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It’s a Small, Small World After All

As God has not made anything useless in this world, as all beings fulfill obligations or a role in the sublime drama of Creation, I cannot exempt from this duty, and small though it be, I too have a mission to fill, as for example: alleviating the sufferings of my fellowmen.  Jose Rizal

I have been serving in a new role as a police chaplain-in-training for the past few months. The certification process is almost complete and in November I will be officially official as a law enforcement chaplain, in full-standing with the Georgia Law Enforcement Chaplains Association and the JCPD. The training has been quite involved, as it should be in this day and age. We live in a different era and eras tend to shift, even morph at record pace now. I consider what I do as ministry and as a peace project. In a shrinking world where East has merged with West, and we now all live together, ministry and peace are possibilities that are closer than we might think. I witnessed this first hand recently, and I saw the movement of God at work.

guidetoislam300After having written on Islam and training Christians for fifteen years on gaining an understanding of the religion in order to foster dialogue and conversation, I am the designated chaplain to deal with calls related to that faith group. I happened to be doing a ride-along with an officer a few days ago when we received a call to respond to a CPR in progress with a possible delay from the paramedics due to traffic issues. Upon arrival we found out the man had passed, and as it turned out he was a hospice patient and was critically ill. We also found out it was a Muslim home. Muslims have prescribed customs, rituals and procedures in place for the time after death and for the burial. Despite several official duties that had to be done in order to certify the death the police department did an amazing job in respecting the religious needs of the family.

My job was to liaise between the family and the police and seek to provide comfort to the family while making sure proper access was given for official duties. Somehow, mostly by the grace of God, I pulled it off, and was able to help the family with the unique transportation necessary to get their loved one to their Mosque in another county. In an odd twist, their Imam could not get to their home, which left me as the primary caregiver during this crisis. I’ve read the books, this isn’t supposed to happen! This isn’t even in the chaplains training material. So I took a deep breath, considered myself placed in this position as an honor and sought to serve people rather than in this case, Muslims. At one point the daughter of the elderly deceased man told me, “Thank you for understanding our religion.” Suddenly all of the years of study seemed to be worthwhile and, it wasn’t about a religion at all, it was about very real people who were in very real pain. So I vote with Jose Rizal. We are all in this together. I serve God. I prayed with a Muslim woman for peace in her life and felt the presence of God. I do not pretend to be able to explain it all, I just commit to living it as a lifestyle.

This family was not wealthy and I learned they had lost someone the week before as well. Two deaths in one week. A few of us got together and felt they would need help making it through the next couple of weeks (police officers have a lot of heart despite what you may read or hear), so with the added help of Rotary and a men’s small group, I did a follow-up visit to check on the family and gave them a gift card. Once again a Christian pastor/chaplain goes to the home of a Muslim for a pastoral visit. You can’t invent this kind of thing. I apologized for any cultural mistakes we may have made during the investigation but they were highly complementary of the police. The widow and her daughter cried. I had to leave before I started to cry. I told them God loved them and so did I, then I went outside, slipped my shoes on and walked away. Driving away I said to God, “Thanks.” I didn’t finish the sentence. I didn’t need to. He knew what I meant.

Michael McCullar
Formations Pastor
Johns Creek Baptist Church

10 Comments. Leave new

  • Marie McLarty
    October 5, 2016 1:27 pm

    Michael – thank you for sharing your story and the training behind it. I am glad to know you were there for this family during their difficult time of need. Yes indeed, God knew, he knew…..he always does 🙂

    Reply
  • Carol Criminger
    October 5, 2016 1:29 pm

    Bless you Michael. I believe you were truly in the heart of God.

    Reply
  • Shirley Moffatt
    October 5, 2016 1:58 pm

    This is the only kind of thing that will bring God’s plan for peace to the world. Thank you, Michael.

    Reply
  • Thanks for sharing that Michael. Behind it all, we all share the same human emotions in a time like that. It’s hurt, no matter if it’s Christian hurt, Muslim hurt, etc. Loss affects most of us the same way. Your servant heart recognized those people just needed to feel compassion and love…. and you have that in spades to offer. You’re a credit to not only your profession, but certainly to the staff at JCBC. We’re blessed to have you.

    Reply
  • Great story — thanks for sharing and CONGRATULATIONS on achieving this designation. Law Enforcement Chaplain….sounds good. Proud. It is a small world after all and we need to open our hearts and gifts to all…you never know what seed was planted. Sort of like the saying – “this tree providing my shade…someone had to plant the seed a long time ago” Didn’t get the quote perfectly, but you get the idea! Appreciate you and all your gifts

    Reply
  • Charles Adams
    October 5, 2016 7:18 pm

    This is a very timely appointment too the JCPD. I for one am very proud that our church continues to be a missionary focused church. Blue lives matter, as well as All lives matter. ! We Christians need to listen to what Jesus stated, love your neighbor . We need to listen, hear there hurts. God bless Michael.

    Reply
  • Marika Chasse
    October 5, 2016 7:27 pm

    What a powerful and moving story. It had me in tears. It’s amazing how God has prepared you along the way for just this moment in this Muslim families life as well as the PD. May your ministry be blessed in this new role.

    Reply
  • Michael, you exemplifies what it means to BE a Christian. That’s “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.” Thank you very much for sharing the story.

    Reply
  • Shelley Lewis Tolbert
    October 6, 2016 8:06 pm

    Love this! So proud to call you my pastor and friend. Beautifu!

    Reply
  • Michael, thank you for stepping up in so many ways:
    In addition to teaching, guiding, challenging, and supporting our church body.
    Your efforts in supporting us,not just in our facilities, but also responsibilities in the in the world around us in a role model for the rest of us.

    Reply

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