A few weeks ago, an AMBER Alert was issued for a little girl who went missing. Within minutes, cell phones all around the valley were sounding the warning signal. Overhead signs on the freeways displayed information of this missing 2 year old and the car in which she was last seen. Thousands of residents throughout Southern Nevada were suddenly drawn into this critical situation. Driving along I-15 that morning I, like many other drivers, started examining each car for the make, model and license plate number of the suspected vehicle.
The acronym “AMBER” stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and was created as a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered. As of December 23, 2015, 800 children have been rescued and returned specifically because of AMBER Alert. The alerts also serve as a deterrent to predators that prey upon our children. Cases have shown that some perpetrators release the abducted child after hearing the AMBER Alert.
I had seen AMBER alerts before, but this one was different. This was happening right where I live. As soon as I heard about this lost little girl, I started praying, “Lord, you know where she is. Help them find her.” I sent texts to friends and asked them to pray as well. Thankfully the suspense lasted less than a few hours. News quickly spread that she was found and was safe in the arms of her mother. I breathed a sigh of relief, and then my mind turned to the similarities between this situation and the very real, yet unseen, spiritual abduction of our children that is happening all around us.
Children today are being exposed to violence, drugs, and sex at a much earlier age than ever before. The average child in America spends 7.5 hours a day on electronic devices – playing video games or watching YouTube videos – many times completely unsupervised. Their minds are being shaped by a liberal media in a world that embraces relativism rather than absolute truth. Many children today only know Jesus as a cuss word and they have never seen nor read the Bible.
Gone are the safeguards that 40, 30 or even 20 years ago used to protect our children. More than one-third of all American households are single parent families, which means children are often left alone. Attending church as a family or eating together at the dinner table and talking over the events of the day now falls into the same nostalgic category as record players or black and white TV. Young boys looking for a strong male role model are often drawn into gangs; insecure girls are easily seduced into a life on the streets.
Even though there are no audible alerts going off, our children are lost . . . wandering . . . easy targets for the unseen enemy of our souls. Jesus said He came to seek and to save that which is lost. He went on to say that He was not willing for any of these little ones to perish and He gave one of His strongest warnings to anyone would cause a child to stumble.
Through the Good News Club and other CEF ministries, we’re doing all we can to bring the message of salvation to every child, in every nation, every day. Children are learning that they have a safe place, that they do matter, and that there is truth to guide them through this dangerous and ever-changing world.
The relief and joy I felt that Saturday knowing one little girl was home, is just a tiny glimpse of the feeling that overcomes me when I think of the millions of children who now, thanks to the watchful efforts of CEF missionaries and volunteers all around the world, have an eternal home and will one day be safe in the arms of Jesus. Maybe that’s the message that should be flashing on the overhead freeway signs – another child found!