Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I attended a conference hosted by my church with my father-in-law who is a long time veteran in Law Enforcement. The guest pastor was making a case to all of the men gathered there, to go out into the world and commit acts of charity, mercy and witness. The bulk of his message and the follow up small group discussion was how to budget the time needed to fulfill this mission and examples of organizations or areas in which one could serve the Lord. I realized that the premise to this entire weekend was that for most people their job does not meet their obligations to love your neighbor and serve the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 states: 18Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. In other words, if your only task is to make more and more money for your company you need to go out and serve the Lord on your off time. I leaned over to my father-in-law and said, “Is it not great that we get paid to be in our mission field.” Our work as Policemen and Policewomen places us directly on the front lines in the business of saving people’s souls and performing Christian acts of charity. There are very few professions that involve this as a direct consequence of its duties and responsibilities. Titus 3:14 states: 14For our people should not have unproductive lives. They must learn to do good by helping others who have urgent needs. When I was in the private sector I had to find ways and times in which I could help others and witness; while in Police work the next call received is the next opportunity to demonstrate the love you have received from Jesus. I, however, took this ideal to an illogical end when I concluded that my job allowed me to meet all of my perceived service obligations to the Lord, and I did not need to serve in any other capacity, which contributed to a lazy Christian attitude. I however, have since learned that to be a fully rounded person you need to serve other people in a different environment other than Police work so that you do not think that every one in need is a person who has or is about to commit a criminal act.
I was in our booking room, with my street gang crime specialist partner, talking to another one of our chronically criminally misguided youths. We had just arrested him for running out of his apartment with a baseball bat after receiving a cell call informing him that a rival street gang was in a four by four driving around the streets by his home. Besides the foolishness of bringing a baseball bat to a potential gunfight, he had not checked to see if there were any Police Officers around his apartment. If he had, he would have seen the two of us in our bicycle patrol gear right outside his apartment’s front door. We suspected this teenager of involvement in illicit drugs sales, robbery, batteries and assorted other local unsolved crimes.
We had come to the end of our interview and were just about to release our wayward youth to his mother with a local ordinance ticket, when my partner, who is not a Christian, asked him to sit back down for a minute. My fellow Officer and I had spoken about this gang member in the recent past and we thought that if we could some how reach him, he had the potential of rising above his family and environment and becoming a successful human being. My partner spoke to this kid about the evils of using illicit drugs, alcohol use, bad grades, negative influences (Other gang members, wrong kind of friends, violence) and a prediction of what his future would hold if he should continue on his current path. Just when I thought that my partner was finished, he shocked me as he stated, pointing his finger at the young offender, “You know what you need? You need to find God. He is the only one that can make your life right.” My fellow Officer looked over at me and asked if there was any way that I could arrange for this kid to attend services at my church. I am a member of an excellent, large congregation church, and later made arrangements for our church bus to pick him up in order for him to attend services through our Spanish ministry, a service that unfortunately he never availed himself (Yes I attend an excellent very large congregation church). When we had given back the misguided youth to his mother and they were safely away, to their home, I asked my partner where the idea to set the gang member up with church had come from. He told me that he had heard me say this to a number of people and the only time he has seen anyone straighten out their life was when they “found God”. He went on to say that he knew that I would not attend a sub par church and thus that same church would be good for the kid. I asked him if he would want to go to a service with his family and mine and we set up a time and date. (Unfortunately, due to cancellations, conflicts and excuses, I am still trying to persuade my partner and his family to attend).
When I look back on that day, it is with the conclusion that this is Police work in the heart of the mission field. Here, I see God’s hand acting both on the criminals and my co-workers due to my presence as a Christian. That is certainly not to say that God needs me in any way to enact his plan, but I am just happy that he makes me a part of it. I did nothing other than perform my work functions but because of the very nature of the service that Officers are involved in, God is there with us acting in a real and tangible way. Philippians 2:13 states: 13For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him. Christian Policemen and Policewomen are front line personnel in the mission field in the communities for which we serve.