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Love is self-sacrifice for others. In the magazine The Christian Leader, Don Ratzlaff retells a story from Ernest Gordon’s Miracle on the River Kwai, a story based on World War II events. The Scottish soldiers, forced by their Japanese captors to labor on a jungle railroad, had degenerated to barbarous behavior, but one afternoon something happened:

A shovel was missing. The Japanese officer in charge became enraged. He demanded that the missing shovel be produced, or else. When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun and threatened to kill them all on the spot… It was obvious the officer meant what he had said. Then, finally, one man stepped forward. The officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel, and beat the man to death. When it was over, the survivors picked up the bloody corpse and carried it with them to the second tool check. This time, no shovel was missing. Indeed, there had been a miscount at the first checkpoint.

The word spread like wildfire through the whole camp. An innocent man had been willing to die to save the others! The incident had a profound effect… The men began to treat each other like brothers.

When the victorious Allies swept in, the survivors, like human skeletons, lined up in front of their captors… instead of attacking their captors, they protected them and insisted: “no more hatred. No more killing. Now what we need is forgiveness.”

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