Friday, 28 September 2012

Can you be a Christian and a cop?

This was the question posed at Cost Coffee, Snow Hill in the centre of Birmingham by the West Midlands Christian Police Network on Tuesday 25th September 2012. Three members of the network Detective Chief Inspector Matt Markham, Detective Chief Inspector Shaun Edwards and Sergeant Gordon Blake shared a little of their life journeys and talked about how they balanced their Christian faith with their roles within West Midlands Police.

The resounding response was yes, all three officers were in agreement that their job gives them a great opportunity to demonstrate the attributes of Jesus Christ; love, compassion, justice, standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and seeking to make people’s lives better.

The evening was broken up by live music performed by a local group of musicians and singers who gave excellent performances of such tracks as Emile Sande’s ‘Read all About It’ and Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ plus a number of other numbers old and new.
The event was well received by all who attended a mixture of serving officers and staff, friends of officers and members of local church communities. The network will be looking to continue with similar events around the force area.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


I love the song ‘Faithful’ by Chris Tomlin; it is taken straight out of scripture and serves to remind us of the faithfulness of God, the lyrics are printed below take time to read through them, think about them and let their meaning encourage and inspire you, click on the link to listen to it while you read.

Faithful   (click to follow link)

Faithful, forever You are faithful
Father to the fatherless
You uphold the one who feels forsaken
You are faithful, God

Faithful, forever You are faithful
Lover of the wounded heart
You defend the poor and the forgotten
You are faithful, God

And I will sing to the maker of Heaven and Earth
God, You reign forever and Your love will endure
Faithful and true is the name of the Lord
You are faithful, God

Faithful, forever You are faithful
Shelter for the fragile soul
You lift us up, You hold us all together
You are faithful, God
You are there in every season of my soul
You are there, You're the anchor that will hold
You are there, in the valley of the shadows
You are faithful, God

Artist – Chris Tomlin
Album – ‘And if our God is for us...’

The truth of this message and the message I posted a few weeks ago ‘Our Hope in Christ’ has been very real to me personally over recent weeks as I have suffered some personal tragedy. God is faithful no matter what we are going through, whatever circumstances we find ourselves in it doesn’t change the nature of our Father God. For him not to be faithful would mean he would have to deny his very nature. “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” 1 Corinthians 1:9.

God will never change his mind about you; he loves you and loves you eternally “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3
Whatever you may be facing God is interested and wants to help you through it let the faithfulness of God be your strength and encouragement.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Keeping in Step

Ecclesiastes 7:13 (New Living Translation 1996) – “Notice the way God does things; then fall into line. Don’t fight the ways of God, for who can straighten out what he has made crooked.”

This is what we are called to do, God never promised us an easy life, in fact he promised just the opposite Jn 16:33 – “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.” However if we grasp the truth of this passage in Ecclesiastes it will make our journey through life a lot less fraught with toil and disappointment. 

Time and again Jesus said in his teachings in the Gospels “I only do what I see my Father doing” We need to develop such a relationship with God that we can see where he is working and moving and put our effort into that.

In our own lives we can’t win against God, we can fight against him all we like but he is sovereign and ultimately God will win. 

God will not always do things the way we except either and sometimes he may want to take us the long way round but, whatever God does will always be for a purpose perhaps to teach us something or develop something in our character. But whatever the reason we need to see where he is walking and place our feet firmly in his footsteps.
Let me give another example; in John 5:1-15 we read the story of the healing of the man at the pool in Jerusalem, in this story there were a great many sick and dying people that Jesus could have helped but he went up to one man in that vast crowd of need and healed him. Why just the one, could he not have prayed for all the others as well? I believe that because of the close relationship he had with his Father he saw where God wanted to work and threw himself into it.

This was why Jesus saw so much success in his life because he knew where and when God wanted to work and got behind it. He noticed the way God did things and fell into line, we need to develop this trait in our own lives too then we will truly be able to say as Paul did: My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

Notice what God is doing, where he is doing it and who he is doing it in and get stuck in!!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Our Hope in Christ

Times are changing, not just within Policing but everywhere else too. The world’s systems are being shaken and the ones that are not of God are falling. We shouldn’t be surprised by this a thorough shaking is promised in Haggai 2:6 and reinforced and expanded upon in Hebrews 12:25b-27 where it states:

Now God is speaking from heaven. So now it will be worse for those who refuse to listen to him. When he spoke before, his voice shook the earth. But now he has promised, “Once again I will shake the earth, but I will also shake heaven.”  The words “once again” clearly show us that everything that was created will be destroyed—that is, the things that can be shaken. And only what cannot be shaken will remain. (Easy-to-Read-Version)

But we can be encouraged by the last phrase in the above passage; God is in control, any person, anything, that is of him will stand strong:

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. Hebrews 11:1 (The Message)

I am constantly touched and encouraged by the following song by Matt Redman, entitled My Hope click the link to listen to it on YouTube or if you can’t get it there the lyrics are below.

If you’ve not got it download it, stick it on repeat and just let the truth of the words wash over you and strengthen your soul. Take time to read the words through and think about the truth in them, we have the strongest foundation ever if we trust in Jesus.

Matt Redman - My Hope
Album: We Shall Not Be Shaken

My hope is built on nothing else
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly live on Jesus' name

When the mountains are falling
When the waters are rising
I shall be safe in You
Though the nations are quaking
Every kingdom be shaken
Still I will rest in You

When darkness seems to hide Your face
I rest on Your unchanging grace
In every high and storming gale
My anchor holds within the veil

Monday, 27 February 2012

Does God Speak?

God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Word. The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God's continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind for us put into our familiar human words.

The Pursuit of God - A.W. Tozer

Monday, 22 August 2011

A Day in the Life of a Riot Police Officer

Long days and even longer nights
On Monday 8th August I come into work as usual at 2.30pm to prepare for a late shift. We were due to be on duty until midnight. Today is my team’s fourth shift on as we’ve been working over the weekend watching the events in London unfold and preparing ourselves for any potential fallout. On my arrival I’m greeted with a larger amount of officers in the station than usual, it soon transpires that the early turn officers who have been on since 7am, and should be off at 4pm, have been told they have to remain on duty until further notice. It appears that we have started to see smatterings of disorder in Birmingham city centre and we are preparing for the worst!

The decision is made and the early turn officers who are trained in public disorder tactics are told to get their kit together and mobilised to the city centre. The lates trained officers are also told to get their kit ready should they be required to back up their colleagues. Not every officer is trained in public disorder tactics so not everybody can be used; those who aren’t trained are used to fill in where trained officers have been abstracted. My fellow sergeant and I brief our officers at 3pm and we go about the normal business of policing, despite the fact that all hell appears to have broken lose in and around the city. We still have a responsibility to continue our everyday duties of protecting and serving the public who live in our area of responsibility, for many communities life went on as normal.

About 9pm I get the call I need to gather 7 other officers together, all trained we all need to get kitted up into ‘code 1’ - this is full riot protection including helmets and flameproof protective clothing - and make our way to the staging area for a briefing and deployment into the city. The officers who were mobilised earlier from across the force are struggling to deal with the levels of disorder that are breaking out right across the centre of Birmingham. It isn’t long before we are put together with 2 other teams of officers identical to mine, allocated an Inspector to take command, and sent into the centre of the disorder. 

We now have an Inspector, 3 Sergeants including me and 21 officers split into 3 vans and tasked with dealing with 100s of people damaging and looting across the city centre. We hear reports of the Mailbox being attacked, the Bullring and large numbers of shops and businesses across the city being subject to random attacks by large gangs, damage being caused, fires being started and large amounts of looting. We also experience missile attacks by the rioters, injuring several officers in the disorder.  The scariest report we hear is that groups have been seen with petrol bombs and heading towards Police lines. We have the advantage of seeing what has happened in London and start making arrests as soon as we’re on the ground. On the first night of disorder we arrested nearly 150 from across the city, seeking to dissuade people from carrying on their criminal behaviour.

This carried on for 2 days and by Wednesday all officers on rest days were called back into work and there was talk of all officers and staff leave being cancelled. On the first night I was on until 5am Tuesday morning dealing with disorder throughout the city, but there were also officers still on duty from earlier, they were approaching a 24 hour shift. The following day I again started at 3pm and worked through till 6am. Come Wednesday we had officers working 12 hour night shifts on patrols throughout the force area providing both reassurance and a visible deterrent to would be offenders. These crazy hours continued for the rest of the week and into the following week. Officers on my team worked for 13 days straight, mostly 12 hour shifts with about 24 hours off in the middle of the set, this was repeated up and down the country in every force.

Encouragement from the masses
All this aside what has really encouraged me over the last few weeks is the overwhelming support we received from the ordinary law-abiding people across the force area. Messages of gratitude were posted on social networking sites, websites and sent into forces, interviews were conducted on news channels and the majority of these were very supportive of the Police action. These words of thanks were also backed up by the hundreds of people across the country who got involved with the clean-up, arriving on the scenes after the disorder with brooms, shovels and tools to help rebuild the communities that had been marred by this inexcusable behaviour.

It is amazing to see what can be achieved when communities come together with statutory agencies; it brings the communities themselves closer together and gives them a real sense of purpose and a shared goal, at the height of the troubles; communities became united in support and worked together to repair the damage.

All credit should be given to those communities affected for the way that they pulled together and I also feel that credit should be given to Tariq Jahan the father of murdered Haroon Jahan who, despite his loss, appealed for calm and was heard across the nation. I believe that this marked the turning point of the disturbance; it could have deteriorated so much further.

I hope this has given you a little bit of an insight into my world, as a serving officer I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my colleagues up and down the country, the general public for their support and gratitude and organisations like ROC that supported us in prayer.

Monday, 1 August 2011

ROC Erdington Event

Sunday the 24th July saw Brookvale Park host a community day to remember, organised by Stockland Green Neighbourhood Sergeant Simon Hensley to celebrate;
  • The conclusion of the Land's End to John O'Groats cycle relay challenge,
  • The Cross Channel Kayak Challenge
  • The official launch of the free@last canoe club on Brookvale
  • The second overnight spaghetti camping event and the tie in with the year anniversary of the start of the Olympics 2012
The weather was in fine form and the community turned out in their droves to see the attractions.

Free@last had a stall to showcase the new Canoe Club and were on hand to tell interested people about what dates and times the provision will be running, they also had trained instructors available in case anyone wanted to 'have a go' and it's a good job they did! In the end tickets had to be issued as people were queuing five deep to get on the water, over the day we had 250 people try their hand at kayaking! That's not bad for the launch of a fledgling canoe club!
Other attractions included;
  • A pilot for the West Midlands first Redeeming our Communities Cafe
  • The Midnight bus
  • Face painting by the Lock Gallery owner Emma O'Brien
  • The British Canoe Union (Kayakings governing body)
  • West Midlands Canoe Centre Shop
  • Various Arts & Crafts stalls
  • Childrens soft play area
  • Fairbridge were also present conducting consultation around the Old boat House restoration Project
  • Friends of Witton Lakes
  • BBQ food by professional chef John Ruddock
  • Coaching from Birmingham Mets basketball team
  • BRMB's street angels
  • and many many more
Overall the day was fantastic and it was great to see the community unite in celebration of the natural resources at their finger tips in the form of the park and the lake, I have high hopes for the canoe club and the potential ROC Cafe and the impact it will have on the community.

Further meetings are scheduled to look at making the Redeeming our Communities Cafe a permanent project developing partnerships between Redeeming our Communities, West Midlands Police, the Christian Police Association, West Mids Fire & Rescue Service, Brookvale Sailing Club, Friends of Brookvale Park and a number of other community members, organisations and faith groups.  

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Where is your focus?

I have been reading a book recently 'The Pursuit of God' by A.W. Tozer and have found it a real encouragement if not somewhat challenging. Below is a quote from it, the language is a little old fashioned but enjoy:

As we begin to focus upon God the things of the spirit will take shape before our inner eyes. Obedience to the word of Christ will bring an inward revelation of the Godhead (John 14:21-23). It will give acute perception enabling us to see God even as is promised to the pure in heart. A new God consciousness will seize upon us and we shall begin to taste and hear and inwardly feel the God who is our life and our all. There will be seen the constant shining of the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. More and more, as our faculties grow sharper and more sure, God will become to us the great All, and His Presence the glory and wonder of our lives.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Publicity Photo Shoot

Working nights tonight but am going to have to be up and at Brookvale Park, Stockland Green for midday today for a press conference and photoshoot in relation to the Brookvale Park Fun Day in partnership with Redeeming Our Communities and West Midlands Police. A number of activities are planned for the weekend of the 23rd and 24th July including conversations around the potential for further projects in the Stockland Green area under the banner of ROC. We will be looking to pull together statutory agencies, third sector organisations and volunteers to provide community projects for people from the surrounding communities. Keep an eye on your local press and check back here for updates on ROC West Midlands.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Redeeming Our West Midlands Communities

ROC in the West Midlands - the story so far...

The official UK-wide launch of Redeeming Our Communities began in the West Midlands at the NEC arena in Birmingham in 2006. With over 7,000 in attendance from around the UK, this began a wide-spread movement of people inspired to work in partnership to see their communities transformed.

A few years later, a number of people from Birmingham were amongst the guests at the Echo Arena for the launch of Redeeming Our Communities: Merseyside on June 16th 2009. Debra Green, National Director of Redeeming Our Communities, was then invited to meet some church and civic leaders in Birmingham. It was decided that the time was right for a launch of ROC in Birmingham, which happened on 16 November 2010. Read more about this exciting event here.

We've seen exciting developments since this event including the opening of ROC Café Cobridge in Stoke as well as a developming relationship with the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. Our ROC Regional Representative, Gordon Blake, has been busy spreading the ROC vision and keen to see more developments across the West Midlands before the end of 2011.

An update from Gordon Blake, ROC West Midlands Representative:

I have met with leaders from churches in the Bordesley Green area who are keen to get together to run a project in that area and we are looking into the potential of a ROC Café in Bordesley Green, making use of a church cafe already running in the area, there are still meetings to be had to establish whether they can provide sufficient people to run one successfully.

I have got involved in a project already running in the Stockland Green area, Erdington: this is a community outreach project making use of a local park and lake and involves the running of a Kayak Club, a local sailing club and potentially basketball coaching all based around Brookvale Park. As part of this project we are looking at the potential of a ROC Café also in the park to bring people in but also to signpost them onto more long term options for them. Take a look at this link to Brookvale Park Fun Day. ROC will be there to discuss with partners and churches the plans for a ROC Café.

One of the people who has got involved in this project is part of a community project in Perry Barr, Living Stones Embassy, and he is interested in getting involved with Brookvale with a view to starting a ROC Café in Perry Barr.

However following on from the above projects I have now been approached by people outside of the Birmingham area. In the last few weeks I have had conversations with someone looking to start a ROC Café in Wolverhampton, this project is in very early days so stay tuned for more information.

I am also in conference with a church in Coventry they are in the process of mapping the services provided by churches across the Coventry area and inviting others to join with them to launch ROC in Coventry, hopefully this will begin in September.

Behind the scenes I have been speaking with a number of organisations looking to develop partnerships that will help to add structure and value to ROC projects across the midlands providing long term solutions for the issues that we are looking to address.