A Heavy Heart

Law Enforcement Officers have been branded with the name of ‘sheepdogs’ because the sheepdog will sense trouble and will place himself between the danger and the ignorant sheep; and yes, the sheepdog may even die protecting those sheep who don’t know enough to escape or fight for themselves.

by Dr. Ross L. Riggs                                                                                                                                       Blue Line badge

Often, I write light-hearted articles on a myriad of topics. Sometimes, I pen a more serious topic; but none, captures my heart as does this one. You see, America lost another brave warrior this weekend. An Ohio cop killed by a man involved in a domestic dispute who ambushed officers as they came to his home to try to restore the peace. This is Ohio’s fourth for this year and America’s 107th, an average of nearly 3 every week. With ten more week’s left in 2017, I cannot help but wonder who will be the thirty officers who won’t see 2018 ring in with their families come New Year’s Day? Most of them won’t be there for Christmas morning either. Not a very happy thought is it? As the father of a police officer, I cannot help but wonder if my son is to be numbered among them. Perhaps not this year, but next?

What is crucial to remember is that no one, no police officer, firefighter or any other human being dies without God’s consent and, I believe, that it must be that person’s pre-ordained time to die. I spent most of my adult life – up until not too long ago – wearing a badge and standing along the thin blue line. I always knew that I could die in the line of duty; but, I also knew that, if I was not doing the job that I loved, not protecting those who were not able to protect themselves, not serving my community as I felt I was called to do; that I could die on any given day by any number of means, even the threatened frying pan from time to time! What mattered to me the most was, if I was to die, that it would be for something that mattered.

Some may look at certain officers killed in the line of duty by ignorant, socio-paths who did not deserve to breathe the same air as human beings and say, What a waste! I say, What a wonderful sacrifice! Jesus Christ said, “No greater love has anyone than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Later in scripture, Paul writes to explain that Jesus died for the ungodly. He wrote, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die…” (Romans 5:6-8) And yet, police officers run toward danger when all others run away, and they don’t do it for the shooter, necessarily; although Officer Justin Leo was going to this man’s home to try to help them regain peace in their home. They do it for their community, their neighbors, their nation. The same people who deride them and seek ways to file complaints against them, declare their brutality to the social media hounds who pervert and distort the truth.

Law Enforcement Officers have been branded with the name of ‘sheepdogs’ because the sheepdog will sense trouble and will place himself between the danger and the ignorant sheep; and yes, the sheepdog may even die protecting those sheep who don’t know enough to escape or fight for themselves. Cops carry the moniker of sheepdog proudly. Would it be too much to ask if once-in-a-while, not expecting it might be more than that; but, at least occasionally, the sheep… instead of castigating and demanding retribution against police… maybe even a few of the sheep might, at the end of the day, look the sheepdog in the eye and say, “Thanks”?










A Strong Finish~ My memories of Rev. Ray Payne

Riggs Ministry Minute: When there’s only a minute for ministry

Rev. Ross L. Riggs, D Min.      www.docriggs.com           11 September 2012

It is fitting and proper that this be written today, 9-11; the eleventh anniversary of the tragic and as President Bush labeled it, “evil” attack upon our citizens, our homeland, and our American heroes. From the moment the clarion call was sounded, Rev. Ray Payne, “the cops’ pastor” was on his way to Ground Zero where he would live, night and day for the coming weeks. Ironically, it was probably his time spent ministering to everyone who was working at Ground Zero that eventually the Lord used to bring Ray to glory. I did not say ‘caused him to lose his life’ because in the model or our Savior, Ray willingly gave up his life years before to follow the calling to minister to grieving police families through sharing the grief he carried for his only son who was a police officer, murdered in the line of duty in 1988.

Ray and his lovely wife, Barb, who was his confidante, his best friend, and his partner in ministry, traveled literally hundreds of thousands of miles on a shoestring budget, in an old used car(s), doing whatever it took to get to a police agency that had suffered a line of duty death, to walk through that valley once again with those officers, the spouses, the children, the families of the fallen officer. I believe I can say, without fear of exaggeration, that Rev. Ray Payne ministered to more police officers than any person in history and probably more than we will ever be aware, because of his website and the thousands of pamphlets “Only One Son” that have been translated and sent around the world.

There is no doubt in my mind that when Ray Payne was ushered into His Savior’s presence just a few days ago, he was met by the largest assembly of police officers that heaven itself has ever seen. The angels themselves, I am certain, were in awe of the ministering heart of this mere mortal with super-divine love.

Ray first came my way as our own community said farewell to a police officer killed in the line of duty. But he did not leave after the service, his job complete to move on to the next. Certainly, there were hundreds more to come but he never forgot us. He came back again and again. He spoke to our small church. He rode with the local police. He sat in our backyard and just allowed himself to rest. He grew tired in the last years. The ministry miles and the loads of grief he had born had taken a toll. He never sought recognition for his work; it was his calling, his service to his son. Even at ground zero he didn’t put “Chaplain” on his helmet. He stayed anonymous, just there, if someone wanted to talk.  That was the Ray Payne I knew. Unheralded on earth but I am certain rewarded handsomely in heaven. No doubt the second he finished being held by his Savior, he turned and grabbed his son David and I don’t doubt they are still side-by-side enjoying all that heaven has to offer. When the crowns are received, Ray will happily lay his at the feet of Christ and hear the words of our Savior, “Very, well done, my good and faithful servant.” Ray is model of what the Apostle Paul wrote at the end of his own life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Rest in peace, my friend. Your watch is over, all secure.