Calling Out for William

From the Spring 2012 issue of Relationships magazine.

On the night of Oct. 1, a friend texted me to ask if a boy named William was one of our Capernaum friends. I replied back with an excited “yes,” thinking she’d met William or his family somewhere, but her follow-up text said, “Check Channel 4 news; he’s been missing for close to three hours.” I immediately logged on to the news, called his mom, and alerted friends, family and Young Life leaders to be praying for William. But I was discontent. My husband, Christopher, was out of town, Hudson was sleeping soundly in his crib and I wanted to be walking the streets of Nashville looking for William. A couple on the local committee called and asked if they could come and stay with Hudson so I could look — it didn’t take long for me  to answer.

Within 30 minutes, I joined the police, walking up and down streets, around buildings, in and out of restaurants, while exchanging texts and phone calls with a handful of our leaders. It wasn’t long before we realized there were literally hundreds of others doing the same thing ... all for a 14-year-old boy with Down Syndrome who had been lost in the dark streets of the Vanderbilt area for close to four hours.

We were coming around a building when I heard the voice of another Capernaum friend, Michael, screaming from his mom’s car. As they rode around with their top down, Michael’s voice echoed through the streets, “WIIIILLLLIAAMMMMMMM … WILLLLLLIIAAAMMMMM.” I couldn’t help but smile, after seeing/hearing Michael’s love for his friend and realizing that maybe tonight Michael would learn he, too, is worth it; that if anything ever happened to him people would canvas the streets because he is loved that much. After five hours of searching, William was found! There was joy and celebration in the streets of Nashville unlike I’ve ever seen. Surrounding William and his family, there were pastors, school principals, friends, family members, neighbors, college students, Young Life leaders, and folks who had never heard William’s name before 4:45 p.m. that evening, coming off the streets to celebrate that he had been found.

I drove home beaming from ear to ear, continually thanking Jesus that William was safe and home. I couldn’t help but think this night was another beautiful picture of the Gospel and what Young Life is all about. We hear about a kid in need, a kid who’s lost or a kid who’s lonely, and we drop everything to run and find that kid. We disregard cost, efficiency, time, other things on our to-do lists, the allure of throwing on a pair of sweats and watching a movie while hoping someone else will find that kid … to run out, canvas the streets, walk mile after mile, calling out their name  to show kids they are loved and worth every  second of our time.

I’m thankful for those who continue to believe in the mission of Young Life and cheer us to run after lost kids who need to hear the voice of the One calling out their name. I’m so grateful ... and  so is William.