Brothers and Sisters, hear me

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Somewhere in British Columbia tonight, there's a young woman moving her few personal belongings into a crack house. It would be impossible to say how many such moves she's made over the last 5-6 years. Spending a few weeks here, a few days there; sleeping on couches, floors, in vehicles--she's done it all. This is her life.

By now she's probably half strung-out herself. She's probably had nothing to eat today. I'll bet she couldn't tell you what day of the week it is, maybe not even the month. She's been doing the drugs too long; I shudder to think of what's left of her mind.

When people see her, they see a druggie, an addict. Unkempt, out of control, uneducated. She steals from friends to support her habit. She refuses rehab. She's homeless, jobless...


She is my sister's sister.

She called me tonight. It was hard to understand her--she has a hard time keeping her words in order and her sentences in line. She wouldn't leave a number, I don't know where exactly she is. She told me she loved me. I told her the same. I got off the phone and as always, despaired.
Nothing I can do.


If you know me well, you know that I am the oldest of nine children. Nine Wettlaufers. That always throws people off. Four brothers and four sisters.

Two of us were chosen to be Wettlaufers by birth. Seven of us were chosen to be Wettlaufers by adoption.

Nearly three years ago, my next sister got on a plane for the first time in her life and flew to the other end of the country. When Lauren got to BC, she laid eyes on her older sister for the first time. Sisters separated for 17 years. I would have given anything to have seen that reunion.

We've known about Tatum since the beginning. We knew that she had to stay with the alcoholic, drug abusing father that Lauren was rescued from. What we didn't know until three years ago, was the hell that her life was, and has become.

Shuffled around from family members to foster homes, Tatum finally ran away in her early teens. She lived with boyfriends, got into drugs and lived the party life. She retains a fragile and violent relationship with her father and grandfather.

Six months after Lauren went to BC to see her, Tatum came to Ontario and spent a week with us. The sister we had been wondering about and looking for in crowded malls (unaware that she was so far away) was now here in the flesh. It was spooky to see a girl who looked and sometimes acted just like my sister, yet was so disparingly different. We loved on her best we could for those few days, and then she was gone. But not from our thoughts.

Tonight after she called, I decided that doing nothing is not good enough. Tatum is going to die on the streets of BC and no one will care, no one will even know. I don't have the money to fly over there and wrestle her back to Ontario and into rehab. She'd refuse anyway. I can't take her into my home because I have young children and I won't put them in danger. But there must be something, someone, somewhere....

So this is what I propose, my friends. I need your help. The Body of Christ needs to mobilize.
God did not bring Lauren and Tatum into our lives to leave her to rot thousands of miles away.

Consider the following carefully:

  • Do you know anyone involved in a drug rehabilitation centre or program in Southern British Columbia? We don't know where Tatum is, but she's lived around Abbotsford a fair bit.
  • Do you know a pastor of an inner city church in Southern BC, that runs an outreach program to the homeless and/or addicts?
  • Do you know a pastor of any church in Southern BC?
  • Do you know a pastor of any church in BC?
  • Do you know any believers in BC?

This may be akin to finding a needle in a haystack, but I'm convinced that God is speaking to someone right now. Someone with compassion, determination, counselling skills and a heart for the lost. I'm determined to put Tatums face in front of that person. To put Tatums name in their ear. To perhaps even inspire them to look for her, to find her and drag her from her mire, to stand in our place as a sister and show her what Love did for her.

I'm quite serious. I'm determined to make every church in BC aware of this child. Will you help me? If you can and will, you have a few options.

  • Post a comment on this blog. Leave your email so I can get in touch with you. I have the comment moderation option on, so I will see your message, but rest assured that I won't publish the comment and leave you at the mercy of auto-spammers that would find your email address.
  • Email the following address: Yes, I know, I just put myself at the mercy of the auto-spammers, but I'll put up with it.
  • Call me. You can only do that if you know me, and I guess that's all I can say.

Finally, I've set up another blog, just to tell this story. It'll be much the same as you've just read, but I've also posted pictures of Tatum (and Lauren). Will you tell people about this site? Will you choose a group of select friends who's hearts would stir with compassion and email them the site with a little message from yourself? If you can't come up with any BC links on your own, perhaps you know someone who can. Or...perhaps you won't even know they can, until you tell them about this. It's a little like the seven degrees of separation...

Oh yes, and if you do have a contact for me, and you want to check with them first before giving me their info, by all means, please do that. Actually, I would prefer that. I realize that this whole thing could be looked upon with suspicion by many who read it. I'm trying to keep everything in mind that will authenticate my mission. (It's tricky! Advice is welcome!)

So I betcha weren't counting on reading something quite so heavy when you visited today, eh?


J9 said...

Let me see who I can scare up in the Army world. I know some people at Corps 614 in Regent Park in Toronto, they deal with kids just like Tatum, and I'm sure they'd have some contacts in BC. I'll spread the word out this way...

I'll also be praying for Tatum.

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