By David Faust
Can you see the love of God in the gritty courage of a police officer who works to keep our streets safe? Do you see it in the eyes of a firefighter who runs into a burning building to protect lives and property?
Once a year Cincinnati Christian University (CCU) holds a Beyond the Call chapel service to honor public safety workers who go the extra mile. The Cincinnati Police Department’s Honor Guard presents the American flag with great dignity, accompanied by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Bagpipe and Drum Corps. The chief of the fire department usually attends, and sometimes so do the mayor and other government leaders. A uniformed police officer sings the national anthem, we interview students with family members who work in law enforcement and fire safety, and we show videos portraying the heroism of our community servants.
Extra Thanks for the Extra Mile
The highlight of the morning is the bestowal of the Beyond the Call awards. Honorees receive plaques and framed citations collected from members of Congress. Awards are given in four categories: community service, bravery and valor, devotion to duty, and career achievement. When there’s danger, these men and women don’t run away from it—they run toward it. They serve the suffering on city streets, in emergency rooms, courtrooms, and prisons. Their families endure unique stresses. Yet these public servants usually receive little appreciation.
Some recipients of the Beyond the Call awards have devoted their careers to community service for half a century or more. Most of them have risked their personal safety in extraordinary ways to protect the innocent, save lives, and ensure justice. Two firefighters lost their lives when a burning stairway collapsed; we honored them posthumously and gave plaques to their families. One police officer was alive to receive his award only because he was wearing a helmet that stopped a bullet shot at his head. Another policeman suffered disabling injuries when a fleeing criminal ran over him with his car. We honored members of the vice squad, but they couldn’t walk onstage to receive their awards because they serve undercover and have to remain anonymous.
CCU bestows the Beyond the Call awards once a year, but throughout the year, any public safety worker who wants to join our students for lunch can receive a free meal in the school’s dining hall. It’s a small way to say, “Thank you for your service.”
A Debt that Never Goes Away
The apostle Paul wrote, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7). Our obligations go far beyond money. In an increasingly irreverent and self-centered culture, Christians ought to set an example of respect and appreciation.
How can we honor the teacher who loves and sacrifices for her students year after year? The custodian who cleans up our messes without complaint? The restaurant owner who donates food for church events? The nurse who nurtures a loved one through a long recovery? The Sunday school teacher who teaches God’s Word to kids week after week? The elders who faithfully shepherd God’s flock year after year? Let’s give others the gift of honor.
After all, the Bible says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). That’s a debt we can never fully repay.
1. What individuals in your community deserve recognition for their faithful service?
2. How could you show them honor and appreciation?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for March 30, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Deuteronomy 27, 28
Deuteronomy 33, 34