I haven’t kept refreshing a news story so frequently for ages. But the story of five-year-old April Jones’ abduction chills me like nothing in ages, even in our information-saturated culture.
I’m a Dad. I have a nine-year-old daughter who wants to walk home from school alone. Sensible as she is, the answer is no. While I was coming home from school on my own at that age, I don’t feel it’s safe in our society. Yes, I know an argument will rage about whether these incidents are more prevalent or simply more reported, and yes as a Christian I am not to be ruled by fear, but I have a parental duty of protection to my children.
The fear is coming out socially in other ways. Many have already assumed that the arrested man is guilty of the abduction (and maybe much more). But we don’t know yet. We can’t allow fear to launch vigilante groups. Our craving for safety could create a new Wild West if we were to follow all the populist cries. There is a danger that some people will do anything or vote for anyone they think will bring peace and safety. That anything or anyone could bring greater trouble, though.
Meanwhile, I see many messages on social media from Christians who are praying for the safe return of April. I find myself adding the qualifier, ‘if she’s still alive.’ Since little April wasn’t with the arrested man and they are searching in the area of a river, I feel sick about the prospects of finding the poor girl still breathing.
How, then, do Christians model living free from fear and full of compassion? Because right now, that could be a central part of our witness in the UK.