I was sworn in as a volunteer police chaplain Monday afternoon at the West Allis Police Department along with six other wonderful clergymen and clergywomen from our community. That means in addition to being a pastor at epikos Church, I now also serve as a police chaplain. As I write this, it’s a job I have officially had for less than a day. When it comes to my role as a chaplain, I am as green as they come.
Though I cannot yet expound on the many facets of chaplaincy work, I can tell you what drove my decision to take on this volunteer role as a police chaplain within the city I call home. Simply put, as a Christian it is my strong conviction to leave the four walls of my church and meaningfully engage the world around me with the love of Christ. Serving others through police chaplaincy is an excellent opportunity, in my estimation, to do that very thing.
As a police chaplain I want to serve those brave men and women who have chosen to take on the noble work of protecting and serving others. I also want to serve the people within our city by stepping into their lives when they are being confronted with the worst possible circumstances. This is why I am a chaplain.
Monday morning, before I was officially sworn in, I was first called to respond as a chaplain to an unspeakably tragic scene. I will spare you the awful and heartbreaking details of what I walked into, but I will tell you it only confirmed why I decided to take on this calling as a police chaplain.
In that moment, I saw the compassionate and professional men and women of the West Allis Police Department handle with gentleness and excellence, a very, very difficult situation. I was humbled by the way they thoughtfully engaged and cared for a family that was suffering tremendously. As I was observing these officers selflessly extend themselves, I considered the burden they carry day in and day out. I asked God to lighten that burden. I want to serve those police officers and point them to the One who said his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
This morning, I also saw a family—broken and devastated by the worst possible circumstances imaginable. I watched as extended family members and friends flocked to the scene and as the tears and pain flowed down that quiet residential street like a swollen springtime river. These people were hurting so intensely and as I observed and embraced and interacted with them, my heart broke for them. I asked God to give them hope. I want to serve those men and women of my community who are in the midst of seemingly hopeless situations by reflecting and extending the hope of Jesus Christ in real and practical ways.
Maybe I don’t really know what I’ve gotten into just yet and perhaps I’ll be in over my head. As I stated earlier, I have a lot to learn and time will tell. However, based on my first few hours on the job, I can tell you that I believe I am right where I am supposed to be. God is at work in our midst and I willingly take on the role as police chaplain because ultimately, I want to serve Him!