A couple years ago, Pastor Gordon Boyle (Watersprings Church, Idaho Falls) started a Bible study for law enforcement officers. Pastor Gordon is a retired deputy from the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office and has a heart to reach law enforcement officers with the gospel and minster to their unique needs. Last summer I started attending the weekly study that starts before most people get up, at 6:30 am each Friday. I found the group included retired, former, and active law enforcement officers from city, county, state, military, and federal agencies. After getting to know these officers and hearing their stories, I started thinking about a ministry that would reach and connect with the wider community of officers, their families, and friends in a worship setting.
In an earlier newsletter, I mentioned Pastor Jonathan Parker had such a ministry in Chattanooga called Cop Church. I thought about starting a Cop Church in Idaho Falls, but quickly dismissed the thought, believing the Idaho Falls community was too small to support a church narrowly focused on such a small demographic. Then one Friday morning I heard the heart of one officer who has struggled with issues that have plagued him since he was a young patrol officer years earlier.
Pastor Gordon and I met and prayed about starting a Cop Church. A couple weeks later, we shared the idea with the men from the Bible study and they eagerly supported the concept. I called Pastor Jonathan Parker and he promised to support Cop Church Idaho Falls and allow a new church plant to use his logo design and affiliate with Cop Church Chattanooga.
Over the next several weeks I shared the ministry with the elders at River of Life Church, where I pastor, and they too enthusiastically supported a new church targeted at police officers and their families. Finally, I spoke with Rev. Jonathan Wiggins, the District Superintendent for the Rocky Mountain District of the Alliance. Just like everyone else, he too was very supportive.
In March, I met with a handful of officers and their spouses who are interested in being a part of this new ministry. We desire to begin holding services on the second Tuesday of each month. While the initial feedback about this ministry is overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging, I know the Enemy is not happy with the advancement of the Church, hence, we value your prayers for wisdom and discernment. Please pray for Cop Church Idaho Falls as we prepare to have our first service on Tuesday, September 12th.
4-1-17 Pastor Larry Cudmore (First Evangelical Lutheran Evangelical Church, Idaho Falls) bought a copy of Winning a Gunfight and shared it with his nephew, Inspector Marcus Erickson, Brooklyn Park PD, Minnesota. After reading it, Inspector Erickson emailed Pastor Larry his assessment of the book. I contacted Inspector Erickson and he gave me permission to publish his email. I really appreciated Inspector Erickson’s straightforward and honest assessment of Winning a Gunfight. In part, this is what he wrote: “Just sending a quick message to give you my overall thoughts on the book. First off, I think this is really the only book I’ve ever read or seen regarding police shootings that covers the spiritual aspect of police work and the spiritual aftermath of shootings. And I saw nothing in there that I would disagree with. I think he’s right on target to acknowledge the spiritual and emotional toll that a shooting can take on a person. Others have often acknowledge[d] the emotional toll, but nobody wants to stick their neck out and really talk about the spiritual side of things. So hats off to him for that! Having said that, I was really hoping he would dig much deeper into the emotional and spiritual toll a shooting can take. I felt like it was pretty basic in nature with just an overall view, not an in-depth push to encourage officers to seek spiritual help during rough times.
Also, he was right on target with instruction on preparing appropriately ahead of time, such as proper training and conditioning. This also was a pretty basic instruction along those lines, but right on target. Having made both of the points above about feeling like it was a basic message without really digging in, I know that I’m likely reading it from the view of somebody who is on the backside of the law enforcement career. As I started reading it, I was hoping for more of a spiritual message or something that would counsel officers on the effects of stress, on the deep cynicism that can and will creep into an officer’s life, regardless of involvement in a shooting or not.
I think the book’s message is geared more for somebody who is on the early side of their career (with all the emphasis on proper training and conditioning…many of us older fellers have that message ingrained in us, even if it isn’t always true in practice). I think I felt like I was waiting for even more spiritual advice, counseling, direction, etc., but in hindsight that was probably just my own expectation knowing the background of the author up front. He maybe didn’t intend it to be the overall message I was looking for.
Overall, good book, and I recommend it for anybody in law enforcement…or their families. Sometimes we think our families understand the dynamics of shootings and law enforcement issues, but that’s a big assumption.”
After reading Inspector Erickson’s remarks, I emailed Pastor Larry, “Thanks for forwarding the message to me. I’m grateful for Marcus’ analysis. He’s right on target with my intended audience, the goal was to start the conversation about the spiritual hoping those who give the books to officers will follow-up.”
Perhaps another book, that goes directly to the heart of spiritual/ethical matters is necessary?
4-14-17 Pastor Gordon Boyle handed me a flyer for a church security conference in southern California where Carl Chinn is slated to be the guest speaker. I contacted Carl who agreed to make copies of Winning a Gunfight available at the conference and promote The Strong Blue Line. Carl will also be giving out free copies to police officers who attend. Thank you, Carl! Pray for the officers in Southern California who receive copies of the book. Please consider donating toward this effort! To donate click the “Donate” tab.
4-24-17 Last month I was in Billings, MT, and connected with Pastor Phil Stombaugh (Central Community Church, Billings, MT). Pastor Phil said he was recently appointed a chaplain for the Billings (MT) Police Department and is going to encourage his church and the other chaplains to support raising money to provide officers on the Billings PD a copy of Winning a Gunfight. To donate to this cause, click the “Donate” tab.