Nearly a hundred Christian law enforcement officials, chaplains, and their spouses attended a special summit earlier this month to turn their on guard switch off and to find rest and renewal.
Sponsored by and held at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., the Third Annual Ridgecrest Law Enforcement Summit helped attendants relax and fellowship with other believers in field of law enforcement as they were reminded of their positions as warriors ordained by God and of their crucial role in society.
"This is just a great time of Christian fellowship with other officers," said Debra Yokley after attending the Law Enforcement Summit on Oct. 4-6. Its a time of rest and renewal for me. I feel comfortable around other officers. They can sympathize with my needs."
Yokley, who has been with the Rowan County Sheriffs Office in North Carolina for 14 years, said the summit was "a safe place to rest. At home, youre always on guard. Even when I go to the grocery store, Im likely to see someone I have arrested. You always have to pay attention. Its hard to just relax."
"Everything here applies to us and what we go through," she added. "The leaders understand that our lives are different."
Cops feel called to their jobs according to Jack Poe, chaplain of the Oklahoma City Police Department.
During the conference, Poe said that though the public may view law enforcement officers as rough, tough, and hard, based on his experience, "there is a higher percentage of Christian law enforcement officers than Christians in other fields. They almost have to have that spiritual connection to survive," said Poe. "Romans 13 tells us that we are the warriors ordained by God."
Tim Eldred, chaplain for the Sheriffs Office in Rutherford County, Tenn., similarly said, "You are called to your job as much as I am called to mine. If you dont feel called to be a law enforcement officer, then you need to get out."
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and author of the newly published book, Imagine! A God Blessed America, also spoke at the conference for a second consecutive year.
The problems of America are of the heart, Land said, and too often, law enforcement officers are forced to deal with the result of troubled homes.
"Eighty percent of the people in prisons come from fatherless homes, he said. Boys who grow up in fatherless homes are 300 percent more likely to get in trouble with the law."
But Land expects the officers to fill the crucial role in society.
Law-breaking began with Adam and Eve, Poe told the officers.
"They only had one rule one rule and they broke it," he said. "People still want to break the laws and regulations, but without these, we descend into chaos."
Tim Hawsey, a career law enforcement officer, served as moderator of the summit. Speaking from his experience as the assistant police chief in Flomaton, Ala., and the minister of music and youth at First Baptist Church in Bratt, Fla., he talked about the special stresses of being a law enforcement family.
"We dont have the most physically dangerous job, but emotionally, we have the most dangerous job in the world," he said.
According to LifeWay Spokesman Chris Turner, attendance for the law enforcement summit was down from the expected 150 due to the call for increased forces along the Gulf Coast after the hurricane disasters.