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In the Hands of God

Twenty-two-year-old Wade’s* motorcycle lay abandoned at the end of his grandparents’ driveway. He was nowhere to be seen. The Virginia Search & Rescue team responded to the call and began searching. Wade’s family waited for word, their anxiety deepened by the suicide note discovered on his computer. Hours passed as team members fruitlessly combed hundreds of acres of briars and creek beds, praying for his safe return.

After two sleepless nights of worrying, the family was overjoyed when Wade unexpectedly came home on his own! A team member who helped in the search wrote, “I am constantly reminded in cases like this that, even though the outlook may look bleak, God is still in control.”

Whether searching for dementia patients who wander off, helping parents locate missing children, or looking for drowning victims, the goal of Search & Rescue is to minister the love of Jesus to distressed families. Pray for our teams as they share compassion in difficult circumstances.

If you wish to support CAM’s Search & Rescue teams to find lost or missing people in the U.S., please click the donate button to give a gift.

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Closure and comfort after tragic drowning

tragic drowning, Christian Aid Ministries

This summer the Ohio Search & Rescue team responded to the tragic drowning of Keith Schlabach, local to CAM’s headquarters in Berlin.

On June 4, Keith and his friend Maynard set out with a canoe on the Tuscarawas River as the sun rose above the fog. The friends weren’t catching fish as they had hoped so they decided to stop at an island in the river. As they approached the island and attempted to maneuver around a sapling, the current grabbed the canoe and flipped it upside down. Keith and Maynard landed in water that reached their shoulders. They pushed the canoe to shallower water, but all the items in the boat started floating downstream.

Keith swam after his backpack while Maynard wrestled the upside-down canoe against the current.Maynard finally managed to reach the island to dump the water out of the canoe. But he could no longer see Keith, who had only been 150 feet downstream the last Maynard had seen him. Since the canoe paddles were gone, Maynard used a stick to guide himself downstream. But there was still no sight of Keith.

An empty feeling gnawed at Maynard’s stomach as he kept rowing. When he reached the items Keith had swam for, the dreaded reality of not finding Keith began to sink in. The following days were long ones for family and friends as they waited for Keith’s body to be recovered from the murky waters. Search & Rescue team members worked with other agencies to begin the search. As time passed, our team continued the efforts alone.

One of our team members was related to Keith, and many other relatives and friends longed to help. Because of the personal nature of the incident, our team members allowed Keith’s loved ones to be involved by arranging to have them stay on a bridge downstream from the accident in case Keith’s body surfaced nearby.

tragic drowning, Christian Aid Ministries

On the morning of June 7, our team launched the boat to perform another day of searching when they spotted Keith’s body along the riverbank. It was a bittersweet moment for loved ones. Later, our team members gathered with his family and friends for a touching time of sharing and prayer.

If you would like to help support the work of Search and Rescue, please click below to give a one-time gift or start a monthly sponsorship.

To help support the Search & Rescue program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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Searching for the lost

Searching for the lost, Christian Aid Ministries

Our Oklahoma Search & Rescue team was dispatched in September to help search for Sean,* a missing 2-year-old. They joined more than 30 agencies—tribal, state, federal, and local authorities—working together, searching for the lost boy. Sadly, the boy was found deceased. The outcome was difficult for loved ones, but our team was given a chance to share God’s love at a time of sorrow.

As our team members search for loved ones, opportunities arise for them to interact with distraught family members. Many people are open to hearing about God during these times of uncertainty.

The teams are equipped with training and equipment for each incident, but even with the best tools, they rely heavily on prayer and God’s guidance.

A family member from a Search & Rescue incident wrote, “You and your team have truly blessed our family, and we are forever grateful. Thank you for your dedication in helping families and individuals in times of crisis. You and your team are truly the hands and feet of Jesus.”

*Name changed to protect identity.

To help support the Search & Rescue program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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In the forest for three days

forest, Christian Aid Ministries

The beauty surrounding nine-year-old Josh as he dangled his feet in the babbling brook was delightful. But he saw none of the beautiful forest that enveloped him. His only thoughts were on the fight he had just had with his dad.

In his rage, Josh fled. He ran pell-mell past the garage and out into the great forest of unknowns. It was so freeing to be able to do what he wanted and not have anybody over his shoulder telling him anything. This was going to be a great adventure, a survival challenge, man against nature.

As nightfall settled in, the feeling of freedom he enjoyed a few hours before began to dissipate. Hunger began to eat at his stomach. The majestic, nearly leafless oaks stood silhouetted against the darkening sky, making Josh feel small and insignificant. He was utterly alone. The reason he ran away didn’t seem so reasonable anymore. The adrenaline that had taken Josh far into the forest was wearing off. His pace slackened.

Josh’s survival instincts started to kick in. He needed to find a place of shelter for the night. After a bit he found a place where people had dumped trash. Using half of an old children’s pool and a piece of ragged tarp, he made a rough shelter beside a stream by a hillside cliff. Josh was at the mercy of nature around him. The hunger pangs grew by the moment. He didn’t want to die out here because of his actions of anger toward his dad.

Dawn, with its cheer and hope, reluctantly broke as Josh crouched in his rough shelter. He heard sounds of voices. They had come to look for him! He almost called out, but he was not willing to give up and come home just yet. He pressed up against the side of the cliff and held perfectly still as the searchers on the top of the hill looked down and discussed if it was advisable to descend. They had spotted the blue tarp shelter Josh had made. Eventually they moved on and he was once again alone in the great forest.

Another day passed. Hunger was Josh’s constant companion. He thought about eating the scrapings out of the old jars in the dump.

Josh thought back on his home life. How good he had always had it in comparison to what he had now! There was always food, clothing, and a warm place to sleep. He had parents and siblings who loved and cared for each other. The things he didn’t like about home looked so small now. Another night out in the unknown with wild creatures on the lurk was taking its toll on his nine-year-old body and mind. He wanted to go home now, but no one was around to save him. Which way was home? He no longer remembered which way led to civilization. Would the people come back and try to find him? He didn’t want to die out here, and if they did come out he would not hide from them! That night was dreadful with all the sounds of the forest around him and not having eaten for two days.

The searchers were out the next day and found a cold, wet, hungry boy. Praise the Lord for protecting Josh during the time in the wild and for leading the searchers to his makeshift camp before it was too late!

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“No words to adequately express our gratitude”

rapid response, Christian Aid Ministries

For years, CAM has helped our neighbors here in the United States through cleanup and rebuilding in the wake of disasters. Search & Rescue was launched in 2016 as an arm of Rapid Response Services. Helping search for lost and missing people gives us the opportunity to reach out with the love of Jesus to the distressed in our homeland.

“Thank you so very much for finding our dear [Sarah],* who had been missing for about forty-five hours when you found her in a cornfield . . .” shared a family member. “And thanks to God and you, she was found alive! There are no words to adequately express our gratitude and appreciation . . .”

*Name changed to protect identity.

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“It was just a miracle!”

miracle, Christian Aid Minstries

It was a spring day in the mountains of Virginia, and Amelia was riding her bike. Suddenly she got disoriented, and abandoned her bike to try to find her way back home. Instead, she went further from her home. She was lost.

Amelia is autistic, and mostly non-verbal. She is also on medication, and without it, she would likely die.

Amelia’s parents found her bike, but Amelia was nowhere to be found. Alarmed, they contacted the authorities immediately. CAM’s Virginia Search & Rescue team was called to the scene and the search began.

After searching for two days to no avail, our team began branching out further. On the third day, John, a local who had experience with search and rescue work, stopped by to see if he could help. Our team members gave him posters to pass out to hikers on the Appalachian Trail, which was close to where Amelia lived.

One hiker who John talked to said he would like to pray that Amelia could be found. At that same time, a team member in the command trailer suddenly felt the urge to pray. God was working! After praying, John started walking down the trail again.

miracle, Christian Aid Minstries
Search & Rescue team members search for Amelia.

Suddenly John heard a noise. He stopped, listened, then began hurrying towards the sound. Amelia!

Amelia, who was mostly non-verbal, was calling loudly for help. She was stuck in the mud and unable to move. John quickly helped her out and took her to a waiting ambulance, where she immediately received help. Amelia, who according to medical experts should have died was fine, aside from being dirty, hungry, and cold.

John says, “It was just a miracle!”

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Another chance for Trenton

Search & Rescue Team, Christian Aid MInistries

A damp February afternoon found the Virginia Search & Rescue team looking for forty-year-old Trenton from Tennessee. Trenton had been missing from his home on several other occasions, but usually he was with someone. This time he was alone and had been missing for almost two weeks.

As daylight drew to a close, law enforcement officers wished to suspend the search for the night. But a few members of the search party felt compelled to keep searching, so everyone pressed on.

Close to nightfall, two of CAM’s Search & Rescue team members and a member of another search party were looking through an area thick with brushwood. Suddenly they saw Trenton lying under a tree. Not knowing whether he was alive, the men called out, “Sir, can you hear us?”

Trenton removed the hood of his jacket from his face and muttered something the men could not understand. “We are here to help you,” they said. “We want to help you get out of the woods.”

“Thank you so much. I cannot believe the effort that was put into finding him. We are so grateful.”—Trenton’s mother

Shaking from the cold, Trenton crawled out from under the tree. He asked, “Can you take me to my parents? I’m trying to get ahold of my parents.” The team members promised Trenton he would be able to see his parents, and helped him walk out of the woods to a waiting ambulance. As they walked, the team members shared with Trenton how God had been watching over him.

The medical staff on the ambulance said Trenton would be okay, but probably would not have survived the night as a cold front was coming through the area. Trenton was already on the verge of hypothermia when the team found him and likely would have passed away in this condition. Because of God’s direction, he now has another chance to come to know Him.

The tired, cold team members went home with light hearts, knowing that someone lived to see another day. Please pray that Trenton will see God in his rescue.

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Arkansas Search & Rescue Swift water rescue

Arkansas Search & Rescue

One evening at 9:30, the Arkansas Search & Rescue team was called to help several people stranded in their vehicles. Heavy rain washed two vehicles off a low water bridge by the Mulberry River close to Oark, Arkansas.

To rescue the occupants, the Arkansas Search & Rescue team members strung a rope from a parked vehicle on dry land to the first stranded vehicle. They helped the stranded people get out by walking along the rope.
The second vehicle was accessed using an inflatable raft. They made four trips while water rushed around them and the vehicles were at high risk of tumbling down stream with their occupants. Praise God, everyone was safely on dry land by 2:30 in the morning.

In addition to this rescue, CAM’s Search & Rescue teams have responded to 31 other incidents so far in 2019. The searches involved recovering drowning victims, searching for dementia patients, and recovering lost children.