January 7, 2009

Have You Seen Andy?

2009 1501 page23 cap FEW YEARS AGO I HAD A CHANCE 
to be filmed in a movie. It was no big deal, but for a few short moments I had the opportunity to play myself in a Cinemax documentary titled Have You Seen Andy? You can check out the Web site at www.haveyouseenandy.com.1

Sadly, the film is about a former friend of mine who one day went over to the public swimming pool that many of the project2 kids attended back in the hot summer days of the 1970s, and never came home.
2009 1501 page23I can still vividly remember the cohorts of fellow “project people,” along with local and state police, National Guard units, and search dogs, all combing the wooded area behind the pool in hopes of finding Andy. Days turned into months, and months turned into years, and still Andy’s body was never found.
After the movie was produced, a memorial to Andy was erected at the site of the pool. Several families who had suffered the vile emptiness of child abduction attended the service. Tears mixed with the damp stickiness of perspiration on our faces as we stood together in remembrance of our missing and exploited children. So young, so innocent, and lives cut so short . . . how long, Lord, must we wait?
During the filming of the documentary, some old friends and I sat around discussing what we knew about Andy. Someone pointed out that we all shared the common bond of having lived in the housing projects. Most of us had lived at or below the poverty line, some of us came from broken families, but we all came from the projects. Today these men and women are doctors, nurses, teachers, filmmakers; but we identified with one another as “project people”—the roots of our socioeconomic development.
There was a time in my adolescence when I was embarrassed to tell people where I grew up. Few, if any, envied the crime, drugs, and poverty that is sometimes associated with the projects. But it is not our socioeconomic condition, nor is it our race, skin color, or gender, that determines who we are. It’s not who or what we know, nor is it where we are or where we’ve been, that determines who we are—once we have become a part of the family of God.
Today you and I are no longer tied to the things that once bound us. We are spiritual Israelites grafted into the vine of Christ by faith in the living God. He will one day, very soon, put a permanent end to the abduction and exploitation of His little children and raise from the very dust of this passing planet those whom the evil one has hidden from us. What unprecedented promises we have as followers of Christ! 
1This film won the 2008 Emmy Award for “Best Investigative Journalism.”
2“Projects” is short for “low-income housing projects.”
Mark LaVertue writes from Boston, Massachusetts.