Law Enforcement Officers, Spouses Find Spiritual Refreshment in Alaska

By Todd Sumlin   •   June 22, 2021

Ten law enforcement couples arrived in Port Alsworth, Alaska, on June 20 for a week-long spiritual retreat hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). They spent the week in America’s Last Frontier boating, fishing and hiking alongside specially trained chaplains with law enforcement and military backgrounds.
The chaplains made the couples feel welcomed and safe, but also helped encourage them as the couples took time to dig through their emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
“They are here for a reason,” said BGEA Vice President Will Graham, who flew in with several of the couples. “And we are eager to see what God is going to do in their lives this week.”
This retreat is modeled after Operation Heal Our Patriots, a Samaritan’s Purse ministry project that gives wounded veterans and their spouses the opportunity for spiritual refreshment, physical renewal and marriage enrichment.
Homicide detective and Christian apologist J. Warner Wallace visited with couples and led roll call in honor of fallen officers.
"From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!" —Psalm 113:3
Praying around a couple just baptized.
A small, wooden chapel hosted the couples' marriage workshop.
Couples took part in sometimes emotional marriage rededication ceremonies, led by J. Warner Wallace.
Taking a chilly polar plunge in the frigid Alaska waters.
Locals joined Samaritan’s Purse and BGEA staff to welcome the law enforcement couples who arrived in Port Alsworth. This remote fishing village of 100-some residents sits about 165 miles southwest by air from Anchorage.
In difficult circumstances, getting away can help clear the mind. Having someone to talk to can also help process events.
Couples watched American bald eagles soaring overhead at the lodge lakefront. This is a young bald eagle that doesn't have its full plumage yet.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit,” Psalm 51:12 declares.
The group attended sessions based out of a booklet called, "An Adventure in Marriage With God and Your Spouse."
BGEA has a heart for law enforcement. Since 2014, the ministry has hosted appreciation events nationwide, including a recent dinner in the harder-hit areas of Portland and Seattle. The Officer Down Memorial Page reports 154 line of duty deaths this year, an increase over 2020 when officers endured COVID-19 and an intense uptick in anti-police sentiment.
Law enforcement officials consistently operate in a hyper-vigilant state as they serve their communities. When they come home, they might not have enough time to decompress before their next shift. That means they’re potentially staying at unhealthy levels of stress for extended periods of time. This retreat gave officers not only the time to unwind, but a safe place in which to do so.
Will Graham, who just celebrated his anniversary with wife Kendra, encouraged law enforcement officers—and their spouses—who have been wounded or experienced a highly traumatic situation in the line of duty.
A couple takes a moment to explore a scenic waterfall.
The Bible says, “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10).
The men took a fly-tying class.
A successful catch brings smiles all around.
Will Graham makes the intimate crowd smile.
“It was a privilege of our staff and the local community to welcome officers who have been wounded or experienced a highly traumatic situation in the line of duty to Alaska,” Franklin Graham shared via Twitter.
A group prayer before couples head back home.
The week was full of rest and renewal, but there were also opportunities for officers and their spouses to make decisions for eternity. Would you please keep these couples and the staff in your prayers?