Law Enforcement Encouraged in Jesus Christ at Chicago Retreat

By   •   May 10, 2024

Officers and their spouses gathered in Chicago for a time of fellowship, renewal, and equipping in God’s Word. The retreat featured sessions by former and current law enforcement leaders whose lives have been transformed by Jesus Christ.

On Monday, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) welcomed 170 officers and their spouses to a Law Enforcement Appreciation Retreat in Chicago, Illinois.

Grace, a retired Illinois sheriff, attended the retreat with her friend, Donna, a law enforcement chaplain.

“I met Donna the year my husband was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2006,” said Grace. “I was so alone and it was so new and raw. She was so kind to me.”

Donna had walked a similar path of grief four years prior to meeting Grace when her brother—a Chicago police officer—was killed while serving a warrant.

For the past 17 years, Donna has prayed that Grace would find new life in Jesus Christ. 

This week, God answered that prayer.

“Everything I heard from the speakers since I got here made me think, ‘Before I leave here, I will make this decision to follow Christ,’” Grace said.

“It’s taken time, but this week, I was ready to surrender—surrounded by my law enforcement people.”

She had always thought of Christianity as a bunch of rules to follow, but this week that all changed. She learned that it’s all about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“I am 70 years old, and I have never felt able to talk to God until now,” she said, tearing up. “I can finally talk to Him about everything I’ve wanted to talk to Him about. It’s so freeing.”

Overjoyed to call her longtime friend a sister in Christ, Donna shared that she was discouraged coming into the retreat.

“I was burnt out and the trauma of being a police chaplain was taking a toll on me,” she explained.

The retreat provided the reset she needed.

“It’s healing me,” she said, smiling, as tears rolled down her cheeks. “I got the flame lit again underneath me to continue to be a chaplain.”

Loved and Appreciated

Eric Hubbard serves as deputy director of law enforcement ministry for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). The first night of the retreat in Chicago, he told the crowd, “We love you and we appreciate you.”

The word “appreciate” was a breath of fresh air for Tonya, a correctional officer from New Jersey who attended the event.

“This is a thankless job,” she said. “So if someone wants to show me appreciation, I’m going.”

Tonya shared that her husband of nearly 14 years recently passed away and she needed some encouragement in her faith.

While coping with this recent loss in her personal life, she’s also aware of a larger spiritual battle at play as she faces significant challenges on the job.

“As the Bible says, we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood,” she said, citing Ephesians 6:12.

Tonya tells the inmates she supervises about the redemption Jesus Christ offers. She knows firsthand what it’s like to get a second chance after Christ turned her life around at age 19.

“I was heading for jail back then, but God saved me,” she said. “Now I work at a jail telling people God can save them, too.”

‘My Family Is Back Together’

“As cops, we don’t retreat; we advance,” Hubbard said at the beginning of the three-day event. “During this retreat, consider it advancing toward God.”

Raul—an officer of 26 years—and his wife, Emma, came to do just that.

He first heard of BGEA’s National Law Enforcement Ministry after he was involved in two separate on-duty shootings in 2023.

“There was a lot of trauma and it affected me, our [marriage], and our family,” Raul said.

Last year, when Raul learned about BGEA’s weeklong Marriage Resiliency Workshop for law enforcement couples in Alaska, he knew he and Emma needed to be there.

“As soon as we landed in Alaska … words can’t explain the feeling,” Raul said, tearing up.

That was the first time they really felt God’s presence, Emma said.

Hearing from others who experienced God’s healing after similar line-of-duty trauma and being immersed in God’s Word in Alaska helped them “put the pieces back together,” Raul said.

That week, the two surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ and were baptized in a cold wilderness lake.

Now a year later, Raul is sharing with fellow law enforcement officers the peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. He has learned firsthand that He can carry you through the dark times and offer hope for tomorrow.

“I think a lot of police officers need retreats like this to see what’s really important,” Raul said. “BGEA is making a big impact on law enforcement for the better.”

>>Please pray that those who attended this week’s Law Enforcement Appreciation Retreat would find strength and peace as they serve our communities and nation.