The year 2011 will certainly go down as the year of the disaster. Record Tornado’s touched down all over the country but especially devastated the towns of Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Ala. Earthquakes rocked Japan, Turkey and New Zealand leaving over 16,000 dead in their wake.
Disasters do not just come in the form of horrible weather either, as we experienced incredible tragedy when representative Gabby Gifford and 18 other people were shot on January 8, 2011 during a public meeting held in a supermarket parking lot near Tucson, Az.
The scary thing for most of us is that this is possible and/or has already happened in your town or to your friends or family. Needless to say we hope that you had a great support group or church family surrounding those involved.
The police or Fireman that responded, often placing themselves in harms way, became the cushion of support or safety for those most affected by these events. Little noticed at the time, ducking their head under the yellow tape and headed straight toward the victims or surviving family is a chaplain.
He has been called out of his home at short notice and responds within moments and sometimes gets to the scene before the police or fire department staff.
He has seen tragedy before and by God’s grace is prepared to dispense kind words and practical insight and care. Most have Critical incident training and know how and what to do within a crime scene, accident or fire.
Many public agencies know and appreciate the care and concern they bring to their organization, as this same counseling and prayerful concern is extended to those police and fire staff everyday.
I have talked to police on drive along’s in gang invested neighborhoods, seeing the worst of what our society has to offer and they freely admit they could not do their job without the support of their chaplain. Carefully placed words in midnight phone calls or O’dark 30 coffee talks are the medicine that soothes their fragile ego’s or greatest fears.
Public agency staff experience the highest divorce rates and incidents of substance abuse with alcohol or pain pills. Long hours behind the wheel, mixed with low public respect and a hightened sense of self-survival are not the ingredients of healthy relationships. At times the ONLY person they can talk to and feel safe is their chaplain.
At this time of year as we renew old pledges and commitments and check our heart for things needing cleansed, we ask that you keep our chaplains in your prayers.
Additionally, if you have enjoyed God’s blessing this past year we would even (dare) ask that you contribute to a chaplain in your area. Public Safety Chaplains has staff on site in almost 15 public agencies within the tri-county area surrounding Portland. They serve by God’s grace, most without a paycheck and constantly pulling money out of their pocket to help a fellow officer out.
They need your prayers and support.