Joe* was responding to a fight at 1 a.m. When we rounded the corner, cars were parked in the driveway and on neighboring front lawns, headlights shining in every direction. Shouts and threats filled the darkness and our progress toward the confusion was frightening.
My thoughts erupted in a whisper, "No...no...no...turn around."
As we crept, all eyes locked on the cruiser. Suspense built until, with a blast of light and sound, Joe made the people scatter. Details of the fight were sketchy and identities were never verified. What is sure is that before the call, neighbors were fearful and after the call the block was quiet.
After the call, Joe and I spoke. The call shook him for different reasons: the shift was short-staffed and he knew backup would take time to arrive. Confidence to work alone came from his years of experience but the adrenal dumps were difficult. "Calls get you worked up and calming down is hard," he said.
We spoke about his job: domestic violence, dead bodies and reckless drivers. A few nights prior a nine year old boy was hit by a car and had a 1% chance of living. He was still alive and my, "Praise the Lord," opened a door.
Joe began sharing his testimony. He believed Jesus for his salvation but opportunities to discuss faith were rare. I said, "If you have the time, so do I. Can you tell me how you came to know the Lord?"
Our attention turned from the last call and toward the One who calls. Joe defined discipleship and what it means to accept Christ's invitation to carry our crosses:
And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. ~ Luke 14:27
His family and childhood began to emerge, as well as areas of needed improvement in his life. "Thank you for what you do, chaplain." He smiled and changed the radio station to Smile FM. Into another 911 call we descended, strengthened by the Word of the Lord and Joe's testimony. Joe had a listening ear because of generous prayer and financial support of the chaplaincy.
* Name changed to protect identity