Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Seeking the Lost

Seeking the Lost
Dcn Dale Matson
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Because of the Great Commandment to love God and neighbor we are called to mission. Our mission is The Great Commission from Matthew’s Gospel (28:16-20) and it commands the disciples and us to seek and rescue the lost. Perhaps another way of saying this is that we as Christians are Christ’s ambassadors in the saving of souls. That is our spiritual assignment on this earth. Some take this very seriously as missionaries or evangelists. These folks go into the mission field and at times this puts their own life at peril. Nineteenth century missionaries to Africa included a coffin as part of their luggage.
I am also a deputized civilian who is a part of the Mountaineering Unit of the Fresno County Search and Rescue Team. It is also the mission of the SART to save the lost. The team is composed of a horse unit, a “Jeep” unit, a helicopter, mountaineering unit and a command center. There is always a sense of careful urgency in what we do because the longer a person is missing, the more they are at risk to the elements. This is especially true in The Central Sierras where most of our searches take place.
Search work is difficult (three miles of “bush whacking” is equal to about ten trail miles) and demands that searchers be fit, prepared and available. This means that I must have a day backpack and a three day backpack ready to go when I am called. It also means having a full tank of gas in the truck when I go to bed at night since most of the calls come when you least expect them. It also requires a willingness to set aside one’s schedule for the sake of the search. Searches today are conducted using grid patterns established based on and working out from the point last seen or the last known location of the lost individual(s). Each team member has a Global Positioning System (GPS) device that records the searcher’s route and is later downloaded into a computer. This way the Command Center can determine the extent to which an area has been covered by the searchers and they can estimate the probability of detection (POD) in a given search area.
We find some people, some find themselves, some don’t want to be found and some want to be found but unfortunately perish. This is quite like the work of an evangelist. We are told to preach the Good News. We hope this Good News finds its way to everyone. It is up to them after that. If only we had the same sense of urgency and commitment of resources for Evangelism as we do for the person lost in the forest.

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