Monday, June 17, 2024

In or Out

Peeking under a bridge, at midnight, is risky.

A flashlight is recommended.

I watched the eyes watching us.

The officer had a flashlight, radioed our location and opened the door to take a closer look.  Cops go under bridges, in the dark, all the time.  Chaplains ride with cops and we have 2-3 seconds to ask a simple question: "In or out?"

"In" means the chaplain stays in the vehicle as an extra set of eyes and ears.  If something goes wrong, getting on the radio and providing updates is the protocol.  "Out" means the ride-along exits the vehicle to accompany the officer.

"In," was the officer's last word before disappearing.

In the cruiser, in the dark, prayer for community members and cops is recommended.  Adopt-A-Cop, founded by Ken Rochell, is a nationwide prayer movement that connects officers with prayer partners.  Ken understood the power of prayer. 1998, Ken Rochell was serving as a Michigan State Police Trooper.  

As a police officer, I know the importance of back up.  Nothing is more comforting than hearing the sounds of a distant siren coming to help you regardless of the color of your uniform or the department you work for.  As a Christian officer, I also know the importance of prayer.  I feel it has been the prayers of my family and friends that have kept me safe not only physically but emotionally.  Those prayers have also given me a heart for the people I have sworn to protect and serve.  It is comforting to know that I have people who are praying for me and my family every day I go out on the road. ~ Ken Rochell

Ken began Adopt-A-Cop to serve as a bridge between local churches and their local law enforcement agencies.   

Walking under bridges at night is hard.

Prayer helps.  

An officer shares her Adopt-A-Cop experience:

I received your card this morning and I wanted to extend my appreciation to you for thinking about me.  Your words were comforting and I received the seed of encouragement that was planted within your card.  May you be encouraged in knowing that your are making a difference and how little things, like the card and your prayers, equally counteracts the evil law enforcement face. ~ Lansing Police Officer, shared with permission

Click here to become a prayer partner.

Prayer partnership worked under the bridge.  Back up arrived and the tent city was found to be harmless.  Handshakes and smiles left things better than the officers found them.

'In or out', prayer partnership is strengthening outreach among first responders.  Together we're trusting Jesus to change lives.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Prayer Closet

His small business was robbed.

Neighbors saw him, day after day, selling items on social media.  Shoes and clothes were offered on a corner, just blocks from his home.  Transactions were going smoothly until the snatch and grab.

Buyers pretended to purchase but drove off without paying.  Rather than run after the vehicle, the vendor calmly pulled a handgun and started shooting.  Neighbors heard the rounds and called the police.  

He ran but more 911 tips were reported. His hiding places disappeared one-by-one.  A brief foot chase placed him facedown, yards from home.  Searched and handcuffed, into the cruiser he went.

His mother had no idea and thought he was in his room.  Her anguished moan sounded like her prayers abutting his free will.  She wanted the best for him and was hurt.  He was selling the clothes she worked so hard to purchase and carrying a gun about which she knew nothing. 

On the ride, a close look at the shooter stirred compassion.  Gun charges; officers counting the rounds; stray bullets embedded in neighboring houses; jail.  A child riding to jail.

Rewinding the clock, or mentoring on the spot, were impossibilities.  Chaplains control very little on emergency calls; we ride along.  As we rode downtown, I began to pray.

"Speak Holy Spirit."

Up the elevator and into the processing area, police business continued.  There was nothing to do but sit with him.  I sat with a 14-year old while officers typed reports and the air chilled.

I was praying and so were some of you.

Prayer is asynchronous.  If we pray for unborn children, and die before they're born, those prayers can still be answered.  God is posthumously answering great-grandparents' prayers for progeny.  You were absent from the jail, asleep or in different time zones, but your prayers were very present.

Thank you for remembering the chaplaincy in prayer. 

Because you pray, a Christ follower sat with a child while adults worked.  Fingerprints, photos and reports were handled elsewhere in the building.  Seeing no one his age got his attention and the jokes he was cracking began to catch in his throat.  As he sobered, there was nothing to do but sit and pray.

Thank you for praying alongside.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. ~ Romans 8:26

His mother groaned.  Prayer was needed because he had no idea of the serious turn his life was taking.  

The Holy Spirit intercedes because we too have no idea of what's really at stake in our daily walks.  

Officers let me stay with him throughout processing.  He was segregated from adults in the jail, always in sight of corrections officers.  When all the paperwork was done, he was transported from the jail to the juvenile detention facility.

"Do you know anyone in here?"  the juvenile detention officer asked.


Children began gathering to see the new boy.  He looked at me before entering a space where people may or may not have been praying for him.

Speak Holy Spirit. 

Thank you for praying. 

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Sipping Coffee

A shift begins at line-up.

Attendance is taken.  Announcements are made; perhaps a cup of coffee.  Mornings are supposed to be slow.

Slowly, the lieutenant updates the shift on a child's self-inflicted wound.  Before dawn, officers talk.  One knows the child's mother; another the grandmother.  What kind of gun did the child find?

Finding normal tones for abnormal terrors is best done slowly.  Think first, then speak.  

If speech comes before thought, the morning quickens.  Warned parents, addiction's complication - and siblings who may find other guns in the same house - spark speech before thought.  Line up can bring gushing words like, 'How can I help...Maybe I can...Has anyone considered...?'

Line-up bends civilian minds.

Sworn officers can be moved from slowly sipping coffee to swirling thoughts in seventeen seconds.  Yet they have to begin their days as if they hear the same things you hear each morning.

They have to be ready to smile and wave; ready to take accident reports; ready to work a few blocks away from the house full of children at risk of shooting themselves because their parents leave guns unattended and party with strangers who like to touch children.

They have to be ready to respond, with an engaged body camera, when the 911 call comes from the house they talked about in line-up.  

You read, far removed from the line-up room. 

The next time you smell coffee, pray for the ones sipping theirs quietly before dawn.