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Have you ever heard of Lieutenant Hirro Onada? He was the last Japanese soldier to surrender after World War II. He was left on the island Lubang in the Philippines in 1944 --- along with three other soldiers. They were left with the command to “carry on the mission even if Japan surrenders.” Eventually the others were killed or surrendered. But Onada continued his war alone.


Through the years, he ignored messages from loudspeakers announcing Japan’s surrender. Leaflets were dropped in the jungle begging him to surrender so he could return to Japan. During his 29-year private war, he killed at least 30 Philippine nationals. More than half a million dollars were spent trying to locate him and convince him to surrender.


Finally, on March 10, 1974 Onada surrendered his rusty sword after receiving a personal command from his former superior officer. His lonely war was finally over. When he returned to Japan as a prematurely aged man of 52, he made this comment: “Nothing pleasant during those 29 years in the jungle.” (Newsweek, 1974)


Well, that was a bit of an understatement. But people can spend long years fighting lonely battles when they are determined to “go it alone.” People spend years battling secret sins and weaknesses and addictions --- when they could end the battle IF they would let other people help them. We need each other for perspective, accountability, advice, encouragement, and all of the other things that Christian friendship adds to our lives.

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