Twenty-three days ago three young women were freed. They had been held captive for over a decade and the sad thing is they were held hostage a mere 3 miles from their abducted locations.
A mere 1 mile from my current residence in Cleveland, OH.
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry & Gina DeJesus had their lives permanently altered and they will never be the same again. Although both Berry and DeJesus were featured on America’s Most Wanted, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The Montel Williams Show, the exposure to their disappearances via media coverage proved fruitless. In the end, it was a couple of local neighbors who proved to be their heroes.
A man named Ariel Castro, the homeowner of where the victims were held hostage, is accused of kidnapping the girls one by one and misleading them to his home. He allegedly raped and beat them for 10+ years, causing them to experience multiple miscarriages. Only Amanda Berry carried her child to full term, ultimately giving birth to a girl. Her daughter is now 6 years old.
On May 6th, 2013, Berry noticed one of the doors was unlocked upon Castro’s departure of the home; she seized the opportunity and screamed for help. That is when two neighbors came to her aid, kicking in the door to help her out. That day proved to be a turning point for the captives as well as their captor. Ariel Castro is currently charged with both kidnapping and rape. The girls are now safe.
Stories like this one don’t happen everyday. Usually, if someone has disappeared for that long of a period of time, they are no longer alive. But these girls beat the odds. They survived and were freed because finally someone saw them and heard them and acted on their behalf.
When I was a sophomore in college I had a supernatural experience while sleeping. When I awoke the name “Elizabeth Smart” was heavy on my heart. I didn’t know who that was at the time but within days I found out it was a girl who had been missing for months. She was abducted and her story was plastered on every news station imaginable. I realized God was using me, and I’m sure many others, to intercede for her. Her parents were praying fervently and although they were of the Mormon faith, I knew God was answering their prayers. Elizabeth was discovered and returned to her parents. She’s been free for years now and even reached out to the women from Cleveland.
In both cases it was the common man used to set the captive free. There is so much going on around us and its easy to get caught up in ourselves and our everyday lives. But what happens if we take time to stop, look around, and peer into the lives of our neighbors. So often we ask each other “how are you?” and so often the standard response of “I’m good” is given. But are they really good? Or are they being abused, held captive, or worse? Are they just waiting for you to notice the scars that are etched on their heart and maybe even their skin? Are they waiting for you to save them?
One thing I realize from these incidents is how much God loves to use people. It’s easy for us to blame God when bad things happen. My heart is broken that these women went through such horrendous events and lost a chunk of their lives. But I don’t blame God. I only feel my own sense of responsibility to be a gatekeeper and a watchman in my community. To come to the aid of those crying out for help; whether it be by interceding in prayer or by walking a mile from my house to physically kick the door down for their freedom.
In this world we will have tribulations. Jesus promised us that. But He came so that that would not be the end result. He came to set the captive free. And He came to make us like Him, so that we would do the same.
Luke 4:18 (NIV)
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…