Below is a brief excerpt from a letter written by Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son and President of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I was struct by the dedication of the soldier in the opening story. Do I have the same dedication to my Commanding Officer? Will I remain faithful against all odds? After concluding the letter I was encouraged and inspired to continue to live my life to the fullest, remaining faithful to my God!
I have recently returned from holding an evangelistic Crusade in El Paso, Texas, and as I write, I am preparing for a Crusade in Sapporo, Japan. Sapporo is in the most northern part of the country, a city where the 1972 Winter Olympics were held. Not long after those Olympics, a surprising news report captivated Japan and the world when the last World War II Japanese soldier finally surrendered—30 years after the war.
Hiroo Onoda’s fascinating story came back into the headlines this January when he died at age 91 in a Tokyo hospital. As an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army, he had been stationed on the island of Lubang in the Philippines and given strict orders to stay there and carry out reconnaissance and guerrilla warfare. Lieutenant Onoda was directed not to leave the island or to surrender. His commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, ordered: “You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand. It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts. If that’s the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily.” He was told to carry out his duties until his commanding officer returned.
In the confusion that followed defeat, the Japanese army lost track of Onoda. For 30 years, this dedicated soldier evaded capture and continued to fight a war he didn’t know had ended. He didn’t compromise. He followed his orders without interruption until he was found in the jungle and his commanding officer, long since retired, returned in person to the island to relieve him of his orders.
This one-time enemy soldier’s devotion to duty spoke to me about the commitment we are to have as followers of Christ. We too have been given orders. Our orders are from the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16, NKJV). He is clear about them in His Word, and we are not to compromise. I’ve been shocked in recent months to hear about organizations who say they accept the authority of God’s Word but support same-sex marriage. I’ve heard of a Christian publisher planning to print a book that says actively practicing homosexuals can continue in their lifestyle and live as Christians. Not only is this compromising, it is heresy. What God calls sin is sin—we cannot call it something else. The penalty for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (see Romans 6:23). It is through the cross that God, in His love, provides forgiveness for those who repent. This is the Good News we must proclaim.
The last order our Lord gave us before returning to Heaven was to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth—“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, … teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18–20). He will return one day soon, and will He find us faithful? Will He find us carrying out what He has asked us to do? Will He find us using our energy, our time, and our resources to share the Gospel message with a lost and hurting world that He loved enough to die for?
(Click HERE to read full letter)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 20:18-19