Remembering Pearl Harbor During Advent

As part of an Advent project for the Fireside Community, Dream of Destiny’s director Travis Hurley prepared a piece for Darkness/Brokenness Week that coincided with Pearl Harbor Day. The transcript from that podcast is today’s blog post. 

December 7, 1941. As President Franklin Roosevelt famously said, “A date which will live in infamy.”

Alice was just 5 years old, living in Oahu, when the surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor occurred, her dad a chief petty officer for the Navy. 

Even now, in her early 80s, Alice tears up at the memories that remain forever etched in her heart: she recalls listening in as distraught women told of sailors dying on the beach… seeing that shrapnel had pierced the slacks of a neighbor… hearing the cry of “Battle stations!” from the military police as people all around her were taking shelter… learning that the school where her older brother attended had been bombed and being thankful it was bombed on a Sunday… watching her mother put on a gas mask and then corral Alice and her four siblings onto a bus to be taken en masse to a mansion in the mountains and out of harm’s way… having to cover windows so no speck of light could provide a target for further attack.

“It was horrible,” she whispers. “So horrible.” As she pauses to think again of all of the people she saw comforting each other, sharing their experiences, and crying together, Alice sighs, wipes a tear, and says, “There was just so much grief.”

So much grief.

What little 5-year-old Alice lived through and has had to live with ever since was a heinous act of evil, a highly concentrated level of the darkness that we would rather not acknowledge is really always around us. But we do so during this week of Advent. We acknowledge this darkness born from the pits of hell, fused with the brokenness in humanity that then births even more brokenness at seemingly every turn.

In Job 14:1, while grieving the severe losses in his own life, Job says, “Man, born of woman, lives but a few days, and full of trouble.”

The prophet Habakkuk’s cry begins with a question in the midst of trouble, “How long, O Lord? How long shall I cry for help and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.”

Ours is a world where darkness, brokenness and discouragement are in great supply. Reasons for sorrow, grief and despair are always within reach. The orchestrated attacks of Pearl Harbor were over 75 years ago. They ushered the United States into a second world war despite all having been told the first world war would end all wars. It didn’t. Neither did WWII. Or Korea. Or Vietnam. Or the first Gulf War. And now we continue in a post-9/11 War on Terror.

So much more darkness and destruction has followed. Wars and rumors of wars, terrorism foreign and domestic. Rampant injustice. The powerful preying on the powerless. Our days are full of trouble. And seemingly without end.

And so we, too, cry, “How long, O Lord?”

As we long for our Savior to return, those of us with faith in Jesus can at least live in the knowledge that the One who came to us as a babe in a manger will return again someday as a king on a white horse, setting all things right and making all things new.

Perhaps the hardest piece of Alice’s story to process is learning that as she lived through the terrors of that Pearl Harbor attack, and as her family lived in upheaval in its aftermath, there was no anchor of hope in her life. She knew of no Savior in whom to find solace; no peace to still her frightened soul. Alice was raised in a family without faith. She didn’t even know to cry out, “How long?” to a God who could help.

Thankfully, that all changed in 1983, when Alice gave her life to Christ in her mid-forties. The ever-present help in times of trouble took Alice in his arms and put His Spirit in her life. Now there is a light inside her that pierces the darkness and brightens the lives of everyone she meets and everyone she serves at a local Gospel rescue mission. There is a healing of her brokenness that she extends as a hope to the “least of these” among us.

Alice serving at the mission.

And it’s nothing Alice did. It’s what Jesus did for her: bringing light to her life that was long overdue. It’s helped her to process the darkness and brokenness she had witnessed at the tender age of five. And she will tell you with a beaming smile that Jesus is her hope, solace and peace ever since, no matter the trouble, and for the rest of her days.

 Thank you, Jesus, for your words recorded in John 16:33… “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”    


About Travis Hurley

Travis Hurley is the director of the Dream of Destiny Initiative, because he is convinced that visible unity – unity that the world can see crossing ethnic, socioeconomic, generational and denominational lines – is a powerful testimony of the power of the Gospel of Jesus to reconcile people to Him and to each other.

A graduate of Ozark Christian College and Cincinnati Christian University, Travis has been working in multi-ethnic ministry for over 15 years. He is a doctoral candidate at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, pursuing a D.Min in multi-ethnic leadership, while continuing to teach and consult on issues of unity and diversity in the body of Christ.

Travis and his wife Dena have been married for over 20 years. They have four children, two sons-in-law, and two grandkids.

For more information, or to have Travis come speak, contact him at


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