I received a message last week that vividly brought me back to my own terrifying grocery store encounter. I don’t constantly live with the baggage of “what could have happened”, but what I am trying to say is that this mom’s story recalled things in me almost as if I were there with her in her story. Truly having tasted the unthinkable fear you experience when your child is taken, I imagined the unthinkable ten minutes both she and others looked for her young daughter. The email from an eyewitness and store manager retold how this mother was preoccupied only a moment while she perused the meat cooler. When she turned around and her daughter was gone, the search began. Less than an estimated ten minutes later, the four-year-old was found in the bathroom in her underwear, with half of her head shaved, and bewildered next to a bag containing a second set of clothes. The perpetrator must have abandoned his/her crime when the Sam’s Club manager called out their “Code Adam” protocol - and thank God.
Less than ten minutes.
Parents, grandparents, I am sincerely grieved by the details of all the stories like this that are shared with me. But, what alarms me the most is the amount of child trafficking stories I am sent. Trafficking is prevalent in America. Even the FBI is calling trafficking and pedophilia a ‘crisis’. We are here...now what can be done as parents.
A trafficker can reach through this screen to harm your child, so how can I use the same screen to save him? What can I do as one woman to protect your daughter? And, what can you do?
I asked myself this for months before going to my husband with an idea. “What if I take all the relationships I developed after Pearle’s story went viral and collaborate with every advocate, survivor, academic, doctor, fellow parent, and non-profit to create one large video library for families to access information that would make them less vulnerable to the child trafficker? And, as a mom with my own tender story, what if I screened the content to remove anything overtly graphic and edited the information to be presented in short video trainings with age designations?” And that is exactly what we did. We created Vigilant Families.
Those ten minutes in Sam's Club, and my own ten minutes, will be completely redeemed with three weeks. We are less than three weeks from 'child', 'youth', and 'parent' videos that teach everything from self-defense to the “5 Savers Your Child Under 5 Should Know”. Our cameras aren't recording child porn, they are fighting it. After two years, we are nearly at the finish line...and I am so happy for both our families.
In closing, may I ask for your help in three ways?
This is a spiritual battle and in my personal life, I have entirely recommitted to an effectual prayer life and asking for prayer from others. We have one, simple issue that is preventing us from moving forward. Asking for prayer is a way of stepping out in faith and then trusting that God will remove this hurdle before our two-week launch. Additionally, I cannot wait to share the amazing conclusion because of our commitment to prayer! For your good and His Glory, Amanda