Have you stopped lately to notice the Shepherds around you? This month, we’ve been taking a look at the doctors, nurses, firefighters, police and other law enforcement officers who care for our communities. A few have shared their stories with us to help us better understand life for them. But now let’s get a little advice from the Shepherds or those who work with the Shepherds on ways to practically let them know we appreciate them and that Christ loves them.
1. Be aware!
Take a look around… notice where the hospitals, police stations and firehouses are located. Get to know those who serve in your community and work in these locations. Spend time at these places observing what takes place and the people who come and go from here.
When you encounter Shepherds, be a listener and a learner. Ask what they like about their jobs and what can be a challenge. Ask them what they wished other people knew about what they do. Ask about the times they feel the most supported and loved by the community.
Then just care! Jesus authentically cared for people and about people and relationships quickly followed. We should act in the same way.
2. Reach out to the Shepherds’ family.
If you know family members of a police officer, firefighter, nurse or doctor who is working on Christmas or another holiday, offer for the family to come celebrate with you or to help out in some other way.
Children of those that have to work would probably love to go to the Christmas choir service but may not have a ride… I think when children get too big for a babysitter but are too young to drive, other families might want to include them in their family events to keep them from sitting at home alone. - Linda Plank, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing
3. Make some treats.
Most people love homemade goodies and so will those working at your local hospital, police station or firehouse. At holidays, typically we are already making special treats for the celebration. Make a little bit extra and take it to your local Shepherds to say thank you.
During my career at the Irving Fire Department, the most appreciated things were homemade baked goods that were brought to the station by the people who lived in the district. The gift of food is always welcomed by the men, but beyond that, the majority of firemen are pretty uncomfortable with praise and recognition. A simple thank you is usually sufficient. – Phil Riddle, retired firefighter, Irving Fire Department
4. Say thank you!
Kind words go a long way. Sometimes we assume that people are thanked enough and we pass up the moment to verbalize our appreciation. Make it a point to acknowledge the sacrifice and care these Shepherds give on a daily basis.
I don’t think there is much that friends and church groups could do that would actually change the fact that many professions have to work on holidays BUT awareness of this fact could result in people offering to help out… Making a plate of the great food or deserts and taking it to the ones who have to work would be greatly appreciated. Just saying “thank you for you sacrifice” would go a long way in making one feel appreciated. – Linda Plank
Pray for them, that God would shield their hearts and minds from what they see on a daily basis, especially the guys who are not Christians. When they do everything right and get a bad outcome, they tend to suck that stuff in, not wanting to talk to their families or to anyone… Pray that God gives them the wisdom to see that what they are seeing, they are not in control over. God is the giver of life and death. Also pray for their protection as they are in some dangerous situations. - Brent Clark, district chief and chaplain for the Amarillo Fire Department
The officers want to do their job and do it well and then go home to their families at the end of their watch. Pray that they can do their job and do their job well because obviously what they have to do at times is not fun…. And pray for their families. 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 because of this. Once the kids are old enough to understand that a mom or dad is in a dangerous situation, they can become stressed about that. - Mike Middlebrooks, executive pastor of Trinity Life Baptist Church in Mesquite and volunteer chaplain for the Dallas Police Department
6. Be respectful and don’t be preachy.
Remember that many Shepherds follow Christ, but many also do not. It is our job to represent Christ and his love well. Show them in word and deed that they are valued and loved by Christ and their community.
Just to be low key. Don’t go into the police station and be preachy. That will not be well received by the officers and command staff… When I do my ministry, I try to do three things. If I am going to be effective in church ministry or in this instance, in police chaplain ministry, I try to be myself, I try to be prepared and I try to be available. – Mike Middlebrooks
In the past, we have had some groups that mean well, but they show up at the fire station on a weekly basis and they come in and want to bring handouts and get the guys together. I think their intentions are really good. But the thing they don’t understand is that the fire station is like a firefighters house when they are not making calls. - Brent Clark
7. Be willing to minister on the Shepherds’ timetable.
There are people who are there who recognize their need to have some kind of fellowship. And so I think it would be a good deal to have someone from the church who would make inroads with the different departments, maybe offering a Bible study at an odd hour or at a convenient time for the officers. This might mean meeting for a Bible study at 6 a.m. when the guys are getting off work or at noon at the substation. It would depend on the department and what their work schedules is like. – Bob, Biedrzycki, retired police officer with the San Antonio Police Department.
8. Connect with the chaplains.
Many hospitals as well as fire and police departments have volunteer chaplains who are trained to work in these settings and to minister to the staff. Connect with the local chaplain and see how you can help. The chaplain will have many avenues for ministry and will appreciate your partnership, whether that be praying, giving financial support for ministry efforts, offering your time and helping hand, leading a Bible study or brining baked goodies for special events. This is a great way to get connected to caring for the Shepherds among you!
No go and connect with some Shepherds! Thanks for taking this journey with us this month.
Before the Civil War, the average cost of a slave was about the equivalent of $40,000 in today’s currency. Today, a person can be purchased for about $90. And the number of slaves in our world today is much higher than it was at the height of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade years ago. Something must be done to change this dark reality.
Though their ministry is not specifically to women caught in trafficking, Brett and Emily Mills, founders of Jesus Said Love, have come across trafficking rings as they have been about caring for exotic dancers and strippers and sharing the love of Christ with them. Their belief is that Jesus loves all people, yes, even strippers and that the church should be reaching out to them out of love. Below is a story originally published in Oct. 2012 that shares about what God is doing through the faithful obedience to love the women He has placed in their lives.
The other day before I left for work, I plugged my ipod into the car speakers and hit the road. I began driving down Highway 75 in Dallas with a worship playlist playing in the background.
Mile after mile, my thoughts drifted to human trafficking. At that point, I had been researching human trafficking for Opening Doors for about three weeks. My heart was burdened by what I had learned about trafficking and my head was filled with the thoughts about the oppression, greed and lack of value for a human life that fuels human trafficking. Full Story »