Forgotten Children

By Kristen Johnson

Who Took Johnny is a heartbreaking documentary about a young boy who vanished in 1982 in his West Des Moines neighborhood. Johnny was delivering newspapers, just like another boy who was taken in a neighborhood close by two years later. Johnny Gosch’s mother, Noreen Gosch, has spent the last 34 years trying to find her son, and has worked tirelessly on behalf of other parents of missing and exploited children.

Unfortunately, there are times when tragedy is the way for change makers to to their work. The Johnny Gosch Foundation, founded shortly after Johnny went missing, works to pass legislation for the rights of missing and abused children, works with parents of kidnap victims, assists in searching for missing children, and presents seminars about crimes against children. Johnny was the first missing person ever to be featured on a milk carton. (

Noreen Gosch firmly believes, based on evidence presented to her, that Johnny is alive and was a victim of sex trafficking. It’s difficult not to believe it based on what we know about sex trafficking in this country, and based on personal interviews and private investigations revealed in the film. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

Child sex trafficking involves the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, or advertising of a minor child for the purpose of a commercial sex act. Traffickers often prey upon a child’s vulnerability and use psychological pressure and intimidation to control the child for financial benefit relating to their sexual exploitation. Purchasers of children for sex encompass all racial, socio-economic and cultural statuses. Child sex trafficking has devastating consequences for its minor victims, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease or even death.

The center lists ways we can help: donate funds, stay informed, report incidences, and spread awareness. Imagining what a parent must be going through when a child goes missing is incomprehensible. Prayer and love would likely also be much appreciated.

The Bible talks a lot about protecting children, and Jesus specifically loved and protected children. Exploring or harming children in any way is unimaginable.

Mark 9:42 (NRSV): If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me,[a] it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.

Mark 9:37 (NRSV): Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.

Love, prayer, and peace for parents and their children.

Serve all with love.

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