ASHEVILLE, N.C., Oct. 31, 2019 – Multiple testimonies from current and former law enforcement officers left a crowd of more than 275 in tears last week as the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) hosted its National Law Enforcement Retreat at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. This retreat is part of an ongoing effort by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team to address the unique emotional and spiritual needs of law enforcement officers and their families.
A time for law enforcement officers to grow closer to God, to reconnect with their spouses and to relax, attendees came from all over the country—as far away as California. The retreat featured speakers who have also walked the thin blue line and battled the same issues and struggles.
“I know there’s pain in this room. I know there are marriages that need help, and I know there are people sitting here that feel walled off and forgotten by God. You have not been forgotten. He’s waiting for you,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Detective Stephen Parker.
Norfolk police veteran Chris Amos talked about the major storms in his own life, including a near suicide attempt, his wife’s health issues, a shooting while on the job and most recently the sudden death of his son. Amos – whose testimony had an emotional impact on everybody in the room – said he always returned to Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (ESV)
“I would have never have seen Jesus Christ in the ways that I’ve seen Him had I not been through what I’ve been through. But I tell you He was there,” said Amos. “God doesn’t deliver us from our trials, He does something far more loving. He steps into our trials with us. That’s love.”
Having had a short law enforcement career of her own and a long marriage to a police officer, former law enforcement officer and current professional counselor and crisis-trained RRT chaplain Denise Molatch offered a unique perspective, reaching both the officers and spouses in attendance. Following her presentation to the entire group of attendees, Molatch held a more intimate question-and-answer session with the wives.
“I truly believe that a healthy marriage makes a healthy officer. The more confident they are that everything is going well at home, the more they can focus on the job,” said Molatch. “Plus, having a good relationship with their wife gives them a partner they can pray with, they can share their feelings with and just unload a little bit of how they feel about things. A marriage is so important. God created it to be a union and for us to support each other and so many times in law enforcement we separate the job from the marriage and that causes a big intimacy gap.”
Jason Stocks, a student resource officer from Maryland, who attended with his wife Lorena, added, “We’re police officers. We’re not super human. We have grief, too. We go through different ranges of emotions like anyone else, but when you come here and you hear others share their stories, if you’re going through something you can relate. It’s a healing process here. It’s like my wife said, ‘You’re in heaven on earth here.’ You’re at peace.”
The RRT will host another National Law Enforcement Retreat, March 29-31, near Austin, Texas. Limited spots are still available at the retreat that is open to all law enforcement officers and spouses.
For more information on the ministry, including videos, photos, news articles and an interactive map of former and current deployments, visit BillyGraham.org/RRT. Updates can also be found at Facebook.com/RRTChaplains.
About the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team:
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed by Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It has since grown into an international network of chaplains in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. They have deployed to more than 400 disaster sites across the globe, including shootings, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes.
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