Three recent and ongoing Amber Alert cases reveal the pressing call for people to be aware of the world's lost children and the issues that surround the 2,185 children reported missing in the U.S. on average every day.
There is missing Kansas City baby Lisa Irwin, missing 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley from Arizona and Sky Metalwala, the 2-year-old toddler who went missing Sunday in Bellevue, Wash.
The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 797,500 kids under the age of 18 are reported missing every year. It is easy to disconnect oneself from the face on a milk carton or the photo in the black and white "missing" notice stapled to a community bulletin board. But since Christians are called help those who are spiritually lost, are we also called to help those who are physically lost?
Pam Cude, child search investigator and public relations representative for Child Search Ministries, a national center for missing children, addressed that issue in a call with The Christian Post.
"We are all desperate to find these children," said Cude as she told CP that Child Search has devoted a lot of time in prayer for Lisa Irwin, Jhessye Shockley, Sky Metalwala and every missing child.
In the case of the three cases currently prominently featured in the media, it is difficult for those intimately involved not to watch the clock with extreme growing concern. Irwin has being missing since Oct. 4, Shockley since Oct. 11 and Metalwala since the morning of Nov. 6.
Cude told CP, "We can't give up hope. We have to support everyone involved and not make [a] judgment. We can't begin to imagine what the family is going through."
Cude has been employed with Child Search for 15 years. The Texas-based ministry works on a local and national level to connect volunteers to local law enforcement.
"There are not enough investigators and police to handle each case. What we do is volunteer and reach out to everyone that's involved," she said.
A complex and multifaceted problem, missing children pose a challenge to state and local authorities as they include family abductions, endangered runaways, non-family abductions and lost children with injuries.
Research done by the National Incidence Studies of Missing Children (NISMART) categorized different types of missing children cases. According to its reports, non-family members abducted 58,200 children; 115 were the victims of "stereotypical kidnappings" and 203,900 were the victims of family abductions.
Cude emphasized the importance of community members being very familiar with the faces of missing children.
"Many are skeptical of the news media coverage, but it's all about putting that child's face out there. Everyone could join together by giving your time, putting flyers out, calling to get in touch with the family or giving support to local law enforcement agencies," she said.
In speaking about the very buzzed about baby Lisa case, Cude noted, "I have every hope that she'll be found. That's what we need to stand behind. And not just baby Lisa but all these other children that are missing."
However, the child search representative told CP, "These are desperate situations and desperate times."
She advises people to look beyond some of the media details which can entangle the public and avoid becoming stagnant as a media consumer, which she feels keeps the focus off finding the child which is where it should be at all times.
"Whatever the circumstances are, just be active and give of yourself to find the child," she said.
Cude told CP, "I believe all those involved are doing everything they can. They are diligently searching and doing everything they can. You have to have faith in the people. You have to ask God to open the door and bring them home safely."