There’s no training in life that really prepares you for when a sibling disappears in a city with millions of people. But that’s what happened to our family, as my sister joined the 84,000 Americans who are currently missing. How could any one of them be found? God knows.
The first book I ever remember receiving was an Arch Book titled “Jon and the Little Lost Lamb: The Parable of the Good Shepherd.” It’s the biblical tale of the shepherd who sees to the safety of the 99 sheep in a pen, and spends the rest of the book looking for the last one, a lost lamb. But how could one person, even a family, find a needle in a haystack?
I called a large major metro daily in the area. I was told that unless it was a child, or there was the possibility of foul play, then they weren’t interested (“So, in other words, we only want something interesting” snapped a math professor, a friend of mine who was upset with their policy). My brother fared little better than me with getting the TV networks to cover the case.
A retired general, a friend from my D.C. days, who now consults for a police department told me “You can’t do this on your own. You need to get help.”
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He was right, of course. You need lots of shepherds nowadays. We were fortunate to get them.
I know the police have become among the most maligned groups in America, an easy target. They don’t always get the credit for saving lives. But my sister would be still missing today if it wasn’t for law enforcement. From big cities to small towns, they scoured the region looking for her, even though she wasn’t a local resident.
It’s hard to get the word out when the bigger media entities just aren’t as interested in your case. But it was a different story for others in the press. One plea from me, and a host of newspapers forwarded the story about my sister to anyone they knew who could help. A local newspaper carried the story, as did an AM radio station. If you’re reading this in a paper, know that this paper helped. It’s another reason to support your community’s editors and reporters.
Though it was tough tracking down churches in these big cities, our local parish was there to pray with me, adding my sister to the list. Whether you believe or not, it’s a humbling experience when your family receives someone’s prayers, really.
There were also so many people on Facebook, etc. (college, church, community, etc.) who commented on the message, shared it with friends in the area, who shared it with others. A former co-worker heard our story, and put it on an Internet sleuthing site. The traditional media and social media combination worked so well that when my brother went out to the city to look for my sister, everyone seemed to know about her.
When the parable was being told in the Bible, Jesus is the Good Shepherd, of course. So why did the book call him Jon? I wondered about that. Now I think I know why. Any of us can be lost, of course. But many were put on this Earth to be shepherds too, to find those who are lost. Thanks everyone for stepping up to help someone you’ve never met, a person you’ll probably never meet. You are the heroes we need today to make this story have a happy ending.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.