“My Name Is Cleo”—COVID-19 and Children

All of Australia is breathing a sigh of grateful relief, now that police investigators hours ago rescued a missing four-year-old girl named Cleo. Eighteen nights ago she and her family were sleeping in a tent by a remote but popular tourist site along the west coast, Quobba Blowholes. Sometime after 1:30 AM when Cleo awakened to ask for a drink of water before falling back to sleep, police concluded she was abducted, sleeping bag and all pulled through a zippered tent flap (unzipped higher than a child would have raised it).

For eighteen days the frantic family has pleaded for her return, the anxious country tracking the “massive police search” on national news. 

Then hours ago just after midnight, Wednesday (Perth time) detectives found the proverbial needle in the haystack, when they broke into a house not far from Cleo’s home. Deputy Police Commissioner Col Blanch told 6PR radio: “When she said ‘My name is Cleo,’ I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. I have seen seasoned detectives openly crying with relief. I am speechless which is very rare . . . this is something we all hoped in our hearts, and it has come true’” (www.cnn.com/2021/11/02/americas/australian-police-cleo-smith-intl/index.html).

The rescue of a child—the whole world shares the supreme priority such an undertaking commands.

A few hours after Cleo was found in Australia, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) here in the United States announced: “‘Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation's fight against the virus that causes COVID-19,’ CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. ‘We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine’” (www.cbsnews.com/news/kids-covid-vaccine-cdc-recommend/). 

Now children as young as five may receive the Pfizer vaccine, to the relief of parents—as once again the rescue of a child (or in this case millions of children) rightfully occupies the center stage of adult attention.

No wonder Jesus uses the figure of “a little one” to get our attention in words often overlooked: “‘And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward’” (Matthew 10:42). While commentators suggest these “little ones” aren’t actually biological children—Frederick Dale Bruner suggests this verse means “giving even the tiniest social help to less significant Christians” (Matthew: A Commentary 1:497)—Jesus could very well be including children as young as five in calling us to show loving attention to the littlest among us.

Consider the Pioneer Sabbath Schools that faithfully open to our children (from a day old to the hoary-haired eldest among us) Sabbath after Sabbath, in spite of the pandemic still lingering across the land. Consider the masked Pioneer adults and teenagers who are staffing these Sabbath Schools simply because they care for children and love Jesus. What a compelling witness to the value of reaching one “little one” for the Savior. God bless our Pioneer children. And God abundantly rewards our Pioneer volunteers who serve up Jesus’ love for children in a simple cup of refreshing water. 

The rescue of a child—the whole world shares the supreme priority such an undertaking commands.