December 29, 2012 Volume 1 Issue 3
Thank you to everyone for your prayers, support, and contributions as CODE 7 kicked off. Thank you also to those interested in providing monthly financial support for CODE 7. Your participation and partnership mean the world to me and make this ministry possible!
This CODE 7 update is a helmet cam view of “A Day in the Life of a Police Chaplain.” In the story below I will share typical experiences in my work as a police chaplain. Ironically, I do not view each day as an occasion to make quick appeals for repentance. I view my role as an opportunity to provide consistent support and develop trusting relationships with real people performing their jobs in law enforcement. I am making long-term investments with the intention of cultivating relationships focused on eternity. This is the first of many stories along the CODE 7 journey.
It’s 0445 Monday morning. My alarm goes off sending me to the shower where I pray for direction and God’s precise plan for the next 10 hours. Maybe my ride along will be with someone I know or maybe someone brand new. Either way I am confident it will be an assignment and opportunity from Him. I get dressed, put on my ballistic vest, climb into my truck, and head over to the police department. In less than 10 minutes I have checked in with the sergeant and headed to the Briefing Room for the 0530 roll call. Entering the room, I share a few handshakes with officers and find an unoccupied seat. During the briefing the sergeant assigns me to a patrol unit or asks for a volunteer to take the chaplain along for the day.
After being teamed up with an officer, we exchange brief introductions and head to the car. We load up and get settled in. Sitting in the right front seat, I recognize I am occupying his office space. I do my best to respect his space and understand the privilege of being a guest. I sit in silent prayer petitioning for our safety, for wisdom, for whatever the shift brings our way, and the ability to be a godly influence. I am thankful for this opportunity to foster a relationship.
As we roll out and go “10-8” (in service) heading to the assigned beat, I explain that I am riding along to build a relationship and be an extra set of eyes and ears. I hope to be an asset, but I’m aware from their view I’m a liability. I recognize every time I am out with someone new I will be under examination during the next few hours. The officer needs to determine if I handle myself in ways that earn his trust. At first, some are concerned their language or attitudes might drive me away or solicit condemnation. I’m not there to criticize or condemn but to listen and support.
Our time is spent in the car patrolling the beat, responding to radio calls, providing assistance, and giving attention to people in need. The officer intervenes with conflicts, upholds the law, and attempts to keep the peace. Our presence is occasionally welcomed, but generally undesired.
The way I see it, each time an officer allows me to ride in his car, the officer is unknowingly attending my church. I am the only pastor many of them have, or at least the only one they might trust enough to give access to the truth of their personal lives. I intentionally ride the full 10-hour shift whenever possible. I make it a point NOT to initiate or direct the conversation to spiritual things during the shift because preaching is exactly what they expect me to do. I have also learned that a key to one of the many locks guarding the heart of law enforcement is food and a CODE 7 (out of service) break. I always buy the meal during the shift. Providing a meal seems to create incredible openness to real conversations where I can infuse hope and faith into their lives. Hence the name CODE 7.
After going on a number of ride alongs, I have noticed an anomaly–“the sixth hour rule.” Like clockwork, a breakthrough happens after six hours. Intrigue of this chaplain ride along gets the best of them, and inevitably, the officer will initiate a religious thought or biblical question. This is the open door.
At the conclusion of a shift, I offer my business card to the officer, making myself available for contact if he ever needs me or thinks I could help someone else. If the officer provides his phone number to me, I know the Lord has blessed deeply; the glory goes to Him. I think the apostle Paul described the desire of my heart when he said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” 1 Corinthians 9:22.
There is so much more I want to share with you about the ministry of CODE 7. I continually see God at work all around me as I spend time with the officers. It brings joy to my heart to see them rest, reflect and renew. Thank you for your partnership with CODE 7.