Dear Downers Church Family:
Most people would not know who Joe Simpkins was unless they were from Carrollton, GA or if they have watched the film “The Way Home,” starring Dean Cain. This low budget film (about $1 Million—mostly for Dean Cain) showed how Randy Simpkins, portrayed by Cain, re-evaluates his life and faith due to losing his child on his home property in March of 2000.
According to Randy, he was a very busy contractor who had put work as a higher priority than his family - but for his family. This put a strain on his marriage. “I had three children but I wasn’t plugged into their lives. It was putting a strain on my marriage. I wasn’t even aware of it at the time,” Dean said. What would be the solution to this problem? The answer was a family vacation.
As Randy and his wife packed up for the vacation, two-year-old Joe Simpkins rode his tricycle in the driveway. Randy had one eye on Joe and the rest of his mind and body on packing the vehicle. After a few minutes, he noticed that little Joe was gone. He searched around the house. He looked inside the house. But he couldn't find Joe. Where was he? Was he kidnapped? Did he drown? Was he trapped somewhere?
For a two-year old, the land abounded with danger. On the home property there was farm and construction equipment. Small lakes and swamps covered the area. Coyotes, bobcats, and other animals were known to roam the area. Every worst-case scenario filled Randy’s mind. News soon got out that the young toddler was missing in this life-threatening terrain. Dozens of police officers scoped out the area. But that would not be enough. Within a few hours, over 400 people from the town were combing the entire land for this missing boy. According to the movie, this continued all day. The biggest fear was approaching - sunset. It would be exponentially more difficult to find the toddler in the dark. One final push to find Joe was made before it got dark.
Over a mile away from the house searched Ed Walker, a retired engineer. He felt called to search a deep pocket of woods away from where others were searching. Ed was older and wasn’t in the best of health, yet he pressed on. According to Walker, the urgency to find Joe was due to him losing his own brother 40 years before. His brother’s name was Joe. Finally, after almost 8 hours of searching. Ed Walker found little Joe in the woods.
Randy believes that day of terror changed his life. He said, “It’s the joy of the journey. If I had kept on the same path, I can’t imagine how much I would have missed.” In his mind, his family, faith and life were at stake. If he didn’t need to search for little Joe, he would have lost much more than those 8 hours of panic.
Could it be that God provides us with similar scenarios? He could make life easier and provide us with everything we want and need. But His commands are to “ask…seek…knock.” He has access to all things, yet if we don’t invest our time and hearts, we take life for granted and could lose what we value most.