Story of Hiroo Onoda- Surrendering Your Rationed Life

During the height of WWII the Japanese had taken control of the Philippine Islands. On December 26th 1944  a young specially trained Soldier was dispatched to one of these islands called Lubang. His Orders were laid out to him by his commanding officer: conduct Guerrilla Warfare activities and gather intelligence information. The last instructions he received were these words.

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.

And that’s how the soldier Hiroo Onoda lived. In the jungles of this island he led a small team in sabotage type efforts… mostly burning crops and engaging in small skirmishes with local farmers.

They struggled to stay alive…. They rationed their rice; they ate bananas and coconuts and sometimes cows they would steal from the local farmers. In October 1945 Hiroo finds the first of many leaflets… news that the war had ended and urging him and his comrades to peaceably surrender.

The end of a war is great news to most people, But Hiroo could not believe Japan had surrendered, he refused to believe this leaflet, dismissing it as propaganda, and he refused to believe the hundreds more leaflets he had found, and the public broadcasts over loud speakers, even when they were the familiar voices of family and friends calling for his surrender, hoping their brother, son, friend would come home to them.

After 13 years, Hiroo Onoda was pronounced dead by the Japanese government, but  he remained alive and well and his battle waged on in the Philippines. Over the next 14 years, his battalion of four men began to shrink as encounters with angry farmers and police took the lives of 2 of his fellows and the third had slipped away into the night, choosing to end his part in this war leaving Hiroo Onoda as the last Japanese Soldier fighting a war that had ended 27 years earlier.

Then in 1974 a Japanese Student named Norio Suzuki set off on an adventure of mythical proportions… He was going to find the legendary Hiroo Onoda, a Panda, and the Abominable Snowman… in that order…

Somehow, he actually found the Soldier Hiroo Onoda and they became fast friends… Hiro said he would surrender only on the orders of his commanding officer…

So the long retired commander was flown to meet with Onoda and told him that the war had indeed been over for almost 30 years. Onida laid his weapons down and wept… having given most of his life for mission that was over and worthless.

Suddenly everything went black. A storm raged inside me. I felt like a fool for having been so tense and cautious on the way here. Worse than that, what had I been doing for all these years?

Meanwhile the surrendered nation of Japan had begun to enter into its new life, as a nation of prosperity and powerful global influence.

A funny, odd, sad story… but strangely familiar.

Like Hiroo:  We have been trained to: Believe a certain way, Act a certain way, Respond a certain way.
Weather you come from a Christian home or some other belief system, and even if you don’t really believe any of it for yourself, the beliefs and ways you have been taught and exposed to have become embedded into you and are now your default settings.

  • Our approach to life is determined by these things.
  • Our belief about God is determined by these things.
  • Our beliefs about ourselves, our purpose and worth are determined by these things.
  • Our beliefs about others are determined by these things.

The question is: Were you trained in the right way?
It was these types of beliefs that caused Hiroo to disbelieve all the evidences he encountered that the war was over… His belief in what he thought was the Japanese way caused him to refuse to surrender. Wasting 30 years of his life.

Almost everyone seems to default to a belief that God’s Blessing and Favor is somehow a reward for our efforts. We think God is the one who reacts and Responds to us, as though we are the dominant or primary factor. But God is the one we need to surrender to!

Hiroo Onoda found it difficult to surrender his beliefs about his importance to Japan, long after Japan left him for dead. And Like Hiroo: We can find ourselves doomed to a life we don’t belong in. Because we either have not heard or we have refused to believe that God’s way of surrender is true, and really is an entry into a new and true kind of life.

Many people are caught like Hiroo Onoda, Dutifully trapped by the orders of an imagined regime; Isolated from people; Living a rationed life; Unable to let go of their tradition, their way, their belief system, they hold on to the hope that what they have invested their heart, mind and soul into must be true.

1 Corinthians 1:18 I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God.

This week I challenge you to tell someone the story of Hiroo Onoda, not just the factual story, but how you were trapped in some way of beleif and how you fought to surrender, but when you did you found freedom … Who knows you might be their Norio Suzuki..                                                                                         Taken from..



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