Our expectations were far exceeded and our prayers answered for this trip! Returning to the U.S April 16th I could not help but reflect on how big God is and how exciting it is to trust him for every detail in our life. My good friend Captain Ben Atchley from the Albany Police Department in Oregon did the vast majority of the training on our trip once we departed Yei in South Sudan. When Ben was asked with one day’s notice he jumped into action to train 50 officers for two half day sessions!
We joined Captain John Thorpe and his two team members to observe and assist in his training of 30 officers and command staff in Yei. John is a Captain in Irving, Texas. One of his pastors at Irving Bible Church (Steve Roese) had challenged John to train the police a year earlier when John had joined a team from his church which was focused on drilling and installing water wells in Yei. On his own John had trained 12 officers. I met John later in Dallas, Texas and John asked if we would join his team and work together on his second trip. Yei and the surrounding area have a population of about 100,000.
John is committed to returning and is looking into working through his home church and possibly starting his own non-profit organization. We decided that if we both used the same curriculum John could take a team into Yei followed by our Safe Harbor team a few months later. This would allow us to double our efforts in numbers of officers trained.
John’s team trained at the Evangelical Presbyterian Center led by Bishop Taban. The facility allows us to train easily 50 – 100 officers at a time. Bishop Taban was so excited about our goal of training trainers that he was already planning on bringing officers from throughout Southern Sudan over the next several years. He was already excited about using their facility as the first ever Sudanese Police Academy!
So why do we do this? All the officers regardless of their religious background receive training from our U.S. officers. They all volunteer their time and traveling at their own expense. Supported by friends, churches, and community groups with tax deductible donations our team develops friendships with officers and at planned optional evening events are free to hear about why being a Christian officer is important to each of us.
In addition to training with John’s team in Yei our team also had the opportunity to train 50 officers and command staff in Yumbe which is located in Northern Uganda not far from the Sudan border. Midigo is nearby which is the home of Safe Harbor’s medical clinic, agricultural project and Calvary Chapel Midigo. We stayed with Juventine and Elizabeth Emuku, their children and staff at the Midigo compound. Both Juventine and Elizabeth are doctors serving the only hospital work in this area of Uganda that helps thousands of people that would otherwise go untreated. The population in the area of Midigo is 90% Muslim.
Kampala is the capital of Uganda with a population of more than 2 million people! Ben and I had the opportunity to meet with some police command staff in Kampala prior to our departure. Sam Bonkib is our man on the ground working for Safe Harbor in Kampala and was a tremendous help in starting the process of future training opportunities. Sam will soon be putting us in touch with a Christian official working in the Ugandan Parliament. Uganda is sympathetic to the needs in Sudan and has provided police training in South Sudan. Pray that we meet more officials in the Ugandan Parliament that would work with us.
Part of my passion for working both in Sudan and Uganda is to begin working with government authorities. As we teach topics such as ethics and integrity to officers we are well aware that these officers are not usually paid well and many times are not paid on time. Just like in any country there is corruption in parts of some police departments and within the government. I believe it is imperative that we share the same message with government officials as we do with officers to see effective change in the future. I also believe that the Lord will open the doors to give us opportunities to develop friendships with those in high positions of authority.
So what does the police training and working with the government have to do with helping the thousands of victims suffering from Genocide in Darfur?
Can you imagine over time thousands of Sudanese and Ugandan police officers improving in their ability to provide ethical policing as men and women of integrity? As I am writing this update officers in both countries are training other officers with what they learned during our three week trip. Can you imagine changes in their government that would start by simply demonstrating respect for those who serve their country as police officers?
In many third world countries when you have good contacts within police departments and the government you have earned the respect to be granted sometimes unheard of permission to effectively reach those in need such as in this case – Darfur. Many NGO’s (Non-governmental organizations) are being ordered out of the country as political unrest in North and South Sudan continue.
Safe Harbor is our sending organization and provides an excellent team of experienced cross cultural workers. The following quote focusing on “long term commitment” is from their recently renewed website: www.safeharbor.us
“In more recent years, Safe Harbor has focused efforts and resources more upon development, as a critical focus for discipleship and evangelism. Whereas “relief” is associated with the distribution of goods and services required for survival, “development” offers a commitment to the long‐term spiritual and physical care of communities.”
As I see countries around the world continuing their efforts to help in Darfur I have always believed that countries are really changed one friendship at a time. It is interesting that Jesus used that very same model. Have you ever wondered how He took 12 ordinary men who would turn the world upside down without a blackberry, the internet, a televised crusade or a 10,000 member church?
The door is still open to not only provide training in areas such as ethics, officer safety, community policing and child protection but also to start a Police Chaplaincy program as well.
How can you personally, your local church, local community group or even some officers from your patrol shift stand alongside of me to accomplish these goals?
First you can participate with donations of any amount on a consistent monthly basis. Consistent is the key not the amount. If you are one that pays your bills with automatic deductions or a stamp and an envelope then our website has you covered. If you can only handle $5 a month due to the economy you may think it is not enough. Thanks to the internet it is in fact the answer to get us into Sudan consistently. Many people have been visiting this site so the potential is present to make a large difference with just a little. I have set a goal to raise tax deductible donations in the amount of $1200 a month which will allow me to consistently lead teams of police officers, chaplains, pastors, and lay people into Sudan. I would like to make some trips dedicated just to meeting and working with government officials both in Sudan and Uganda.
Feel free to email me at: email@example.com for specifics of my financial support goals or call me at 541-390-2891. Safe Harbor passes onto our work 100% of your donation! As a retired Sergeant I also do not have the overhead expenses that most missionaries have so every dollar of a donation goes directly to the work we are doing in Sudan and Uganda. Clicking on the “You Can Help!” link in the left hand column here at: www.policeoutreach.com sends you immediately to an easy and quick sign up for tax deductible donations. For those of us that are “internet challenged” the mailing address is: Safe Harbor International Relief PO Box 80820 Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688. A separate note should indicate for “Dave McDowell’s account” not written on the check made out to Safe Harbor.
Remember the movie Amazing Grace? I love a quote from William Wilberforce who, while drained of energy, was once again attempting to overthrow slavery in England. He said,
“Having seen all of this, you can choose to look the other way, but you can never say again, I did not know.”
Will you in faith be part of going or sending and above all praying?