IF YOU CARRY A GUN TO CHURCH - YOU MUST ALSO CARRY A TOWEL

 Jimmy Meeks speaking to the crowd at the Huntington Beach, California Sheepdog Seminar ( LA Times) .

Jimmy Meeks speaking to the crowd at the Huntington Beach, California Sheepdog Seminar (LA Times).

So, HBO (Home Box Office) gives me a call a few months ago. They had seen an article about Sheepdog Seminars, picture included, on the front page of the Los Angeles Times. The Sheepdog “thing” had caught their attention, and they wanted to know more.

Assuming we were all about guns, they call me. The caller worked for VICE NEWS, a division of HBO.

It wasn’t long before they delved into the question about guns. “Do you guys carry guns?” she asked.

 “Some do, some don’t,” I replied. “But we don’t just wear guns: we also wear towels.”

My response threw her off. Apparently, the article had led her to believe that we were all about guns. And though we are certainly believers in the 2nd Amendment, I told her, we are about so much more.

MUCH MORE.

I then went on to explain the “weapon” called a towel.

If you’re a sheepdog and serve as such in your church (or anywhere for that matter), you must also wear a towel. This is true for all who are adherents to the Christian faith. Throughout scripture, the towel is repeatedly emphasized. As a matter of fact, if you profess faith in Jesus, it is far more important that you wear a towel - more so than a gun (I know some Christian sheepdogs who are far more acquainted with their gun than they are the towel).

What, then, is the towel? It is explained in the gospel of John, chapter 13:

 “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.”

The towel is the “weapon” we use to wash the feet of others. Jesus made this clear a few verses later:

 “…since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.”

 Yes, fellow sheepdog, this is your high calling. You must not only be good with your gun: you must be good with your towel. And the power of the towel is clearly seen in Jesus’s use of it: he washed feet.

Consider this carefully: Jesus is the Lord of all. He is the Creator of all thing. He rules the heavens above, and the earth below. Yet, even though he possesses all of this authority and power: he chose to wash the smelly, dirty feet of his disciples.

Washing feet in Jesus’ day was reserved for the lowest of the servants. It was the task of the “slave of the slaves.” If you washed feet, you were on the bottom of the totem pole.

And yet, here is Jesus, the Son of God, girded with a towel, washing the feet of sinful men.

Consider just how dirty their feet were. Walking around the streets of Jerusalem, one would often step onto the manure left by the various animals. This is one reason why foot-washing was necessary. Someone had to remove the “crap” from the feet of their guests. Thus, the lowliest of the slaves was summoned to the room, and there he engaged in the most unpleasant of tasks: removing dirt and dung from the house guests.

And this is what Jesus did.

And this is your calling, too.

Fellow sheepdogs, next time you’re at church, see how many feet you can wash. Now, I don’t mean that you need to ask those who enter to remove their socks and shoes so that you can do so. There are other ways to “wash feet.” The whole idea of washing feet implies that we are willing to be the servants of all men.

When at church (or anywhere), make an attempt to “out-serve” everyone else. Here is a way you can do so…

Everyone who enters the house of worship should see your extended hand. A handshake is a powerful act. It conveys to the recipient that you have acknowledged him/her, and you’re thrilled that they have come to church. Some churches have realized this and have established what is commonly called the “first impressions ministry.”

Remember this: before they do anything else inside your church, they will have an encounter with you! And some who enter your house of worship may be “at the end of their rope.” They may be there as a last resort, hoping to discover something that may lead them to believe that there is “hope.” And their first contact is … YOU!!!

Let me add something important about this. One of the reasons you’re doing the sheepdog thing at church is because you’re aware of the threat of violence. Chances are, this Sunday or the next, someone somewhere is going to attend a church and create a disturbance of some sort. If they enter your church and receive a hearty handshake, and you look them straight in the eyes as you speak, you may well have prevented an act of violence.

Those who enter a church with evil intent want to keep a low profile. They don’t want a greeting, a handshake, someone looking into their eyes, or, worse, having to engage in a lengthy conversation.

Thus, if you have a “bad feeling” about someone who enters, quickly extend your hand. Offer not only a handshake, but your name. The longer they are engaged with you, the more uncomfortable they will become (and this is good if you suspect trouble). Thus, if they have evil intent, your contact with them may thwart their plan.

There’s something else you need to know about your handshake. This may be something you have never given any thought to, but it is worthy of your consideration… so, here goes… get ready…

Research has revealed something very interesting about the human heart. The heart of every human being emits “waves.”* These waves travel at least 10 feet from our body and, furthermore, strike the brain of everyone within that radius (it is suspected that they travel even further, however, technology only allowed them to measure 10 feet. Research was conducted by Heart Math Institute).

If a person is happy, compassionate, and caring (along with other such attributes), then the waves that proceed from them contain those particular emotions. Your “joyful, happy waves” will strike those within 10 feet and may result in lifting their spirits.

You’ve heard the phrase, “when he comes in, he lights up the room.” There’s actually a ton of truth in that statement. He “lights up the room,” or “spreads darkness,” depending on what’s in him.

Now, consider this. Jesus talked about these “waves” when he walked the earth. He said of those who believed in him that “rivers of living water” would flow forth out of their innermost being (i.e. heart). What does this mean for you as you serve as the church’s sheepdog?

It means this: your handshake is no mere handshake: “rivers of living water” are coming out of your hand – and your heart. Or, as our researchers discovered, “waves” are pouring out of your you, striking everyone with whom you come into contact. If you’re happy, caring, and compassionate: if a smile is on your face: if joy is springing from your heart, then, that is what you are passing on to those whose hand you shake!

So, go for it. After-all, it’s Christmas: “Tis the season to be jolly….”


 We have a new ministry for police officers; New Covenant Cops.   Click here   to check out the website.

We have a new ministry for police officers; New Covenant Cops. Click here to check out the website.

 
 

30 MINUTES WITH A CALL GIRL (ONLY COST ME 20 BUCKS)

By Jimmy Meeks. Retired Police Officer

Sally was standing in the center median with full intentions of begging for money. It was a busy time of the day – rush hour – and cars were bumper to bumper. She was determined to convince a few of the drivers to toss some coins in her direction.

I pulled up next to her in my police car and before she had approached her first “customer,” I told her to cross the street and meet me in the nearby parking lot.

As we began our conversation, she confirmed my suspicions: Begging for cash was the plan. She only needed about 10 dollars, she said, which would convince her friends back at the hotel to let her stay another night. She stood outside my car, talking about her predicament. I didn’t want her to sleep on the street ...

“Do you have a brother or sister I could call?” I asked … 

“No,” said with a noticeable sadness in her voice…

“What about your mom or dad? Can I call them?”

“No, they’re both dead.”

I knew there were some shelters in downtown Ft Worth, and apparently she read my mind.

“I don’t want to go downtown Ft. Worth,” she quickly replied.

 But it was her next few statements that somewhat caught me off guard.

“I have nice teeth,” Sally said, sheepishly smiling.

She saw the puzzled look on my face.

“I have nice teeth, officer, and I’m kind of pretty. If I go down there I’ll be sexually harassed all night.” Sally admitted to prostituting herself at times, but hated doing it, she said.

Now, I have no desire to offend this dear girl. And perhaps “kind of pretty” does describe her. But only “kind of.” Her shirt and very short dress had obviously not been inside a washing machine in quite some time. She wore flip-flops and her feet were dirty.  And it was apparent that she had not bathed in days. 

But still, my heart went out to her…

“Sally,” I asked, “When is the last time you had something to eat?”

My question broke her. Her lips began to quiver as her eyes swelled with tears.

“I haven’t had anything to eat since yesterday.” 

“Well, hey, why don’t you hop in my police car and let’s cross this busy street and get you something to eat!”

Her “kind of pretty” face lit up like a child who had just gotten a new toy. Excitedly, she jumped in the back seat of my cruiser and we made our way to the nearby convenient store.

Sally and I entered the store and you would’ve thought a 3-year old had just been dropped off at Toys R Us. The folks in the store didn’t know what to make of us. Their facial expressions all seemed to say the same thing: “What’s this cop doing with…her?” 

“Sally get what you want.” 

She ran around the store like a spoiled child. 

“Be sure and get you something to drink,” I shouted…

This particular convenient store had just opened a “kitchen,” and hot food could be ordered, and ready, in only a few minutes. Sally rushed up to the computer on the counter, placed her order, and shortly thereafter held a hot meal in her hands. 

“Hey, get something else, too,” I told her. “You’ll be hungry again in only a few hours.”  She grabbed a sandwich off the shelf.  

Customers continued to stare. In all honesty I think they were enjoying the scene.  Those watching me seemed to be having a good time. Perhaps they thought the whole scene was “refreshing.” 

We made our way to the register.  My bill was an additional $10.00. Sally had earlier said that 10 bucks might get her another night with her friends to help pay for the room. The cashier slipped me the 10-dollar bill and I passed it on to Sally.

Confusion was all over her face. Her expression clearly said, “Why are you doing this…?”

As we made our way toward the door, out of nowhere Sally blurted out: “Can I hug you… can I hug you…?” 

Customers coming and going saw this girl begging a cop for a hug.  Time seemed to stand still for a moment. I paused, knowing that those standing nearby were eager to see my response…

“Sure,” I replied. 

She reached up and wrapped her dirty arms around me.  It was a full-blown hug. She seemed to be holding on for dear life…

It would dawn on me later that this may have been the only hug from a man with no ulterior motives that she had had in years …

Sally told me she was going to the train station to catch a ride back to where her friends were. Knowing the station was only 3 minutes down the road, I offered to take her. It was a hot day and I didn't want her to stay out in the sun any longer than she had to.

Once again she hopped in the back seat of my cruiser and off we went – The Cop and the Call Girl…

Along the way, she kept saying, "You're so different. I always heard you guys were mean..." I didn't really know what to say in response, so I just let her talk. And talk she did, interrupted with an occasional cry.

We pulled into the parking lot near the train station and she hopped out. She seemed so happy, at least for now. 

As she walked in front of my car, headed to the train depot, it suddenly dawned on me: I am a believer in Jesus Christ, and I have the power to impart a blessing to this girl… 

I quickly exited my car, extended my hands toward her in the posture of a priest, and remembering the words of Numbers 6, I boldly spoke aloud: "SALLY…THE LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU. THE LORD MAKE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON YOU. THE LORD GIVE YOU PEACE..."

She stood still for a moment, not knowing what to think. She slowly smiled through quivering lips and then turned and walked away.

As she went, I couldn't help but think, "That's someone's daughter." And though Sally's daddy was dead, I suspect there was a day he could look into her eyes, call her his "little girl," and hug her - just like she had asked me to do.

I have 6 daughters. They are the delight of my heart. They light up my world and make my heart leap. 

But who -  WHO -  will delight in the Sally's of the world? Who will celebrate them? Who will – like Jesus – go after these castaways?

Jesus kept company with such women as Sally. He welcomed their “advances.” He allowed them to touch Him, to wash His holy feet with their tears, to anoint His head with expensive perfume…

Jesus was called the “Friend of Sinners.”  The rejects of society were drawn to Him. Tax collectors, so despised in their day, would walk off their job to be with Him. Fishermen would abandon their boats to follow Him. The diseased and dying would press through smothering crowds just to touch his robe. 

He…was…their…FRIEND…  

The world has tagged us Christians with numerous titles: Evangelical, Conservative, Right-Winger, The Religious Right, and a host of others. 

But rarely do they call us …“Friend of Sinners…”   

 

HOW TO HANDLE A PASTOR THAT DOES NOT SUPPORT YOUR SAFETY TEAM

I receive emails on a regular basis from church security minded people asking me the same question: “Jimmy, how do we convince our pastor of the need for church security?”

I regularly get phone calls with the same question, and at every seminar, numerous attendees will ask the very same thing.

After 300 seminars, and contact with thousands of people, I have long since lost count of how many times I have been hit with this question.

I’ve done seminars from California to Virginia, Florida to Washington State: and everywhere we go this question is hurled in our direction.

Just recently I was visiting with several members of a local church security team. They have faithfully served at their church for several years. Holding a copy of the budget in their hands, they expressed their dismay that not one single dollar had been designated toward the safety matters of the church.

Some of the stories I’ve heard trouble me. I have spoken with church security personnel who have even left their church due to lack of pastoral support.

I’m in a fortunate position, however. Unlike most of those concerned with security matters at houses of worship, I’m also a minister (45 years now). As a result, I have learned how to handle these preacher guys.

So let me help you.

Permit me first to shoot it straight with you. I served as pastor of a church for almost 12 years. During my assignment, I was also employed as a police officer. I will tell you this right now: it was much easier being a policeman than being a pastor.

 Yes – you read that right.

In my cop job, I went to work every day knowing I could get shot and killed. But in spite of that, I endured much more stress as a pastor. I knew where I stood with criminals: I couldn’t always say the same thing with my flock, though.

Let’s get straight to the point, brothers and sisters.

Your pastor might not be as supportive as you desire. He may not be giving you the recognition - or budget - that you believe your team deserves.

But, all of that is irrelevant. If you are serving in that position because you have been called, then you need to “suck it up” and serve!

·      You need to stop your whining.

·      Stop your complaining.

·      Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

·      Stop waiting for the pastor to sing your praises.

THAT IS NOT WHY YOU SERVE!

“But Jimmy,” you may ask, “what do we do about an unsupportive pastor?”

I’ll tell you exactly what you should do: SUPPORT HIM!!!

Let me repeat: S-U-P-P-O-R-T … H-I-M …

Your God is testing you. And if you are constantly complaining about the lack of support, then you are flunking the test!

If your pastor does NOT support you, you need to respond by supporting him!

 34 preachers walk off the job every day of the week (12,000 a year). Many of them are burned out, fed up, and done with the ministry.

I have visited with preachers who wept as they poured out their heart. Exhausted and tired, they were fed up with having to tend to a bunch of demanding, ignorant sheep, who are draining the life right out of him – and his family.

It is time for you to mature, fellow sheepdog.

It is time for you to think like the Mighty Men of David.

Do you remember the time they overheard David wish that he had some water from the wells of Bethlehem? What did those men do? They headed for Bethlehem! But, there was a slight problem: the Philistines had control of Bethlehem and its wells. In order to secure water for David, they would have to battle the Philistines.

And they did!

They went to Bethlehem and took’em on. They fought all day – JUST TO GET SOME WATER FOR THEIR “PASTOR.”

When they brought it back to David, bloodied and exhausted, he refused to drink it, pouring it out onto the ground while recognizing the price that had been paid by his loyal men.

You need to be loyal to your pastor. You need to support him, even if he does not  give you the support you want.

Furthermore, you need to start trusting God - trusting that he will deal with the pastor and work on him about this matter.

Such a thing happened recently in my area. A group of church security personnel requested some funds for their operational needs – but were refused. They took it in stride. Not long after, someone in the church felt “led of God” to give them $5000!

Where … is … your … faith?

You need to be there for your pastor – even if he is not there for you.

 He has other things on his mind. Be patient with him. You have no idea what he’s going through.

  • His marriage may be on the rocks.

  • He may be at the end of his rope.

  • He may be financially broke.

  • He may have sickness among his children that you know nothing about.

  • He may even be considering taking his own life!

 Love him, serve him, be there for him.

 You must be wearing more than a gun on Sunday mornings: you must also be wearing a towel.

Huh?

Yes, a towel. And with that towel you must be eager to wash the feet of your pastor.

If you have bad-mouthed your minister over security matters, you owe him an apology. If you cannot humble yourself and do so, you probably need to get off the team.

He needs to “feel the love.” You let him know that you will stand with him through thick and thin, hell and high water.

In 2013, I attended the Southern Baptist Convention. It was obvious that some of the pastors were at the end of their rope. One such pastor stopped at my booth, where we were promoting church security. Within minutes, he was in tears.

He pastored a church in Bryan, Texas with an attendance of about 50. “They’re all old people, Jimmy, and have no desire to change or grow,” he cried.

He told me that every Sunday when he and his wife awoke, she would ask him: “Do we have to go?”

He continued to pour out his heart, and then told me something that even now makes me weep:

Jimmy, my wife was pregnant. But, she had a miscarriage THIS MORNING. I want to go home and be with her, but she thinks I should probably stay here at the convention. What do you think?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Of course I told him to get out of here and head home to his wife, which I hope he did. Before leaving, I asked him if he had any other job skills.

“Yes, I’m good with computers,” he replied. I encouraged him to change careers ASAP.

Fellow sheepdogs: stand with your pastor. Watch his back. Many of them serve in the midst of wolves…

 
  •  WE HAVE A SHEEPDOG SEMINAR IN PUEBLO, COLORADO THIS COMING FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16. Pastor Frank Pomeroy will be with us. He is the pastor of the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas where an angry gunman entered and murdered 26 people in November of 2017 (and injured 20 more). Click here for info.

  • Church Safety Seminar in Dallas, Texas on December 1st. It will be hands on training. Click here for info

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

700 BILLION DOLLARS FOR THE MILITARY (IS THAT JUSTIFIED?)

I’ve heard many Americans complain that sustaining the military cost too much. They are troubled by the amount of money we spend when it comes to our Armed Forces. The 2019 Defense Budget, approved by Congress and signed by President Trump, includes a 2.6 percent pay increase and a $716 billion price tag.

Is this really necessary? Is it right that the majority of America’s budget goes toward national defense?

We’ve all heard the reasons that supposedly justifies such massive spending: “They keep us safe,” is the usual response.

But they actually do more.

Have you ever considered how important it is that we have the strongest military on this planet? What benefit do YOU derive from a powerful military?

On this Veterans Day weekend you might want to answer that question. And if you respond correctly, you’ll probably be grateful that we have such a budget.

Consider for a moment how this military of ours affects YOUR life.

You need to know something: Everything you get to do in your life is because of the military. Everything!

Here’s a fact: if we are a weak, defenseless country, our enemies (and there are many) would have easy access to us. They could invade our borders, and with little resistance, occupy our country.

But because of the presence of a strong military, all the freedoms we enjoy are protected. ALL OF THEM.

  • You get to pursue your dreams without fear of a foreign invasion.

  • You can chase any career you desire.

  • You can vacation anywhere you want.

  • You can choose what college you want to attend.

And you owe all of this this to the men and women who are willing to sacrifice their life – so you can enjoy yours. They forfeit their dreams while giving you the opportunity to go after yours.

Many opponents of a strong military fail to realize that without them everything else would be threatened.  

Every night on late night TV, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Stephen Colbert ridicule the President of the United States. They forget that he, as Commander in Chief, and the rest of the military, make possible their lucrative careers. They forget that the 42 million dollars combined that they are paid yearly, is because of the military (and the Commander in Chief who leads them). They get to live in luxury and enjoy a lifestyle that few will ever know.

And they get to do so because of the military.

Often, the topics that take front and center, such as the Environment or Education, can only be addressed and corrected if we have a strong military.

For example, it wouldn’t matter how much money and time we devoted to our kids’ education, if they weren’t safe. The military provides a safe environment in which our kids can learn without fear of foreign invasion.

You may be a small business owner, a “mom and pop” store on the corner of some tiny American town. You get to do that because of the military. The protection they give enables you to operate that small business.

The military doesn’t just keep us free: they make it possible for us to pursue our dreams.

Tonight I went to a sporting goods store. I needed something that only they had. While there I struck up a conversation with one of the salesmen, Carl. Though he’s only 24 years old, he is a seasoned combat veteran, having been deployed several times to Afghanistan. He had a smile that lit up the room, but it only served as a cover for his pain. Carl has killed a lot of terrorists. 

He proudly showed me a photo of his unit. 

I’ve never been one to leave well-enough alone. I wanted to know how this young man was doing. When I inquired about his emotional health, the dam broke. 

“I’m not doing too good. I got extreme PTSD, nightmares and all.”

Within minutes I made arrangements with Colonel Grossman to get him a copy of his book, “On Combat.”  I assured him it would be in his mailbox within days. Colonel Grossman’s book has helped thousands of veterans like Carl. 

I’m roaming the mall with my granddaughter tonight. I can go in to any store I want, buy anything I want. When I’m done, I will wander out to my car, and go wherever I please. And tomorrow, I’ll do it all over again. 

If I get an itch to move my family across the country, I can do so. If I want to open my own business, I can do that.

I’m a free man, living in a free country. I can fully engage in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Thank you Carl for making this possible.

YES - 700 billion is justified.


  •  WE HAVE A SHEEPDOG SEMINAR IN PUEBLO, COLORADO THIS COMING FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16. Pastor Frank Pomeroy will be with us. He is the pastor of the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas where an angry gunman entered and murdered 26 people in November of 2017 (and injured 20 more). Click here for info.

  • Church Safety Seminar in Dallas, Texas on December 1st. It will be hands on training. Click here for info.

 

 

If you're a Police Officer - You Need to Know this!

The vast majority of the American public supports you. That's right, they stand in your corner. 

However, there is a small segment of the population that is not supportive, and they have a "plan." Your career will be much smoother if you can understand this. Read carefully...

Lately, I have been studying videos made by the public when recording the police. Many of those who film will actually go to police departments and try to "draw out" the officers to engage them in a conversation. Their hope is to get the officer to do or say something that will get them in some kind of trouble.

These folks do not have your best interest in mind. Their hope is that you will say or do something that is unlawful - or a violation of your department's policy. 

Remember this: their intent is to GET UNDER YOUR SKIN." If they succeed, they will win. And time after time, as I review these videos, they win. The officer loses his cool, and then says or does something he regrets.

Fellow officer; I beg you to hear me. I spent 35 years on the street, and I would be the first to admit that this is easier said than done. 

The public has its share of men and women who crave attention. And they have you in their crosshairs.

You MUST understand the MOTIVES of these people. In reality, they have no concern for the First Amendment - and their knowledge of the law is embarrassing. They are usually in their 20's or 30s, and the hate and anger can be seen in their face. Put simply, they want to video you, and then post it on their internet channel.

YOU HAVE TO REMIND YOURSELF OF THIS OFTEN. Talk to yourself when you approach them, warn yourself with a whisper to not allow them under your skin. Smile, and then "kill them with kindness." Doing this will aggravate them to no end. Their goal is to make a fool of you. Don't let them win.

Remember, these are self-made lawyers who have never cracked a law book.

They are like the men who eventually cried out for the death of Jesus who, we are told, "...wanted to trap him (Jesus) into saying something they could use against him" (Luke 11:54).

DO ... NOT ... LET ... THEM ... WIN ...

Permit me to add one final word. You may be a Christian officer, or pure pagan. That's your business. But let me suggest something to you that helped me down through the years...

Before every encounter with the public, ask for God's help. Simply whisper a prayer, and he may well give you a quick injection of grace. I experienced this many times.

It may be fresh news to you, but the God of heaven is the most pro-police Person in the universe! He stands with you. He delights to help you. He knows what it is to be cursed at and hated.

I encourage you to adopt the attitude he had when he walked the earth: "And Jesus trusted NO man" (John 2:25).

NOTE: WE HAVE A SHEEPDOG SEMINAR IN THE NEW YORK CITY AREA THIS COMING FRIDAY AND SATURDAY (0CT 26-27 CLICK HERE FOR INFO

WE MUST WORK TOWARD PUTTING THE AMBER ALERT OUT OF BUSINESS (I BEG YOU TO READ THIS)

My 7-year old granddaughter lives with me and has for the last six years. She is pure joy. I cannot find the words to describe the sheer pleasure of having her in my life on a daily basis. Her smile, her laughter, brightens up the dark days.

Every morning before she heads off to school, I help her brush her teeth, and then I get to comb her hair. Sometimes, while combing, I grow frustrated with all the tangles that have formed overnight. Combing her hair can turn into a five-minute ordeal. But when that happens, I'm always reminded of an event that happened a couple of decades ago - an encounter that I will never be able to forget...

In 2001 I was a school cop, more commonly known as a School Resource Officer (SRO). I loved that job. And though I had already been an officer for 20 years when I landed this assignment, it was like starting my career all over. The excitement had returned.

One day after work, I drove to the station to drop off my patrol car and then headed home. My personal vehicle was an old van that had been given to me as a gift about 12 years earlier. I had worn that thing out, and, no doubt, it was on its final leg. One of its issues was that the gas needle was broke, thus, I never had any idea how much gas was in the tank. You might say I “drove by faith.”

But on this particular day, my faith wasn’t sufficient. The tank was nearing empty (unknown to me). The old van sputtered and died, forcing me to cruise into a church parking lot next to a grade school.

I was in my uniform, which caused me some embarrassment. I got out of the van, kicked it, and said a few things I probably shouldn’t have. Since I was only five blocks from the house, I decided to walk home...

No sooner had I gotten a few yards when someone grabbed my attention.

“Officer, what’s the problem?” Larry was in the same parking lot, waiting for his wife and kid to come out of school when he saw my agitation concerning my vehicle.

“Aw, I’m outta gas. But, I only live a few blocks down the street. I’ll be ok. Thanks.”

“Officer, I’ve got some time," Larry said. "I can go get you some gas. I gotta gas can and doing so won’t be a problem. Besides, I have a lot of respect for the police. It would mean a lot to me if I could help ya.”

Wearing that heavy uniform I had no desire to walk home. The belt itself, along with its 'stuff,' weighed 22 pounds. Why not let him help? I concluded. 

“Sure, sir. I’d really appreciate it.”

He smiled and started to make his way toward his car. But then he turned and said something else. “Officer, I'm gonna need a favor from ya.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

Pointing toward the school, Larry said, “My wife will be coming out of that gym door any moment. Her son will be with her. When she sees you standing here she will get nervous, wondering if everything's ok. Would you please tell her I went to get ya some gas.”

“Sure...no problem.”

He hesitated for a moment and then added: “You might even recognize her. Her name is Donna - and she’s the mother of Amber Hagerman.”

Amber Hagerman was the 9-year girl who in 1996 had been abducted in Arlington, Texas (about 10 miles from our location). Her kidnapper had brutally murdered her after torturing her. It was Amber's death that created the Amber Alert.

I was caught off guard by his remark. I had no idea that the mother of Amber Hagerman lived in my neighborhood.

“Sir,” I asked, “do you mean Amber ... from ‘the Amber Alert?’”

“Yeah, from the Amber Alert.”

 Amber Hagerman

“Sure,” I said. “I’d like to meet her.”

He hopped in his car and went off to fetch me some gas. I turned toward the grade school and watched for Donna. A couple of minutes later, I saw her exit the gym door. She was holding her son’s hand. When she got near me, I quickly struck up a conversation, speaking rapidly -

“Hello Donna. I’m Officer Meeks. Everything is ok. I ran out of gas and your hubby went to get me some. I'm pretty embarrassed.” 

“Oh, ok,” she said, her voice ever so gentle.

She walked over to her car: her son got in the passenger seat, she slipped into the driver’s side.

I didn’t know what to say. I just stood there. Amber had only been dead about five years and the memory of the tragedy was still very fresh in the community – as well as the nation.

Donna broke the silence.

“Officer Meeks, do you know who I am?”

“Yes ma'am I do. You’re Amber Hagerman’s mom. I saw you on TV with the president not too long ago. Your courage has been an inspiration to the country, ma’am.”

“Oh,” she replied, her voice filled with sorrow.

I leaned back against my van. Still unsure of what, if anything, I should say. The silence returned.

She sat in her car, staring at the steering wheel. For a second time, she broke the silence.

“Officer Meeks?”

“Yes, Donna...”

“You know what I miss the most ... about Amber?”

I was not ready for that question. I had no idea what she was about to say, nor did I know how to answer her question. She was looking right at me. I thought for a moment what this dear, precious lady must be enduring every day of her life. And to make matters worse, Amber’s killer had not been caught (still hasn’t).

The only thing that came to mind was this...

“Donna, I have five daughters. And I cannot begin to imagine what you must go through every day...”

So she told me. She told me what she missed "the most" about Amber.

“I sure do miss ...combing her hair.”

I was speechless. I am not often without words, but I was in this moment.

I have no memory of Larry returning with my gas. I know he did, for I was soon walking in the back door of my house. I went straight to my room and shed the uniform, changing into something more comfortable.

I then marched into the living room and sat on the couch. I knew my youngest daughter, 4-year old Lydia, was in her room, which was only a few feet from where I sat. I shouted – no - I hollered at her...

“LYDIA! GET IN HERE... and bring a ... brush...”

Seconds later she came running out, brush in hand. She looked at me, puzzled and curious.

“Sweetheart. I need you to sit here ... and let me ... comb your hair.."

She quietly sat down, and I brushed that long, beautiful hair...

And now, every morning – 18 years later – I comb the hair of another little girl: a 7-year old who calls me “Poppy.” And when I get frustrated with the tangles, I remember Donna.

And I remember Amber.

At every Sheepdog Seminar we beg and plead for churches to send their youth directors and children’s workers. Sadly, only a few - usually none - will be in attendance. I simply cannot get them to see the importance of this.

At the seminar, we will show them exactly what must be done to prevent the sex crimes that are happening on faith-based property.

At a seminar in North Dakota a youth director did show up. “What made you decide to come?” I asked. The man sitting across from him – his pastor – interrupted: “I TOLD HIM TO COME.” I was impressed by this pastor, and the youth director. But I remain puzzled: why won’t pastors just tell their youth directors: “YOU ... ARE ... GOING.” Period. And if not to one of our seminars, attend one somewhere.

Perhaps you’re wondering if an abduction could happen at a church. Yes, they can.

And they have...

In November of 2016 10-year old Kayla Gomez-Orozco (right) was inside her east Texas church during a Wednesday night prayer meeting when she was abducted. An Amber Alert was issued. Over the next few days, 800 volunteers searched 1500 acres. But sadly, her lifeless body was found in a well. A relative was arrested and charged with Capital Murder.

HE ... HAD ... ABDUCTED ... HER ... RIGHT ... OUT ... OF ... THE...CHURCH.

It may seem like the impossible dream, but we must work toward putting the Amber Alert out of business. We must, at all costs, protect our children wherever they may be. Wouldn't it be a better world, to say the least, if children were protected and no cause for an alert was needed. We must fight toward this end.

 

UPCOMING SHEEPDOG SEMINARS

  • Birmingham, Alabama - September 28-29. Click here. Stephen Willeford will be with us in Birmingham. Stephen is the man who shot, and stopped, the killer at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs last November (where 26 worshipers were murdered).

  • San Diego, California - October 6. Stephen Willeford will be with us in San Diego. Stephen is the man who shot, and stopped, the killer at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs last November (where 26 worshipers were murdered)