On New Year’s Day, 20-year-old Nicholas Simmons went missing. His family did everything they could to find their son. They contacted the police and even started a Facebook page. Unfortunately, since Nick had left his wallet and cell phone at home, no one could find him. For days they diligently searched for him, all to no avail.
As the bitter cold swept through the country, a photographer took pictures of some weather beaten homeless people on the New York streets. One photo depicted a young man huddling under a thick blanket with is face pressed against a steam grate. He was soaking in every bit of warmth coming from the grate as he battled the freezing cold. This person was Nicholas Simmons.
This very picture showed up in USA Today. Nick’s mother was looking through the newspaper when she saw the picture and realized it was her son. After communicating with the photographer, newspaper writer, and the police, they were able to find Nick.
For some reason, Nick decided to leave home on New Year’s Day. Capt. Patrick Phelan of the Greece Police Department said there was a discussion between Nick and his parents which may have caused him to leave home. We don’t know why Nick went missing or what caused him to leave. No matter the reason, one thing is clear; Nick had a loving family who desperately wanted him to come back (CNN).
It’s always heartbreaking when a person goes missing, especially when a person goes missing from the church. Like Nick, sometimes a person leaves because of an argument or a disagreement that occurred. Perhaps someone said something cruel or hurtful. Maybe the person just didn’t want to be part of the church family anymore. Whatever the reason, it’s extremely tragic to see people walk out the door and possibly never come back.
It’s hard to know why a person may have left the church, but we can’t just let them go. As the church family, it’s our responsibility to try and bring them back. If it was something we did, let’s go make it right. If we can help them, encourage them, hug them, whatever it takes, let’s bring them back to the Lord.
Physically and spiritually, people go missing and it’s terrible on every level. Like Nick’s family, let’s make it clear to the spiritually missing among us that they have a family who loves them and anxiously wants them to come back (Luke 15:11-32).