By: Ralph Dettwiler
I accepted Christ as my Savior as a child. I loved Him and wanted to serve Him. But when I was 19 I joined the Marine Corps and once I was away from home I started doing things that I never thought I would do. I did not reject Christ; I just kind of packed Him away while I had my fun.
After my four years in the Marines I joined the Beaufort County Sheriff's Department. I patrolled the county for seven years and worked my way up to Sergeant (Shift Commander). I worked nights for the whole time I was with the Sheriff's Department.
I saw so much death and mayhem that I became very hardened to it. I saw a man shot by his own brother for eating a pork chop after coming home late at night. The brother shot him because the pork chops were for supper the next night. I saw a young girl shot by her father because she sassed him. I saw two small boys (ages about 2 and 4) shot because the mother felt that if she could not keep the boys no one should have them. I saw many people killed in traffic accidents. I saw people of all ages who committed suicide because for them life was not worth living anymore. I risked my life trying to save people who hated me just because I was a cop. I tried to keep people from committing suicide, knowing that in their state of mind they would kill me and then themselves if I made a mistake. I experienced knocking on a mother's door at 3:00 a.m. to tell her that her son had been killed.
I was not alone. All the Deputies I worked with went through the same things. A person cannot see this kind of violence day in and day out and not be affected by it. Some people did not last as officers -- they left the force soon after starting. Others turned to alcohol to deaden the pain. Others tried to live life in the fast lane, sex, alcohol, fast cars ... anything that made them feel alive. I, like many others, lived for my job. I would work my days off (without pay, since we were salaried). I would work extra hours. During the years I was a Police Officer the suicide rate for Police Officers was the highest of any profession and alcoholism was second only to that of doctors.
I never blamed God. In fact, I don't remember really thinking about Him that much. I saw that people made choices. They killed each other because they wanted to. I thought you had to be stronger than anyone else, never give an inch, never show any fear, never hesitate or you would become a victim.
The only victims I started feeling sorry for were the children, because I felt they had not done anything to cause their own problems. I had no friends other than other Police Officers. No one else understood me or what I went through.
My marriage was on its last legs. I felt like an eighty year old man. The last straw came one night while I was attempting to discipline a Deputy. He got mad at me and threatened to kill me. I suspended him and told him to give me his weapon. He refused and stormed out of the office. I could have tried to restrain him but I had visions of a shooting in our office between fellow Police Officers. I let him go and had a Detective who knew him go and talk to him. After about four hours the Detective was able to talk him into giving up his weapon and going home. The next day the Sheriff fired him. This incident was all I could take. I could handle everyone hating me, and trying to kill me on the streets, but not another officer.
I spent about another six months on the Sheriff's Department but decided that I had to leave. I went back into the service; this time into the Navy. Because I had been out of the military for seven years they made me go back to boot camp. I left the Sheriff's Department on Friday as a Shift Commander and reported to boot camp on Monday a low life recruit. I went from giving orders to being told when to go to the bathroom. My world came crashing down on me. I felt as alone as I have ever been in my life.
On Sunday I went to chapel. Before the service I was reading the Bible and opened it to Isaiah. I looked at the page and the only verse that for some reason caught my eye was 41:10. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
I spent the next ten years in the Navy. I was then discharged and given a 10% disability for a bad back. God blessed me with a second marriage that is strong and based on a love of Christ. I have always had a "knack" for computers. I enjoy them and pick up new things quickly. I never thought much more than that about it, until my Pastor did a series of sermons on spiritual gifts. He explained that whatever gift God has given you should be used for His glory. It made me realize that God did give me the ability to work with computers and that I wanted to use it for Him.
I now work as a Windows NT Network Engineer for Gordon Food Service. I maintain this website by myself on my own time. I first placed my testimony on the web about 7 years ago - not expecting anyone to ever see it. I felt God was leading me to post it so in obedience I did. That was over 2 million hits ago.
I have grown in my faith because I have had to defend my faith. God has been good to me and has stood beside me all the way.
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved -- you and your household." Acts 16:31
Precious Testimonies Staff Note: We are so appreciative of the contributions Ralph has made to help the cause of Jesus Christ. Take the time to check out his website. It is a TREASURE TROVE of wisdom and spiritual insights: WWW.BEHINDTHEBADGE.NET
God has given Ralph GREAT wisdom to deal
with "difficult topics" such as suicide and falling away from God.
We've felt impressed of the Lord to provide a link to his spiritual insights on
topics like this and others so people can more easily find his writings:
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