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A pastor for the police

December 29th, 2012 at 6:00 am

Back in 2009, Mike Middlebrooks was watching the evening news and heard a story about a Dallas police officer, who was shot and killed that day while serving a warrant. Mike’s heart broke and he began to wonder who cared for the police officers, who was the pastor for those who cared for others and who laid their life on the line daily.

Mike, the executive pastor at Trinity Life Baptist Church in Mesquite, couldn’t get the story out of his mind.  So the very next day, he called the Dallas Baptist Association office and asked about police chaplaincy. He was referred to the senior corporal at the Dallas Police Department, and Mike discovered a need for police chaplains.

Immediately, he knew this was what he was supposed to do. He wanted to care for officers through being a chaplain. Within a few months, Mike had completed his training and had become a Dallas police chaplain. Now he volunteers at least 16 hours a week to support, care and love on the police officers in Dallas.

Mike has been promoted to the deputy chief of chaplains and works at Police Headquarters in downtown Dallas. Though he volunteers a few hours a week, he says that he is on call 24/7/365, making himself available to meet with officers in their time of need, whether that be for an issue at work or home.

Mike has been intentional to build relationships with the officers through ride-a-longs where he spends a few hours on patrol with an officer. Many times an officer will open up a spiritual conversation and start sharing about life, allowing Mike to offer an encouraging word, wisdom and the love of Christ.

“You get to know your flock, if you will. I tell the guys, ‘I’m here to help you. I’m here for you 24/7,’” Mike said.

God has used Mike’s heart for officers to help in some incredible ways. During one ride-a-long, Mike and the officer he was with were called to a hostile situation. Sadly, the man who was causing a standoff was shot and killed that night.

Mike feels like it was the Lord allowing him to be there in the midst of this time to help the officers process what happened and to deal with the weight they experience from the difficult side of their job.

“One guy pulled me over, a guy who had never said anything to me before. He said, ‘Hey Chap, you will never know how much it means that you are here right now,’” Mike said.

Because of the relationships that he has built, Mike gets asked to walk with many officers and their families through the joyful and difficult times of life – through weddings and funerals, through sickness and celebration.

Mike said that more chaplains are needed. Currently, there are 10 volunteer chaplains who care for all the officers in the Dallas Police Department. All are ministers who volunteer their time, feeling a call to care for officers and their families.

If anyone is an ordained minister, male or female, he or she can serve as a police chaplain. To become a chaplain, the process includes an application, interview and six-months of working alongside a current chaplain before they will be allowed to minister on their own. There are no female chaplains in the Dallas area at this point, but Mike said they would love to have one if any ordained women would be willing to volunteer in this way.

Mike also mentioned that there are many opportunities for the community to support officers and their families and to share the light of Christ.

Chaplains need Christ followers to come beside them and love on those serving in the police force. He said that the chaplaincy department does not receive funding through the police department budget, so making a donation to help with ministry is very appreciated. This money typically goes to help a family in a crisis, taking a meal to an officer’s family when someone is sick or meeting other needs

Taking goodies to the officers at local substations is also a way to partner with the chaplains. Let the officers in the neighborhoods know they are supported and loved by their community, especially the Christ followers and churches.

Also, join the chaplains in ministry through prayer.

“The officers want to do their job and do it well and then go home to their families at the end of their watch,” Mike said. “Pray that they can do their job and do their job well because obviously what they have to do at times is not fun.”

Pray for safety and for the officers’ families as well.

“Whether they want to admit or not, they know that their loved one is putting on a uniform and going into harms way. There is some stress day to day in the family unit. Once the kids are old enough to understand that a mom or dad is in a dangerous situation, they can become stressed about that,” he said.

When going to the police station, just be low key, Mike said. Don’t be preachy. Just build relationships with the officers and staff and let them know they are appreciated.

If you are interested in exploring ways you might become a chaplain, feel free to email Mike at Middlebrooks.Mike@gmail.com. He would be glad to walk you through the process and tell you about ways you could get involved with supporting the ministry of your local police chaplain.

Also, keep watch for our next blog that will give you some practical ways to care for the Shepherds among you!

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