You’d be hard pressed over the past couple of weeks or so not to hear or read about a missing four-year-old Cleo Smith who vanished from her tent in the early hours of Saturday morning, 16 October, near Canavron, a popular Western Australian campsite where her family were holidaying. Initially, it was thought she left the tent on her own and got lost.

However, upon further investigation, the police ruled that out saying the zipper was too high for Cleo to reach it and opened it herself. They now believed she could have been abducted. Gravely concerned, they launched an  lair, land and sea search, involving state emergency service crews as well. Thousands of calls and hours of CCTV footage were analysed.

The media went into overdrive with its coverage of Cleo. Millions of Aussies and possibly from all around the world were following the case closely. This is every parent’s worst nightmare! While everyone hoped for the best, they were also fearing the worst. The chances of finding a child missing for 19 days safe, are very slim.

Then on Wednesday, 3 November at 1am, detectives burst into a home where Cleo was found unharmed and well. The first words she uttered in the arms of an officer were, “My name is Cleo”.  Less than an hour later, Cleo’s mum, Ellie, filled with overwhelming gratitude and relief,  posted on Instagram, “Our family is whole again.”

It’s the news everyone was relieved and ecstatic to hear. Many breakfast TV news anchors and radio presenters were emotional as they broke the news. Even the hardened WA Police Commissioner broke down in tears. Pink and purple balloons were dotted throughout Carnarvon, celebrating Cleo being found, with one news agency having sold out of pink balloons by mid-morning! The headline of a news article sums it best, “Nation weeps and celebrates as little Cleo is found ‘alive and well’”.

It is amazing, isn’t it how the case of a missing little four-year-old Cleo, has captivated an entire nation and also made headlines around the world, including the USA, where mass shootings are almost a daily event?

The story of Cleo reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 about a shepherd who throws every resource within his means to “go after the lost sheep until he finds it. And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (verses 4b-7).

Let’s work with God in doing all we can to locate and rescue every lost sheep in our frontlines.

“Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours”.