I’ve got a lot of friends in law enforcement, and usually they don’t show a lot of emotion. But the Cleveland police chief said, “Yes, law enforcement people do cry.” I think some of them did when three women, missing for a decade, were suddenly found alive several years ago. They’d been imprisoned. You might remember it, a nondescript house by a man who kidnapped them years before and endured living horrors that we may never fully know.
A neighbor heard screams coming from that house and went to investigate. A woman locked inside cried, “I’ve been kidnapped! I want to leave right now.” It took kicking in the door, but he got her out. Later, the police brought out the other two kidnapped captives. The frantic 911 call from Amanda was riveting. “Help me! I’m Amanda!” (She gave her last name.) “I’ve been missing for ten years and I’m out here. I’m free now.” No wonder police officers cried.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Familiar Faces In The Rescue.”
I watched this powerful story unfold on TV. It reminded me of some things I can’t afford to forget through people who are at the heart of this story. Like people who refused to give up on the loved ones they’ve lost. Like Amanda’s mom, who refused to believe it was hopeless. She just kept her daughter’s picture and her story in front of people; she prayed relentlessly. Amanda’s mom did not live to see her prayers answered, but we all did.
A lot of us have an “Amanda” – someone who, for one reason or another, seems hopelessly gone; emotionally, spiritually, even physically. But the celebration in Cleveland at that time seems to shout to us, “Never stop fighting for the person you love.” Reach out to them. Love them when they give you no reason to. Pray for God to do what only He can do. Keep the porch light on.
I love that story where Jesus comes upon the funeral procession of a young man. The Bible says He saw the grieving mother and it says, “His heart went out to her.” Then He did what only He could do. He brought her son back to life. And here’s the best part. It says, “Jesus gave him back to his mother” (Luke 7:15). He’s still doing things like that, restoring lost loved ones to the people who care for them. That’s the hope that keeps us fighting for them. And as long as there’s breath, there’s hope.
Of course, a key player in freeing the Cleveland captives was that neighbor, who, disregarding the risks, jumped in to help someone in trouble. Somewhere on our “street” we all know someone like that. Behind a façade that looks fine, they may be living a nightmare, desperately seeking someone who will care about them, who will listen; who will be the voice and the face of Jesus for them.
And then there’s that prisoner who’s desperate to be free, whose only hope is a rescuer. That was me and a lot of folks like me, in a very dark place, unable to get out by myself until somebody heard the cry of my heart. Then I didn’t have to stay there one day longer.
Jesus came all the way from heaven to rescue a world of people held captive by the darkness inside them. “Sin” the Bible calls it. It’s our deadly addiction to defying God and doing life “my way” instead of His way. And we can’t seem to stop. The Bible says “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34), and I can’t argue with that. The selfishness, and anger, and dark desires, the wounding words, the endless lies – nobody wants to be that way, but we are. We’re prisoners in a dark place, until the Rescuer shows up at our door.
And finally, here’s our word for today from the Word of God, in Galatians 1:3. It says of Jesus, “He gave Himself for our sins to rescue us.” Wow! And it says, “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). He didn’t just come to the door. He died on a cross.
So here’s my story: “I’ve been missing. I’m free now, and I’m home!” I want that for you.
You can read about how to begin that relationship with Jesus right now. Go to our website ANewStory.com. The personal Rescuer has come to your “dark place” to rescue you. You can be free and you can be home!