came out of an apartment. The two couples began chatting, and it was at first a pleasant conversation. Then the man mentioned that an evangelist named Billy Graham was preaching downtown. Louie turned abruptly and walked away.
Cynthia stayed in the hall, listening to the neighbor. When she returned to the apartment, she told Louie that she wanted him to take her to hear Graham speak. Louie refused.
Cynthia went alone. She came home a-light. She found Louie and told him that she wasn't going to divorce him. The news filled Louie with relief, but when Cynthia said that she'd experienced a religious awakening, he was appalled.
Louie and Cynthia went to a dinner at Sylvia and Harvey's house. In the kitchen after the meal, Cynthia spoke of her experience in Graham's tent, and said that she wanted Louie to go listen to him. Louie soured and said he absolutely wouldn't go. The argument continued through the evening and into the next day. Cynthia recruited the new neighbor, and together they badgered Louie. For several days, Louie kept refusing, and began trying to dodge his wife and the neighbor, until Graham left town. Then Graham's run was extended, and Cynthia leavened her entreaties with a lie. Louie was fascinated with science, so she told him that Graham's sermons discussed science at length. It was just enough incentive to tip the balance. Louie gave in.
Billy Graham was wearing out. For many hours a day, seven days a week, he preached to vast throngs, and each sermon was a workout, delivered in a booming voice, punctuated with broad gestures of the hands, arms, and body. He got up as early as five, and he stayed in the tent late into the night, counseling troubled souls.
Graham's weight was dropping, and dark semicircles shadowed his eyes. At times he felt that if he stopped moving, his legs would buckle, so he took to pacing his pulpit to keep himself from keeling over. Once, someone brought a baby to him, and he asked whose child she was. He'd been away from home for so long that he didn't recognize his own daughter. He longed to end the campaign, but the success of it made him sure that Providence had other wishes.
When Louie and Cynthia entered the tent, Louie refused to go farther forward than the back rows. He sat down, sullen. He would wait out this sermon, go home, and be done with it.
The tent was hushed. From someplace outside came a high, beckoning sound. Louie had known that sound since his boyhood, when he'd lain awake beside Pete, yearning to escape. It was the whistle of a train.
When Graham appeared, Louie was surprised. He'd expected the sort of frothy, holy-rolling charlatan that he'd seen preaching near Torrance when he was a boy. What he saw instead was a brisk, neatly groomed man two years younger than himself. Though he was nursing a sore throat and asked that his amplifier be turned up to save his voice, Graham showed no other sign of his fatigue. He asked his listeners to open their Bibles to the eighth chapter of John.
Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw no one but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.*
Louie was suddenly wide awake. Describing Jesus rising from his knees after a night of prayer, Graham asked his listeners how long it
* From the King James version.
had been since they'd prayed in earnest. Then he focused on Jesus bending down, his finger tracing words in the sand at the Pharisees' feet, sending the men scattering in fear.
"What did they see Jesus write?" Graham asked. Inside himself, Louie felt something twisting.
"Darkness doesn't hide the eyes of God," Graham said. "God takes down your life from the time you were born to the time you die. And when you stand before God on the great judgment day, you're going to say, 'Lord I wasn't such a bad fellow,' and they are going to pull down the screen and they are going to shoot the moving picture of your life from the cradle to the grave, and you are going to hear every thought that was going through your mind every minute of the day, every second of the minute, and you're going to hear the words that you said. And your own words, and your own thoughts, and your own deeds, are going to condemn you as you stand before God on that day. And God is going to say, 'Depart from me.' "*
(NOW BILLY GRAHAM HAS ADMITTED HE NEVER CAME PREACHING "DOCTRINE" - ONLY JESUS CHRIST AS SAVIOR. HIS ATTEMPT HERE AT PREACHING DOCTRINE, WAS AND IS SO FAR OFF FROM THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER, IT'S OFF THE MARK BY A BILLION MILES. YOU NEED TO STUDY MY STUDY CALLED "JUDGMENT DAY" AND SEE THE DOCTRINAL TRUTH - Keith Hunt)
Louie felt indignant rage flaring in him, a struck match. I am a good man, he thought. I am a good man. Even as he had this thought, he felt the lie in it. He knew what he had become. Somewhere under his anger, there was a lurking, nameless uneasiness, the shudder of sharks rasping their backs along the bottom of the raft. There was a thought he must not think, a memory he must not see. With the urgency of a bolting animal, he wanted to run.
Graham looked out over his audience. "Here tonight, there's a drowning man, a drowning woman, a drowning man, a drowning boy, a drowning girl that is out lost in the sea of life." He told of hell and salvation, men saved and men lost, always coming back to the stooped figure drawing letters in the sand. Louie grew more and more angry and more and more spooked.
"Every head bowed and every eye closed," said Graham, offering a traditional invitation to repentance, a declaration of faith, and absolution. Louie grabbed Cynthia's arm, stood up, and bulled his way from the tent.
Somewhere in the city, a siren began a low wail. The sound, rising
* Excerpts taken from "The Only Sermon Jesus Ever Wrote," sermon by Billy Graham, © 1949 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Author's transcription from audio recording.
and falling slowly, carried through the tent, picked up by the microphone that was recording the sermon.
That night, Louie lay helpless as the belt whipped his head. The body that hunched over him was that of the Bird. The face was that of the devil.
Louie rose from his nightmares to find Cynthia there. All morning Sunday, she tried to coax him into seeing Graham again. Louie, angry and threatened, refused. For several hours, Cynthia and Louie argued. Exhausted by her persistence, Louie finally agreed to go, with one caveat: When Graham said, "Every head bowed, every eye closed," they were leaving.
Under the tent that night, Graham, spoke of how the world was in an age of war, an age defined by persecution and suffering. Why, Graham asked, is God silent while good men suffer? He began his answer by asking his audience to consider the evening sky. "If you look into the heavens tonight, on this beautiful California night, I see the stars and can see the footprints of God," he said. "... I think to myself, my father, my heavenly father, hung them there with a flaming fingertip and holds them there with the power of his omnipotent hand, and he runs the whole universe, and he's not too busy running the whole universe to count the hairs on my head and see a sparrow when it falls, because God is interested in me ... God spoke in creation."*
Louie was winding tight. He remembered the day when he and Phil, slowly dying on the raft, had slid into the doldrums. Above, the sky had been a swirl of light; below, the stilled ocean had mirrored the sky, its clarity broken only by a leaping fish. Awed to silence, forgetting his thirst and his hunger, forgetting that he was dying, Louie had known only gratitude. That day, he had believed that what lay around them was the work of infinitely broad, benevolent hands, a gift of compassion. In the years since, that thought had been lost.
Graham went on. He spoke of God reaching into the world through miracles and the intangible blessings that give men the strength to out-
Excerpts taken from "Why God Allows Christians to Suffer and Why God Allows Communism to Flourish," sermon by Billy Graham, © 1949 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Author's transcription from audio recording.
last their sorrows. "God works miracles one after another," he said. "... God says, 'If you suffer, I'll give you the grace to go forward.'"
Louie found himself thinking of the moment at which he had woken in the sinking hull of Green Hornet, the wires that had trapped him a moment earlier now, inexplicably, gone. And he remembered the Japanese bomber swooping over the rafts, riddling them with bullets, and yet not a single bullet had struck him, Phil, or Mac. He had fallen into unbearably cruel worlds, and yet he had borne them. When he turned these memories in his mind, the only explanation he could find was one in which the impossible was possible.
What God asks of men, said Graham, is faith. His invisibility is the truest test of that faith. To know who sees him, God makes himself unseen.
Louie shone with sweat. He felt accused, cornered, pressed by a frantic urge to flee. As Graham asked for heads to bow and eyes to close, Louie stood abruptly and rushed for the street, towing Cynthia behind him. "Nobody leaving," said Graham. "You can leave while I'm preaching but not now. Everybody is still and quiet. Every head bowed, every eye closed." He asked the faithful to come forward. Louie pushed past the congregants in his row, charging for the exit. His mind was tumbling. He felt enraged, violent, on the edge of explosion. He wanted to hit someone.
As he reached the aisle, he stopped. Cynthia, the rows of bowed heads, the sawdust underfoot, the tent around him, all disappeared. A memory long beaten back, the memory from which he had run the evening before, was upon him.
Louie was on the raft. There was gentle Phil crumpled up before him, Mac's breathing skeleton, endless ocean stretching away in every direction, the sun lying over them, the cunning bodies of the sharks, waiting, circling. He was a body on a raft, dying of thirst. He felt words whisper from his swollen lips. It was a promise thrown at heaven, a promise he had not kept, a promise he had allowed himself to forget until just this instant: If you will save me, I will serve you forever. And then, standing under a circus tent on a clear night in downtown Los Angeles, Louie felt rain falling.
It was the last flashback he would ever have. Louie let go of Cynthia and turned toward Graham. He felt supremely alive. He began walking.
"This is it," said Graham. "God has spoken to you. You come on."
Cynthia kept her eyes on Louie all the way home. When they entered the apartment, Louie went straight to his cache of liquor. It was the time of night when the need usually took hold of him, but for the first time in years, Louie had no desire to drink. He carried the bottles to the kitchen sink, opened them, and poured their contents into the drain. Then he hurried through the apartment, gathering packs of cigarettes, a secret stash of girlie magazines, everything that was part of his ruined years. He heaved it all down the trash chute.
In the morning, he woke feeling cleansed. For the first time in five years, the Bird hadn't come into his dreams. The Bird would never come again.
Louie dug out the Bible that had been issued to him by the air corps and mailed home to his mother when he was believed dead. He walked to Barnsdall Park, where he and Cynthia had gone in better days, and where Cynthia had gone, alone, when he'd been on his benders. He found a spot under a tree, sat down, and began reading.
Resting in the shade and the stillness, Louie felt profound peace. When he thought of his history, what resonated with him now was not all that he had suffered but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him. He was not the worthless, broken, forsaken man that the Bird had striven to make of him. In a single, silent moment, his rage, his fear, his humiliation and helplessness, had fallen away.
That morning, he believed, he was a new creation.
Softly, he wept.
AND SO FINDING THE PROMISE HE HAD MADE TO GOD OUT IN THE WIDE BLUE SEA; FINDING GOD AND CHRIST WAITING FOR HIM; PICKING UP HIS BIBLE AND READING IT, LOUIE ZAMPERINI WAS DELIVERED FROM HIS TORMENTED HATEFUL MIND. HE WEPT AS GOD THE FATHER AND CHRIST CAME TO HIM TO DELIVER HIM BACK TO PEACE, JOY, AND HAPPINESS.
AND THAT'S WHERE IT IS FRIENDS. IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE AS TO HOW BAD OR EVIL YOU HAVE BEEN; OR HOW HUMANLY RIGHTEOUS YOU THINK YOU'VE BEEN; WE ALL HAVE SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET; SOME CAN TORMENT US VERY DEEPLY; GOD AND CHRIST ARE THE ANSWER TO THE AILMENT OF MANKIND.