The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me…to provide for those who mourn in Zion—to give them a garland instead of ashes; the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. Isaiah 61:1,3
“I decided when he took my son, not to let the abductor take anything else from me,” she said, “so I put him in a box .” These were the words of Patty Wetterling to a group of dinner companions at a sexual violence prevention conference. On this date in 1989, Patty and her husband Jerry’s son Jacob was abducted by a stranger on a country road near the family’s home at age eleven. His whereabouts are unknown. Her statement hit me like a ton of bricks. As a survivor of sexual violence, I allowed the man who assaulted me and was never caught to chew up a lot of my life, energy, and sensibility for many years. I suddenly realized that’s why I have admired Patty so much and cheered for this woman as she has helped to change the landscape for missing and abducted children since that fateful day on a road by her house.
Where can we go when we bear unspeakable pain? How can we escape the clutching hands of an event that can never not have happened? For Patty Wetterling, she took her pain and used it as a springboard for good. Four months after Jacob’s abduction, the Wetterlings founded the Jacob Wetterling Foundation (now the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center), a non-profit organization dedicated to child safety education. Patty chairs the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and serves on many boards working to end violence against children. Patty’s courage, generosity, steadfastness, and belief in a future world free of violence have borne fruit out of sorrow and goodness out of suffering.
Lord, thank You for these oaks of righteousness who carry Your love to a hurting and sin-ridden world. Amen