Monday, April 05, 2010


Last night, around 9:45pm, God sent a runaway teenage girl to our front door. Her name was Angelica. She had run away from a girl's home called CRF, which, we eventually learned, is just around the corner and down the block from our house.

Angelica broke through a screened window and cut her face as she tripped on the curb in her escape. She started running blindly through the neighborhood, unsure of where to go next. Because she is a christian girl, she started praying for God to help her and tell her where to go.

She ended up knocking on our neighbor's house in our cul-de-sac. Tammy came to the door and the first thing Angelica said was, "Please don't call the police". Seeing this scared, out of breath young girl on her doorstep with blood on her face, she decided to get some help. Tammy said, "I know a pastor and his wife down the street. They'll know what to do."

That's when they knocked on our door. We had just put our boys to bed and had settled down after a hellish week of airport drama, sickness, and non-stop Holy Week prepartions for Passover Seder, Good Friday and of course, Easter in the Park that very morning. We came to the door together and found Tammy and Angelica on our doorstep.

Tammy said to Angelica, "I know you don't me, but I trust these people with my heart and I know that they will take care of you, ok?" She knodded and repeated, "Please just don't call the police, ok?"

After Tammy left we brought Angelica inside and sat her down on the sofa. Wendy and I sat on the floor near her and just asked her to tell us her story. She was in tears a lot of the time, but eventually she got her story out. At first, she wanted us to drive her to her Mom's house in Anaheim. "What's the phone number?" my wife asked. She didn't know the number, she only knew the address.

I took a second to let that sink in. This teenage girl was in a stranger's house on Easter Sunday night. She had nowhere to go. No friends to call on. Even her own Mother, just a few miles away, could offer her no comfort. My heart broke for her.

"Angie?," I said. "I don't know your situation. But I'm guessing that your Mom's house is probably not a very safe place for you. Is it?" She hung her head and nodded. "You're right," she said.

I asked her to consider returning to the CRF home, since she had affirmed that the people there were really nice and very supportive of her. She completely refused to go back.

"What do you want to do?" I asked.

"I want to go back to Orangewood Children's Home," she said. She had stayed there previous to being at CRF.

"I can't just drive you over there and drop you off, can I?" She shook her head.

"My social worker said she can help me on Tuesday," she said.

"But by Tuesday everyone is going to know you ran away, including your social worker," I said. "By then, they won't take you to Orangewood, they'll take you back to CRF, or maybe to Juvenile Hall for running away."

"Can I just stay here?" she asked.

"Sure, you can stay here. But the police are going to be looking for you. People are going to be worried about you. And you won't get to go back to Orangewood if you're a runaway."

We tried calling her social worker, but she didn't answer. We got a recording that said she would be back in the office on Tuesday.

So, we decided to pray for wisdom. We bowed our heads and we asked God to honor His promise that if anyone lacks wisdom they can ask Him. So, we did. We confessed that we didn't know what to do to help Angelica, but that we knew that God had a plan that was the best for her life. We prayed and then we waited.

God was faithful. He gave us the idea to call Orangewood Children's Home, where she used to live. Even though it was 10pm on Easter Sunday evening, we got a live person on the phone.

I explained that I was a pastor in Orange who was trying to help a runaway girl. The woman on the phone, Shelly, asked me the name of the girl. When I gave her the name and her date of birth, Shelly said, "Oh, I know Angelica! Can I talk to her?" I handed the phone to her and the two of them talked for about ten minutes. From our end of the conversation I could hear Angelica saying, "I'll just run away again.... Then just send me to Juvie(Juvenile Hall)....I just want to come back to Orangewood again...please?"

Eventually, Angelica and Shelly made a deal. Angelica promised to go back to CRF for one more night and Shelly promised that she would find a way to get her back to Orangewood on Monday. They agreed and Angelica handed me back my phone.

Shelly asked permission to give my phone number to the people at CRF so they could come and pick her up. We were more than happy to do that. In five more minutes a woman from CRF called, got directions to our house and sent a van to pick her up.

We waited outside with Angelica until the van came and got to meet Laura, the girl from CRF, who was very sweet and not much older than Angelica herself. They hugged each other and Laura said, "We forgive you. It's ok."

Before they left, Wendy and I gave Angelica our phone number and asked if she would keep us up to date on what happened next. We also said that we would come visit her sometime too.

As the van drove away and we turned to walk back into our house we couldn't help but feel that God had allowed us to play a part in His rescue of this young girl from danger. If she had come to another house, or if she had been picked up by the police, it could have been a lot worse for her. I know we'll see her again and talk to her very soon. She's left a permanent mark on our hearts.

One thing we promised Angelica was that we would keep her in our prayers, and that our house church family would be praying for her too. If you would take the time to pray for Angelica I know she would appreciate that very much.

Pray that God would work out His perfect plan for this young girl and that he would continue to keep her safe.

Hopefully, God will give us good news to share about her in the next few days.


1 comment:

Lori Stilger said...

She couldn't have found a better haven for those few precious moments than with you and Wendy. I'm SO blessed to be able to pray for Angelica. Can't wait to see what God does with and for her.