Sermon Illustrations

A Modern Parable of the Lost Brother

(As interviewed on CBC radio Toronto, Metro Morning, by host Matt Galloway. February 7, 2017)

Anton Pilipa of Toronto suffers from mental illness. Five years ago, feeling he wanted his space, he moved into his own apartment. A few short days later, without any notice, he went missing.

No one could find him. Said his brother, Stefan, “there isn’t much you can do when someone disappears. Try Posters. Call the Police. Drive around the neighbourhood. And then a lot of waiting. And frustration.”

Every day Stefan would awaken to the thought – where are you? Are you dead or alive? His brother searched to find him but could not. Mostly, he simply waited and hoped.

Over a period of five years, the wandering Anton made his way to Brazil – travelling mostly on foot.

Somehow while there, he attracted the attention of the police. A female police officer named Helen, who spoke English, spent two hours with him and managed to get Anton’s first name and country of origin. The police then took him to a mental health center for treatment. He began living in a mental institution – though he had escaped twice. He was resigned to living in a room with 30 people, being medicated for his mental illness and eating poorly.

Then, the police officer, Helen, searched the internet using “Anton” and “Canada” in the search window. She was began looking for family connections on social media. Then, she got a hit. A friend of Anton’s brother, Stefan, had re-posted a picture of Anton on Twitter. The police officer then contacted the friend, who contacted Stefan. Immediately, the police officer emailed Stefan with a picture and a question, “Is this your brother? she asked.”

Stefan was stunned. He flew to Brazil to meet his lost brother of five years. When they met, it was both a happy and sad moment. Anton was in very rough shape having lived on the road for five years while battling mental illness.

The brothers embraced. Anton is now home in Toronto and on the road to recovery.

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