The Story: Last week a teenager in Pennsylvania saved a 5-year-old girl from abduction by chasing down a child predator.
The Background: Temar Boggs, a fifteen-year-old freshman, was hanging out with a friend and helping move a couch when a man came by asking if they'd seen a missing girl. Though he didn't know the girl or her family, the teen and his friends began looking for her. “We got all of our friends to go look for her,” says Boggs. “We made our own little search party.” They walked through some nearby woods and along a creek where they were told the girl might have gone.
When they returned back to their apartment complex, the area was filled with police officers and other searching for the missing child. That's when, Boggs said, “I had the gut feeling that I was going to find the little girl.” He and a friend jumped on their bikes and rode around area streets.
Separated from his friend, he spotted a car driven by an older white man.
Boggs got close enough to the car to see a little girl inside and began chasing the car. The driver, stuck in a maze of cul-de-sacs, pushed the girl out of the car and drove away. “She runs to my arms and said, 'I need to see my mommy,' ” Boggs said. When the two boys arrived back with the girl, the girl was reluctant to leave him and go to the police offers. “She didn't want to leave me because she thought they were going to do something to her. I said, 'No, it's OK.'”
Police said later that the abductor took the little girl for ice cream, and that there were indications of an assault.
Boggs met the girl's family Thursday evening, after he told police his story. The girl's family members “were just saying that I was a hero, that I was a guardian angel and that it was amazing that I was there and was able to find the girl,” he said.
Boggs doesn't see himself as a hero. “I'm just a normal person who did a thing that anybody else would do,” he said.
“It was a blessing for me to make that happen,” he said.
His mother, Tamika Boggs, said she's proud of her son.
“You just hope you raise your child the right way. … He's learning what I tell him, to help others,” she said.
What it Means: Boggs is as modest as he is brave, but he's most certainly wrong: not everyone would do what he did.
While most Christian parents, like Boggs mom, teach their children to help others, we tend to add an unspoken caveat. We want our children to “love their neighbor” as long as it doesn't put our kids at risk for emotional or physical harm. How many of us would cringe at the idea of our young teen chasing after a kidnapper? I know I did, and I suspect I'm in the majority.
When they are young we read our kids tales of heroism, like the Narnia stories or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But then we teach them that in the “real world” heroism is reserved for people with qualified occupations (e.g, police officer, firefighter, soldier). We teach them to be concerned primarily with their own safety and security and leave the dangerous work to the adults with the badges and guns.
But shouldn't all Christian children be taught that they are called to be heroes? They may not all be needed to chase kidnappers down on their bikes. And they need to learn the difference between courage and recklessness. But how can we expect them to truly be like Christ—who gave his life for us—when we teach them not to get involved?
Young Mr. Boggs is right: It was a blessing that he was able to save that young girl. As Christian parents we should teach our children that to be such a blessing too. Because they follow the greatest hero of all, Jesus Christ, we should not fear when our children risk all for the sake of others in need.