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The Story of the Japanese Soldier Who Would Not Surrender

31"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:31-33).

Some are fighting a war of resistance against the Kingdom of God. They know His call on their lives, but something within them wants to keep God at a distance. Some are afraid of the changes that come with becoming a Christian. Yes, your life will change when you surrender to the King of Kings, but what is the alternative? Do you wish for your life to continue the way it has been? It would be a wise move to consider the option of surrender. How long will you fight against what King Jesus wants to do in your life? Unconditional surrender is what is needed. It would be best to give up everything to be all you can be in Christ. Only when you surrender to Christ can He begin transforming you into His image.

During the latter stages of the Second World War, a Japanese soldier was ordered to fight a guerrilla campaign against American forces on the island of Lubang in the Philippines. His name was Hiroo Onoda, and he had to continue the fight until Japanese forces returned for him. When the island fell to the Americans, he kept to his orders and carried on fighting with three other soldiers. They survived by eating coconuts and green bananas that grew naturally in the jungle.

Occasionally, they would come out of hiding, killing one of the local villagers' cows for meat. At one such time, they found a note left by a local resident, appealing to them to surrender, for the war had ended two years ago. The soldiers considered it a clever propaganda trick to draw them out of the jungle to capture them. They received the truth of the Japanese surrender with mistrust and unbelief and continued to kill and wound the islanders they saw as the enemy. In September 1949, four years after the war had finished, one of the soldiers sneaked off during the night without a word to the others and surrendered. The remaining three felt that he was weak-willed and coerced by the ‘enemy.’ They continued their guerrilla attacks for another three years until Corporal Shimada was shot in the leg during a shootout with some fishermen. He died at the age of 40 years old.

For nineteen years, Onoda and the remaining soldier, Kozuka, carried on the fight, refusing to surrender. They believed that the Japanese Army would return as they had been promised and recapture the island. Nineteen years after the death of Shimada, in October of 1972, 51-year-old Kozuka was killed by a Filipino police patrol, ending his guerrilla war of 27 years. Lieutenant Onoda carried on the fight on his own, refusing every bit of information that came his way that the war was over and that he should surrender. The Japanese authorities sent out search parties, but he evaded them all.

In 1974, Norio Suzuki, a Japanese college student, managed to track him down. Still, Onoda would not surrender, explaining that he would only surrender to his old commander, Major Taniguchi, who had given him orders to fight on and never surrender. Major Taniguchi himself went to Penang and told him that Japan had surrendered many years previously and that it was futile to carry on fighting. When the reality of the truth sunk home that peace had come and he had been deceived into fighting a war that was over, he broke down weeping. Onoda formally surrendered to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in 1974. He was pardoned for his crimes under the false belief that the war was still being fought and that he should never surrender. He returned to Japan to receive a hero's welcome. His memoirs were entitled "No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War."

Lieutenant Onoda fought gallantly but for a lost cause. In his 30-year war, he killed 30 individuals and wounded over a hundred people. If only he had listened. If only his fellow citizens from Japan had gone earlier to find him, many families would not have been in mourning. Much pain was endured by many because He did not surrender. How about you? How much pain has been suffered in your family because you have been unwilling to yield to Christ? Can you hear the call to surrender? If so, today is your day to surrender fully to His grace. Keith Thomas

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