The Adventures of Billy and Bobby
Book 3, Chapter 12
Where is Reggie
by Greg Wright
When the school principal announced that Reggie was missing, everyone expected the worst. They all knew that Reggie's old gang was angry with him for leaving.
Several students responded to the principal's request for information. A police detective had temporarily set up office in the guidance counselorís conference room. He questioned each of the students privately, and he was especially interested in anyone who had seen Reggie between the time he left school, yesterday, and the current time. Daniel was the last to be questioned, then school let out.
"Boy I'm glad this day is over," Daniel sighed. He settled into a comfortable chair at Bobby's house while Bobby poured them both a glass of lemonade. "It seemed like the policeman asked the same questions over and over again. Then, he would take my answers and restate them, only incorrectly. I felt like he was trying to trip me up."
"Yeah, I know," Bobby agreed, "but don't take it personally. He was probably just trying to make certain that we were sure about what we were saying. "
Bobby continued. "If only Reggie had never joined a gang in the first place, none of this would be necessary. Now, we don't even know if he's alive."
"I know," Daniel agreed, "it's never a good idea to join a gang, even for protection. Now, even his former protectors are his enemies. If Reggie had been taught the Bible, growing up, I wonder if he would have found warning there. Does the Bible have anything to say about gangs?
"It seems like it does," Bobby offered, "I believe it talks about gangs in the first chapter of Proverbs. Let's look it up. Here it is, starting in chapter 1, verse 10,
'My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say (Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them up like hell, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse.) My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; but they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.'"
"So they had gangs even in Bible days!" Daniel commented, surprised.
"Yes, it sure looks like it," Bobby agreed, "and the gangsters ended up then just like they often do today, dead. Also, just like today, they robbed, injured, and killed innocent people."
"But Reggie left the gang," Daniel complained, "he shouldn't have this kind of trouble. It's not fair. If he hadn't left, he would probably be safe at home watching television."
"Remember," Bobby continued, "Reggie left the gang when he repented and turned to Jesus. Now, Reggie is being persecuted. In our country, because we have freedom of religion, we usually don't think of ourselves as being persecuted. But, Reggie is being persecuted because he turned away from evil and turned towards righteousness. He is being persecuted for doing what is right. And, every kid who resists the gangs for the sake of conscience, if the gangs give him a hard time, he is persecuted for doing what is right. And yet, Reggie is blessed for it, somehow."
"How is he blessed?"
"Let's look up the beatitudes in Matthew 5. It is there somewhere. Here it is, 'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'"
"I wonder if Reggie knows that he is blessed," Daniel asked. " I wish we could tell him. I wish we knew where to find him."
"God knows where he is," Bobby comforted. "Let's pray for him; let's pray for him now."
Reggie's arms and legs ached and his back hurt. He had been riding all day and it was almost dark. When he reached Tallahassee, he realized that he had ridden over 60 miles. So, there he was, homeless and hungry, with two dollars in his pocket. Not wanting to part with the only money he had, he pulled into a doughnut shop and searched through litter for discarded and partially eaten doughnuts.
Inside the restaurant, Felix Pasquali placed his order for two cream filled doughnuts and orange juice, while watching Reggie rummage through litter outside. His early years as a policeman had taught him to be observant and alert. He wondered if Reggie was a runaway kid, or worse, a fugitive from justice. Now, as the pastor of an inner city church, he saw homeless people on a regular basis. Many times, he had responded to their pleas for money with, "sorry, not today." There just wasn't enough money in his wallet to help everyone who asked for it. Moreover, many months he didn't take his full salary because of needs in his ministry. Yet, there was something different and compelling about Reggie, and he felt a strong tugging in his heart to walk over and meet him.
"Hey kid," Felix called, "here, have a doughnut."
Reggie looked at him, then he turned away. "No thanks."
"It's chocolate. I hope you like chocolate."
"You're very kind," Reggie said, taking the doughnut. Then, he said thanks and started to walk away, again.
"Here, I've got some orange juice," Felix offered.
Reggie gulped the orange juice. Then, he got dizzy and started to fall. Felix caught him and laid him down in a grassy spot.
"You must have had quite a day," Felix continued.
"This is the first time I've eaten in 24 hours," Reggie responded. "I'll be okay; I'm just tired."
"You're on the run, aren't you. Do you have a place to stay?"
Reggie began to worry about the man's intentions. Was he one of those guys who seeks out runaway kids in order to take advantage of them?
"I have an uncle in Tallahassee, but he doesn't know I'm here, yet."
Reggie didn't lie; he really did supposedly have an uncle in Tallahassee. But, he had no idea where he lived.
"My name is Felix. I'm a pastor."
"Reggie looked at Felix's rugged clothes and shook his head in disbelief."
"What, you don't believe me. Here, look, this is my clergy card. Hey, it gets me discounts at Walmart." Then he walked over to his car. "See, my license plate says clergy, too. It keeps me from having to pay for parking at hospitals."
Then, Felix noticed the rugged tattoo on Reggie's right arm. "You're in a gang, aren't you."
"I was in a gang. A few days ago, I became a Christian. Then, I quit the gang. They were all angry with me. Then, there was a drug bust, and now they all think I informed on them. Now, anyone in the gang who finds me is supposed to shoot me. Last night, as I was riding home, several gang members came out of my house and one of them shot me, grazing my shoulder.
Reggie pulled down part of his shirt so Felix could see.
Felix's mind flashed back to his early years as a teenager in Newark, New Jersey. One day he got the worst end of a fight. He lay on the sidewalk for hours, agonizing in pain. No one stopped to help him. There was no way he would leave Reggie here.
"Reggie, if I've finally convinced you that I'm a pastor, perhaps you would feel comfortable coming home with me. You could get a warm meal and a good night's sleep. Then, tomorrow, I could make some calls and try to find you a place to stay."
"Do you have family; would they mind?"
"It's no problem. It won't be the first time I've brought home a wild critter to join us for dinner. Come on, help me put your bike in the back of the truck."
That evening, Reggie ate like two teenagers. Then, he fell asleep almost as soon as he hit the couch.
From his office, Felix called every organization he knew that provided shelter for the homeless. To his frustration, he got the same message over and over again, "I'm sorry, we do not provide services for twelve year old runaway boys." Everywhere, even if they had beds available, you had to be at least 16.
Felix worried about what he would do tomorrow; there was no where else to call. Yet, he knew he couldnít leave an unknown kid home with his wife and children; he didnít want to put them at risk.
"I hope this kid really does have an uncle, here," Felix thought out loud. "If he doesnít, weíve got a big problem."