Chaplaincy Opens Gospel Opportunity

"Ten years ago a city councilman called me to say that our chief of police was looking for a local pastor with a military background who would consider serving as the chaplain of the city police department. As it happened, I had been praying about an opportunity that would allow me to win souls and offer encouragement to others who might never come to the church I pastor. Shortly after the initial interview, I began the process of becoming a sworn reserve officer and the chaplain to a department of over two hundred personnel.

Chaplaincy opens many ministry opportunities: sending birthday cards and other small ways of touching and encouraging the officers and civilians in the department, calls, counseling sessions, "ride-alongs" with the officers, retirement banquets, hospital calls and dozens of other contacts that allow me to minister to a community of people I would never otherwise meet.

Last summer I got a call around 10:30 P.M. A tractor-trailer had run off the interstate and plowed through a Japanese restaurant, killing three Japanese men from a nearby Hitachi plant and injuring several other patrons. Reporting to the scene, I saw utter devastation and chaos. I have never seen as many emergency services on a scene as that night. I went about the quiet duty of praying with the workers from the restaurant and calling the pastor of our Japanese congregation to report to the ER to identify the injured and then to report to the scene of the accident to help the coroner identify the fatalities.

A local Japanese missionary and I were able to act as liaisons for the coroner’s office and the executives from Hitachi. Our follow-up work with the people from Hitachi as well as the personnel who worked the extremely stressful incident that night continued for weeks.

Just days before I wrote this article, one of our officers had been on a routine call not in pursuit when a small sports car turned directly in front of him at a high rate of speed. Both vehicles were destroyed, the driver of the sports car was severely injured, and his female passenger was killed instantly. I was again sent to the ER to be with the officer when he got the news of the woman’s death and to remain with him during the interview with the Highway Patrol.

I waited with the officer through the evening and was still on duty when the 11:00 P.M. roll call was taken back at the law enforcement center. I took a few moments to pray with the officers coming on and explained the events to them. While waiting for the young officer’s father to come from a nearby state to be with him, I was able to spend nearly an hour with him alone reading the Bible and comforting him. During that time, he prayed with me to receive Christ as his Savior.

In ten years of police chaplaincy, l have had a bookful of exciting experiences. I have come to admire the sacrifices and dedication of law enforcement personnel more than! had ever imagined. But most of all, I have had opportunities to be in regular contact with people who need the Lord’s salvation and/or protection and who know that they do. Police officers don’t need to be convinced that men are sinners, nor do they have trouble with the concept of authority. If a chaplain is willing to be patient, to stand with them in duty and danger and to respect the stress of their work avoiding the tendency to preach at inappropriate times there are countless opportunities for witnessing and pastoral care. Chaplaincy opens a unique door of ministry; if godly, dependable, Bible-believing men do not walk through that door, who will?"

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Written By Dr. John Vaughn