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When Joseph Johnson, age 14, fibbed about his age to enlist within the U.S. Military in 1940, he wasn’t serious about eternity.
He merely envisioned consuming 3 times a day.
After operating away from a troubled residence, the Memphis youth insisted to a army recruiter he was 18. The boy bought misplaced within the shuffle. Quickly, he and a brand new band of enlistees have been loaded into the again of a truck, heading to Fort MacArthur, California, and a grown-up world Joe knew nothing about.
Trying again on these early years, Joe wrote, as recorded in my biography about him titled “A Vivid and Blinding Solar”: “I made my share of regrettable selections. It took me some time to come back round, to sensible up. Each one in all us wants redemption.”
However in his youth, Joe wasn’t an individual of religion. His mother had despatched him to a Methodist Sunday college often as a baby, however that was it. As a teenage soldier, Joe was despatched to the Philippines with the thirty first Infantry Division the place religion was the very last thing on his thoughts. After conflict broke out, he served bravely on Bataan and Corregidor till Normal Jonathan Wainwright’s give up of all allied forces within the Philippines, Could 6, 1942.
Joe was taken prisoner by Imperial Japan and shuffled from one labor camp to a different. At a very brutal POW camp generally known as Nichols Discipline, Joe realized the laborious labor, beatings, tropical illnesses, and hunger weight loss program had gained; he would quickly die. Now 16, the boy had grown to over six ft tall, however weighed simply 109 kilos.
Joe’s final hope for survival was to be despatched to a special labor camp with barely higher circumstances. So, he feigned madness at Nichols Discipline by operating towards a bunch of guards whereas slicing his arms with a contraband sharpened spoon. The guards beat him savagely and positioned him in an eiso, a boxlike cage smaller than a coffin.
For days, the boy was given no meals — and most critically, no water. Nobody Joe had ever recognized had survived the eiso. Lastly, huddled within the cage, bare, bloodied, determined, and drifting out and in of consciousness, Joe prayed a easy prayer, “Lord, have mercy.” That evening a mysterious wind stirred up a cloud, and it started to rain. Joe drank the rainwater that seeped by the slats. Quickly, he was despatched to the higher POW camp.
When World Warfare II ended, Joe got here residence on a stretcher. He recovered from his bodily wounds, but suffered from extreme PTSD. Livid at his former captors, Joe struggled to carry a job and was divorced twice. In center age, his issues grew so acute that he checked himself right into a hospital’s psychological well being unit. The advisors inspired him to set down his hate.
Joe, with attribute grittiness, described his expertise: “I used to be OK after that. These medical doctors labored my mind over and straightened my butt out.”
Years handed, and as an aged retiree, Joe was flipping by channels on TV and got here throughout the instructing ministry of Atlanta pastor Dr. Charles Stanley. Joe wrote, “By no means been a lot for faith. Most of my life I searched and struggled.” However the preacher began making sense to Joe.
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“Sensible fella,” Joe added. “Laid issues out plain and easy. He was saying how God can spare you from troubles, however God doesn’t at all times try this. Typically you undergo the valley of the shadow, but God walks with you. Solely God retains you going. Properly, I knew heaps about that valley.”
Joe was flipping by channels on TV and got here throughout the instructing ministry of Atlanta pastor Dr. Charles Stanley. Joe wrote, “By no means been a lot for faith. Most of my life I searched and struggled.” However the preacher began making sense to Joe.
Proper in his front room, Joe bowed his head and made issues official. He selected to comply with Jesus, believing the biblical reality that God saves individuals and makes them new.
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Joe wrote, “The grace of Christ is deep and large. After I prayed, I regarded again over my previous couple of years and seen a change had been occurring all alongside. Possibly God had been working in my life, even when I didn’t comprehend it was Him at work.”
Joe died in 2017 at age 91 and is buried at Arlington Nationwide Cemetery. Those that knew him finest stated his life had actually modified. His previous wounds have been gone. His new life had begun.
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