Who will serve those who serve?

DiAnn Krigbaum is a member of New Life Lutheran Church, Rockford, Ill.

What happens when a police officer’s family is in crisis and needs to call 911? Easy answer, right? When I’m finished sharing my experience you might have a different perspective.

I had more than twenty years on the job as a Rockford, Ill. police officer. For over half of my career I served as a detective, investigating and fighting for justice for victims of violence. Too often those victims were women, children, and families.

In 2008 my family became the victim when we were traumatized by divorce. My twin sons had just begun college; my 12-year-old daughter was in sixth grade. When Satan attacks us emotionally it affects us physically and spiritually as well. I was a severely depressed mother who had become the primary caregiver. I was on overload—physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

My daughter was profoundly affected. Ashlee has an intellectual disability and had no words to express her pain. We adopted her at age five, when she had already endured more rejection, shame, and loss than someone her age should. A crisis social worker came to my home to help with the anger and fallout.

As the situation escalated the social worker told me to call 911. I couldn’t. I froze. I was the police! I was supposed to help solve and fix problems. My mind was racing. What would my co-workers and supervisors think of me? The enormous shame and pain from loss and failure left me unable to move.

The collateral damage severely wounded every member of my family. I nearly lost my job. Had God abandoned us?

But God did not forget about me and my family. He appeared “undercover” in the form of a chaplain. My pastor at the time was also a volunteer police chaplain. He came to my rescue by repeatedly reminding me that God was not trying to harm me but to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11-13). As my companion at difficult court appearances, doctor visits, and therapy appointments, he showed me what it means to be a faithful, merciful friend and advocate. He became my spiritual advisor and listened to more tearful conversations than I can count.

By God’s grace, I survived in my career until age 50, when I retired with a police pension and sufficient means to take care of my family as a single mother.

That’s when Pastor Phil asked me to take chaplain courses with him through Martin Luther College. He suggested it would help my faith grow and allow others to learn from my experiences.

In an online forum with other pastors and lay students, I was able to share my experiences as a police officer and spiritually wounded WELS member. This provided healing, learning, spiritual growth, and friendships with many Christian friends and called workers. In 2014 I received my Chaplain Certificate from Martin Luther College.

Since then I have been serving as a volunteer police chaplain in my community. God has provided several opportunities to serve families and women in crisis. I’ve been able to witness and minister to them, telling them about my God and Savior. He is a just and merciful Father who fights for the fatherless, the widows, and the orphans.

We all have a story. God does not define us by our failures. Rather he calls us back to him to remind us who we are—children of God.

Visit mlc-wels.edu/continuing-education/wels-chaplain-certificate to learn more about the Chaplain Certification Program and see the courses offered in 2018. Financial aid is available for many classes.