Originally Published: August 5, 2002 6:10 p.m.
In these dark and trying times, there are so many things that can get you down. War, accidents, kidnappings, murders – the list is long.
For every parent, whether your children are grown or small, the recent news of child abductions across the country certainly has tested everyone's nerves.
The recent string of missing children – ranging in age from 5 to 14 – are not an up-surge or epidemic statistically, experts say; the media has merely brought more attention to them.
However, that is because two factors have made most of them extraordinary:
• Some of their abductors appear to be to be strangers. For example: Samantha Runnion in Stanton, Calif., who someone seized outside her apartment building. Her abductor sexually assaulted and murdered her within 24 hours.
Statistically, the majority of abductions are the result of relatives taking the child as part of a family dispute. In other cases, the perpetrators are often acquaintances of the child, acting out of various motives.
• At least three of the cases – 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City, 7-year-old Danielle van Dam in San Diego, and 6-year-old Cassandra Williamson in St. Louis – involve children who disappeared from their homes.
Searchers found Danielle's body and a neighbor is on trial; she vanished from her bedroom. A transient, who faces charges in the case of Williamson's kidnapping, attempted rape and murder, led authorities to her body seven blocks from where her father lives; the transient was staying in the house and allegedly took her from the kitchen when no one was looking. Elizabeth, who her 9-year-old sister says a man took her out their bedroom window, is still missing.
It all makes you wonder, if children are not safe in their own homes, where are they safe?
On the flip side is the phenomenal news out of Pennsylvania, where Sunday morning rescuers reached and freed nine men from a tomb-like, collapsed and flooded mine.
One of the men realized he had not kissed his wife goodbye before he left for work this past Wednesday morning, the day of the collapse.
The story played out over the next three days, riveting people to their televisions, radios and computers for the latest news. Against the odds, the desperate rescue operation paid off and all of the men appear to be fine.
These things, and others, have been on my mind for weeks. That is why my pastor's sermon on Sunday was so good to hear.
American Lutheran's Pastor Eunice Pearson Webb spoke of our mission in life, one in which we should all:
• Do quality work;
• Have a positive attitude; and,
• Talk to others about the Good News.
Despite the fact that so many people have religious beliefs – 89 percent of Americans believe in God – most do not have a relationship with Jesus, she said.
These are the times, folks, when we must all concentrate on God, family and compassion for our fellow man.
Some people may scoff at where this column ended up, but think about it. This is a mission that requires action.
PARTING SHOT – "Whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus." – Colossians 3:17
Contact Tim Wiederaenders at firstname.lastname@example.org.