On January 29, 2012 John Ortberg gave a sermon on Louis Zamperini, which it turned out Louis had visited the church weeks prior.
Louis had a few words for the people of that church on that day:
Warning: It may help to see the movie or even better read the book “Unbroken” to give you context on this man and his incredible story.
“When people come to the end of their rope and there's nowhere else to turn, they turn to God. Of course, that's what's happened on the life raft and prison camp. You make promises to God. I remember the thousands of promises I made on the raft and in prison camp. God kept his promise. I came home alive. I didn't keep my promise. That really shamed me, and I got on my knees and made my confession of faith. I couldn't believe what was happening to me there. I knew as I was on my knees, I knew I was through getting drunk. I knew I had forgiven all my guards, including The Bird. It was just unbelievable. That was a genuine miracle.”
He later would tell John Ortberg a story about an experience he had with one of his heroes after the war and after his conversion. One of Louis' favorite stars and entertainers when he was a kid was Laurel and Hardy. Louis was not a movie buff by any stretch, however he owned every Laurel and Hardy movie there was.
When he gets back from World War II, he gets invited to a golf club in L.A. where a lot of Hollywood stars hang out. He's at the bar (I think he said with Bob Hope). Somebody comes up to him and says Oliver Hardy was in the locker room and wanted to meet him. Louis goes back to the locker room. This is his hero, Oliver Hardy, who's taking a shower, buck naked, soaking wet. He sees Louis, jumps out of the shower, goes over and gives him a big hug. He's naked as a jaybird, getting Louis drenched. He stands back and says to him, "Louis, I prayed for you every day while you were missing in the war." Who would have guessed Oliver Hardy prays every day for years for Louis Zamperini?
John Ortberg goes on to say, “I love that story so much I made Louis tell it twice. I did not ask Louis for an autograph or anything like that when he was here, because we were asking so much of him and I didn't want to put any more burdens on him, but I came into my office the next day after last weekend, and there was a copy of Unbroken sitting on my chair at my desk, and it was signed, "To John: Be Hardy. Louis Zamperini.”
If you are reading this and you're kind of discouraged, you have been kind of broken, you're feeling a little beat up by life, or you just would like a little tangible hope, remember that there is a God that cares and others are praying on your behalf. Maybe some of those that are praying for you would surprise you. Regardless, all leaders, even the late Louis Zamperini, needed a reminder to “Be Hardy” to all in this life.