I was boarding a plane to Washington, DC, on Thursday when I received a jarring call from one of our team leaders. She told me that “Freddie” and six of his friends had gone to play soccer on Sunday, and they have been missing ever since. They left their cell phones and belongings at home, so it didn’t appear that they had fled the country. Freddie is one of our scholarship students, and he and his friends are good kids, with no penchant for trouble, she explained.
Freddie’s father was distraught. He had not eaten in three days. He is also a security guard and had recently been attacked trying to prevent a robbery. The would-be-thieves broke his leg and knocked out two of his teeth in the assault. I couldn’t imagine the pain and anguish he was suffering with the disappearance of his son.
The police had not been helpful at all. They scoffed at the idea that five boys and two girls could just disappear and acted like Freddie’s father and our team were the problem for bringing this to their attention. (I’m keeping the nation and the people involved anonymous to avoid any future repercussions for them.)
As the voice over the plane’s loudspeaker admonished me to turn off my phone, I hammered out a series of texts to my family and some prayerful supporters of International Samaritan asking for their prayers.
It’s one week later now, and we still have no leads on where Freddie and his friends are. But I’ll tell you this: something shifted the day we began praying. The police almost instantly became allies instead of bullies, and Freddie’s father felt a peace that allowed him to eat again. Our prayers remain united and strong for all seven families.
When I arrived home, I called my good friend, the irrepressible Fr. Frank Canfield, SJ, who still hasn’t mastered texting yet after just celebrating his 87th birthday. I asked him to pray for Freddie, and he said, “Aye, Michael, that’s the one thing I can do well at my age is pray.”
Here’s the thing: Prayer is something we can do well at any age.
If you are called to offer support through prayer, I’m inviting you to join Fr. Frank and me on a team of people with a special assignment to pray for the specific needs of our scholars, their families, and our team members as they arise. Please email me using the form below if this speaks to you, and you will join a special team of people consistently given discreet and urgent prayer needs.
As just one example, we learned this week that cancer has returned to Matheo, a 15-year-old scholar who has battled leukemia since he was 9. His family is going to need additional support. If you’d like to help financially, please donate here and just write “Urgent Needs” in the comment box. If you’d like to be on the team that holds Matheo and his family in your prayers, let me know.
Either way, please take a moment to pray for Freddie and Matheo. Our scholars and their parents pray so much for the people who make their education possible. Especially this Lenten season, let’s pray for them too.
Thanks to donors like you, our team was able to get Mateo a wheelchair.
Mike Tenbusch, IntSam President
Mike joined IntSam in 2018 after two decades of leading social change in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. He’s a University of Michigan Law grad and author of The Jonathan Effect: Helping Kids and Schools Win the Battle Against Poverty. He and his wife, Maritza, have three children who keep them young.
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