– They Just Fell Through The Cracks

Use by permission of Kerry Hasenbalg

Gorge
The date was April 18, 1993 and the place was Taroko Gorge, Taiwan. Taroko Gorge is a gaping rift in the eastern mountains, with sheer marble cliffs, jagged rock and deep gorges rising up from a river bed far below. A group of college student visiting Taiwan on a study abroad program were hiking the breathtaking gorges. One the the students in that program was me. And I can vividly recall being in awe of God’s creative landscape. But my time of awe was abruptly quenched when a group of students came looking for us to tell us that we had to return to the ship immediately because two of the boys in our program had gone off hiking and had fallen into the gorge. And one of them had been found, but one of them was still missing, and we were stunned because he was one of us.

Our university ship eventually left port without him and we continued to receive word that he had still not been found. We were told that this young man was the son of someone apparently very important. His family had great wealth and they were not sparing one dime to search for him and, hopefully, rescue him – helicopters, round-the-clock search parties for a very, very long time. And life seemed to stop on the ship as we just waited for news. Conversations were totally consumed with talk of this lost boy. Many tears had been shed and we all wanted to do something, but we could do nothing but wait and pray. You see, he was one of us and it could have been any one of us that day.

We were keenly aware that this lost boy was somebody’s son, alright – the son of Gordon Crawford. His name was Brett Russell Crawford. According to the LA Weekly, Gordon Crawford, and I quote, “is the guy who once upon a time placed a big bet on what were the blue chip entertainment stocks and made gazillions for a lot of people, including himself. As those show biz firms morphed into big media, Crawford assumed even more power when his investment position became huger by default. None of that is to say that Gordy isn’t a great guy. People love him. Besides, it’s hard to say a harsh word about someone who in 1993 suffered such a huge personal tragedy as the death of his 21 year old son, Brett, during a hiking accident in Taiwan while enrolled in the semester at sea program. Crawford has told his friends, “I would give up all the money I’ve ever made to spend one hour with him.””

Brett’s name, his face, and his story we’ll always remember, because he was one of us. And, yet, for so many sons and daughters who have fallen through the cracks of the earth – lost and in distress and barely hanging on and in desperate need of rescue – no one searches, no one comes, no money is sent, no one prays, no one mourns, and no one even remembers them, and they are as real as Brett. Even though we’ve seen them – their pained faces; their hurting bodies. We’ve heard stories about the scars to their fragile souls – on the streets; on TV. We’ve witnessed them in our own neighborhoods – we’ve even been in their homes; in the places that they live. And sometimes we remember their plight – we think about it, briefly, and yet we just seem to forget. Why? Because they’re not our own children, they’re not the children of somebody we know, and they’re not the children of someone we deem important. If they were a celebrity’s child, you better believe we’d be all about it – reading about it – wanting to know what happened.  You see, they’re nobody’s children, really.  They are the fatherless.  They’re just orphans.

Spend time talking to child welfare professionals about children who are repeatedly abused and neglected in state run foster systems… orphanages… the ones who died on the streets… and you’ll hear them say, “They just fell through the cracks.” A wise woman, for whom I used to work on Capitol Hill, when she was speaking to a group of these professionals she said, “These children don’t fall through cracks, they fall through fingers.” That day she was talking in the context of government workers, but God did not entrust them to governments. God Almighty, the One who calls Himself the Father of the fatherless, entrusted them to us. These fingers through which they’ve fallen are our own.

Exerpt from a speech made at the 2007 “Adoption & Orphan Care Summit III.”  Follow this link to hear this compelling speech in it’s entirety.

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