According to Steven Pile’s The Book of Heroic Failures, Hiroo Onoda, a lieutenant in the Japanese army still believed he was fighting the Second World War until 10th of March 1974, 29 years after the war ended! How did he not know that peace of been declared? He was stationed on a remote island in the Philippines, and although ‘Come home’ letters had to been dropped from the air, no one bothered to tell him in person the war was over. That is until a college dropout called Norio Suzuki left Japan to look for Lt. Onoda and try to persuade him the war was over. He found him but could not convince him the war was really over. In the end, Norio left only to return on March 9th, 1974 with Major Taniguchi, Hiroo’s former commanding officer who read the orders that all combat activity was to cease. Hiroo then surrendered to his former commander and returned to a hero’s welcome in Japan after being pardoned for the crimes he had committed in the nearly 30 years of continued warfare.
It’s a remarkable story that takes some believing, but the principle behind it is clear enough, and it is one we do well to heed as Christians. In the letter to the Romans, the author says, ‘The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
‘How can they call on the one in whom they have not believed, and believe in one whom they have never heard?’ asked Paul, and, of course, they couldn’t. Unless people are told about Jesus, they will never come to faith. There was a time when those words what are rallying cry to mission overseas. Today, they are also a call to the mission at here at home, for the all many in this country who have little knowledge of Christ, their awareness limited to the few smatterings they may have heard in assemblies or through religious instruction in some schools. The temptation is that we leave the telling to someone else-and the danger is that no one else will tell them! We may not all be sent as missionaries or evangelists, but we all have a story to tell and a faith to proclaim. Can we afford not to share it? Is there someone who has not heard the message of the good news of Jesus who you could have told? Have you kept silent when perhaps you could have spoken up about your faith and how Jesus is essential in your life? Perhaps this can be our prayer this week?
Living God, may my lips speak of you, my actions honor you and my life proclaim you, through Christ my Lord Amen. (Nick Fawcett)