My goal has always been to help people. That’s why I became a police officer and why I recently stepped into pastoral ministry.
As a police officer, I’ve learned to wear many hats. I get to be a parent, a teacher, a spiritual advisor and a social worker. No two calls are alike, and I try to be an influence to others, especially young people. I’ve brought food to hungry children and toys and gifts at Christmastime to show them that as a police officer, I’ll be there for them. I often pray, “Lord, help me say and do the right thing.”
But as much as I enjoy helping others, there have been times where I’ve been the one needing help, and God has continually shown up for me. Four circumstances highlight the encouragement I received from God during loss and danger, and through it all, I’ve learned to depend on God. I hope that by sharing my story, people will find encouragement to keep going in life.
I lost my mom to cancer when I was a senior in high school.
Nobody can love you like a mother can, and every teenager wants a mother figure there to tell you everything’s going to be all right. But I had to watch her suffer. I was on track to be the first boy in my family that my mom got to see graduate, but as the disease progressed, she whittled away before my eyes. She died about six months before my graduation.
I started getting to know God when my mom was dying. Growing up, going to church was a must. My grandmother was the enforcer. But it wasn’t until a friend invited me to revivals at his church after my mom was diagnosed that I gave my life to God. I started to see what people meant when they spoke about God’s peace and how he’d be a mother to you.
I was upset when Mom transitioned home, but God supplied all of my needs. My friend’s family took me in. Other students would come up to me and say their mom or dad told them to give money to me. I couldn’t understand how God could show up in the middle of my pain, but he gave me inner peace that’s hard to explain.
The challenges didn’t end after high school, and I put God on the back burner. I had a few children and got married at a young age. Unfortunately, my marriage didn’t last.
During this time some things happened that could’ve got ugly. I’ll spare the details for the sake of the others involved, but I could have been hurt or killed. My prayer was, “Lord, send your angels to watch over me, so I won’t do anything wrong.”
As evidence of God’s encouragement, one night I woke to see two men in white on either side of my bed. I saw this as evidence of God’s protection and trusted him. God gave me peace and said, “If you can’t forgive, how can I forgive you?”
Twice more I’ve faced danger, including surviving a car crash where I should’ve died and encountering a neighbor who tried to shoot me.
God’s been good to me, and I’ve survived more than 27 years with the police department. It’s tough for all police officers right now, and sometimes it is doubly tough for me as a Black officer working in my hometown. I’ve been called a traitor and worse.
In difficult times, I remember my goal is to influence young people and to serve. It’s all worth it when someone tells me that if it hadn’t been for something I did or said, their life would be in worse shape.
I’m able to keep going with God’s help because I know it isn’t always going to be like this. My hope is that one day people will see me—even though I am a police officer—as a child of God first. I know I’m not responsible for how people treat me, but I am responsible for how I treat people. When you’re in the ministry, it works the same way.
Whatever I face on my life journey may be hard at the time, but I know I might be able to help somebody else when they encounter a similar situation. I may get knocked down, but if I keep putting God first, I know I can accomplish all things.
As told to Janae Rempel