20 Feb And so it begins…
In the early morning hours of July 2, 2012, a small fire started on the back deck of a suburban home. Due to the recent lack of rain and overwhelmingly dry air, the flames quickly spread across the deck and licked up the siding of the house, endangering the sleeping family within. Fortunately, the family made it out quickly and safely, while the fire department arrived to promptly quell the fire and save the house. Had it taken any longer to put the fire out, the house would’ve been completely consumed. I’m grateful that they came so quickly, because that was my house and my family.
This is a common enough story, but the ending isn’t always as happy. According to the US Fire Administration, there were 3,280 deaths from house fires in the year of 2015. Many people don’t make it out of a burning house, and many house fires are overwhelmingly preventable. But they still happen, so we will still call the fire department for help. They rise up to their call of duty each and every time, saving thousands of lives each year. But the toll that this job takes on a human being is immense, often resulting in depression, divorce, or even suicide. In 2015, the Journal of Emergency Medical Services published an article that discovered out of a surveyed 4,000 first responders, 6.6% had attempted suicide. This is 10 times the normal rate of civilian suicide attempts. How can we let our first responders, the ones who arrive when we need them most, to just become another statistic?
From that night forward, I’ve had a special place in my heart for emergency services. I’ve wanted to help those who had helped me. I soon learned that the Fayette County Fire Department needed a chaplain, and it has been my honor to serve in that capacity for the past 4 years. In that time, I’ve had the privilege of not only celebrating their accomplishments, but also counseling them through their grief, and I’ve discovered this – these heroes are people- real people. They hurt and cry and bleed, just like the rest of us. It’s true that “even heroes need a helping hand.” I wanted to do more to extend assistance. So, FireChaplain.Org was born.
Fire Chaplain is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry that exists to provide emotional and spiritual support to First Responders throughout our community. That means we exist not only for Fire and EMS, but also for our heroes at 911 and in Law Enforcement. Beyond that, it’s our hope to create a footprint that other faith communities could follow in establishing an active and effective chaplaincy ministry to public safety professionals in their own communities. It’s a big vision. It’s a big job. And every day, it’s more clear to me that I can’t do it without your help.
This new endeavor desperately needs prayer support. Would you be willing to pray for our responders and our ministry with them? Would you be bold enough to invite three of the most devoted intercessors in your church to join you in praying? Would you consider inviting your entire church family to pray with you? Ask them to pray every time they hear a siren, drive past a station, or see the numbers “911”.
In a very short while, we will need volunteers. We want to assist in providing chaplaincy services for every public safety agency in our community. In order to do that, I will need to multiply myself by training other volunteer chaplains to come alongside me in service. Would you consider serving with me?
Last, but not least, the ministry needs funding. Our budget for this first year is $50,000. Anything raised beyond that will go into a relief fund for first responders and their families. Would you consider making a tax deductible gift to FireChaplain.org? Whether it’s a one time gift or you become a monthly supporter, you are investing in important work that is making a difference in the lives of local heroes.
I know this for certain, sooner or later, on one of the worst days of your life, each of us will dial those numbers: 911. A dispatcher will take your call, they’ll help you remain calm while they get you the help that you require, and someone from one of our public safety agencies will be by your side, literally in minutes. They will be there to make your worst day a better day…if they can. That’s what they do.They will be there for us. Would you please join me in being there for them?