Hiroo Onoda didn’t want to give up. The Japanese Imperial Army training he received taught him a code of honor which proclaimed that death was better than surrender. A soldier is trained to receive and to follow orders, and Mr. Onoda was a soldier. He was, you might say, a “soldier’s soldier.” So, when Mr. Onoda was assigned to Lubang Island in the Philippines in 1944 he was promised by his superiors that “Whatever happens, we will come back to get you.” (Wikipedia, “Hiroo Onoda”)
Lubang Island was conquered in 1945 by the forces of the United States and the Philippine Commonwealth.. The troops with whom Mr. Onoda served either died in the final battle or they surrendered when the end was inevitable. However, Mr. Onoda and three other soldiers refused to surrender. “Whatever happens, we will come back to get you.” So even though the war was over, Mr. Onoda carried on, not believing the end had come. No one had come to relieve him of his duty. One by one his companions left or died during the “battle” which they continued to wage. Oh, the Japanese tried to get Mr. Onoda to understand that the end had come: they sent leaflets telling him to come out of the mountains; they sent him family photos inviting him home. There were attempts by family members making appeals over loudspeakers for him to come out of his hiding place. (WSJ 1.17.14) But, when the commander says he is coming back, a true soldier keeps fighting until the commander comes back.
So it was in 1974 that someone prevailed upon Mr. Onoda’s commanding officer to go to Lubang Island for the sole purpose of relieving Mr. Onoda of his duties. Mr. Onoda then could finally surrender his weapons as commanded and he went home. He was a hero on his return home, but he did not enjoy all the attention. After all, he was only doing his duty. Upon his return home he married; became a rancher; and then headed up a school in Japan. He died in 2014.
The King says, “…I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.” (John 14:3) Our call now, is to be the “soldiers” of the Cross. If you will accept this assignment, wherever you have been sent to serve, remember your orders: Do not give up; no matter what anyone tells you, you are not alone, so keep up the battle; and never, ever, surrender to the enemy. “I will come back and take you with me.” It’s hard to believe, some days more than others. But if it were not so, Jesus wouldn’t have said it. Believe that, and live.