We Will Never Stop Looking

I tucked Chase into bed tonight, closing my eyes as I kissed his forehead. And I saw that man’s face again.

During a quick stop at a local Books a Million with my two boys, I was on the hunt for author Mary Weber’s new YA sci-fi story, Reclaiming Shiloh Snow–a story birthed from her heart for young people caught in human trafficking.

 

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I had no idea how God would yank my eyes open about that very thing, minutes later.

Older son Cole asked to look at self-defense and martial arts books. Because he’s 5’10 and nearly fourteen, I didn’t hesitate letting him cross the main aisle. Chase wanted to check out Legos and Lego books. Since I’d only be a minute or two, I gave him permission to look at Legos while I quickly checked for the book.

The YA section is three aisles from the middle grade and Lego section, so after coming up empty-handed I headed toward Chase. Less than two minutes passed since I’d watched him hurry down the long middle aisle, toward the middle grade area.

I glanced right–Cole perused self-defense and martial arts books. I said his name, he looked up and nodded. I motioned for him to hurry and told him I’d be with his brother. As I rounded the corner, I immediately saw Chase.

With a man standing a few feet past him, intently watching my child.

Caucasian, above-average height, slim-to-medium build. Tan shorts hitting just at his knees. White t-shirt under a dull orange jacket, zipped halfway up. His orange ball-cap was nearly the same shade as his jacket, with medium brown hair peeking out and a full beard reaching just below his chin.

Perhaps in his mid thirties, he could easily have been a father looking for books for his child. But he wasn’t. He was scoping out my child.

Fire and anger and maternal wildcat emerged. I growled Chase’s name and stepped toward him. The man looked up, meeting my eyes.

I’m still analyzing what I saw. Surprise. Acceptance. A shutting down, moving away that wasn’t frenzied but calm, purposeful.

I glared at him as he melted away, heading toward the back of the middle grade section, his orange ball-cap visible above the shelves. I watched that ball-cap skirting the middle grade section, turning toward the comic book section. I followed, Chase and Cole with me, staring as he pretended to read a comic book, then made his way to the back entrance of the store, which emptied into the parking lot.

We lost him for a couple minutes, but saw him again as he sat cross-legged on the floor near the magazines (on the other side of the store, no children in sight, though it seemed a heavy-set woman stood beside him).

In retrospect I wish I’d done more than mention it to the cashier as we checked out. Once we got home, I called the store and spoke to a helpful young man who asked for a detailed description and thanked me for calling.

Still, it didn’t feel like I’d done enough.

PARENTS, please hear me on this. Talk to your children about this. If nothing else, I’m thankful this situation allowed me to speak at length with our boys and share this experience as a reminder to other parents.

Cole said he would’ve “taken that man down if he tried to touch Chase.” But these disgusting animals have different tactics for different age groups. Chase isn’t tall, but he’s solid. The man would’ve had a difficult time carrying him out of the store.

But he might have said, “Your mom is outside, hurt. She fell and the ambulance is coming. She’s calling for you. Hurry, I’ll take you to her.”

Talk to your children about this. Come up with a code word, a plan of action. Something to help any age child if they’re in this situation. My boys were aware of stranger danger, but not to the depth they are now. And because they’re 11 1/2 and 13, my level of concern for this had decreased.

No longer.

Because make no mistake.

There is a business in this. A devil-delighted, evil, soul-stealing monetary side to human trafficking that makes me want to vomit and scream and do something savage because it’s about

C H I L D R E N.

The most H E L P L E S S among us.

 To those caught in the web: W E   W I L L  N E V E R  S T O P  L O O K I N G 

“Open your mouth for the speechless.” (Prov. 31:8)

The man in the orange ball-cap and jacket? I WILL NEVER STOP LOOKING FOR YOU.

Links to find out more about human trafficking and donate: 

Batey Rehab Project (BRP)

Wellspring Living–White Umbrella Campaign

Thorn

Out of Darkness

a21

Destiny Rescue

Restored

The Exodus Road

Streetlight USA

The Potters Hands Foundation

Rescue1global

Operation Underground Railroad

Place of Hope

 

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7 thoughts on “We Will Never Stop Looking

  1. Thank you for sharing your story, for being brave enough to face this man head on, and for shining a light on an issue people many times brush off, thinking, “It could never happen to me.” Because it can and it does happen every single day, right in our safe, cozy little neighborhoods.

  2. Reblogged this on Amy Brock McNew ~Author~ and commented:
    A friend had a harrowing experience this weekend. She shares it here, along with things you can do to take action. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until we’ve won and the precious are free and no longer in danger: Human trafficking is not isolated to third world countries and far away places. It’s alive and well, right here in our cozy little neighborhoods. Be aware, learn the signs, don’t be afraid to stand up and say something. Your reaction could save a life, and a precious one’s innocence. #EndHumanTrafficking #SaySomething #DoSomething #NeverStopFighting

  3. Better safe than sorry but are you sure he was actually stalking your son or did you have that at the top of your mind seeing as you just finished reading about human trafficking? Pretty much everyone looks suspicious after reading about human trafficking horrors. It’s a sad statement on our society when we look upon people with suspicion even when they’ve done nothing. They just look suspicious.

    • Hi Evelyn! Is it possible he was just a guy in the kids’ book section, with no kids, gazing at my son? Sure. But after parenting for almost 14 years, making eye contact with thousands of people around my kids, I have never felt such a sense of wrong from another person. Also, I hadn’t read the author’s book I was looking for. The bookstore didn’t have it, and I didn’t research human trafficking until I got home (after the incident). So, of course I could be wrong. Do I think I was? No. But I agree, it’s sad and awful this happens and there are people who DO take children, thousands of them, and sell them for money. https://humantraffickinghotline.org/states

  4. Thank you for sharing this story. I, too, had a close call with my daughter when she was about 3 years old. We were at a friend’s party and when I realized what could have happened in the next 2 seconds- had I not arrived in the back yard just at that moment- I was literally sick to my stomach. We had to leave the party. I couldn’t stay there any longer. I thank God for the time I was gifted just then to protect my child. I’m sure you do too.

    • I’m so glad your daughter okay! I think there must be hundreds, thousands of parents with stories like this. Thank you for stopping by and reading, and sharing your story. ❤

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