There is no fear like the fear we feel for a lost child. There is no sense of powerlessness more overwhelming than that which we feel when a young one vanishes without a trace. There is no more wrenching desperation than the desperate grasping of every ray of hope, every piece of good news.
We have felt all of those things in the hours and now days since 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco went missing on Tuesday, from the front room of a Bullard church where her parents and relatives and friends were at prayer.
Yet East Texans have not given in to the fear, to the sense of powerlessness; we have refused to loosen our grasp on hope. Hundreds of us, perhaps thousands, have prayed silently for the safety of Kayla, a beautiful and brilliant little girl who adores her family and loves school. And hundreds of us turned out early Saturday morning for a search for any clues or sign of Kayla.
As one, East Texans have stepped forward and said Kayla is not just some little girl; she is our little girl. In the worst of times, the best of us all can shine through.
Our community leaders stepped forward, early in this time of trial, with some comforting words and a call for unity.
“As a parent of three children, my heart is broken for Kayla’s family,” said Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran. “My wife and I are praying for her safe and quick return, and urge any citizen who has information regarding Kayla to contact the tip line immediately.”
At a community-wide prayer vigil Wednesday night, Josh Green, pastor of County Line Baptist Church, said he thought about his daughter who is not much older than Kayla and where he would go for comfort.
The scripture he clings to in a time like this says “God is a present help in trouble.”
That is true. It’s also true that God works through our friends, our neighbors and our community to minister to those in distress. We’ve seen this in the outpouring of support - and meals - for Kayla’s family, and even for the scores of law enforcement personnel who have converged on Bullard to assist in the search for the young girl.
We might also look to the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them,” Jesus said. “Doesn’t he leave the 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”
As of Saturday evening, we do not know where Kayla is. We do not know if she is safe. But we know that she is loved, deeply, and we will not cease searching for our lost lamb. And we pray that soon, we will rejoice.