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According to a Swedish newspaper, he was one of the U.S. Air Force’s eight most wanted fugitives. After living under an assumed name for the last 28 years David Hemler, a deserter from the U.S. Air Force, has finally broken cover, admitting his real identity and making contact with his family in the United States. He has been living secretly in Sweden since 1984, and has a wife and three children and a job with a Swedish government agency.

He deserted at the age of 21 while serving with the U.S. Air Force in Germany. “I never planned on not telling the truth in the beginning. I intended to come to Sweden until I felt better, I expected a week or so,” Hemler said in a newspaper video. He missed his parents after he deserted, but after having his first child he hadn’t wanted to be separated from her.

It was four weeks ago that he finally made contact with his family in the United States, speaking first to his brother Thomas, who said, “I heard immediately it was David, even if he had a strange European accent after all these years.” His family were reported to be overwhelmed to hear he was still alive. David’s future now depends on the reaction of the U.S. and Swedish authorities.

There are many parents whose child has gone missing, and are longing for that phone call to tell them their son or daughter is still alive. Jesus told a story about a young man, who asked for his share of his father’s estate, while his father was still alive. He then took it and went abroad where he spent it all on parties and wild living. When the money had gone, he got a low-paid job feeding pigs. He was starving and began to think of his family home, where even the servants were better off than him. He decided to bury his pride and return. “‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:18-24)

And the moral of the story? Well, the father represents God, and of course the son represents you and me. God is waiting with open arms to welcome all who realise they can’t make it on their own, who admit they’ve blown it; you included. No matter what we’ve done, no matter where we’ve been, His love for us never fails. All we need to do is turn to Him.

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