Church Hosts Search and Rescue Operation

On Wednesday, April 13, nine-year-old Melvin got into trouble at school and the trouble followed him home. Angry at everybody, he took off. When he did not return home, the Clark County, Wash., sheriff’s department was called and a search was organized.

Local police often use the Orchards Church parking lot when a secluded place is needed to write reports or to take breaks. Since Melvin lives near the church, the officers decided to use the lot as their search staging area.

The weather that night was cold and wet. About 4:30 a.m., one of the sheriff’s deputies called his friends John and Londa Rau, Orchards Church members, to ask if they could open the church so the officers could have a warm and dry spot for their headquarters.

Once settled in the church lobby, the officers were provided with high-speed Internet connections, a copy machine, bathrooms, hot water for their coffee and fruit donated by members. John Fletcher, another church member, activated the local ham radio network to give communication help as necessary.

Searchers kept arriving throughout the day, and by 5 p.m., there were more than 100 people involved in the search, going house to house.

About 6 p.m., Melvin was found hiding in his grandfather’s basement. The search was called off, and his mother brought him to the church. The lobby was packed with the searchers who cheered as Melvin walked in. The Orchards Church members were pleased that their church could serve their community in this way.

June 01, 2005 / Oregon Conference