Church and community unite to support family of missing four-year-old Cleo Smith
“The search and the need to find Cleo has bonded our hearts together even stronger.”
Churches in the West-Australian town of Carnarvon are continuing to unite with the local community to support the family of missing four-year-old Cleo Smith, as the search enters its 12th day.
“Members of local churches were involved in the initial search for Cleo at the Blowholes campsite. And [those in] local businesses have been extremely generous in donating food to volunteers, SES and Police,” pastor of Carnarvon Church of Christ Brenden Law-Davis tells Eternity.
Law-Davis has been a Carnarvon local for 36 years and pastor of Carnarvon Church of Christ for 11 years. Like most in the tight-knit community, he knows Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith who works at the local beauty salon, and her stepfather Jake Gliddon is also from a local family.
“Our community has tremendous heart for each other,” says Law-Davis. “We have been through floods and cyclones. We know and see people united and they have a great heart to help one another. Although our community is struggling to come to grips with what has happened, the search and the need to find Cleo has bonded our hearts together even stronger.”
‘We felt God leading us to hold a prayer vigil … as a way of bringing our community together with one heart.” – Brenden Law-Davis
The Church of Christ Carnarvon has played a key support role by hosting community prayer vigils.
The first vigil, attended by about 80 people, was held at the church on October 17 – the night after Cleo went missing from her family’s tent while camping at Quobba Blowholes, 75 kilometres north of Carnarvon.
“The Sunday morning after Cleo’s disappearance we felt God leading us to hold a prayer vigil that evening as a way of bringing our community together with one heart. And in doing so, lifting Cleo and her family up in prayer,” says Law-Davis.
He notes the wide cross-section from the community in attendance, most of whom were not Christian.
“People’s reaction to this first vigil was moving and provided so many people in our community a safe place to land, to pray, talk and cry. We had no true format as such, we just let people light a candle and sit for a time to reflect. After about 20 minutes, we stood and read out a prayer together. After which people shared in conversation, many leaving with a sense of hope and God’s peace,” says Law-Davis.
Afterwards, church members and the community decided there was “a need for another vigil” as the search for Cleo continues. So a second vigil was held at the Church of Christ last Sunday, October 24, and around 100 people attended.
“We joined together once more, however this time with a little more structure,” Law-Davis explains. “We asked pastors from the Uniting, Anglican, Catholic and Aboriginal Outreach Church to read some Bible verses and, in between, I led people in prayer. We stood together and read out a prayer for Cleo, her family, our community and for those who are searching for her. We also had a time of silence for people to pause and reflect … Again many people lingered to talk, reflect and encourage one another in this difficult time.”
At the end of the service, attendees were also encouraged to write “a message of hope” in a book gifted to Cleo’s family.
It’s now over 11 days since Cleo was found missing on October 16, after being last seen by her mother at 1.30am that morning.
With fears that the little girl has been abducted, the WA government is offering a $1-million reward for information that leads to Cleo’s whereabouts or to the arrest of anyone involved in her disappearance.
As the search continues, Law-Davis encourages people to keep praying. He provided Eternity readers with the following prayers and Bible verses from the second vigil held at their church:
Psalm 34:17-18: “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Isaiah 41:10: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
As a community, we stand united with broken hearts, helpless and we yearn with a family who want to see their Cleo rescued. We cry out to you O’ God to intervene, for your help, for you to rescue Cleo. We pray that wherever she may be that you would surround her with your angels. We pray Lord Jesus that you will give her strength and courage for each new day and fill her with your peace. For you alone are our Rescuer and we call upon you Jesus to reunite this little one with her family.
In Jesus Name, Amen
Psalm 61:1-4: “O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!”
As a community, we stand together and bring before you Cleo’s family. Our hearts join with them in this time of sadness, pain and deep longing to be reunited with their daughter. We pray O’ God that in this time of waiting that you will give them strength and courage for each new day.
Lord Jesus surround this family with your love, pour out an abundance of support and care upon them. In this season of waiting may their daily needs be provided for. We pray O’ God that in their waiting for a breakthrough, that you would continually fill this family with hope for her return.
In Jesus Name, Amen
Isaiah 40:28-31: “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
As a community, we stand together and give thanks for the efforts of all who have searched in this mission to bring Cleo home. We thank you for the amazing generosity of people in our community, our state and our nation who have given to the search financially.
We pray now and thank you for the team of police who are continuing the search for Cleo, equip them with wisdom, knowledge and insight. Strengthen these men and women, we pray for unlimited favour upon them as they search and investigate.
For our community, we pray O’God that in time you would renew our strength, our trust and our hope.
In Jesus Name, Amen
Matthew 11:28-29: “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”