As the hunt for missing Univesity of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts heads into its fourth week, Vice President Mike Pence is offering his own support and prayers for the heartbroken family.
After delivering a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Pence had an off-camera meeting with family Mollie’s family members in the Iowa Air National Guard wing of the Des Moines International Airport. Pence assured the family that they were “on the hearts of every American.”
“As Vice President, but more importantly as a father, I can’t imagine what the family of Mollie Tibbetts is going through,” Pence told the crowd Wednesday evening.
He assured the people of Iowa that the authorities will not rest until they locate the 20-year-old.
“We will continue to work, and we will continue to pray for Mollie’s safe return,” the Vice President declared, prompting rapturous applause.
I cannot imagine what the family of Mollie Tibbetts is going through. It’s been about one month since her disappearance. I just want her family to know that they’re on the hearts of every American & we will continue to work and pray for Mollie’s safe return. pic.twitter.com/bx82Lmrdzz
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) August 15, 2018
“There was no political agenda, just a heartfelt gesture on his part,” Mollie’s father, Rob Tibbetts said, adding that Pence noted he had spoken with FBI Director Christopher Wray about the ongoing investigation.
Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, reportedly said a prayer for Mollie before they departed, according to Fox News.
The VP stated that the administration would continue to provide “any and all federal support” that may be required in order to resource the enormous ongoing investigation. Rob Tibbetts said his meeting with Pence was a great encouragement, and that his family’s situation was one that “transcended” the partisan nature of politics. The number one concern, Rob noted, is to bring Molly home by any means possible.
“He agreed with that wholeheartedly,” Mr. Tibbetts told the Des Moines Register.
Mollie Tibbetts vanished on the evening of July 18 after going out for a jog. The reward money being offered for information leading to Mollie’s safe return has exceeded $360,000, with investigators saying Monday that they would not be “capping” the fund at any point.
Earlier this week, Mollie’s father said she is “very spiritual” and regularly turns to God in prayer when things aren’t going well.
“There’s sort of a collective force in the country right now,” he added. “There’s a will to bring Mollie back and I subscribe to that. I think there’s real power in the ability to pull Mollie back from wherever she is so everybody pray and everybody think positive thoughts.”
On Sunday evening, friends and family of the missing student attended a prayer service at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Piedmont, Oakland, where Mollie’s family used to live, according to KGO-TV.
“Our class had 30 kids, so everyone was like a family, everyone knew each other,” said Sam Szuhaj who attended elementary school with Mollie at Corpus Christi School.
“She was very inclusive with everyone, just one of the most kind people in the class,” added schoolmate, Hannah Murray.
Over a hundred former classmates, teachers and family friends showed up to the prayer service, which was led by Pastor Leo Edgery. “We still care about her and we still are thinking of her and wanting the best for her,” said former classmate, Emilie Naughtan.
Kathleen Boyle, who organized Sunday’s prayer service, said that if the group were living in Brooklyn, they would be heavily involved in the search for their old friend.
“If we lived in Iowa, we’d be searching the corn fields with her family or making meals for the volunteers, but all we can really do is share on social media, pray and just keep the story going,” Boyle told ABC 7.
Mollie’s mother, Laura Calderwood, described her faith in the power of prayer. “No matter how little faith you have, you can work miracles,” she said. “And know that there’s a whole world out there praying for Mollie.”
Mollie disappeared from the town of Brooklyn, Iowa on the evening of July 18 after going out for a jog. Despite conducting hundreds of interviews, authorities are still no closer to locating the young woman.
In the wake of her disappearance, much has been shared online regarding her Christian faith. A 2016 video of the then-18-year-old sharing how prayer has impacted her life was shared on social media earlier this month by Tibbetts’ aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, and offers a powerful glimpse into the private faith of this young woman.
peaking at a faith event at her high school, Tibbetts describes the first time she cried out to God in prayer. During a particularly trying cross country season, the student athlete experienced difficulty with her breathing that left her feeling “really weak” and not able to compete in two meets. This physical struggle gave way to anxiety and fear that eventually prompted her to seek heavenly help.
“I had no idea what to do,” she said. “I was so scared, so for the first time in my life — I’ve prayed before, but I’ve never gotten down on my knees and just prayed to God — so I did. I got down, and I prayed, and I asked God to give me the strength to make it through it, to tell me what to do, to help me out with whatever happened and to know what His plan was.”
At the next meet, she went on to run her best time thus far that season. Tibbetts said that she believes the Lord used that moment to demonstrate His faithfulness and care for her.
“In that moment, I kind of knew that that was God’s way of showing me that the power of prayer was really something,” she said.
Tibbetts acknowledged that the story may seem insignificant to others, but she knows that God used that experience to speak to her in a way that touched her personally.
“What your testimony is, is showing everyone the strength that God has given you,” she said.
In the wake of her sudden disappearance, Tibbetts’s moving words about the power of prayer offer some insight into her confident reliance on the Almighty, and her desire for others to do the same.