I was assigned to ride with Officer Charles for the evening. Once we made brief personal introductions and walked to the patrol car, I was pleasantly surprised when Officer Charles came right out and informed me where he stood in his faith. He was an open book and shared some very personal information about his life.
As I recall he said, “I started to live with real faith recently.” He lifted his sleeve and showed me a bracelet he was wearing in honor of his faith with the date of his commitment clearly inscribed on it. “I was going through a very difficult period and had lost nearly everything I valued most. I needed answers,” he said. “I had heard a lot of things about God over the years, and even went to church, but never really felt I needed Him for myself to this level. Once I became completely honest with myself and my seemingly hopeless situation, I realized God was real and that He was the answer. When I humbled myself and asked for His help, my life and priorities totally changed. God has done some pretty amazing things in me. I am a completely new person.” Officer Charles was not ashamed to let me know about his darkened past and how God had changed his life.
I was excited to hear such great news! What a great introduction! I know that as chaplain, I have a great responsibility to confidentiality, and people are supposed to feel free to talk to me about spiritual matters, but Officer Charles’s faith was the boldest I have experienced in uniform.
Most officers don’t come right out and talk of their faith or their commitment to God. Maybe it’s because they are being careful not to be seen as having “gotten religion” by their co-workers; maybe they are being careful not to overstate things in case they somehow misrepresent their beliefs by their choice of words or actions while we are together on patrol. Whatever the case, I have found it’s rare to have an officer initiate such an immediate open conversation about God.
It was great to get to know Officer Charles and to hear the story of his changed life. There have been plenty more challenges for Officer Charles since I first met him, but I am confident he will be just fine through every one of them as he follows Christ.
Thanks, Officer Charles, for being bold about what God did in your life, and thank you for encouraging me and my work as chaplain. May you continue to be a testimony and an influence to other officers as you serve in this vocation and live your life honoring God.
Next time you see a cop, smile, say hello, and lift a silent prayer for their safety and salvation.